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  • Fiscal Cliff: Let's Call Their Bluff [View article]
    Very few people want to even consider cutting the "defense" budget. Even fewer seem to understand what the word "defense" means. As a fiscal conservative, this is the FIRST place we should look - from Vietnam to Iraq, the cost of our endless militarism is high and not just measured in dollars. We often go to war based on misplaced ideas "we are going to establish a western style democracy in country X" or very poor data "weapons of mass destruction". The rhetoric seems to almost always be focused on social programs and almost never on our state of near continual distant foreign warfare. Thanks for writing this article; clearly it has ruffled some feathers. We Americans do not want to admit how violent a culture we are for a developed nation; both domestically and abroad.
    Dec 19, 2012. 09:19 PM | 17 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Retirement Strategy: You Want The Truth? You Can't Handle The Truth! [View article]
    How about less distant foreign wars? From Vietnam to Iraq, these costs are huge and cost more than just dollars. It's not like we have a great 40 year track record of setting up Western Style Democracies around the world. It is like we spend more than the next 17 countries combined. Can we please balance the right's blah blah blah about entitlements with a hard look at what we spend on the military industrial complex? And our RIO for that huge cost?

    "It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." Thomas Jefferson

    Anyway, great article. I'll keep my eyes open for dips.
    Nov 28, 2012. 09:05 PM | 16 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Economists Refuse to Recognize the New Great Depression [View article]
    120 year cycles? I did not know we had the 240 to 360 years of consistently recorded data and information transfer that it would take to show such a trend. Nor was I aware that the markets even just 50 years ago are statistically comparable to today's markets.

    Connecting the dots in the past, on any time scale, is easy.

    "there is a theory that says stocks move first, economic events happen later" A similar idea is that the markets move, it doesn't matter why, and we humans rationalize the move and assign "reasons" to the move after the fact.

    Using past and current data to predict the future is possible but not easy. Going back 50 to 120 years seems very suspect. The father back in time one goes, the more things are not the same as they are now (computers, % of Americans that own stock, lifespans, regulations, etc. etc. etc.)

    Your mileage may vary. If 50 to 120 year cycles, Eliot waves, etc have predictive power for you then great! I personally see most of this stuff as marketing tools that do not produce results when back tested. The "great" marketing thing about 120 year cycles is that you can not back test them so there is no way to prove or disprove their usefulness.

    Aug 18, 2011. 03:46 PM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Fracking, Climate Change And What Gets Lost In The Shuffle [View article]
    Have you ever tried to heard cats? Scientists are worse; I should know, I am one of them.

    When a large number of scientists agree on, well anything, the world should pay attention instead of sticking it’s head in the sand. Most of the opposition has a skin in the game; usually in big oil.

    Yes, large complex models are “scary” and yes they are based on assumptions. But guess what, such algorhythms are alive and well and even better developed in the business world. We have heard of high frequency trading. Those models are also imperfect, based on assumptions and often hard to understand. And they also seem to consistently beat the odds. Just because I as a scientist don’t understand these business models does not mean I should pretend they don’t exist or don’t produce results that are better than average. Also, I’ve read some articles on these as well as high frequency trading – to me, that is not “research”, it is reading. Your mileage may vary.

    Here is the straight skinny: the earth is our life support system – it provides the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. There are 7 billion of us and we are polluting it. Some industries, like the insurance industry, priced in the increasing chances of severe storms some time ago. It is possible to be pro-business and pro-environment but this involves long term thinking that isn’t so common these days.

    I’m sorry but volcanos, aliens and natural cycles do not explain the Keeling curve.

    Natural gas may help get us off oil. It is a stopgap solution.

    Have you ever ran your “house” 100% off of photovoltaics? I have, the house being a sailboat. In practical terms, as long as you don’t run anything with a compressor, like say a refrigerator or air conditioning, 3 big panels could do the job on sunny days and were much much better than running the engine just to charge the battery. But the cost per output of pv cells is still much to high to be a solution to the world’s energy needs anytime soon. For remote off the grid applications, or govt subsidized projects, they can be a great solution. PV is part of the solution, but a small part.

    Ag is used for a lot of other things as well. And it is the “poor mans gold”. Plus it cannot be printed. So in the end, we may wind up at the same party.
    Nov 29, 2012. 03:56 PM | 11 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Madness This Week: Markets Up, Economy Improving, Recession Still Coming [View article]
    And back in charge.
    Mar 18, 2012. 08:55 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Top 1% Tuesday: $105,637 For Me, $80 For You! [View article]
    2. "So, let's have everyone throw their money in a pile and distribute it equally. Probably won't take more than a generation for the achievers to get it back and the slackers to lose it."

    I guess it depends on how you define achievement. Here is the current definition:

    They get elected or buy those elected and make sure the laws favor them. For example, they could give their companies tax breaks, bailouts, etc. They could protect their money from taxes by holding it offshore and legislating loopholes so their effective tax rate is below 20%. They could make laws that say they pay 15% on their investments while small business owners, that actually work much harder, pay much much more. The could be in bed with their regulators and get them to ignore or bend laws. They can buy and become lobbiests and make millions for "advice". They could create an entire war industry, bigger than all other countries on the planet combined, and get govt to not include war expenses in the budget while at the same time preaching about fiscal conservation and rallying against big government. They could also falsify loan documents and get people into loans they can't afford and then bundle and sell those loans. They can do this on a wholesale national level with minimal fear of going to jail. They can manage investments for muppets and charge all kinds of fees while delivering sub-average performance and acting in their, not their clients, best interest. They can make big crazy 30:1 leveraged bets and rake in profits when they are right and get the tax paying muppets to bail them out when they are not. All the while collecting bonuses for a job well done. They can control much of the media, tap phones and other illegal activities, and get people to vote against their own self interests.

    So your right, as long the 1% is able to create self serving laws and buy the govt, they can get there in a generation, or less.

    Or did you mean actual work that creates a product? As a small business owner, that is what I'd like to see. But that isn't the case, is it?

    3. "There is a food chain, and the biggest and most powerful (the 1%) are at the top"

    How many countries 1000 years ago are still around today? How many are not? Are the same dynasties in charge? How many regime changes have their been? Was Rome conquered externally or did it fall apart internally, mostly form bad decisions and excesses from the top of the food chain? What happend to the 1% in France, they seem a bit shorter. . .

    Every now and then, throughout history, when the ruling class pushes it to far on the "muppets", there is push back and heads roll. History is littered with fallen dynasties and civilizations. Why do we think we are any different? As for survival of the fittest, I'd not put my money on a former AIG exec, fraudulent loan salesman, lobbiest, or hedge fund manager if things go seriously south.

    I suggest that we move to a level playing field and diminish the role of money in poly ticks. There will always be haves and have nots. But the disparity between the two and the erosion of the middle class is a serious problem. I'm not asking for some kind of socialist shared money pool, I'm simply asking for a more equal playing field. Increase rewards for the producers - people that actually build or grow things. And decrease rewards for the best bribers, defrauders, off shore bankers and scammers. Maybe even consider jail time for fraud. And get corporations out of poly ticks.

    Graduated with highest honors
    Small business owner
    Mar 28, 2012. 11:14 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 3 Ways To Avoid The 'Rigged' Stock Market [View article]
    Spoken like a broker.

    Lets say I wanted to buy FB stock 10 years ago. Truth is, I did back then before it was discovered. My students were using it and I have learned to pay attention to the new stuff they use. Guess what? Like so many other companies most everyone else didnt know about, they were Private Equity only. A game I'm not allowed to play in.

    And of course by the time I am allowed to play, there was the more recent FB IPO - with all the hyp of a fully "discovered" and promoted company even much of the market realized this for the pump and dump it was. And we all know the "it wasnt rigged" shenanigans there.

    Lets look at MBS fraud. Bundle junk and suddenly it is top class. Robo sign it. Boot millions of Americans out of their homes. Of course that was't rigged either right? And while we are talking about banks and things not being rigged, are you also going to tell me that your tax dollars will bail out my small business and pay for my bonuses should I make really risky decisions that fail? To big to fail bailouts, especially in the US where there were almost no strings attached, are yet another example of a rigged system.

    Keep calm and carry on. Things will be fine. Until they aren't.

    The scary thing is that there are not a lot of alternatives. I think that is why the stock market is going up now - it is the cleanest dirty shirt. As mentioned above, investing in yourself and starting a small business is one of the few good options left.
    Mar 26, 2013. 12:35 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Longevity Risk, Through The Eyes Of An Actuary [View article]
    Shyster Risk: The risk that the financial product purchased does not behave the way the salesman described, always to your detriment (it might follow the fine print that your aging father didn't, and cannot physically, actually read). Very large commissions may or may not also be involved. As an educated "layperson" that reads SA, I find that the shyster risk is high in the financial and insurance industries and especially high with annuities and life insurance.

    This is a very tough crowd for those products.

    There are some good people out there - this author sounds like one of them. But for me, as long as I am mentally competent to make my own investment decisions and continue to on average, beat the average, that is what I will be doing. When I'm older and the math tells me I can no longer make more good than bad investment decisions, and my wife is also not able to make these decisions, then this sort of product might be appealing. But probably not, I'll probably go with a diversity of div paying stocks and income from managed rental properties - less shyster risk.

    Your mileage may vary.
    Dec 24, 2012. 12:02 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • House Republicans won't bring their "Plan B" tax-cut proposal to a vote tonight, as Speaker John Boehner says he doesn't have the votes; the House will recess until after Christmas. DJIA futures slip 0.2%. Boehner: "Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff." Updated: S&P 500 e-Mini futures dive, limit down. [View news story]
    We spend more than the next 13 countries combined on war mongering.

    We have been in a nearly continuous state of distance foreign warfare for at least 4 decades.

    How many Democracies have we setup in that time? How good are we, really, at nation building post WW2? Why do we go to war, spending trillions and losing the lives or our sons and daughters based on, at the best, shoddy intel?

    Why is it that most fiscal conservatives on the right want to continue to expand the military? 70% of us, that is most of us and includes both sides, are tired of all this damn war mongering. I'm glad people are finally starting to talk about this huge bloated elephant in the room.
    Dec 20, 2012. 10:20 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • My Must-Own 17% Dividend Yield Equity [View article]
    This is a new sort of investment to consider. The link provided lists upcoming distributions as: "$92.7m payout in the September quarter, followed by $73.3m, $57.1m and $22.8m through June 30, 2013." Add that all up and it looks damn good. Look at the consistently declining trend and it does not. . . the next 4 would be $3m, -$17m, -$31m and -$53m. . .

    I'm not as worried about the variable risk as I am paying $100 to get $20.

    Dec 2, 2012. 09:41 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • James Altucher: Why The Stock Market Is A Sucker's Game Right Now (And What Stocks I Own) [View article]

    Net Profit Margin -2,021.38%

    Might as well be day trading. . .
    Apr 30, 2013. 12:23 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The last U.S. troops today pulled out of Iraq, ending a war of nearly nine years but leaving the OPEC country facing the continued threats of a Sunni Islamist insurgency, rival Shi'ite militias and foreign meddling, and overspill from Syria. The government is also in dispute with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region over oil and territory.  [View news story]
    What did we get for the lives and money we spent there again? Will the new boss be the same as the old boss? What was the opportunity cost in terms of US roads, schools, social security, etc? The only part of the budget that increased in the latest deal was defense. . .

    "When the army engages in protracted campaigns, the resources of the state will fall short." - Sun Tzu
    Dec 18, 2011. 08:14 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Team Alpha Portfolio: The World Is Fraught With Risk, So Is Dividend Investing [View article]
    The "problem" with this strategy is that most anyone can do it. That leaves the middle men that invest other peoples money and take a percent or so (no matter how well or poorly they do) out of the picture.

    By the way, why are these fees always expressed as a percentage of the money managed instead of as a percentage of the profits that year? If the assets make 10% and you get 9% they are really taking 10% of the profits. If the assets lose money they are taking an infinite amount over profits. . . Rubbing salt in the wounds. The experts always win, their clients, not so much. No one ever seems to look at it that way.

    I imagine that you will continue to receive push back from "experts". Take it as a sign that you are doing things right.
    Aug 7, 2013. 10:14 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • House Republicans won't bring their "Plan B" tax-cut proposal to a vote tonight, as Speaker John Boehner says he doesn't have the votes; the House will recess until after Christmas. DJIA futures slip 0.2%. Boehner: "Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff." Updated: S&P 500 e-Mini futures dive, limit down. [View news story]
    The cliff may be the only way to cut military spending.
    Dec 20, 2012. 10:33 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • On The Road To The Endgame: The Farcical Cliff [View article]
    Some good ideas. . . but keep in mind that much of the middle class does not have savings, some recently lost their homes so ad a group they don't have a ton of div and capital gain INCOME like someone such as, say, Romney. Also, as you move up tiers, say from 250k to 500k you substantially shrink the % of people that are affected. . . Still, I'd take it as it is a compromise. But I'm not counting on the Rep to do anything other than say "no" or the Dems, who were just elected, to cave in. . . Also, I hear a lot about entitlements - this article mentions them. . . What about debt funded distant foreign warfare? From Vietnam to Iraq, we have been sending sons and daughters to die far from home for over four decades. We spend more on warmongering than the next 17 countries combined? Why is it that the talk is always about entitlements and never about this huge, wasteful and unproductive (how many democracies have we set up in the last 4 decades? How often have the reasons we go to war been lies) expense?
    Dec 3, 2012. 10:28 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment