Thursday, October 18, 2012

The rich get cheap money to invest in developing nations

Greece lying about the state of its finances to join the Eurozone was a fantasy?
Greece refusing to collect taxes on its wealthiest citizens is a fantasy?
Greece paying its public sector workers inflated wages and pensions is a fantasy?
If Greece is not willing to get its own house in order, why should anyone be willing to loan them any more money?
The rich get cheap money to invest in developing nations where labor and human life is cheap, as well as the chance to bust unions and slash safety net funding. Wall Street is even investing in corporations that are parasites on school funding, at a time when teachers routinely spend their own money on supplies for their kids.
50% youth unemployment is not normal. Whole families moving back in with their parents is not normal. Austerity is the problem, not the solution.
The same thing is happening everywhere. By the governments own estimates, there are already six million children in the United States alone that are either starving, or on the verge of starving. Millions of Americans are homeless, penniless, and are in dire need of supplies and healthcare. Why? Because the wealthiest and most powerful people in America live in a different world than everyone else. Can you imagine how different the world seems to people who are are dependent on no one for anything at anytime for the rest of their lives. There is virtually nothing they can't afford. Everyone else seems alien to them. In their view, the less fortunate are people who made bad choices, and who then want the wealthiest to pay for there mistakes and help them recover. The wealthiest and most powerful people in America view these teeming masses with disdain, disinterest and devoid of compassion. No guilt or deep compassion penetrates the almost magical bubble through which they travel anywhere they want to at any time. Free money and Power. We suffer at their whim. And so we are.....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The biggest unsatisfied need in the western world

The American pathway... The Federal Reserve targets inflation at 2%. So my purchasing power will be down 10% in 5 years. No interest is paid on savings. So I cannot grow my assets via bank savings. The Fed announces QE3 will purchase about $80 billion a month of Mortgages and Treasury debt. Where did that free money come from. It was created ex nihilo. Spoken into existence. Why QE3? Because the new dollars chasing existing assets will increase the face value of stocks, land, stuff the top 30%, like me, own in quantity. And the Fed wants me to feel wealthy. How earnestly does Bernanke want me to feel wealthy? $80 billion a month is equivalent to the total IRS taxes paid each month by all people and corporations. Its effect? To decrease the purchasing power of the $ US dollar, thus increasing the strain on those without assets. It redistributes wealth from those holding dollars and receiving fixed annuities to speculators, aka holders of tangible assets. Think of it as the Fed pumping a money flow as big as all US taxes (ex payroll tax) to the top 50%.
I saved $3,000, for college back in the day. If I had put that in half dollar coins, pre-1965, I would have 3,000 ( actually 2,700, 90%) ounces of silver, now worth more than $86,000. Quite an impact from Fed policy and free money system. Only by having "assets" like land, metals, equities can you out run the financial system..

Friday, August 31, 2012

What we need are some cultural changes

Simple litmus test - the rich are the people who have enough money to persuade the poor (via manipulation of the media or political sponsorships or both) that it is in their best interest to support social, political and economic policies that are diametrically opposed to their own best interests. That is nature's way of telling us that someone has too much money.
All of us are a bit Denyse Jones in at least some way. When we judge others for a large house, expensive shoes, etc., we are suggesting to ourselves that we don't deserve equal judgement for our own actions. The question is how to convert our natural desire to compare into something productive. Is it wrong, Sam, to get a maid? Why? We all earn money and we exchange it for things. Some would rather have a maid, some a more secure retirement, some new shoes. 
Why are you better for not choosing a maid? And we all can earn more money if we work harder. Should the fact that we choose to do so (or not to do so) engender scorn or praise? I don't see why.
No, the only two important facts are:
1) So long as we aren't harming others with our actions, we don't deserve ridicule. Nobody is harmed by my choice to go skiing, so even though it's very expensive, I don't see why anyone should be angry or self-righteous about something that's none of their business. I work an extra job and use free money to ski and eat out. That's my choice. It doesn't make me a good person to work two jobs, nor does it make me bad to ski and enjoy nice food.
2) we should look at others as a way to improve ourselves.

Monday, August 6, 2012

That means there is no money

The whole concept of money V return needs to be re-considered by financial advisers and investors. The returns of the past decade are miserable, even much worse when you deduct the fees.
I believe you'll see individuals take free money V return concept into their own hands. Relying on markets to create a rosy future has been problematic and is out of the advisers and investors control. However, if you focus on what you can control, that is your spending and to some degree your income, you can plan a more reliable outcome for the future. This approach is now very common practice in Japan who haven't seen any market growth for years and no doubt it is beginning to happen elsewhere with personal debt being paid down as a priority and less spending at the shops.
Most advisers don't like this approach as its hard to make money (in the current environment) just on providing good advice, ie they always need to sell an investment to make a dollar.
I am trying to fund myself for a startup idea that four of us friends share. So the goal was to save $50K before we all quit our jobs and took a flying leap of faith - that could last as long as 2 years before it made us a dime. My first reaction was that saving $50K meant no big ticket items. Guess what! I broke everything down and it seemed like what was costing me the most was the small daily indulgences - eating out, coffee, a couple of beers during the week etc. The big ticket items don't even count because the difference between a $15K car and a $20K car seem immaterial over a 3-5 year horizon compared to 2 dine outs every week vs none..

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's just free money

A true investor purchases shares in a fund/stock for the long haul (10, 20, 30 or more years). If you can't commit cash for such a time period, it shouldn't be in the market in the first place. If you can commit cash for such a time period, all this nonsense really becomes meaningless. Just make sure you have 6 to 12 months worth of cash on hand in a money market account. And, make sure you have additional free money on hand for things you know will take place within the next 5 or so years - such as a child going to college, new car, down-payment needed for a home, etc. After that, just pump free money into the stock market and relax and don't listen to all the nonsense in the media. And... this part is important... LIVE FRUGALLY!  Another point for consideration... Do you need money now? The Dow closed at 11,578 at 12/31/2010. The Dow closed at 11,143 on 8/11/2011. That's a 435 point (4%) drop over a 7 1/2 month period. Let me translate that. A hypothetical $100 investment at 1/1/2011 experiencing a similar drop would be worth $96 today. Sure, it would be better to turn $100 to $104 but $100 turning into $96 should not be anything to lose sleep over (UNLESS YOU'VE OVEREXTENDED YOURSELF INTO THE MARKET WITHOUT AN ADEQUATE CASH CUSHION ON HAND). Think of items in terms of the time it takes to earn the money to buy them. Time is a scarcer commodity than money for many of us. A thousand dollars is abstract, for example, but imagining a week at work is not.
It's just free money!

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to achieve growth?

However the sense of entitlement in the statement above is breathtaking. When people lend a country money they are not giving charity, instead they expect it back with interest. It is their free money (the lenders'). Taking your neighbors money is usually called theft.
The fact that Portuguese citizens suffer in doing so is besides the point. Plenty of people suffer paying back their student loans, their mortgages and their credit card accounts. Does Mr Lains believe that such people should withhold repayment when doing so is challenging?
Portugal is not a child under 18. It is a western European and democratic country. It has qualified economists and a civil service who can advise the government. It is true that joining the Euro absent a federal government was foolish. It chose to act thus and should now suffer the consequences of its actions.
And it is rather peculiar that when individuals make similar calamitous mistakes we have little or no sympathy. When a country does (one that should know better) many shed crocodile tears....

We definitely should change this situation

I have an advice for all the people concerned and critical of Europe's austerity-obsessed cures for the current crisis: Let us find something else to care about.
It has been proven to us beyond limit that enough evidence and reasons has been repetitively unearthed right out of this crisis that has proven the Europeans' policy of austerity to be doomed. They simply don't care, and we can't do anything about it. Maybe a full-throat melt-down is the only thing that may awaken them.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The food quality continues to erode

Human society is changing fast. How can we own the World Bank?
I hope President Obama now appoints someone who is back in the mold of some of the pre-Zoelicck and Wolfowitz presidents: men (or women) who have had a distinguished career, preferably in the private sector, have led a large and complex organization, and are not looking for the World bank presidency as a step back into their party's nomination to another important post. And definitely not someone who comes out of the administration. The World bank has enough trouble convincing people that it is not an arm of the US government. Having an overtly political appointee just reinforces this feeling by the rest of the world.

The World Bank is still an important institution. I hope the Obama administration will not squander the opportunity to find a truly exceptional leader.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I don't understand the mentality of people

With regard to the polarization of American politics, I have a couple of observations from 30,000 ft.
I have noted in conversations with my older cousin that as he ages his views become more stridently one way or the other. Everything is black and white. The gray area, which used to be the compromise zone is now considered a "slippery slope" that must be avoided. For the Limbaughs and Becks, who play strongly to this black-and-white view of the world, people like my cousin become very fertile ground. And given the fact that America, on average, is aging, the polarization that we're seeing now might only be beginning.
Recognizing this unfortunate nexus of aged minds and inflammatory speech, we need to find a way to bring the decibel level down. Reasoned discussion needs to become the acceptable norm again, and in-your-face style rhetoric needs to become socially unacceptable. I believe one big step in this direction would be to somehow divorse news programming from the entertainment industry. Almost by definition, the entertainment industry panders to what's most popular. News should tell people what they need to hear, not pander to what they want to hear.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I fear for our future

Our country needs a viable third party to represent us non-individualists who believe in compromise for the greater good, who advocate personal and institutional (including the government) fiscal responsibility but are more socially open-minded (and recognize that views on abortion and gay marriage can never be reconciled between all peoples and therefore respectfully agree to disagree), who allow religious liberty but still maintain the wisdom of separation of church and state, who care about the environment, who believe in a capitalistic society where a good idea, hard work, free pay and safe and reasonable labor practices are rewarded with reasonable profit, who agree that more financially successful folks should pay proportionately more in taxes but yet not feel penalized and disincentivized, who believe in lending a helping hand to deserving folks but yet are vehemently opposed to handouts that encourage a sense of entitlement and foster dependence, who feel intelligence and rationale thought and good science should trump emotions and non fact based belief systems when it comes to making certain policy decisions and where the Golden Rule rules (even if you are an atheist or agnostic). Are there others out there like me? I can't be the only one.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Americans need to be told the truth

NK does not need to test weapons, just as US does not today: weapons are computer-tested. NK stopping tests means nothing because we cannot see their computers. As w USSR, no agreement w/ it was ever truly honored anyway, just as NK keeps violating every agreement it makes.
Very incorrect that Gobechev didn't negotiate w Reagan; he very much did, because G understood USSR was bankrupt, had to come to table to implore US to stop arming, because USSR could not compete militarily w/ idiot Star Wars and stay alive economically. When that failed because Reagan didn't cave, USSR imploded shortly after during Bush's term in 89-91.
While I'd like to think negotiating works and it's vital important to keep doors open, it's been tried w NK, and will not work. There are plenty of photos of the late father smiling: current smiler is propaganda to US to believe this is a sea change.
The world is a dangerous place: our hopes and good intentions will not work here. NK is a figure head and military is in charge now.
Carry a big stick but talk softly...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Who stands for the American worker?

A lease is indeed a contract but it also means the landlord must live up to her end of the contract. I have the landlord from NY. She is a lawyer and blames the tenant for everything wrong. She had not fixed anything in the years before I moved in. When the power was turned on I found both bathrooms toilets broken, dishwasher broken, washer and dryer barely functioning, no kitchen sink only a bathroom sink, no heat, window filthy, tile floors with grime. I have the right to just leave with no notice but I don't want to make a move so soon. The lease has many illegal demands. Although I pay a high rent she was shocked that I knew my rights and has since gotten a bit more reasonable. I will leave at the end of the lease but withhold rent from last month for the terrible conditions I have had to live with. I might even send a copy of the lease to the state bar association. It was so obvious she sets up her tenants to keep the substantial deposit. I have warn her she cannot do that as I have taken good care of the place and paid to clean carpets and windows and have the place properly cleaned - things she should have done before renting it out again. This is the first time I have rented and I hope the last. I entered the agreement with good intentions only to realize the landlord did not. Her intentions are not to spend a penny in upkeep and maintenance and keep the deposit. Fortunately for me California has strong tenant rights laws too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Job growth remains strong!

It's well-established law. The legal obligation is no doubt serious, but in a situation like the current market, where vacancy rates hover near 1%, the problem of locating a suitable assignee is not nearly so burdensome as it sounds. And the rule generally applicable to the situation is that the landlord "may refuse to allow an assignation or sublease," but "not unreasonably." This means the landlord only has a veto right--for good cause--over the tenant's choice. It doesn't mean the landlord gets _his_ choice. The reason for this law is because the vacating tenant will ultimately still bear some legal responsibility through the term of the lease, so he should have the right to determine with whom he contracts that term.
Tenants should also be aware landlords and their form leases in this city very often misstate or blatantly misrepresent their actual rights; it is the governing common and statutory law that controls each party's rights, _not_ whatever wording the landlord and his lawyer have decided to insert into the lease.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The greed of bankers

I seem to remember the oil companies promising that Alaskan oil would help supplies here on the west coast. Surprise, surprise, they later started selling most of it to the Asian markets and our prices went up locally. We also have a different mixture because of the dirty oil we do get from up north, leaving tons of toxic cancer causing chemicals in the air here that aren't allowed anywhere else in America, because of higher refining prices. We didn't get to vote on that either. Oil companies dictate who gets what oil and speculators dictate prices, meanwhile republican candidates and their peers stir the pot and Iran gets more paranoid.
Pretty soon we'll be able to hopscotch from platform to platform across the Arctic as well as the Gulf. As a result of all this extra oil at the rate we're burning it permafrost melts and our atmosphere gets inundated with 70 billion tons of methane, equivalent to all CO2 released over the last 200 years. This combined with forests disapearing in Asia and South America and soon we'll need gas for our boats rather than cars. We need to get serious about alternatives if we are to survive.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Surely you jest!

There are too many law schools producing too many lawyers for too few jobs. Shutting down all the tier four law schools will at least stunt the supply. Those schools are jokes, nobody gets a job coming out of them. The ABA should remove their accreditation and let them die. The schools have no incentive to decrease class size--they get paid regardless of the students' eventual success. And, apparently, there will always be students willing to pay the ridiculous tuition. A private law school is across the street from my office, and it charges $36,000 annually for tuition. It is not highly ranked, and I don't know any practicing lawyers who attended it. Nonetheless, it seems to have a steady stream of willing customers who, based on my interaction with some of them, believe they'll all be entertainment lawyers or constitutional scholars. Rest assured, Phoenix is not a hotbed for either practice area, and I'm fairly certain that established schools are producing quite enough lawyers to fill those (and any other) legal service needs. Unless you're planning to become a barista who likes to have engaging conversations with customers, a law degree only prepares you for one thing, and there aren't enough opportunites for that one thing to make it worthwhile for at least 50% of the people attending law school now.

Monday, March 5, 2012

How can someone use a finite resource so cavalierly?

This POTUS has been in campaign mode ever since he got elected. Instead of devoting his time to try to solve the huge issues that face our nation, he is either at a fund raiser or campaigning somewhere on the taxpayers dime. You libs can still play the blame game on George Bush but even with the war he didn't raise our dificit by over 5 and half trillion dollars and still counting or preside over a downgrade in our nations credit rating. Our groceries have gone up over 30% and will still climb between now and the election and lets not even mention the price of gasoline. While your president was busy blaming the Japanese tsunami, the atms for outsourcing jobs, creating a whole segment of society where 44 million people are on foodstamps, 24 million and counting are unemployed our country has needed a president that had some leadership and answers for the issues that face this great nation. He is not competent for this job and I think someone else needs to lead this country beginning 2013. Four years of Obama is enough and the people will show that at the polls when they go vote with empty bellies and empty tanks of gas. That, my friends will get out the vote but not the kind Obama wants.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Take a look at the prices in the rest of the world and stop whining!!

His energy policies have not helped energy prices do anything but rise. His religion is green energy and to make fossil fuel energy more expensive so of course he is responsible for higher energy prices. He fails to understand we need lower cost of living and doing business in the US, his policies do just the opposite with obamacare, subsides for green energies, higher taxes and lower deductions for energy companies and his backing out of the middle east conflicts emboldens Iran to saber rattle without worry about US intervention.
Talking isnt going to fix anything nor explain how the facts are different. He lamely takes credit for higher oil and gas production which is all on non federally controlled land where production is down due to his delay and add regs on top of state regs. His followers may believe he is the great orator and can do no wrong but his actions prove otherwise if one pays attention.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oil will not last forever

Germany has 10x the GDP of Greece, and half the ratio of debt to GDP. One easy way to save Greece is for Germany to take out $300bil in loans at its low interest rate, buy up all of Greece's debt, and allow Greece to refinance its debt to slightly above what German debt costs.
The Greek economy would be relieved of its crushing debt burden, the EU would be saved (even strengthened), and Germany would actually make a small profit on the deal.
Alternatively, we could drag out this crisis for another decade as Greece relies on Germany for bailout after bailout to finance debt that it cannot afford. Or we could just let Greece default, markets collapse, and the EU dissolve.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The economy is shrinking

In a just world, all income would be subject to the Social Security payroll tax and Social Security would pay 70-80% of what people made on average during their lifetime. Europeans get that benefit. Surely older Americans deserve it, too.
Meanwhile billionaires pay 12-17% federal income tax. In a just world, they would pay 80-100% with the proceeds going to pay, among other things, a decent Social Security benefit so older people do not have to be forced to work. Or eat cat food. It says a lot about reporting on this issue that the fact funds exist is completely ignored.
Tips for saving money is great. But let's not forget this is a manufactured crisis. It's not an act of God. People decided outsized tax breaks are more important than forcing older people to work and even starve. We could, and should, change policies.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reduce gas taxes

We are sitting on 285 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The USA can run its cars, trucks and buses on this excellent...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

That would save gobs of money

I see lots of high quality food products from Canada. I assume this is because Canadian businesses can operate ....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I believe in the free market

What is going on in the United States is not the free market. What is going on is consolidation of the wealth from.....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our current prosperity

I'm excited, interested, in what the future of the United States is going to be. The best thing we can hope for is that ....

Friday, February 17, 2012

The boomerang effect

I'm sure most people would love to start their own business but the financial barriers to entry prove too difficult to overcome.