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Weekend reads: A warning for a record-high stock market – MarketWatch

The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.77% keeps hitting record highs. That itself might not be alarming — a strong stock market is typically at a record level, especially when investors are anticipating an economic recovery.

But Mark Hulbert highlights a possible red flag: Companies have accelerated their stock buybacks just as their executives are dumping the same shares.

Read on: Are shares of rapidly-growing companies really too expensive?

Bitcoin’s threat

Peter Thiel said this week that bitcoin might be “a Chinese financial weapon against the U.S.,” because China’s government resents the status of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. But Chris Matthews argues that bitcoin may be more of a threat to China’s dictatorship.

More bitcoin coverage:

Looking for an amenity-laden retirement destination
The Eugene Symphony at the Cuthbert Amphitheatre in Eugene, Ore.

In MarketWatch

This week, MarketWatch’s “Where Should I Retire” series focuses on a couple who wish to live in a lakefront, walkable college town where it isn’t too cold and has good hospitals, museums and theater.

Click here for more on where to retire. You can also try the MarketWatch “where should I retire” tool for your own customized search.

Looking further: The five most affordable Caribbean Islands to retire to — and two to avoid

How to tap your retirement account early while avoiding penalties

If you have built a large nest egg in a tax-deferred retirement account but wish to begin living off it before the age of 59, you may face significant taxes and penalties. But there are some ways to limit the pain. Alessandra Malito outlines several steps you can take to make early retirement easier.

How to get there: Have an extra $50? $100? Even $20? Use it on an IRA for your future retirement (maybe even sooner)

Are we really heading for an economic boom?

Economists polled by MarketWatch expect the U.S. economy to expand 6% this year, which would be the strongest GDP growth rate since 1984, according to World Bank data.

Some investors fear inflation will lead to a sharp increase in interest rates, which could threaten the bull market for stocks. Not all agree.

Fear and ‘the 4% rule’ for retirement

You will see a 4% withdrawal rate bandied about in the financial media over and over again. The idea is that this is a reasonable rate of withdrawal to assume, if you have a well-diversified investment portfolio to live off of when your work career ends.

One problem with this “rule” is that it doesn’t factor-in varying expenses or the amount of expenses relative to the size of the account.

Brett Arends takes this idea further, sharing different fallacies tied to the 4% rule and “failure rates” people in 22 countries would have experienced if they had followed the rule over a 120-year period.

More on retirement saving and investment:

Pushing to travel

Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Sea cruise ship docked at PortMiami on March 02, 2021.

Getty Images

Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccinations, so there are strong opinions about how quickly normal life should resume. Here’s a sampling of coverage:

Executives address social conflict

JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, +0.75% CEO Jamie Dimon wrote that wealth inequality needs to be addressed as part of an effort to address racial and other conflicts in the U.S.. But JPMorgan and other banks pushed bank against the idea of “racial-equity audits.”

Silicon Valley executives have a message of their own: ‘We don’t deserve to live in fear in our own country’.

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