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. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…
This week is an espresso edition. So if it looks a little sparse in places, there is a good reason for that. I’ve spent most of Saturday bed-ridden and fighting a (hopefully) 24-hour flu bug; let me tell ya, it’s been a real drag. Okay, let’s go …
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Wealth Pilgrim – Debt after Death
Afford Anything – Why Your Lizard Brain Terrifies You
Wealth Quest for Teens Blog – Does This Sound Like Anyone You Know?
Ironclad Finances – Have You Started Christmas Shopping Yet?
Penny Hoarder – How to be on a Game Show
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From August 2010:
Grease’s Financial Crisis: Why You Can’t Blame It On Wendy’s – My friend Greg McFarlane from Control Your Cash deftly explains why it’s ludicrous to blame obesity among the poor on fast food joints. And, as an added bonus, he even shares his own successful diet plan.
Credits and Debits
Credit: The rate for 30-year mortgages has once again dropped below 4 percent. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks. If you can.
Debit: Odds are those rates will be no help for people who are on the verge of losing their home to foreclosure. Foreclosure activity picked up in October, rising 7 percent compared to September’s numbers.
Credit: The silver lining, of course, is that housing prices will continue to languish until the huge backlog of foreclosed homes are flushed from the system — and the word is we still have to suffer through several more years with upward of one-million annual foreclosures. In the long run, that’s a good thing.
Debit: Meanwhile, America’s travel industry — citing government bureaucracy and tough visa rules for potential foreign tourists — is reeling as declining tourism has resulted in the loss of $600 billion and 500,000 jobs over the past decade. Apparently, foreign tourists don’t want to be bothered will all the hassles required to get here. Can’t say I blame them.
Debit: Then again, on second thought, I really don’t understand what foreign sightseers are complaining about. After all, illegal immigrants seem to have no trouble crossing the border. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
Debit: And those in the tourism industry aren’t the only ones complaining about the poor economy. It turns out that 77 percent of small businesses don’t plan on hiring anyone over the next six months.
Debit: Then there is the Michigan-based manufacturer of artificial knees and hips that announced it is laying off 1000 employees in order to help mitigate the costs of a medical-device excise tax being imposed by Obamacare beginning in 2013.
Credit: It’s not all bad, though. There are still plenty of opportunities to make money in this economy for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Take rapper and Occupy movement supporter, Jay-Z for example. He’s now selling a line of Occupy Wall St. t-shirts — and, ironically, he isn’t sharing a single dime of the profits with protesters. I know.
Credit: Hey, if Jay Z ain’t too careful he’s going to be outed as a greedy “1 percenter” and lose his street cred. Just like Michael Moore.
Credit: Speaking of Moore, he can bad-mouth capitalism all he wants — but it has made him wealthy enough to afford, among other things, a very pricey lakeside mansion in one of the most exclusive parts of Michigan.
Credit: Finally, a Spanish cemetery is threatening evictions of its dead for non-payment of rented burial sites. Sheesh. And you thought its tough just losing your lease on life.
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — 5 states in terms of time per visit each reader spent on average here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. Montana (4 minutes 26 seconds)
2. Kansas (3:55)
3. Colorado (2:59)
4. Texas (2:57)
5. Missouri (2:55)
46. Connecticut (1:45)
47. Ohio (1:44)
48. Wyoming (1:41)
49. Rhode Island (1:11)
50. Vermont (1:02)
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By the Numbers
In case you’ve been living under a rock, yesterday was 11/11/11. I know, but people really care about this kind of stuff.
11 The approximate length in years for a typical sunspot cycle.
11 The first number that can’t be additively counted with my fingers and thumbs on two hands. (I learned that on Wikipedia.)
11 The number of points on the Canadian flag’s maple leaf.
11 The number of straight sides and angles on a hendecagon. (Yes, a hendecagon.)
11 The number of Oscars awarded to the movies Ben Hur, Titanic, and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
11 Flight number of the American Airlines jet that crashed into the World Trade Center’s north tower on September 11, 2001.
11 The number of pipers piping in The 12 Days of Christmas.
11 The designation of the first Apollo mission to land men on the moon.
11 The highest volume setting on the amplifiers of the heavy metal parody band Spinal Tap.
The Question of the Week
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!
Bruce wrote in with a question that I am sure a lot of you have on your mind right now: “I’m thinking about investing in gold. Do you think that’s a good idea?”
It’s a terrific idea as long as you make sure to buy low and sell high.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.