Calling B.S. on Central Bankers

I’m a fan of the Marvel Comics movies, like X-Men and Iron Man. My lovely wife often catches me watching tidbits of the Avenger films when I sit down in front of the TV to relax for a few minutes. I’ll flip around until I find one, watch just 20 to 30 minutes, then move on to another project in the house. It drives her nuts! I know the ending. The characters use their skills to better the world. They have clear goals, choose their targets, and execute. These are nice, neat packages, which is completely unlike the real world. […]

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When the Wheels Stop Rolling

When it comes to new car sales, most Americans are payment buyers. We want a good deal, for sure, but we really need a car payment that fits our monthly budgets. That’s a problem, given that we also want premium brands, snazzy features, and, for many of us, hulking big machines that look like they’d be more at home tearing up jungle roads than cruising on asphalt around town or on the interstate. All of that stuff costs money, which is in short supply with modest wage growth. But that’s OK. For the last several years, automakers, or at least […]

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The Fed Must Be Reading Us

It’s too much of a coincidence. Fed officials must be reading our work. OK, they don’t really have to be… but if they don’t, they should. It’s not that we deserve credit for what comes next at the Fed, but I was glad to read the details last week in the nitty-gritty of the Fed’s minutes of its March meeting. (You would’ve had to have read it there; Fed chair Janet Yellen didn’t talk about it at all in her post-meeting press conference.) The big news in the fine print? Fed officials have discussed reducing their balance sheet, maybe later […]

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Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville

I grew up around the Gulf Coast and spent a fair amount of my childhood on the water and the beach. I can handle a power boat, I can sail, and I know what to do in riptides. I also know the words to most Jimmy Buffett songs, which is sort of a prerequisite for beach life. My Parrothead (as his fans are called) training started when I a kid, with songs like “Son of a Son of a Sailor,” “Margaritaville,” and “Come Monday.” But as time went on, and I heard more of the songs that never made it […]

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With Friends Like These…

Cartels are a tough thing. The goal is for a small group of influential producers to artificially move a market away from its normal equilibrium, and eventually squeeze more money from buyers to boost profits. Members rely on each other to do their part, be it charging higher prices, holding back supply, or flooding the market to drive out marginal players. At their core, cartels require people who want to steal more profit from buyers through false market signals to believe each member will do its part. There’s an inherent fear involved: If you’re willing to steal from clients, why […]

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American Kids Can Do More than Sing and Dunk

I like music, but it’s probably more accurate to say that I like songs. The difference is obvious when my wife and I roll down the street listening to the radio. I’ll hum the tune and, quite badly, sing the words. My wife, on the other hand, is just as likely to make fun of the simple chord progression or repetitive notes as she is to join in the chorus. She’s musically inclined, and hears a lot more of what’s going on in the background than I ever will. I think it’s awesome. The world needs people with all kinds […]

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Stop Patching Up the Euro

Andreas Georgiou can’t catch a break. The Greek statistician moved back to his home country in 2010, at age 50, to help right the financial ship. He left Washington, where he had spent 21 years working for the International Monetary Fund, to take over the agency that reports Greece’s financial health. Part of the problem with Greece is that no one knows exactly how big their problems are, since the numbers weren’t exactly accurate. Georgiou quickly realized that the country’s budget deficit in 2009 wasn’t 6% of GDP, as Greece’s statistics service had previously said. Or even 10%. He revealed […]

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The Wall Street Syndicate is Still at Work

Maybe they benefited from divine intervention… or maybe they were just lucky. Either way, the students and staff of St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California must be pretty happy right now. In 2012 the school took a chance, investing $ 15,000 in a small, little-known app maker called Snapchat. Last week the school sold two-thirds of its shares for $ 24 million when the stock went public. I’m sure they’re still giving thanks. Other people took home some dough that day as well. The co-founders, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel, both cashed out $ 272 million. Their remaining […]

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The Internet Revolution Comes Home

In early December, I bought a 15-year-old Jeep Cherokee for my kids to drive while they were home from college. It sounds a bit outrageous when I put that in print, but my reasoning seemed sound at the time. With all of them flying home, we’d have extra drivers around for five weeks, and only my car and my wife’s car available. I could have rented one instead of buying one, but the cost was substantial and I would still be the only driver allowed. As long as the old beater held up mechanically, even with registration and sales tax, […]

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I Can’t Sing, But I Can Still Get Mailbox Money

Everyone likes mailbox money. It’s the kind of cash that you earn while doing a bunch of nothing. It simply shows up in your mailbox every month. I like the sound of it. This is different from simple monthly income programs, which can include rental properties. Anyone who has been a landlord will tell you, there’s nothing easy about that life. No, I want the kind of money that rolls in without additional effort. Musicians, songwriters, authors, and others that create content are familiar with the concept, since they can get paid for many years on a single piece of […]

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