God is a Capitalist

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Trump channels Hoover’s economic strategies

President Trump has saved dozens of US jobs from moving to other countries, mostly Mexico, by employing the shock and awe of a personal phone call to CEOs. Had he made the same visits before he became president he likely would have failed. And let’s not discuss the numbers of jobs his policies will cost the US that go unreported.

Another Republican president used a similar style to “encourage” business to comply – Herbert Hoover. Before he scaled the political mountain to the presidency, Hoover had become famous as an organizer of humanitarian efforts. He led 500 volunteers in distributing food, clothing, steamship tickets and cash to Americans in Europe to help them get home after war broke out in Europe in 1914. Later he worked to feed starving Belgians. The Belgian city of Leuven named a prominent square after him – Hooverplein.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Couch potato investing: better that betting on a horse race

In Financial Bull Riding I wrote that annual percentage returns is the wrong measure of investment performance. The better metric is absolute dollar return. Naive investors, and most financial journalists, assume the two will produce the same results, but they don't. 

Josh Peters, Director of Equity Income Strategy for Morningstar and the author of The Ultimate Dividend Playbook, calls chasing percentage returns a horse race
Almost all of Wall Street is geared around this idea of a horserace. That it’s all about trying to beat your benchmark, beat the S&P 500 — to do it every quarter regardless of whether that quarter is up or down. That’s not what most people are looking to do. That’s only how money managers evaluate each other, maybe. But that’s not necessarily what’s going to serve the actual financial requirements or financial needs of people who are out there. The biggest demand out there is for income and it’s not just because interest rates are low, it’s because baby-boomers are retiring and most of them don’t have those defined benefit pension plans to count on.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Interest rates have fallen and can’t get up!

Some of us suffer from Fed head: we have allowed anger at the Fed to infect our brains to the point that we blame it for everything from flat tires to broken bed springs. George Selgin, an Austrian friendly economist at the Cato Institute, says take two aspirin and read his blog in the morning:
The view that the Fed might have raised interest rates long ago, had it only wanted to, became notorious during the presidential campaign, when Donald Trump publicly accused Janet Yellen’s Fed of keeping rates low for political reasons. But Trump was merely embroidering a belief common among many (mostly conservative) Fed critics...
The unvarnished truth, I hope to persuade you, is that interest rates have been low since the last months of 2008, not because the Fed has deliberately kept them so, but in large part owing to its misguided attempt, back in 2008, to keep them from falling in the first place.