Tag Archives: finances

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Congrats! You have a day off! What should you do?


Well, there’s a lot of options, if you go through this list: What to Do With a Day Off – The New York Times. My take is you can either tackle those things you have been putting off (hello! Finances!) or you can literally vacate your normal life and take it easy. Either is good. Better yet: consider being productive this time off and extra lazy the next time.

Enjoy your day. You deserve it.

Fifteen good links to help you manage your personal finances better


Lots of good stuff here, from how to save money on food, your kids, your transportation….and much more. From the New York Times, Vox, the Cut, and quite a few from a good site for this information called The Simple Dollar.

  1. When and How to Stop Paying Your Kids’ Bills – The Simple Dollar
  2. 13 smart ways to improve your finances in 2017 – Vox
  3. A Household Budget Strategy for People Who Hate Budgeting | Apartment Therapy
  4. 11 Lifestyle Changes That Will Help You Save Money & Depend Less On Consumerism
  5. What to Do When You’re Bad at Money – The New York Times
  6. How to Save Money But Still Have a Life
  7. What I Learned From Tracking My Spending for a Month – The New York Times
  8. 33 Productive Things to Do Without Spending Money | Apartment Therapy
  9. 5 Money-Saving Lessons I Learned in a Month of Budgeting – Bon Appétit
  10. The First Step Out of Debt – The Simple Dollar
  11. 10 Things You Should Never Pay For – The Simple Dollar
  12. Nine Frugal Strategies for Tackling the Winter Blues – The Simple Dollar
  13. Finding Meaning Within Your Job – Even If You Don’t Like It – The Simple Dollar
  14. Five Monthly Bills You Could Live Without – The Simple Dollar
  15. Five Things You Could Afford If You Didn’t Buy a New Car – The Simple Dollar

Why Bankers Want Rate Hikes

It looks like the Fed in the US is going to raise rates. It is highly arguable whether it is a good idea. For a long time, it was a bad idea. Despite that, commercial banks recently have been arguing for the Fed to raise rates.  Now whatever reasons they have been given, the true and underlying reason is mentioned here:  Why Bankers Want Rate Hikes – The New York Times.

It is more difficult for banks to make money with lower rates. Higher rates make it easier for them to make money. Hence the push by some of them to raise the rates.

Banks aren’t stupid: they don’t want the economy to tank: they don’t make money that way either. But the sooner rates rise, the easier it is for them. Here’s hoping the US Fed continues to be smart enough to resist the pressure and do the right thing for the American economy.

 

Is Mark Zuckerberg’s $45 Billion Facebook donation good or not? Best to consider the alternative

In analysing the donation, Forbes (in The Surprising Math In Mark Zuckerberg’s $45 Billion Facebook Donation) sums it up like this:

Mr. Zuckerberg’s pledge is incredibly generous. But it is also likely to involve some very savvy tax planning.

It’s true, the donation is incredibly generous. You can use all the superlatives you want, and it still amounts to something out of the ordinary. Is the donation financial savvy? Of course, but why shouldn’t it be? Either way, will it be spent well? Possibly, possibly not. For that, we will have to wait and see.

As I read people arguing against the donation, I thought about what the alternatives could be. One alternative is no donation at all. Plenty of very rich people donate only a small fraction of their money to good causes. Young billionaires aspiring to be large benefactors is something that should be encouraged, not discouraged. Another alternative is donations to political causes I disagree with. Quite a few billionaires do that. I prefer to see the billions directed otherwise.

As for people arguing for the donation, I wondered if they considered the alternative of the donation going to taxes or charities. Perhaps Zuckerberg will be very good with directing the money, better than the state or NGOs. I’d like to see a good portion go to them, though. Too little of the wealth of the 1% (or .01%) go to paying taxes that pay for a lot of things like social services and health care and the military and infrastructure. More money to pay for those things would be better. Likewise, well run charities are already up and running and could spend the money in efficient ways that a new organization cannot.

This donation is a positive thing, but you should still be able to think critically of it. Mark Zuckerberg is a smart guy and he’s maturing. Let’s hope he uses his good fortune to do good in the world.

 

Two quick reads on Greece: one good, one glib.

Here’s two views on Greece: one good, one glib.

I’m a fan of Michael Lewis, but this piece of his, Greece Saunters Across the Autobahn – Bloomberg View, is glib at best. It feels like he had to bang out a few hundred words on Greece or he had this Berkeley story he’s been itching to use and finally found a place.

It’s still worth reading, because he is a good writer and his thinking is likely what many people are reading. But don’t read it thinking you will get a better understanding of why Greece is in the state it is in.

After skimming that, read this: Europe’s Attack on Greek Democracy by Joseph E. Stiglitz – Project Syndicate

It sums up what I’ve been reading by people who are more aware of what is happening in Greece. You will come away shaking your head, as you should. For what is happening makes no sense from an economic viewpoint. But then, much of Europe has been making poor choices with their economies since the Great Recession started., mainly for ideological reasons.

 

 

 

The Performance of Many Hedge Funds Comes Down to Owning *ONE* company

The one company? Apple. How dependent are the hedge funds? According to Bloomberg Business:

A group of companies representing the most popular long positions for hedge funds is up just 0.2 percent in 2015, compared to a 2.3 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, data compiled by Goldman Sachs show. A 19 percent year-to-date increase for Apple, which is owned by one in every five hedge funds and is a top-10 position for 12 percent of them, has provided a needed boost, the firm said.

That’s a bad thing. A similar thing happened in Canada when fund managers held large holdings in companies like Nortel and RIM. It didn’t end well.

For more, see this: The Performance of Many Hedge Funds Just Comes Down to Owning Apple – Bloomberg Business.