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.
Unfortunately, I’ve got a lot of honey-dos to take care of today, so let’s get right to it — otherwise I may be sleeping on the couch tonight with the dogs.
Credits and Debits
Credit: For those of you who keep telling me that the collapsing US labor participation rate over the past five years is due to retiring Baby Boomers, it’s time to pick another excuse: As Zero Hedge notes, workers over age 55 have experienced a net gain in jobs since December 2007.
Debit: On the other hand, there are fewer people under age 55 in the US workforce today than there were six years ago. In fact, the labor participation rate for folks under 55 hasn’t been this low since the early 1980s. That’s not the sign of a healthy economy, folks.
Debit: It’s obvious that Main Street residents of all ages were hurting in 2013 because Nevada’s biggest casinos lost $1.35 billion last year. In fact, those casinos have now gone five consecutive years without turning a profit. What’s that? Did I hear a few snickers out there?
Debit: Meanwhile, Wall Street is finally feeling some pain. On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its second consecutive day of triple-digit losses after falling more than 300 points. It was the Dow’s worst week in 27 months.
Credit: If you’re looking for a hot market, try Venezuela’s bourse, which is at an all-time high. Yes, that Venezuela. Over the past 12 months, Venezuela’s Caracas stock market index has climbed from 477 to 2833.
Debit: Then again, that six-fold gain is a reflection of Venezuelan inflation, which is currently running at 50% — and climbing. Meanwhile, the utopian socialist policies there are now causing massive food shortages to go along with the previously reported lack of toilet paper. Forward!
Debit: Needless to say, Venezuela’s leaders can’t see that their collapsing economy is due to their free-market meddling — in the name of fairness, of course. So they’re now deploying the Army to help enforce their misguided government price controls on “greedy” store owners.
Debit: Speaking of socialist policy failures, economist John Goodman is warning that Obamacare is now at “significant risk” of systemic failure caused by a so-called premium death spiral. That’s because not enough healthy young people are signing up. Imagine that.
Credit: Obviously, Mr. Goodman is a pessimist. It’s premature to be predicting the death of Obamacare when the government hasn’t called in the US Army to help enforce the law yet — although they are now beginning to enroll prison inmates. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.
Debit: I’m sure all of Target’s part time employees who just lost their company-provided health insurance won’t be too happy after they learn about the coming Obamacare “death spiral” — or, even worse, that Obamacare was the reason Target gave for dropping it in the first place.
Credit: “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan. Period. End of story.” Just sayin’.
Credit: In other news, Procter & Gamble announced this week that their earnings fell more than 15% year-over-year. So why the poor performance? It turns out they’re blaming the declining sales on the growing popularity of … beards. I’ll wait while you reread that.
Credit: For their part, Procter & Gamble says they are now focusing on taking advantage of the growing number of men who choose to shave the body hair below their neck. Yes, even there. That should make for an interesting marketing campaign. On second thought, Gillette already went there.
Credit: The P&G news suggests that I’m a trend setter — er, with respect to beards, folks. After all, I’ve been sporting one for the past four years now, so I guess it’s time for me to move on and start working on the next big thing in pop culture. When I figure out what that’s going to be, I’ll let you know.
By the Numbers
Amaze your friends at dinner tonight with this beard trivia:
55 Percentage of males who wear beards, worldwide.
33 Percentage of American males now wearing beards.
1860 Year that Abraham Lincoln decided to grow a beard, after receiving a letter from an 11-year-old girl suggesting he would look better because his face was so thin.
5 US presidents who sported a beard while in office. (Garfield, Grant, Harrison, Hayes, Lincoln)
6 Length, in feet, of the longest beard ever recorded.
2 Percentage of lumberjacks who don’t wear a beard.
2 Percentage of men on the Forbes 100 list of the world’s richest men who have a beard.
0 Lumberjacks on the Forbes 100 list of the world’s richest men.
100 Rubles paid annually by bearded 18th century Russian noblemen, by order of Peter the Great — yes, a beard tax. (Here’s hoping that Congress doesn’t know about this.)
Last Week’s Poll Results
Miracle Whip or real mayonnaise?
- real mayonnaise (55%)
- Miracle Whip (21%)
- neither (14%)
- both (10%)
More than 200 people responded to last week’s question and the jury has spoken: When it comes to the battle between Miracle Whip and real mayonnaise, more people prefer real mayo — well, at least among folks who read this blog.
As for this week’s all-important question, well … it is the result of a personal request from reader Eric.
(So you can blame him for this one:)
The Question of the Week
Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 5557 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- A Fond Look Back at My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2013
- What Influences Your Credit Report Score?
- The Most Valuable Subject Taught In Grade School
- News Flash: A High Income Doesn’t Guarantee Financial Freedom
- The 7 Deadly Sins of Personal Finance
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!
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The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From August 2010:
22 Signs Your College Degree Might Not Be Worth the Money – Presented without comment.
And Here’s Some Other Articles You Might Enjoy…
L Bee and the Money Tree – Reflections on an Indebted Life
Hassle-Free Savings – 5 Ways to Save on Good Beer
Celebrating Financial Freedom – Talk Yourself Out of Debt: How to Create a New Script
The Savvy Scot – People Are Less Financially Comfortable After Age 34
Cashville Skyline – Why I’m Not Increasing My Emergency Fund Above $4964.87
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
From RD Blakeslee, who had this observation regarding all of the comments I received on my recent article explaining why Miracle Whip doesn’t belong on a tuna sandwich:
“What a tempest in a teapot! Kind of surprising on a website which advocates individual authority and responsibility.”
Not really, RD. After all, the use of Miracle Whip on a perfectly good tuna sandwich is irresponsible.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c