The inventory levels seem insane. Like a retail apocalypse scenario. Every store has five million toasters, and five million gift baskets, and millions of things that nobody needs. The line extension of products (like 25 types of tomato soup) is crazy-making. The tyranny of choice has invaded our lives.
Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to turn the third world into a slave labour manufacturing camp on steroids.
But, it is Christmas, so enjoy your trips into the Buyosphere. I won’t be joining you in the pursuit of more.
I’m spending money on things that matter, like the $40.00 I just paid for a festive red coloured cast for my broken wrist.
Found this on ArmstrongEconomics.com
My face will never grace the cover of Fortune magazine, and I will never be quoted in the Wall Street Journal. For me, reading the financial pages is akin to reading science fiction. My attitude towards wealth was always “If I can overeat, I am rich.”
This mantra hasn’t turned out well for someone in the final third of life, so I have had to re-educate myself by quickly reading a lot of books and websites about money management, and watching movies about Wall Street like The Big Short.
Here are some things and people I read about:
Quants; FAANG; Blockchain; Bakkt; Dark Pools of Liquidity; CDO’s; Unicorns; Dry Powder; AI and Deep Learning; Strategic Inflection Point; Mezzanine Debt; Value Extraction and Value Creation; DOJI; Candlestick Formations; Rule of 72; RoboAdvisers; Trailing and Forward Earnings; EBITDA; Initiating Coverage Reports; Economic Moats; GAAP rules; Jack Bogle; PMI’s; Norbert’s Gambit; VIX; SMI; CASS Freight Index; Keynes ‘Animal Spirits’; Secular Bottom; Price to Value Ratio; Debt to Equity; Currency Risk; Yield Curve Inversions; Tranches; High Frequency Traders; 10K Filings; Net Global Equity Supply; Buybacks; The Dumb Money of Muppet Clients; Market and Limit Orders; Interlisted Stocks; Credit Default Swaps; Intrinsic versus Book Value; Repo Market; Hedge Funds; Shiller P/E Ratio; CDS Index; Elliot Wave Pattern; Quiet Bull and Volatile Bull Markets; Plunge Protection Team; EDGAR; DSCR; SWOT Analysis; Value Trap; Major Angas; Fred C. Kelly; Bear Raiding; FINRA; Event Risk; Shadow Banking; Zombie Banks; Tracy Alloway; Rehypothecated; Alpha and Beta; Look Through Earnings; ROE versus EPS; Max Keiser; Charlie Munger; Flash Boys; Baltex Index; Greenmail; QE4; AAII Sentiment Survey; Brad Katsuyama.
And on and on it goes down the rabbit hole.
My conclusion: I don’t have the energy or the brains to be rich.
“Buffett often speaks to business school students, and when he does he sometimes gives them the following thought experiment. Imagine that you can invest in one of your classmates, and be entitled to 10% of their future earnings. Who would you choose? What are the characteristics that person would possess? He says that most people wouldn’t simply choose the student with the highest IQ. There’s often a big difference between potential and actual. They’d be more likely to choose someone not satisfied with mediocrity, someone who is driven to excel. They would probably also have a lot of other positive characteristics, like generosity, integrity, and sociability. The point of the exercise is to show the students that the skills they’d be looking for aren’t innate for some people and not others, but are skills that anyone cultivate. Everyone has the potential to be the person worth investing in. So consciously choose to develop those positive traits, to realize your full potential, to become the kind of person others would want to invest in. Best of all, when you invest in yourself, you won’t just get 10% of the benefit, you’ll get the full 100%.”
(From an article by Thomas Murcko at BusinessDirectory.com)
The birds in my yard have just had their welfare payments reduced. In my zeal to be St. Francis of Assisi, I have realized that I might actually go bankrupt. Honore de Balzac said that behind every great fortune lies a crime. Behind some bankruptcies, there are dozens of well-fed squirrels and birds. The amount spent on birdseed in the eight months from November until now totals what some people spend sending their kids to university.
So now the cycle is one day with feeders filled, and one day where they are forced to forage. Since I have probably interfered with nature and increased their populations, the foraging day might look like a scene from Lord of the Flies.
Feeding the birds is a good thing to do, but being a helicopter parent to wildlife was not a good idea. So now they are relearning bird homesteading skills, and I still help them on alternate days.
Instead of leaving all of your plunder to greedy or well off relatives, consider giving some to charity.
Why give all your money to people who already have enough? There are charities for everything, and they need your money. Religious Organizations; Wildlife Care Centres; Music Programs for Underpriviledged Kids; Libraries; Missions for the Blind; The Owl Foundation; The Bruce Trail; Jane Goodall Institute; Friends of the Earth; Cultural Organizations; Mennonite Relief Agencies. The list is endless. Or give money to plant trees in parks or provide benches – you can even put your name on it for posterity.
And if you have a sizeable estate, remember to include the assets as part of your giving plan. Most people only consider the 10% of an estate that is in cash when they divvy it up. So if they want to give 10% to something near and dear to their heart, it ends up being 10% of 10%. Think of how much better it would be to help out by giving 10% of the full 100%.
So, for example, if you have two children, consider making a charity your “third child.” By the time you are dead, everybody will probably have all the stuff they need. But for people who help the helpless, the needs are endless.
Something to think about.
In 1923 the money in The Weimar Republic became worthless due to hyperinflation. The same thing happened in France around 1796.
A fiat currency is what most of the world has. It is little pieces of paper, backed by nothing except our belief in little pieces of paper. Sometimes referred to as toilet paper money, it can be created out of thin air by central and private banks. The opposite of a fiat currency is one backed by something like gold. We used to have this.
A few billionaires think it might evaporate again. Do they know something we don’t? About a quarter way down in the attached article, the billionaires ask a media theorist (who they hired at great expense and flew to a secret location) how they will pay their security forces after ‘The Event’, once money becomes worthless.
Strange days indeed. They don’t seem to be joking.
How much you end up paying is partly based on the level of resistance you have to the sirens of consumerism. They try to inculcate you with a desire for more than you need.
In the book Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez and Robin, they talk about the peak of the Fulfillment Curve, which is where we each decide we have enough. Not a popular word in a consumer driven economy. Enough is a powerful and free place where you are never burdened by excess. A wide and stable plateau. It is a place of alertness, creativity and freedom. Enough is far less than you imagined, but it is not the minimum amount for survival: it is the exact amount that gives you fulfillment without excess. It comes from an internal yardstick – intrinsic versus extrinsic values. You can never have enough if you are measuring by what others have or think. Is spending your money, time and effort a useless exercise of inflating your ego?
We are all exchanging time for money. Workaholics exchange a lot of their life energy. Others, not so much. The point is to understand that an exchange is happening so you can make conscious decisions. There is nothing in your life that is more valuable than your time. Leisure is not an identity crisis if your job is not the main event of your life. Money is simply something we trade our life energy for.
Frugality means we are to enjoy what we have. To be frugal means to have a high joy-to-stuff ratio. A frugal person gets value from everything – a new pair of pyjamas would spark lasting joy, while a hedonist needs excessive consumption and a continual search for more.
Aristotle said that leisure is true wealth, and the Tao Te Ching puts it this way:
“He who knows he has enough is rich.”
Most of the ideas in this post are taken directly from their book. I have the 1999 edition, and apparently it has been updated for 2018:
Finally, a name for what I have noticed for a few years. Toilet paper is a good example. The rolls look the same size, and the price is the same, but the number of sheets keeps getting smaller. I guess its so they can pretend there is no inflation. Another magic trick by those charlatans you call the government.