Thanksgiving week irritants

David MoonBlog

Rather than bore you with a syrupy, Thanksgiving week list of things for which I’m thankful (family, friends, blah, blah, blah), I continue my holiday tradition of sharing a (very partial) list of things that irritate me. Virtue signaling. Pennies. The Wi-Fi in my house. My Apple ID. How do I get my kids’ 12-year-old Hannah Montana songs off my phone? Humblebragging, as in, “I’m sorry I won’t be able to make the meeting; that’s the day I’m interviewing interior decorators for our jet.” Twenty-five-year-old bartenders who want me to pay for their art history degree. Universities that have facilitated … Read More

Never love an institution

David MoonBlog

My reaction is clearly the minority, but I wasn’t bothered when eight assistant Tennessee football coaches initially declined voluntary pay cuts in an effort to mitigate the Tennessee Athletic Department’s expected $30 million to $40 million football revenue shortfall. Of course, my opinion would be different if I were the athletic director and responsible for minimizing the department’s net loss this year and next. Football is a business, and those eight men made a business decision. And whether they realized it or not, they were guided by a principle that investors would be wise to implement. A person can love … Read More

“Wealth coach” arrested for investment fraud

David MoonBlog

According to Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice documents, Terrence Chalk, the self-described “nation’s #1 Business, Money and Wealth Coach,” sold unregistered securities to middle-income individuals since 2017. These small investors were lured by guarantees of 12 percent annual income, with the possibility of up to 70 percent annual returns and income distributions. Except, as you have likely already guessed, the securities were fake. Chalk wasn’t licensed to sell securities or registered to provide investment advice. Officials say he stole almost $5 million, including the entire retirement savings of many of the victims. Chalk was arrested in Orlando … Read More

Fortunately, the experts are regularly wrong

David MoonBlog

For much of this year, CNN has superimposed a coronavirus scoreboard on about 20 percent of the screen, featuring real time updates about U.S. COVID cases and deaths. Some people have compared it to something one might see on ESPN during a game broadcast. To me, it is more of a high-tech reminder of the network newscasts of my youth. Frightening news is not a recent phenomenon. When I was a kid, there was only ABC, CBS and NBC. Each evening, anchormen (only men) David Brinkley, Frank Reynolds and Walter Cronkite reported the number of US and Viet Cong deaths … Read More

What’s in a name?

David MoonBlog

For 25 years I have done my business banking in the same location. The bank has changed ownership a number of times, always accompanied by a name change. Years ago, bank names had an obvious logic to them. “Third National Bank” was probably the third nationally-charted bank in an area. “Bank of East Tennessee” was a bank somewhere in east Tennessee. Perhaps “BB&T” is/was a bit cryptic, but most people probably figure the word “bank” was represented somewhere in that acronym. “SunTrust” sounds like a bank at the beach. I hope my friends and the other good people at my … Read More

Beware the pocket square

David MoonBlog

In the mid-1990s, I was meeting with the representative of a company that was raising capital for a partnership that would purchase a number of apartment buildings around the southeast. I was questioning him about what appeared to be a terribly unfair fee structure.  The salesman assured me that my focus was misplaced.  “Don’t worry about all of the boilerplate language in the back of the document. Look at all the great photos in the front!” Variable annuities, non-traded real estate investment trusts, private investments advertised on the radio, any investment advertised on television … a substantial percentage of the … Read More

The long-term cost of COVID

David MoonBlog

Decades after the masks are gone, in-person college classes are a quaint memory and “flatten the curve” is a long-forgotten rallying cry, the U.S. will continue its fight against COVID-19. Well, we’ll still be paying for it, anyway. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary estimate of federal income and expenses for the government’s 2020 fiscal year, which ended on September 30. During those 12 months, the federal government is estimated to have collected $3.4 trillion in taxes and spent $6.5 trillion, creating a one-year record deficit of $3.1 trillion. Prior to COVID, the 2020 deficit was expected … Read More

Happiness is reality minus expectations

David MoonBlog

Tom Magliozzi, co-host of NPR’s Car Talk show, described the formula for happiness as reality minus expectations. The equation is simple; people are generally happy when the reality of life is better anticipated. Unreasonably high expectations are often a recipe for disappointment. This same formula can be loosely applied in the evaluation of investment outcomes. Too often, investors flock toward the strategy of owning the most high-flying growth stocks, choosing to avoid pesky details such as price. The problem with this approach is that it rejects any acknowledgement that all investments should be measured against expectations. Being the first to … Read More

First rule for Zooming: wear clothes

David MoonBlog

A young friend of mine recently interviewed for a job via Zoom. His suspicion that the interviewer was conducting the meeting from a bedroom was confirmed when from underneath the comforter behind the interviewer crawled a t-shirt clad female, who walked out of the frame – followed by the sound of a toilet flushing. A congressman in Argentina wishes that’s all he had broadcast to the outside world. During a virtual debate about pension fund investments, Chamber of Deputies member Juan Ameri was seen onscreen kissing his girlfriend’s bare breasts, explaining afterwards that he thought he’d lost his internet connection and … Read More

A couple of lessons from 2020

David MoonBlog

Let’s look back at the good ole’ days … say about nine months ago. (Just humor me, okay?) Unemployment was a paltry 3.5 percent, the lowest since the 1950s. Real personal income was increasing at rates not seen in more than 20 years, most rapidly among low and middle-income wage-earners. As far as we knew, the U.S. hadn’t recently started or joined a new war anywhere on the globe. Not surprisingly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at an all-time high and would finish 2019 with a 22 percent gain. The tech-heavy NASDAQ would finish even higher. If you are … Read More