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.
Earlier this week, reader Rebecca wanted to know why I called last week’s edition of Black Coffee an espresso edition — even though it was not abnormally brief.
… I’m struggling to figure out what exactly makes your Black Coffee (articles) ‘Espresso Editions.’ If it is not the length, what is it?
Rebecca: Wow. First off, I am flattered — but dumbfounded, really — as to how anybody could enjoy this column enough to even care about something like that! But since you asked, I’ll tell you. Over the years, my rule of thumb has been to call any edition of Black Coffee with fewer than ten credits/debits an espresso edition. Last week, you’ll notice that I had 11 credits/debits — so, technically, you’re not going crazy. It was a full-strength cup of joe. So yours truly screwed up. Not that it really matters.
I will say this: When I started writing last week’s column, I fully intended the piece to be abbreviated … but I got on a bit of a roll and before I knew it, I had a full article.
Anyway, consider myself a week early because this time, I really am presenting an official espresso edition of Black Coffee.
Here we go …
Credits and Debits
Debit: I see the economic collapse in Venezuela — South America’s Socialist ParadiseTM — has reached the point where “savage suffering” now grips the populace amid widespread shortages that have resulted in a nationwide “food emergency.” Forward!
Debit: The good news is, with the nanny-state disintegrating — and the revolution crumbling faster than a one-week old Chips Ahoy! cookie — President Maduro announced a new plan for solving the massive food shortages once and for all: grow your own food at home. Viva la socialismo!
Credit: So, to sum up: After making its citizens dependent on the government for their every need — and catastrophically failing to deliver — Venezuela’s socialist “masterminds” are now
asking begging the people who put them in office to become self-reliant. I know.
Debit: Of course, this is what happens when socialist governments finally run out of other peoples’ money. Don’t laugh; a similar story will befall America too — and sooner than most people think.
Debit: Don’t believe me? Negative interest rates are a sure sign that governments worldwide are having trouble getting people to bite off more debt. The trouble is, negative rates aren’t rational — and they certainly aren’t conducive to free market capitalism.
Debit: Needless to say, few people would leave their cash in a bank if they had to pay their depository to hold it — which is why the war on cash is now in full force. In fact, this past week the ECB fired off its opening salvo by voting to eliminate 500-euro notes.
Debit: And if you think it’s pure coincidence that, during the same week, the Washington Post presented an op-ed piece from Harvard statist Larry Summers who proposed banning $100 bills, well … I’ve got some lakefront property in the Sahara to sell you.
Credit: Bill Bonner had this to say about the war on cash: “Once it’s all numbers in a computer, they won’t even have to point their guns at you anymore. Then it will be possible to rub out your savings by simply pushing a button on a computer keyboard. At that juncture you’d better not be too uppity, citizen.” Who? Me?
Credit: Then again, maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe I really don’t have to worry about one day being considered a potential cash outlaw. After all, what makes one think they’ll get rid of paper money when they can’t even let go of the penny?
By the Numbers
A brief look at the impacts of economic collapse and hyperinflation in the People’s Socialist ParadiseTM of Venezuela:
$2.27 Price of a gallon of gasoline in Venezuela once government subsidies are officially discontinued later this year.
$0.05 Subsidized price for a gallon of gasoline that Venezuelans currently pay.
20 Years since the Venezuelans last saw a price increase at the pump.
42.2% Increase in Venezuela’s food and non-alcoholic beverage prices during the final quarter of 2015.
46.6% Increase in Venezuelan restaurant prices during the final quarter of 2015.
$133 Cost in Venezuela for a large serving of McDonald’s French fries.
$755 Price of a 36-pack of condoms in Caracas
Insider Notes: Save the Date! Conference Call Next Weekend!
My first Len Penzo do Com Insider conference call will be next Saturday, February 27th at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time / 2:00 p.m. Eastern. This will be a half-hour open forum for Insiders. I’ll be happy to answer your questions regarding personal finance, macroeconomics, how I’m preparing for the future, blogging … or almost anything else for that matter! I said “almost.”
Frankly, I have no idea if there is even an appetite for this — but we’re going to find out. I hope to see you there!
For those who are interested, here is the call-in information:
Hey! You need to be an Insider to view this section! If you’d like to join, please click “Insider Membership” at the top of my blog page.
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Result
How far do you live from work?
- Less than 5 miles (28%)
- 11 to 25 miles (27%)
- 5 to 10 miles (17%)
- 26 to 40 miles (12%)
- I work from home! (11%)
- More than 40 miles (5%)
Almost 1000 people answered this week’s survey question and two in five of them are fortunate enough to work from home or at least live less than 5 miles from their job site. Not bad. Not bad at all. On the other side of the spectrum are the 17% who live 26 miles or more from work; include me in that group. The good news for me at least is, I get to telecommute two to three days per week. Well … most of the time. I’m a little more grumpy on the weeks that I don’t!
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. British Columbia (1.76 pages/visit)
2. Nova Scotia (1.73)
3. Quebec (1.62)
4. Ontario (1.59)
5. Manitoba (1.52)
9. Saskatchewan (1.34)
10. New Brunswick (1.25)
11. Northwest Territories (1.20)
12. Nunavut (1.13)
13. Yukon Territory (1.00)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like those crazy canucks in British Columbia, eh) — or not (you hosers living on the frozen Yukon tundra … for the second month in a row!) — 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!
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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 me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
After reading my post on the 8 Weirdest Insurance Claim Frauds of All Time, JB had a special request:
Len, send me an email. I have a great idea to make some quick cash.
Um … I think I’ll pass, JB.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c