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.
I was surfing the web yesterday when I came across a famous quote that we all should keep in mind from time to time, so I thought I’d share it with all of you today:
“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” — Mark Twain
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From July 2009:
Approximate Energy Costs of Your Home Appliances – Ever wonder about the approximate hourly or monthly electricity costs to run a fish aquarium, or a clothes dryer, or any other electrical appliance in your house? Well, you’ll find the answers in this post.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Chicago Financial Planner – Greed Is Good – What If Gordon Gecko was a Financial Advisor?
Money Counselor – US Retirement Catastrophe Looming?
We Only Do This Once – Do You Have Grit?
The Money Puzzle – Lottery Winner Blew $9.5 Million in 9 Years
Financial Uproar – Financial Literacy Should be Your Own Responsibility
Credits and Debits
Debit: Last weekend, with Cyprus banks on the verge of bankruptcy, the euro zone offered a bailout “deal” to the Mediterranean island’s repositories as long as the beleaguered institutions’ savers forked over as much as 10% of their account deposits to help cover the tab. I know.
Debit: Naturally, that led Cyprus to declare an extended bank holiday until March 26. The holiday was meant to avert a bank run by panicked depositors who, rightfully, wished to withdraw their money before it could be officially
stolen taxed by the politicians.
Credit: Unfortunately for the euro zone, apparently somebody forgot to consult the politicians in the Cypriot Parliament about the backroom deal because last Tuesday the lawmakers roundly rejected saving the banks at the expense of their innocent depositors.
Credit: Even so, long lines of depositors waiting to make withdrawals have become a common sight now at virtually every ATM in Cyprus. And who can blame them?
Debit: Some reports say the bankers’ intended money-grab is so egregious that officials are now looking at
plundering levying a 40% fee on uninsured bank deposits from Cypriot savers. Unbelievable. So much for the rule of law, where those with less-senior claims (hello bank stock- and bond-holders) take the first hit.
Debit: Needless to say, the rumors and breathtaking financial shenanigans have taken their toll by completely undermining the public’s confidence in the Cypriot financial system — which is why Cyprus approved capital controls on Friday to maintain some semblance of order after the banks reopen.
Credit: Those Cypriot capital controls essentially signal the de facto end of the euro as a single currency. To borrow an example from the Telegraph, the controls are essentially the equivalent of telling Hawaiians they can’t transfer or spend their dollars across state lines. Good luck with that.
Debit: The implications of the Cyprus fiasco is that creditor nations will insist that any bank rescue must be co-funded by depositors forevermore. In fact, with precedent set, New Zealand and Spain are now openly considering their own depositor levies.
Credit: With depositors vulnerable to punitive hair cuts — and banks offering negative interest rates in real terms — even economist Paul Krugman understands why savers would prefer to keep their money in a mattress.
Debit: Of course, Cyprus isn’t the only euro zone country with nearly-insolvent banks; there are plenty in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy too. How many depositors in those countries are wondering when their deposits are going to be stolen from them? Uh huh.
Debit: Which begs the question, will the panic eventually spread to the rest of the euro zone? And if it does, will the contagion expand beyond Europe to the US?
Debit: After all, US savings accounts aren’t risk free. Yes, they’re insured — but the FDIC’s $25 billion insurance fund is currently protecting a whopping $9.283 trillion in deposits. That disparity doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in the claim that our deposits are guaranteed.
Credit: Then again, maybe I’m just being paranoid. Remember, I’m a “glass half-empty” guy.
The Question of the Week
By the Numbers – Contest Time: Win a $20 Starbucks Gift Card!
Yep, it’s contest time again! Below you’ll find the 10 worst breakfast cereals — in terms of sugar, trans fats, and calories. Naturally, over half of the cereals that made the list are often found in my pantry. I’ve got a $20 Starbucks gift card for the person who can correctly guess which one of those 10 cereals is my favorite.
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, March 29, at 5 pm, Pacific Standard Time. Good luck!
1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks
2. Kellogg’s Corn Pops
3. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks
4. General Mills Franken Berry
5. General Mills Trix
6. Kellogg’s Eggo Cereal Maple Syrup
7. General Mills Basic 4
8. Kellogg’s Smorz
9. Post Oreo O’s
10. Kellogg’s Fruit Loops
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 3753 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- Economic Collapse 101: What It Will Look Like, and How It May Start
- Economic Collapse 101: Ten Ways to Prepare for the Unknown
- The 6 Biggest Consumer Electronics Markups (and How to Fight Back)
- 9 ‘Oops’ Moments I Ultimately Paid For (One Way or Another)
- True Story: How a Broken Washing Machine Fixed My Finances
Each month I post some of the more curious search terms visitors entered into Google’s search engine that (according to Google Analytics) led them, somehow, some way, to Len Penzo dot Com:
- how can an 11 year old girl save money?
- how can a 15 year old girl make money?
- how can a 17-year-old girl get lots of money?
- how can a 40 year old single woman save money on taxes?
- how to get access to husbands [sic] bank account
Hey, no matter how you got here, please be sure to:
1. Click 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! You can reach out to me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
Gil Wanchai, who works for a company called High Speed Delivery Service, had some really good news for me earlier this week:
“I deemed it urgent to notify you about a compensation payment of $2,811,041.00 USD. Please contact us with your name and address to arrange delivery of your money.”
Um, yes, I’ve been expecting that. By the way, can I get all of it in 10s and 20s? Thanks.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.