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By The Numbers

1. DROPS HAPPEN – Since the S&P 500 bottomed on 3/09/09, the stock index has gained +130.1% through the close of trading last Friday 3/22/13 (change of the raw index not counting the impact of reinvested dividends).  Even though the index has more than doubled there have been 13 different pullbacks of 5% or more since the 3/09/09 bottom.  The average depth of the pullbacks has been 8.7% over an average of 21 days.  The deepest tumble was a 17.2% drop over the 24 days that ended on 8/10/11.  The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation.  It is a market value weighted index with each stock’s weight in the index proportionate to its market value (source: BTN Research).    

2. BANKING – 51 federally insured banks failed in the USA last year (2012), down from 92 bank failures the year before (2011).  Just 3 banks have failed in the first 2 months of 2013.  The FDIC was established 80 years ago in 1933 (source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).  

3. NOT RIGHT AWAY – The latest official recession in the USA began on 12/31/07 and ended on 6/30/09 (i.e., the end date was 45 months ago).  In the 2 other recessions our nation experienced in the last 25 years, the Federal Reserve first raised interest rates 34 and 31 months after the recession officially ended (source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Federal Reserve).

4. A MAJORITY BUT NOT ALL - Medicare pays for 60% of the average healthcare costs for an American senior (source: American Journal of Law & Medicine).  

5. BOUNCE BACK – The value of Americans’ equity in their real estate peaked at $10.5 trillion as of 12/31/07, fell to $6.6 trillion a year ago (12/31/11), then climbed back to $8.2 trillion as of 12/31/12 (source: Federal Reserve).  

6. WHAT THEY PAID – The top 1% of US taxpayers paid an average tax rate (i.e., federal income taxes paid as a percentage of adjusted gross income) of 23.4% in 2010 vs. an average tax rate of 2.4% for the bottom 50% of taxpayers (source: Internal Revenue Service).  

7. UP JUST ONE YEAR – The normal retirement age (NRA) in 2013 to be eligible for full Social Security benefits is 66 years.  The NRA in 1950 to be eligible for full Social Security benefits was 65 years (source: Social Security Administration).

8. LIVING IN THE MOMENT – 43% of American workers surveyed are not saving (or their spouse is not saving) for their future retirement (source: Employee Benefit Research Institute).  

9. DISPROPORTIONATE INFLUENCE – The size of the economy in Cyprus is just $23 billion (US dollars), ranking it 15th of the 17 Eurozone countries, i.e., the countries that use the Euro as their common currency.  Cyprus’s economy is smaller in size than that of the state of Vermont which is the smallest economy of all 50 US states (source: BTN Research).  

10. HELP US – Cyprus first requested financial assistance from the European Central Bank 9 months ago today (6/25/12).  The Cypriot government blamed its banking system’s large exposure to the Greek economy as the dominant reason behind the needed assistance (source: BTN Research).   

11. WAY TOO BIG TO FAIL – Cypriot banks hold assets equal to 8 times the size of the Cypriot economy.  US banks holds assets less than 1 time the size of the US economy, i.e., American banks hold assets of $14 trillion compared to a $16 trillion US economy (source: PBS).  

12. FOREIGN HOLDERS OF DEBT – The total debt of the US government as of 2/28/13 was $16.7 trillion, consisting of $11.8 trillion of “debt held by the public” and another $4.9 trillion of “intergovernmental debt.”  34% of the total debt is owned by foreign investors (source: Treasury Department).

13. FEELING GENEROUS? – The total debt of the US government has doubled since the end of 2005, rising from $8.2 trillion as of 12/31/05 to $16.4 trillion as of 12/31/12.  Taxpayers can make a credit card donation to pay down the national debt at the website www.pay.gov/paygov/forms/formInstance.html?agencyFormId=23779454 (source: Treasury Department).

14. DOUBLE-DIGIT – The average interest rate nationwide on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was at least 10% for the 12 consecutive years of 1979-1990 (source: Freddie Mac). 

15. HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM – The Houston Astros are 300-to-1 odds to win the 2013 World Series, the worst odds in baseball (source: Vegas.com).