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.
Let’s get right to it this week …
Credits and Debits
Debit: I see Italy has decided to give its sagging economic performance metrics a boost by including prostitution and illegal drug sales in its gross domestic product calculation. No, really.
Debit: Of course, the politicians in Roma say they’re only following orders; apparently, European Union rules now mandate the inclusion of hookers and blow in their GDP data. Well … that’s one way to, um, stimulate the economy.
Credit: At least the Europeans still maintain some standards: For example, the French ban ketchup in their school cafeterias, and doggy bags are still out of bounds in the Continent’s restaurants. I hear they love Grey Poupon too.
Debit: And you thought the US went overboard when it modified its GDP calculation last year. It’s just one more sign that the powers that be are getting increasingly desperate to maintain the illusion that all is well with the worldwide debt-based economic system.
Credit: By the way, this is the same EU that passed a rule in 1995 banning farmers from selling bananas with too much curve in them. I know. It’s a wonder how any of us manage to get out of bed each morning in one piece without help from our government masters.
Debit: Remember all of the Obamacare advocates in the press who proudly touted the Veterans Administration as a shining example of government-managed healthcare? Paul Krugman even dared to let his guard down; he claimed the VA was proof that socialized medicine “worked.”
Credit: I wonder if Mr. Krugman would be willing to trade his current healthcare provider for the socialized VA healthcare system and the incompetent bureaucrats who run it. Something tells me he wouldn’t — and who could blame him?
Debit: Speaking of healthcare, 11 million Americans are now collecting disability benefits; yet another all-time record. Unbelievable. Thank goodness the Fed keeps creating billions of dollars out of thin air every month — after all, those monthly checks have to be paid for somehow.
Debit: Then again, our profligate ways are rapidly devaluing everyone’s US dollar-denominated savings and creating inflation overseas in emerging markets — which is why the rest of the world is now fed up with the dollar being its reserve currency.
Debit: What’s that? You say you don’t believe the world wants to end the dollar’s so-called exorbitant privilege? The same privilege that has provided Americans with an artificially high standard of living for more than 50 years? Believe it. In March alone, Russia dumped 20% of its dollar-reserves.
Debit: Meanwhile, Russia and China just signed a deal to bypass the buck and pay each other in their domestic currencies for future banking, finance, and capital-market transactions. Sadly, most Americans are blissfully unaware of the implications, thanks to the lack of media coverage.
Debit: For his part, Paul Craig Roberts — who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan — claims the Fed is now surreptitiously buying US Treasury bonds through Belgium in a desperate attempt to disguise the world’s growing lack of confidence in the dying dollar.
Debit: No, Mr. Roberts’ very plausible claim didn’t get picked up by the mainstream media either. Maybe they were too busy reporting on more important issues: like the latest winners of Dancing With the Stars. Or The Voice.
Debit: Finally … After 40 years, Burger King is scrapping its famous “Have It Your Way” slogan. As for the new tagline, well, it’s now: “Be Your Way.” Huh? Maybe somebody would like to explain, because that makes absolutely no sense to me.
Credit: No matter what it means, the change was immediately noticed by Burger King’s competitors. According to one message board commenter: “Not to be outdone, McDonald’s has countered with its new slogan: I be lovin’ it.”
By the Numbers
Amaze your friends at dinner tonight with these Burger King facts:
1953 Year the first Burger King opened; it was located in Jacksonville, Florida and known as Insta-Burger King.
1957 Year Burger King introduced the Whopper.
3 Number of buns in Burger King’s Big King sandwich.
13,000 Approximate number of Burger King restaurants, worldwide.
2 Burger King’s rank among all hamburger chains in terms of total restaurants. (McDonald’s has more than twice as many stores.)
91 Number of countries with at least one Burger King restaurant.
Source: Motley Fool
Last Week’s Poll Results
What type of milk do you prefer?
- 2% (24%)
- Whole (21%)
- Skim (20%)
- I don’t drink milk. (20%)
- 1% (15%)
Almost 400 people responded to last week’s question. Surprisingly, the results were divided fairly evenly, although slightly more people enjoy drinking 2% milk than the other varieties. Does anybody else remember “extra rich” milk — which had more milk fat than “whole” milk? It was good stuff! I don’t see it anymore; I wonder if they even make it anymore. On the other side of the scale, one in five of you appear to be lactose intolerant; if so, you have my sympathy. Then again, maybe you’re not drinking milk because in many places it’s more expensive than gasoline.
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 5707 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- 8 Big Reasons Why You’re Getting an F in Personal Finance
- How to Make Extra Money Working from Home
- 18 Fast Facts You Didn’t Know About Money
- 100 Words On: Why It Doesn’t Always Pay to Do It Yourself
- A Simple Test to Tell Whether It’s Better to Rent or Buy a House
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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
I got this note from Peter Wong last week:
I have a million dollar investment portfolio that involves money deposited in my bank in China. For $575 I can easily transfer it to you as beneficiary.
No offense, Peter, but I only deal with total strangers who keep their investment portfolios in Nigerian banks.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c