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10 Financial Facts That Help Explain the Current Economy


The current economic climate is driven by a mix of intuitive and counter-intuitive realities. In this week’s column, Jeff Brown, MD, lays out some surprising, and some not-so-surprising, things he’s learned.

The current economic climate is driven by a mix of intuitive and counter-intuitive realities. In this week’s column, Jeff Brown, MD, lays out some surprising, and some not-so-surprising things he’s learned.

Things that we suspected, but now know for a fact: 1) Oxfam has reported that the 62 wealthiest people in the world have half the wealth on the planet, and five years ago that number was 388 plutocrats. The other half of wealth worldwide is shared by we billions. 2) William Hirstein, in Brain Fiction, points out that 80% of people say that they are better than average drivers, 94% of teachers say they are above average, and a group of investors quoted their returns as 6% higher than actuality. I guess it helps to stay positive…

• As of last count, there are 265 physician-owned hospitals in the US. In the current economic environment that count cannot last.

The average American woman retires at 62 and 49% of them immediately apply for Social Security benefits, with a maximum benefit of $2,663 per month. The figures for men are 64 years old with 43% applying for benefits. Waiting until age 70 would boost their payment to $3,501.

Last year, just Amazon and Google earned 57% of the $300 billion spent online, according to USA Today.

In 2013, of the highest income quartile of folks over 65, over half were still working. And that work accounted for 44% of their income, more than Social Security and pensions combined. This from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

For those who observe people walking and wonder, the fastest group measured was those wearing earphones, 4.64 feet per second, followed by those going to work at 4.41. The slowest, not surprisingly, were seniors, tourists, and “large” pedestrians. I hope that too much money was not spent on this….

53% of people surveyed could not name even one CEO. Of those who could, the most frequently named was Mark Zuckerberg.

Humans speak at 110-200 words per minute (patients vs. drug reps?) but can understand at 400, up to 3,000 words per minute. (Fill in your own examples for this one….)

Last year, only 9% of actively traded mutual funds outperformed the S&P, and 13% the year before, according to The Wall Street Journal. No wonder people have been pouring record amounts into indexed ETFs.

Also last year, an estimated 300,000 “angel” investors put $24.8 billion into 70,730 businesses, about $350,000 on average. But for those of you with Jobs/Zuckerberg dreams, keep in mind that fully 50% of the 500,000 new businesses created each year fail within five years. The US government says that there are 8.5 million Americans “qualified” to invest in start-ups. The criteria are $200,000 in annual income or $1 million in assets. All this from the WSJ.

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