You probably didn’t notice, but Monday, September 11 marked a milestone: the S&P 500 index’s bull market became the second-longest and the second-best performing in the modern economic era. Stock prices are up 270% from their low point after the Great Recession in March 2009—up 340% if you include dividends. That beats the 267% gain that investors experienced from June 1949 to August 1956. (The raging bull that lasted from October 1990 to March 2000 is still the winningest ever, and may never be topped.)
Everybody knows about life insurance, and disability insurance covers millions through corporate plans. Health insurance is always in the news thanks to the controversy around the Affordable Care Act.
But what about the forgotten stepchild: Long-Term Care (LTC) insurance? How much do you know about it? How do you know whether you need it or not?
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be consistently successful at complex and creative tasks, while others see only fitful success and repeated failure? The difference might not lie in talent or motivation, but simply in mindset—in the way these tasks are approached by people who take a professional mindset vs. the great majority of people who function as amateurs.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and that means, to an economist, that sometimes it’s easier to communicate something complicated with a chart or a graph rather than a lot of explanatory text.
When you think of insurance, chances are what first comes to mind is life insurance, which protects against premature death and therefore the loss of a lifetime of income. You might also think of car insurance, which helps pay the costs of an accident, and disability insurance, long-term care insurance and homeowners’ insurance. The underlying mathematics of these contracts, used by actuaries, involves risk pooling, where many people contribute to a large pool of assets, and then the pool of assets will pay out to a relative few people who experience a car accident, or suffer a temporary or permanent disability, or die young. People pay a relatively small amount to be protected from relatively large catastrophes.
Low interest rates and added regulation designed to head off another global financial crisis has made it more expensive and complicated to run a banking operation these days. Gone are the heady days when banks were building 200 new brick and mortar locations a month in the U.S. market, leading up to the market top in 2008, when there were 100,000 bank branches in the U.S.—35 for every 100,000 adults, twice as many, per capita, as Germany.
Probably the most forgotten minority in America is the “elder orphans”—aging retirees who no longer have a spouse (if they ever had one), no kids and no caregiver.