Friday, April 10, 2020

Short Takes: 1000-Foot View of COVID-19, Buying Low, and more

Here are my posts for the past two weeks:

How a Retirement Plan Responds to Market Volatility

Annuities are Great, in Theory

It’s Really Not Rocket Science

Rebalancing Does Its Job

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

Mr. Money Mustache puts the current pandemic into perspective. It takes a 1000-foot view to see that we’ll come out of this just fine. I wish I had more confidence that the number of COVID-19 deaths won’t be higher than current estimates.

Ben Carlson has a cool chart showing that “the retirement contributions you make into the stock market during a market crash will invariably be the best purchases you ever make.”

Ben Rabidoux predicts that big banks will not offer HELOCs starting before the end of April in this Debt Free in 30 podcast with Doug Hoyes. He says this will include widespread taking away of any undrawn balance room on existing lines of credit. Ben also predicts that the non-permanent resident population will shrink, and this will reduce demand for real estate.

Big Cajun Man explains why you should get a My CRA Account if you don’t already have one. Don’t wait too long if you have a need for one; there’s a step that involves waiting for postal mail.

The Blunt Bean Counter summarizes the government subsidies for individuals and businesses, and he explains why emotions are a poor guide to investing.

William J. Bernstein says stocks are “returning to their rightful owners” (the wealthy), and that the current system of having people manage their own retirement portfolios “needs dynamite and replacement with a system that actually protects workers, their families, and their retirements.”

Morgan Housel explains how we react to cycles of bad then good news.

Robb Engen at Boomer and Echo discusses the possibility of delaying retirement as a response to COVID-19’s effect on stock markets and the economy. One thing I would add to his remarks is to be careful about planning to find part-time work during retirement. This may be lower-paying and harder than you think, particularly if your health deteriorates. You may be happier working an extra year at your full pay than trying to make the same amount of money spread over several years of part-time work.


  1. Hi Michael, thanks for the link. Great point about not counting on part-time work being available (or taking your health for granted). Gail Bebee made the same observation in the comments. There's obviously a certain privilege to recognize when deciding to postpone retirement that I should have noted in the article.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Hi Robb, In my own case, I had to think carefully about leaving a job that paid many times what I could ever hope to make after my skills erode from age or not being up on recent developments. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "privilege" here. Maybe the privilege of health, etc.

    2. Yes, privilege of health, privilege of your skills still being in demand and therefore your employer (or any employer) wanting you to continue your career.

    3. Robb: My perception of changing occupations has certainly changed over the years. As a young engineer, I was happy with my pay, but I could have switched to dozens of other occupations that would have paid at least half as much. By the time I retired, I'm not sure I could have found something that would have paid 20% as much, at least not without time and significant effort. This is partly a function of age, but mainly much higher pay.