Climate change, college and capitalism

David MoonBlog

My college sophomore son called me last week to tell me about his literature professor who spent almost an hour ranting and raving about the cause of the California wildfires: capitalism. At the center of the blazing wildfires, both literally and figuratively, is troubled PG&E, a regulated gas and electric company operating in central and northern California. Most, if not all the fires, resulted from sparks produced by outdated PG&E transmission equipment. And, as any literature professor knows, capitalism is also responsible for climate change – and thus the California drought conditions that served to compound the problem. PG&E, overburdened … Read More

Millennials and socialism

Harold Black, PhDBlog

Every generation looks aghast at the next generation. Socrates lamented that “children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” My father was mortified at my generation with its race riots, Vietnam protests, civil rights upheaval, lax morals, dope smoking and free love. I chastised my children for handing out participation trophies, dumbing down of school curricula, and creating the entitlement generation. That generation is now called millennials and should be called the know-hardly-anything generation with almost a total absence of curiosity. This is a generation … Read More

Record stock prices not predictive

David MoonBlog

Depending on the measure used, the U.S. stock market either flirted with or set a new high last week. The broad market S&P 500 reached a new peak, while the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average verged on a record. What are the future investment implications, if any, of setting a new high? Short answer: none. By itself, simply knowing that the stock market is at an all-time high gives you no information that is useful in making a decision. Knowing that the DJIA is at 27000 tells us nothing about where the DJIA ought to be or what the stocks … Read More

Retirement plan confiscation fears unfounded

David MoonBlog

No matter what you have read in an email, social media post or on some conspiracy website, the federal government is not about to confiscate your 401(k). Ever since that little boy repeatedly cried “wolf,” fear-mongering has been a popular, and sometimes profitable, pastime. Twenty years ago, seemingly intelligent and educated people were convinced that new blue mile markers along the interstate system were in preparation for United Nations peacekeepers invading the U.S. to quell Y2K riots. I must have slept through the riots. And the meeting to arrange the UN troops. In the past month I have received a … Read More

NCAA rejects academic reforms, reveals hypocrisy

David MoonBlog

In 2014, a former UCLA basketball player filed an antitrust class action against the NCAA, challenging the organization’s use of former scholarship athlete’s names and likenesses for commercial purposes. Since 2003, the organization had licensed former athlete’s personas for use in EA Sports video games. After a district judge found that the NCAA rules and bylaws operate as an unreasonable restraint of trade, the NCAA lost the court case, and was required to thousands of former athletes a total of about $40 million. The NCAA is a non-taxable, nonprofit organization – with a billion dollars in annual revenue and a … Read More

Government bookies protected from competitors

David MoonBlog

I never buy gas at the most convenient convenience store along my daily commute. It may be the only convenience store I’ve seen that doesn’t carry milk or fountain drinks. This past weekend, however, its parking lot was full – just like it will be next weekend. The lot was so packed last March that a car couldn’t have gotten to the pumps even if someone did want to buy gas. The station does appear to sell a lot of beer and fishing worms; it also offers an opportunity for those who feel lucky or believe they have some special … Read More

Treat your stocks like your house for better performance

David MoonBlog

When a recent Federal Housing Agency report revealed that the one-year 7.6 percent increase in Knoxville home prices ranked in the country’s top ten, it provided rationale for real estate sales folks to proclaim that now is a great time for Knoxvillians to sell their houses. Of course, even in my follicle-challenged condition, my barber thinks it’s always a good time for me to get a haircut, too. If you sell your house today at a big profit, what will you do with your newfound gains? You have to live somewhere. You will buy another house, likely more expensive than … Read More

The love of money? Or of selfies?

David MoonBlog

The meeting with this husband and wife was difficult and awkward. They had several children, none of them yet out of high school. Along with the husband’s siblings, the couple owned a struggling company, started by his grandfather.  Disagreements among the sibling owners made an already difficult business environment worse; the company had neglected to pay payroll taxes. The couple had neglected to pay personal taxes. The foreclosure loss of their once mortgage-free home was particularly traumatic, as the public nature of that sort of thing was humiliating. The situation was so dire that the company eventually had to sell … Read More

Attack on Saudi oil refinery – again

David MoonBlog

Prior to the attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil refinery facility, oil had been trading around $60 per barrel; prices began to skyrocket before the explosions ended. Despite Saudi officials’ assurance they would quickly restore full production at the world’s largest refinery, Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of energy risk management at international investment bank Fimat warned “this situation is going to get worse before it gets better.” Sound familiar? This happened in 2006, not a week ago. Drones used in the most recent attack on the Abqaiq refinery delivered more precise destruction than the car bombs Al-Qaeda used in 2006, … Read More

Banking health different than 2007

David MoonBlog

In August, the economy added 96,000 new private jobs, well below the expected monthly gain of 150,000. It was another rationale for superficial analysts to warn that the economy is on the brink of repeating the 2007-2009 carnage of the Great Recession. Those analysts are wrong. We may or may not be on the brink of another recession, but the underlying fundamentals of the economy are much different than those of a dozen years ago. Some are better; some are worse. However, almost every measure of the health of the banking system is stronger today than immediately preceding the Great … Read More