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.
Another glorious week comes to an end. Off we go …
“One can’t believe impossible things,” said Alice.
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There
Credits and Debits
Debit: In case you’ve been wondering where all of money that the Fed conjures out of thin air eventually ends up, wonder no more: Five of the ten wealthiest counties in America are in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Heh. Imagine that.
Credit: The booming economy around the US capital doesn’t impress investment advisor John Maudlin. He says we’re on the verge of a major financial crisis that will rear its ugly head sometime in 2018 — if not later this year. Yeah, yeah; I’ll believe it when I see it. Wait … did I really just write that?
Credit: Don’t tell that to stock market investors. As of Friday’s closing bell, the S&P 500 has now gone 270 days without a 5% pullback — that’s the longest such streak since 1996. Wow.
Credit: Meanwhile, the S&P 500’s information-technology sector set an all-time high this week, surpassing the old mark set in March 2000, at the peak of the dot-com bubble. According to the Wall Street Journal, S&P tech stocks are up 23% in 2017, by far the best-performing among the index’s 11 sectors.
Debit: Perhaps all of this stock market exuberance is due to the fact that investors have now deployed most of their cash that had been sitting on the sidelines. The last time sideline cash levels were so low was right before the last big market crash in 2008. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. At least, I’m pretty sure. Okay … truth be told, I’m not sure at all.
Debit: Did you see this? In just five short years from now, Social Security will be paying out more than it receives. Remember that the next time some snarky kid accuses you of having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. At least you got paid!
Debit: With that in mind, maybe it’s a good thing that the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that, “The idea of a universal basic income monthly cash payments from the government to every individual, working or not, with no strings attached is gaining traction, thanks in part to endorsements from Silicon Valley (billionaires).” I guess it’s not just Washington DC — money grows on trees in California too.
Debit: The truth is, those ivory-tower billionaires will never provide this “free money” from their own wallets — especially when they can collude with the powers-that-be to use the printing press to silently steal what they need from the public in the form of a debauched currency. Of course, billionaires don’t care about those things because most of their wealth is held in the form of real tangible assets — not paper.
Credit: Frankly, that kind of thinking is why champions of the nanny-state will never accept the gold standard in any form — not that the US is in a position to return to one. After all, according to President Trump: “We don’t have the gold” anymore. It’s tough to argue against him; more than 60 years have passed since the American government properly audited the 8333 tons of gold it still claims to hold.
Debit: Speaking of missing gold, tennis legend Boris Becker recently declared bankruptcy. You’ve got to backhand it to Becker … in his heyday, the guy was worth $100 million. Yes, $100 million! And now it’s all gone. I don’t know about you, but that’s the biggest financial double-fault I’ve ever seen.
Credit: I know what you’re thinking: How could anybody ever squander a $100-million fortune? Apparently, Boris stepped over the line when he made several ill-advised “Nigerian investments.” No, really. Sadly, Becker’s blunder is why so many Nigerian “princes” usually end up living like kings.
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Results
Do you plan on taking, or did you already take, a road trip vacation this summer?
- No (52%)
- Yes (43%)
- I’m not sure. (5%)
More than 1100 people responded to last week’s question and, despite the lowest gasoline prices in more than a decade, more than half of all Len Penzo dot Com readers say they have no plans to take a summer road trip this year. I don’t either. Next year, however, is another story. I just hope the prices can stay this low for another year!
By the Numbers
How many of the top 10 movies of 1997 have you seen?
1 Titanic (US domestic gross: $600 million)
2 Men In Black ($251 million)
3 Jurassic Park: The Lost World ($229 million)
4 Liar Liar ($181 million)
5 Air Force One ($173 million)
6 As Good As It Gets ($148 million)
7 Good Will Hunting ($138 million)
8 My Best Friends’s Wedding ($127 million)
9 Tomorrow Never Dies ($125 million)
10 Face/Off ($112 million)
Source: Box Office Mojo
Other Useless News
Here are the top five articles viewed by my 15,001 RSS feed, weekly email subscribers, and other followers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- Why Your Expensive Luxury Car Doesn’t Impress Smart People
- 33 Reasons Why Your Finances are a Complete Mess
- 5 Ways to Make Your Final Working Years Before Retirement REALLY Count
- 4 Smart Home Improvement Projects that Save Money in the Long Run
- True Story: What Happens When You Can’t Pay the Restaurant Bill
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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 reading my article explaining why whirlpool tubs are for suckers, Stan had this observation:
The problem is people just don’t know how to unwind anymore.
Don’t tell that to the millions of people who pop Xanax pills like candy!
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c