It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…
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…
It’s my dog’s 9th birthday today! You know, folks, I’ve had lots of pooches over my lifetime, but Major is very special; I promise you, he’s the sweetest 120-pound pup you’ll ever meet.
In fact, if I only had three words to describe Major they would be: Best. Dog. Ever.
Yesterday the Honeybee brought home a new plush toy — a cow — to add to his collection. And today I suspect he’ll be getting a new rawhide bone as well, not to mention some extra table scraps added to his kibble.
In the end, though, he’ll probably spend the majority of his big day today just like every other one: lounging on the couch.
Okay, enough babbling about my dog. On with the show …
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Couple Money – I Broke My Own Rule About Loaning to Family. Elle gave a loan to a relative in a financial jam (of his own making) — and then the guy “thanked” her by complaining she didn’t give him enough. I’m not making this up. Of course, she never got repaid. Elle’s story only goes to prove the old adage: Never loan money to a relative because it will give them amnesia.
Cash Money Life – How I Talked My Wife Into Letting Me Buy a Classic Corvette. It really wasn’t that difficult. Sheesh. It turns out that after Ryan told his wife that he got his cousin Elle to give him a “loan” (wink wink), the Corvette was a slam dunk. Okay, you got me; that’s not how it really went down.
Bible Money Matters – Are You Behaving Like A Future Millionaire? Peter didn’t say whether or not this article was inspired by Ryan’s decision to live like the rich and famous or not. I bet it did though.
Monevator - Why a Little Passive Income is Worth More than You Think. Says the Investor: Passive income is money you get without any extra work. Examples include interest on your cash savings, rental income, or royalty fees on a book you wrote years ago. Oops. Looks like the Investor forgot one: “loans” from kind-hearted relatives that you never intend to pay back.
Funny About Money – Competitive Shopping at Home Depot. I hate shopping, but I love wandering the aisles at Home Depot; it’s one of the few stores on the planet where I can get completely lost in the moment. For hours on end. After having her flatbed cart stolen there (by “two fat people — apparently a matched set”), along with a couple of other injustices, you can bet Funny doesn’t hold the giant home improvement warehouse in the same high esteem as I do.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From November 2010:
Dear Diary: How I Fixed My Water Heater and Saved $400 – My Mr. Fix It father-in-law, Tony, dropped by and installed two new toilets at my house last week. Awhile back he also helped me put in a new water heater — and it just so happens that I chronicled that day’s frustrating events in this minute-by-minute journal (including my own home improvement warehouse shopping adventure — this one, at Lowe’s).
My latest weekly roundtable appearance on Average Joe’s weekly financial podcast, The Worst of the Free Financial Advisor, can be heard on Episode 11: Julie Clow, Author of the Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All.
By the way, every week you can listen in for a chance to win some fantastic prizes!
This week, Joe is giving away a classic C3 Corvette. (Sponsored by Elle.) Or something like that …
The Question of the Week
Credits and Debits
Debit: Dang. I just read that the budget for the US food stamp program — recently given the more politically correct monicker the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — has more than doubled since 2008.
Debit: No matter what you call the food stamp program, taxpayers will spend $82 billion on it next year. Just sayin’.
Debit: Respected investor Jim Rogers says the next US recession will be much worse than the 2008 recession because the US now has so much more debt on the books than it did when the last pullback occurred.
Debit: Says Rogers: “If you’re not worried about 2013 — please, get worried.” Among other things, Rogers is forecasting the next recession will be accompanied by rising interest rates; a stagflation nightmare last experienced in the late 1970s.
Debit: To be sure, signs of a worldwide economic slowdown are everywhere, as evidenced by the latest figures showing declines during the month of May for both imports and exports here in America.
Debit: Meanwhile, the ghost town otherwise known as Detroit — its vibrant past a fading distant memory — will go broke next week if a lawsuit challenging an $80 million bond agreement to keep the city afloat is not dismissed.
Debit: Speaking of dry coffers, tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Greek officials are warning that their plundered treasury could run dry as early as next month. This time, they’re blaming it on anemic tax revenues. Whatever.
Credit: According to one Harvard professor, “Greece is beyond repair.” Martin Feldstein — who was also an economic adviser to Ronald Reagan — says the road to recovery won’t occur until Greece exits the euro and devalues their currency.
Credit: For its part, Moody’s Investor Service says that a Greek exit from the euro could doom the beleaguered currency to extinction by dragging down the credit rating of fellow euro-using countries Cyprus, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain.
Credit: If the euro does implode, who knows how far the fallout will spread, so hold on to your hats. We may all soon be in the midst of what arguably could be the most dramatic time of our entire lives.
Debit: While New York City tries to stop people from using salt and consuming large soft drinks, California is now just three weeks away from imposing its own wacky ban on the sale of … foie gras. Yes, fatty duck or goose liver. I know.
Debit: Animal rights activists insist that the commercial foie gras production process in the US is inhumane, despite convincing evidence to the contrary.
Debit: Not surprisingly, the new law has California’s only foie gras producer crying fowl … er, I mean foul; they’ll be out of business next month.
Debit: That’s just what the doctor ordered for a state suffering with an “official” unemployment rate of 10.9 percent.
By the Numbers
Here’s a few fun foie gras facts:
420 Tons of foie gras consumed in the United States annually.
6000 Approximate number of ducks processed each week by the nation’s largest foie gras farm, Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York.
3 Foie gras farms in the United States (after California’s farm, Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras, goes out of business in July).
$60 Current price per pound for foie gras in California.
$185 Price of the “Foie for All” at Melisse in Santa Monica, a five-course tasting menu including truffled foie gras agnolotti, dover sole with poached foie gras, and foie gras with pudding.
30 Percent of the customers at Melisse ordering foie gras off the menu.
2004 Year the California foie gras ban was passed; the law included an 8-year grace period.
$1000 Fine for any chef caught selling foie gras in California after the ban goes into effect.
2006 Year the city of Chicago passed its own foie gras ban; it was repealed two years later.
Sources: The Telegraph; The Village Voice
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — five states in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. Indiana (2.78 pages/visit)
2. North Dakota (2.61)
3. Kansas (2.49)
4. Maryland (2.46)
5. Hawaii (2.36)
46. New York (1.86)
47. Pennsylvania (1.85)
48. Wyoming (1.75)
49. South Dakota (1.70)
50. New Hampshire (1.59)
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Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not!
Valerie sent me a very kind email this week, although she did question my decision to splurge on a couple of tickets to Game 4 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals:
Couldn’t you think of anything better to spend $2500 on?
Well … it was either that or a tennis bracelet for the Honeybee. Lucky for me she likes hockey.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.