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 whats been going on in the world of money and personal finance.
I heard this the other day and it made me laugh …
A man walks into a bar and orders a grasshopper. On his way home, the man meets a real grasshopper and says, “Hey! Did you know there’s a drink named after you?”
“Really?” said the grasshopper. “There’s a drink named Irvin?”
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From October 2009:
The 7 Deadly Sins of Personal Finance – In this post, Reverend Len from the First United Church of Our Lady of Blessed Household Finances holds a confessional for the congregation. Hallelujah!
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Money Plan SOS – The Do’s and Don’ts of Helping Aging Parents Who Don’t Want Help
Afford Anything – Traveling to 30 Countries by Age 30
Making Sense of Cents – Common Concerns for Life Insurance Newbies
L Bee and the Money Tree – Buying a Home Is Exhausting
Daily Money Shot – 10 Simple Ways to Suck at Life
Credits and Debits
Debit: An analysis by the Fed shows that the average American household has rebuilt just 45 percent of the wealth it lost during the Great Recession. Families that are having the most trouble regaining their wealth are those with low savings rates and high debt. No surprise there.
Credit: On the other hand, households that have been able to save and invest have supposedly recovered almost all of their lost wealth since 2009, thanks mainly to gains in the stock market. It’s impossible for anyone to build wealth with the Fed’s severely-flawed zero interest rate policy.
Credit: Speaking of the stock market, despite all three major indices sinking more than 1% at the closing bell on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 both ended May almost 2% higher, while the Nasdaq finished the month up 4%.
Debit: More proof that the latest US housing recovery is based on a lot of smoke and mirrors: Since early May, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Citi have stopped nearly all sales of foreclosed homes. Unfortunately, that artificially constricts supply. The end result is unwarranted higher prices and decreased affordability.
Debit: Curiously, as Zero Hedge points out, the majority of foreclosed homes taken off the market are in California, Nevada and Arizona — which is where the biggest home price increases are currently occurring.
Debit: Then again, lender foreclosures have been drastically scaled back ever since October 2010, thanks to a misguided settlement reached in October 2010 between government and lenders that was the result of the “robo-signing” scandal.
Debit: The robo-signing agreement, which provided for $25 billion in cash and principal reductions to state coffers and homeowners, continues to hinder the clearing of the housing market and raise prices for qualified buyers, while allowing squatters to live mortgage-free for longer periods. Genius.
Credit: Did you see this? Over the past decade, no other state created more jobs than Texas. Perhaps not coincidentally, of the 10 states with the best economic performance since 2001, all but two of them are so-called “red” states, based upon the last four presidential elections.
Debit: As for the other end of the spectrum, no state created fewer jobs over the past ten years than Michigan. You’re right; that ain’t the first time their economy has been in the dumps. As for the bottom 10 states, all but two are “blue.” Make of that what you will.
Debit: Can you name the eighth most-populous state in the US? No, despite the conventional wisdom, it’s not Georgia. It’s actually the state of disability. You heard me. Believe it or not, an astounding 10,978,040 people now reside there.
Debit: In 1968 there were 51 people working for every person who collected a weekly government disability check; today it’s just 13. Zut alors! It won’t be long before the number of people in the cart surpass the number who are pulling it — then what?
Debit: I’m sure if anybody gets hurt pulling an overloaded cart, Obamacare has a medical diagnostic code for that. The law has created 122,000 new codes that doctors will have to wade through when describing patient injuries — including “walking into a lamppost” and “injuries sustained from a turtle.” Unbelievable.
Credit: I’m sure the additional medical codes, along with the law’s 10,000 pages of new regulations, were designed to drive costs down. Don’t laugh; there are many people who will go to their grave believing the government is more efficient than the private sector. I know.
Debit: Despite proponents who shamelessly continue to mislead millions of math-challenged Americans, the latest data released by Obamacare’s California exchange clearly shows that the new law will increase individual-market premiums in the state by as much as 146%.
Debit: As Forbes points out, the bureaucrats and politicians who are responsible for foisting Obamacare on America are the same people who chastised Anthem Blue Cross in 2010 when they dared to raise premiums 39%. You can’t make this up, folks.
Debit: I guess things could be worse; just be glad you aren’t one of 8000 wealthy households in France with a tax bill that topped 100% of their income last year. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in France is at all-time highs. I wonder why.
Credit: For his part, French president Francois Hollande thanked France’s rich for their fiscal, um, “donation” to society. His thank you hasn’t helped his image though. Hollande’s popularity is on the rocks — just like the foundering French economy. Go figure.
Credit: On the bright side, I think it’s safe to say that we finally know the socialists’ definition of “paying your fair share.” Even so, I suspect they think a 101% tax rate is still too low.
By the Numbers
Here’s a little more info regarding France and its language:
3 France’s rank among European countries in terms of land area. Only Russia and Ukraine are larger.
300 Number of cheeses made in France.
1964 Year that French women were first allowed to open a bank account or get a passport without their husband’s permission.
44 Percentage of French citizens who are atheists.
1066 Year that French temporarily became the official language of England. It remained the official language there until the early 15th century.
30 Countries that still claim French as their official language.
4 Rank among the world’s countries in terms of most gold medals won at the summer Olympics. (Only the US, USSR, and the UK have won more.)
81 million Tourists who visited France in 2012. France is the most-visited country in the world. Along with Spain, Austria and Greece, it’s one of four European countries where the number of annual tourists exceeds the population.
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
Programming note: Unlike most blogs, Im always open for the weekend here at Len Penzo dot Com. Theres a fresh new article waiting for you every Saturday afternoon. At least there should be. If not, somebody call 9-1-1.
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Top 25 Referrers for May
Its the first weekend of the month, which means its time once again to thank the top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.
1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. Business Insider
4. The Simple Dollar
5. Money Talks News
6. Clark Howard
7. Budgets Are Sexy
9. Mr. Money Mustache
11. Save Outside the Box
12. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
14. Wealth Pilgrim
15. The Finance Buff
16. The Free Financial Advisor
17. Afford Anything
18. Control Your Cash
19. So Over This
20. Money Crashers
21. The Consumerist
23. Smart Asset
24. The Oblivious Investor
25. Money Funk
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol blog! Its much appreciated.
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
It’s rare to find someone who really knows their stuff. Good job!
Thanks, Rudy. If you think I know my stuff, you should meet the Honeybee — she’s never wrong.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.