Category Archives: money

Bitcoin 101 (with references to up and comer alternatives)

You’ve likely heard lots about bitcoin. You may have heard of some of the other alternatives, such as dogecoin. If you finally decided: “I should try and understand more about this”, I recommend this article in the Washington Post. There is lots changing with this technology, but this will give you a good grounding.

I think bitcoin is a highly speculative financial instrument and I’ll continue to think it is a very risky thing to participate in. Still, it looks like it is not going away, and so I think it’s time to share some of the better pieces on the topic.

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Neutron loans, or how the subprime disaster works

Over at bloomberg.com is a very simple explanation of how the subprime problem works it’s destructive effect:

Joe Ripplinger took out a $184,000 mortgage in 2006 and makes his payments every month. Now he owes $192,000. The 66-year-old Minneapolis house painter has a payment- option adjustable-rate mortgage. It allows him to write a check for $565 a month even though he owes $1,300. The difference is added to the mortgage, and when his total debt reaches $212,000, or after five years have passed, he said his monthly minimum could jump to about $2,800, which he can’t afford. “We’re barely making it right now,” Ripplinger said. The estimated 1 million homeowners with $500 billion of option ARMs are beyond the help of interest-rate cuts by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. While subprime borrowers face an average increase of 8 percent or less when their adjustable- rate mortgages reset, option ARM homeowners may see their monthly payments double after their adjustments kick in. “We call them neutron loans because they’re like a neutron bomb,” said Brock Davis, a broker with U.S. Express Mortgage Corp. in Las Vegas. “Three years later the house is still there and the people are gone.”

ARMs are fine for speculators who know what they are doing and can handle the risk. For people like Joe Ripplinger, they are anything but fine. And there are alot of people like him out there. See: Bloomberg.com: Exclusive

Avoiding the sub-prime mortgage disaster…for now

The whirlpool that is the sub-prime mortgage disaster in the U.S. continues to get bigger and suck more things into it. But not everyone.

At kottke.org, the excellent Jason Kottke has some good references to smart people who have managed to see the problem coming and avoid it (for now). For more details, see his entry: Yay! Today is sub-prime mortgage day on kottke.org, I guess. The… (kottke.org)

Also, check out the site n+1 — he referenced earlier — that has an interview with a Hedge Fund Manager that not only talks about this problem but problems in the world of high finance generally. An eye-opening interview.

Be afraid.

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More on cheap wine



If you want regular updates on value wine in Ontario, check out the excellent Billy’s Best (Value) Bottles. Always great advice. For example, one wine I forgot is the the Italian Merlot from Cesari: $6.20! A steal.

Bill Clinton was here

The washingtonpost.com has a cool map showing all the places in the world Bill Clinton has spoken. It’s impressive.
(Clinton’s Golden Voice | Bill Clinton’s Paid Speeches | washingtonpost.com)

If you read this article, Bill Clinton Made $10 Million From Speeches – washingtonpost.com you’ll see some impressive numbers, including:

For example, Clinton earned $750,000 from three speeches over three days in February in Australia and New Zealand and $1.74 million from six speeches over four days in September in England, Ireland, South Africa, Germany and Denmark. The latter total included $450,000 for a single speech in London on Sept. 26 at a gala dinner of the Fortune Forum, a nonprofit group that aids international charities.Clinton made 352 speeches last year, but only 57 of them were reported on today’s form as having generated personal income. The others were given for no fee or for donations to the William J. Clinton Foundation, a charity he founded to promote causes such as fighting HIV/AIDS and global warming.

Clinton has earned more than $40 million in speaking fees in the past six years, records show. After leaving office, he made more than $9 million a year in 2001 and 2002. His income from speeches dropped to $4.4 million in 2003, when he was writing his memoirs, and less than $1 million in 2004, when he had heart surgery, before picking up in 2005, when he pulled in $7.5 million.

352 speeches last year?! That’s almost one a day!