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.
I hope everybody had an enjoyable week. Without further ado, let’s get right to this week’s commentary …
A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.
– Alexander Hamilton
If we take the route of the permanent handout, the American character will itself be impoverished.
– Richard Nixon
Look at our society. Everyone wants to be thin, but nobody wants to diet. Everyone wants to live long, but few will exercise. Everybody wants money, yet seldom will anyone budget or control their spending.
– John C. Maxwell
Credits and Debits
Debit: Did you see this? The FHA just found another way to reward people who don’t pay their bills under the guise of “helping struggling homeowners meet their mortgage obligations.” A new program would allow mortgage lenders to bring a borrower’s mortgage current and provide additional temporary payment reductions for up to five years under a subordinate zero interest lien, which homeowners would then pay back when they sell their home or refinance. Needless to say, nobody is in favor of this. Well … except for delinquent homeowners. Okay, okay … and people who spent six-figures getting a worthless college degree:
Debit: Meanwhile, a new report found 1 in 3 US homeowners have already dealt with unexpected repairs this year – and 1 in 4 can’t afford a $1000 emergency repair. In fact, 39% say they are putting off home repairs in 2023 due to cost, and 41% admit that were forced to choose between a necessary home repair and bills during the past year. If that wasn’t bad enough, the same report also found that 1 in 3 ignored a potential issue in hopes it would go away, while 1 in 6 say they regret buying their home due to repair problems. The good news is, realtors say there’s never been a better time to buy a home. Or repair one …
Debit: On a related note, I see a recent Fed study says that Americans’ self-reported financial well-being fell sharply from last year, and is at the lowest level since 2016. Similarly, the share of adults who say their spending in the previous month exceeded their income increased – which explains why the share of Americans who said that their credit card debt increased also is higher than the year before. Then again, I guess that’s to be expected when instant gratification and the fear of missing out is greater than the desire to live within one’s means and save just a wee bit of income for a rainy day, or … something …
Debit: Needless to say, Americans are increasingly reliant on the use of smoke and mirrors to maintain their artificially-high living standard. In fact, total household debt has eclipsed $17 trillion for the first time ever – which probably explains why the Welfare Office is busier than ever. Well … at least this welfare office:
Debit: But wait – there’s more! The Fed also found that there was a sharp decline in the share of working adults who felt that their retirement savings plan was on track, suggesting that Americans had concerns about their future financial security. As if the previous news wasn’t enough evidence that all is not well on Main Street. In any case, those concerns are most likely due to the 54% of adults who also said their budgets had been affected “a lot” by inflation. Yes, the same inflation we keep being told is returning to “normal” – despite all of the real-world evidence to the contrary:
Credit: In the meantime, Congress ended the debt ceiling drama this week by suspending its credit limit through 2024. That left the inimitable MN Gordon asking us if we’re happy about that. “You shouldn’t be,” he says. “If you believe in small, limited government, greater freedom and autonomy, and future prosperity for your kids and grandkids … then raising the debt ceiling is a direct assault on your sensibilities and way of life.” Indeed. And you can bet the perpetrators will escape justice – which is, sadly, par for the course these days …
Debit: For those of you not counting at home, the National Debt is currently pushing $32 trillion – and that’s expected to hit $36 trillion in the next two years. Let’s put that in perspective, shall we? If you earned a single US dollar every second for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – that’s the equivalent of roughly $31 million per year – it would take you more than a million years to pay off the US federal debt. So there’s hope. At least that’s what the fiat-loving central bankers and their partners-in-crime – our spendthrift politicians – want you to believe.
Credit: By the way, debt levels have already reached a point of saturation, which is why it’s not a stretch to think that the government could soon see a debt jubilee as a politically attractive option. The $32+ trillion question is: How would they choose to implement it? Let’s just hope they have an “idea man” as good as this:
Credit: On first blush, a debt jubilee sounds like a great solution for everybody. But as macro analyst Nick Giambruno warns, a “debt jubilee could wipe out many trillions worth of liabilities and create previously unfathomable inflation, which (would) trigger the largest wealth transfer in history.” Yep. Now I know what you’re thinking: So, Len, how do I ensure I’m on the winning team? Fortunately, Mr. Giambruno reveals the answer: Holders of “government currencies, bonds, and creditors will be the big losers, while debtors and those who own unencumbered scarce assets will be the big winners.” Which is why this is becoming increasingly common:
Debit: So … if you’re unsure about where you can find “unencumbered scarce assets,” keep in mind that there’s nothing more scarce and unencumbered than physical gold held in your possession. That’s because physical gold is real wealth; its purchasing power can never go to zero. For this reason, gold remains the ultimate backstop to the current fraudulent debt-based global monetary system, although central bankers will never openly admit it. This is why everything went off the rails after the USD’s anchor to the yellow metal was broken in 1971 – and the American Empire has been in a steady decline ever since. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Remember …
Credit: Of course, the runaway debt and financial position of not only the United States federal government, but also the entire world, is rapidly deteriorating. And the sooner you recognize it and position your finances accordingly, the better. That means insuring your wealth with a portfolio consisting of at least a small percentage of scarce and valuable assets that have zero counterparty risk.
How much are your average monthly non-discretionary expenses?
- Less than $2000 (47%)
- $2000 to $3000 (26%)
- $3001 to $4000 (14%)
- $4001 to $5000 (7%)
- More than $5000 (7%)
Total Voters: 1,792
Last Week’s Poll Result
Will you be taking a summer road trip of 500 miles or more this year?
- No (56%)
- Yes (34%)
- Maybe (10%)
More than 2000 Len Penzo dot Com readers responded to last week’s question and it turns out that 4 in 9 of you are either planning – or considering – a summer road trip of at least 500 miles this year. Pro Tip: If you aren’t in a hurry, stay off the Interstates. It’s a lot more interesting.
If you have a question you’d like me to ask the readers here, send it to me at Len@LenPenzo.com and be sure to put “Question of the Week” in the subject line.
Football season is still a few months away, but here are the most – and least – expensive median ticket prices for NFL home games:
32 Indianapolis Colts (median ticket price: $107)
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($147)
30 Cincinnati Bengals ($156)
29 Baltimore Ravens ($162)
28 Washington Commanders ($168)
5 Kansas City Chiefs ($320)
4 San Francisco 49ers ($345)
3 Green Bay Packers ($389)
2 Las Vegas Raiders ($486)
1 New England Patriots ($615)
Useless News: God’s Best Friend
On the first day of creation, God created the dog.
On the second day, God created man to serve the dog.
On the third day, God created all the animals of the earth to serve as potential food for the dog.
On the fourth day, God created honest toil so that man could labor for the good of the dog.
On the fifth day, God created the tennis ball so that the dog might or might not retrieve it.
On the sixth day, God created veterinary science to keep the dog healthy and the man broke.
On the seventh day, God tried to rest, but He had to walk the dog.
More 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 (5.75 pages/visit) (!!!!!)
2. Idaho (2.28)
3. Arkansas (2.22)
4. California (2.21)
5. Maryland (2.19)
46. Delaware (1.54)
47. Missouri (1.53)
48. Mississippi (1.50)
49. Hawaii (1.50)
50. West Virginia (1.28)
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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 this piece on the ethics of found money, Suzanne Lanoue was less than impressed with many of the 150+ people who left a comment on the topic:
Wow. First of all, some of you are thieves. Shame on you. If someone lost money, you should try to return it. Second, legally you’re supposed to turn found money into the cops.
Psst. Don’t tell anybody, Suzanne, but I removed all of my mattress tags too.
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Photo Credit: public domain