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.
Hey … Happy Mother’s Day all you mothers!
(You know, maybe I should have rephrased that.)
Oh well, that’s now water under the
dam bridge, so let’s get right to it.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From July 2012:
The World’s Greatest Chicken Marinade Recipe – I know. This post isn’t very old at all, but with the barbecue season here, I thought I’d share this again anyway. If you’re brave enough to give the recipe a try, let me know how you like it.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Control Your Cash – Nothing Is Your Fault Or, Student Loans Are Killing Our Economy
Retire By 40 - Is the Disability Program Your Ticket to Early Retirement?
The Chicago Financial Planner – Stock Market Highs and Your Retirement
Cash Cow Couple – What Is Financial Freedom?
We Only Do This Once – Drive Your Old Car and Shut Up
Credits and Debits
Debit: A realtor in the Big Apple is offering a 15% pay raise to any of his employees who are willing to tattoo the company logo on their body. So far, 40 employees have already taken him up on his offer. I know.
Credit: I bet none of those 40 employees currently have a “Mom” tattoo emblazoned somewhere on their body — but I bet they’d all get one in a New York minute if she offered them a couple of bucks for the honor.
Debit: Incredibly, the realtor got the idea from one of his employees who supposedly did it for free, solely out of loyalty to the company. And you thought California was the land of fruit and nuts.
Credit: Speaking of money-grubbing real estate agents, almost everywhere you look somebody is touting the amazing housing recovery that is taking place in the US. Things are supposedly so hot in many parts of California that terms like “wild” and “bubble” have crept back into the local real estate vernacular.
Credit: The improving market is one reason why US home improvement stores are reporting their strongest same-store sales figures in almost a decade. Sales are also up for companies that provide lumber and other goods needed for new home construction.
Credit: Heck, the market is so hot right now, even Las Vegas — which was hit harder than any other American city after the housing bubble popped in 2008 — is seeing sharply higher home prices and year-over-year sales increases of 65%.
Debit: Then again, since last October, the Fed has been purchasing $40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities each month — and that’s clearly boosting the current housing rally. Unfortunately, it may be the only thing driving the rally in light of all the other negative economic indicators.
Debit: In fact, an artificial housing recovery may help explain why the US home ownership rate is now at its lowest level since 1995. It may also explain why data from Bank of America shows that home renovation spending has plunged over the past six months to the lowest levels since 2010.
Debit: Of course, the Fed’s loose monetary policy has gone on for so long now that true price discovery is nearly impossible, so it’s no wonder that the markets end up misallocating capital. A prime example of this can be seen in Las Vegas, where new construction permits are up 50%, even though nearly 1 in 10 homes sitting vacant.
Debit: So, with the U6 unemployment rate rising last month to 13.9%, 1 in 5 Americans on food stamps, and a record 10.9 million now receiving federal disability payments, who the heck can afford to buy up all these new and existing homes?
Debit: Many will point to speculators, hedge funds and private equity firms, many of whom end up buying distressed properties and then rent them to their former owners — which is why there are more than few folks out there who believe the latest housing “recovery” is actually a myth.
Debit: Foreigners are fueling the market too; it’s no secret that Chinese citizens have been buying up lots of American real estate for the last couple of years now. Yes, even in Detroit. Hey, why not? Especially after you consider some homes in Motown can now be bought for as little as $100.
Credit: On second thought, never mind. A hundred bucks for a house in Detroit is probably still too much.
By the Numbers
Everything you wanted — or didn’t want — to know about Mother’s Day, but were afraid to ask:
1914 First year Mother’s Day was officially celebrated in the United States.
43 Countries that now celebrate Mother’s Day.
$152.52 Amount of money the average American spent on Mom in 2012.
45 Percentage of mom’s who say household appliances are the worst gift you could ever give them.
13 Percentage of mom’s who don’t ever want to get a cookbook for Mother’s Day. (That’s right. Ever.)
$3.4 billion Money Americans spend annually taking Mom to brunch or dinner on Mother’s Day.
69 The record for most number of children borne to a single woman. (Thankfully, not all at once.)
9 Month (September) that consistently has the highest number of births in the United States.
80 Percentage of mom’s who say they’re open to having sex on Mother’s Day.
100 Percentage of dad’s who are open to having sex on Mother’s Day.
Source: The Free Financial Advisor
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
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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
Ted wrote in to tell me he’s had enough of my weekly complaining about the economy:
I’m wasting my time telling you this because people like you never think you’re wrong.
Hold on, Ted; that’s more than a bit unfair. When I finally get something wrong, I promise I’ll admit to it.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.