Culturalism

Vulgarity Is Not Attractive

I occasionally run into someone who gushes over Chrissy Teigen, for reasons which escape me. While she is not totally unappealing, Eurasian genetics seem better manifested by the likes of Julia Nickson, or perhaps Kelsey Chow.

Personal preferences aside, what makes Teigen so repelling is her tendency to mouth off in disgusting and unbecoming ways, often over little things. For example, we have her outraged response to Trump’s opinion that the Coronavirus test is an unpleasant experience:

 “my vagina was ripped to my asshole giving birth to Luna. I had a vagasshole. fuck your swab pain.”

Imagine including your baby daughter in such a nasty and vulgar tweet, simply because you hate the president. Also consider that she is seen as a role model of sorts, with cooking products that deck the halls of your local Target.

Chrissy was not done, however. She went on with this:

 “they had to put a garbage bag at the end of the bed to collect my blood before stiching me up, where I then had to pee using a water bottle as a pain fountain for 3 months. so yeah. the swab, I bet it’s super rough.”

All of this in reaction to a person describing the experience of taking a medical test. Nowhere did Trump claim it is worse than having a child, but Chrissy’s neurotic brain just sees fire and shoots.

Last year, Teigen received passionate provider support from her husband John Legend (who is actually talented) when she implored women to use the following phrase more often:

“Fuck you.”

How empowering. I’m sure everyone who finds this sort of behavior from women is insecure and butthurt. So it goes.

Culturalism · investing · Personal Finance

The Federal PRESERVE of Wall Street

Some people ask me how I’m able to stay sane as an investor during times like these. The answer is quite simple: just pay attention to the federal government.

As most already know, the Congress approved a $2 trillion monstrosity by voice vote yesterday, with the only visible opposition coming in the form of representatives AOC and Thomas Massie. Beyond its inclusion of various stimulus programs, the legislation creates a fat bailout fund for larger companies, and allows the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion in support of the economy (Read: Wall Street ).

In the words of Powell the Owl:

“Effectively one dollar of loss absorption of backstop from Treasury is enough to support $10 worth of loans. When it comes to this lending we’re not going to run out of ammunition.”

Some Democrats openly demanded oversight for $500 billion in assistance that corporations will have partial access to through the bill, and succeeded in establishing an inspector general to monitor disbursement of the money. In response, Republicans began to weep miserably.

Just kidding. In reality, El Orangelo was several steps ahead of them, placing his ink on the bill accompanied by a fancy signing statement, which effectively allows him to ignore parts he doesn’t like. According to the man himself:

“I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [inspector general] to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required.”

In relation to congressional oversight requirements for specific funds he added:

“These provisions are impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement with respect to the execution of the laws.”

In other words, the money is already compromised. If that wasn’t enough, the legislation also shrouds Federal Reserve meetings in deeper secrecy, establishing an effective wall against FOIA requests.

So Wall Street will be fine, although your currency is another question. But don’t worry, you can forget all that and just rage against Thomas Massie.

Culturalism · Personal Finance

Paranoia Nation

We have already considered the negative impacts of Corona Derangement Syndrome (CDS) on the economy and the world. But even all that pales in comparison to a new story on the block.

On Hufflepuff.net, an article was published with the title “My Grandma Isn’t Taking Coronavirus Seriously Enough And It’s Terrifying.”

At first glance, the piece might come off as a touching tribute to an elderly relative at risk from the advancing virus. That is, until the reader reaches sentence two:

“In New Jersey, a quick 18 miles and two river crossings from where I am in Brooklyn, my 88-year-old nana is probably sleeping after another long, semi-quarantined day of watching the news, chain-smoking cigarettes and worrying about me.”  

Yes my economic chickens, our author is petrified over an octogenarian who apparently partakes in multiple cigarettes daily. God bless the grandma for her old age, and I wish her 88 more, but doesn’t the granddaughter’s reaction seem a bit odd? Her nana was presumably warned of the risks of smoking at some point, yet continues on regardless. She has lived longer than most people, and still appears tough as a cookie. Coronavirus would probably die trying to make her sneeze even once.

As it has been said, what makes a crisis devastating is less the cause, and more the reaction.  

Culturalism · investing · Personal Finance

Goldman Takes Third Blood

In my last video, I warned folks about Wall Street’s likely attempt to weaponize the Coronavirus panic in service of their financial interests. I also noted that Goldman Sachs has cultivated such a close relationship with the federal government that it managed to completely destroy a competitor (Lehman Brothers) during the bailout negotiations of 2008.

But there is more. As markets reel from the virus’ impact, our lovely friends have released an updated report on U.S. GDP for the second quarter, suggesting an upcoming 24 percent drop.

How convenient. Sounds like a great way to further tank the economy, allowing the Goldmanites freedom to make a killing on shorting strategies, plus accumulate dirt cheap shares.

Now hold on, the skeptic might say, what happens if the market declines so Goldman Sachs is also in trouble?

It’s quite simple. They just give a ring to the Treasury Department, led by none other than Steven Mnuchin, the retired Chief Information Officer for Goldman.

If you watch your 401k undergo further decline in the following weeks, just remember who is walking in “Fields of Gold.”

investing · Personal Finance

The Best Books On Economics

A lot of folks complain to me about the dense nature of economics and government policy, something that deters them from getting involved with the market or reading the subject matter. As a result, I decided to drop the following list here, with the intent of providing a shortcut to the volumes that help simplify issues for the average American goober.

On Stock Market Investing

The Intelligent investor by Benjamin Graham

Stocks for the Long Run by Jeremy Siegel

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing  by John C. Bogle

How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street  by Allan Roth

On Real Estate Investing

How To Be a Capitalist Without Any Capital by Nathan Latka

On Economic History

Socialism and Human Action by Ludwig von Mises

The Global Minotaur by Yanis Varoufakis

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

Capitalism In America by Alan Greenspan

An Empire of Wealth by John Steele Gordon

On Economic Policy

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

Retirement Heist  by Ellen Schultz

Temp by Louis Hyman

Maxed Out  by James Scurlock

Culturalism

How Technology Destroys Customer Service

“Dynamic technology is changing our lives for the better.”

We have all heard something along these lines over the past two decades. First it was the Internet.com, then smartphones, now smart everything. The oft-celebrated Internet of Things is forecast to make existence more convenient, less time-consuming, and more user-friendly.

Sure, tech has created positive change and unified people across the world. It has given us new industries, aspirations, and means of communication. All one must do is dream, and type in a Google search.

But there is something else: the wondrous change has  allowed corporations to turn a middle finger to the individual consumer. The customer is no longer “right” in our world; as an entity we hardly exist. In fact, we remain little more than a credit card swipe and a flicker of lights in the data center’s tower aisle.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I picked out an appliance for my new house. Being the deal-sensitive person I am, I went on the Bank of America app to change my cashback category to home improvement stores. After all, why not get twenty bucks back on a sizable purchase?

As it turned out, the app did not permit me to change the category, and advised logging in to online banking, which I did. On the website, I received a message saying I needed to use to app to change the category, or login to online banking. Obviously, neither option worked.

Feeling rather annoyed, I tried using “Erica,” the virtual assistant. When I inquired about the category change, she feigned digital ignorance by asking me to repeat the question. BOA’s customer service number was no better, leading me through a maze of menu options before claiming to “not understand” the request.

You might say this is a one off, but I’m seeing it regularly. Last year I booked an appointment with Best Buy to have a remote start installed in my rover. I paid the fee, got numerous reminder emails, and drove almost an hour to the GeekSquad bay. The door was locked, and no one answered the phone. After finally getting in touch with the manager, she bluntly announced that her technician had quit the previous week.

Instead of exploding, I calmly called Best Buy’s customer service, where I ended up speaking with five different representatives, each holding unique titles and demanding I repeat the story over again, before they made up an excuse to transfer me. I was stonewalled continuously, and eventually disconnected from the “Customer Care Manager” who could barely speak English.

Around the same time frame, I ordered a video game on Amazon as a Christmas present for a family member. After my other items showed up, I saw that the game was delayed by almost a month. I promptly attempted to contact Amazon and cancel the order. Like with the others, I was led through an endless maze of virtual assistants, disconnected numbers, and general indifference. All for something that should have been a simple, one-click solution.

Of course one cannot email any of these companies anymore, because they don’t want a paper trail if the underlings screw up and promise something they refuse to afford.  At best you’ll get to use chat, or maybe a 1-800 number. How joyous.

But at least we have “smart” refrigerators.

investing

Don’t Be The “I Should Have” Guy

Humans are not as adaptive as one might think. Right now, the economic herd is stampeding out of investments, many at a loss, because that’s what everyone else appears to be doing. Because Coronavirus is scary.

You can do the same (or not start investing to begin with), and the outcome will almost certainly be a loss, or missed opportunities.

Look at the market right now. We are on a roughly 11 percent decline in the S&P 500 since the end of February, with today’s 7 percent drop overall and the crush of oil bringing it home. At bare minimum, the market is much cheaper than it was a few weeks past.

If you break into individual  funds, the story is more stark. QQQ shares are down by $43.00 since February 19th, or 18 percent. SPLG is off about 7 bucks, or 17 percent.

What about loner stocks? Well, we have AMD down $15.00, or almost 26 percent. CCL, cursed by its exposure to virus-impacted cruises, lost 22 bucks, or 48 percent since February 19th.

And this is just a small sample size. Stocks are on sale. If you have free money, or a retirement plan through work, give strong consideration to buying in now, and certainly if there is a further decline. Drops of this nature don’t come frequently, but once they do, money will be made by the patient and unemotional .

Or, you could be the guy saying, “I should have invested back then.”