Signs wars relic of banking past

David MoonBlog

The bank sign wars continue in downtown Knoxville, with Truist (“What do you get when you cross a BB&T with a SunTrust?”) maintaining its tight lead over First (Tennessee) Horizon, but likely not for long. The 24-story Riverview Tower (the C.H. Butcher building, for Knoxville old-timers) once had BB&T signs near the top of the building on all four sides. The building now features the non-word “Truist” next to a logo that looks like the YouTube video pause button. Next door at the 27-story Plaza Tower (the Jake Butcher building), First Horizon is replacing its rooftop red, white and blue … Read More

Are you the root cause of inflation?

David MoonBlog

Inflation is almost certainly headed even higher – and expect some experts to place the blame on you. You’re buying too much stuff. Christmas retail sales were a record $843.4 billion this season, an 8.5 percent increase from a year ago. This follows a then-record $777.3 billion in Christmas sales last year, an 8.2 percent jump from 2019 levels. Since at least 2000, Christmas sales have never increased more than 7 percent in a single year. We’ve now had two consecutive years of more than 8 percent increases. In those same two years US production increased a total of zero. … Read More

My Christmas wish list for others

David MoonBlog

Thinking of others is always the kind and mature thing to do, especially at Christmas. It is with that sense of selfless generosity (and some sarcasm) that I’ve compiled a list of gifts for others this year. For President Biden, I wish for his safety and good health. And a three-year supply of 5 Hour Energy. For Nick Saban and Mitch McConnell, retirement parties. For the City of Knoxville, home of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Sunsphere, a new marketing tagline: “Knoxville, we got balls.” (Who needs good grammar with that kind of chutzpah?) Santa should bring … Read More

Seven secrets or excuses?

David MoonBlog

While perusing social media the past couple of weeks (an admittedly horrible habit), several times I ran across the same reposted comment titled “The Seven Secrets of Highly Successful People.” I want to be highly successful, so the post immediately caught my attention. Apparently, not only are my odds of succeeding not very good, but according to this list, the secrets to success are completely out of my control. The first two supposed secrets to success are private school and legacy admission to an Ivy League school. Uh-oh; things aren’t starting too well for this rural Alabama redneck. The next … Read More

All decisions are risky

David MoonBlog

To increase pedestrian safety, Knoxville is reducing the City’s unposted speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. Speaking at a recent City Council meeting, the president of Bike Walk Knoxville cited research that a person is 70 percent more likely to be killed if they are struck by a vehicle travelling 30 mph versus 25 mph. Why not reduce the speed limit to 5 mph? Or we could eliminate all vehicle/pedestrian fatalities be outlawing vehicles in the city. Zero pedestrian deaths. Zero food and package delivery, too. I’m not picking on City Council. And I don’t care what the speed … Read More

Ignorance may be bliss, but it is ignorant

David MoonBlog

We’ve all heard that if a frog is dropped into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out, but if the water temperature is slowly increased, a frog will sit in the pot until it is eventually boiled to death. The “boil a frog” metaphor is a fantastic lesson about the risk of slow, unnoticed change. It is also a myth. If dropped into boiling water, a frog would likely lose consciousness from the shock or suffer instant severe burns that would render it unable to leap. But if placed in a pot of comfortable, but slowly heating … Read More

Thanksgiving week irritants

David MoonBlog

Rather than offer another boring, self-serving Thanksgiving week recitation of things for which I am grateful, in the interest of balance, here is my very abbreviated annual list of irritants. Restaurants that serve tiny entrees on huge plates. Restaurant menus more than four pages long. People who undertip at Waffle House. People who undertip anywhere. Brown bananas, candy corn and congealed cranberry sauce. People who use “barbeque” as a verb. Potato chip bags: why don’t they have Ziplocs on them? All-beef bologna. People who eat bologna don’t care what’s in it. The new college football overtime rules, placekickers and stadium … Read More

Drastic, lasting change is rare

David MoonBlog

The surprise election of a political novice to the governorship of Virginia provides a useful investment lesson, although probably not one you would guess. It does not, in my opinion, signal a quasi-lasting shift in voter sentiment. Instead, it is a reminder how quickly stable people can change their opinions about very important matters – and not just those involving politics. But politics is a great example, because it is something about which everyone has opinions – and most people are very certain of their opinions. I don’t believe the claims that the recently concluded elections signal some massive change … Read More

Dow 36,000, two decades late for some

David MoonBlog

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 36,000 on November 2, it satisfied a forecast made by authors James Glassman and Kevin Hassett in their best seller book, “Dow 36,000.” Well, it sort of satisfied their forecast. Their book, published in 1999, predicted that the Dow would reach 36,000 by as early as 2002. They only missed their guess by almost two decades. An economics mentor of mine once told me that the secret to making forecasts is that if you give a date, don’t give a number. And if you give a number, don’t give a date. Glassman … Read More

Inflation misconceptions are common

David MoonBlog

For it to be such a popular topic of discussion, it is surprising how little people understand about inflation. Some of the misconceptions are trivial, but others threaten to lead investors and policymakers into poor decisions. Inflation is not caused by higher prices, no more so than obesity is caused by being fat. Inflation IS an increase in prices. The difference is much more than semantics. If we assume, as many in Washington have proclaimed, that “higher prices are leading to inflation,” it becomes tempting to ignore the factors that really are leading to inflation. Inflation develops when non-substitutable products … Read More