AVOIDING GIMMICK INVESTMENTS

David MoonBlog

The mounting interest in digital currency such as Bitcoin has understandable impulses in an era of prolific money printing by central banks. How strong is the public interest? For the first week of December, Google searches related to the digital currency outpaced searches on Donald Trump. One of the particularly costly, yet avoidable investment mistakes is to fall prey to gimmicky investment products designed to attract assets, not earn outstanding returns. Some companies barely even pretend to be in the investment business, almost brazenly declaring themselves to be shallow marketers. Consider EventShares and its newly organized ETF, the U.S. Tax Reform … Read More

The Lessons of Joseph

David MoonBlog

Joseph was a much better man than me. If my girlfriend or wife were nine months pregnant with someone else’s child and Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring us to spend five days walking up the mountain from Knoxville to Cherokee, North Carolina so we could pay taxes, I suspect I’d take my chances and stay home. Then, if I had a dream telling me to take my wife and newborn from Cherokee to Charlotte to hide because that President wanted to kill us, I would likely take an Ambien and try to get back to sleep. There are … Read More

Bitcoin: reasonable risk or gamble?

David MoonBlog

The mounting interest in digital currency such as Bitcoin has understandable impulses in an era of prolific money printing by central banks. How strong is the public interest? For the first week of December, Google searches related to the digital currency outpaced searches on Donald Trump. Because virtual currencies are tracked and maintained by vast networks of computers, no government or bank is in control. Call it the “idealist’s currency”, a beneficiary of the well-deserved diminished confidence in paper money. While the U.S. dollar is no longer backed by gold, it is backed by the largest single financial asset in the history … Read More

Christmas budgeting made simple

David MoonBlog

The findings of a recent NerdWallet Consumer Holiday Shopping Report include some troublesome items. Fourteen percent of U.S. consumers are still paying off credit card balances from last Christmas. Millennials are most likely to have outstanding balances from last Christmas. Combine that with the finding that Americans plan to spend the same amount on gifts as they did last year and you get a building case for eventual economic hardship. At a minimum, these people are spending future income, reducing their future standard of living. If a 25-year-old takes two years to pay for his Christmas shopping, it reduces future … Read More

University lobbying criticized

David MoonBlog

If you need any evidence that true tax reform is an impossibility, look no further than a spam email I received last week from University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro. Dr. DiPietro’s email encouraged me to contact my Senators and ask them to, among other things, restore the charitable deduction for donations required to purchase athletic tickets. As long as special interest groups can convincingly threaten to oust politicians from office, Congress will never radically simplify the tax code. One man’s benefit is another man’s special interest loophole. In this sense, UT is no different than Wall Street firms that … Read More

A Thanksgiving list of irritations

David MoonBlog

Gratitude is one key to a happy life, but too many columns this week are self-serving, syrupy recitations of life’s blessings. That’s nice. That’s sweet. In the interest of balance, however, here is my annual list of some things that irritate me. Jon Gruden. I’m already over Gruden and the members of his cult. #FireGruden. When I leave the house and forget to take my cell phone. When I leave the house and remember to take my cell phone. Facebook posts of people’s food. Facebook posts by hypochondriacs. The spelling of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s last name. Pat Sajak needs to … Read More

Tax benefits or special interest loopholes?

David MoonBlog

A recent USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee headline warned that the “GOP tax plan could cut many current benefits.” The article was an outstanding analysis of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act approved by the House Ways and Means Committee on November 9. The plan, which went to the full House for consideration this past week, calls for the elimination and reduction of a number of deductions and tax credits – items that are often described and generally accepted as benefits. What neither the article nor the headline noted, however, is that one man’s benefit is another man’s special interest … Read More

Superficial selection of jocks and stocks

David MoonBlog

In 2011, the University of Houston football team finished 13-1, winning more than 11 games for the first time in school history. The team’s head coach, Kevin Sumlin, immediately became the “must hire” coach. However, anyone who had worked on a staff with Sumlin or prepared a team to play one of his teams could have told you that Sumlin’s squads were talented, but undisciplined and unfocused. His practices were unorganized and he made downright bizarre in-game decisions. Texas A&M “won” the Sumlin lottery and most A&M fans now regret it. But it was a great, exciting introductory press conference. … Read More

Popular Morningstar ratings flawed

David MoonBlog

If you have ever researched a mutual fund or paid someone to do it for you, there is a good chance that you’ve seen fund ratings from Morningstar. Much of the information on a Morningstar report is useful, but a recent study by the Wall Street Journal found that Morningstar’s much-heralded and quoted fund star ratings are of no help in predicting which funds will perform well in the future. The shortcomings of the Morningstar star ratings system arise from its reliance on something called the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), a flawed academic theory. CAPM produces a statistic known … Read More

Differentiate by how you communicate

David MoonBlog

You read newspapers, or digital versions of them, almost guaranteeing that this piece is not for you. Please forward it to someone who gets his news from Snapface, Crackbook or some other truncated source of Hollywood gossip. Learn to communicate, both verbally and in writing. If you want to distinguish yourself in business or even a job search, pry the exclamation point key from your keyboard. In business, a person probably needs no more than ten exclamation points in his entire life. If you use one exclamation point in a job search email exchange, I might overlook look it. If … Read More