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  • Wall Street Breakfast: Investors Await Fed Policy Announcement [View article]
    Buckoux: Your line about Amelia Earhart is the best laugh I've had in a long time!
    Jul 29, 2015. 05:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Investors Await Fed Policy Announcement [View article]
    About raising the minimum wage-- basically doubling it. A large percentage- a majority (?) of those "benefitting" will be out of the 'no tax' zone and paying taxes. In a year the rest of the working class will be insisting on and getting large pay increases up to double or triple. Look at history-- those of you who do might fill us in with facts? Then prices/inflation increases dramatically. Next, Social Security and most disability welfare increases very little. So now the Social Security Fund is showing serious improvement. Never never mentioned is that the recipients of Social Security and Welfare or Welfare Disability get very little increase for a very long time. AARP constantly reports that the majority of elders are living entirely on their SS which is ~$1K/month. That is about half of full SS because of penalties. They started SS as soon as possible and pay the 40% reduction penalties. I looked up SS average payments a few days ago and think the average payment is ~$1100. Total amount paid out each month divided by the total number of recipients. These elders are already doing extreme austerity: living in the cheapest places they can find; eating less than an adequate diet of the cheapest food they can find; splitting pills that are supposed to be one per day and taking a half or less of a pill per day or a few times per week. No doctor visits if it can be helped because they can't pay co-pays. Where does all that go when the price of everything doubles? Don't sing the song about they should have planned ahead back there years ago. Humans don't plan ahead. Not most of us. In this forum we are all probably in the higher Sigmas. Half a sigma above the mean or better? The upper third of the population at least? Or we would not have the money/wealth to be interested in Seeking Alpha. I am alarmed about where all this (above) is going. And the consequences, intended or unintended.
    Jul 29, 2015. 09:07 AM | 16 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Corporate Earnings Weigh On Investor Sentiment [View article]
    crademan: "The I-10 bridge washout in CA. . ."

    How long a bridge or road takes to be built or repaired is partly politics and mostly "money." Not the actual amount of cash estimated or eventually charged/paid but contract conditions. The State or Feds specifies a length of time for completion. Within the laws are requirements that mostly force the contractors to not finish before the last day in the last hour. Often there are allowances for extensions and extra money; that allows and often forces the contractors to do whatever works to be eligible for the extra money. It goes on and on. Not suitable for this forum.

    In Dallas Texas there is a highway interchange called "High Five." (A 5-level bridge network.) It interconnects two major arteries in North Dallas. Estimated work time to build it was estimated at something like 7 years with overruns and extensions estimated at more than a real 15 years (Research it on your own if you want the actual published data; I write from highly fallible memory. And it was a long time ago.). Contracts were written for a 'pie in the sky' construction schedule of 5 years that the contractors said they could live with. Then strong penalties were added for any over-runs or extensions. Bonuses were added for any early completions of stages and/or of the whole thing.

    "High Five" was truly a horrid mess during construction. Traffic in all directions for a critical and significant part of Dallas & suburbs was nightmarish (I commuted through the mess every day). Actual construction from first shovel of dirt to opening the completed interchange was 3 years with big parts opened much earlier. All the time there was some traffic way kept open so the nightmare was never nearly as bad as it may have been.

    Things can be done if there is any real will to do it.
    Jul 22, 2015. 02:27 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Corporate Earnings Weigh On Investor Sentiment [View article]
    AndrewBaker: I just ignore and delete the new friends or people to follow suggestions from social media-- for me Twitter and Facebook. I delete the posts unread.

    My FaceBook contacts (friends) are immediate family with whom I interact often. I also subscribe to a very few closed groups where the prime subject is of interest. On Twitter I "vet" all 'follow' accounts to see initially if their posts are of business or other interest (hobbies, specific subjects). I delete those who do not stay in my envelope. There are no personal messages publicly posted in social media. PM's serve for strangers when a (one-time) message seems desirable. Otherwise there is Email.
    Jul 22, 2015. 01:48 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Corporate Earnings Weigh On Investor Sentiment [View article]
    JC: "I saw that "drone gun" or "gun drone" as well. What can the DOJ do?

    Where are the laws? It is a clear example of technology being created and accepted (and applied) before any laws/regulation can catch up to it."

    The laws that could apply are "Discharging a weapon" if done where it is unlawful; "Public endangerment;" probably some others that are general in nature but would be appropriate.

    If the gun on the drone was flown, used, fired where it was clearly safe to do so, like open desert or in a tight little valley-- a suitable test range-- probably OK.
    Jul 22, 2015. 01:32 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Energy Transfer sells convenience stores to Sunoco in $1.94B dropdown [View news story]
    May be learning curve. I have memories of articles by people in the oil business discussing where the money is and where the problems are. My recollection is that retail gasoline sales/gas stations are a big hassle and usually marginal as far as profit and loss. When times are good the money is there in retail oil/gasoline. Mostly it is dicey to just break even? Everybody seems to need to find out for themselves that "this time" or "we" are never different. There is the problem, of course, that ultimately 'retail' and end-user customers are essential and unavoidable. LOL.
    Jul 15, 2015. 09:13 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Markets Surge As Greece Blinks First [View article]
    Within the collection of (free) missives I read every day there is a belief that the Euro is not and never was intended as a primarily financial entity. The Euro is a political device to encourage European unity and interdependence. That will reduce the probability of various kinds of conflict and especially reduce the likelihood of war. Give it enough time and movement of people within the collection of European nations and it may become possible for Europe to become a single nation. Existing countries will be much like the individual states of the US or the provinces, whatever, of Canada and Australia. Check back in a few hundred years?
    Jul 10, 2015. 01:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Markets Surge As Greece Blinks First [View article]
    @ DCV & gggl: Ref to PC's and the other mentioned communications gadgets--

    Probably the market for desktops is nearly saturated? Desktops with real keyboards, a mouse, & a big monitor screen (at least one monitor and more if needed) are much easier to use but not very portable. Cell phones are highly portable [although I am having doubts about my iPhone 6+ in an OtterBox Defender and then in a belt pouch I created from good leather (Thanks, Tandy!)-- when my next road trip is over I am going back to the Apple Leather case and the slim commercial belt pouch!]. The larger Phablets and Tablets and such are nice because of screens big enough to actually be able to read text and still be more or less portable. I see people struggling to carry stuff and not let their larger device fall. We all know that companies don't want to buy replacement tech if it can be avoided.

    Next round of new PC's should, IMO, have to wait until there are new OS's everywhere and it is all at least 128 bit stuff with the (old) 64-bit stuff at a serious disadvantage (affecting the 'bottom line' and corporate competitiveness).

    My own desktop is getting old now as tech equipment age is viewed but I put a new and much advanced Video Graphics board into it and kept it 'alive.' The new board fits in the available limited space. Most of these higher power boards won't fit or need too much power (another additional power supply or a much higher wattage power supply is not reasonable. The Graphics Board I bought gets by just fine on the existing collection of other parts). The one I bought has been on the market only maybe a year now. It was an easy and timely mod/upgrade. Probably a much more common approach than buying an entirely new desktop computer.
    Jul 10, 2015. 12:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Markets Surge As Greece Blinks First [View article]
    @DCV: sugar-free beverages-- I may have found the most extreme one I am yet aware of. In a 'dedicated' WalMart grocery [medium size store, groceries only that WalMart is pushing. I like these stores and I am a more or less a Poster Child for a big demographic?]. On a top shelf an isle or two away from the sodas; a half-dozen (plastic) bottles. "Pure Leaf" Unsweetened. Ingredients: Brewed tea; Citric Acid. Tastes like that too. Almost as good and as murky dark as the stuff I make for myself. :-)
    Jul 10, 2015. 12:14 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Markets Surge As Greece Blinks First [View article]
    @JAMES CARLINI-- ". . . everyone seemed to hold their positions in the stock market(s). . ."

    The DJIA did drop from ~18500 to ~17500 and I was able to pick up a position in one of my favorite wannabuy's at ~year lows. Nevermind I will continue to keep my fingers crossed that this buy was not a mistake? I expect to keep holding my breath until at least October has turned into Thanksgiving?
    Jul 10, 2015. 11:52 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: China Rebounds But Worries Persist [View article]
    New vs Used cars? I have posted before: Every used car I ever bought turned out to be in need of serious work within a year or less and was never really fixable to more than passable condition. Every new car I ever bought lasted 10 years with only routine maintenance. Allowing for GM parts and production standards which needed water pumps and such fairly often. I took care of that by learning to be a decent shade-tree mechanic.

    The cross-wise engines in little cars were too much from the start. No space inside the engine compartments where it was all like a too-small glove; parts mounted on top of parts; everything linked with computerization and needing a specialized computer to do any troubleshooting along with unavailable software.

    I have continued to buy new Toyotas and do the routine maintenance. They still last 10 years for me. Maybe more: I replace them and get the latest bells and whistles. It all seems worth doing. Cost per year is about the same as buying cars with problems much more often. I do not have problems. My cars start and run every day whenever needed. Cost of purchase with interest on a loan or that fake "no interest for new cars" is avoided by buying cash which keeps the total cost of each car much lower than the standard accounting which includes all that interest. New cars can be bought well below list and without all the high-priced junk.

    I added an aftermarket back-up camera. I do have mixed feelings but it is very nice sometimes to see what is really hidden behind the sheet metal in back of the car or how much clearance there really is for tight maneuvers.

    Personally I like being in a car that offers the anonymity of looking exactly like a whole bunch of the other cars on the road of a half-dozen brands. Enjoy your older Bentley's and BMW's and maybe Ferrari's. It's not my thing.
    Jul 9, 2015. 07:26 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Greek Creditors Give Tsipras Ultimatum [View article]
    Did everybody read John Mauldin for Wednesday, 6-24 ??? Hopefully the link works. The big trends are discussed and much of it is very refreshing, at least for me.

    In the original missive the "Part Two" is complete. Well worth reading.

    Nature Rebounds | Outside the Box Investment Newsletter | Mauldin Economics … via @johnfmauldin
    Jun 25, 2015. 09:58 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Investors Await Fed Amid Grexit Fears [View article]
    @ Blue Okie:
    Buying online is really a no-brainer. Amazon sells at a competitive price if the cost of driving (gasoline, wear & tear, time) is considered. Often the price at Amazon is less. I paid the ~same $$ for a good cell phone case as the employee discount price at the AT&T company store; free shipping. Half the listed retail price. Many of the things I buy from Amazon or other places are like that.

    On-line buying offers anything that is wanted or needed. All brands, all versions and models. No restrictions to what the brick & mortar store may have on the shelf.

    USPS is not a 'For Profit' company. By law they are required to break-even over a 5-year time frame. USPS, FedEx, UPS, and more of these transport & delivery companies are all in bed together. Most mail and packages move by contract with or by FedEx and UPS. Delivery to other than profitable routes for all is USPS. If there was any interest in improving USPS the way is easy: Eliminate 80% of upper-level management and require real management skills be demonstrated and practiced by first-line and remaining management. Remove the "bonuses" that cause the internal games and conflicts by USPS managers.

    Drones: Cannot imagine drones being practical except in a small percentage of deliveries. Power lines, trees, winds are all extreme problems for most places. Apartments with little mailbox rooms? Not going to deliver to the tiny balconies! Businesss? Need a 'drone' the size of a C-130. I can see drones being used for delivery from the paved road to farmhouses until the family dog there finds out that the drones are the coolest Frisbees he ever got his teeth into.
    Jun 16, 2015. 09:49 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Jobs Report, OPEC Meeting, Greek Delay [View article]
    @ justaworkin'man--

    Definition of "Snowbird:" Retired person or couple who owns an RV trailer or motorhome and also a house. The house is located in a part of the nation where the winters are quite cold, maybe harsh. For the winter the "snowbird' relocates to a trailer park in (Phoenix; Harlingen; wherever in Florida). Notably the highways are crowded with southbound RV's in Fall, especially close to time for the ice and snow arrival, and northbound in Spring when the weather everywhere is warming. Some Snowbirds can afford/manage year-round parking in the trailer parks and leave their RV there year-round. Most snowbirds are/were small business owners, apparently, and others with sufficient money at the right time in their lives to pay the tab. Good RV's are not cheap nor is year-round rental of a parking pad in a good RV Park. Some snowbirds are "Full Timers" which means they sold their house to buy a good RV rig and reside in it all the time. They may or may not migrate. Note: It would be interesting to know how much of this is still true and what the trends are. My discussion was very valid in the 1960's to the 1980's. I have lost track since then.
    Jun 5, 2015. 11:34 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How To Think About Risk [View article]
    How much risk to take? How much money does an individual need? With all due respect, Jeff, there are some universal guidelines.

    Real risk is about probabilities. At least a minimal awareness of Probability Theory is good but even having and remembering a history of winning or losing at something like a card game or tossing coins for who buys the next round of drinks will often serve. When the chips are down and there is nowhere to turn afterwards, possibility of loss needs be limited to what might be done after the loss. If any given play is a "win" then using a part but not all of the gain is reasonable. If there are several losses, especially close to each other or in a row, the 'regroup' is to stop. There is something wrong that won't get better.

    How much money do we need? How realistic are we about our future lifespan? Most of us plan on living forever. Studies and mention of reasonable/common rates of expenditures give typical monthly requirements (maybe not in a condo in Manhattan; but most). USD$3000 in America ???; best approximation for as this is written. Do some math that adjusts for inflation. Expect to live to age 85 with worst-case to age 95. Allow for the government (at any appropriate level)(maybe involuntarily) to take over caring for you and in the process confiscate any and all assets. Not uncommon. It is another kind of 'risk.' In America there is Social Security. $1K/month at age 62 and with none of the penalties, $2K/month at "Full Retirement." With annual adjustments that cover most but not all increases from Inflation. Can you see yourself spending down to no personal money left by age 85? And thereafter getting by on the SS payments? Do you realize that by age 85 all you are going to care about is that you are not hungry and not in pain? That all those travel and socializing plans in your head are mythological projections?

    Reality is terrible stuff. Nobody wants to think about it or accept it. But it is probably the most significant factor for long-term late-life risk. Maybe always.
    Jun 3, 2015. 12:12 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment