Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Phone Number Blocking Whack-A-Mole Game

One of my telemarketer opponents is being amazingly persistent.

01. 425-260-2220. Blocked!
02. 425-260-1188. Blocked!
03. 425-260-9271. Blocked!
04. 425-260-9080. Blocked!
05. 425-260-3654. Blocked!
06. 425-260-1694. Blocked!
07. 425-260-3163. Blocked!
08. 425-260-5149. Blocked!
09. 425-260-9714. Blocked!
10. 425-260-1492. Blocked!
11. 425-260-1873. Blocked!
12. 425-260-6142. Blocked!
13. 425-260-1252. Blocked!
14. 425-260-5358. Blocked!

You are a worthy adversary, my friend. Time is not on your side though. You can only leave 9,986 more useless 15-second voicemails on my mobile phone! I shall prevail!

I have never given my mobile phone number out to anyone other than friends and family. I have not placed it on the useless Do-Not-Call list, nor should I have to.

Wireless Phones and the National Do-Not-Call List

For example, it is unlawful for any person to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with express prior consent) using any automatic telephone dialing system or any artificial or prerecorded voice message to wireless numbers. This law applies regardless of whether the number is listed on the national Do-Not-Call list.

Is it any wonder Congress has such a low approval rating? Just wait until we run out of phone numbers because the criminal telemarketers have gobbled them all up.

Forehead. Desk. Whack. Whack. Whack.

Advice for Former Pasco Frozen-Food Plant Employees

May 28, 2016
The Seattle Times: Layoffs grow at Pasco frozen-food plant closed by listeria recall

“Local employment opportunities are available right now for these skilled workers, so it’s the best time for us to release them to seek jobs,” said Gene Grabowski, a crisis-communications expert serving as spokesman for CRF Frozen Foods.

With local unemployment opportunities currently at 6.7%, well above the national average, you may need some help with your resume. I'm here to help!

Resume Keywords

* As part of a team, earned national recognition.

* Participated in life or death non-Yogurt based active culture research.

* Indirectly responsible for the non-deaths of well over 99.99% of customers served.

* Implemented massive redistribution of company products from the ground up.

* Maintained dignity when escorted from the building.

Bad Mark. Bad! Bad!

In all seriousness, crisis-communications expert serving as spokesman? Sounds like our next Fed Chairman if you ask me.

Dammit. Said I was being serious. Sorry about that.

Full disclosure: My girlfriend is returning 10 pounds of our Listeria tainted frozen vegetables to Costco today. Yay.

First World Problem of the Day

In Real Racing 3, a game I play for free on my Apple iPhone, I can currently earn up to 5 pretend gold per day by watching up to 5 advertisements. I watch all 5 back-to-back.

Ad #1

Reaction: Microsoft is making Kenya a better place. Nice. I've seen this ad so many times in the past few days though. So many times. Mute. Avert eyes.

Ad #2

Reaction: Crap. Not that ad again. Continue to mute! Avert eyes!

Ad #3

Reaction: F#%k me. Turn phone upside down. Stare at it for 30 seconds in contempt.

Ad #4

Reaction: F%^k Microsoft. Up the #%^*ing #%^!!!

Ad #5

Reaction: Microsoft! To the last, I will grapple with thee! From hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!

Hey, I'm no saint. I have my share of really stupid first world problems too. I own it. Hahaha! :)

P.S. Apologies to Microsoft shareholders. I didn't mean to imply that the advertising isn't 100% effective. Oh, it is. I assure you. Microsoft. Microsoft. Microsoft. Microsoft. Microsoft. See? Can't stop talking about the company which once sold me products. ;)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Deeply Flawed Human Drivers vs. Self-Driving Cars

May 27, 2016
Yahoo Finance: Human drivers are still way better than self-driving cars

Yet the deeply flawed human driver is still superior to a computerized one.


The trickiest challenge for self-driving cars -- which may still take decades to hone -- is getting computers to process unpredictable situations as quickly and effectively as a human being can.

A Tribute to the Former Bond King

May 26, 2016
Gross Trying to Short Credit to Reverse Decades of Instinct

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for money managers to justify their fees or their jobs, Gross said.

“I know that my investors want three, four, or five percent, or else they can keep it in the bank or stuff it in their mattress,” he said.

So I must leave, I'll have to go
To Janus Funds, no more Pimco
And win a fortune in a game
My life will never be the same

The $4.3 Trillion Nothingburger

May 27, 2016
Yahoo Finance: The Federal Reserve's $4.3 trillion ticking time bomb

The Federal Reserve has a big problem if it wants to raise rates again.

The first time? No problem. The next time? Big problem. Yeah, right. As a long-term holder of long-term treasury bonds, I welcomed the move. I did not become a mythical bond vigilante. I did not panic. Nothingburger.

According to several leading economists, it’s also possible that the Fed will become technically insolvent (though it always has the power to print its way out of such a disastrous state).

In a world with thousand upon thousands of leading economists I do not trust to predict rain when it is raining, several completely anonymous ones say the Fed could become insolvent. Maybe. Good to know. I'll plan accordingly by embracing the nothingburger.

Currently, the Fed pays 0.50% annually to banks to keep that money out of the economy. It might not seem like much, but the comparable rate paid by the U.S. Treasury for T-bills is 0.28%. In other words, the Fed pays banks nearly twice as much as the Treasury does.

This is awesome news for me! Capital One, a bank, is paying me 0.75% on my online savings account. What idiots! That's nearly three times as much as the Treasury does! The savvy Fed is only offering 0.50%. Yellen must be a shrewd negotiator.

This is a huge expenses for the Fed.

This is a huge expenses? Seriously?

But it gets worse.

Of course it does.

The Fed is taking capital losses on its $4.3 trillion bond portfolio, and those losses will eventually accelerate. When the bonds that the Fed holds mature, it realizes losses because it paid above-market prices for most of them to begin with.

I've been a buyer too. I'm holding to maturity. Even if I sold today, which I'm not, none of my bonds would have a capital loss. Not one.

It's almost like long-term rates have not risen from when I bought them.

It's almost like my long-term bonds become shorter-term bonds over time.

Is almost like it's nearly impossible to take much of a capital loss on a long-term bond that has only one day left until maturity.

It's almost like we no longer even call it a long-term bond if it's only got one day left until maturity.

It's almost like we call it a short-term bond instead.

Seriously. The Fed pays $1000 to buy a bond. It matures and pays the Fed back its $1000. The Fed also earned interest while it owned the bond. Where is the capital loss? Simple answer: This story is complete and utter nothingburger. And when I use nothingburger in this context, I really mean that since my time is valuable to me, and I read it, then I have suffered "a huge expenses." Never get this time back. It's gone, lol. Sigh.

I write an Illusion of Prosperity blog and am no particular fan of the Fed, but sheesh, the Fed's balance sheet ranks only slightly higher than being inconvenienced by an extra traffic light on my list of long-term worries.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Sweet Spots for the Global Economy

May 26, 2016
Wall Street Journal: Oil Prices Poised to Hit Sweet Spot for Global Economy

Range of $50 to $60 a barrel represents ‘goldilocks’ scenario for consumers, industry and the oil industry alike

What's the sweet spot for illicit drugs?

June 30, 2005
UN report puts world's illicit drug trade at estimated $321b

Annualized  worldwide illegal drug sales are greater than the gross domestic product of 88 percent of the countries in the world...

Just look at that GDP!

The bulk of the money, $214 billion, was made at the retail level; drugs sold in streets and back alleys.

Most investors love to see a good retail sales report. There is no reason our streets and back alleys can't become the envy of the world, more so than they already are.

Most of the buying was in North America, with 44 percent of all estimated sales, followed by Europe with 33 percent.

Looks like we're already in the sweet spot. That's fantastic! Now we just need to work on the other sweet spots.

Coal? It's too expensive. Nobody will be driving coal powered cars until the prices come down.

Nuclear weapons? Shouldn't cost more than a suitcase if we want consumers to buy and use them.

Human trafficking? Life is priceless. So what, maybe $15 per hour?

In all seriousness, Americans are driving 3.2 trillion miles per year in total. How much is enough?

Twitter Loses Commerce Executive

May 26, 2016
USA Today: Twitter loses commerce exec, disbands unit

The stock is down 80% from the peak. That money is lost. Here's the good news though. The lost executive in charge of commerce should much easier to find. There are only so many places he could be hiding.

Thank you. You've been a wonderful audience. ;)