Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Age of Despair

June 11, 2013
13 Things That Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Really Great

People are always on the lookout for scams. You kind of have to be, these days.

These days, we do kind of have to be on the lookout for scams. I can't speak for you, but I kind of miss the old days. I remember them fondly. It was a time before the massive accounting scandal at my former employer. It was a time before the dotcom and housing bubbles. It was a time before my telephone became a Fraud of the Month access point.

Speaking of which, has anyone noticed that the Do Not Call list is a complete joke? Politicians exempt themselves. They can and do call as often as they like. Well, they don't actually call personally. Their computers do. Politicians are way too busy doing political stuff to speak to the peons directly, unless a news camera is involved of course. May the best automated politician win.

Businesses all over the country call us too. Apparently all it takes to get a call is to have done business with a business which has done business with a business. That really limits the field, lol. Sigh.

How about charities? The Do Not Call list doesn't apply to them either, which is great because there is nothing I enjoy more than giving to the charities that call me most. Reward that good behavior I say. Let's form a virtuous cycle of the more I give the more my phone rings. Awesome.

As surprising as it might seem, the criminal scammers don't respect the Do Not Call list either. I know. Shocking. That's probably 10% of my incoming calls these days. Did I mention that I miss the old days?

Welcome to the new normal. Ethical behavior is so yesterday. As the ability to make money off of money continues to dwindle (as seen in long-term treasury yields and the popularity of TV shows such as Mad Money and Fast Money), I very much doubt that trend reverses. Everyone "needs" to hit their numbers, be it a politician, a pension fund, a business pushing Candy Crush, or simply a telephone scam artist.

The end won't justify the means though. Sigh.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Anecdotal Evidence That You Are Smart

December 18, 2014
Are you a worrier? Then you're more likely to be smart: People prone to anxiety have higher levels of intelligence

Worriers can be kept awake at night replaying the day, or imagining all the possible worst case scenarios in their lives.

If you make a habit of reading blogs about fake prosperity because you are as worried about the future as I am, then congratulations!

If you are an eternal optimist who was just tricked into reading a fake prosperity blog by one of your worrying friends then, well, sorry about that. Continue to take comfort that we live in the best world of all possible worlds. You must therefore be here for a reason. ;)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

February 25, 2015
What rising interest rates mean for the rest of us

One takeaway from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s recent testimony before Congress is that she and her colleagues are feeling pretty good about the direction of the economy – good enough to “at some point” consider increasing interest rates.

That's funny because I was just about to write a post titled, "What My Olympic Gold Victory in Stair Climbing Would Mean for the Rest of You."

I'm feeling pretty good about the direction of my stair climbing (only seem to climb up so far) - good enough to "at some point" consider looking into some sort of "Special" Olympics for stair climbing. That's at some point. I might consider it. Maybe. Who knows?

And since I might consider it at some point, I just wanted to make sure the rest of you were setting aside some time to watch me compete and win. Once again, feeling pretty good about my chances at some point, all things considered.

I'm also looking into the possibility of tracking down and capturing a Sasquatch at some point. It's something I may consider once I have attained the Olympic Gold. First things first though.

In all seriousness, at some point Yellen might consider raising interest rates? Wow. That's quite the lock on the rising interest rate environment. Forgive me for not holding my breath in anxious anticipation. As Japan is well aware, ZIRP is apparently the gift that just keeps on giving.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How to Get an NFL Quarterback to Notice You

February 19, 2015
NFL QB Kaepernick eviscerates Twitter troll -- or does he?

He tweeted: "ab workout won't help find open receiver."

I think that tweet is short, simple, effective, witty, and hilarious. It prompted Kaepernick to reply not once, not twice, but three times. Perhaps he felt he could fight quality with quantity? In any event, score one for the troll, lol.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Sarcasm Report v.207

February 17, 2015
Large student debt load limits young Americans' home-buying

"Student loan delinquencies and repayment problems appear to be reducing borrowers' ability to form their own households," said Donghoon Lee, a research officer at the bank.

This is yet another crazy theory in a long list of crazy theories. Where's the proof? Call me an optimist but is it not possible that debt problems are leading to even greater household formation? Does living in a cardboard box count? How about households living in cars?

Americans are also struggling with auto loans, the report showed, but are doing a better job keeping up with all their other debts.

This is definitely true. As a taxpayer, I'm doing a fantastic job keeping up with the federal government debt. Would you believe that they haven't even sent me a bill for my share of the $18 trillion yet? Further, as a holder of long-term government bonds I'm actually paid to wait for a bill that may never come. Good times.

Perhaps the government intends to someday send the bill to my grandchildren? Good luck on that. I don't even have children, much less grandchildren. And why is that? Maybe I studied Japan after their housing bust in the early 1990s, looked at the rising cost of college, and/or extrapolated forward our rising national debt. Perhaps puppies were a viable alternative in an uncertain world, lol. Sigh.

I hope you realize that I'm only half joking. Our pets *are* our kids. The real beauty of it is that we never expect our kids to leave the nest, rack up college debt, and then look for work in an increasingly competitive world. Who needs that kind of pressure? So, our kids tend to just hang out on the couch and sleep a lot.

September 18, 2013
The Onion: I’m Just A Free Spirit Who Is Entirely Financially Dependent On Others

For example, sometimes I’ll tell the person whose couch I’m crashing on that I’m going to look for a job, and then I don’t, and then I just sort of hang out all day taking it easy, and then I fall asleep. That certainly wasn’t in the day planner, but so what? I had a great time and nobody was hurt, except for maybe the person who desperately wants me out of his apartment.

Oh, man. Small world. If he was a puppy then we would consider adopting him. Perfect easy going disposition!

Seven Questions of the Day

Jeremy Siegel is at it again, bless his heart.

Four years ago he warned us about the Great American Bond Bubble. He told us that bond yields were far too low to protect us from rising interest rates. For the record, and using the best hindsight analysis this side of the Mississippi, we can clearly see four years of additional ZIRP have occurred. The rising interest rate environment failed to materialize. Big shocker. Fortunately, as he was warning I was buying. 2011 was one of the biggest bond trading years of my life. I backed up the truck on 30-year TIPS with intent to hold to maturity. Still holding! No complaints!

So what is this wizard of Wall Street saying now?

February 17, 2015
Siegel: Need better growth before rate hike

F#%*^ing hilarious! If we cannot get the kind of growth he needs to see with a rapidly falling unemployment rate then how can we ever get it? I have news for him. Growth probably won't be picking up once the unemployment rate can fall no further. That should be obvious to all. I therefore offer the following as my questions of the day.

1. What is the true value of a Wharton School Economics degree?
2. Why does Jeremy Siegel appear so often on CNBC?
3. Can every Wharton School graduate expect to appear on CNBC?
4. If not, will Starbucks be hiring?
5. How much additional training will that require?
6. Will coffee prepared by an Ivy League barista taste any better?
7. How much longer will the era of economic sarcasm last?

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Sarcasm Report v.206

February 16, 2015
Slow productivity growth could hurt the economy

Could hurt it? Could not hurt it? Which is it? Hard to say. Let's seek out the reasoning.

In the short term, low productivity growth is a good thing for the labor market. With the production potential of each employee limited, businesses must hire more workers to meet growing demand.

Oh, the humanity! Somebody needs to do something before every worker is hired! The economy clearly cannot tolerate that level of pain!

Ultimately, a less productive, slower-growing economy means less hiring.

Indeed. Once every worker is hired then it will be very difficult to hire more workers. We will run out. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that we should not allow this to happen! Basic math will not be denied!

This is why I implore you to sign my "Up with robots! Down with humans!" productivity miracle petition! We must never, under any circumstances, allow corporate profits to fall! Labor must never achieve anything more than modest pricing power!

Can't you see what a fully employed workforce would do to the housing market? Nothing good, let me tell you. No, sir. Best to replace every worker with a fully mechanized and automated robot and then convert every existing housing unit into a robot storage facility. And what do we do with the leftover humans? More homeless shelters! Expand the food stamp program even further! Genius!

Prosperity, baby. That's what I'm talking about.

Quote of the Day

February 8, 2015
China's imports slump, capping dismal Jan trade performance

"It's a very strange data print." - Andrew Polk

Dr. Strange has just the prescription for what is ailing the Chinese economic miracle.

More cowbell.