Home 2017-07-28T13:07:05+00:00

Cutting into Dimes

By | September 6th, 2017|

Why is it hard to cut government programs? Photo from ‘March of Dimes Ball,” 1934. Source: FDR Library One reason is the "March of Dimes" problem. Back in 1934, FDR helped start the March of Dimes as a way to raise private money to fight polio. They were tremendously effective: during the post-war polio epidemic the March of Dimes helped over one third of all [...]

Capitalism Without Capital

By | September 5th, 2017|

Do start-ups need as much capital today? Photo: Jade. Source: Morguefile It doesn’t seem like it anymore. It used to be that a new company or concept needed major financial support. Now, a couple of motivated folks working from a garage can change the world – the way Apple famously did in the ‘70s. Back in the ‘70s, intangible capital was below 30% of the [...]

Rising Tides, Rising Costs

By | September 1st, 2017|

Are storms costing us more? Photo: Marc Averette. Source: Wikipedia It sure seems like it. In the ‘80s, the average annual cost of natural disasters worldwide was $50 billion per year. This year, Harvey alone will cost over $30 billion. And Hurricane Irma is still on her way. There’s no question that the cost of storms is rising. In the US, where we have very [...]

Copyrights (and Wrongs)?

By | August 31st, 2017|

Who owns your software? Photo: Viktor Hanacek. Source: Picjumbo It’s an important question. Because under Federal copyright law, software is like any piece of writing. The author of a line of code is the owner of the copyright to that code. The person who physically types out the words and symbols is the “author” and enjoys the same rights as most other authors – the [...]

Letting Profits Run

By | August 30th, 2017|

“Let your winners run, and cut your losses quickly.” – Jesse Livermore Ancient Greek Runners from a pottery shard. Public Domain. Source: Wikipedia This is pretty good advice when it comes to investing. The legendary investor Jesse Livermore coined this “trading commandment” a century ago. But it’s hard to put into practice. Studies show investors fear losses more than they enjoy winners. When a stock [...]

A Texas-Sized Mess

By | August 29th, 2017|

What happens after big storms? Damage from the 1938 Hurricane. Source: NOAA The stories coming out of Texas are heart-wrenching: senior citizens being evacuated using their walkers through chest-deep water; overpasses submerged by overwhelming flood waters; livestock being swim-herded to safety. This hurricane / tropical storm has dropped more precipitation than any recorded storm in history – almost 10 trillion gallons so far, with another [...]

Valuable Questions

By | August 28th, 2017|

Are stocks overvalued? Shiller PE. Source: Multipl.com A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. That’s what I keep reminding myself when folks trot out historical PE charts like Shiller’s calculation, which averages corporate earnings over the last decade and then compares the stock market’s total market capitalization to that average. And by that measure, stocks are now valued at almost [...]

Getting to Growth

By | August 25th, 2017|

Are there problems in the US economy? Source: St. Louis Fed Sure there are. Exhibit one is the rate of economic growth. Any way you measure it, real economic growth has slowed significantly over the past 30 years. The economy is a lot less volatile than it was in the ‘60s, and ‘70s, but the rate of economic expansion has gradually gotten slow and slower. [...]

Marginal Thinking

By | August 24th, 2017|

What’s your marginal tax rate? Source: Healthcare.gov It’s an important question. The answer will determine whether it makes sense to buy municipal bonds, whether to put money into a Roth or Traditional IRA, and even whether to convert a Traditional IRA into a Roth. Let’s face it: almost everything we do has tax consequences. The government puts its finger into almost every financial pie – [...]