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.
Believe it or not, in a few hours from now, there’s going to be a power outage in my neighborhood that will allow the electric company to do a little maintenance. Needless to say, I’m racing the clock to get this done before they pull the plug on me. So to ensure I get this out in time, I’ve got an espresso edition this week for your enjoyment.
Let’s get right to it … before they turn off the lights — and everything else in my house that plugs into a wall.
Credits and Debits
Debit: For those of you who prefer to pretend that everything is lollipops and rainbows, how do you explain the price of iron ore jumping 19% last week? In a single day. Despite no increase in demand. Right. That kind of volatility is warning us that serious trouble is on the horizon, folks.
Debit: And while gasoline prices are near all-time lows, even that silver lining has a dark cloud tied to it. Those low prices reflect dwindling worldwide demand for oil — the life-blood of commerce. Not good. Things are so bad, one oil company CEO says “it’s a depression.” Heh. Fiction peddler.
Debit: Even the glass-half-full peeps have to admit the economy is in pretty bad shape when Yahoo Finance reports that, “WalMart customers are too broke to shop” there. See … there’s “broke” — and then there’s “broke.” Those who can’t afford WalMart are definitely the latter. (Yes, broke.)
Debit: WalMart shoppers’ troubles are buttressed by a Gallup poll that found 35% of Americans say they don’t earn enough to live comfortably; many of whom are also “buried under a mountain of debt” and living off their credit cards. Sad.
Credit: Did you see this? Last month, computer hackers stole $100 million from a financial account held by the Bangladesh Central Bank at the New York Fed. And yet those ivory-tower academics and Big Government statists think large-denomination currency is a criminal magnet? Um … okay.
Debit: Frankly, I have a sinking feeling that, despite countless historical examples that prove socialism fails miserably every time, most people of the world could care less. And it appears that the Canadian province of Ontario will soon be obliging the masses with a universal basic income. Now there’s an incentive to work hard for a living. Forward!
Credit: Why is it that we’re told we shouldn’t give handouts to wild animals because it makes them dependent on others for survival — but many of the same people argue that it’s a good thing when the government does the exact same thing to its citizens? Anyone? Bueller?
Debit: Here are the cold hard facts: It’s a mathematical certainty that the days of our debt-based monetary system — using dollars backed by nothing but ink, paper and gratuitous promises — will come to an ignominious end. Soon. And no amount of government handouts or economic stimulus can save us from what’s coming.
Debit: In fact, I’m afraid I have to agree with financial analyst Dave Kranzler: Unless there is a preemptive reset, what’s coming down the pike is going to make the near-meltdown of the financial system in 2008 and ensuing Great Recession look like a picnic. Hopefully, that picnic analogy is something even the rose-colored-glasses crowd can understand.
Last Week’s Poll Result
How often do you check your credit report?
- More than once per year (40%)
- Annually (28%)
- Rarely (20%)
- Never (12%)
Almost 800 people chimed in for last week’s question and I’m happy to see that almost 3 in 5 Len Penzo dot Com readers say they check their credit report at least once per year. And two in five say they check more than once per year — which is amazing, if not a little hard for me to believe. I suspect some people misinterpreted “credit report” with “credit score.” Then again, maybe I’m just suffering from a classic case of normalcy bias, since I rarely check my credit report anymore. What do you all think? Do you think that number is a bit high?
The Question of the Week
(The Best of) By the Numbers
I may be serving up espresso this week, but I’ve also got a little black coffee for you — Hawaiian style:
$25 The approximate online price for a pound of 100% Kona coffee in 2011.
$27 The approximate online price for a pound of 100% Kona coffee in 2016.
96 Starbucks locations in Hawaii as of March 2016.
$27,000,000 Approximate annual Hawaii coffee-farm sales.
0 States other than Hawaii that produce coffee.
4 Coffee’s rank among Hawaii’s four most valuable crops. Seed crops, sugar cane and macadamia nuts are more valuable.
2 Number of times I did a double take after noticing that pineapple wasn’t among Hawaii’s four most valuable crops.
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. New Hampshire (3.60 pages/visit) (!)
2. Nevada (3.15)
3. Alaska (2.70)
4. Arizona (2.24)
5. Arkansas (2.17) (Thanks, Insider Trey!)
46. Alabama (1.47)
47. North Carolina (1.46)
48. South Carolina (1.45)
49. Connecticut (1.41)
50. Wyoming (1.35)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in New Hampshire) — or not (ahem, Wyoming) — 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.
(The Best of) 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
Mr. Wonderful (don’t look at me; that’s what he calls himself) dropped this strange note in my inbox:
You got change for a hundy?
Er … If you’re so wonderful, how come you’re not married? Married guys never have that kind of cash in their wallets.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c