Category Archives: Money and risk

The math of “Rent vs. Buy” has changed

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Several changes to economic conditions and tax law over the last five years have added new variables to the big decision of whether it is more advantageous to rent or buy a place to live. I have updated and simplified a spreadsheet I have long used to teach this concept for you to download and plug in your own numbers…. Read more »

The strong dollar comes to Bitcoin-istan

money-changers-Jesus

Although the U.S. dollar is worth significantly less today than a year ago if you are buying gasoline in Des Moines, American currency looks a lot different if you are living in Europe or Japan. They, as well as us, have seen their own domestic prices for staples shoot up (which, Republicans insist, must somehow be Joe Biden’s fault as… Read more »

The “Nixonian fate” 50 years on

Nixon-resigns

It always helps when your wedding anniversary coincides to an historic event that the news media will remind you of in advance. A big 50th anniversary is coming up. On the pleasant Saturday afternoon of June 17, 1972, I got married in a short ceremony followed by ham sandwiches in a Grand Rapids church basement, and then the two of… Read more »

Power laws and the laws of power

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knob-11

The confirmation hearings for the elevation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court highlighted for me the fight-to-the-death of two types of political power currently jousting both in Washington and Ukraine. In math terms, I describe democracy as a linear function, but autocracy is an exponential “power law.” In democracy, you need to add up millions of equal “integer”… Read more »

Cryptocurrencies and the pricing problem

money-changers-Jesus

In a prior post I noted one major obstacle to cryptocurrencies being widely accepted as a “medium of exchange,” which is a key characteristic of “money.” The “price” of most cryptocurrencies relative to the U.S. dollar continues to fluctuate more widely on a daily and weekly basis that most traditional “risky” investments. This is a problem handled for millennia by… Read more »

What is the crypto bet, really?

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Bitcoin

When I try to make sense of the cacophony preaching cryptocurrencies, I hear at least four “bets” people are making about how the financial world works, especially the economic concept of money, This is my take on those four bets. I started this year with my overview philosophy of what money really is. In that post I made some hints… Read more »

Betting that you are going to die…or not

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Dice

The old joke about life insurance is that the policyholders are betting that they are going to die, while the insurers are betting that they won’t, at least until the premiums and investment income pass break-even. One significant new social change emerging from this coronavirus pandemic is that the most conservative segment of the insurance industry’s base is refusing a… Read more »

A 25-point Credo about money and choice

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Cash

It has been three-and-a-half years since I last posted about my concept of money and cryptocurrencies. I have decided to start the year out detailing my literal bets on my own wealth in the form of a (perhaps sacrilegious) Credo (literally “I believe”), twenty-five pithy statements without much explanation. Even though Jesus warned against putting too much faith in money,… Read more »

Alligators, Florida Man, and Covid revisited

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Alligator

It was just two weeks ago that I posted about the famed “Florida Man” meme, the (almost always) men who are absolutely sure that they are right when they are embarking on some dangerous action that is really wrong. And then, just this past week, we took guests to southwest Florida’s Myakka River State Park, where you can walk through… Read more »

Insurance advertising wars, Kars4Kids and “buying eyes”

Advertisements featuring the GEICO lizard, the apron-wearing Flo from Progressive Insurance, and the emu from Liberty Mutual are incessant on the channels I watch. They ought to be; Berkshire Hathaway’s GEICO is consistently one of the top advertisers on television, spending an estimated $1.6 billion annually to reach your eyes, and the other two are close behind Medicare Advantage and… Read more »