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And Lady Liberty Wept...Politics has always been a rough and tumble business. This year’s Presidential Primary season has proved no exception, and has been both hostile and humorous at the same time.    Certain candidates’ policy platforms include various proposals which would exclude certain groups of foreigners.    Without taking sides in this issue, it seems as though a meaningful percentage of voters agree with at least some of these proposals. You don’t have to be a xenophobe to think that the US might be safer, or stronger, if it isolated itself from certain groups of people.  At the same time, how can you argue with the inscription at the bottom of our most famous statue? “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It is at least a two pronged issue, dealing with both financial (taking our jobs) and physical (taking our lives) security.  Only time will tell who will be e...
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Cheap and PopularFirst Lady Kim Kardashian West. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?  A few months ago, Kim’s husband Kanye West -- a rapper, record producer and clothing designer, announced that he would be running for U.S. President in 2020.  Before you snicker, don’t forget about a current poll-leading, ultra-wealthy Republican candidate with huge ego and no political experience. Back to Kim. Her popularity was immense even before her third marriage and two children, before her $200 million video game smart phone app and her fashion magazine covers, and before her family’s reality TV show and retail stores.  Her fame started when her bombastically-enhanced hourglass figure was viewed in an erotic rendezvous that was “leaked” onto the internet over a decade ago.  Add a very suggestive wardrobe to the mix and you have that perfect combo – cheap and popular. In a somewhat different vein, cheap and popular is...
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Chicken Little or Zeus?Last month the market fell out of the sky. It caused quite a stir. Or not. It all depended on who was watching, and from what vantage point.Chicken Little freaked out.   She scurried about in the dirt, with clouds of dust swirling around her. She could barely make out Jim Cramer’s image on CNBC’s beloved Mad Money. All the noisy bells and buzzers and rifle shots and shrieking crowds didn’t allow her to really hear much of what he was saying. But she knew it must be bad. When the market was down 10%, Chicken Little decided there was no more hope, and sold her equity positions. This is what really bothered her:Zeus, on the other hand, wasn’t paying much attention to the commotion. From Mt. Olympus, things on Earth tended to look fairly small and unimportant. He viewed his investments from a distance, literally.   Zeus is clearly a long term investor. In fact, he actually looked forward to major market dislocations, when h...
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Most investors do not plan to act in a foolish manner. In fact, most probably think they do have a plan when they purchase an investment. In the light of day, when the sun is shining and birds are singing and children laughing, it is fairly easy to feel you can withstand whatever the market can throw at you. But when the weather changes and the pleasant noises stop, things change. When the markets plunge and the news is horrible and the monthly brokerage statements are getting worse and worse, many investors seem to forget whatever plan they may have had.
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Investors are no strangers to cycles. Seasons of the year, business cycles, presidential cycles, tax seasons, holiday shopping, and military engagements are all examples of cyclical types of behavior that are often predictable and definitely influence the markets. What time of the year does the most money flow into retirement plans? What quarter do toy companies earn 70%+ of their profits?
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The Pit and the PendulumJanuary 21, 2015In the above titled short story, an unfortunate prisoner has to endure two different types of torture. Readers who search for symbolism may likely view this tale as a figurative journey into the psychological depths of decision-making during stock market tumult. Unfortunately, after hundreds of seconds of internet research, I was able to confirm that Edgar Allan Poe died young (age 40) and poor. It is therefore questionable whether Poe intended to write an allegory about Wall Street with his macabre tale. But intended or not, the connection is clear.As a quick review, the story is about a prisoner, during the Inquisition, who wakes up bound and laid beneath a large razor sharp pendulum that lowers with each back and forth stroke, assuring death by slicing. He ingeniously rubs food on his binds, which are eaten by rats, thereby freeing him before the pendulum kills him. Unfortunately, trouble continues when the walls of the prison become red hot a...
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Watch What They Do, Not What They SayOctober 08, 2014High school football is in full gear. But for the best players -- those who will be receiving major college scholarships for their prowess on the gridiron, the journey is all but over. For the seniors, it started two or three years ago. During that time, these teenagers have been making grown men (coaches) kowtow – calling, texting, visiting their high schools and homes, and begging these youngsters to visit their universities and hopefully commit to their team. But the coaches are not the only ones. High school recruiting is big business. At least four national online recruiting sites, many connected with university alumni and major television sports outlets, cover these recruits, rating them with numbers and stars to signify their skill level and predicting their college choice. Rabid college football fans hang onto every word from both these adolescent stars and the “analysts” that cover them. Vibrant message boa...
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Old and Fat, Lazy and InfertileJuly 22, 2014No, we’re not talking about your brother-in-law. Rather, it’s a fair description of the underlying trends that are helping to define the future global economy. Let’s take them one at a time: OLD Humans have been adding to their life expectancy for centuries.* The average lifespan for Romans during the Roman Empire was 22 years. In 1900, the world’s average human life expectancy was only 30, and in 1985 it was 62 years. All these figures calculate at birth. If someone lives through their first year, their expectancy increases dramatically. The average life expectancy in the US is currently around 77 years. It is calculated that over a third of children born today in a developed country will live to age 100. Food supply, nutrition, healthcare technologies and increased personal hygiene are deemed to be the major reasons for this. Bottom line -- we are living longer, and this will have major ramifications for families, go...
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To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone BeforeApril 23, 2014You don’t have to be a “Trekkie” to recognize this phrase. It was used in the opening lines of each episode of Star Trek starting in 1966.Space: The final frontierThese are the voyages of the Starship, EnterpriseIts 5 year missionTo explore strange new worldsTo seek out new life and new civilizationsTo boldly go where no man has gone beforeTo a younger generation, William Shatner is likely just as famous for playing a wacky lawyer during weeknight prime time, or hawking cheap flights and hotel rooms for Priceline, as he was for wearing Captain Kirk’s form-fitting sweaters and making the big decisions from the flight deck of the USS Enterprise. But even tweens watching old reruns of the show can become addicted to all the fun stuff that happened to Kirk and his crew while they zipped around the Final Frontier. Boldly going where no man (or alluring alien female, for that matter) has gone before was a big hit,...
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SURVIVORI'm a survivorI'm not gon give upI'm not gon stopI'm gon work harderI'm a survivorI'm gonna make itI will surviveKeep on survivin'Back before Beyoncé used a single name, before she married Jay Z and named her daughter “Blue Ivy”, and before she became a close friend to the Obamas, she was simply a talented teenage singer. Back when her mom made her costumes and her dad was her manager, Beyoncé Knowles and two other girls performed on an album entitled “Survivor”. You probably remember the hit single on that album by the same name. (The song’s beautifully poetic refrain is printed above.) But you probably didn’t know that this 2001 album contained three other #1 hits, earned three Grammy nominations and was certified quadruple platinum. All this took place before she ever became a solo artist. Then she really became famous. She has done a great job of remaining relevant and sober in a remarkably compet...
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