Black Coffee: Predictions, Prognoses, Forecasts, and Prophecies

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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.

My extremely heavy workload at the office and the obligatory honey-do list is compressing my schedule again, so I’ve got another “espresso edition” of Black Coffee for you this week. Don’t worry; it still has plenty of kick to get those juices flowing.

Okay, off we go …

Credits and Debits

Debit: In 2013, some people misread the tea leaves and mistook big US stock market gains as proof of a coming economic boom — even though they were being artificially supercharged by the Fed’s quantitative easing campaign.

Debit: In fact, the skyrocketing stock market and deceptively falling unemployment had others so euphoric that, by the end of 2013, some were predicting that 2014 would be the “Year of the Boom” and a replay of the Roaring Twenties. No, really.

Credit: By December, even the Fed’s prognosis was that the economy was back. That led them to finally start tapering their wholesale money printing from $85 billion per month to $75 billion per month, followed by another cut to $65 billion.

Debit: That was then; this is now. Since the Fed started cutting back on the free-money fix that was being used to medicate the markets, stocks haven’t been doing so well. For the year, the S&P 500 is down 4% and the Dow is down 5%. Coincidence?

Debit: Meanwhile, January’s employment figures are in: It turns out that, for the second month in a row, the number of new jobs created by the US economy wasn’t enough to even keep up with population growth.

Credit: Despite the grim job numbers, the “good” news is that the unemployment rate fell again; this time to 6.6% — which just goes to show that the “improving” US economy isn’t the only thing that’s an illusion. Government economic data still can’t be taken seriously either.

Debit: Even so, the alarming unemployment data has some people now forecasting that the Fed will be increasing the quantitative-easing dosage to $85 billion again. You know, so the economy can start, um, “improving.”

Debit: On the other hand, I guess if you’re among the nearly 25% of all 26-year-old Americans who are still living with their parents, you probably never felt good about the economic “recovery.”

Debit: Did you hear about this? The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Obamacare enrollees in California are having a hard time finding doctors to treat them. That’s because insurers have put tight limitations on the number of doctors and hospitals available to Obamacare patients in an attempt to keep premiums down.

Credit: It’s not just a California phenomenon; it’s happening in Oregon too. Of course, those “fear-mongering” Obamacare opponents have prophesied doctor and provider shortages for a long time now. Heretics.

Debit: Nonconformists have also repeatedly warned that Obamacare would be a jobs-killer — although I suspect the IRS probably disagrees. Still, the impact is so bad that the CBO now says Obamacare will eliminate the equivalent of 2.1 million jobs by 2021. Forward!

Debit: Finally … Check out these college students who signed a fake petition to repeal the Second Amendment — and even put legal gun owners in concentration camps. Wow.

Credit: Consider that Reason #2643 why people can’t claim they’re educated just because they attend a university.

By the Numbers

Presenting the median salaries in 2013 for the top five jobs in terms of opportunity, cushy pay, manageable work-life balance, and security. Can you identify the common theme?

$142,740 Dentist (Unemployment rate: 0.7%)

$65,690 Registered Nurse (2.0%)

$113,390 Pharmacist (3.1%)

$78,770 Computer Systems Analyst (2.5%)

$183,170 Physician (0.6%)

Source: US News and World Report

The Question of the Week

Last Week’s Poll Result

Have you ever had fraudulent charges placed on one of your credit cards?

  • Yes (67%)
  • No (27%)
  • I don’t own any credit cards. (6%)

More than 200 people weighed-in last week. Believe it or not, two in three Len Penzo dot Com readers have had somebody place an unauthorized charge on at least one of their credit cards. Yikes! If that doesn’t give you incentive to always keep close tabs on your credit card statements, I don’t know what will. Please, folks, be vigilant! There are a lot of bad people out there who are constantly trying to get something for nothing.

Other Useless News

Here are the top — and bottom — five states in terms of he average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:

1. New Mexico (2.44 pages/visit)
2. Wyoming(2.05)
3. Arkansas (1.99)
4. Oregon (1.93)
5. Kansas (1.87)

46. Illinois (1.59)
47. Colorado (1.59)
48. Louisiana (1.46)
49. Mississippi (1.43)
50. Vermont (1.31)

Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in the Land of Enchantment) — or not (ahem, Ben & Jerry) — 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. :-)

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed

From February 2012:

A Few Thoughts from Aunt Doris: The Two-Fingered Salute Is a Handy Gesture — Next time you’re in jolly ol’ England and you need to order two of anything be very careful when using hand gestures to make your point — if you do it the wrong way, you’ll end up sending the wrong message.

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:

Last week in this space I predicted that the Denver Broncos would top Seattle in the Super Bowl, 23-21. I was close; the Seahawks won 43-8. That prompted Henry to send me this:

“Nice prediction, Nostradamus!”

I know. I just hope this doesn’t hurt my chances of getting a side-job working for the Psychic Friends Network.

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.

Photo Credit: brendan-c


  1. 1

    matt says

    Agreed on the Obama market illusion. I’m selling what I can now with as little tax exposure as possible. Use if to payoff debt. At 37 retirement is a pipe dream anyway.

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      Good man, Matt. Retirement is a pipe dream for most people, which is why it is important to have a job that you love doing.

  2. 3

    Ray says

    I’ve been feeling the crunch in my rental properties which are all in a transint blue collar city in north ern Ohio.Decent applicants are getting very scarce.My rents are at what they were in the mid 1990’s. Many of my tenants have had hours cut and evictions are on the rise.
    The two busiest places in town are the welfare office and the eviction court.A good 70% of applicants are on SSI along with their kids on SSI as well.Problem is,SSI folks are uncollectable in the case of an eviction.I used to accept sect8 years ago but stopped since the damages done were not worth the hassle.
    A recent problem in the last five years or so is that folks double and triple up without informing their landlord.The lease may be for an older couple,but then a few months later there are six or seven people in the unit.
    I’ve been selling my rentals during the last few years and am down to about a quarter of what I used to have.My age is catching up and it’s just to hard to do some of the work I used to be able to do.

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      Very sad, Ray. By the way, my folks are from Ohio and I still have a lot of family there.

      Question: I’ve heard countless stories of Section 8 tenants absolutely destroying the apartments they rent. Why do you think that is?

  3. 5

    Ray says

    Len,they have no skin in the game.
    Subsidized rent,subsidized utilities.
    Low security deposit.
    Uncollectable for damages.


    Sect8 will not throw them off the program,just approve them for another unit.

    In all honesty,i do still have one sect8 tenant left.She has been with me for over 20 years.Only hings I’ve had to do were to install a new furnace,new hot water tank and new windows during that time.She on her own laid down anew kitchen floor,painted the entire exterior of the home and many other small things as well.Always pays her portion of the rent on time.

    What irks me today is that most of the so called “safety nets” have become generational.Kids growing up feel that they are owed by the government.they have no incentive to work.
    I would suggest that Romney was dead on about the 47%.

  4. 6

    Karen Kinnane says

    Dear Lenn Penzo, The reason welfare tenants, and section 8 tenants trash their homes is that 1. they aren’t paying for them so they don’t appreciate them and 2. The landlord has been demonized by the Left as the “enemy”, so they want to get back at him / her for owning something. Never mind that I bought all my rentals by scrimping and saving, and by ALWAYS having a second almost full time job as a waitress and banking all that money for buying real estate. Subsidized tenants are resentful of those who own property. Since they don’t work or don’t work to capacity, they have a lot of time to sit around and brood about why they aren’t owners instead of working harder, and longer, saving instead of wasting money, and buying for themselves. My most active time for evictions is January as “the poor” have hemorrhaged money they didn’t have and the rent, for Christmas presents the children didn’t need, and then the tenants can’t pay the January rent. They will actually say, “I wanted the kids to have a good Christmas.” and ignore the fact that the children and they will be on the street when they are evicted in January or February for non payment of rent. Of course the Red Cross or the County will give them shelter, put them up in a motel, and further encourage bad rent paying habits. I’ve come to resent the “Toys for tots” program because in addition to the piles of toys which the parents bought with the rent money in December, I must also get rid of the many new toys which various charities give these ingrates. The toys are abandoned when the deputy comes for the eviction and I have to dispose of them too.

  5. 7


    Interesting discussion about Section 8. I’ve only known one person on Section 8 housing. She certainly didn’t wreck the place but she did “game the system” a bit. She worked two jobs (a full time and a part time) and had two daughters (one in community college, one teenager). When she took the 2nd job, her rent went up because it was based on her income. That was a bummer, but she went with it.

    The “gaming the system” was two fold. Her boyfriend lived with her off the books (and he worked under the table). Eventually, she got a new job that paid enough so that she could quit the side job. She bought a condo in a town 30 miles away, but left her community-college aged daughter in the rental. So her daughter, who had almost no income, got to stay there almost rent free.

    Sadly, some things didn’t work out. The teenager started getting rebellious and apparently the teen daughter’s boyfriend broke into her new condo and stole her TV and a few other items.

  6. 8


    And there’s a reason why I’m a bit jealous of my dentist. She has a better schedule (works 3 days a week in her office and one day per week at the university).

    But man, I just don’t want to spend my days in someone else’s mouth.

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