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10 things to be thankful for in 2020

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In 2020, more than ever, we need this list. So, for a moment, try to forget about the pandemic, the political divide and the economic challenges that we continue to face every day. Get comfortable in your favorite seat and embrace what’s going on with the world – and all the best things to come.

From Kiplinger to your family, have a safe and happy holiday season!

Pfizer and BioNTech recently announced the full results of their COVID-19 vaccine trial to be 95% effective, the same as those reported for Moderna’s vaccine. As you read this, the drug makers have likely applied for emergency use clearance from the FDA. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are next to report on the results of their trials, which are expected to arrive before the end of the year. Novavax is expected to report shortly thereafter.

Attention is now shifting to the distribution of vaccines. Pfizer vaccine could begin shipping in limited quantities to high priority recipients in December.

Investors have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to the stock market. Yes, an 11-year-old bull market ended in February, but the ensuing bear market, slashing the S&P 500 by 34%, was gone in the blink of an eye. On Thanksgiving Monday Monday, investors were sitting on a yield (including dividends) of 61% off the low and 12% for the year. How can the actions recover when the country is faced with such monumental public health and economic challenges? Because the market has a strange ability to look ahead and see better days ahead.

As 5G approaches nearly 200 million subscribers worldwide this year, industry, universities and governments are already working on 6G technology, which will come into play around 2030, once the various issues are resolved.

What will the most advanced wireless technology look like in a decade? Imagine incredibly realistic digital worlds and intelligence everywhere, thanks to ubiquitous connectivity that is ridiculously fast and highly responsive. The hypothetical speeds will be 50-100 times faster than 5G limits. What will be possible: Sending your doctor a secure update on your health in the morning via biosensors. Play a multiplayer virtual reality game in the park. Coordinate self-driving cars or thousands of drones in an emergency. Bounce wireless signals off nearby objects to build 3D holographic images.

Drug cost increases have slowed in recent years in part due to increased competition, but high prices persist for many specialty drugs.

Factor that may help curb prescription drug prices for many patients: Biosimilars market set to take off in the next few years. They are the much cheaper generic equivalents of biologics, complex drugs that are produced from natural sources, instead of being chemically synthesized. These include Avastin, a widely prescribed cancer drug, among several others. Sales of biosimilars could reach $ 80 billion over the next five years, which would help reduce overall prescription drug spending by $ 100 billion over the same period as increased competition, with fewer options. expensive, lowers the prices. Only a fifth of the $ 211 billion biologics market faces competition from generics.

A silver lining for the pandemic: consumers are saving money. Some 45% of Americans say they save more than usual, according to a poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Collectively, they saved $ 6.5 trillion more this year than last year. Fears about what might happen to the economy in general and their jobs in particular provided the motivation. The government stimulus money provided some of the extra money. Plus, many people save on all the trips and meals they skip. Expect consumers to remain cautious and fierce until COVID-19 recedes, hopefully by next year, with the personal savings rate – which measures the amount of money that Americans have it left every month after spending and taxes – steadily falling 17.8% now.

Many households have also paid off their debts. Prior to this spring, household debt had not declined since 2014. Most of the decline was in credit card debt, down 7.5% from a year ago.

The Department of Energy is laying the groundwork for a new quantum internet. The idea: an “unbreakable” network of next-generation secure computers, activated by quantum mechanics. The agency’s 17 national laboratories will serve as the backbone of the new system, which is expected to be completed within a decade. Such networks aim to exploit the peculiarities of quantum physics, in which particles can exist in several states at the same time and intermingle, sharing information with each other over long distances without a physical connection. In theory, they would be “virtually impossible to hack,” according to Energy Department officials, because simply trying to intercept quantum transmissions can destroy them as well.

The SECURE – Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement – Act provisions came into effect in 2020, affecting your ability to save money for retirement and influencing how you use the funds over time. . While some provisions are administrative in nature or intended to increase revenue, most of the changes are taxpayer-friendly measures designed to stimulate retirement savings.

Among other benefits of the law, retirees will not need to receive the required minimum distributions until age 72 (instead of 70 ½), which will allow retirement funds to grow for a year. and a half extra before using them. And older workers can now contribute to IRAs, while part-time workers of all ages will be able to contribute to 401 (k) s.

By the end of September 2020, more than 292 million people had had their identities compromised, meaning hackers gained access to personal information that could be used for identity theft.

It sounds like an intimidating number, but it’s actually a 60% drop from the same time period in 2019, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nonprofit that supports victims of identity crimes. In addition, the number of publicly reported data breaches has decreased by 30% year over year.

The cost of gene sequencing continues to fall, with prices dropping from nearly $ 100 million per genome in 2001 to less than $ 1,000 per genome today – a faster rate of improvement than Moore’s Law for them. computers. The ability to quickly and inexpensively decode a person’s DNA holds great promise for healthcare, offering the possibility of more personalized medical treatment, tailored to a patient’s unique genetic makeup. Also, a faster viral response: The speed at which scientists sequenced the COVID-19 genome earlier this year – in weeks rather than months – is testament to this growing genetic power.

The next big target: A $ 100 genome, the point at which DNA sequencing will become widely accessible and affordable for a large part of the population. Experts say this milestone will likely be reached in less than a decade, possibly sooner. (Chinese company BGI claims to have already invented a machine with this ability, although many are skeptical.) Illumina, the current market leader in gene sequencing technology, also claims that it is on the verge of crossing the line. $ 100 bar.

Starting in 2020, correcting errors on your tax return has become less complicated. For the first time, taxpayers will be able to file Form 1040X, the document used to amend tax returns, electronically. Taxpayers change their federal tax returns for all kinds of reasons – for failing to report certain income, for example, or because of an overlooked deduction that would have reduced their tax bill. But in the past, you had to submit the form by mail. You could use tax software to fill out the form, but you had to print it out and mail it. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “But the big hurdle that has persisted for years is converting amended returns to this electronic process. “

While taxpayers typically have up to three years from the date they filed their original return (or two years from the date they paid any tax owed) to amend a return, the Electronic filing will initially be limited to 2019 tax returns, according to the IRS. If you want to change a previous return on Form 1040X, you will still need to print it out and mail it.

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