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These Times, They Are a Changin...

As if we didn’t need more evidence that inflation remains as stubborn as a toddler in a tantrum, Vanguard released a report this week about the use of hardship withdrawals from retirement plans on their platform.  This type of distribution is available for employees who are active participants in a workplace plan such as a 401k or 403b, and who are experiencing a ‘significant financial need’ that falls within IRS guidelines.  Of note is that these withdrawals are at their highest levels since 2004.
We continue to see the fallout from the events that led to the rapid decline of FTX.  John J. Jay was recently appointed as the CEO of the bankrupt firm and previously he oversaw Enron after it filed bankruptcy.  In court filings by FTX, he has made statements that he has never seen such a complete failure of corporate controls.  That says a lot coming on the heels of one of the largest frauds in history.  Some of his observations include that FTX did not have a list of bank accounts while expense reports were approved by emoji in a chat.  Lastly, on this point, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities recently had a lawsuit against them dismissed in California because the plaintiffs were unable to show that they had seen the promotions.

Recent developments in the war in Ukraine include statements by Putin that he is prepared for a long war and acknowledged that it is taking longer than he expected.  Sadly, this is not even close to being over.  In response to a consistent inflow of weapons and economic help from the West, Putin has made comments about his willingness to use nuclear weapons.  There have also been drone attacks on Russian airbases more than 300 miles from the Border with Ukraine prompting an escalated response against civilian targets including residential buildings and utility infrastructure.  To date, Ukraine has denied being behind these drone attacks.
In closing, I’ll leave you with the story of a medical development.  Researchers with the Department of Health and Human Services have been studying the livers of 57 armadillos.  These animals are natural carriers of the parasite that causes leprosy, but their livers are undamaged by the disease and at the same time are enlarged.  Scientists hope to understand how the genes can use the parasite to cause tissue growth with the eventual hope of being able to grow the organ for human use.
John M. Gehri, CFP®, ChFC®