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.
Too little time and too much to do, so I’ve got an espresso edition for your enjoyment this week.
Let’s get right to it …
Credits and Debits
Debit: A recent poll of Millennials found that a majority of them prefer socialism over capitalism. Sad. If true, America is in much bigger trouble than I originally thought; the country’s fabulous success was born from the self-reliance and rugged individualism of its citizens — not the nanny state.
Credit: Did you see this? According to 24/7 Wall Street, some places could soon be seeing “gas prices below $1.” Not here in California. We’re still waiting for pump prices fall below $2.50 again.
Credit: This week David Stockman lamented central banks’ war on savers: “Interest at 0.3% on a $250,000 nest egg buys (one cappuccino at Starbucks). What kind of crank economics contends that brutally punishing two historically-proven economic virtues — thrift and prudence — is the key to economic growth and true wealth creation?” Sing it, David!
Credit: But wait … Stockman wasn’t finished: “What kind of insult to common sense argues that human nature is prone to save too much, defer gratification too long, shop too sparingly and consume too little? (Central Bankers) enthrall to a dogma of debt that is so primitive that it’s just plain dumb.” David, if I wasn’t married, er … and heterosexual …
Credit: Believe it or not, even Deutsche Bank is begging for the end of low- and negative-interest rates. Yes, that Deutsche Bank. It’s just more evidence that central bankers are hopelessly trapped in a web of their own making.
Debit: Of course, Deutsche Bank is fighting for its life now; in six short weeks, wary investors unsure of the bank’s ability to remain solvent caused its stock to plunge almost 40%. So this week, the bank’s CEO issued a statement defending its liquidity. I’m sure their balance sheet is solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. Yep. No need to worry; the CEO said so.
Debit: According to Markit, the high number of “distressed” high-yield bonds trading at more than 10% is not only alarming, but it’s growing faster than ever. Consider that another indication of collapsing credit markets; very bad news for companies that generate few profits — if any. Cough. Twitter. Cough. Uber. Cough. No, I’m fine … really!
Debit: This week CNBC asked, “Is another US recession on the way?” But CNBC is asking the wrong question. As financial analyst Bill Holter wisely notes: “This isn’t about a ‘recession’ — this is about whether the entire system fails or not.”
Credit: As for those who are looking for the exact date systemic failure will occur, Holter believes we’re watching it now: “The collapse is happening right before your eyes; ‘when?’ is a process and you are watching history!”As for that sound you hear … It’s millions of harrumphs from the scoffers out there. (They just better hope he’s wrong.)
Credit: On the other hand, judging by Thursday’s gold-buying panic in the UK — where newly-minted precious metals customers “queued round the block” to exchange some of their fiat funny paper for real money — not everybody is scoffing.
Debit: Canada sure ain’t afraid of a stinkin’ global economic meltdown: they’re in the process of selling the last of their gold reserves. In fact, Canada’s Treasury now has just 21,929 ounces of the yellow metal left in its vault — that’s less than one metric ton. Then again, I suspect that’s still more than the US has in Fort Knox.
Last Week’s Poll Result
How many cavities have you had during your lifetime?
- More than 5 (63%)
- 4 or 5 (13%)
- None! (11%)
- 1 (7%)
- 2 or 3 (6%)
More than 800 people chimed in for last week’s question and I am shocked — shocked, I tell you! — that more than three in four Len Penzo dot Com readers have had at least four cavities — and 63% have had more than five! Wow. No wonder dentistry is such a lucrative profession. Don’t hate me, folks, but I’m fortunate to say that your humble host here has never had a single cavity. One thing I know for sure: the number of cavities one has has absolutely zero correlation with how well you take care of your teeth. I know people who brush three times a day and floss regularly and still have lots of cavities. As for me, I rarely floss my teeth and brush no more than twice per day — sometimes just once. Even so, I still manage to avoid the dentist’s drill. Go figure.
The Question of the Week
(The Best of) By the Numbers
With the weekend upon us, here are a few cocktail facts for you to sip on:
1912 Year absinthe was banned in the United States. (The ban remained in effect until 2007, when it was officially lifted.)
41 Percentage of cocktail bar patrons under age 36. (Because they’re more expensive than beer, most cocktails are typically purchased by older, financially-endowed customers.)
62 Percentage of Americans who have used the services of a designated driver.
1970 Year the British Navy stopped providing every sailor with a daily ration of rum.
10 Countries where alcohol is illegal. (Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan)
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — five states in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. Alaska (2.40 pages/visit)
2. Idaho (2.30)
3. Arkansas (2.04)
4. Delaware (1.97)
5. New Hampshire (1.94)
46. Texas (1.44)
47. Montana (1.37)
48. Wyoming (1.35)
49. Massachusetts (1.29)
50. Iowa (1.17)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in Alaska) — or not (ahem, Iowa … probably too busy caucusing) — please don’t forget to:
1. Click on that Like button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!
2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!
3. Subscribe via email too!
And last, but not least …
4. Consider becoming a Len Penzo dot Com Insider! Thank you.
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
My article on 19 Things Your Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You inspired the The Money Babe to share a tip of her own:
I believe in pretending you’re poor so no one will ask you for money or sue you.
Wait a minute: Who’s pretending?
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c