Category Archives: Money and risk

Penny sucking and corporate tax reform

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Amazon van

When I purchase some stock online, I never try to nail my “limit price” down to the penny. I do not believe that ordinary people can do market timing that well. But that penny means a lot to the high-frequency traders and their AI computer algorithms. In a story that you might not see as connected, Amazon has had to… Read more »

Adam Smith meets the Suez container ship

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Adam Smith

Now that the massive container ship Ever Given has been freed from clogging up the Suez Canal, perhaps we can step back from “crisis economics” to look at the larger state of global transportation logistics. I agree with Australian economist John Quiggin that this event was more of a temporary glitch in this complex system, and perhaps a warning flag… Read more »

Beware the modern-day Gnostics

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Irenaeus

Most people know what an agnostic is, but fewer know much about the people at the root of that word, the Gnostics (without the ‘a’). Gnostics caused one of the first great doctrinal splits in early Christianity, but their intellectual descendants remain today, not just in churches, but also throughout the business and political worlds. And they want to sell… Read more »

Computing your TCO – Total Cost of Ownership

Total Cost of Ownership

In the previous post I introduced the concept of the total cost of home ownership (TCO) as an important number to know if you are in advancing years facing the prospect of taking on a reverse mortgage to cover medical or long-term care bills. This post fleshes out that calculation, and a second scenario goes to the other end of… Read more »

Keeping Tom Selleck away from your door

Storm

Last autumn I published a series of posts about “the economic vacuum cleaner,” the American way of financing “eldercare” that sucks up the estates of middle class Americans at an alarming rate. I will admit to a rather contrarian view of home ownership for those of us in our “golden years.” For far too many people, the conventional wisdom on… Read more »

A tax plan for Biden #3 – taxing corporations *updated*

The first two parts of this series of posts updated first some quick hits and then larger principles that I recommended to the Biden campaign last summer when Joe emerged as the front-runner candidate. The Trump administration really screwed up the U.S. Tax Code even worse that it had been, especially in business taxes. We need desperately to restore both tax… Read more »

GameStop, Double Indemnity and four old investment stories

Double Indemnity

Now that GameStop is drifting back to pre-craze valuation levels I would like to step back and suggest that this phenomenon has simply been the confluence of four old investment stories and one great old movie. The stories are, in brief: Short selling is not some intrinsic evil, however it does frequently elevate an old ethical dilemma called moral hazard…. Read more »

Learning to chill on the Defense budget

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U.S. Defense Spending compared

Simultaneously refusing to extend financial aid to the teetering economic bottom of the U.S. populace, the Senate voted a New Year’s Eve bi-partisan override of President Trump’s veto of the $741 billion defense authorization bill. This bill always sets me off for its size, its over-extended purpose and its embedded corruption, but this year I have decided to take a… Read more »

Updating the Actuaries Climate Index – Listen up Republicans!

Ever since a data update arrived in my email from the Actuaries Climate Index in August I have been wanting to revisit one of my most re-tweeted posts from two years ago, called “Listen to the actuaries if not the scientists.” The short read here is that the climate continues to change in a dangerous direction, as determined not by… Read more »

When innumeracy kills

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Covid risk of harm

In mid-November a fundamentalist Tulsa megachurch held a packed, largely-maskless Christian concert for 2500 people. I’ll deal with the theological ironies in a later post, but despite their likely support for “Right to Life,” I can confidently say that, statistically, the attendees surely murdered people with the coronavirus that night, perhaps people even not in attendance. Ignorance of basic mathematics… Read more »