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.
Okay, off we go …
Credits and Debits
Debit: Gas prices may be sinking faster than a submarine with screen doors, but the price of meat, poultry, eggs and fish are at all-time highs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. I know.
Debit: It’s not just food that’s overpriced: An analysis by Bank of America warns investors that, when compared to the rest of the world, US stocks have never been more expensive than they are now. Ya think?
Credit: On a related note, that cracking sound you’ve been hearing this week is coming from the dying international monetary system, which is under so much stress and strain now that it’s beginning to break down in spectacular fashion. The sooner the better.
Credit: The financial fireworks were on display this Wednesday, when Switzerland’s central bank ditched its peg to the euro. And that led to the Swiss franc skyrocketing 30% — in mere minutes. No, I didn’t forget a decimal point.
Debit: To put that in perspective, on a daily basis, a 1% move is usually considered significant in the currency markets — and anything above 2% is typically only seen in bills issued by banana-republics; not major currencies like the Swiss franc. Despite the significance, most people remain unaware.
Debit: Meanwhile, another critical pillar of the international monetary system took a huge hit this week when Russia announced that it was abandoning the petrodollar in an effort to boost domestic spending. This historic news went largely unreported too. Ignorance is bliss. For now.
Credit: Why is that important? Because if the US dollar is to maintain its gross overvaluation (which keeps Americans’ standard of living artificially high), then the rest of the world needs a reason to use our currency — and the petrodollar is a primary driver of the worlds’s need for greenbacks.
Debit: Even worse, as fewer petrodollars are recycled, there is less global credit available to act as the critical lubricant for the machine that is our international monetary system — and without lubricant, all machines eventually seize up.
Credit: Did you see this? America’s increasing obsession with cradle-to-grave welfare and the quest for “easy prosperity,” coupled with its perpetual war on terror, is why Ron Paul announced this week that “the Republic is no more.” Sadly, he’s right.
Credit: For his part, Benjamin Franklin warned us that those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither. He’s right, too.
Debit: A prime example of Americans’ growing reliance on a nanny state can be seen in the Obamacare folly — where fully 87% of all new users require taxpayer subsidies to make their premiums somewhat affordable.
Debit: Of course, those expensive Obamacare premiums are just part of the problem. After all, if people can’t afford the premiums, how can they be expected to cover the ridiculously-high deductibles? Who would ever freely buy “insurance” like that?
Debit: Speaking of taxpayers, the IRS announced this week that their budget has been slashed so badly that filers can expect slow refund checks and poor customer service. In other words: business as usual. (I hope to God the IRS has a sense of humor.)
Credit: On the bright side, the IRS will be performing 200,000 fewer audits this year — then again, that’s little consolation for those of us who are honest when filling out our 1040 forms, isn’t it? Ahem. Is this thing on?
By the Numbers
Data from the most recent IRS enforcement statistics:
0.96% The overall audit rate for individuals during the 2013 fiscal year. That was the lowest rate since 2005.
0.88% The audit rate for individuals earning less than $200,000.
3.26% Audit rate for those earning between $200,000 and $1 million.
10.85% The audit rate for those earning more than $1 million.
0.95% Audit rate for corporations with assets under $10 million.
15.84% Audit rate for corporations with more than $10 million in assets.
$9,800,000,000 Revenue collected from all audits.
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Result
Would you be willing to pay more income tax to help your country pay off its debts and unfunded liabilities?
- No (74%)
- Yes (15%)
- I’m not sure. (11%)
It’s official: Almost 500 people answered this week’s survey question and the public has spoken. Three out of four people don’t care how big the National Debt is — they definitely won’t be calling up their national politicians anytime soon to demand higher income taxes. Imagine that.
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — five Canadian provinces and territories in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. Prince Edward Island (1.98 pages/visit)
2. Newfoundland (1.94)
3. British Columbia (1.91)
4. Alberta (1.81)
5. Saskatchewan (1.80)
9. New Brunswick(1.59)
10. Nova Scotia (1.55)
11. Yukon Territory (1.50)
12. Northwest Territories (1.33)
13. Nunavut (1.13)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like those crazy Canucks on Prince Edward Island, eh) — or not (for the second month in a row, you hosers living on the frozen Nunavut tundra) — please don’t forget to:
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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 me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
This past week’s article highlighting 34 tricks for achieving early retirement is getting a lot of attention. After reading the piece, JD had this to say regarding my repeated references to the high cost of kids:
Kids aren’t cheap. But, neither is my darn dog.
No kidding. Just be glad we don’t send pooches to college.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c