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.
You may have noticed my blog had some performance issues earlier this week.
For most of the day on Wednesday and a portion of the day on Thursday my site was delivering a page that warned of an “internal server error.” Those who didn’t get stuck with that page were rewarded with extremely slow page loading times.
If you think that was irritating for you, imagine how I felt. Especially when my web host told me that the problem was definitely on their end, but they had no idea what was causing it or when they would be able to resolve it. Grrrr.
Anyway, I believe everything is working again. And thank you to everyone who dropped me an email to let me know my site was on the fritz. I appreciate it.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From January 2010:
Inflation 101: Why “Avatar” Isn’t the Biggest Movie of All Time — and What Movie Is – In 2010, the press hailed “Avatar” after it passed “Titanic” to become the “biggest box-office movie of all time.” That’s true, in nominal dollars — but if you bring inflation into the mix, it’s only number 2. Can you guess which movie is the true box office champ?
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
The Free Financial Advisor – Bad Money Advice: Here’s Some from Top Gurus
Financial Samurai – Three Bad Jobs That Can Eventually Make You Rich and Happy
Free Money Finance – Where Is Your Wealth?
Planting Money Seeds – Penny Pinching: Today’s Grocery Store Challenge
Consumerism Commentary – Who Needs a Budget
Credits and Debits
Credit: The stock market soiree raged on this week with no signs of abating. In fact, thanks to the Fed printing its fiat money at a rate of $85 billion each month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed another 2.1%, the S&P 500 was up 2.3%, and the Nasdaq rose 2.8%. For the year, the Dow is up more than 13%.
Debit: Based upon those numbers, you’d never know that consumer confidence fell sharply this week to a nine-month low as more Americans begin to fear higher unemployment and lower incomes in the coming months. Then again, in today’s world where down is up and black is white, that shouldn’t be surprising.
Debit: Jobs are so scarce right now that the civilian employment-population ratio is currently just 58.5%; that’s the lowest level since the early 1980s.
Debit: Heck, the markets are so detached from reality now that not even North Korea’s increasingly heated war rhetoric — including its recent threat to drop nuclear bombs on Tokyo — could discourage the market bulls from toning down their party. I know.
Credit: Even more remarkable, gold and silver, which historically thrive on market uncertainty, were pummeled on Friday, as the price of both metals fell more than 5%.
Credit: That’s actually good news for those who believe that the endless printing by the world’s central banks will eventually lead to the collapse of our fiat money system; that’s because falling precious metal prices present a golden buying opportunity. Yes, pun intended.
Debit: Lower precious metal prices also explain why there has been no wane in demand as evidenced by junk silver shortages, surging gold purchases by countries such as China and Russia, and a recent default on physical gold deliveries by the largest Dutch bank in the euro zone after they were unable to fill customer contracts.
Credit: In fact, there is currently a clear disconnect between the paper-based precious metal ETFs such as GLD and SLV and the physical markets. If it continues, their prices will eventually decouple — and that would lead to the end of the dubious precious metals paper market. It would also indicate real trouble for fiat currencies.
Credit: The Fed’s unwillingness to protect the value of the US dollar is now so blatant that at least a dozen states are now signalling their dwindling confidence in Federal Reserve Notes by pushing laws to make gold and silver legal tender.
Credit: Argentina saw its economy collapse in 2001. Today, the government’s socialist policies have caused high inflation to rear its ugly head yet again; it’s currently 26% — and rising. As a result, Argentinians are now buying increasing amounts of gold in order to maintain their purchasing power.
Debit: The Fed has been able to keep the inflation genie bottled up so far partly because the US dollar is privileged to be the world’s reserve currency, which keeps demand for the greenback high. Of course, that privilege demands a modicum of fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, the US has been abusing that privilege for many years.
Debit: The Fed’s reckless monetary policy is why the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have been working to hasten the demise of the US dollar’s reserve currency status. Last week, they moved one step closer to their goal by announcing plans for a new development bank that will bypass the World Bank and the IMF.
Debit: And here’s another nail in the dollar’s reserve currency coffin: Australia and China recently agreed to bypass the US dollar as an intermediary by enabling the direct convertibility of Australian dollars to Chinese yuan.
Debit: So, like the frog in the pot of water, the temperature on the US dollar is gradually increasing. And it appears as if the Fed, like the frog, has no idea that it’s on a certain path to destruction.
Debit: Finally … Believe it or not, in 2012 Washington D.C. raised $92.5 million thanks to meter maids who wrote nearly 2 million parking tickets. That comes to 436 tickets written every hour, accounting for Sundays and federal holidays when parking is free.
Debit: Half of the parking tickets that were contested last year ended up being overturned on appeal, which suggests one of two things: 1) the DC meter maids are incompetent boobs; or 2) that the corruption in Washington DC isn’t limited to the politicians who work there.
By the Numbers
From the archives, here is Charlie Sheen, by the numbers:
$2 million Amount Charlie reportedly earned for every episode of Two and a Half Men.
63 Approximate number of television and big-screen movies he has appeared in.
2 Television series he has starred in. (Two and a Half Men and Spin City.)
1 Times he appeared on Friends. (An episode from 1996 entitled “The One with the Chicken Pox”)
$55,000 Monthly child support he is reportedly paying for his two kids with Brooke Mueller. This is on top of child support he is paying for his two kids with Denise Richards.
$50,000 According to court testimony, amount he testified paying “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss for, um, services rendered.
5,000 Women he reportedly claims to have slept with. (That’s roughly a different woman every other day over the last 30 years for the 45 year-old Sheen. Even so, it’s 15,000 fewer women than Wilt Chamberlain claims he bedded shortly before he died at 63.)
1 Times he managed to accidentally shoot actress Kelly Preston in the arm.
36 According to a Scripps News poll, percentage of people who, like Charlie Sheen, believe that “the US either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.”
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
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4. District of Columbia (2.01)
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46. Maine (1.75)
47. Vermont (1.74)
48. Mississippi (1.73)
49. New Hampshire (1.69)
50. Wyoming (1.67)
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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
Who says bloggers don’t have groupies?
Hi, I am Svetlana. I am 24 years old from Ukraine. [sic] Share the year ahead with me and let’s jump on our stepping stones.
Ain’t gonna happen, Svetlana. If I took you up on that offer there is no doubt that the Honeybee would forcibly remove my stepping stones.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.