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…
Have you seen Oreo’s “Whisper Fight” television commercial? I can’t get enough of it. There are more laughs in that 30-second masterpiece than there were during all eight seasons and 192 episodes of “Full House.”
No, I haven’t watched every episode of “Full House” — but I watched enough of them to know that it was one of the lamest sitcoms ever created.
And before you write in to tell me that “Full House” was a hilarious laugh-a-minute riot — you better make sure you include an example of at least one genuinely funny scene to prove your point. Good luck. You’re going to need it.
Okay … onward and upward.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From August 2009:
What’s an Emphyteutic Lease (and Why You Should Avoid One) – Is your lease emphyteutic? You better hope not.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Control Your Cash – Why Car Salesmen Hate Dealing with Women
Wealth Pilgrim – 401k Matching – How to Get More for Less
PT Money – Why It May Cost You More When It’s Free
Wise Dollar – An Easy Way to Save on Your Heating Bill
Credits and Debits
Credit: This week, in his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Congress to give minimum wage workers a 24% raise to $9 per hour. I remember the last time I got a 24% raise. Wait a minute … on second thought, that was a 2.4% raise.
Debit: If only somebody would tell the President that higher labor costs act as a drag on a weak economy. They also won’t lower the unemployment rate, which is still higher now than it was when he took office in 2009. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
Debit: Uh oh. Don’t look now, but the United States’ lost its claim to being the world’s biggest trading nation. That’s right. China is the new trading king now, when measured by total imports and exports.
Debit: One store that’s familiar with Chinese exports is WalMart. Unfortunately for them, February is off to a really bad start; the retailer just experienced its worst monthly sales start for any month since 2006.
Debit: Then again, it’s not just WalMart that is suffering from a lack of customers. If January’s figures are any indication, retail growth in the US has been virtually non-existent this year for most everyone, as last month’s sales edged up just 0.1%.
Debit: Although American consumers’ enthusiasm is clearly on the wane, the US government eagerly continues to rack up charges on its national credit card. Since October, the US has added another $290 billion to the National Debt. I know.
Credit: Thankfully, the US actually managed to temporarily stop the fiscal bleeding last month — it ran a $2.9 billion surplus in January. That’s the first time the US ended a month in the black since last April.
Debit: Since 2009, the US has added more than $6 trillion to the National Debt. Even so, ex-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) insists that the government doesn’t have a spending problem. Unbelievable.
Debit: Pelosi’s absurd economic mindset is quickly eroding foreigners’ faith in our resolve to live within our means — and that’s hastening the end of the US dollar’s bestowed honor of being the world’s reserve currency. When that honor is finally withdrawn, most Americans’ standard of living will drop precipitously.
Debit: Our politicians have to be either blind — or not paying attention — to not see the growing worldwide dissatisfaction with America’s abuse of its exorbitant reserve currency privilege. Then again, maybe they are aware, but simply don’t care.
Credit: The loss of faith in the US dollar is clearly reflected in the world’s central banks’ gold appetite. In fact, they bought more than 534 tons of the yellow metal last year — that’s the most since 1964. Collectively, central banks have been net gold accumulators for eight consecutive quarters.
Credit: The US dollar’s diminished standing isn’t limited to other nations. Last week the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill authorizing a study on the merits of issuing its own currency. Just in case, of course.
Debit: Finally … Did you see this? Bourbon manufacturer Maker’s Mark found itself on the rocks after announcing they’re reducing the alcohol content of their whiskey by almost 7% in order to meet rising demand for their product.
Credit: Huh? Why would any reputable company water down their product to meet demand? What ever happened to the tried-and-true economic solution of raising prices — or shrinking the package?
Credit: Hut! Don’t say it. I know exactly what you’re thinking: Taco Bell better not try the same crazy stunt by reducing the beef content of their world famous taco meat. If they do, well … it’s on like Donkey Kong.
The Question of the Week
By the Numbers – Contest Time: Win a $20 Starbucks Gift Card!
Yep, it’s contest time again! Below is a list of the Top 10 television series of 2002. I’ve got a $20 Starbucks gift card for the person who can correctly guess the only television series in the list that I watched regularly that season. That’s right — there’s only one!
Please place your answer in my blog’s comment section; I’ll only accept one answer per email address. If multiple folks pick the correct answer, then I’ll select the winner by a random draw among everybody who got it right.
And if nobody enters or gets the correct answer, then I’ll use the card myself.
The contest closes on Friday, February 22 at 5 pm, Pacific Standard Time. Good luck!
1. Friends (Nielsen rating: 15.3)
2. CSI (14.6)
3. E.R. (14.4)
4. Everybody Loves Raymond (12.8)
5. Law and Order (12.6)
6. Survivor (11.8)
7. NFL Monday Night Football (11.5)
8. West Wing (11.4)
9. Will & Grace (11.1)
10. Leap of Faith (11.0)
Source: TV by the Numbers
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — 5 Canadian provinces and territories in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. Saskatchewan (2.06 pages/visit)
2. Newfoundland (2.05)
3. Alberta (1.95)
4. Manitoba (1.66)
5. British Columbia (1.65)
9. Nova Scotia (1.47)
10. Prince Edward Island (1.38)
11. Northwest Territories (1.33)
12. New Brunswick (1.27)
13. Nunavut (1.00)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like the crazy canucks in Saskatchewan, eh) — or not (you hosers living on the frozen Nunavut tundra) — 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.
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!
Kath stumbled upon my blog earlier this week and was so impressed (no, really) she sent me a nice note, which started out like this:
“I just found you … where have you been all my life???!”
Standing in line at the DMV.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.