It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…
I am happy to announce that, after 85 days, a handful of engineers from British Petroleum has finally managed to plug the embarrassing leak in my readership numbers. In fact, I’d like to say that I am cautiously optimistic, but after I finished rereading this column as part of my daily editorial duties, well, I suspect we’ll all be back at the drawing board again tomorrow.
Now, before I permanently tick off any more people with the always-irritating Credits and Debits commentary, let’s go over some of my favorite posts from the past week. (There’s a reason Credits and Debits come at the back end of this column.)
Control Your Cash – Too Big to Stop Failing. Have you heard the joke that’s been making the rounds regarding the reason BP took so long to mop up the oil leak in the Gulf? Apparently, it was because they used the same people who clean their restrooms. I know. Speaking of British Petroleum, before you consider, um, tar and feathering (sorry) BP CEO Tony Hayward, you might want to move a few other guys to the front of the queue first.
Little House in the Valley – The Newlywed Financial Bliss Box. Hey hey hey! No, it’s not Fat Albert. Little House’s little sister is getting married! But here’s the rub: Her unemployed sis is turning 29 this year and still lives at home. What about her fiancee, you ask? Well, he lives with his parents too – and he’s pushing 40. He doesn’t have a steady paycheck either. Thankfully, Little House has devised a plan to try and save the day – the question is, will it work? (Besides, it could be worse. At least the future groom is not the CEO of British Petroleum.)
Money Funk – Keeping Your Pet Safe with Spot-on Flea and Tick Control. Readers of mine who have problems with fleas – or whose pets have fleas – might find this post interesting.
…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Balance Junkie – Why Do Bears Always Wear Black Hats? (Perhaps because the green hats clash with their fur?)
Monevator - Beware the Lure of the Exotic. (Like bears wearing green hats.)
Money and Risk – 12 Steps To Trick Yourself Into Saving Money.
Financial Bondage – Why Kids Should Not Get Allowances. (For those who want a better explanation than the one I gave to my kids: because I said so.)
Centsible Life – Credit Scores: What, Why, and Where?
Oblivious Investor – Calculating Real Estate Investment Returns.
Planting Dollars – Multitasking Doesn’t Work.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From July 2009:
Kids and Money: Our Decision to Let Our Impulsive Spender Fail – For every kid that seems to have a natural ability to grasp the value of a dollar and a real determination to save as much as they can, there is another who has their money spent almost as soon as it touches their little hands. Last year I wrote about how my now 13-year-old son is a textbook example of the latter – and why I have decided to not stop him from throwing his money away on utterly frivolous things.
Credits and Debits
Debit: CNBC reported this week that Arun Motianey, director of fixed income strategy at Roubini Global Economics but better known as “Deputy Doom,” warned that the global economy is at risk of folding in on itself unless policy makers face up to the threat of inflation and exchange rate inflexibility.
Debit: Ironically, despite all the money currently being printed by the major central banks around the world, Motianey believes the real problem down the road won’t be inflation, but deflation.
Debit: How is that possible? CNBC quotes Motianey as saying: “If we slide into deflation – the likely fate of the developed market – a Japan-style outcome will become inevitable. In Japan, the BoJ has lost the ability to create inflation and is condemned to deflation. Central banks may now need to talk about the necessity of inflation…before it is too late.”
Credit: Never mind for a minute his Armageddon-like prediction – even though I think it is off-base. Unlike the US, Japan has unenviable demographics; their shrinking population is rapidly aging and continues to decline. Let’s get to the real issue here: how can I get a cool moniker like “Deputy Doom?”
Credit: It turns out Motianey is a protege of Nouriel Roubini, a.k.a. “Doctor Doom.” Many people today believe Roubini is the most accurate economist (there’s an oxymoron for ya) of our time. As early as 2005 he was predicting rampant speculation would result in disaster for the American economy. Despite being widely criticized for his views, in 2006 he correctly predicted that “The United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence, and, ultimately, a deep recession.”
Debit: So what does Doctor Doom currently think about the direction of the global economy? Well, on Monday, Roubini said at his website that, because of expiring austerity programs (read: stimulus programs), “It’s heading for a serious slowdown.”
Credit: That’s it, Doctor Doom? Just a serious slow down? I was expecting you to tell us we were headed for something straight out of The Book of Eli, Mad Max or, dare I say it? Return of the Planet of the Apes.
Debit: You better watch your back, Doc. If you keep making such rosy predictions, your apprentice is going to take your crown.
Debit: Then again, everybody has a bad day now and then; so let’s see if I can’t lend the good doctor a hand today. On Thursday, Reuters reported that in the first half of the year foreclosure filings were made on 1.65 million properties. One. Point. Six. Five. Million. In six months.
Debit: Not gloomy enough? Okay, how about this one: this week the head of the House Democratic Campaign Committee was adamant his party would (cover your eyes, boys and girls) avoid losing the House of Representatives to the Republicans – a result that would most certainly derail President Obama’s legislative agenda. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) told reporters this week, “We will maintain a majority in the Congress.” Gulp. Let’s see Deputy Doom top that one. (So, um, how did I do?)
By the Numbers
127 million The population of Japan as of March 2009.
10 Japan’s rank among the world’s most populous countries.
1.5 The estimated Japanese fertility rate in 1993. The number has been less than the replacement fertility rate of 2.1 since the late 1970s.
0.17 The percentage decline of the Japanese growth rate in 2009. It is estimated the population will contract another 0.22 percent in 2010.
11.6 The percentage of the Japanese population in 1989 that was over the age of 65.
21.2 The percentage of the Japanese population in 2010 that was over the age of 65 – the highest in the world. The US percentage is roughly 12 percent.
40 The estimated percentage of the Japanese population in 2055 over the age of 65.
18 The estimated percentage decline in the Japanese workforce by 2030.
8 The estimated percentage decline in the consumer population by 2030.
Letters, I Get Letters
I got good news and bad news from the Letters Department this week. The good news was I received two letters. The bad news is they weren’t fan mail…
BlueSky, regarding my response to his (or her) letter in last week’s Black Coffee column:
“Are you for real? What planet are you living on anyway?”
Hold on, let me look out my window. The sun.
Meanwhile, Dizzy121078 opines:
“I’m with Blue Sky. You ARE a wacko but I like to keep coming back so I can watch you put your foot in your mouth week after week. lol!”
I’m here to please, Dizzy. In fact, putting my foot in my mouth is something that just seems to come naturally to me. (Ah, shoot. There I go again.)
If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at: Len@LenPenzo.com
I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – assuming I get one, that is.
If you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mail bag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not.
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 referring sites to Len Penzo dot Com so far during the month of July:
Thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to share one of my blathering rambling articles with your readers. As always, the link love is always appreciated, folks!
And to make sure I include more of the smaller blogs that tend to get overwhelmed by the larger sites, at the end of the month I will highlight the Top 25 referring blogs for the entire July! (Hooray!)
Oh yes, and here’s another friendly reminder for ya: if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please make sure you follow me on Twitter. And, if you’ll be so kind, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too!
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
No carnivals this week. (I lost all my tickets.)