Black Coffee: My Magic 8 Ball Predicts the Super Bowl Victor — and Other Things

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…

Okay, I’m now going to ask my trusty Magic 8 Ball to name the winner of this Sunday’s Super Bowl game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. (I know so-called sports experts who charge bettors good money for this info.)

Magic 8 Ball, will the San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday?

“Concentrate and ask again.”

Okay, I’m concentrating, Magic 8 Ball. Will the San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday?

“Cannot predict now.”

Are the Baltimore Ravens going to win?

“Better not tell you now.”

I think you should. Bill Nye the Science Guy went out on a limb and predicted the Baltimore Ravens are going to emerge victorious on Sunday. He gave the score too: 31-24.

So give it up. Are the Ravens going to win Super Bowl XLVII?


Just to be clear, that also means the 49ers, who are favored by 3 ½ points, will lose the same game. Yes?

“Most likely.”

So there you have it, folks. The Ravens are going to win the Super Bowl.

Now go place your bets — at your own risk, of course.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t dare go against the collective wisdom of the Magic 8 Ball and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

But that’s just me.

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed

From January 2009:

Got a Fixed Rate Mortgage? Then Root for High Inflation. – If high inflation is inevitable, is it still worth continuing to pay down your mortgage? Well, like everything else in life … it depends.

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …

The Money Principle – Dealing with Debt: Seven Steps to Debt Busting

The Oblivious Investor – What Happens to Bond Funds When Rates Go Up?

The Chicago Financial Planner – ETFs: Four Considerations Before Buying

Retire by 40 – 5 Common Places to Avoid Hiding Your Jewelry

Credits and Debits

Credit: American incomes increased 2.6% in December. That’s the fastest pace in more than eight years. Of course, killjoys like me suspect a big reason for that is because a lot of folks moved income forward to avoid the 2013 tax increases.

Credit: Speaking of rising incomes, the real estate agent who closed the deal last month on a Silicon Valley estate that sold for $117.5 million is already off to a good start in 2013.

Credit: The mansion’s sale price came to $13,158 per square foot. Hey, at that rate, my modest Southern California home is worth a lot too — $26.9 million. If anybody’s interested, drop me a line and we can avoid the middle man.

Debit: If that’s too rich, you can always buy a more reasonably-priced home in Detroit.  The median home price there is just $21,000 — essentially the same price of a brand new Chevy Malibu.

Debit: Detroit’s miserable real estate market no doubt reflects the sad state of a dying city that continues to suffer from decades of destructive policies and general fiscal mismanagement. It’s also why Detroit now teeters on the edge of bankruptcy.

Debit: Meanwhile, the United States continues to run up its own debt. Despite the recent fiscal cliff “deal,” the nation’s debt is on track to reach 200% of GDP by 2040. Of course that brazenly assumes the dollar won’t implode before then.

Debit: Making matters worse, we can’t counter the government’s uncontrolled spending through rapid economic growth. In fact, the US GDP actually shrank 0.1% last quarter. If it contracts again next quarter, we’re officially in another recession.

Debit: You’d think that after $312 billion of “stimulus” last quarter, the economy would expand at least a little bit. Instead it contracted by $5 billion. How can that be? Talk about a miserable “return on investment.”

Debit: When you include the Fed money pumping last quarter, all of the added “stimulus” amounts to roughly 14% of quarterly GDP. Even so, the economy still shrank. If that doesn’t indicate that the economy is in big trouble folks, I don’t know what does.

Debit: Despite the poor returns, the Fed promises to keep pumping. Of course, that makes the investment bankers on Wall Street happy, because all that paper money being conjured up out of thin air has to go somewhere.

Credit: For now, that money continues to rush into the stock market. On Friday the Dow closed above 14,000 for the first time in five years. For the month it gained 5.77% — its biggest increase since January 1994.

Debit: Frankly, the Fed has no choice but to keep their quantitative easing program in place now — if only to keep their carefully orchestrated illusion going a little while longer. The problem is they can’t keep it going forever. The piper will be paid.

Debit: That day will arrive when foreign investors finally wake up and see that our obligations are too big to ever be repaid. The US dollar will then officially cease to be the world’s reserve currency, and all but the richest Americans’ standard of living will be greatly diminished forevermore.

Credit: Credit rating agency Egan Jones certainly recognizes the United States’ dire fiscal situation — unlike Moody’s and Standard & Poors. It’s why Egan Jones has downgraded the US credit rating more than any other ratings firm — three times in the past two years.

Debit: Curiously, Egan Jones has now been barred by the US Securities and Exchange Commission from rating asset-backed and government securities for the next year and a half.

Credit: I know what you’re thinking. So I asked the Magic 8 Ball if the SEC’s action against Egan Jones was merely a coincidence. The Magic 8 Ball’s response: “Don’t count on it.”

Credit: And in case anyone from the SEC is reading this, I want to make it absolutely clear that the views and opinions expressed by my Magic 8 Ball do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Len Penzo, the Len Penzo dot Com staff and syndicates, and/or any other contributors to this site.

By the Numbers

Here’s a closer look at this Sunday’s Super Bowl:

$1500   The cheapest seat available on StubHub, 30 hours from kick-off.

$3.8 million   The average cost for a 30 second commercial spot during the Big Game.

$200 million   Maximum expected net economic impact to New Orleans, which is hosting Super Bowl XLVII.

10 Counting Super Bowl XLVII, the number of Super Bowls held in the Big Easy.

111.3   Millions of viewers who watched last year’s Super Bowl, making it the most-watched television program of all time.

1   Super Bowl Sunday’s rank among the biggest days for restaurant pizza sales. Last year, pizza joints sold 4 million pies on game day alone.

50 Millions of cases of beer that will be consumed.

2 Billions of gallons of water that will be required to flush that beer away.

1.23 Billions of chicken wings consumed by Americans during Super Bowl weekend. If I did my math correctly, that requires, um, donations from 615 million chickens.

Contributing Sources: Forbes; USA Today

The Question of the Week

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Other Useless News

Programming note: Unlike most blogs, I’m always open for the weekend here at Len Penzo dot Com. There’s a fresh new article waiting for you every Saturday afternoon. At least there should be. If not, somebody call 9-1-1.

Hey! If you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please don’t forget to:

1. Click on that “Like” button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!

2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!

And last, but not least…

3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you. :-)

Top 25 Referrers for January

It’s the first weekend of the month, which means it’s time once again to thank the top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.

1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. Kiplinger
3. Wisebread
4. The Simple Dollar
5. Business Insider
6. Money Talks News
7. Everyday Money
8. Budgets Are Sexy
9. The Quest for $85,000
10. Lifehacker
11. Control Your Cash
12. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
13. Financial Uproar
14. The Sydney Morning Herald
15. Afford Anything
16. First Gen American
17. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
18. The Free Financial Advisor
19. Wealth Pilgrim
20. So Over This
21. Wealthy Turtle
22. Free From Broke
23. Money Funk
24. JoeTaxpayer
25. Money Life and More

Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.

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! You can reach out to me at:

Yesterday, my post on how to avoid paying a mandatory gratuity for lousy service got a link from the good folks at the Christian Science Monitor. Of course, that led to dozens of comments from irate servers who feel entitled to that 18% tip, regardless of how well they performed their duties. This note from “d” concisely expressed the general consensus of those writing in:

Len, you sound like a CHEAP BASTARD!

If you say so, d. By the way, can you break a penny for me?

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


    • 3

      Len Penzo says

      When it comes to picking Super Bowl winners, my Magic 8 Ball has a success rate of only 50%. It correctly picked the Green Bay Packers in 2011, but failed to pick the New York Giants upset last year.

      Personally, I think the 49ers are going to take the game rather easily.

  1. 5

    Special_Ed says

    “…you can always buy a more reasonably-priced home in Detroit. The median home price there is just $21,000 – essentially the same price of a brand new Chevy Malibu.”

    But, then you would be living in Detroit.

    Why would you release your commercial before the Super Bowl? Most of the viewers are watching for the commercials.

  2. 8


    Well the SuperBowl is broadcast over here but I don’t watch it, along it seems with the majority of your voters! And those that do seem to watch for the commercials – or have they just clicked the wrong button?

    There is that confusion with the word ‘football’. Maybe you have a large European/Asian/African/South American audience who all got confused too!:-)

    Anyway thanks for the mention of Maria’s post on debt busting! Stand by for more….

  3. 9

    Arlinda Rollins says

    since the Ravens won the Super Bowl, do you recommend consulting the Magic 8 Ball for financial issues as well?

    • 10

      Len Penzo says

      My 8 Ball is always available for reader questions of any kind, Arlinda. Feel free to submit your question(s) to

      I’m compiling reader questions for an upcoming article I’ll be posting soon.

  4. 12

    Paul N says

    Have you ever thought of doing a post simulating what would happen the morning after the currancy defaulting? What would most would happen if that really happened and the affects on market’s, people, pricing, our banking system? What can people do to protect at least a portion of their wealth if that happened?

    How many times could you say “I told ya so”, just sayin?

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      Paul, I hear ya. I know this is scary stuff and a lot of folks would rather not listen to it. But I will continue preaching about our nation’s financial state until our fateful day of reckoning finally arrives. The trouble is 99% of the population has no clue how bad things are now — or they’re simply in denial. Either way, I will continue preaching about this until we either a) quickly reduce the size of our federal government and its future obligations, so we can turn this ship around (extremely unlikely); or b) collapse occurs. The trouble is, nobody can say when option b will finally get here because human psychology plays a role in how the end game will play out. :-)

      The economic collapse could get here tomorrow or it could take years. We just don’t know.

      It’s like the last market crash — I saw that coming too, and pulled out of the markets 10 months before it happened, as did a lot of other folks who looked at the economic indicators and saw the writing on the wall. We didn’t know when the crash would come, but we knew it was coming and didn’t want to get caught when the music stopped playing — despite all the naysayers who said “it’s different this time.”

      Now, I’ve talked about what would happen in this column many times before. I’ve also linked to many articles within the credits and debits that explain what is going to happen. But I will take you up on your offer and write my own post highlighting my best guess regarding exactly what I believe will unfold.

      I’ve also written about how folks can protect themselves in such a situation: buy tangible assets, stay employed, invest in precious metals, leverage Ben Bernanke’s ridiculously low interest rates to buy things that will provide you with additional income down the road (assuming you can afford to do so). There are other tips I can pass along, especially regarding 401ks. I’ll expound on all of these tips later next week in a new article. How’s that? :-)

      • 14

        Paul N says

        Thanks for that fast reply.

        I agree – It confounds me to see the debt + spending issues just continuously ignored. Like the Roman’s had their “Games” to entertain the masses. (Today it’s sports, & E.T., and blockbuster movies) I guess people can’t focus on what really affects them and is truly important.

        Do we really need to know what some Hollywood star is doing? How will that improve your life? Or is it more important for people to wake up and avert this modern day Titanic about to crash into this new bigger iceberg? Does anyone question why a loaf of bread costs twice as much as it did a few years ago and is smaller? Then there is a posted inflation rate of less than 2%? (Yeah 2% – but that’s monthly and it compounds)

        I clicked on your link above about “Egan Jones”. If you tell the TRUTH about something in the market and it’s negative in some way, depending on the effect it causes, you get attacked? It’s amazing.

        I enjoy reading your blog – you use facts and spin them in a humorous way. At least we will all have a few laughs on our way to a lower standard of living. Please continue your amazing writing, maybe more people will catch on.

        Looking forward to that post :)

        • 15

          Len Penzo says

          Well said, Paul.

          And thank you for the nice words.

          I’ve just started writing the “how-to-protect-yourself” article this afternoon. If I don’t finish it in time for this Wednesday’s posting, you’ll see it the following Wednesday.

  5. 18


    You might be able to predict death but football and for that matter boxing or any other game is another story. Even though Raven won, 49ers had better odds for a spectacular win.

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