caitie leibman

Odd Couple (of Goals)

Surveys indicate the public’s trust in the Federal Reserve has been declining over time. We totally understand this result.

The Federal Reserve, like other central banks around the world, plays a significant role in setting monetary policy. It operates under mandates written in law to promote full employment and price stability. Presumably, most people would be in favor of these worthy objects.

In practice, however, it seeks to raise the cost of living by 2% every year: that’s the actual effect of the goal we typically hear about, to hit an “inflation target of 2%.” That term is a less clear way of saying “raise the cost of living.” How many of us actually want that?

Now add in Federal Reserve policy on interest rates: keep them near zero for the next few years. So if the cost of living is rising and we earn next to nothing on our savings, then we are really going backward in purchasing power. A dollar of savings today plus zero interest for the next year and we will be short by 2 cents to buy the same amount of goods a year from now. That is a risk to our financial position.

This really is an odd couple of goals. It is rough on savers and people on fixed incomes.

The Federal Reserve has its rationale for all this, of course. It believes that a little inflation is good for the economy and that we are prone to have our spending manipulated by its policies for the short-term benefit of the economy. A better economy means more jobs, which is generally good for each of us.

We have our doubts about the logic. Fortunately, we can try to invest to take advantage of the opportunities these policies present. If we are willing to live with fluctuations in value, we may still be able to earn returns.

We believe it was simpler when savings had positive returns, but we are here to make the most of it.

Clients, if you would like to talk about the risks and rewards of investing and saving, please email us or call.


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Investing in (Y)our Future

Caitie Leibman image

If you’ve been following along, you know my intent to work to age 92 dates a long way back. Therefore, I wanted a practice that would last that long.

The more we thought about sustainability, the more we realized that mere survival to a certain point in time was not fair to you—nor a sound plan for us. So the goal became building an enterprise that could thrive for decades.

If we automate everything that works better when automated and get human understudies for all the remaining activities, the organization will be more durable. It will work more smoothly day to day, and it will be more likely to last for the years and decades ahead.

The next phase is falling into place. Caitie Leibman has joined the team full-time as Director of Communications. We foresee three main benefits:

  • Caitie will take over some communications-related duties now performed by Greg and me. This will give me more time to work with you one-on-one on your plans and planning. Greg will have more time for investment research.
  • Our communications program could stand improvement in a dozen ways I know about and many more that I cannot now conceive of. Caitie will bring these to fruition. (I’m particularly excited about the blog collections she is weaving into book form. Stay tuned.)
  • In time, Caitie will be writing in her own voice for new audiences, introducing 228 Main to new generations. Making sound planning and timeless investing strategies available to more people is an exciting part of sustainability.

These last several years we’ve used digital communications to stay close when personal circumstances turned time and geography into challenges. The digital presence we built proved to be far more valuable to you and to us than we dreamed; it makes sense for Caitie to become involved in the enterprise in this area first.

I’ll still be writing, of course. Caitie, with her degrees and experiences in writing and a firm grasp of the philosophy of our family firm, will be a major resource.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this, or anything else, please email us or call.