With severe government budget constraints and competitive pressures on benefits offered by companies, individuals can no longer count on social safety nets to bail them out. It will be necessary to make changes personally and throughout society that are truly important to the ways we live.
The prospect is for slow income growth, lingering high unemployment, higher taxes, and limits on government spending programs.
Inflation is likely to increase significantly as a result of past and present loose money policies to stimulate the economy and finance the debt, along with slow productivity growth and further recovery from the recession.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ObamaCare) will expand coverage, but it will cost far more than advertised and change the delivery of care, leading to more rationing of care and higher taxes.
The “financial services reform” law passed in 2010, together with the 2009 “Card Act,” while helping consumers in some ways, will raise some costs, make obtaining credit more difficult and restrain innovation in financial services.
Financing home ownership is being transformed with larger down payments and more stringent requirements for obtaining credit that, while largely desirable, will slow the pace of housing recovery.
The possibility of higher interest rates making tax deferral [e.g. in IRAs and 401ks] more valuable is something you should consider in choosing vehicles for investments you make even when interest rates and taxes are relatively low.
Employer matching [of pension contributions] is a particularly good deal for women since their average life expectancy is greater than for men.
The poor condition of state government finances and the expectation they will not improve even with economic recovery because of the end of stimulus funds, assures that tuition at state [educational] institutions will rise rapidly.
The 100 year trend suggests that housing prices could fall another 20% from end of 2010 levels to reach more normal levels [either absolutely or relative to the general price level].
A more active aging population with longer life expectancies will require greater resources than its predecessors to maintain lifestyles and overcome benefit cuts. Yet, prospects for gains on financial investments will be reduced by heavy withdrawals for baby boom retirements and growing borrowing needs of heavily indebted and overcommitted governments.
With fiscal pressures severe, the personal income tax is likely to both increase substantially and to become more progressive. Substantial increases in tax rates are likely to apply to most income levels, not just those over $200,000 or $250,000.
A program of gradually adjusting benefits and revenues to close the gap in funding of Social Security and Medicare and address programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income that do not have trust funds can reduce the need for sharp benefit cuts later.