Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tuesday April 18, 2006 Sour note of the day

Inflation coming!

In a GATA (Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee) dispatch of an article in the Financial Times, they have forwarded the news that says, "The U.S. dollar extended losses in European morning trade on Tuesday amid a call from a Chinese politician for China to stop buying U.S. Treasuries. Cheng Siwei, a vice chief of China's National People's Congress, was quoted as saying that 'China can stop buying dollar-denominated bonds, and gradually reduce its holdings of U.S. Bonds'."

The central banks are (and have been) doing everything they can to prevent the dollar from rolling over, but that may soon be history. Paul van Eeden writes, "Mr. Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, is scheduled to visit Washington later this month while the United States continues to put pressure on China to let its currency appreciate against the dollar. It seems China is going to comply: In December Mr. Yu Yongding, who is a member of the monetary policy advisory committee to the People's Bank of China, said that China should weaken the link between the yuan (renminbi) and the U.S. dollar."If China starts reducing its holdings of U.S. debt and assets, or even slow the pace of buying more, then who is going to finance our current account
deficit and the federal budget deficit? Net result?
The dollar goes lower and things that we import (like oil and nearly everything else) will cost more - much more.

The good news about a falling dollar is, they say, that this lower dollar thing will make U.S. exports cheaper on the world market. So, the trade deficit will automatically shrink because we are exporting more and importing less. Unfortunately, as soon as these greedy corporations find that their prices are lower than the competitor's, they will raise prices! So, we will have the worst of both worlds: higher import prices and higher domestic prices!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday April 13, 2006 Sprinters and plodders

Some of you are sprinters, some of us are not.

I've always been able to lock out the world and give a problem my full attention. It's a blessing sometimes and sometimes a curse. My one-track mind helped me in the business world when I was a project manager and had to work out complex timeing problems of construction. In the everyday world of multi-tasking, it was a hindrance. I determined long ago that some of us are sprinters and able to go full out for a short time with maximum benefit immediately and some of us plod along willing to work out all the details and take the time to find just the right solution. Those of us who plod can't often dash, but we do accomplish difficult tasks. We may not have the flash pizazz of the dasher, but they don't often have the ability to stick with the problem as long as we can. We need both in this tricky world of ours. There isn't always a quick fix for a problem and that's where the plodders come into their own. But, when there is a need for an immediate solution, it's time for the sprinter to shine.

You sprinters go on ahead and us plodders will eventually catch up and together we will solve most of the problems presented to us.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wednesday April 12, 2006 A Discouraged Voter.

A discouraged voter.

I'm not sure where to turn. I'm thouroughly upset with the Republican congress and president running the country for the benefit of their own special interests and not really paying attention to the ordinary citizen. But, I don't see the Democrats offering any alternatives. Each of the parties are good at pointing fingers and blame at each other but poor at offering viable alternatives. I get the strong feeling that I'm being offered the special interests left hand for one party and their right hand for the other party. We seem to have the best political parties that money can buy. With all the wheeling and dealing going on and the continuing overpowering debt and the continuing war and the continuing loss of good jobs overseas, the average american citizen seems to have been left out of the formula. I watch Lou Dobbs to get an idea of what's going on behind the scenes but I don't see anyone to turn to. We get a lot of sound bites and a lot of phrases that sound like something good is going to happen, but it turns out that noone is watching the store and it's all for show. It sounds like we are spending our future right now and later it will be every man for himself. While the rich are getting richer, they are also transferring many of their assests overseas. It appears that the really wealthy are abandoning this country for China and India where there is really cheap labor and not so many protections for the workers. It feels like every last dollar has been wrung out of our society and now they are looking elsewhere. If that is really true, our immediate future could look really bleak.

Tell me it isn't so. Give me some hope. Show me the candidates that really care and who have at least some answers.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday April 9, 2006 Good Grief?

There are so few people in our lives that we feel we can be completely honest and open with. We leave our true inner selves exposed and vulnerable to these few trusted people.
We hold a true and abiding love in these few people and they are our backup when we need to share our fears and hopes with someone. They are our support system. They are necessary and vital to our lives.

That's why it hurts so deeply when one of these few people are taken from our lives. We have a hollow spot down deep inside that will always remain empty. It takes time for us to harden ourselves around this deep and empty wound. There is much to grieve and only time will allow us to adjust. We live in the past with the hopes and love and dreams that we once shared. It's difficult to turn our hearts away from what was and will be no longer to an uncertain future, but this we must do. We don't know what lies ahead, but we must look for the joy that may be just around the next corner. We must not curl up into a fetal ball and cower from the life that remains. We must lift our heads and look ahead. The earth holds many marvels for us to view and feel and smell. There is more to learn and more to share. Treasure the memory of what was, but don't let the memory blind you to the beauty that still remains.

Whatever time remains is a gift to be explored.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thursday April 6, 2006 Swimming in a tank of sharks

It's clear that we are not giving our kids good information on how to budget and handle their money. When they finish high school, the credit card companies are ready to swoop down on them and catch them in a swirl of debt that haunts them the rest of their lives. If our schools could only teach them how to handle checking, savings, budgeting and credit, it would be a tool they could use forever. Instead, we let them sink or swim in a tank of sharks.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. high school seniors continue to struggle with personal finance basics, according to a study unveiled on Wednesday at the Federal Reserve by a nonprofit financial education group.

The study tested 5,775 12th graders in 37 states on issues such as whether stocks or bonds have higher long-term returns (stocks do), whether they have to pay taxes on interest earned on savings accounts (they do), and whether they would keep their health insurance if their parents lost their jobs (they would not).

Only 14 percent said stocks were likely to have higher returns, just 23 percent realized that interest on savings accounts may be taxable and only 40 percent understood that they could lose their health insurance if their parents became jobless.

The average score for the survey was 52.4 percent -- a failing grade in most U.S. schools. Surveys in 2004, 2002 and 2000 also yielded scores in the 50-percent range.

"What we are looking at are students who by any educational standards are flunking the test of their financial lives," said Lewis Mandell, a professor of finance at the State University of New York in Buffalo, who conducted the study for the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

The results come despite stepped-up financial education efforts as Congress dismantles boundaries between banks and investment firms and as financial companies offer a broader array of products to consumers.

"It is clear that students don't appear to be learning or retaining those things that are needed for making important financial decisions in their own interest," he said.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tuesday April 4, 2006 Doesn't sound good.

Something to look forward to.

“Willem Buiter, a monetary astronomer at Goldman Sachs, comments:
“‘With the US trade gap in October 2005 widening to a new record U.S. $68.9 Billion, the US current account deficit is unsustainable. Its correction will require a large depreciation of the real effective US Dollar exchange rate, on reasonable estimates by no less than 30%, and quite possibly by more.’"

I guess it's no surprise. What happened to the tax surplus a few years ago? Who got all the money? From the sounds of Goldman Sachs, we are all going to end up paying for excesses of the last few years with money that is worth less.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday April 3, 2006 It's great to be a kid again!

This is just like the summer vacations I never got to spend as a teenager.

I started working parttime in the summers when I was 14. By the time I was 16 I had a steady parttime job throughout the summer and parttime weekends and some nights during the week. I worked steady throughout my life (except for my major trip) till I was 62. I always envied my friends who didn't have to work while going to high school or college. They had plenty of time to study and to play. That would have been a dream life. My Dad started working when he was 18 and worked steady till he was 68. My Granddad started working when he was 15 and worked steady till he was 68. I feel like I'm cheating a bit right now, because I get to enjoy the springtime weather and I'm not even 65 yet. I'm just like a kid again. It's great to just sit back and watch the clouds roll by without a worry in the world – no pressure – no great wants or needs. Life is good. I'm looking forward to visiting my daughters in New Mexico and in Wyoming. Maybe I can get up into the Rockies again this year and become a “rock” for a short time. I want to get out to see the redwoods again soon and enjoy the Oregon coast. There is so much I have seen and that I would like to revisit. There is much beauty in this nation and many wonderful people once you get away from the furor of the cities.

It's great to be a kid again!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday April 2, 2006 Goody, more taxes!

It's really nice. We get to vote ourselves a tax increase, all by ourselves. And it's all for a new and improved stadium. We didn't keep up the old one, so it needs major improvements. We'll do better this time?

Usually the politicians pass the tax increases without asking us. They know best and we just have to accept their better judgement and groan. This time I guess the staggering amount of half a billion dollars was just too much for them to swallow without consulting with the public. I know that I really want to raise my taxes on everything I buy so that the billionaire owners and the millionaire players and the wealthy business men who profit from the sports business won't have to front the money themselves. I used to be able to afford to go to a game now and then, but that was 20 years ago or so. Since then, I would rather buy food for my family or pay a bill than spend the money to go to a game. They keep telling me all the good things that sports have done for me – all the business revenue that they have brought to our fair city. That's probably why my property taxes and sales taxes have only increased by 50% over the years instead of doubling. Now don't get me wrong, I think sports are good character builders for young men and women and the fact that some of the professionals take drugs or set bad examples shouldn't detract from the sport. It's a game. It allows young men to play a game for a few years before they have to settle down and work. In the old days, the players knew this and enjoyed their years of play, knowing that eventually they would have to settle on a career. Now many of the players consider the few years of play a career in itself and plan on retiring after their years are up. We have allowed (or rather, big business has allowed) this new concept to develop and here we are. Big business would sure like us, the public, to pay for their excesses and finance their business so they just have to worry about making money. That's why it's nice that we get to vote ourselves a nice tax increase, even if we can't afford to go and watch them play their games.