Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #24

It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

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…

I’m busy preparing for this Sunday’s The Best of the Best In Money and Personal Finance Carnival, so I’m going to the lightning round for this week’s links. Give me 60 seconds on the clock and here we go…

Credit Card Chaser… for Joel’s $500 Love/Hate Credit Cards Contest give-away. There’s two ways to enter and win – by leaving a comment, or by writing a blog post. Just don’t do too good of a job because I plan on winning both contests. The contest runs through December 12th, so hurry.

Monevator… for Investor’s very thought-provoking and well-written post explaining how he would spend and save if he knew exactly when he was going to die.

Cash Money Life… on the importance of accrual accounts to help you manage and reach your future long-term spending goals – especially for big expenses – and how to create one.

The Digerati Life… because I’m not only still hopelessly smitten with Logo Girl, but also because of her very thorough review of EverBank, which is one of the largest online banks in the U.S., and their product offerings.

Christian Personal Finance… for Craig’s excellent suggestions on how to (and why you should) show love to your kids without spending a dollar.

Financial Highway… where Ray educates us on 7 credit score myths.

Steadfast Finances… for Matt’s explanation as to why our brains are hardwired to follow the herd. My brain must be broken – when it comes to the financial markets, I’m a contrarian by nature.

Neville’s Financial Blog… who had the courage to spray paint his old shoes in an attempt to save a few bucks and make them new again.

Fiscal Fizzle… where Wojo has some really good tips on how to stay frugal and focused in an economic recovery.

Man vs Debt… for Baker’s list of the Top 10 money movies of the decade. Curiously not on the list: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. What’s up with that?

Credits and Debits

Credit: This week, the Fed reported that the economic recovery gained traction in late fall as shoppers spent a bit more and factories bumped up production. According to the Fed report, consumers in late November spent more, with general merchandise and auto sales improving across much of the country. The survey also found that manufacturing conditions generally showed some improvements.

Debit: Meanwhile, the overall “official” unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent – 18 percent if you include the so-called “discouraged” and underemployed workers. That’s the highest level since the early 1980s. Even Ben Bernanke acknowledged this week that it now seems clear that the unemployment rate is going to remain stubbornly high for years to come.

Debit: The scope of current job losses compared to previous recessions is astounding. Payroll levels have shrunk nearly three times the level of job losses during the last recession in 2001. After the 2001 recession it took 18 months to restore employment to pre-recession levels. At that rate, even if the economy began adding jobs next month, employment levels wouldn’t return to pre-recession levels until June 2014. Keep that in mind before you get too excited by the recent run-up in stocks. Earnings increases to-date are mainly attributable to companies cutting back on payroll and getting leaner, but further earnings growth will depend heavily on consumer spending.

Debit: One group of laid-off workers who can relate to the high rate of unemployment are New York City’s “Sidewalk Santas” who collected money for the poor on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. That’s because the 107-year-old program has gone online for the second year in a row.

Credit: Members of Santa’s posse aren’t faring much better these days. A 45-year-old man dressed as an elf was jailed after he told a mall Santa that he was carrying dynamite, police said. The man got in line Wednesday evening to have his picture taken with Santa Claus. Police say when the subordinate clause reached the front of the line, he told Santa he had dynamite in his bag. So Santa – presumably with a twinkle in his eye – called mall security and the rogue elf was promptly arrested for making terrorist threats. No doubt the man suffered from low elf-esteem. (Sorry.) ;-)

Credit: The consensus of many scientists who continue to insist that mankind has caused climate change was rocked yesterday as a leading academic called it a “load of hot air underpinned by fraud.” In a controversial talk just days before the start of a climate summit attended by world leaders in Copenhagen, Prof Ian Plimer said governments were treating the public like “fools” and using climate change to increase taxes. Professor Plimer also condemned the climate change lobby as “climate comrades” with a vested interest in keeping the “gravy train” going. Plimer is absolutely correct. I’ve said the same thing here on this blog many times before, including this Christmas post entitled Yes, Al Gore, There Is Such A Thing as Global Warming.

Credit: Speaking of Al Gore, the Internet inventor has canceled a high-priced speaking engagement during the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen, where he was slated to lecture about his new book “Our Choice.” At $1,200 per ticket, attendees there were promised the right to meet America’s version of the Heat Miser and have their picture taken with him.

Credit: I wonder if Al’s cancellation has anything to do with the recent revelation of Global Warming Gate where global warming zealots and conspirators were caught red-handed with proof showing they manipulated data and suppressed evidence to make their flimsy case? Nah. I’m sure it’s all just a funny coincidence.

Credit: Here is Michael Ramirez’s political cartoon on the Global Warming Gate. Spot on, as usual.

Letters, I Get Letters…

This week’s letter comes from “Gale Munson” (alex500@freemail.ru), who writes:

Did you know soreness, itching and redness around the vagina is a clear symptom of bacterial vaginosis!

No, Gale, I had no idea – but I’ll pass info that on to the Honeybee posthaste. No, no – she doesn’t have bacterial vaginosis. At least, I don’t think she does. (Something tells me I’m probably sleeping on the couch tonight.)

For his troubles, I’m sending Alex, I mean “Gale,” an autographed expired coupon for a free tube of Calamine lotion.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at: Len@LenPenzo.com

I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – assuming I get one, that is. If you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mail bag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not. ;-)

Other Useless News

For the second time in two months, I was honored by Political Calculations’ On the Moneyed Midways blog carnival overview for having, “The Best Post of the Week, Anywhere!” for my post entitled Why Coke Rewards Is For Suckers, which was recently featured in the Carnival of Money Stories. Thanks for the nice honor! :-)

I’m also very excited to be hosting the Money Hacks carnival on Wednesday, December 16th. More on this next week.

On Sunday I will be hosting the 9th edition of The Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance Carnival featuring some of the very best personal finance posts from the month of November. Please stop by and check it out! You can check out past carnivals by clicking on the Carnival Archives link just below the blog header. :-)

Finally, I hit a minor milestone last weekend when I got my 1000th Twitter follower! Pretty cool.

As always, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please feel free to follow me on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! :-)

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

From April 2009:

Don’t Fall for the Siren’s Song of Socialism – This is my take on a poll conducted earlier this year by Rasmussen that found, among those under 30 years of age, only 37% believe capitalism is better than socialism, while fully one in three believe that socialism is superior. Why are those numbers so out of line with older individuals, and what does that mean for the future of our country?

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

- Great Party, Girls! at Photo Bombers Anonymous

- The Catfish That Tried to Eat A Volleyball at Why Catfish Taste Terrible

- College Hazing Rituals Not Involving Consumption of Alcohol at Three Seconds to Live

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