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.
It’s the first week of May and I hope everyone is having a great weekend! Let’s get right to it.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From April 2011:
My Peanut Butter Taste Test: What 8 Choosy Mothers Really Chose – According to American advertising lore, when it comes to peanut butter, choosy mothers choose Jif. Of course, my dog, Major, gave Jif high marks — but the real question is: Which brand did the human members of my taste test panel pick? You may be surprised at the findings.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
JoeTaxpayer – The Retirement Gamble.
Save Outside the Box – 7 Ways We Waste Money
So Over This – Why Don’t People Know How to Dress Appropriately?
Credits and Debits
Credit: This week’s Black Coffee tip of the week: Before you decide to commit your next crime, be sure to check out the Yelp reviews from prisoners in your local jurisdiction’s hoosegow. Just in case you get caught.
Debit: No, I don’t know how prisoners are getting Internet access from behind bars. But if it’s being provided free-of-charge with law-abiding citizens’ tax dollars, I’d take the negative reviews with a big grain of salt.
Credit: Speaking of law and order, the South Carolina House passed a bill this week that criminalizes the enforcement of Obamacare within their state. Governor Nikki Haley has already said that South Carolina will not implement the widely unpopular law.
Credit: True, the US Supreme Court could find the proposed South Carolina law to be unconstitutional. Then again, I’m quite positive that the state of South Carolina doesn’t really care.
Debit: In case you haven’t heard, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) — one of the biggest champions of Obamacare — agreed this week that the law is going to end up being “a train wreck” unless it gets more money. That’s on top of the $1.8 trillion it is going to cost during the first ten years alone. Unbelievable.
Debit: As Hot Air points out, this isn’t how Obamacare was pitched by the proponents who sold it. Instead, we were told “Premiums would go down, AND the health care cost curve would bend down for the government, AND it wouldn’t add a dime to the deficit, AND everyone who liked their insurance would be able to keep it.” I know.
Credit: Don’t look at me, folks. I warned you that Obamacare was bad medicine long before Congress passed the bill. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
Credit: In other news, the latest US jobs report showed that the economy added 165,000 new jobs in April, with big upward revisions for February and March. And if that wasn’t enough to make you cheer, maybe news that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.5% will.
Credit: The positive employment news sent the already-hot stock markets even higher. The S&P finished the week above 1600 for the first time ever, while the Dow crossed 15,000 during trading on Friday, although at the closing bell it fell slightly below that figure.
Debit: Then again, if you dig deeper, the news isn’t quite so rosy. Even the New York Times is pointing out that, after including adults who are no longer counted as part of the labor force, the real unemployment rate is closer to 17%. They also call the 63% labor participation rate a “disaster.” Well, yeah.
Debit: Believe it or not, the unemployment picture is so bleak at the moment, only six states currently have real unemployment rates under 10%.
Debit: But wait … if you really dig into the minutia, you’ll find the average workweek dropped 0.2 hours last month to 34.4 hours. And while that doesn’t seem alarming, as Karl Denninger notes, that 0.2-hour decline is economically equivalent to firing 700,000 people. Yikes.
Debit: Perhaps that’s why the Fed announced this week that they’ll continue printing $85 billion per month, while maintaining interest rates at nearly zero. Well, or they’re staying the course because they realize if they stop, the economy will collapse. Who am I kidding; yes, it’s the latter.
Credit: Then again, none of that news has affected consumer confidence in America; it climbed sharply last month, which just goes to show that nobody usually pays attention to the minutia anyway.
Debit: By the way, if you think the Fed’s interest rates are pitifully low, you may be interested to know that the European Central Bank is considering negative interest rates. Hmm. Maybe that’s why American consumers are so optimistic right now.
Debit: One thing is certain, Europe’s economy is in sad shape. Things are so bad there right now that even beer consumption is at an all-time low; both the UK and Germany are reporting sharply lower lager sales over the past year.
Debit: One guy who’s probably doing a lot of beer drinking right now is Henry Gribbohm. Last week, the New Hampshire man lost his life savings of $2600 playing a carnival game. Go ahead — I’ll wait while you read that again.
Credit: Henry was trying his luck at a game called “Tubs of Fun” for a chance to win a $300 Xbox Kinect. I guess he didn’t realize most carnival games are rigged. Otherwise, he could have used his money more wisely by buying 2600 lottery tickets from the local White Hen Pantry. Or not.
Credit: Oh well. Easy come, easy go. The good news is the poor guy didn’t walk away empty handed. He won a really cool giant stuffed banana — with dreadlocks.
By the Numbers
Here are a few more facts on beer consumption, based upon the latest study from the Kirin Institute of Food:
42.0 million Pints of beer consumed annually in the United States. Worldwide, the US ranks second in beer consumption.
79.1 million Pints of beer consumed annually in China. More beer is consumed in China than any other country.
50 China’s rank in per capita beer consumption. On average, that’s equivalent to 92 12-oz. bottles of beer on a yearly basis.
1 Czechoslovakia’s rank in per capita beer consumption. On average, Czechs drink 341 bottles of beer annually.
19 Consecutive years that Czechoslovakia has led the world in per capita beer consumption.
213 Bottles of beer the average American drinks each year. That’s slightly more than the average Brit (199), but far fewer than the average German (299).
0.8 Percentage share of the global beer market that comes from the Middle East.
524.3 billion Equivalent 12-oz bottles of beer consumed worldwide in 2011.
Contributing Source: Kirin
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Contest Winner
Congratulations to Jim R. He was one of only two people who correctly guessed that I’ve been to nine of the ten most expensive cities in America. (The only city on that list I haven’t been to is Anchorage, Alaska.) For his efforts, he won his choice of three prizes: a $20 Starbucks gift card, a $20 iTunes gift card, or a real $100-trillion bill from the Federal Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Jim’s name was pulled in a random draw among all of the correct guessers.
Thanks to everyone who participated. I’ll have another contest soon.
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!
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And last, but not least…
3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you.
Top 25 Referrers for April
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. The Simple Dollar
4. Money Talks News
5. Business Insider
6. Sound Mind Investing
8. Clark Howard
9. Budgets Are Sexy
12. Smart Asset
13. Survivalist Boards
14. The Quest for $85,000
15. Control Your Cash
16. Wealth Pilgrim
17. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
19. Money Crashers
20. The Consumerist
21. So Over This
23. Consumerism Commentary
24. The Sydney Morning Herald
25. Money Funk
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: Len@LenPenzo.com
Mel dropped me this note regarding my decision to get finally get some new wheels after driving my 1997 Honda Civic for more than a dozen years:
A brand new car? What’s next, a timeshare in Vegas?
Hey, now… I may be dumb — but I’m not that dumb.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.