Is America heading straight toward inflation this holiday season?


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Wilson Phillips Fed

They held on for one more day. As a surprise to absolutely no one, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) held its policy rate at an upper bound of 5.50%.

As a surprise to almost everyone, Jerome Powell was not wearing a purple tie. In a month where the Fed’s statement reflected very little change since their last meeting, we have to find other details to cling to.

Here are a few details I find interesting — not only because of what they show in a chart, but because they’re two of the topics that seem to stoke the most debate among market participants around Fed meetings.

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2% means 2%

In my opinion, Jerome Powell has been abundantly clear that the FOMC’s inflation target remains at 2% and they have not even considered changing it. Even so, there continues to be speculation that the inflation target will move up given current conditions, and some version of “this economy is different.”

There is also a temptation to point to the slope of inflation over the last 16 months as a reason to raise the target — we’ve made so much progress, let’s stop before we go too far.

inflation measures

But the Fed is tasked with maintaining stable prices, and if their definition of stable prices is 2%, they are not going to declare the end of the hiking cycle until we are on a “sustainable path toward 2%”. They obviously do not feel like that’s the case yet.

The chart above shows the four main measures of inflation, all of which are still 1-3 percentage points above target. None of this is an exact science, but reducing inflation takes time, and recent months have seen slower progress than the dropoff that followed last summer’s peak.

One of the things Powell said in the press conference was, “we’re committed to getting inflation back to our target over time, and we will.”

I choose to take him at his word. And to believe that two percent means two percent.

The Phillips Curve

This Phillips has no relation to Wilson Phillips, just to be clear. It’s also an economic theory that has absolutely not held on in this cycle.

The Phillips Curve shows the relationship between unemployment and inflation, with the expectation that as inflation falls, unemployment will rise. In other words, the two should move in opposite directions and have a negative correlation.

The conundrum for the Fed this cycle is that this relationship appears to be broken, and thus hasn’t been a useful tool in informing monetary policy decisions. Inflation has come down, but no one told the unemployment rate.


Needless to say, we don’t hear much about the Phillips Curve. If the Fed gets their way, and starts to see a period of below trend growth that is likely to inflict some pain on households and the labor market, we may see a revival in mentions of the Phillips Curve. Which means I expect an uptick in the unemployment rate as a result of this tightening cycle.

I also expect that around that same time, we’ll stop hearing people say “this time is different.”

I agree that this economy has a different makeup than it did when many economic theories were formulated — we’ve shifted from manufacturing-led to services-led growth with technology playing a major part in every sector, while also being the largest sector by weight in the S&P 500.

But the sector with the most names in the S&P 500 is still Industrials, and the sector with the second most names in the index is Financials. Meanwhile, Tech is tied for third with Health Care. I point that out because regardless of the weight a sector has in the stock market, it almost certainly has a different weight in the labor market.

We hear all the time that the stock market is not the economy, and that remains true. But if we’re looking at the possibility of rising unemployment and slowing growth, the stock market can’t entirely look away.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

Communication of SoFi Wealth LLC an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Information about SoFi Wealth’s advisory operations, services, and fees is set forth in SoFi Wealth’s current Form ADV Part 2 (Brochure), a copy of which is available upon request and at adviserinfo. Liz Young is a Registered Representative of SoFi Securities and Investment Advisor Representative of SoFi Wealth. Her ADV 2B is available at.sofi.

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8 ways to get the best credit score you can

8 ways to get the best credit score you can

Learning how to achieve and maintain a good credit score is a crucial part of your financial health. Not only can it be a badge that says your financial life is in good shape, it can also help you access credit and get approved for loans and insurance at more competitive rates. Being approved for lower interest rates and premiums can in turn save you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

A solid credit score can also have other perks, such as helping you get approved for products with better features, such as rewards credit cards.

While there’s no one size fits all solution on how to keep a good credit score, there are some best practices you can follow. Read on to learn more about this topic and actual tactics, including:

  • What is a credit score?
  • How can you maintain a good credit score?
  • What are tips to keep your credit score high?
  • How can new credit card users establish a credit score?


A credit score is a three digit number ranging from 300 to 850 that is an indicator of your credit behavior. Your score is calculated based on your credit history from all three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — and is based on how lenders may perceive your risk as a borrower.

What exactly does that mean? By reviewing your past use of credit, your score reveals if you are more or less likely to pay back your loans on time. If you are more likely to repay your debts in a timely manner, the less risky you are.

The higher your credit score, the more creditworthy you are in the eyes of lenders.


Several factors can affect your credit score, such as your payment history, the number of loan or credit applications submitted, and the age of your accounts you hold. There are also different scoring models, such as FICO vs. VantageScore. Each weighs factors differently to arrive at a credit score.

Meaning, there may be some differences in your credit score.

Lenders may look at one credit score or all of them, plus different qualification criteria when deciding whether to approve you for a loan and at what interest rate.


Though there are different credit scoring models, most use similar financial behaviors to calculate them.

They’re grouped in the following categories:

  • Payment history: This factor is one of the most important factors in your credit score as it assesses whether you’re likely to pay your loan on time. Credit scoring models will look into current and past account activity, including any late or missed payments.
  • Amounts owed or available credit: The percentage of the available balance you’re using is your credit utilization. The more you are using available credit in your revolving accounts (like your credit cards and lines of credit), the more it could appear you rely too much on credit. This can make you look like a risky person to whom to lend.
  • Age of credit history: The longer your credit history, the more a lender can look into your credit behavior. It’s usually considered good to have a long credit history vs. a very short or recent one.
  • Account types: Having a different mix of loans offers more insight into how you handle various accounts. Credit-scoring models may not, however, use this as a major factor when calculating your score.
  • New or recent credit: The more recent applications you submit for new loans or credit accounts, the more risky you may appear to be. That’s because it may look like you need to rely on credit; that you are quickly trying to acquire different forms of access to funds.

(There are some exceptions, such as shopping around for mortgages within a short span of time.)

Thai Liang Lim/istockphoto

Understanding the importance of a good credit score and what goes into it can help you protect the one you have. The following are eight suggestions on how to maintain a good credit score.

1. Pay Your Credit Card Bills on Time

Ensuring you’re on top of your bills (not just your credit cards) will help keep a positive payment history in your credit reports. This is the single biggest contributing factor to your credit score at 30% to 40%. Consider setting up automatic payments or regular reminders to ensure you’re paying on time.


Your credit utilization is the percentage of the available limit you’re using on your revolving accounts like credit cards. Basically, you don’t want to spend close to or at your credit limit. A good rule of thumb to follow is to now use more than 30% of your overall credit limit.

So if you have one credit card with up to $10,000 as the limit, you want to keep your balance at $3,000 or lower.


Even if you don’t use your older credit cards that often, keeping them open means you can maintain your long credit history. Consider charging a small or occasional amount, whether an espresso or gas station fuel-up, to ensure your account stays open. This can reassure prospective lenders that you have been managing credit well for years.


Consider this as you try to keep a good credit score: Go slow. Since credit-scoring models look at the number of times you apply for new credit, only open one when you really need it. Stay strong in the face of offers to get free shipping or 10% off if you sign up for a card that many retailers promote.

Spreading out your applications is a good idea rather than regularly or heavily putting in a lot of card applications. By moving steadily and choosing a credit card and other types of funding carefully, you likely won’t raise red flags, such as that you need to rely heavily on credit.


Mistakes can happen, and errors in your credit reports could negatively affect your score. You can get your credit reports for free at  from all three credit bureaus.

It’s wise to check your credit scores regularly, which won’t impact your score. If you see an error — whether it’s an account you don’t own or a bill marked unpaid that you know you took care of — dispute it as soon as possible.


Making payments in full will help you maintain a positive payment history and lower your credit utilization. Both of these can maintain your creditworthiness and save you money on interest charges.


Closing your old credit cards could shorten your credit history. It could also increase your credit utilization because it will lower your available credit limit. Even if you make the same amount in purchases, your credit utilization would go up when your credit score updates.

For example, if you currently have an overall credit limit of $28,000 and you have $7,000 in credit card balances, your credit utilization is 25%. If you close a credit card which had a $7,000 limit, you then lower your total available credit to $21,000 your credit utilization will go up to 33%.


It can be hard to say no to an invitation to try a pricey new restaurant or not tap to buy when scrolling through social media. But when you let your spending get out of hand, you may use your credit cards too much. It can feel like free money in the moment — but you still have to pay it back. If you overextend yourself, you may find it hard to pay your balance on time and risk a late or missed payment.

Instead, spend only what you can afford and try to avoid lifestyle creep (having your spending rise with your pay increases or even beyond them). That can help provide some guardrails for using credit cards responsibly.


Trying to establish a credit score can be a challenge since, ironically enough, you need credit to build credit.

If you are in this situation, there are several options to pursue, such as the following:

  • Open a secured credit card: A secured credit card is one where you’ll put down a refundable cash deposit that will act as your credit line. You can use this to establish credit and apply for an unsecured credit card. Some issuers will upgrade you once you make consistent on-time payments for a predetermined amount of time.
  • Apply for a credit builder loan: These types of loans are specifically geared towards helping you establish and build credit over time. Instead of getting the loan proceeds like a traditional loan, the funds are held in an escrow account until you pay back the loan in full.
  • Become an authorized user: You can ask a loved one, like a parent or even a close friend, if they’re willing to add your name on their credit card account. Doing so means the credit account will go in your credit history. Of course, that doesn’t give you access to use their account without restraint. The guardrails can be established between you and the original card holder.


Maintaining a good credit score (and keeping that score high over time) comes with perks such as increasing the likelihood of getting approved for loans at more favorable terms. You might qualify for lower interest rates, saving you a considerable amount of money over time.

Using a credit card wisely is one of the ways you can build and maintain your credit score. But that’s not all there is to opening a credit: You also likely want one with great perks.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.comand was syndicated by

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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