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  • 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
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Here Comes The GDP Revision [View article]
    "Shaggieman: I know folks are anxious to support new Apple/Samsung technology but is this apt really necessary? I mean how hard is it to swipe a credit card?"
    My iPhone Apple Pay was installed as a routine 'fix.' I had doubts and would not have installed it as a choice. None of the places I shop have Apple Pay as far as I know so it is academic.

    My credit card can be used by anybody. All they need is the account number for small purchases and big purchases by identity theft were intercepted by my bank (Citi) only because they were being done in person much too far from my area of residence. If the person has my card, there is no question or concern about the signature. My teen-age grandchildren sometimes use my card in grocery stores while I wait in my car (I cannot walk without devices that are time-consuming to set up). For Apple Pay, it is necessary to enable the transaction with a fingerprint. No other person can do that with my iPhone.

    The answer to not leaving cards and cell phones on the counter is to develop the habit of never putting them down. Always go to the trouble of putting the cell phone or credit card back into its proper place attached to the owners person. Purse, belt pouch, pocket. I know that is not something many folks will ever do.
    May 31, 2015. 09:49 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Driverless Cars Will Save $5 Trillion, But Cost 10 Million Jobs [View article]
    There is always a human factor. Driverless or not, there is maintenance. Replace car mechanics with robots and the robots need be maintained and monitored. The autonomous driverless car will need to perform absolutely perfectly. Every part and every circuit board and/or chip in the electronics will need perform with absolute precision during every millisecond of the vehicle's service life. Look at the cars in use on the streets now. A majority are poorly maintained and marginal performers at doing the assigned purpose of transporting people and goods. Bad tires, smoking engines, worn or worn-out components in all the hidden systems. Driverless vehicles will require more maintenance and more precision care. Think "airplanes." Unless you are an airplane owner or work in aviation you probably don't have a clue about maintenance and operating requirements for aircraft. It is said that "A boat is a hole in the water that you fill with money." In the same line of thought, an airplane is at least a million times worse. Driverless cars will almost certainly leave both of those in the dust in reference to costs because of the hazards of so many of them moving independently in such close proximity and dealing with routine unexpected and infinitely-variable surface-of-the-planet conditions. Human error is replaced by mindless mechanical and electronic malfunction. An infinite number of daily detailed inspections of extreme precision for both mechanical and electronic components will be needed. Humans can't do most of that so robots will be required but at the bottom of the pyramid the human is and will always be the single essential factor. Human values cannot be replaced by robots. I head "music" created by an electronic system. A "robot" if you will. The hype loved the complexity and fullness of the sound. I listened to a series of musical bits and pieces in mixed harmony that did sound like music but was not music because there was no integrated human-relevant flow or emphasis. No matter what, the human mind is essential. Horses vanished. Buggy whip makers switched to making car parts. Men shoveling up 'horse emissions' took to operating street sweepers and construction equipment. Most of the technology of the horse era vanished because the internal combustion engine that made cars possible also improved all other technology and made a vastly better and more complex civilization possible. We have no idea where electronics are going because we cannot see or imagine what we cannot know. There is a cartoon strip in FaceBook where two little kids are watching a movie on TV. The movie was made around the turn of the Millennium. One child says how the characters and people in the movie knew nothing of cell phones or FaceBook or Twitter. The other child responds about how those individuals in the film seem "so much like us." And that is how it will be. Not, like the World's Fair of 1890-something with dirigibles filling the sky and other extensions of known things of the time, but with new things beyond our current ability to even imagine. And the infrastructure and jobs to support that newer technology.
    May 30, 2015. 10:36 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Here Comes The GDP Revision [View article]


    I have friends and relatives that use the VA and none have any complaints. Problems seem to be local at specific hospitals.
    Good luck."

    My Doctor retired and the easiest thing to do about it was to go to VA. They gave me enough disability to qualify me for routine care. OK. I have found the regular routine to be quite good.

    When I get sick the VA is always backed up 3 or more months. Of course I have Medicare A & B; everyone old enough should. I also kept my "after retirement" medical plan from where I worked. That has been a very good thing also. In spite of cost.

    So it is easy to have a second Doctor, "civilian," to go to when I need care for something immediately. It is: Call the VA and ask for care and then ask for approval of civilian care when they say "at least 3 months." Approval is almost automatic these days. My insurances and maybe the VA pick up most of the costs. It's about playing the game?

    Both VA and my after-retirement insurances cover pills (less a co-pay) so I never had to cope with Medicare D. For me that is all win-win.

    Any/every veteran should at least go see what VA can/will do for them. It's all in the rules (Law) and my experience is that the VA folk play by the book. Take a copy of your DD 214 and start with the VA Service Rep.
    May 29, 2015. 12:54 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: ECB Pledges To Boost Bond Buying [View article]
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    Good point, Tony! I'll bet that DNA research will reveal a lot about the movements of humans across time."

    For some really interesting information, private personal and otherwise, join "23AndMe" and maybe "" [One family member in each of them for 'diversification' ??] [These are paid memberships. I have no connection. My family did both as suggested.]
    May 19, 2015. 01:16 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Eurozone Growth Forecast Gets Big Boost [View article]
    Is college, some college at least, important for the work force because the curriculum (the parts bad-mouthed by the famous rich) extend the awareness and maybe the interests of the population beyond the accomplishments of the high-school football team? Things like being able to actually write in English, to acquire some capability of reading comprehension and to know a little about music and art? The ability (even if the knowledge post-dates their college time, developed by the individuals to explain what went wrong during college) to organize their time and efforts and apportion it to meet goals? To 'think' in an organized manner.

    My experience and impression is that in the grade and high schools, it is quite possible to listen in class or do passable homework and get decent grades. Those who do neither are usually taken care of by the permissive social agendas and get a diploma anyway.

    You may be aware of the idea that "Half of the new Freshmen on Day One of the first semester will not be there on Day One of the second semester. And half of those completing Semester 2 will not be there for Semester 3. Thereafter, half of the students for the first day of year 2 and 3 will vanish by the start of the following year." That works out to about 5% of those new Freshmen obtaining degrees. But all the rest do learn a lot about themselves and improve their capabilities to some extent. Which gives them some edge over the high-school-only's.

    Perhaps a larger percentage of college freshmen obtain degrees now? Social Agenda stuff? It has been a long time since I was handed that college diploma; I am well aware that although I chose to go into blue-collar work, my paychecks were similar to the white-collar folk with similar college class-standing because I followed a strategy which derived from my college experience.
    May 6, 2015. 12:16 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Eurozone Growth Forecast Gets Big Boost [View article]
    I did maintenance on electronically controlled machinery. Was told often that the reason Y2K was a dud was because all the techs worldwide worked very intensely for several years from about when the possibility of a disaster was identified up to midnight (in some cases) on that fateful New Year's Eve replacing parts and reworking software so the problem never happened. Where something did happen because the management would not believe/spend money, the consequences were kept unspoken/unpublished.
    May 6, 2015. 11:37 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Bloodbath In The Bond Market [View article]
    Written language goes back at least to Babylon (Iran/Persia), 5000 years or more. Other written language survives in ancient ruins in India that predate Babylon. (Whether or not we can now read/interpret it.)

    The Pharaohs Ramses and Tut were about 3000 years ago and the writing was fully formed and plentiful. Much of that written information survives. Rosetta Stone was about then? Written message that was contemporary to that time and the one in a written form that was becoming outdated and one that was much, much older? Not gonna look it up to check on myself.

    The archeologists say they can trace human society during the warm inter-glacial before this one and possibly the one before that. Not details, but migration and basic culture of group sizes and the shelters they created for themselves.

    Among humans, war seems to be the most durable standard. Graveyards of ancient peoples with graves & remains that can be dated over time spans of hundreds of years, positioned many thousands of years in our current past, some in the previous warm interglacial. With cause of death in many cases to be trauma from weapons like spears and arrows. [Ref: "The Complete Ice Age" ISBN 978-0-500-05161-0; And other articles on the Internet. Also, it has been awhile since I read the book.] Language of some sort would have been necessary. Largest problem back then was the dearth of sentient humans (Total populations were tiny by current comparisons). The mutation that is sentience was the source of the story of Eve and the apple. The non-sentient peoples did not survive the glacial onsets. Not popular ideas, as you said, Tony, but probably true.

    Sentient groups told stories and transmitted history with excellent accuracy. The Indian tribes in North America have been studied to research story-telling and the story tellers of Africa are legendary. Story telling and then writing down the stories as written languages were developed is another characteristic of sentient humanity.

    If there was a time machine, perhaps it would be interesting to send it forward a couple of warm-interglacial periods to see what was known of us by then.

    Relevance to SA and investing: Information gathering/data storage and the companies that enable that should be excellent durable places to put money for a yield. Also, the Military-Industrial complex should be a 'forever' place for investing.
    May 6, 2015. 11:09 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Eurozone Growth Forecast Gets Big Boost [View article]

    I can't "listen" very well. Bad ears and poor speakers for the computer; worse speakers that are built into the (late model HD) TV. At least the TV usually has subtitles that are easy to read.

    Is that speech by Gen Hyten available in transcript anywhere?
    May 5, 2015. 01:48 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Tesla Moves Into Energy Storage [View article]
    Those who buy solar systems -- the panels-- but not the batteries have another approach to what they want out of the systems. Not independence from the grid; not survivability in some improbable disaster like a solar storm or an EMP bomb from some enemy nation. They want the air conditioner to be partly fed by the solar array and reduce the routine electric bill. If it is night and the building or house has good insulation the power consumption for cool air is tolerable. If there is a power blackout it is going to be for a short length of time and the situation is manageable.

    If the sky is clear in winter and there is no snow piled on the solar arrays, then maybe some electric heat is possible. That's gravy.

    For blackouts the thing is to buy an electric generator and have enough gasoline or diesel in (5 gallon ??) storage cans to last a couple of days. Run the generator a few hours on and a few hours off to keep the freezer and fridge OK and for electric light for a couple of hours at night. What else??

    I personally have not been able to make myself justify a generator. I would sign up if the local electric company wanted to put a solar array on my roof with the assurance that my electric bill would be less. Even a little less. And that the electric company would maintain that solar system. That is quite different than buying something on (your) own hook.
    May 1, 2015. 09:19 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Markets Prepare For Week Of Central Bank Decisions [View article]
    The artificial sweetener and GMO arguments are so much about nothing ever changes.

    A few centuries ago it was realized that humans need iodine. Iodine was nearly completely absent in the foods of Europe. The "Church" bypassed much of the argumentative stages by instituting "Fish on Friday." That gave the North Sea fishing industry a big market and fixed all the medical problems from the lack of iodine. Win-Win. Maybe too easy and I know I have never heard the gory details of all that. (Politics of the North Sea countries and personal gain by powerful figures in the Church, yes. But how nasty it all was ???)

    Then the (British) Navy instituted vitamins for its sailors (~Fresh limes) and cured the rampant vitamin-deficiency "diseases" of sailors. I have never heard about the arguments associated with that but have no doubt they would sound familiar.

    In the late 1800's (?) the disease was Pellagra. Very nasty. Much discussion and beliefs. Arguments ongoing about a cure as simple as assuring a 'B' vitamin (Niacin?) in the diet. Sounded just like the current arguments about GMO's.

    As far as GMO's: is it better to starve a significant percentage of the Earth population by staying with "Natural" foods or go with GMO's and everybody can eat adequately? In a couple of generations, a 100 years, GMO's will be another "No Brainer."

    Corn is also a primary food for much of the world. It is needed for food. Not for making sweeteners. Not for making fuel for Internal combustion engines. Maybe for helping cleaner exhausts in hot weather in hot weather zones; but not for 'everywhere.' The cost of sugar (old fashioned table sugar) is a result of politics, not supply or demand.

    Soda is mostly salts-- I have read. The artificial sweeteners are essentially salts. (???). The real track record of corn sweeteners in soda and every other food is clear: The obesity epidemic started when corn sweeteners were introduced. The makers have a big vested interest. Maybe the general public is realizing this link between corn sweeteners and being or becoming overweight and is slowly reacting. Sales of soda are very slowly sinking in the long term. As in decades; not within the time frames watched on Wall Street. But the big soda companies are very aware and frightened.

    The cure for much weight control for individuals is simple: drink only water. Or black coffee. Or tea-- straight. Flavor the water or tea with a little fresh lemon juice if you want. Only lemon (maybe lime juice but it is not as good nutritionally) juice.

    Everything changes and at the same time stays the same. :-)
    Apr 27, 2015. 01:19 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: China Shares Extend Bull Run [View article]
    When "extreme long-term" means "by Friday noon" a mortgage is forever. Values of renting vs mortgage are in a different set of parameters, or even a different paradigm (?), when "Long-Term" means "the entire rest of the life" of an individual. For those who do pay off their mortgage and then continue to reside in that house 'forever,' there is a very big payoff. There is no "rent" when money is increasingly in short supply in old age when the title to one's "shelter" is in one's own Safe Deposit Box. Costs of 'taxes' and 'maintenance' are trick accounting when discussed by those advocating renting. The typical mature American knows this and behaves accordingly when it can be managed. The whiz kids with (it was once slide rules; now it is maybe accounting programs on the computers in their lower-Manhattan offices?) the numbers have no clue about the realities of life in that 'unknown' space between the city limits of New York city and San Francisco.
    Apr 22, 2015. 09:18 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment