Top 7 FIRE News Stories of 2017

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At the end of the year, the media is full of retrospectives on the top news events and celebrity stories, so with that in mind, I set my thoughts to what are the biggest news happenings that have affected people on their journey to financial independence and retiring early (FIRE) in 2017.

Here’s my list (in no particular order) …

TRUMP BUMP – The stock market, which began it’s latest bull run-up following the 2016 Presidential Election continued to shoot up in 2017.  The S&P 500 is up 20% this year with total market gains of $4 trillion since Trump was elected.  You can dispute how much credit he deserves for the run-up, but it is destined to be remembered as the ‘Trump Bump’.

TAX REFORM – Much of the stock market growth has been fueled by expected Corporate Tax Reform.  This was the centerpiece of the plan passed by the GOP.  In addition, individual tax payers will have more money to put toward their FIRE nest eggs as the CBO estimates that more than 80% of taxpayers will see their taxes go down – with an median benefit of $2K.  I expect that our taxes will go down only about 1% – largely because of the loss of SALT deductions, which were significant in our high-tax state of MN.

INTERNATIONAL BOUNCE BACK – The USA wasn’t the only market to post strong growth in 2017 as International equities (EFEA) grew +21%.  This is a great bounce back for International stocks, which were down -2% last year and -3% the year before.

LOW INFLATION – Through November the annual CPI in the USA is just 2.2%.  That makes the growth of stocks that much more impressive and marks the sixth straight year that is has been held under 3%.  When I look at sensitivities in our FIRE financial plan, the one that always scares me is inflation.  An increase of a single percentage point (or even a half a point) makes a huge difference in our portfolio needs.

HEALTH INSURANCE – Medical coverage is a huge concern of people on a journey to FIRE and 2017 has been another disaster of a year.  Our Health Insurance is set to rise more than 50% next year – as no reforms were passed by the GOP and Federal subsidies were cut outright.  As a result, the costs for low-income households and folks with pre-existing conditions have been passed largely to the folks in the individual market.  We’ll hope that free market reforms will be teed up in 2018, but in the short term in hurts financially.

STAGNANT INTEREST RATES – The Federal Reserve doubled the Federal Funds Rate from 0.75% last December to 1.5% today.  It hasn’t affected Treasury Bond yields in a big way, however.  A 10-Year bond sits at 2.47% today (up only slightly from year ago) and a 1-Year CD at my local bank still earns only 0.4%.

BITCOIN / CRYPTOCURRENCIES – There perhaps wasn’t any story more interesting in 2017 than the incredible emergence of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies.  Many people still aren’t sold on the value of this digital currency, while others see it disrupting government control of fiat currency.  The value of Bitcoin has grown 15x-20x over the course of the year and has everyone talking.  I made a small purchase in July and wish people would focus more on its practical value as an alternative to dollars and less as an investment.


Our portfolio had a terrific finish to the year.  After spending most of the year in the doldrums, MegaCorp stock shot up 20% in the last 6 weeks – which was multiplied by our stock option holdings.  While the stock is still slightly down for the year (flat, with dividends), this amazing rebound (combined with the fantastic broader market results) put our FIRE portfolio back on ahead of our goals.  I wouldn’t have guessed two months ago that this would have been possible, but it was a nice gift to find under the Christmas Tree!

Thanks to all of the readers and commenters over the past year! 

What other stories made a big impact on your FIRE journey in 2017?

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Top 7 FIRE News Stories of 2017

  1. Happy New Year, Chief! Despite the fact we are governed too richly and served too poorly by government, 2017 turned out fine for you, young fellow! As for this retired smokejumper, financially it worked out dandy. Unlike you, I have no options or overweighting from previous employers. For decades, I diversified capital across a wide array of investments, across geographies, across types (stocks, bonds, etc.), across styles (growth, value, blends), in ups and downs. Keeping everlastingly at it brings success. During our business careers, one emergence was “change agents.” In my experience, they usually caused chaos and moved on. I’ve always wondered why there isn’t a “continuity agent” — the person with a firm hand on tiller, steering the ship towards its long-term destination despite winds and seas of adversity. I am my own Continuity Agent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year, John! I was just telling my son this morning about the “Sunday Morning / Irresistible Magnet” copy strategy. I had worked on that business before – as an AMM and in Market Research. I guess I was a continuity agent at that time.

      Even then we were focused on our FIRE journey as well. It seems a bit naive to look back on our hopes of early retirement when we were in our 20s & 30s, but here we are – enjoying another New Year’s of goofing off!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This market rally over the last 2 years has really put me way over the top beyond my expectations. It didn’t think the markets would get to this level for at least another 5 years. Its nice to see the International markets finally come back. They havent seemed to do anything for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree – It’s fantastic to see. With the DJIA reaching 25K yesterday, they said the market is up an amazing 37% since 2016 Election.


    • I sell the stock options on a regular cycle. One-eighth of my balance of expiring options each quarter for the last two years before they expire. Helps not to think about the price too much, although over 5 years it has been amazing for me.


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