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07-JULY 28-2023

Good morning.  High inflation over the past few years has led many companies to raise prices.  Some have avoided raising prices by simply reducing the quantity of a product sold for a given price.  When a company’s “new and improved” product for $4.99 goes from 16 ounces to 12 ounces, the term is shrinkflation.
However, some consumers are also shifting away from brands entirely.  They’re engaging in what the CEO of Coca-Cola (KO) calls a “switch to private label brands.”  It’s true that store brands tend to offer about the same product for a bit less.  This trend could weigh on even the strongest of brands – especially if the CEO of the world’s most recognized beverage brands has anything to say about it.
Traders and investors alike should watch for dropping profit margins at companies with strong brands and look to leave if there’s a significant danger there.

July 28, 2022

away from usGood morning.
After being told that inflation was transitory for a year, we’re now being told that negative GDP growth for two quarters in a row isn’t a recession.  In the meantime, the Fed continues to raise interest rates aggressively, with another rate hike yesterday.
This fast pace of rate increases only makes it more likely that we’ll avoid what the Fed calls a “soft landing” – where we somehow avoid a recession, or just have a mild one, while inflation dissipates from 40-year highs.
It’s clear that we still have some turbulence in store for the markets, and that the Fed isn’t ready to pivot quite yet.  Traders should continue to look for big daily swings in the market – with an eye towards buying long-term holdings on down days, and using rallies to buy shorter-term trades like put options to profit from the market’s likely continued downside.

Now here’s the rest of the news:

Is More Economic Destruction On The Way?
Federal Reserve policies attempting to promote economic and price stability are a major cause for the recent acceleration in the consumer prices’ rise.  According to popular thinking, the central bank is supposed to promote both steady economic… [Read Here]

Why The Housing Shortage Is Getting Worse
Rising interest rates and economic headwinds are making it harder for the U.S. to fill a severe shortage of affordable housing, and the problem is likely going to get worse.  The Federal Reserve has been working for months to stanch the… [Read Here]

July 28, 2021

Good morning.
Last week saw the stock market dive on rising Delta variants to Covid 19.  Yesterday saw a big drop, particularly for tech.  The reason?  A crackdown by China over a number of companies there.
These drops are usually healthy, as they help curb speculation and keep traders on their toes, either by quickly turning profits into losses, or by creating new trading opportunities at a better value.  This summer’s market is starting to look like the summers in the mid-1990s when tech stocks would correct going into the autumn, only to end the year higher.  In the meantime, the overall market will likely continue climbing the wall of fear.

Now here’s the rest of the news:

Elizabeth Warren Wants the IRS To Create Its Own Turbo Tax, What Could Go Wrong? –Liz Wolfe,Reason
An IRS-built system would likely be built to represent government interests, not to maximize your deduction or protect your information from meddlesome auditors. [Read Here]

July 28, 2020

Big-Fish...-Little-FishGood morning.
Have you ever seen the old tootsie roll pop commercial where the boy owl asks, “how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?”  The owl responds by saying, “good question’” taking the pop, takes three licks and then bites it.  The owl then responds to the boy by saying, “three.”
The issue with stimulus & deficits is that the money spent is generating less and less returns to the real economy and the stock market as exhibited by gold’s meteoric rise.  We keep adding more stimulus be-fore the original has a chance to do anything for fear of failure.  How much growth will the economy get from $1 trillion in deficits?  The world may never know.

Now here’s the rest of the news:

Capitalize On What Could Be a Major U.S. Lithium Breakthrough Piles of what 'looks like' salt
Lithium could soon be one of the world’s most coveted minerals.
Citigro up estimates lithium demand will increase 64% in the next five years, as batteries that fuel electric vehicles and store solar and natural-gas power become the norm.  Two famous energy explorers, who have built billion-dollar companies, have set up shop at a prop-erty in Nevada, which could soon be America’s largest lithium deposit.

July 28, 2019

What makes people ruin their lives?

by Jennifer Taylor, Lawyer / Personal Finance Writer

I believe that there are 3 main things that ruin people’s lives.  It does not happen instantly or during a single event, but slow and steady over time.

I. They Can’t Get Off the Consumption Treadmill

The “Keeping Up with the Joneses” idiom refers to when an individual constantly upgrades their life-style because they see their neighbours doing the same and do not want to be perceived as having an inferior socioeconomic status.  For example, you may buy a new Mercedes because you noticed your friend just bought a new BMW.  You upgrade your iPhone because your co-worker has the newest version.

This is dangerous for two reasons.

First and foremost, you will always lose.  New products are coming out every single second, with brilliant marketers selling you on why you need it in your life.

You will also start to develop the mindset that happiness can be obtained through the pursuit of bigger and better possessions.  This is a recipe for disaster.  It also shows to your colleagues, friends, and family that you value style over substance.

Second, this is a sure-fire way to never accumulate wealth.  In order to generate true wealth, you have to live within your means.

I live a frugal lifestyle.  I only purchase indulgences that truly optimize my happiness.  I still eat sushi, get drinks with friends and buy coffee at Starbucks.  However, these are all done within moderation are ultimately constrained by my budget.  Since I do not engage in these activities every single day, it actually optimizes the pleasure I receive from these indulgences when I do have them.

We need to be more mindful about what we consume.

II. They Lack Discipline

You need habits.

You need routine.

You need values.

Without either one of these things, you will be directionless and unproductive.

I would not be able to write 20 hours every week while working as a full-time lawyer without a rigid daily routine.

During Monday to Friday, I wake up at 5:30 AM, make coffee, sit down at my desk and write for an hour and a half.  I then shower, eat breakfast and get ready for work.  On my half an hour commute to and from work, I read either on my iPad or a physical book.  When I return home in the evening I write for at least another hour.  An hour before I sleep, I stop scrolling social media and leave my phone on my nightstand.  I then read, again, until I head to bed.  Rinse.  Repeat.

The hours that have been given are enough to accomplish our wildest goals.  We just don’t have the discipline to get anything done.

III. They Don’t Chase What Makes Them Truly Happy

I believe, more than anything, that you need to figure out two things: your interests and what you’re good at.  And then, how those two things intersect so you can profit off what you love.

This relates to my first point – stop looking for happiness in things that will end up in a landfill in 5-10 years.  Instead, spend that money on exploring what you enjoy and what you’re good at.

Instead of upgrading your cellphone, enroll in a writing course.

Instead of upgrading your house, travel somewhere new.

Instead of upgrading your car, buy those luxury craft materials that will take your handmade product to the next level.

It’s such a simple formula but one that few rarely follow.

Determine what makes you happy.

Determine how you can keep doing that for as long as possible.

Concentrate on what matters.  Stop allocating your time and money on the rest.

In summary, people ruin their lives because they lack focus, discipline and self-awareness.  Although these are interconnected, I view them each as very distinct.

You need to focus on things that only align with your values, ambitions and aspirations.  You need the discipline to put in the actual work to achieve the goals that you defined.  And, most importantly, you need the self-awareness to know what actually makes you happy.

Thanks Jennifer, as you teach, we will listen.  🙂

Come From Aways, Do You?

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