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 kick this baby off, shall we?
As big a deal as the Super Bowl is, it’s not the most important thing going on in the world.
— Tony Dungy
Credits and Debits
Debit: Although the US unemployment rate for January was just 4.8%, the US labor participation rate continues to hover at just under 63% — that’s near a four-decade low, and a persistent reminder of a structurally-broken economy that will require big changes before the American Dream can ever be reborn.
Debit: Meanwhile, over in Europe, bureaucrats there are now proposing new restrictions on cash payments. Why? Because, according to the European Commission, “Payments in cash are widely used in the financing of terrorist activities.” Let’s just hope the Commission never discovers that terrorists need food, water and air to carry out their activities too.
Debit: Although bankers and bureaucrats use terrorism to justify their war on cash, the real reason they want to ban cash is because that’s the only way to keep their monetary system Ponzi scheme going.
Debit: By the way, it’s no coincidence that this talk of banning cash comes with Greece once again on the verge of collapse. Silly me; I thought this problem was fixed after 13 austerity measures and two bailout packages from the IMF. Go figure.
Credit: Needless to say, the bankers, ivory tower academics and government bureaucrats who assert that cash bans and smaller bills will reduce crime and terrorism are flat-out wrong. As Simon Black points out, the cold realty is that countries with higher cash denominations in circulation actually have much lower crime rates, including organized crime and government corruption.
Credit: I hope you aren’t feeling too secure thinking that it’s any better on this side of the pond. It ain’t. As David Stockman notes, the US is sitting on a fiscal time bomb of its own. That’s because there’s $10 trillion in debt already in the pipeline during the next decade — and that’s before President Trump enacts any tax cuts, infrastructure spending or an increase in defense spending.
Debit: Unfortunately, the US economy — and by extension, the rest of the developed world’s economy — will never return to its former glory until the dollar implodes. You can thank a paradox known as “Triffin’s Dilemma” for that.
Credit: For what it’s worth, Jim Rickards said last week that when the the dollar finally does lose its reserve currency status — along with much of its current purchasing power — the demise of the “Almighty Dollar” will come with a whimper, not a bang.
Credit: Of course, the dollar isn’t alone; the yen, euro, yuan and pound sterling are in the same pantheon of scabrous fiat currencies backed by nothing but confidence. Heh. In fact, financial analyst Egon von Greyerz is so unimpressed with their fundamentals that he’s predicting all of them will be worthless within five years. Yes, all of them. I think he’s optimistic.
Credit: Don’t snicker; Von Greyerz correctly predicted the world’s current economic troubles in 2002. He also called the financial crash of 2008 and foresaw the depegging of the Swiss franc from the euro six weeks before it happened in January 2015. That move by the Swiss National Bank roiled markets across the globe and resulted in the Swissy’s value jumping 30% in a single day.
Debit: In other news, the best Super Bowl tickets this year are selling for around $9000 per seat. Good God. Oh, and if you’d like a suite, they’re selling for $358,000 a pop. Uh … no, thanks; I’ll watch from home.
Credit: Did you see this? Apparently, Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, is on track to become world’s first trillionaire — yes, with a ‘T’ — by 2042, when he turns 86. No, really. Well … I’m just glad to see someone out there will still be able afford Super Bowl tickets 25 years from now.
Debit: Frankly, I’m not sure why so many people think Gates’ net worth is such a big deal. Considering the trajectory of the current international monetary system, we’re all going to be trillionaires long before that.
By the Numbers
Here are a few fun facts on Super Bowl 51, which is being held in Houston this year:
3 Number of times Houston has hosted a Super Bowl.
140,000 Number of out-of-town visitors expected to visit Houston for the NFL championship game.
19% Percentage of people who say they’d skip a funeral to see their team play live in the Super Bowl.
15% Percentage of people who say they’d skip the birth of their child if they could watch their team play in person.
$5216 Average ticket price to this year’s Super Bowl.
$5,000,000 Cost of a 30 second television ad during this year’s big game.
$218,000,000 Amount Anheuser-Busch has spent on Super Bowl ads since 2010.
17 The average number of people at a typical Super Bowl party.
1,500,000 Number of people who will call in sick this year on the Monday after the Super Bowl.
Source: Wallet Hub
Last Week’s Poll Results
Do you plan on watching the Super Bowl this year?
- Yes (48%)
- No (42%)
- Only the commercials! (10%)
More than 1200 Len Penzo dot Com readers responded to last week’s question and just under half say, like me, they’ll be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday. Another one in ten say they’ll be watching, but only during the commercial breaks — if the game is a blow-out going into halftime, I’ll end up in that camp too.
I’m predicting a surprise victory by the Atlanta Falcons. Final score: 31 – 30.
The Question of the Week
Insider Notes: The Perfect Portfolio Allocation
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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
After reading my article highlighting unconventional frugal dining spots, Charleneleft this comment:
My brother says the four major food groups are: cow, pig, chicken, tater!
You sure? I thought it was beef, bacon, beans and beer.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c