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
Credit: Last Monday, the Telegraph published a piece warning that the “Financial Doomsday Clock” was now at one minute to midnight. I know. I didn’t realize there was a financial doomsday clock either.
Debit: Laugh all you want, but the Telegraph may be on to something because the Dow just finished its worst week in four years. Uh huh. Between the opening bell on Monday and the closing bell on Friday, the venerable stock index lost 5.8%. Yes, that Dow.
Credit: I’m sure there are more than a few clueless Wall Street traders out there who are scratching their heads at the moment because they’ve been conditioned to believe that the stock market only goes up — regardless of the fundamentals.
Debit: See, folks, this is what happens when the Plunge Protection Team goes on summer vacation. I mean, what else could possibly explain the Dow being down 530 points on Friday alone? That was the Dow’s ninth-biggest point drop of all time.
Credit: Okay, okay. Maybe it ain’t all doom and gloom — in percentage terms, the Dow declined “just” 3.1% on Friday. To put that in perspective, on September 29, 2008, the Dow lost 7.0% of its value in a single day — and yet even that miserable performance is only bad enough to rank as its 20th worst day ever.
Debit: For what it’s worth, Twitter’s stock ended Friday at $25.87 per share. That’s lower than Twitter’s initial public offering price of $26 back in 2013.
Credit: For their part, CNN summed the whole Twitter situation up rather nicely with this headline: #EpicFail
Credit: Then again, there have been plenty of warnings that social media stocks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are going to go the way of those once high-flying — but revenue poor — dot-com stocks like Pets.com. I agree.
Debit: Meanwhile, in Venezuela, the Financial Doomsday Clock is now at two minutes past midnight. Shortages in South America’s socialist paradise are so bad that desperate people stand in interminable lines for everything from chicken to toilet paper — even though most end up being turned away. Forward!
Debit: Venezuela’s currency, the Bolivar, is now losing value so rapidly that people there are using the nearly-worthless cash as napkins. Eventually, all fiat currencies suffer the same fate. Yes, the US dollar is a fiat currency. (And I hope you were paying attention when your high school instructor was teaching deductive reasoning.)
Debit: Did you see this? According to Zillow, renting a US home has never been less affordable. In fact, with the average American now spending more than 30% of their income on rent, the chief economist for Zillow says the current situation is downright “crazy.”
Credit: Things are so crazy, one guy is currently renting a Manhattan apartment for $1100 per month. What’s that, you say? Eleven-hundred bucks is a bargain for a Manhattan apartment? It ain’t if it’s just 100 square-feet! No, really.
Debit: Of course, I guess you can do worse than pay $1100 for a 100 square foot pad in the Big Apple. Take, for instance, one particular development there that, according to the Wall Street Journal, is asking a cool $1 million — and that’s just for the parking spot.
By the Numbers
Speaking of Twitter, here are a few key statistics about social media giant:
1,000,000,000 Number of registered Twitter accounts.
316,000,000 Number of people who actually use Twitter (active accounts).
43 Percentage of Twitter users who have tweeted in the past, but not within the last year.
44 Percentage of Twitter users who have created an account, but never sent a tweet.
1 Saudi Arabia’s rank among nations with highest percentage of active Twitter users.
208 Average number of followers per Twitter user.
74,300,000 Number of people who follow pop singer Katy Perry. (Nobody has more followers.)
23 In theory, the percentage of active Twitter users who follow Katy Perry.
157 Number of people Katy Perry is currently following. (@LenPenzo isn’t one of them. Yet.)
Source: Expanded Ramblings
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Results
Would you consider buying an electric car for your next vehicle?
- No (65%)
- Yes (32%)
- I’m not sure. (3%)
More than 600 people responded to last week’s question and it turns out that nearly 2 in 3 Len Penzo dot Com readers would not consider making their next car an electric one. And I suspect that figure will continue to increase as long as gasoline prices remain depressed. Then again, I would have never considered a so-called “green” vehicle even before pump price plummeted. (I say “so-called” because the battery manufacturing process is dirty and there’s also the battery-disposal problem that nobody wants to talk about. Never mind that most of the electricity required to recharge those batteries comes from … wait for it … fossil fuels!) In fact, without the government, these electric vehicles — loaded with hundreds of pounds of high-tech batteries — would never be able to compete economically with cars that take advantage of relatively lower-cost energy-rich gasoline. Just sayin’.
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 7206 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- 6 Top Investing Tips that the Experts Always Follow
- 9 Movie Theater Extras We Could All Do Without
- 6 Not So Conventional Ways to Own a Home
- How to Save Money: It Starts with the Right Mindset
- The 10 Most Affordable Cities to Settle Down In
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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
After clicking on the “$100,000 Hamburger” story I featured here this week, David C. wrote in with this confession:
Man, that burger looks good. It’s giving me serious thoughts about cheating on my roast beef sandwich.
Go ahead. As long as you don’t register on Ashley Madison, I’m sure your sandwich will never know.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-