Artificial EV demand outpaces infrastructure

David MoonBlog

A friend of mine rented a car a few weeks ago to drive from Nashville to Knoxville. The rental car agent assured easily sold her on the Kia EV6 electric vehicle (EV), explaining that it had a range of 310 miles, was fully charged and would easily get her the 160 miles to west Knoxville that evening. What the employee of this unnamed rental car company (rhymes with “squirts) did not explain, however, was that driving up the Cumberland Plateau would significantly diminish the battery efficiency. This 25-year-old young woman ended up stranded along I-40 in the middle of the … Read More

How much more money buys happiness?

David MoonBlog

I received a Christmas card last year that depicted a little boy writing a letter to Santa. “Dear Santa, I won’t mind if I don’t get what I want for Christmas so long as no one else does! Timmy.” I think young Timmy understands the relationship between materialism and happiness better than most social scientists. That is, what you have matters less than what you think you should have. Imagine that you lived in a house a third smaller than your current home, didn’t have air conditioning, ate fewer than one restaurant meal a month, didn’t have television and your … Read More

Thanksgiving week irritants

David MoonBlog

Rather than bore you with another syrupy Thanksgiving week column about gratitude, here is an extremely abbreviated list of things that irritate me this year. Bacon packaging, potato chip bags and ice cream so solidly frozen that it bends my spoon. Restaurant menus longer than 4 pages. People who leave 5 seconds on the microwave timer. TV meteorologists who say, “looks like we’re in for some weather tonight.” We always have weather. People who complain about the end of Daylight Savings Time “robbing” them of an hour of daylight. Just get up an hour earlier. People who are habitually late, … Read More

Don’t rush into permanently closing Gay Street

David MoonBlog

The city of Knoxville recently announced a four-weekend partial closure of Gay Street, prohibiting vehicles between Wall and Union Avenues. This is supposedly a feasibility test, studying the creation of a more pedestrian-friendly city, less predominated by cars and roads. If you like the revamped Cumberland Avenue, you will love closing Gay Street. We close downtown streets all the time for very popular special events, such as the USA CYCLING National Championships. Those are fantastic. For years, the city closed essentially all of Gay Street and a number of other downtown streets for an evening called “Saturday night on the … Read More

SBF fraud trial entertaining, educational

David MoonBlog

It was fascinating drama when accused crypto-fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried took the stand in his trial this past week, but it also provided some pretty useful reminders about investing, decision-making and human behavior in general. After spending years intentionally crafting the illusion of an eccentric genius and hands-on business mogul, the 31-year-old Bankman-Fried spent his first day of testimony describing how he relied on others to make the critical decisions about risk management and investor protections. Under cross examination the next two days, the boy wonder responded to most questions with a variation of “I don’t remember.” Bankman-Fried is the only … Read More

Incentives drive trade and economic decisions

David MoonBlog

Business schools teach our future leaders of industry that countries should engage in trade with partners that have lower opportunity costs to produce specific goods and services. That is, standards of living will increase in both countries when the U.S. imports sneakers from Indonesia and exports soybeans to the country. I believed this economic theory for years, mostly blindly accepting one important assumption: decision-makers in each country seek to maximize overall wealth and living standards in each country. That’s the theory, anyway. And it’s mostly true most of the time. But it is definitely not always true all of the … Read More

War a poor predictor of stock prices

David MoonBlog

Compared to the profound effects war has on the lives of the combatants, their families, and civilian victims, the financial ramifications of war are insignificant. Plenty of the aspects surrounding war reasonably raise, if not require, concern. Don’t include the stock market on that list. There is essentially no correlation between stock returns and sustained U.S. involvement in armed conflict. Beginning with the Spanish-American War in 1898 and ending with the second Iraq War (2014-2021), the U.S. has been involved in 10 sustained military actions around the world. The average return of the U.S. stock market during those wars was … Read More

Both parties love shutdowns

David MoonBlog

As any high school civics student should be able to explain, the U.S. Congress is required to pass a budget for operating the federal government each year. Except it doesn’t. Congress last passed a full and timely operating budget 26 years ago, in 1997. I think most families should operate with an annual and monthly budget. That any entity would spend 30% more than its revenues – and do so repeatedly without a budget – is idiocy. It is malpractice. No business could survive with such an irresponsible spending approach. Then why would Congress essentially schedule these shutdown “battles” each … Read More

The perils of overconfidence

David MoonBlog

A recent study from Charles Schwab reaffirms what you have read multiple times but might still be tempted to test. Even if you could repeatedly guess the best time to invest your money into the stock market, the benefits of doing so are minimal, especially when compared with a simple system based on historical probabilities. The Schwab study looked at the past 20 years and assumed an investor had a new $2,000 available to invest on January 1 each year. If that hypothetical investor was brilliant and could identify the stock market’s lowest point each year and invested his $2,000 … Read More

China weakness, not its strength, may pose more US risk

David MoonBlog

It’s taken a few decades, but I finally realized that Mark Twain was right; most of the things we worry about never happen. This axiom holds reasonably true with respect to economic matters, as well. The most threatening economic risk is seldom the thing that dominates the headlines. If everyone is worried about a concern that is widely televised, those expectations are likely already built into consumer, employee and management behavior. A year ago, news stories overwhelmingly warned that the world was headed for a recession. Those worries seemed to culminate in a July 7, 2023 CNBC headline that reported … Read More