Black Coffee: The Fed, The ECB & the Washington Generals. Winning!

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.

We’re in the final stages of our master bathroom remodel. I’ll have all the dirty details — along with pictures and a summary of my lessons-learned soon. Today, my contractor is in the house, banging away, busier than a man with one tooth at a corn-on-the-cob eating contest — so I’ve got an espresso edition of Black Coffee for you this week.

And away we go …

Credits and Debits

Debit: Microsoft founder Bill Gates — along with fellow billionaires Warren Buffett and Sheldon Adelson — are pushing for an unlimited number of high-tech guest-worker visas, as well as amnesty for illegal aliens.

Debit: Clearly, these smart guys really know what they’re talking about. After all, tech giant Microsoft confirmed this week that they will be chopping 18,000 jobs off their payroll over the next year. (Yes, that was sarcasm, folks.)

Credit: This is just one more sign that the world fell down the rabbit hole sometime ago and, as such, we’re now stuck in an alternate reality where up is down, black is white and very little makes sense anymore — especially regarding the economy and our financial system.

Credit: I hear ya: But, Len, you said the same thing last week. Yep. Guilty as charged; but it’s an important point — not to mention extremely frustrating. A healthy economy depends upon accurate asset valuations and honest price discovery. That no longer exists.

Debit: Disagree? Then why is the stock market continuing to make all-time highs despite a contracting US economy, and why does gold founder despite a rapidly depreciating US dollar and the latest tension in the Middle East and Ukraine? (Hint: You can thank the Fed.)

Debit: You know the economy is in trouble when even the casinos can no longer stay in business. The Trump Plaza in Atlantic City announced that they intend to close their doors in September. Then again, I find it kind of hard to feel sorry for any casino that’s down on its luck.

Debit: It’s not just the Trump that’s folding. Two other failing Atlantic City casinos are turning in their chips at the same time, sparking fears that blight may be returning to the famous New Jersey boardwalk.

Credit: For their part, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the BRICS — are so disgusted with the Fed’s gross mismanagement of the US dollar that they just announced a $100 billion alternative to the US-backed International Monetary Fund. Yet another nail in the dollar’s coffin.

Debit: By the way, the Fed doesn’t have a monopoly on financial mismanagement. The European Central Bank is no better, as evidenced by recent high-profile bank failures in Portugal and, indirectly, Bulgaria.

Debit: Heh. I was about to say bank depositors in the US have nothing to fear — but then I remembered that more than $9 trillion deposited in US banks is protected by an FDIC insurance fund of just $25 billion. Yep. Solid as a rock.

Debit: True, true … In the event of a complete collapse of the banking system, the Fed can always print enough money to cover the $8.975 trillion shortfall. Of course, after they’re finished a gallon of gas and a loaf of bread will cost $100 too.

Credit: Thankfully, at least a few people are openly saying the Emperor has no clothes. The CEO of Europe’s largest insurer recently admitted that when it comes to Europe’s financial problems, “(Nothing) is solved and everybody knows it.”

Debit: Meanwhile, Jaime Caruana, head of the Bureau of International Settlements — often referred to as the Central Bank of Central Banks — is now warning that the world economy is more fragile than it was prior to the Lehman bank crisis in 2008. Welcome to the party, Jaime — even if you are a bit late.

By the Numbers

Okay, all this financial news has got me down, so how about something more upbeat? Amaze your family tonight with these fun tidbits on the the world famous Harlem Globetrotters and their hapless rival, the Washington Generals.

5 The number of alternate team names for the Generals. To give the appearance that the Globetrotters play more than one team, the Generals have also donned uniforms representing the Boston Shamrocks, the New Jersey Reds, the Baltimore Rockets, the New York Nationals, and the Atlantic City Sea Gulls.

22,000+ Total Globetrotters’ wins against all opponents since the franchise was founded in 1927. (Over that same period, the Globetrotters have just 345 losses.)

13,000+ Number of Globetrotters victories over the Generals.

6 Number of victories the Generals had over the Harlem Globetrotters between 1953 and 1995.

1 Number of times I’ve bought tickets to see the Globetrotters. The Generals lost, of course.

1 Number of Globetrotters’ losses between 1962 and 1995.

2006 Year of the Globetrotter’s last loss — 87-83 to the NABC College All-Stars.

2,499 The Globetrotters’ longest winning streak.

1971 Year the Globetrotter’s famous winning streak finally came to an end. The Generals beat them in overtime 100-99. Generals’ team owner Louis “Red” Klotz said that, after the game, “The fans looked at us like we killed Santa Claus.”

Source: Wikipedia; Answers.com

The Question of the Week

How many cars have you owned during your lifetime?

View Results

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Last Week’s Poll Result

Did you watch any World Cup games this year?

  • Yes (49%)
  • No (49%)
  • I’m not sure. (2%)

More than 300 people answered this week’s survey question — and the respondents were evenly split between those who did watch the soccer (football, to the rest of the world) tournament and those who didn’t. There were also six people who had no idea whether they watched a World Cup game or not.

Other Useless News

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

1. Manitoba (2.02 pages/visit)
2. Prince Edward Island (1.91)
3. Alberta (1.88)
4. Ontario (1.64)
5. Saskatchewan (1.62)

9. Yukon Territory (1.33)
10.Nova Scotia (1.31)
11. New Brunswick (1.30)
12. Northwest Territories (1.25)
13. Nunavut (1.00)

Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like those crazy canucks in Manitoba, eh) — or not (you hosers living on the frozen Nunavut tundra) — 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 via email too! Thank you.

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 me at: Len@LenPenzo.com

Gretchen from Retired By 40 had this question for me after she read my post on 19 Tips for Saving a Bundle on Home Appliances:

Is that your stove in the pic? If it is, I’m having stove envy.

Uh huh. And I bet that really burns you up! (I’m here all week, folks.)

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.

Photo Credit: brendan-c

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