Data from the CIA Factbook

Data from the CIA Factbook

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I write about this every now and then, because human fertility is falling faster then most demographers expect. Using the CIA Factbook for data, the present total fertility rate for the world is 2.407 births per woman that survives childbearing. That is down from 2.425 in 2014, 2.467 in 2012, and 2.489 in 2010.  At this rate, the world will be at replacement rate (2.1), somewhere between 2035 and 2040. That’s a lot earlier than most expect, and it makes me suggest that global population will top out somewhat below 9 Billion in 2050, lower and earlier than most expect.

Have a look at the Total Fertility Rate by group in the graph above. The largest nations for each cell are listed below the graph. Note Asian nations to the left, and African nations to the right.

Africa is so small, that the high birth rates have little global impact. Also, AIDS consumes their population, as do wars, malnutrition, etc.

The Arab world is also slowing in population growth. When Saudi Arabia at replacement rate (2.11), you can tell that the women are gaining the upper hand there, which is notable given the polygamy is permitted.

In the Developed world, who leads in fertility? Israel at 2.66. Next is France at 2.07 (Arabs), New Zealand at 2.03, Iceland at 2.01, Ireland at 1.98 (up considerably), UK at 1.89, Sweden at 1.88, and the US at 1.87, which is below replacement. The US still grows from immigration, as does France.

Most of the above is a quick update of my prior pieces, which have some additional crunchy insights.  When I look at the new data, I wonder if developed nations might not finally be waking up to the birth dearth.  Take a look at this graph:

Now, the bottom left is a little crammed.  What if I expand it?

I did the second graph in order to make the point that nations with fertility below 1.76 in 2010 tended to increase their fertility, while those above 1.76 tended to decrease it.  Not that you should trust any statistical analysis, but if you could, this is statistically significant at a level well above 99%.  (Note: this is an ordinary least squares regression.  Every “nation” is weighted equally.  If I get asked nicely, I could do a weighted least squares regression which gives heavy weight to China, India and the US, and less weight to Somalia, the West Bank, and Tonga.  I don’t think the result would change much.)

I’m chuckling a little bit as I write this, because this is an interesting result, and one that I never thought I would be writing when I started this project.  Interesting, huh?  My guess is that there is a limit to how much you can get people to reduce family sizes before they begin to question the idea.  Older parents may say, “What was that all about?” but children are usually fun and cute when they are little if they are reasonably disciplined.

One final note: I’ve been running into a lot of demographic articles of late, but this was the one that got me to write this: The World’s Most Populous Country Is Turning Gray.  The barbaric “One Child Policy” of China is having its impact; demography is often destiny.  That said, over the last six years China’s total fertility rate has moved from 1.54 to 1.60.

As it says in the article:

Births in 2016 reached 17.86 million, the most since 2000, rising by 1.91 million from 2015, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said this month. That still falls short of the official projection. Last June, the ministry estimated there would be an increase of 4 million new births every year until 2020. China will continue to implement the two-child policy to promote a balanced population, the plan said.

Fertility doesn’t turn on a dime.  When women conclude that the rewards of society (money, power, approval of peers) go to those with fewer children, that’s a tough cultural idea to overcome.  I would conclude that it will take a lot longer than a single five-year plan to turn around birthrates in China… if they can be turned around at all.  All across Asia, marriages happen at lesser rates, happen later, and produce fewer children.  China is one of the more notable examples.

PS — Picky note: the two-child policy in China is only available to a husband and wife where at least one is an “only child.”  It won’t create a balanced population near replacement rate, as everyone else must have only one child (with exceptions).

Data Credit: CIA FactbookI write about this every now and then, because human fertility is falling faster then most demographers expect. Using the CIA Factbook for data, the present total fertility rate for the world is 2.425 births per woman that survives childbearing. That is down from 2.45 in 2013, 2.50 in 2011, and 2.90 in 2006. At this rate, the world will be at replacement rate (2.1), somewhere between 2025 and 2030. That’s a lot earlier than most expect, and it makes me suggest that global population will top out at 8.5 Billion in 2050, lower and earlier than most expect.

Have a look at the Total Fertility Rate by group in the graph above. The largest nations for each cell are listed below the graph. Note Asian nations to the left, and African nations to the right.

Africa is so small, that the high birth rates have little global impact. Also, AIDS consumes their population, as do wars, malnutrition, etc.

The Arab world is also slowing in population growth. When Saudi Arabia is near replacement rate at 2.17, you can tell that the women are gaining the upper hand there, which is notable given the polygamy is permitted.

In the Developed world, who leads in fertility? Israel at 2.62. Next is France at 2.08 (Arabs), New Zealand at 2.05, and the US at 2.01, slightly below replacement. We still grow from immigration, as does France.

Most of the above is a quick update of my prior piece, which has some additional crunchy insights.  This evening, I would like to highlight two articles that I saw recently — one on troubles with municipal pensions, and one on how some areas of China are dying.  They are at root the same story, but with different levels of potency.

Let me start with the amusing question where Arnold Schwarzenegger asks Buffett via CNBC what can be done to solve the municipal defined benefit pension problem, which Becky Quick then asks Buffett.  For the next 80 seconds, Buffett says it is a messy problem created by politicians that voted for high municipal pensions, because future generations would pay the bill, and not current taxpayers.  The politicians that voted for them are long gone.  Buffett offers no solutions, and I don’t blame him because all of the solutions are ugly.  Here they are:

  • If state law allows, terminate the current plans and replace them with Defined Contribution plans, or reduce the rates of future accrual.  If those can’t be done, create a new Defined Contribution plan for all new employees, who will no longer participate in the Defined Benefit plans.  Even the last of these will be fiercely resisted by municipal unions.
  • Cancel the cost of living adjustment, if you can do so legally.
  • Raise taxes — I’m sure younger people will enjoy paying for past services of municipal employees.
  • Impose excise (or something like that) taxes on municipal pension payments, and rebate the money back to the plans.
  • Declare or threaten bankruptcy if you can legally do it, and try to extract concessions from the representatives of pensioners.
  • Amend the state constitution to change the status of pension benefits, including adding an exception adding legality to adjust benefits after the fact. (ex post facto)

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think the radical solutions could/would ever be done, and the National government would probably slap down any state that actually tried something draconian.  Remember, states are practically administrative units of the national government.  States’ rights is a nice phrase, but often very empty of power.

Here are some non-solutions:

  • Float pension bonds — just a form of leverage, substituting a fixed liability for a contingent liability, and assuming that you can earn more than the rate paid on the pension bonds.
  • Invest more aggressively.  Sorry, taking more risk won’t do it.  Returns are only weakly related to risk, and often taking high risks leads to lower returns.  The returns you are likely to get depend mostly on the entry prices you pay for the underlying cash flow streams in question.
  • Invest in alternative assets.  Sorry, you are late to the game.  Alternatives offer little more than conventional assets at present, and they carry high fees and illiquidity.
  • Adjust the discount rate, or salary increase rate assumption.  That may make the current problem look smaller, but it doesn’t change the underlying benefits to be paid, or the returns the assets will earn.  If anything, the assumptions are too aggressive now, and plan assets are unlikely to return much more than 4%/year over the next 10 years.

Buffett gave one cause for the problem, but there is one more — if the US population were growing rapidly, there would be a larger base of taxpayers to spread the taxes over.  Diminished fertility feeds into the problems in the states, as well as other social insurance schemes, like Social Security and Medicare.  You could loosen up immigration to the US, particularly for younger, wealthy, and or/skilled people, but that has its controversial aspects as well.

Here’s another way of phrasing it — it’s difficult to create workers out of thin air.  Governments would like nothing better than to have more working age people magically appear.  It would solve the problem.  Alas, those decisions were largely made 20-40 years ago also.  There is even competition now for the best immigrants.

That brings me to the article on China. Rudong, a city in China where the one-child policy began, is now an elderly place with few younger people to take care of the elderly.  Kind of sad, even if the problem was partially self-inflicted, and partially inflicted by conceited elites who thought they were doing a good thing.

A few quotations from the article:

“China will see more places like Rudong very soon,” said Wang Feng, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine. “It’s a microcosm of the rapid demographic and economic transformation China has been experiencing the last decades. There will be more ghost villages and deserted or sleepy towns.”

also:

“China is quickly turning gray on an unprecedented scale in human history, and the Chinese government, even the whole Chinese society, is not prepared for it,” Yi said. “In many places, including my hometown in western Hunan, it’s hard to find a young man in his 20s or 30s.”

and also:

What’s different in China is that the one-child policy accelerated the process, removing hundreds of millions of potential babies from the demographic pool. China’s old-age dependency ratio — a measure of those age 65 or over per 100 of working age — is set to triple by 2050, to 39.

The one-child policy created possibly the sharpest demographic shift in the world.  It is largely irreversible; once women as a culture stop having children, they don’t start having more when benefits are offered or penalties are lowered.  It would take a big change in mindset in order to get that to shift, like a religious change, or the aftermath of a big war.

The Christians are growing in China, and many of them would have larger families, but even if Christianity gets a lot bigger, and the Party tolerates it, that won’t come fast enough to deal with the problems of the next 30 years, but it could help with the problems after that.

In closing, there is enough pity to go around.  Pity for the elderly that will not get taken care of to the degree that they would like.  Pity for those younger who cannot afford the time or monetary costs of taking care of the elderly.

I think the only solution to any of this would be shared sacrifice, where everyone gets hurt somewhat.  My question would be what places in the world have the requisite maturity to achieve such a solution.  Optimistically, the answer would be many, but only after a lot of sturm und drang.

I write about this every now and then, because human fertility is falling faster then most demographers expect.  Using the CIA Factbook for data, the present total fertility rate for the world is 2.45 births per woman that survives childbearing.  That is down from 2.50 in 2011, and 2.90 in 2006.  At this rate, the world will be at replacement rate (2.1), somewhere between 2020 and 2030.  That’s a lot earlier than most expect, and it makes me suggest that global population will top out at 8.5 Billion in 2030, lower and earlier than most expect.

Have a look at the Total Fertility Rate by group:

On human fertility 3

The largest nations for each cell are listed below the graph.  Note Asian nations to the left, and African nations to the right.

Africa is so small, that the high birth rates have little global impact.  Also, AIDS consumes their population, as do wars, malnutrition, etc.

The Arab world is also slowing in population growth.  When Saudi Arabia is near replacement rate at 2.21, you can tell that the women are gaining the upper hand there, which is notable given the polygamy is permitted.

In the Developed world, who leads in fertility?  Israel at 2.65.  Next is France at 2.08 (Arabs), and the US and New Zealand at 2.06, slightly below replacement.  We still grow from immigration, as does France.

Quoting from my prior piece, why is this happening?  There are many reasons why the total fertility rate is declining:

  • Educating females makes many of them want to have fewer kids, whether the reason is pain, effort, wanting to work outside the home, etc.
  • Contraception is more widely available.
  • The marriage rate is declining globally.  Willingness to have children is positively correlated with marriage.
  • Governments provide an illusion of support, commonly believed, that the government can support people in their old age, so people don’t have kids for old age support.

The rapidly slowing rate of childbearing will have global population peak in the early 2030s at a level in the lower 8 billions, unless there is some further change to attitudes on children that makes people have more or even fewer kids.

Some of those changes may come from:

  • governments looking to stem a shrinking population that is causing a future problem with their social welfare programs.  (Note: in general, whatever governments offer, people don’t have materially more kids. Once women are convinced that kids are more of a burden than an advantage, they do not easily shift from that view, even if that view is wrong.)
  • Various religious leaders realizing that the women are not with the program of growing their ranks, where contraception has become quietly common.  I am speaking mostly of Catholics and Muslims here.
  • Abortion, especially for sex selection reasons becomes more or less common.  Growth in future population depends heavily on the level of fertile women, and if they are being killed or not at birth in places like China, India, the satellite countries of the former Soviet Union, etc… fewer women means a lower growth rate, and unhappier societies 20+ years out.

As I close, I want to list a few nations that are below replacement rate, that would surprise some people:

  • Libya
  • Vietnam
  • Iran
  • Qatar
  • Lebanon
  • Chile
  • Uzbekistan
  • Brazil
  • Thailand
  • Russia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia
  • Tunisia
  • North Korea
  • South Korea

And those the are close to replacement rate:

  • Bangladesh
  • South Africa
  • Peru
  • Burma
  • Morocco
  • Colombia
  • Turkey
  • Indonesia
  • UAE
  • Saudi Arabia (Wahabism is less strong than believed)
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Venezuela
  • Argentina

One last point, because the demographics profession has been slow to pick up on these shifts, if present trends continue, within 10 years, I believe you will see a scad of articles talking about the likely leveling off of global population and even future shrinkage of global population, and the effects thereof.  Always something to worry about…

Libya

I write about this every now and then, because human fertility is falling faster then most demographers expect.  Using the CIA Factbook for data, the present total fertility rate for the world is 2.47 births per woman that survives childbearing.  Last year it was 2.50, and in 2006 it was 2.90.  2.10 is replacement rate.  At the current trend, the world will be at replacement rate in 2022.  That’s a lot earlier than most expect, and it makes me suggest that global population will top out at 8.5 Billion in 2030, lower and earlier than most expect.

Have a look at the Total Fertility Rate by group:

The largest nations for each cell are listed below the graph.  Note Asian nations to the left, and African nations to the right.

Africa is so small, that the high birth rates have little global impact.  Also, AIDS consumes their population, as do wars, malnutrition, etc.

The Arab world is also slowing in population growth.  When Saudi Arabia is near replacement rate at 2.26, you can tell that the women are gaining the upper hand there, which is notable given the polygamy is permitted.

In the Developed world, who leads in fertility?  Israel at 2.67.  Next is the US at 2.06, slightly below replacement.  We still grow from immigration.

Quoting from my prior piece, why is this happening?  There are many reasons why the total fertility rate is declining:

  • Educating females makes many of them want to have fewer kids, whether the reason is pain, effort, wanting to work outside the home, etc.
  • Contraception is more widely available.
  • The marriage rate is declining globally.  Willingness to have children is positively correlated with marriage.
  • Governments provide an illusion of support, commonly believed, that the government can support people in their old age, so people don’t have kids for old age support.

The rapidly slowing rate of childbearing will have global population peak in the early 2030s at a level in the lower 8 billions, unless there is some further change to attitudes on children that makes people have more or even fewer kids.

Some of those changes may come from:

  • governments looking to stem a shrinking population that is causing a future problem with their social welfare programs.  (Note: in general, whatever governments offer, people don’t have materially more kids. Once women are convinced that kids are more of a burden than an advantage, they do not easily shift from that view, even if that view is wrong.)
  • Various religious leaders realizing that the women are not with the program of growing their ranks, where contraception has become quietly common.  I am speaking mostly of Catholics and Muslims here.
  • Abortion, especially for sex selection reasons becomes more or less common.  Growth in future population depends heavily on the level of fertile women, and if they are being killed or not at birth in places like China, India, the satellite countries of the former Soviet Union, etc… fewer women means a lower growth rate, and unhappier societies 20+ years out.

As I close, I want to list a few nations that are below replacement rate, that would surprise some people:

  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • Lebanon
  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia
  • Tunisia
  • North Korea
  • Uzbekistan
  • Iran
  • Brazil

And those the are close to replacement rate:

  • Turkey
  • Indonesia
  • UAE
  • Saudi Arabia (Wahabism is less strong than believed)
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Argentina

One last point, because the demographics profession has been slow to pick up on these shifts, if present trends continue, within 10 years, I believe you will see a scad of articles talking about the likely leveling off of global population and even future shrinkage of global population, and the effects thereof.  Always something to worry about…

Fertility

When I gave a presentation to the Society of Actuaries three years ago, I was amazed that the Total Fertility Rate had fallen to 2.9 globally.  I am now amazed that the CIA Factbook estimates that rate at 2.5 for the world on average.

Background: recently I had a disagreement with my father-in-law who is brighter than me.  I alleged that global population growth was declining more rapidly than the politicians/activists were stating.  I suggested that global population would peak out around 2040 at a lower level than many suggest — less than nine billion.

He is brighter than me, but I am more street-smart.  Demographers are trailing indicators, and are slow to revise their forecasts.  There are many reasons why the total fertility rate is declining:

  • Educating females makes many of them want to have fewer kids, whether the reason is pain, effort, wanting to work outside the home, etc.
  • Contraception is more widely available.
  • The marriage rate is declining globally.  Willingness to have children is positively correlated with marriage.
  • Governments provide an illusion of support, commonly believed, that the government can support people in their old age, so people don’t have kids for old age support.

I don’t aim for controversy; it finds me as I try to explain reality.  But the most frosty time I have had in economics was 27 years ago, when I argued to my development economics class that people in the third world were rational in the number of kids that they had, because they had no way to save for their old age.  This was totally at variance with the development economics literature, but was utterly fact-based in terms of the way people behaved. (I got a friendlier reception preaching the Gospel on the UC-Davis quad.)  As people in developing countries have found more peace and stability, and markets allowing for long-term investment, family sizes have declined.

It is my assertion that estimates of peak global population will come sooner than most expect, and at lower levels.  But what would happen to the economy of a world where the total population peaks out and starts to decline? It will be a global Japan.  Per capita growth will slow, and those who are younger will find fewer opportunities to advance as oldsters hang onto their jobs longer.

Personally, I believe that mankind can overcome resource limits.  We’re smart, but we don’t figure out ways to overcome limits until we are forced to do so.  Thus I am not worried about overpopulation or shrinking population.

Photo Credit: MDV
Photo Credit: MDV || May you live to see many beautiful sunrises!

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Regardless of your political point of view, life will go on after the election.  Truth, given the two leading candidates, I get why many feel bad — they are both personally flawed to the degree that we shouldn’t want to entrust them with power.  We all are sinners, myself included.  That said, those who lead scandalous lives are unfit to lead society.

But under most conditions, cultures, economies, and governments survive bad leaders.  This is true globally.  This has been true in the US historically.

And guess what?  The markets really don’t care that much about current politics.  Markets in aggregate react to changes in the long-term view of economic activity.  The only things that interfere with economic activity to that degree are:

Sudden

  • Wars (think of the World Wars, or the Thirty or Hundred Years Wars)
  • Plague (think of the Black Death, severe as it was the influenza epidemic of 1918 was just a speed bump in comparison)
  • Famine (usually associated with severe Socialism… think of the Ukraine in 1932-33, the Great Leap Forward 1958-61, Pol Pot in Cambodia, present-day North Korea or Venezuela… and there is more)

Gradual

  • Changes in human fertility
  • Technological change
  • Gradual increasing willingness for people to be trusting in economic relationships, leading to investment, lending and trade on a wider scale, leading to lower costs of capital. (That included ending the teaching of Aristotle that money is sterile, which happened among Christians at the Reformation, and among Muslims in the late 20th century in some convoluted workarounds)
  • Cultural changes such as the willingness to not engage in subsistence agriculture, and trust the division of labor.  Willingness to educate children (including women) rather than use them for immediate productive purposes.
  • Desire of the governing powers to wall off resources for their private use or non-use  (think of governments owning huge amounts of land, and denying use of the land to most.  Same for technologies and resources.)

I’m sure there are things I left out, which could make for a lively conversation in the comments.  But note this: in general, though the sudden events may have severe effects on economies and markets, they tend to be the most transitory.  It’s the gradual changes that have the most effect in the long-run.

Also note that most of these do not get affected much by normal politics.  Yes, the “one child policy” affected human fertility, but look at efforts by governments to get husbands and wives to have children and the effects are tiny at best.  And even the “one child policy” is partially reversed, and I expect that it will be dropped in entire.  (And then the Christians and Muslims can stop hiding their children…)

Governments can intervene in economies lightly or moderately, and people adjust.  Overall productivity doesn’t change much.  At severe levels of intervention, it  changes a lot.  Intelligent people look for the exits, even at the cost of being exiles.

Governments can go to war, and if it is small relative to a country that is involved, the effects are light.  Big wars are different, and can destroy productivity for a generation, or permanently, if the culture doesn’t survive.

The Great Depression, bad it was, and loaded with policy failures of Hoover and FDR, ended in less than a generation.  The markets recovered as if it had never happened, and then some.

Are our government policies, including those of the central bank, lousy?  Yes.  WIll they get worse under Trump or Clinton?  Sure.

Things won’t likely be bad enough to derail the economy and the markets for more than a generation, so invest for the future.  The Sun will rise tomorrow, Lord willing.

But, the Son of God will reign forever.

 

Afterthought

The collapse of debt fueled bubbles can only affect less than a generation.  Why?  They don’t affect productive capital assets, they only affect who owns them, and receives benefits from them.  That is why depressions have far less effect than major wars on your home soil or major plagues.  Eventually a new group of people pick up the pieces at reduced prices, and use the capital to new and better ends.

Photo Credit: Liz West

Photo Credit: Liz West

A friend I haven’t heard from in many years since he left the USA wrote me. He closed the letter in an unusual way, saying:

PS — USA has gone completely bonkers these days? or what the heck is going on over there? would love to pick your mind over a glass of wine. someday!

I’m not intending on writing on politics as a regular habit at Aleph Blog, and most of what I am going to say is economics-related, so please bear with me.  Hopefully this will get it out of my system.

To my friend,

There are a lot of frustrated people in the US.  Though you’ve been gone a long time, you used to know me pretty well; after all, I trained you on economic matters.

Let me give a list of reasons why I think people are frustrated, then explain how that affects their political calculations, and finally explain why they have mostly misdiagnosed the issues, and won’t get what they want regardless of who is elected.

The electorate is frustrated because:

  • Living standards have declined for the lower 80% of society.
  • Many people lost jobs, homes, pensions, etc., during the recent financial crisis… those assets are not coming back anytime soon.  Much of the fault was theirs, but they don’t recognize that, preferring to blame others for their problems.
  • Many formerly attractive jobs are disappearing either due to technological change or offshoring (whether corporations or subsidiaries).
  • The economy muddles along, and economic policies that average people don’t understand dominate discussion.  Many wonder if anyone is seriously trying to improve matters.  They generally distrust the Fed.
  • It doesn’t seem to matter who gets elected, Democrat or Republican — the status quo remains because business interests support the Purple Party, which is the consensus of establishment Republicans and Democrats who duopolize politics in the USA.
  • Nothing good seems to happen in DC, and what few significant pieces of legislation have occurred in the Obama years have turned out to be bad (Obamacare) or useless (Dodd-Frank to the average person who doesn’t get it).
  • Immigration issues get short shrift, also trade issues.
  • Moral issues have basically disappeared from the political agenda in any classical form.  Everything is pragmatic, geared to serve the Purple Party.
  • In general, the candidates are pretty lousy, and the moral tone of the campaign has been poor.  That said, negative campaigning works, and the candidates that focus on being negative are doing better.

Now take a moment and think about what people do when they are desperate.  In short, they take longer-shot chances than they would ordinarily take.  They think:

“This person couldn’t be that much worse than what we have going now, and he sounds a lot different than the politicians that I have been hearing for so many years, ad nauseam.  He talks about issues that affect my situation, and is not willing to mince words.  He could be a LOT better than the status quo, which stinks.  

So, the downside is limited, and the upside could be significant.  I don’t care about the rough edges of this guy; the media always blows things out of proportion anyway, and helps foster the consensus candidates that never solve anything.  So, I’m just going to hold my nose and vote for (fill in the blank).”

In my opinion, that’s why politics is nuts over here right now.  Given the relative inability of the electorate to digest complex explanations, there are a lot of matters that they can’t understand, and as a result, regardless of who they elect, they won’t be happy.

Most of the economic and political problems stem from:

  • Technological change
  • Increasing returns to those that are smart versus those that are not
  • Not enough productive children being born
  • Attempts to improve the economy that don’t work
  • Gerrymandering
  • A diminishing consensus on what is right and wrong, and the proper role of government

The technological change is the most important factor, and explains why attempts to limit immigration or limit free trade won’t help.  As a result of the internet, businesses can set up in many areas and benefit from the different aspects of each area — labor here, capital there, taxes way over there.  Unless governments are willing to work together to limit this, and they compete, they don’t cooperate here, this can’t be solved.

Information technology can make lower skilled workers far more productive, leading to a diminution of jobs in many sectors.  This can happen anywhere — in banks, investment shops, factories, and restaurants.  It works anyplace where you can turn 80%+ of a job into a set of rules.  That can move jobs away from where they currently are to places where inexpensive labor can do the work.

In the short-run, this is a problem for many.  In the long run, it will release labor to more valuable pursuits.  That said, many older people will not be capable of retraining, and younger people will gain the opportunities if they are smart.  the “know nots” are becoming “have nots.”

Part of this is payback for not studying enough in school, and/or studying topics that would eventually valuable in college.  As I have said before, “Follow your bliss” is selfish and dumb.  Real value comes, and society improves, from facilitating the bliss of others.  The more people you make happy, the greater the rewards are.

Now, demographics are getting worse for most developing economies.  Most economies do better when the fertility rate is over 2.1 — i.e., that population is growing.  Typically that means that opportunities are growing.  When working populations shrink, social benefit plans begin to collapse, and when populations shrink, countries lose vitality and creativity.  We need youth to replenish its ranks to keep our societies healthy.

Note that efforts to fix fertility by offering tax incentives do not work.  Once women are convinced it is not valuable to have kids, no reasonable amount of effort will change that.

As for economic policy, we are still running policy off of a model that assumes that debts are not high on order for policy to work.  That is why continued deficit spending and abnormal monetary policy (QE & Zero or Negative Interest Rates) aren’t helping.  Helicopter money has its own issues.

Regardless of what happens to the presidency, Congress will remain the same because of gerrymandering.  There’s only so much that even a good President can do if Congress is occupied by ideologues from both sides of the political spectrum.

Finally, the sides of the political spectrum are further apart because there is less consensus on what is right and wrong, and the proper role of government.  In some ways the internet facilitates this because you can filter out the arguments of those who disagree with you more easily.  I set up my news sources so that I am always reading liberals and conservatives, as well as those that don’t fit well on the political map, but few others do.

And that, my friend, is why the political scene is nuts in the US now.  There are a lot of disappointed and desperate people who are willing to try anything to get their prosperity back, even though none of the politicians can do anything that will genuinely help the situation.

It is a recipe for disaster, and absent an act of God, I don’t see anything that will change the attitudes rapidly.  People across the political spectrum are happily believing their own myths; it will take a lot of pain to puncture them all.

PS — I’ve given up alcohol.  We’ll have to figure something else out if we get together.

These articles appeared between November 2012 and January 2013:

On Time Horizons

Investment advice without a time horizon is not investment advice.

This Election Will Solve Nothing

So far that is true of the 2012 elections.

NOTA Bene

We need to add “None of the Above” as an electoral choice in all elections.

Eliminating the Rating Agencies, Part 2

Eliminating the Rating Agencies, Part 3

Where I propose a great idea, and then realize that I am wrong.

The Rules, Part XXXV

Stability only comes to markets in a self-reinforcing mode, from buy and hold (and sell and sit on cash) investors who act at the turning points.

The Rules, Part XXXVI

It almost never makes sense to play for the last 5% of something; it costs too much. Getting 90-95% is relatively easy; grasping for the last 5-10% usually results in losing some of the 90-95%.

Charlie Brown the Retail Investor

Where Lucy represents Wall Street, the football is returns, and Charlie Brown is the Retail Investor. Aaauuuggh!

On Hucksters

Why to be careful when promised results seem too good, and they get delayed, or worse.

Bombing Baby BDC Bonds

Avoid bonds with few protective covenants, unless the borrower is very strong.

On Math Education

Why current efforts to change Math Education will fail.  Pedagogy peaked in the ’50s, and has been declining since then.

On Human Fertility, Part 2

On the continuing decline in human fertility across the globe.

If you Want to be Well-off in Life

Simple advice on how to be better off.  Warning: it requires discipline.

Young People Should Favor Low Discount Rates

If we had assumed lower discount rates in the past, we wouldn’t have the problems we do now.  (And maybe DB pensions would have died sooner.)

Problems in Life Insurance

On why we should be concerned about life insurance accounting.

Investing In P&C Insurers

On why analyzing P&C insurers boils down to analyzing management teams.

Selling Options Cheaply (Did You Know?)

Naive bond investors often take on risks that they did not anticipate.

Book Review: The Snowball, Part One

Book Review: The Snowball, Part Two

Book Review: The Snowball, Part Three

Book Review: The Snowball, Part Four

Book Review: The Snowball, Epilogue

My review of the most comprehensive book on the life of Warren Buffett.

On Watchlists

How I met one of the Superinvestors of Graham-and -Doddsville, and how I generate investment ideas.

Why do Value Investors Like to Index?

How I admitted to not having  a correct perspective on value indexing.

Evaluating Regulated Financials

Why regulated financials are different from other stocks, and how to analyze them.

Locking in a Smaller Loss

Why people are willing to lock in a loss against inflation, because of bad monetary policy.

Why I Sold the Long End

Great timing.

The Evaluation of Common Stocks

Value investing is still powerful, but the competition is a lot tougher.

The Order of Battle in Financial Planning for Ordinary Folks

The basics of personal finance

Sorting Through the News

How to use my free news screener to cut through the news flow, and eliminate noise.

On Financial Blogging

So why do we spend the time at this?

Matching Assets and Liabilities Personally

How to manage investments to fit your own need for cash in the future.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

How short-sighted, incompetent managers destroy value.

Expensive High Yield – II

No such thing as a bad trade , only an early trade… high yield prices moved higher from here.

2012 Financial Report of the US Government

Chronicling the financial promises made by the Federal Government

On Insurance Investing, Part 1

On Insurance Investing, Part 2

On Insurance Investing, Part 3

The first three parts of my 7-part series on how to understand this complex group of sub-industries.

How to Become Super-Rich?

Even Buffett didn’t get super-rich by only investing his own money.  He had to invest the money of others as well.  The super-rich form corporations and grow them; they build institutions bigger than themselves.

The Product that Never saw the Light of Day

On the Variable Annuity product that would simply be a tax scam.  Later I would learn that product exists now, just not in the form I proposed 8 years earlier when it didn’t exist.

The Volatility Machine, or, Developed Markets Sneeze and Emerging Markets Catch a Cold

 

  • Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs on Lira Drop http://t.co/KSVS4qlrGb Sold mine b4 the 1st Fed taper; China’s fin’l sys vulnerable $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Calm Broken in Markets Amid Concern of Emerging Contagion http://t.co/VnMtRrqXgs Emerging mkts decoupling from developed mkts wrong way $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Basci No Rebel as Elections to Dictate Turkish Rate Moves http://t.co/EFVGB1LbMD Raise rates to defend the lira, watch exporters sag $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Rajan Warns of Policy Breakdown as Emerging Markets Fall http://t.co/zW9QR49nRu Good guy, but fighting from a weak position $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Argentina 105% Stock Return Proves Illusory as Peso Sinks http://t.co/4T0LdDhPM7 Make high returns in Arg pesos, but what can they buy? $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Fragile-Five Selloff Cuts Rupee Issues to ’07 Low http://t.co/7anEAHc6Qd Volatility machine feeds tightening policy to weakest emerg mkts $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • The Price of Argentina’s Devaluation http://t.co/WwCrpf8urI More devaluation 2 come, black market price of $$ 50% above official price $IRS Jan 30, 2014
  • China Bank Regulator Said to Issue Alert on Coal Loans http://t.co/9w51A1v6RS Wealth management products embed significant credit risks $$ Jan 26, 2014
  • Fernandez Ditches Argentina for Cuba Summit Amid Crisis http://t.co/3nH9dIC0vT May what happened to Khrushchev happen to Fernandez $$ $IRS Jan 26, 2014

 

Companies & Industries

 

  • Amazon’s Boundless Spending Tested as Sales Growth Slows http://t.co/HPMVaVRDpV & http://t.co/ByiTZvlPLj $AMZN needs to raise its prices $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • How IKEA Protects the Environment and Sofa Margins http://t.co/x1rGegBzm5 IKEA is a very clever company that sells furniture cheaply $$ $FBN Jan 30, 2014
  • Walmart Expands Same-Day Grocery Delivery Test to Denver http://t.co/YrsuV006Zs Will b interesting 2c if this works profitably $$ $WMY $KR Jan 29, 2014
  • Billionaires Fuming Over Market Selloff That Sinks Magnit http://t.co/ZD1uUx0J0M Never confuse trading value w/intrinsic value $$ $SPY $TLT Jan 29, 2014
  • Branson’s Butanol Heading to U.S. as Ethanol Substitute http://t.co/8JAturnMXg I’ve been waiting for this; this is big & good. $$ $SPY $XLE Jan 29, 2014
  • Ethanol Exporters Search for a Port http://t.co/h9oUb7aRne Key Problem: Industry’s Distribution Network, Built Around Domestic Market $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • Apple’s $160B Mystery http://t.co/emZzU9mJ4d It is a mystery. What could you buy for $160B that would yield something like 10%? $AAPL $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • With a Shortage of STEM Graduates, Accenture Hopes to Grab Them Early http://t.co/lH3cam3h9U Clever idea by $ACN getting real thinkers $$ Jan 26, 2014

 

Financial Sector

 

  • Mortgage Volumes Hit Five Year Low http://t.co/IdgUULArJf Once policy accommodation ebbs, the housing mkt normalizes. 2 many houses $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Futures industry: A story of crisis and opportunity http://t.co/CGShQoC93M Interesting history of how the Chicago futures exchanges grew $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Sudden Swings in HSBC, Diageo Spur Trading Error Concern http://t.co/1Krn50FkYx “Fat fingers” can be a problem in computerized markets $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • Wall Street Attracts Chop Shops 20 Years After ‘Wolf’ http://t.co/qkYgenUF49 This isn’t as large as it used 2b. Now more fraud online $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • Companies Shift Strategies as Pension Funding Improves http://t.co/MhGhBFABc6 Smart to immunize pension liabilities when fully funded $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • Friday Was a 90/90 Day and What It Means http://t.co/lhm2LQeWN0 @Ritholtz tells us there has been a sea change & this is a correction $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • Delinquent Debt Seized by Lehman Alum Seeing Recovery http://t.co/SsbGLA5Lh2 Hedgefund doesn’t own homes, but owns debt interest on homes $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • The Hidden Risks of Bank Loan Funds http://t.co/AEe7kicHul A good piece by the estimable @davidschawel . U might need 2play defense $$ $BKLN Jan 29, 2014
  • How the Safe Havens Stack Up http://t.co/csOSokPPWR For now nothing beats long US Treasury bonds FD: Long $TLT Jan 29, 2014
  • SEC Accuses Legg Mason of Some Accidental Fraud http://t.co/5Gl2I0B0S9 Given the complexity of law, much fraud is boring $$ $LM $SPY $MDY Jan 29, 2014
  • Puzzle for CFOs: Fixed or Floating-Rate Debt? http://t.co/vWxLEq6k8d Here’s the easy answer, do half fixed & half floating. Easy. $$ $BKLN Jan 29, 2014
  • Mary Jo White Wants SEC to ‘Rethink’ Corporate Disclosures http://t.co/VFLKGGnTfM Overthinking it; many people don’t read risk factors $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • BlackRock’s Fink Warns of ‘Too Much Optimism’ in Markets http://t.co/lkZYCY32HQ Fink is on target, vs the wishful thinking of bureaucrats $$ Jan 26, 2014
  • Former Phone Psychic Fit Right in as a Quant Trader http://t.co/Eq8iyYE2Tv Very weird. Making money by selling illusions can b profitable $$ Jan 26, 2014
  • Gold Mint Runs Overtime in Race to Meet World Coin Demand http://t.co/R7tjxZfTU3 Notable demand 4 physical gold amid falling prices $$ $GLD Jan 25, 2014
  • Is Momentum on Your Side? http://t.co/x0Z3r64Lix This strategy works well, if u can handle the volatility. 2007-2008 flameout. $$ $SPY $MDY Jan 25, 2014
  • How to Fine-Tune Your 401(k) Account http://t.co/0Q6N5NG0JP Worth a read if u have a 401(k). Consolidate, review allocations & savings % $$ Jan 25, 2014
  • That last article is one reason interest rates should remain LOW. Retiring baby boomers turning assets into streams of income. $$ $TLT $TBT Jan 25, 2014
  • Two Words: Private Equity http://t.co/E485SlKnn1 Private equity is still a risk asset, and goes through booms & busts, stick w/quality $$ Jan 25, 2014

 

US Politics & Policy

 

  • Christie Knew About Lane Closings on Bridge, Ex-Ally Says http://t.co/2YLuAOewGb If true, Chris Christie is toast, in the US & New Jersey $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Meanwhile, Back in America… http://t.co/J8LsjPtWNw It feels more like grief, Like the loss of something you never thought you’d lose $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • The Republican Presidential Contender Everyone’s Overlooking http://t.co/FVMViawn5b I find John Kasich 2b unlikely, but so are the others $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • Only the Foolish Pay the 45% Estate Tax http://t.co/bnMuQp6P55 @ritholtz tells truth on estate tax, rewards accntnts, lawyers, actuaries $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • Minimum Wage Laws Kill Jobs http://t.co/Rfc8Ef174z Sad but true. From first principles this should be obvious 2 all $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • The Unspoken Reason Obama Can’t Raise the Minimum Wage http://t.co/WlqxZtBxK3 Public opinion does not think poverty is important $$ $SPY Jan 29, 2014
  • No Babies, No Stimulus http://t.co/4995BoqbER @asymmetricinfo says it well; if your population gets older, policy should be more austere $$ Jan 26, 2014
  • How the U.S. Helped Win World War I http://t.co/X4nLdNHZcj Intensified our bad habit of meddling in conflicts that are not ours $$ Jan 25, 2014

Rest of the World

 

  • For Europe’s Youth, Minimum Wages Mean Minimal Employment http://t.co/T9ZfsM8oGu Youth unemployment is higher in nations w/minimum wages $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • El Nino May Return as Models Signal Warming of Pacific Ocean http://t.co/YAbrSpm3Tx El Nino – the adult version of the boogeyman $$ $SPY Jan 29, 2014
  • Snowden Nominated by Norway Lawmakers for Nobel Peace Prize http://t.co/PShW1dmpv9 Well deserved. He ruined his life 4 the good of all $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • Slop-Bucket Reality for Aboriginals Missing Canada Boom http://t.co/pNftiUwjsZ Tribal cultures tend to fail in a capitalistic world $$ $SPY Jan 29, 2014
  • Japan Beyond Tokyo Luring BlackRock With Overseas Money http://t.co/r2YOyDyvMw Abenomics will fail, & Japan will b the first casualty $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • South Sudan Military Says Rebels Breach Cease-fire http://t.co/1YYa7rLVi7 After separating from the North, tribal animosities dominate $$ Jan 25, 2014

 

Other

 

  • Food Festival Pageants Open Up Competitions to Attract Candidates http://t.co/8Zcv61Znor Offering larger scholarships to food ambassadors $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Why National Football League players go from rich to broke http://t.co/oIsMpnxgis Injuries shorten careers & fancy living depletes the $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Super Bowl Prostitution Digitally Mapped by Data Trackers http://t.co/ivD5pKBVBM Wonder how many female slaves they can help to free? $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • The Employee of the Month Has a Battery http://t.co/zrmb0TgqS1 Minimum wage hikes r accelerating trend toward automation & fewer workers $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • Bitcoin Figure Is Accused of Conspiring to Launder Money http://t.co/MuFqZLMABH Governments care if u r trading w/evil people $$ $TLT $SPY Jan 29, 2014
  • Infertility, Diabetes, Obesity and the Mystery of PCOS http://t.co/tylcTdjKET Messy. Overweight & Diabetes correlated with infertility $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • How You Might Be Tracked for Ads in a Post-Cookie World http://t.co/cYhBKa5oS7 Worth a read. After all, you want to protect your privacy $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • Frigid Super Bowl Recalls Ref in Wet Suit With Few Penalties http://t.co/k9EeVc1WI3 When u r struggling 2 survive, few penalties issued $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • Burning Question: Does Rinsing Fruit Make a Difference? http://t.co/Xr4lNk8lCq If organic, YES! If not organic, yes. $$ #microorganisms Jan 29, 2014
  • 4 things to know about Warren Buffett adviser http://t.co/jRlt81kULk Tracy Britt Cool is slow beginning of more centralized operations $$ Jan 28, 2014
  • Pregnant Texas Woman, Marlise Muñoz, Removed From Life Support http://t.co/esBxk1xLdz Many people would have adopted the child $$ Jan 27, 2014
  • Maryland Shopping Mall Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, Police Say http://t.co/FGcrU7q3sn Biggest Mall near me. I’ve shopped at the Sears there $$ Jan 25, 2014

 

Wrong

  • Wrong: China PMI Ascends as Global Barometer With Market Sway http://t.co/gSD8QQewZy Should examine China’s financial system soundness $$ Feb 01, 2014
  • Dumb: Obama Announces New Retirement Accounts http://t.co/E20AA2F3vX Providing investment options 2 those who don’t invest is a waste $$ Jan 30, 2014
  • Weak arg: Congress Has Never Allowed Unemployment Insurance Extensions 2Expire With Long-Term Unemployment So High http://t.co/2IVPLXTDKr $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • Wrong: Obama Offering Retirement-Savings Plan for Workers http://t.co/jpOEBTeT66 Getting poor people 2 invest in Treasuries is criminal $$ Jan 29, 2014
  • Wrong: Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles http://t.co/ys4I4iOFWy That is not her inclination; she will inflate bubbles $$ $SPY Jan 29, 2014
  • Wrong: Senator Schumer pushes plan to undercut tea party http://t.co/cpN3PQKBid Far better to end gerrymandering http://t.co/uQx2ZdtSlF $$ Jan 27, 2014
  • Wrong: What’s Behind the Emerging-Market Meltdown http://t.co/FoG5yOAUpW Kooky Keynesian prescriptions: ruin long-run 2 help short-run $$ Jan 26, 2014

 

Comments, Replies & Retweets

  • Reading: Whatever happened to the feature which allowed us to customize news sources for stock portfolios? http://t.co/8sdnIF0FeS $$ $YHOO Feb 01, 2014
  • Whatever happened to the feature which allowed us to customize news sources for stock portfolios? http://t.co/vnmO5Hlhnt #YahooAnswers $$ Jan 31, 2014
  • Commented on StockTwits: Clever, thanks. http://t.co/YweRBtoTe8 Jan 29, 2014
  • RT @Pawelmorski: Financial media basically rubbish at covering EM. Jan 29, 2014
  • Commented on StockTwits: The word was “tend” not “must” http://t.co/r11cBZsTRp Jan 29, 2014
  • @TTownsend4969 Blessed are you, Tina Townsend. May you always be grateful for the work that Jesus has done in you. Jan 29, 2014
  • RT @M_C_Klein: .@mark_dow on EM: “Don’t try and fight the old school and their anachronistic biases. They are bigger than you are.” http://… Jan 28, 2014
  • @pdacosta @bySamRo Grateful I exited my closed-end EM funds in November prior to the first taper. Michael Pettis’ volatility machine runs $$ Jan 26, 2014
  • RT @StephenKing: Memo to Justin Bieber: For the young celeb, life is a banquet of free food. What they don’t tell you is that you are often… Jan 26, 2014

 

Rest of the World

 

  • Risks of Capital Account Liberalization in China http://t.co/WkuOTqJsid Need stable macro policy, sound banking, & developed finl mkts $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • Putin Overwhelms Obama at the Sulky Summit http://t.co/5Hh3ShOjkp Putin is in a stronger position, b/c blocking is easier than attacking $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • China Beats US for Korean Students Seeing Career Ticket http://t.co/k2OK4qbWW3 English is common; learning Mandarin adds 2 skills $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • China and its Financial System: What Could Go Wrong? http://t.co/FBWAcwC792 Carl Walter explains it all in this well-written article $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • No Swift China Breakthrough Seen by Mao-to-Xi Scholar of Economy http://t.co/nwrmjWwpnF “You sow dragons’ teeth, but you harvest fleas.” $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Rich Norwegians Turn Down Labor Party as Welfare Loses Its Allure http://t.co/mpdTvgL3mu Fiscal policy about 2 get aggressive in Norway $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Pension Stealth Rule Clears Path to Buy 60 Stocks: Korea http://t.co/ok3yTplmzy Natl Pension Svc receives approval to hold >10% of 60 cos $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Banks Employing ‘Princelings’ Played Roles in Big Hong Kong IPOs http://t.co/jLPUCmKy7M Difficult to stop cos from hiring connected ppl $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Europe’s Workers Flock to Norway for Better-Paying Jobs http://t.co/FsrMAaVHYJ Migration of under- & un-employed 2 stronger economies $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • The economics of China’s one-child policy http://t.co/tsSiRgnUdH Number of workers in China is already shrinking, aged are growing fast $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • The EU budget is a disaster that cannot save Greece http://t.co/6u6n2HArPB You can get money 4 capital projects, but not relief $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Rajan Brings Stature to RBI Hamstrung by India’s Deficits http://t.co/dotiRrfaS4 Monetary policy forced to undertake impossible goals $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • The one map that shows why Syria is so complicated http://t.co/ElpNdB54pM Nations r hard 2 govern when they r collections of diff tribes $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Fire and Water: China’s Looming Coal Problem http://t.co/LisCi2ocIJ China is short on water & long on coal. But u need water 2 get coal $$ Sep 02, 2013
  • Norway Oil Riches Up for Grabs as Anti-Tax Group Set to Win http://t.co/TlvF1ZcQ5K Politicians discover Sovereign Wealth Fund Cookie Jar $$ Sep 02, 2013
  • Plunging Currencies Plague Asian Companies http://t.co/qLhM89yUtZ Decoupling? The volatility machine of Fed policy smashes decoupling! $$ Sep 02, 2013
  • Today’s Alarming Japan-China Charts – James Fallows http://t.co/k8pLOfMZVd This should not be a surprise, they irritate each other often $$ Aug 31, 2013 *

US Politics & Policy

 

  • Push Intensifies for House Backing on Strikes http://t.co/bxnmgS9kRj House Emerges as Formidable Barrier for Attacks on Syria $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • Summers Faces Key ‘No’ Votes if Picked for Fed http://t.co/TGmWutqb8C Will be an interesting vote; how many Reps would support Summers? $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • Noonan: Why America Is Saying ‘No’ http://t.co/6esab4sOt4 We get that prior interventions haven’t helped, & we don’t have interests there $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • NSA Code Cracking Puts Google, Yahoo Security Under Fire http://t.co/2XNaPYKSi6 Foreign govts will cease to trust US internet companies $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Congressional Vote Count on Syria http://t.co/y8DrdvFEjc Congress may not vote for military action. Graphic: http://t.co/czjHlMzT4Z $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, the New Dissidents? http://t.co/pvy4J0lM4X US govt has too many secrets, collects data it should not $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Abortion Clinics Close at Record Pace After States Tighten Rules http://t.co/Xw7rlQyyQu Many would like 2 adopt babies that r not wanted $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Health Savings Accounts as Antidote to Obamacare http://t.co/BfoHItREQi HSAs r closer to a first party payer model & reduces costs $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Why Wall Street Wants Larry Summers (and Why the Rest of Us Should Not) http://t.co/fgkERCxJHV We lose either way; Yellen is no prize $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Budget cuts laying off scientists http://t.co/OLSk4V7t7J Scientist shouldn’t b given special status, their labor doesn’t always work out $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Across U.S., bridges crumble as repair funds fall short http://t.co/iEZdmTdLAE Deferred Maintenance takes its toll on bridges $$ #sadbuttrue Sep 05, 2013
  • Bloomberg United States Financial Conditions Index Chart – BFCIUS http://t.co/bf6Df4mCNA Lending markets r calm, even complacent $$ #uhoh Sep 05, 2013
  • The White House walk-and-talk that changed Obama’s mind on Syria http://t.co/q47QbKgLe3 Syria is not our responsibility; let others fight $$ Sep 03, 2013
  • Wall Street Knows a Bad Trade When it Sees One http://t.co/WrqYD97yrV Cold. Calculated. Politically savvy. @reformedbroker nails it $$ Sep 03, 2013
  • Judge Rules in Case of Fortune Tied to Buffett http://t.co/Vzfu6CUaRr Fascinating, tangled tale of the invasion of endowment funds $$ $BRK.B Sep 02, 2013
  • Have to give Obama some praise. War is such a serious thing that it should run through Congress, to get the wide assent of the people. $$ Sep 01, 2013

 

Market Impact

 

  • In a cold market, typically some of the best IPOs get done. They have economic purpose when capital is skittish. $$ http://t.co/vUZYJ6PifB Sep 06, 2013
  • Don’t cry for “the little guy on Wall Street” http://t.co/yxshyVk1ZI @felixsalmon argues that added liquidity benefits small investors $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Dealers in Debt Pare Commitments Raising Risk as Rules Bite http://t.co/rDNO5bjGb9 Given new regulations, using capital 2hold bonds loses $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Buybacks to Dividends at Risk With Record-Low Yields Ending http://t.co/FmgW7Enddq If due to rises in real rates, yes. Inflation, no $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Have ‘Alternative’ Investments Lost Their Diversification Value? http://t.co/bqviG1zz6o When buyer base gets broad, correlations increase $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Money Fund Lehman Moment Lurks as New Protections Stall http://t.co/nYWXGT237C Better to eliminate units upon defaults & keep stable NAV $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Mortgage Rate Flip-Flop: Jumbo Loans Now Cheaper http://t.co/X5lsOnm1eU Low mtge loan demand & fedfunds may allow this 2 persist 4 awhile $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Mad Men or Wise Men? Investors Today vs the 1960s http://t.co/t4mgitnOTZ We turn over portfolios 10x faster, but business is not faster $$ Sep 03, 2013
  • The Number One Threat to the Market http://t.co/sIlbEa3T1s @reformedbroker argues that a quick bond market meltdown is the worst scenario $$ Sep 03, 2013

 

US Economics & Monetary Policy

 

  • Economy recovers, income doesn’t http://t.co/TdJovea4GZ More of the total earnings stream flows through profits, median doesn’t have that $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • QE3 is ineffective in growing credit in the US http://t.co/EfbCDHpEdW Banks r content to not take much risk 4 now $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • America’s ‘Baby Bust’ Starts to Ease http://t.co/s2NNshIR6t When total fertility rates decline, it is almost impossible 2 get them 2 rise $$ Sep 05, 2013
  • Money For Nothing:Inside the Federal Reserve- Coming to a theater near you! Check out the trailer: http://t.co/Mi1umflvO6 @FedDocumentary $$ Sep 04, 2013
  • Starbucks Pastor-to-Be Shows Shift in US Part-Time Job Market http://t.co/RSAVmIYcM3 Part-time work fits the lives of childless students $$ Sep 02, 2013
  • Investors Are Doing Better Than Workers http://t.co/48jh3R8nxl Wages stagnant, stocks rising from buybacks, dividends, little new capex $$ Aug 31, 2013

 

Companies & Industries

 

  • Gorman Says Chance of Another Financial Crisis ‘Close to Zero’ http://t.co/BZlTXxjfQX Revisit when the Fed starts tightening; 2 early now $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • Batista’s $1B Put Propels OGX to Record Gain http://t.co/iEYE6XOAqf Avoid: novel financing, currency mismatches, forced recapitalizations $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • Tankers Worst Since 1997 on Africa Oil Slowdown to China http://t.co/z0t63Q5CWl Chinese economy slowing down, reveals tanker glut $$ Sep 05, 2013

 

Other

 

  • NASA Set to Launch Moon Probe http://t.co/BPAF7X5OlU I have neighbors going to the local high spot 2c if they can see the rocket ascend $$ Sep 07, 2013
  • The rocket blasts off from NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia near Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Sep 07, 2013
  • Your Phone Is Deadlier Than Pacific Sushi http://t.co/sqNFG9r55d Interesting argument about radiation levels, but watch the mercury $$ Sep 06, 2013
  • President Tyler’s Grandson on Being Alive http://t.co/X3AX9vchEn Long generations 63 & 75 yrs, he’s ~84. 1790 + 63 + 75 + 84 = 2012 $$ Aug 31, 2013
  • The Rubber-Band Millionaire http://t.co/8uHOqQJPbB The pit in the stomach, staring @ a ton of rubber bands in garage, bot w/kids college $$ Aug 31, 2013

 

Retweets, Replies & Comments

  • Thanks @garyvee @DonnyGoines for being top new followers in my community this week 🙂 | insight by http://t.co/sern3wLA13 Sep 06, 2013
  • Thanks @moneyscience @japhychron for being top engaged members in my community this week 🙂 | insight by http://t.co/sern3wLA13 Sep 05, 2013
  • “There are many more AAA companies in the US, but they aren’t publicly traded; only 4 publiclytraded.” — David_Merkel http://t.co/mcv5KS3AsK Sep 03, 2013
  • Thanks @garyvee @OGMarcusC for being top new followers in my community this week 🙂 | insight by http://t.co/sern3wLA13 Sep 03, 2013
  • Thanks @GaelicTorus @The_Analyst for being top engaged members in my community this week 🙂 | insight by http://t.co/sern3wLA13 Sep 02, 2013
  • There is little proof that price inflation will drive real growth. The result could be stagflation which… http://t.co/wEehl1ryyZ Aug 31, 2013
  • @felixsalmon Fisk away, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit. Aug 31, 2013
  • RT @jake_f: Niederhoffer down 11% in July. Managed futures has been just brutal past three years. Time for an industry reboot. http://t.co/… Aug 31, 2013 *