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George Acs

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  • Why Raising The Retirement Age Is A Bad Idea [View article]
    While I would have loved to have seen a self-directed option the question has to arise as to what to do with those that have chosen poorly and when retirement comes around, voluntary or otherwise, have no means to support themselves in retirement.

    Currently, social security is estimated to already keep 40% of its seniors recipients out of poverty. The original act was an attempt to limit what were seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the "burdens of widows and fatherless children."

    It was a program that combined self-funding with a paternal and watchful eye to make certain the money would be there when needed so that the ranks of the impoverished would be decreased.

    Unfortunately, I think that the freedom to put your own social security account to work will only lead to increased poverty rates even among those that make good investing decisions but get caught up in market meltdowns at just the wrong time.

    That simply puts further burden on government entitlement programs and is an overall drag on the economy as entire subsets of the population are removed from consumption.

    So the question becomes what do we as a society do when inevitably faced with the same human issue that confronted the nation in the early 1930s? Just imagine if self-directed social security accounts were available in 2007-8
    Jun 30 10:22 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    There's no doubt that Reagan had a role and his role was one much more of confirming American resolve and suggesting to the world that he was an American leader willing to act the same way that heroes in the movies would have acted.

    As I mentioned earlier, it was a constellation of events all occurring at just the right time. Reagan was a part of that constellation. No doubt that he was an inspiring figure, just as the Pope himself inspired. The pair very likely admired one another and were emboldened by the other's actions and words.
    Jun 30 10:05 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    Specifically with regard to the SOviet Union it was a constellation of events, not the least of which was a new, younger leader who was neither perceived in the same authoritarian light nor had the same unqualified support of the Red Army.

    Reagan played a role, but it was mostly one of bravado, not that such should be minimized. His words offered the same kind of deterrence and determination as a nuclear arsenal
    Jun 30 10:00 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    Try using a larger screen. It makes it look like much less.
    Jun 29 09:45 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    Actually, as I re-read the paragraph to which you refer, there was in fact no ethical argument being made, simply a suggestion that there may be some ethical conflicts for some people.

    You created the argument by suggesting that it was an act of convenience to overlook any ethical considerations rather than perhaps believing that there was, in fact, a reasoned assessment behind the decision. Now compound the contentiousness by referring to it as a hypocritical and "appalling" action and later as "rationalizations."

    It's actually the height of arrogance to suggest that an individual's approach to an ethical issue is marked by hypocrisy, when ethical issues, by their nature are extraordinarily complex and have multiple and valid points of view. People often find unique and varied paths toward addressing potential internal and external conflicts

    If you believe that the purchase of shares is unethical and appalling then you should simply not purchase the shares. If you believe that recognizing that there may be ethical issues and going down a particular path is appalling and hypocritical, then you clearly advocate for being blinded to the facts, because then you can never run the chance of standing accused. You certainly would be better off knowing as little as possible about most of the S&P 500 companies.

    Ignorance bestows a free pass.

    Now, once again, not to completely shock you, but you are very wrong regarding your relationship to a company in which you own shares and what you perceive as "benefits" of being a shareholder.

    There is absolutely no benefit to the company if you do own shares. In fact, quite the opposite, share ownership represents a liability to a company. The only benefit that an individual can derive is potentially making money from the sale of shares to someone else who is hoping to make money by eventually doing the same.

    Despite your comment, you do not share in profits, as the share price is reduced as soon as dividends are distributed. I believe that further demonstrates your lack of understanding of the meaning, as I earlier suggested you may not understand the actual process.

    Owning shares in any company may be done for any number of reasons, including being an activist shareholder. Those interests are certainly not aligned.

    As you may know from reading my articles, I tend to look for very short term opportunities. My interests are aligned with a particular price movement in a specified time frame and not with the company, itself. Often that price movement is downward and that pleases me, as well, as I frequently sell in the money calls. That hardly qualifies someone as being aligned with the interests of the company. Ultimately my cares are isolated to price movement dynamics.

    Do I think you're a troll? No, just perhaps a little close minded on a singular issue, when ethical discussions require expansive minds to actually fully explore an issue.

    Except I had no intention of exploring the issue in depth nor of attempting to convince anyone else to abandon their own held beliefs
    Jun 29 09:22 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    Thank you.

    I wish my timing had been better. I think that yours is pretty impeccable. I started the transition to cash at the end of February. I'm usually fully invested but have gotten it to 40% cash, which was my goal. Unfortunately, that's meant missing out on some of the fun, but like you, I'm anxious for an opportunity.
    Jun 29 07:35 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    Surprisingly, at least for me, Darden also owns The Capital Grille chain, which at least in Washington, DC was always a power lunch and dinner place.

    It too is always packed.

    Although I think the Yard House has more capacity for expansion around the country because of price points, but other than for a brief period of time following the meltdown in 2008, upscale has done fairly well despite struggles downstream.

    But even with the higher end restaurants Darden has, you really have to admire them for how long their brands have remained popular and have been perceived as good values.

    I think the value extends to its shares.
    Jun 29 03:37 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    I've never purchased AZN, but it's always one that I think of going to but still haven't pulled the trigger.

    I follow about 75-100 stocks and usually own around 25-30 at a time. I tend to remove 5 or so stocks a year from my list and replace them with new ones. Thanks for that comment about the periodicity you've seen in AZN, I'll take a look at that. You can't ask for anything better than predictability.
    Jun 29 03:22 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    Thank you.

    But speaking of demeanor, I don't know if you saw the piece by Herb Greenberg yesterday in LinkedIn. It was about the occasion of his son's "coming out" a few years ago while still in high school

    The vitriol in the comments section was just terrible and really makes you wonder how is it that some people can't contain that vitriol and emotion, especially on a site that ostensibly is there to promote the marketing of one's self.

    But I think that too many people see only the extremes, as mentioned in Thursday "Daily Market Update" that I write for my subscribers.

    "So much of what we do with our investments is reactive. Human nature tends to either highlight the good or the bad. We tend to go to the extremes in making our generalizations, when in fact they are the extremes and are really reflective of nothing other than the boundaries of what we can expect in terms of exhilaration or disappointment."

    That was in reference to how we tend to react to market shaking events, but it may be very true for much of life. Unfortunately, life just can't always be as simple as black and white.

    Maybe you're right and age is a factor in considering other possible paths. Maybe that's why so often it's the grandparent that is best able to understand the tribulations of their children's children.
    Jun 29 03:16 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    It helps that the Soviets had a series of horrible harvests,an economy that couldn't afford their global ambitions, a series of aged and dying leaders and a bold Polish Pope who had a somewhat supportive admirer in the Kremlin.

    And then there was Reagan whose one-liners were perfectly orchestrated and timed.

    Like most everything, good or bad, it takes a constellation.
    Jun 29 03:00 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Raising The Retirement Age Is A Bad Idea [View article]
    How do you get people to save?

    That question is way above my pay grade.

    There's such a mixed message. One minute we're complaining that we're not a nation of savers and the next minute we're exhorting people to be consumers, so that they spur the economy.

    Credit cards are the enemy of savings. You get that false "wealth effect" and then you have to return to reality when the payment comes due. You either go into debt or dip into savings.

    You almost wonder if the current social security system wouldn't have been better simply as a "widows and orphans" fund and not as a retirement program, except where would the resolve suddenly appear to sock away the money for 40 years?
    Jun 29 02:48 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Raising The Retirement Age Is A Bad Idea [View article]
    There's also nothing sacred about the current split in SS withholding.

    I think that people should bear the predominant responsibility for their retirement planning and funding. While I think that limits should be increased it is also an opportunity to shift the split, or individual companies can elect to use a greater SS contribution as an employee benefit or as an alternative to 401k contributions. By the way, as a taxable benefit.

    I think that even the most wealthy shouldn't harbor any guilt for accepting a social security check, after all, they funded that check and very likely will never receive a competitive return. However, perhaps the IRS could offer a charitable contribution benefit for returning the money to the Treasury instead of keeping the checks.

    Get that truck and make sure it has an extra deep cargo area for all of that money.
    Jun 29 12:19 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Raising The Retirement Age Is A Bad Idea [View article]
    No, consider increasing the income limits, not necessarily removing the limits. But specifically, in the case of your social security benefit as opposed to your father's, you can't make a linear correlation because of income limits. The curve flattens out.

    Funny you mention FDR, because others would have said that completely removing limits would be totally Rooseveltian, and not in a Teddy sort of way. I remember reading the editorials New York's "The Daily News" back in the 60s and 70s. They were still referring to him as a communist.

    Your kind of spending is great, but consider for the average person receiving $1,000, whether as a lump sum or through paychecks distributed through the course of the year. Who is more likely to spend that $1,000, someone getting a minimum wage, or someone who is in the highest tax bracket? That $1,000 is entirely irrelevant for some, while for others it can be incredibly consequential.

    The company store doesn't really exist anymore, at least not in the classic form, but some people have an awfully difficult time escaping from the bottom, despite their drive and dreams. Simply being able to go out and get a business suit can be the spark that opens a door and gives a foothold to escape a lifetime of flipping burgers.

    At $7+/hour, it's not very easy to get that suit, even at Jos. A Banks special pricing
    Jun 29 12:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    What I especially like is that very often what may start as an initial disagreement leads to a writing/reading relationship with greater exchange of ideas and thoughts across other articles and topics. Some of those may be in agreement, some not, but most often at least thought provoking.

    I am disappointed with the slow rate of recovery, especially in human terms, as opposed to sterile measures of GDP, Consumer Confidence, ISM, etc...

    Although the slope or the rate of change in the unemployment rate is far, far better during this administration that it was during the last 2 years of the Bush administration, I think that there have been so many squandered opportunities to make concrete (literal and figurative) inroads into improving the lot of those that are held hostage by the economy.

    While I understand that the banks were at the center of the crisis and their size and scope has required inordinate Treasury support, it is time to consider either stopping liquidity infusions or diverting them to tangible projects that have direct impact on people's lives through the creation of meaningful jobs and upgrading of our infrastructure.

    We also have to mentally prepare ourselves for inflation. It is not as horrid, in historical terms, as those with memories of the late 70s and early 80s would have you believe. With decreased Chinese demand for bonds and diminished support of low interest rates by the Federal Reserve it is unavoidable.

    But given the option between essentially zero interest rates and slow to no growth, versus higher rates of interest and greater economic growth, for me it's a no brainer.
    Jun 29 11:03 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Raising The Retirement Age Is A Bad Idea [View article]
    That's really not accurate.

    A bank may make judgment prior to making a loan as to whether the costs can be supported by anticipated revenues, but they do not do so post facto. Certainly a prospective borrower would adjust personnel costs accordingly prior to making an application.

    If there are performance clauses further adjustments would be made in any cost center. You don't hire fewer people if you need them to support your business or its growth, even if there is a marginal cost associated with an increased minimum wage. If an employee can't cover his expenses they shouldn't be hired.

    The same argument has been made by some high profile individuals with regard to employee borne healthcare costs, claiming that they would be hiring less and even releasing employees. Turns out not to have been the case. You can still get your pizza delivered and there will still be enough people to build your luxury home, because the additional costs were less important than the loss of service or productivity.

    And no. Minimum wages do not result in less hiring. The data around the country is pretty clear. Anecdotes may have personal implications, but are not supportive of the contention.

    The minimum wage worker is, in many organizations, the best value that can be had, particularly since if they were not performing their responsibilities, they would have to be done by others in the organization. The garbage doesn't take out itself, the boxes are lifted onto the shelves on their own.

    Presumably, it would be those already in the organization upon whom it would fall to also then accomplish the tasks performed by the minimum wage worker. Their higher wages would then go toward time diverted from their primary responsibilities and their productivity would be curtailed.
    Jun 29 10:37 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment