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The Link Between GDP and Cryptos

It was the best of times, it was the best of times. OK, that’s not exactly the Dickens quote from A Tale of Two Cities, but even with the recent volatility and inflation jitters, the sentiment seems to fit the mood of the markets today. And what’s not to like? Tax reform will put more coin in most people’s pockets in the weeks ahead, not to mention fill corporate coffers to the point of overflowing. Based on estimates of future spending and earnings, investors are driving stocks higher from what were already record levels. But just like a late-night infomercial… […]

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The New Debt Bomb

Count me among the worriers that thought our debt was a problem at $ 10 trillion… and then at $ 15 trillion. I was wrong. Or, at least, those levels didn’t seem to phase investors, who kept putting down their cold, hard cash to buy U.S. Treasury bonds. As I shook my head over the past several years, we continued our profligate ways, and now our national debt stands at a whopping $ 20.5 trillion, slightly more than our annual GDP. It’s about to get worse. Much worse. I’m a fan of the recent tax reform, mostly because I’m a […]

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My Legislative Wish List

My U.S. Congressman, Randy Weber, is on a mission. He recently introduced legislation that would permanently end tax credits for renewable biofuels made with animal fats. Thank goodness! When the government introduced such tax credits in 2006, it inadvertently upended a previously harmonious market whereby soap and cleaning supply companies purchased animal fats at what they deemed to be reasonable prices. The tax credits opened a new market for animal fats, which soared in price by more than 100% since 2006. Something had to be done! But nothing will happen. The bill has a mere 2% chance of passing because […]

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Get Ready for Bigger Paychecks

So far in 2018, New England froze over and the government shut down. And it’s only January! But just like with Christmas, there are some things that never happen fast enough. One of them is any change that gives workers bigger paychecks. With February just around the corner, that change is coming fast! The IRS has published the new withholding tables reflecting the recent tax reform. By the pay period ending February 15, employers should have built these rules into their payroll calculations. The end result will be more money in almost every pocket. (There are some high-earners who will […]

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When Your Friends Decide Your Credit Score

When my kids turned 16, they got three things: a driver’s license, a (used) car, and a credit card. They needed the license to drive, needed the car so that I didn’t have to let them drive mine, and the credit card was pure convenience. By using the card, they could buy gas without getting money from me, make small purchases we’d discussed ahead of time, have a method of payment in case of an emergency, and one more thing: They could start building credit. If you don’t have a credit history, your FICO score starts out quite low, which […]

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The Story Behind Asia’s Crypto Squeeze

It seems not everyone is a fan of cryptocurrencies. South Korean police and tax officials raided several crypto trading operations in the country last week, looking for tax evaders, money launderers, and generally bad actors. The government previously informed the crypto community that it thought its activity was little more than gambling and that it could potentially ruin citizens’ financial lives. Officials threatened to shut down cryptocurrency operations around the country, and they now seem to be following through. This is particularly bad news for Bitcoin and its ilk because Asia, and particularly South Korea, has been one of the […]

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Who Will Pay the Tickets for Self-Driving Cars?

My little neighborhood in southeast Texas is the epitome of a small town. Most of the city lies on a man-made island, created by cutting a boat channel through a small peninsula. It has a beach feel and the citizens pride themselves on their tricked-out golf carts and countless parties throughout the year. We also have our own police force… which can be an issue. One of our fearless protectors recently stopped me for running a stop sign. I didn’t roll through it or tap my brakes. I blasted through the intersection. There’s no question I broke the law. But […]

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What Changes in 2018

It’s the first week of January, which makes it time for football playoffs and New Year predictions. Since I’m not likely to grace the gridiron anytime soon, I land in the forecast camp. But playing Nostradamus is fraught with its own danger, and reminds me of an old quote by Darrell Royal, the longtime University of Texas football coach, that explained why he favored running the ball. He believed that when you threw the football, three things could happen, and two of them were bad. You could complete the throw, which was good, watch it fall incomplete, or have it […]

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When the Tree Falls Down… or the House Floods

In 1990, my wife and I celebrated our first Christmas together. We were broke. We had enough to eat, but I balanced our checkbook to the penny and we carried an uncomfortable balance on our credit cards. We tried to save money wherever possible, including paying $ 8 to “cut your own” Christmas tree and then making decorations by painting wooden clothes pins. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. Using paint, pens, and paper, my wife turned the clothes pins into horses and cowboys, which was very fitting for our first holiday season in Texas. That was a […]

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What Really Drives the Housing Market

In the summer of 1992, my wife and I lived in Dallas. I had just turned 26 and had two years of marriage under my belt. My career was moving along, but I wasn’t making much money. And I was in grad school. This is the point at which my wife informed me that we should have a baby. Clearly, with little or no savings, no time to spare, and not much life experience, we needed to bring another soul into the world. Oh yeah, and before we have a child, she told me we needed to own a home. […]

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