It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joeâ€¦
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of whatâ€™s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Hereâ€™s what caught my attention over the past weekâ€¦
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 3Â½ points, will lose the same game. Yes?
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.Â 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:
$1500Â The cheapest seat available on StubHub, 30 hours from kick-off.
$3.8 millionÂ The average cost for a 30 second commercial spot during the Big Game.
$200 millionÂ 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.
111.3Â Millions of viewers who watched last year’s Super Bowl, making it the most-watched television program of all time.
1Â 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.
The Question of the Week
Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Other Useless News
Programming note: Unlike most blogs, Iâ€™m always open for the weekend here at Len Penzo dot Com. Thereâ€™s a fresh new article waiting for you every Saturday afternoon. At least there should be. If not, somebody call 9-1-1.
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Top 25 Referrers for January
Itâ€™s the first weekend of the month, which means itâ€™s time once again to thank the top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.
1. MSN: Smart Spending
4. The Simple Dollar
5. Business Insider
6. Money Talks News
7. Everyday Money
8. Budgets Are Sexy
9. The Quest for $85,000
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
25. Money Life and More
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little olâ€™ blog! Itâ€™s much appreciated.
Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment â€“ 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: Len@LenPenzo.com
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.