Kindness Builds Community- A winter storm caused the small but bighearted town of Fairplay, Colorado, to nearly double its population last week. After high winds and heavy snow closed nearby highways, the town’s 762 residents took in 746 stranded motorists. Locals rescued drivers from their vehicles and put them up in churches, schools, and a hotel—setting up makeshift beds wherever they could find space and serving them hot chocolate. “I’m just so proud of my little community,” said resident Dave Kintz. “To be able to help all those people is amazing to me.”
Electrifyingly Happy Holidays- An aquarium in Tennessee has discovered a novel way of lighting a Christmas tree—by hooking it up to an electric eel. Whenever the eel, named Miguel Wattson, is trying to find food, is eating, or gets excited, he emits electrical blips that cause the lights on a tree next to his tank to flash, with help from a sound and light board. The more excited he gets, the higher the voltage he emits and the brighter the flashes. An aquarium spokesman called it “a wonderful hook to get attention.”
New Ventures Are Always Around the Corner- Alan Tripp, 102, and Marvin Weisbord, 88, might be the world’s oldest songwriting team. The pair, both residents of a Pennsylvania retirement community, have just released their debut album, Senior Song Book. They started writing together two years ago, after jazz pianist Weisbord set one of Tripp’s poems to music as a surprise gift for his 100th birthday. Soon the two men were pumping out songs, touching on true love (“Wonder Woman”) and the perils of senior dating (“I Just Can’t Remember Your Name”). The album has already sold out. “I never expected to be doing this in my old age,” said Weisbord.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be…Far too many people misunderstand what ‘putting away childish things’ means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I’m with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don’t ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and be fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.”
–Madeleine L’Engle, Author and poet
So, what comes next?
Last week was a good week for investors. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s explained:
“The Federal Reserve and European Central Bank both pledged to do what they could to underpin their respective economies. The United Kingdom gave Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party a landslide victory, virtually guaranteeing that the Brexit saga will end, finally.”
‘Get Brexit done’ was the slogan of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservative party and British voters confirmed that’s what they want. As a result, Parliament is likely to accept the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement. Under current deadlines, the United Kingdom will begin to transition out of the European Union (EU) at the end of January, reported The Economist.
Prime Minister Johnson promised to complete the transition by December 2020 despite skepticism about whether trade agreements can be negotiated and ratified in such a short time. The Economist reported, “…unless Mr. Johnson is ready to ask for an extension, the risk of Britain leaving the EU with no trade deal in place at the end of next year will be significant. The result would be high barriers to exports and severe disruption to trade.”
There was another important event last week. The United States government announced, “…a phase-one deal with China had been completed and that negotiations on phase two would begin immediately. Details were lacking, but it was surely good news,” reported Levisohn.
The Wall Street Journal reported the deal has been agreed to in principle, although nothing has been signed, and neither the United States nor the Chinese government released the text of the agreement or a detailed summary.
The information released indicates the United States cancelled tariffs scheduled to take effect last Sunday and reduced current tariffs on $120 million of Chinese goods. In return, China agreed to increase purchases of agricultural goods over the next two years. The agreement is scheduled to be signed in January.
Let’s hope they ink the deal!
LIFE BEGINS AT 40. In 1932, psychologist Walter Pitkin published a self-help book called ‘Life Begins at Forty.’ The Economist summarized his findings like this, “The theory goes that years of hard work are rewarded with less stress and better pay; children begin to fly the nest; and with luck, a decent period of good health remains.”
At the time, the book was something of a revelation. After all, throughout much of the 1800s, life expectancy at birth was about 40. When Pitkin wrote his book, newborn Americans were expected to reach age 60, on average.
It turns out Pitkin was on to something.
The Economist reviewed the findings of the 2019 World Happiness Report, which uses data from the Gallup World Poll. It found people in the United States and around the world generally are happy in their teens and early 20s. By the time they reach their 30s, however, happiness levels have dropped. People begin to recover a more positive state of mind at age 40. For many, by age 70, self-reported happiness is higher than it was in their teens and 20s.
There are differences in self-reported happiness from country to country. For instance, happiness in former Soviet states tends to decline with age. In addition, overall, self-reported happiness in India has declined during the past several years.
So, who are happiest people in the world? American women age 70 and older!
John Klevens, CFP®
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This material is intended to provide general financial education and is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied upon for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. Individuals involved in the estate planning process should work with an estate planning team, including their own personal legal or tax counsel. This material is for informational purposes only and is not an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any securities.
Securities and Advisory Services offered by John Klevens through KMS Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC and an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Klevens Capital Management and KMS are separate and unaffiliated.
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The Week Magazine
https://www.barrons.com/articles/lots-went-right-for-investors-this-week-the-dow-still-ended-friday-on-a-flat-note-51576282633?mod=hp_DAY_4 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/12-16-19_Barrons-Lots_Went_Right_for_Investors_this_Week-The_Dow_Still_Ended_Friday_on_a_Flat_Note-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/12/13/boris-johnsons-big-win?cid1=cust/ednew/n/bl/n/2019/12/13n/owned/n/n/nwl/n/n/NA/360436/n (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/12-16-19_TheEconomist-Boris_Johnsons_Big_Win-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.wsj.com/articles/us-china-confirm-reaching-phase-one-trade-deal-11576234325 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/12-16-19_WSJ-US_China_Agree_to_Limited_Deal_to_Halt_Trade_War-Footnote_3.pdf)
https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/04/12/do-people-become-happier-after-40 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/12-16-19_TheEconomist-Do_People_Become_Happier_After_40-Footnote_5.pdf)