Friday, December 03, 2021

Food with purpose

Many times I've driven past the military vehicle and large sign in front of Mission BBQ with curiosity, but never enough to actually go in and check it out.  Today I did so; and I'll be back.  

My dining companion explained that the franchise began out of efforts from two military veterans who'd served together in the Middle East.  He went on to explain that at noon -- which was moments away -- we'd likely see the place stop normal activities to observe the national anthem.  It happened at noon sharp and it was great.

My whole experience began by walking into a pleasantly rustic environment with loads of military and patriotic memorabilia all punctuated by a wonderful smoky aroma from the BBQ.  This is an organization that gives back and is quite serious about its mission.  However, the whole thing would collapse if the food fell short of the brand and purpose but it doesn't--some of the best BBQ I've had and each table is equipped with six -- yes count them -- six different BBQ sauces.  What more could I want?

Mission BBQ public website

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Price Is Primary - a new book from Jonathan Hoenig

There's nothing conventional about investment manager, author and media personality, Jonathan Hoenig.  Even the name of his hedge fund Capitalistpig, defies comparison.  

Years ago, I recruited Jonathan Hoenig to speak at financial industry events and then I began to notice his frequent TV appearances on Fox business programs.

Characteristically, in his new book with Stuart HayashiPrice Is Primary: how to profit with any asset in any market at any time Mr. Hoenig challenges several fundamental principles that some retail investors hold as immutable, even if professional traders do not.  

Consider dollar cost averaging; Hoenig argues instead that an initial purchase of a security should be your largest one, then on the basis of rigorous observation and disciplined use of rules, one should quickly pare losses or "let the winners run."  Rebalance your portfolio?  No, not a strategy he embraces.

Similar to some of his prior published work, Mr. Hoenig fuses elements of Objectivist philosophy and history to the art of investment management in some imaginative ways that may animate traders and non-traders alike.  The book is easy to read and worth a look.


Friday, September 03, 2021

A fiscal adult on the 'other' side of the aisle

One wouldn't expect to find a lot of bipartisanship concerning the federal $3.5 trillion spending bill -- and there isn't much to be found -- but courage and reason came shining through in this piece by Senator Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia. 

(Source: Wall Street Journal). 

Why I Won’t Support Spending Another $3.5 Trillion

The nation faces an unprecedented array of challenges and will inevitably encounter additional crises in the future. Yet some in Congress have a strange belief there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis, and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future. I disagree.

An overheating economy has imposed a costly “inflation tax” on every middle- and working-class American. At $28.7 trillion and growing, the nation’s debt has reached record levels. Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises. Ignoring the fiscal consequences of our policy choices will create a disastrous future for the next generation of Americans.

Those who believe such concerns are overstated should ask themselves: What do we do if the pandemic gets worse under the next viral mutation? What do we do if there is a financial crisis like the one that led to the Great Recession? What if we face a terrorist attack or major international conflict? How will America respond to such crises if we needlessly spend trillions of dollars today?


Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation. A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not. While some have suggested this reconciliation legislation must be passed now, I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions. I have always said if I can’t explain it, I can’t vote for it, and I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion.

Another reason to pause: We must allow for a complete reporting and analysis of the implications a multitrillion-dollar bill will have for this generation and the next. Such a strategic pause will allow every member of Congress to use the transparent committee process to debate: What should we fund, and what can we simply not afford?

I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs. This is even more important now as the Social Security and Medicare Trustees have sounded the alarm that these life-saving programs will be insolvent and benefits could start to be reduced as soon as 2026 for Medicare and 2033, a year earlier than previously projected, for Social Security.

Establishing an artificial $3.5 trillion spending number and then reverse-engineering the partisan social priorities that should be funded isn’t how you make good policy. Undoubtedly some will argue that bold social-policy action must be taken now. While I share the belief that we should help those who need it the most, we must also be honest about the present economic reality.

Inflation continues to rise and is bleeding the value of Americans’ wages and income. More than 10.1 million jobs remain open. Our economy, as the Biden administration has correctly pointed out, has reached record levels of quarterly growth. This positive economic reality makes clear that the purpose of the proposed $3.5 trillion in new spending isn’t to solve urgent problems, but to re-envision America’s social policies. While my fellow Democrats will disagree, I believe that spending trillions more dollars not only ignores present economic reality, but makes it certain that America will be fiscally weakened when it faces a future recession or national emergency.

In 2017, my Republican friends used the privileged legislative procedure of budget reconciliation to rush through a partisan tax bill that added more than $1 trillion to the national debt and put investors ahead of workers. Then, Democrats rightfully criticized this budgetary tactic. Now, my Democratic friends want to use this same budgetary tactic to push through sweeping legislation to make “historic investments.” Respectfully, it was wrong when the Republicans did it, and it is wrong now. If we want to invest in America, a goal I support, then let’s take the time to get it right and determine what is absolutely necessary.

Many in Washington have convinced themselves we can add trillions of dollars more to our nearly $29 trillion national debt with no repercussions. Regardless of political party, elected leaders are sent to Washington to make tough decisions and not simply go along to get along.

For those who will dismiss my unwillingness to support a $3.5 trillion bill as political posturing, I hope they heed the powerful words of Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who called debt the biggest threat to national security. His comments echoed the fear and concern I’ve heard from many economic experts I’ve personally met with.

At a time of intense political and policy divisions, it would serve us well to remember that members of Congress swear allegiance to this nation and fidelity to its Constitution, not to a political party. By placing a strategic pause on this budgetary proposal, by significantly reducing the size of any possible reconciliation bill to only what America can afford and needs to spend, we can and will build a better and stronger nation for all our families.

Monday, August 09, 2021

More news you can use....

from Nicole Nguyen.  Check out this article about consumer reviews on Amazon. 

I love the way that online commerce has democratized consumerism through usage of online reviews -- positive ones, negative ones and those that are simply informational.  

(Unfortunately, fake reviews and paid reviews continue to be a problem and Ms. Nguyen writes about that issue here).  

Computer vector created by pikisuperstar -

Since the impact of negative reviews on sales is well understood; some merchants will essentially bribe the author of a negative review to delete their review, or harangue them with multiple e-mails.  

Fortunately, Amazon product reviews can be submitted anonymously to avoid unwanted merchant contact.  The article behind this post, provides the steps to take. 

Thursday, August 05, 2021

News you can use -- today's WSJ -- Tech section

 Columnist Ms. Nicole Nguyen shares an easy way to digitize your vaccination cards -- instead of a photo copy that might be harder to find.  Check out this article.  You'll find instructions for both iPhones and Android phones. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Calling the market peak -- REVISITED


Based upon feedback I received from one of my valued seven readers, what follows is a refinement of the views expressed in the previous post about market timing.  

Recall we're talking about predicting the direction of the equity market as a whole, or a large swath of it like the S&P 500 --- not individual stocks.

I didn't mean to imply that one cannot utilize deep experience and technical analysis to correctly predict a stock market peak (or trough) some of the time.  

There's an old saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day.  

However, who's consistently made these bold calls with enough accuracy to "beat" the market?  If you accept the proposition that the answer to that last question is nobody -- why would one ever wager more than they could afford to lose by trying?  

Vector created by pikisuperstar -

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Think you can call the market peak? Think again.

I know most of my limitations.  I learned a while ago, for example, that I'm not a stock picker.  I also learned that trying to predict the stock market's trajectory is an often futile and dangerous exercise.  

One financial adviser whom I've known for decades addressed the oft-asked question -- When-will-the-stock-market-crash? -- in his recent client newsletter.  A Minneapolis-based adviser with Focus Financial he wrote...   

"The chances of individuals guessing when the stock market is going to crash is approximately the same as my guessing when the sun is going to explode.  Since I can't reasonably hazard a guess, I prefer to go about my day without worrying about the sun exploding."

Animals vector by -

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The people and story behind the Biltmore Estate

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan 

Still the largest private residence ever constructed in the U.S. at 175,000 square feet; Biltmore Estate continues to hold public imagination.  I'd always thought mistakenly, that Biltmore was built at the behest of the family patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt (aka "The Commodore").  

In fact it was his grandson, George W. Vanderbilt, who acquired some 125,000 acres in North Carolina's western countryside among the Blue Ridge mountains, upon which the mansion was constructed. 

One alert, as other reviewers noted, this book has less detail concerning the construction process, materials, architectural features and maintenance requirements of the structure, than one might've expected from the title.  

A fuller indication of Ms. Kiernan's narrative focus is revealed by her subtitle, "The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home".  

For some stunning modern day visuals of the Biltmore estate (now part of a mere 8,000 acres at Ashville, NC); have a look at the Biltmore Company website found ­čáŐhere.