Category: Big Markets Small Markets


 “San Francisco has many charms, but it is not particularly salubrious. People regularly encountering used drug needles, human excrement and sidewalks full of homeless people when they arrive home late at night at their $4,000-a-month one-bedroom flat in San Francisco sometimes think they might just prefer it elsewhere.” The Economist cover story, “Peak Valley, Why startups are going elsewhere.”  

A median-priced home in the SF Bay Area, including the Silicon Valley, costs $940,000. Where can one find this mid-range beauty?

Scenic Milpitas? Bucolic Sunnyvale? Hip Hayward? Utopia in Union City?

HUD considers a family income of $120,000 in San Francisco to be “low income.” Six figures is “low income”?

The traffic in the Bay Area, let alone Los Angeles, is beyond mind-numbing.

If you like taxes, California is your redistribution nirvana: Income, sales, corporate, property, gas, tobacco, liquor, special assessments, fees, surtaxes, bridge tolls … If it tastes good, it’s taxed.

The Bay Area Council quantitatively revealed that 46 percent of regional respondents want to move elsewhere compared to one-in-three just two years ago.

And where do many consider moving? Portland, Eugene, Bend, Lake Oswego, Ashland … all in Oregon.

The desire of Californians to adopt and embrace Oregon’s superior quality of life at saner prices (e.g., zero sales tax) is not new. What is notable is the disappearance of the term, “Californicators” from the vocabulary of Oregonians.

Are Californicators going extinct?

What happened to this threatened species, which at one time was feared and loathed by Oregonians?

Driving Housing Prices; Compounding Traffic; Polluting Campgrounds

“I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.” – Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall

When the author of Almost DailyBrett first moved to Portland, Oregon in 1990, it was a good idea to remove the California plates from a vehicle as quickly (e.g., two nanoseconds) as possible.

As a former “Californicator,” your author was immediately responsible for all the sins that ailed Oregon. The state’s timber industry was heading in the wrong direction and the national recession hit Oregon hard.

Let’s face it, Oregonians exhibited a pronounced inferiority complex vis-à-vis California with its glorious weather, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Hollywood entertainers and yummy wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

What Oregonians didn’t seem to appreciate was that times were-a-changing. California was becoming more image than reality. The estimated 9 million more souls (about the size of Michigan), who were projected to move to the Golden State by 2010, actually established residence … and then some.

Californians started commuting longer distances as traffic intensified and as taxes and tempers rose. California is more than Los Gatos, Los Altos, San Francisco, Tiburon, Malibu and La Jolla. The state is also home to hopelessness in Central Valley foreclosure communities including Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

California used to be divided by north (e.g., San Francisco) vs. south (LaLaLand). Today, it is west (e.g., Palo Alto) vs. east (e.g., Visalia).

Doesn’t It Rain in Oregon?

Sure does and Oregonian loved exploiting the rain, dampness and gloom for their own purposes.

And then all the inferiority stopped cold, replaced by a smugness, even a sense that Oregon is superior to California.

Portland as evidenced by Portlandia became the place in which the Dream of the 90s survived.

JASON: “Remember when people were content to be unambitious? Sleep to eleven? Just hangout with their friends? You’d have no occupations whatsoever. Maybe you work a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop?”

MELANIE: “Right. I thought that died out a long time ago.”

JASON: “Not in Portland. Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

Oregon became synonymous with the Nike Swoosh. The Ducks played twice for the national title, and won their last two Rose Bowls with Marcus Mariota accepting the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley quickly became recognized as the home of some of the best Pinot Gris’ and Pinot Noirs in the world.

The state’s microbrews are literally second to none including: Widmer Hefeweizen (Portland), Deschutes Mirror Bond Pale Ale (Bend), Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Eugene), Full Sail Amber Ale (Hood River).

The state diversified away from timber to become a leader in high technology, cancer research, and a whole host of service oriented businesses.

The departure of the figurative Californicators from the local nomenclature is both a reflection of the decline of California, but more importantly the growing coolness of Oregon.

https://www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/former-governor-tom-mccall-message-visitors/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/09/01/silicon-valley-is-changing-and-its-lead-over-other-tech-hubs-narrowing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-death-of-californication/

https://genius.com/Carrie-brownstein-and-fred-armisen-dream-of-the-90s-lyrics

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

 

 

 

 

Almost DailyBrett has never dunked a basketball, and never will.

Not enough height, hops and hand-circumference.

Palm a basketball? Forget it.

There are many people for a wide variety of endeavors, who just can’t.

And many times they bravely try anyway.

Which leads your author to those, who won’t.

They have the talent. They have the knowledge. They have in many cases extraordinary opportunity …Some even won the biological lottery.

But … their attitude. Their stubbornness. Their lack of motivation. Their gaming of the system are all symptom of … won’t.

The Best Economy in 20 Years

“It’s the economy, stupid.” – Successful Political Campaign Consultant James Carville

The help wanted signs are everywhere.

According to the U.S. Depart of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent or about 0.4 percent above full employment.

We have a labor shortage — not for just jobs with wages — but positions with salaries, a full array of benefits and maybe equity opportunities.

Our service oriented economy is in full gear with GDP growing at 4 percent and inflation hovering around 2 percent.

And yet there are so many out there (particularly lame males of the species), who still pretend the economy is mired in the 2007-2010 “Big Short” crash-and-burn mode.

Jobs did not exist back then, not even tasks (e.g., fast food) that many men type believed then and contend now were/are below their pride.

Fast forward to the present day, and these men still act as if jobs/positions do not exist. According to the American Enterprise Institute, up to 32 percent of working age males (20-54 years young) are voluntarily not working.

As Almost DailyBrett has mentioned before, these hombres are typically sleeping in until 11 am or noon, playing video games/binge watching for an average of 5.5. hours per day (e.g., Fortnite, Dungeons and Dragons … ), before happy hour/evening intoxication.

Do you think that someone obsessed with video games/binge watching could quite possibly be adept at software coding for a major publicly traded technology company?

Sure … but …

Ten years ago when the nation was mired in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the national labor participation rate was 65 percent. Today during a boom, its 62.9 percent.

Yep, the economy went from depressing recession to robust economic expansion and the percent of Americans working went down … 2.1 percent or about 3.2 million workers.

Can you imagine the increased productivity and tax revenues if 3+ million workers entered the workforce en masse?

In-lieu of an increase or decrease in tax rates, what would be the impact be on the nation’s bottom line if all of these people were filing tax returns under existing rates each spring?

Instead of never-ending arguing about tax legislation wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on increasing the number of taxpayers?

Scared Of The Service Economy?

As America has matriculated from an agrarian-to-manufacturing-to-a-service-oriented economy brute strength, ignorance and testosterone has lost value. The upswing has been enjoyed by the fairer gender, albeit pay rates are not at parity.

As a result way too many hard-working women who can are supporting far too many sedentary men who won’t.

What would happen if these women realized they would be better off without these parasitical men?

What if they threatened to drop the hydrogen bomb and declare to their young retirees: “you can and you must” learn to add value to the service economy.

Yes, there are some who can’t … but not all of the record 9 million souls on disability. Is there really nothing some of these recipients can do to participate in society to make a difference? Are all of them just waiting for that day when they can’t operate the remote or video game controller?

In some cases for idle men, it’s just plain old arrogance. They appear to be rising out of their respective chairs to go out and find a job, but for some reason … that dog just won’t hunt.

These men can, but they won’t. There is always an excuse.

“I have to sign a document.” “I have to urinate in a cup.” “I have to …

How do you spell the word, F-R-A-U-D?

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/labor-force-participation-rate

 

Oregon’s Mary Jane dispensaries are seemingly ubiquitous … They’re everywhere too.

Almost DailyBrett frequently wonders out loud how even über-liberal Eugene can support its preponderance of yoga studios and tattoo parlors.

Keep in mind that yoga mats and ink tats have nothing on Mary Jane.

What happens when a popular product, which was once Verboten and is now decriminalized (read: legal), loses its naughtiness and more than a tad of its hipness (e.g., demand side)?

And at the same time, what happens with the literal explosion of Mary Jane shops, sometimes two-or-more on the same street (e.g., supply side)?

Oregon is not Colorado.

Realtors will tell you that when the supply of houses goes up, the prices at best will stay flat or more likely, they will plunge (e.g., 2005-2010).

And when the supply diminishes and the number of buyers goes north, the prices most likely will go through the roof … no pun intended (e.g., the present).

Is the Mary Jane market a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market? Without a doubt: A buyers’ market.

Reportedly, the growing of Mary Jane in Oregon is three times the amount that legally can be sold.

According to the Bend Bulletin, there is more than 1 million pounds of Mary Jane in the supply chain.

Which brings us to the obvious supply chain question?

How long will it take for the weakest of all the Mary Jane shops (e.g., Economic Darwinism) to start going under?

Will they survive the calendar year? How many will remain? How many will enter the market?

Another question: How many prepared a business plan – yes, a business plan written by an MBA — before taking the plunge into the seven-point-leaf market?

Economies of Scale?

“No Industrialized Weed in the Neighborhood.” – Flatbed Bumper Sticker

Mary Jane may be the Wunder “medicine,” but the Laws of Economics still have this nasty habit of prevailing.

The average gram sale of Mary Jane ($4) is now less than a glass of wine ($8).

Does this price reduction mean that not only are the plethora of Mary Jane shops competing against each other (obvious result when the barriers-to-market-entry are so low), but will they also start cannibalizing the cannabis trade?

How many and who will prevail in an obviously overly saturated market?

Not that many, and those who can, benefit from economies of scale through sheer volume selling. Who will be the Philip Morris of the Oregon Mary Jane market?

Just as some low-barrier-to-market cigarette companies have still thrived by selling in volume even in the face of 400,000 of their customers dying each year, the same demands are placed on Mary Jane shops.

And when it comes to legal intoxicants, Oregon offers easy alternatives in the form of some of the world’s best microbrews – pales, ambers, IPAs, porters, stouts – from Deschutes, Full Sail, Ninkasi, Portland Brewing, Widmer and others.

Each of these brewers has also branched out into pubs, pairing finger-licking food with their own beers.

Did someone mention wine? Oregon has more than its fair share of wine bars and trendy restaurants.

Oregon’s temperate weather and terroirs are conducive to producing some of the best and yummy Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris from the likes of, A to Z Wineworks, Adelsheim, Duck Pond, Firesteed, King Estate, Knudsen Erath, Rex Hill, Sokol Blosser, Sweet Cheeks, Sylvan Ridge, Willamette Vineyards, Youngberg Hill, and many, many others.

What is the lesson from this Almost DailyBrett epistle, and others that have been written on this subject?

Coolness is fleeting. Economics matter. Competition is inevitable. The Laws of Supply and Demand prevail.

In Oregon’s case, there are oodles and oodles of Mary Jane shops. Three-of-its-four neighboring states (i.e., Washington, Nevada, California) to the north, east and south have legalized cannabis. There is no Mary Jane Tourism to Oregon. That ship has sailed.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just may find, you get more than you need.

https://www.leafbuyer.com/blog/oregon-cannabis-market-in-trouble

https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-recreational-cannabis-supply-demand/

http://www.wweek.com/news/2018/04/18/oregon-grew-more-cannabis-than-customers-can-smoke-now-shops-and-farmers-are-left-with-mountains-of-unwanted-bud/

https://www.businessinsider.com/legal-marijuana-states-2018-1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

“The Republicans have successfully persuaded much of the public they are the party of Joe Six Pack and Democrats are the party of Jessica Yoga Mat.” — Historian Mark Lilla in his book, “The Once and Future Liberal.”

All was quiet on the Electoral College front six years ago.

Barack Obama waxed Mitt Romney 332-206 in the Electoral College, easily winning a second term as the 44th President of the United States.

In particular Obama was victorious in critical swing states: Florida, 29 electoral voters, Iowa, 6; Michigan, 16; Ohio, 18, Pennsylvania, 20 and Wisconsin, 10.

Four years later Hillary lost all of these swing states: Florida, 29, Iowa, 6, Michigan, 16, Ohio, 18, Pennsylvania, 20 and Wisconsin, 10.

Was the problem four years later, the Electoral College or the message/candidate/campaign?

In 2012, Obama amassed 332 electoral voters. Four years later, Hillary garnered only 232 electoral voters, a delta of 100 electoral votes.

In 2012, Mitt Romney recorded only 206 electoral votes. Four years later, Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes, yep a differential of 100 electoral votes.

Once again, was the problem four years later, the Electoral College or the message/candidate/campaign?

Three of these critical swing states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin — were center pieces of the once-impregnable Midwest “Blue Wall”:

Alas, Hillary never stepped foot in Wisconsin during the June-November general election season.

Is the ultimate problem, the Electoral College or Electoral College user error by Hillary?

To The Electoral College Barricades!

“If you look at the map of the United States, there’s all that red in the middle where Trump won, I win the coast. … I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.” – Hillary Clinton, India Today Conclave

Never could understand the “political strategy” associated with arrogantly dismissing literally millions of people – “The Basket of Deplorables” – as the red in the middle or the fly-over states. Maybe a little more TLC for these people could have made a difference, a big difference?

Almost DailyBrett has already lost track of how many post-2016 complaints he has heard about the Electoral College. Likewise your author has endured an earful, championing the simple majority vote to determine the next occupant of the White House.

Before one goes any further into the debate, there is the lingering question of the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1804). The amendment codified the Electoral College: Two senators per state and the total number of House members per state based upon population – add them together – win the state and electors come along for the ride. The first to 270+ electors becomes the president-elect.

And for those who are blue – oh so blue – about the Electoral College, how difficult is it to eliminate the 12th Amendment to the Constitution?

Let’s see to amend the constitution – only 27 times to date – you need two-third votes in both houses of Congress followed by ratification by at least 38 states. Good luck.

Or there is the possibility of a Constitutional Convention proposed by two-thirds of the 50 state Legislatures. To date, precisely zero Constitutional Amendments have made it through this process. Forget it.

Just for conversation, the Electoral College requires candidates to devote an inordinate amount of resources to the swing states, the competitive jurisdictions that are persuadable in order to win the election.

If the 12th Amendment is overturned – just as the 19th Amendment (prohibition) was repealed by the 21st Amendment (amber ale please) – the emphasis on the swing states would be replaced by campaigns targeting the big states.

Candidates and the media pools would be flying over Iowa (6 electoral) votes and visiting California (won by Hillary), Texas (won by The Donald), New York (won by Hillary), and Florida (won by The Donald).

Does that mean the Democrats would win each-and-every time? Consider that Trump won seven or the 10 largest states by population in 2016. Hillary won the total popular vote by 1.9 million. She edged The Donald in California by 3.45 million votes.

Would changing the rules produce a different winner?

Maybe, maybe not.

First, there is the little matter of changing the pesky 12th Amendment.

Too bad the 12th Amendment didn’t outlaw IPAs. Whattaya think, Joe Six Pack?

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/07/12/americas-electoral-system-gives-the-republicans-advantages-over-democrats

https://www.economist.com/special-report/2018/07/12/donald-trump-is-causing-change-in-the-democratic-party-too

http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-says-trump-won-backwards-states-in-2016-2018-3

https://www.politico.com/mapdata-2016/2016-election/results/map/president/

http://time.com/4486502/hillary-clinton-basket-of-deplorables-transcript/

https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_las_Barricadas

 

Whatever happened to Mr. Magnum, P.I.?

Whatever happened to“The Fonz?”

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember learning about predatory reverse mortgages on “Happy Days.”

Using celebrities in advertisements has been de rigueur since the Earth cooled.

Some of us remember O.J. slicing and dicing his way through airports on behalf of Hertz.

There is element of sadness when you learn that once-well-known and admired actors and entertainers are now lending what is left of their reputation and fame to extol … reverse mortgages to susceptible elderly people with life-preserver nest eggs.

Usually the “Has it come to this?” questions apply to one-time headliners (i.e., REO Speedwagon, Grand Funk Railroad, Moody Blues, ZZ Top) being reduced to playing desert casinos or county fairs.

Guess, they can get out there and play “Sharp Dressed Man” just one more time.

From Magnum, P.I. to AAG

“I’ve done my homework. And I know how dedicated AAG is to helping retirees in a caring, ethical way. I trust them. I think you can too.” – Selleck reading the teleprompter during American Advisors Group’s (AAG) two-minute spot

“These companies (AAG, $400,000 fine, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, $325,000 fine, Aegean Financial $65,000 fine) tricked consumers into believing they could not lose their homes with a reverse mortgage. All mortgage brokers and lenders need to abide by federal advertising disclosure requirements in promoting their products.” — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray.

Hey Tom, did your “homework” include the 2016 $400,000 fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) against caring and ethical, AAG?

According to the bureau, AAG “tricked” seniors into thinking they could never default on a reverse mortgage loan. The truth is seniors still must pay their property taxes, hold insurance on the property and maintain their residences. These loans are NOT zero brainers.

Do you still “trust” AAG, Tom? AAG has been fined for “tricking” seniors, and the ads — starring little ole you — are still running.

Do you care?

Almost DailyBrett has natural admiration/affinity for Selleck based upon the fact he is obviously talented, served as a Navy Seal, and went to the University of Southern California … May The Horse Be With You.

This blog post is one of sadness. Everyone has to make a living. We trade upon what we do well and in many cases, who knows us. We also have a precious personal reputation to safeguard and protect.

Once your good name is gone, it’s gone. And that’s the issue here.

As a public relations counselor, your author would have asked Tom Selleck:

‘Has it come to this, Tom?’ Really, Tom?

‘Is there no better way at this point in your successful career to make a buck? Does the indisputable fact that AAG was fined $400,000 for deceptive advertising mean anything to you? Do you really want to associate your good name with shameless false advertising?’

“Fonzie,” What Happened?

Henry Winkler, you were television’s answer to James Dean.

There you were, Mr. Ultra-Cool in your black bomber jacket and white t-shirt on Happy Days.

And here you are today in a standard light-blue colored shirt, a few belt sizes larger, pitching reverse mortgages for One Reverse Mortgage.

Seems like you and Tom Selleck caught the same dollar-driven disease.

Guess, coolness doesn’t matter anymore.

For the record, One Reverse Mortgage has not been fined by the CFPB. Does that really matter when it comes to Winkler’s image and reputation? Personal brands are indeed valuable.

Almost DailyBrett, who likewise is putting a few miles on the odometer (there is still plenty of gas in the tank) was shocked when he first saw Winkler in these reverse mortgage commercials. Getting old is a bummer.

This blog is already on the record about time shares, annuities and reverse mortgages. Each is a multi-billion business. The winners without a doubt  in each and every case are the salesmen/saleswomen, and most of all … the pitchmen to vulnerable seniors (e.g., Selleck and Winkler).

Reverse mortgage advertising star, former Senator Fred Thompson, couldn’t line his casket with his AAG money.

Messrs. Selleck and Winkler, you won’t be able to take your earnings to the after life either.

When your respective days are done, future generations will be left to ponder about your diminished reputations, if they think about you at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvAui0vUT88

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1eIIQ6s_u0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhGparW6KQ

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-takes-action-against-reverse-mortgage-companies-deceptive-advertising/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/business/would-you-trust-tom-selleck-with-your-life-savings.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/hasta-la-vista-to-timeshares-annuities-and-reverse-mortgages/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Selleck

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Winkler

 

 

 

Can Amazon’s HQ2 become … HQ1?

Did the Seattle Politburo go too far?

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you … Do they really want to Bern down Seattle’s competitive advantage?

Amazon employs 40,000 in Seattle (headquarters, roasteries and stores).

Let’s see an ANNUAL $275 Seattle employee head tax x 40,000 local workers = $11 million per year … just from Amazonites. Add in Starbucks, Nordstrom, Vulcan etc. and the per-employee tax reaches $48 million

The money  joins the $68 million already ostensibly allocated to fight intractable homelessness in Seattle.

But what inevitably happens when that amount of money is not enough?

As Mrs. Thatcher said: “The Trouble with Socialism is Sooner or Later You Run Out of Other People’s Money.”

Amazon already announced a short list of 19 American cities and one Canadian venue for its planned $5 billion, 50,000 new-employee HQ2 or Headquarters 2.

Are any of these venues threatening to impose a punitive tax on Amazon, just for the privilege of maintaining and hiring the best and the brightest?

What is the incentive to invest in Seattle, if entrepreneurial spirit driving, product producing, employee hiring multi-national, publicly traded companies are hit by its home town city council with the collective backs of their hands?

Let’s see, the State of Washington has no income tax. Seattle has a well-trained workforce.

The Great State of Texas has no income tax. The capital city of Texas has a well-trained workforce too. Austin is also the home of Whole Foods. Jeff Bezos and Amazon bought Austin-based Whole Foods for $13.4 billion last year.

Austin, Texas is on the short-list for Amazon HQ2.

Why can’t Amazon put Seattle in its rear-view mirror? The number one digital retailer/cloud evangelist could simply announce HQ2 (e.g., Austin) and the relocation of HQ1 (Seattle) in the same news release.

As mumsy always said: “If you are in a bad situation, get out of it.”

98 Percent Effective Tax Rate

Seven years ago, Almost DailyBrett wrote about how the UK was Taxing the Fab Four/Exiling the Stones.

Approximately 750,000 Brits qualified for an effective tax rate of 98 percent (no typo) including four from Liverpool and five more from London.

The Beatles responded by writing Tax Man as the first cut, first side of Revolver. The Stones left the UK for the South of France, and produced Exile on Main Street.

At a 98 percent effective tax rate, when does taxation stop and confiscation begin?

Surely, the Stones will never be mistaken for anti-tax warriors. Nonetheless, they demonstrated circa 1971/1972 that achievers can and will move in the face of excessive, unreasonable taxation.

Repealing The Tax … For Now

In the face of a potential referendum, which had already gathered 45,000 signatures, the Seattle City Council reversed course this week, repealing the punitive employee head tax on a 7-2 vote.

How often are tax increases, even so-called “temporary” taxes, rescinded?

The tolls for the Bay Area bridges were originally ticketed to be repealed once the construction bonds were retired. Try driving toward San Francisco on any bridge without first paying $5 or more?

Regardless of the employee head tax repeal, what message has the Seattle City Council sent to the entrepreneurial dreamers, innovators, and job producers who are located (or plan to locate) within the boundaries of the city?

The mere fact that the city council was willing and able to impose an annualized employee head tax $275 on each-and every corporate hire speaks volumes about how publicly traded corporations are viewed by Seattle local government.

Instead of welcoming and embracing entrepreneurs, they are essentially driving them away, their employees and their tax dollars.

Maybe Amazon will take a hint and announce the $5 billion, 50,000 new job HQ2 venue as not only the winning city, but also the new HQ1.

Will the last Amazon employee leaving Seattle, please turn out the lights.

http://komonews.com/news/local/seattle-council-repeals-homeless-head-tax-on-big-businesses

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-city-council-to-vote-at-noon-on-repeal-of-big-business-head-tax/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/seattle-head-tax-amazon-starbucks-repeal-today-2018-06-12/

https://www.king5.com/video/news/local/councilmember-talks-on-repealing-seattles-head-tax/281-8158550

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/technology/seattle-tax-amazon.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/business/dealbook/amazon-whole-foods.html

https://www.batolls.info/

http://komonews.com/news/local/amazon-starbucks-pledge-money-to-repeal-seattle-head-tax

 

 

 

 

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work?” – Comedy Central Jon Stewart assertion to CNBC’s Jim Cramer

Heard one of the talking heads of the chattering class last week on CNBC extol the virtues of “passive investing” in the face of massive volatility and the long-awaited arrival of a Wall Street correction.

Isn’t “passive investing” an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms, if not just plain dumb?

The basic premise is the 54 percent of Americans investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds should put all of their investments on auto pilot, automatically “investing” a fixed percentage of their pay checks into company 401Ks or brokerage managed IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts).

On more than one occasion, Almost DailyBrett has been critiqued for surfing Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Zillow and Wells Fargo each on a daily basis.

Is your author an unreformed capitalist? Please allow me to plead, guilty.

What’s curious is no one seems to raise an eyebrow to those constantly burying their noses into their smart phones, spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook or Snapchat or bingeing on video games or streaming video.

As Jon Stewart correctly surmised in his 2009 televised pants-zing of Jim Cramer, far too many times retail investors have been sold this notion that markets inevitably go up, so don’t mind volatility and fluctuations. Forget about it!

And if that is indeed the case, panicking only leads to losses. No argument.

The question that Almost DailyBrett is raising and arguing is very simple: Do we want to manage your wealth accumulation or be managed by others who may not have our best interest at heart?

The Day, The Music Died

“I went down to the sacred store; Where I’d heard the music years before; But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.” – Don McLean, American Pie

Your author contends that portfolio management is not the same as day trading. At the same time, the notion of long-term investing makes absolutely no sense. Back in the 1990s, one would have been advised to invest in IBM, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft and walk away.

With the exception of Microsoft, the music stopped playing for these “DinoTech” stocks.

Worse, the 1990s investor would have missed the massive upsides of newly minted 21st Century rock stars, the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FANG).

Since the days of the three Gees – Andy Grove, Bill Gates and Lou Gerstner (all retired or in one case, deceased), a new trove of corporate rock stars has ensued – Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Elon Musk (Tesla).

Don’t you know, these shooting stars will eventually flame out? And as Don McLean wrote and sang, their music will eventually die.

Who will be the rock stars of the next decade? Should we keep some money on the sidelines, ready to buy low and sell high. If we become “passive investors,” we will blindly throw our hard-earned, discretionary dollars at Wall Street regardless of bull market or bear market.

Shouldn’t we be selling near or at the height of the market and buying near or at the low of the market? Or should we just designate portions or our IRAs or 401Ks to this mutual fund manager or that mutual fund manager because they are the “experts”?

Where Do You Shop? What Products/Services Do You Buy?

“I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.” – Jim Cramer of CNBC’s “Mad Money”

Almost DailyBrett has his fair share of mutual funds – domestic/foreign; large cap/mid-cap/small cap – and cash under management. Your author also manages four individual stocks, carefully avoiding the perils associated with all eggs coming from one chicken.

Apple: Let’s see, in the morning your author reaches for his Apple Smart Phone, runs to classic rock sounds on his antiquated iPod, and turns on his Mac at work. You bet ya, Apple is part of the portfolio.

Boeing: Considering that Donald Trump is president and more federal dollars are headed for defense and the economy is strong, regardless of market gyrations, Boeing has been a solid buy. The company sold 700 commercial airliners this year and plans to deliver 800 next year. Has your author been transported by Boeing Aircraft? Is the Pope, Catholic?

Nike: Uncle Phil is the founder of athletic apparel market leader and the über-benefactor of University of Oregon Athletics. Nike shoes/gear are worn for morning runs to complement the Nike+ software program on the Apple iPod.

Salesforce.com. Marc Benioff hails from my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Southern California (May The Horse Be With You). Mark is the founder, chairman and CEO of business software innovator, Salesforce.com. Let’s face it, many may claim a cloud legacy, but Salesforce.com was first to SaaS or Software as a Service.

Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce are the four present individual securities in the portfolio of Almost DailyBrett. Are they examined and managed on a daily basis? You bet ya. Will they be there forever? Forget it.

Should an investor, who rejects passivity, consider these individual stocks?

Only your investment advisor knows for sure.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/08/opinion/joe-nocera-on-the-cramer-takedown.html

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

https://don-mclean.com/

 

 

“Be sure to put on your own mask before helping others.”  — Flight attendant instructions before take-off.

The author of Almost DailyBrett couldn’t be more excited for his students preparing to graduate on June 9.

He is also charged up for his recent graduates, realizing that they too have the wind in their collective sails. No more taking any job just to survive, but instead actually seeking out a “position” that serves as the stepping stone for a rewarding career.

Think of it this way: Job boards are passé. Today’s graduates have a unique opportunity to seek out positions with their employers of choice through informational interviews and networking. They can create their own positions and forget about taking the first offer.

They have a unique opportunity to build their own wealth, and later give back to those who are less fortunate. They can voluntarily live below their means and become The Millionaire Next Door as reported by Mssrs Thomas Stanley and William Danko in their New York Times bestseller.

There simply has not been a better overall economic climate for competing college graduates in the last two decades.

We are living in a Goldilocks Economy.

Surging Business

Better strike while the irons are hot, red hot. Like all economic moves upwards to the right, the trend which is now their friend will not last forever.

Last week, we learned that America’s $19.41 trillion GDP economy grew at a non-inflationary 2.6 percent pace after two consecutive quarters of 3.0 percent … all of this growth coming before congressional passage/presidential approval of the historic tax reform bill and regulatory relief.

Could we experience 4 percent GDP in 2018, leaving no doubt that we are in a robust growth economy? How’s that sound, graduates?

Unemployment stands at 4.1 percent. The next Department of Labor’s jobs report will be announced on Ground Hog Day. Will it be the same percentage over-and-over again or even lower, coming closer to the 3.5 percent threshold for full-employment?

The benchmark Standard & Poors 500 surged 22.46 percent in 2017, and it has already grown another 7.55 percent since … January 1.

Wages and salaries are rising, reflecting a labor shortage for skilled employees.

America’s inflation rate (e.g., Consumer Price Index) was 2.1 percent in December.

The Federal Reserve’s Fed Funds rate is 1.25 percent, before expected increases by Jerome Powell’s Federal Reserve.

Americans for Tax Reform is keeping tab of the 263 companies (so far) making new commitments in terms of repatriations of billions overseas, paying more corporate taxes, increasing wages, providing bonuses, investing in the economy and hiring more people.

For example, FedEx announced the spending of $1.5 billion to expand/modernize its Indianapolis and Memphis hubs, $200 million in raises for hourly workers, and $1.5 billion for employee pensions.

The future regardless of economic gyrations revolves around newly professionally educated students graduating, who are ready to the hit the ground running in our digitized service-oriented economy.

We need graduates, who can tell the story and tell it well through the written word, verbal expression and compelling multimedia presentations.

To some, major corporations are somehow the bad guys in any drama. How can one arrive at this misguided conclusion, when these entrepreneurial firms innovate and produce the products we use on a daily basis, hire millions, invest billions, and provide trillions in investment returns for the 54 percent of Americans, who constitute the Investor Class.

This fantabulous story cannot be taken for granted, it needs to be told and retold by skilled communicators, the types we are graduating.

The great irony is American corporations are doing more to combat income inequality by hiring, investing and creating greater shareholder value by means of a reduction in corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent.

Portland: Where Young People Go To Retire

Or do they go there to stagnate?

As a former Portland resident for five years, Almost DailyBrett has news for those who voluntarily choose not to work: The recession of 2007-2008 is in the rear view mirror.

As mentioned earlier, the economy is thriving and there are more than McJobs, but positions.

If one is playing video games or binge watching “original content” – the new streaming video Holy Grail – then one obviously has a clue about digital devices.

How about putting that knowledge into the coming new Lingua Franca, coding as suggested by Apple’s Tim Cook?

There is no reason to do as little as possible and selfishly allow someone else to work two or more jobs to support you.

The time to strike is right now in this surging economy, and it won’t last forever.

The record number of working-age men voluntarily not working is estimated at 32 percent according to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Alas, this is not a question of can’t, but really a question of won’t.

Sad, very sad.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/thank-you-for-tax-reform-1517009242

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-death-of-californication/

http://www.cbs.com/shows/60_minutes/video/BHTRU7FEG7TQECAG8UrdNwwI_8xUbvTq/portland/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/is-coding-the-new-lingua-franca/

 

 

 

“There are three things that can happen on a forward pass – and two of them are bad.” – Texas Coach Darrell Royal

Wish it was that simple.

Did the ball “survive the ground?”

Did the ball “move?”

Did the receiver have “control?”

Did the receiver complete the “catch?”

Did the receiver have both feet in bounds?

Did he drag his back foot … but was the first one already on the chalk?

Does “one knee equal two feet?”

What is a “catch” anyway?

Better check with the video dudes/dudettes in New York. Is there “indisputable visual evidence” to overturn the call on the field?

And while we are waiting through 120 seconds worth of commercials, we come back and find out … the video review has not been completed.

Time for a “shot clock” for video reviews? If the review can’t be completed in one minute, then let the call stand.

Glad nothing else stops the flow of the game.

Orgy of Penalty Flags

Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs threw a penalty flag into the stands.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and removed from the game for his reaction to the yellow hanky.

Heck, Peters was just as frustrated and frosted by the number of penalties during a game as anyone else. The good thing is the fan, who caught the flag, was last seen taking selfies with his BROS.

The median number of penalty flags thrown during the regular season of the NFL was 13.2 per game, including on virtually every punt and kick return.

The Carolina Panthers drew the league low 5.2 penalties per game. The Seattle Seahawks were the highest, penalized 9.2 times each Sunday.

Thirteen-plus penalties per game come on top of a seemingly non-ending series of video reviews to ascertain the proper spot on the field, let alone determining what is and what is not a catch.

And even with all these penalties, there is no such thing as a “targeting” penalty in an era in which the number of concussions is exploding?

What is wrong with this league?

The NFL has created this monster, and now it needs to solve it in the face of flagging ratings (love the pun) and empty seats in overpriced stadiums. Who is going to pay for Jon Gruden’s $100 million salary?

The average fan has to devote upwards of four hours to watch a game. Life is too short.

If the author of Almost DailyBrett  had only 10 minutes to live, he would want it to be timed by the NFL …  That way he would have time for at least two microbrews before visiting St. Peter.

Guess what: 10 minutes in the NHL is very close to … 10 minutes. Ditto for World Cup soccer, even though “stoppage time” may be added. The NBA rivals the NFL in stoppages as a result of each team being given 10 time outs per quarter (slight exaggeration)

It would be helpful if one had an advanced degree in jurisprudence before watching an NFL game. It seems the league is searching for procedural perfection with its orgy of penalty flags and video reviews.

Is there sufficient “preponderance of evidence” present before we can move from first to second down? Time for an up-to-the-booth review brought to us by Microsoft Surface.

Does Microsoft really want to be associated with these maddening, endless video reviews?

Wasn’t the original purpose of instant replay to guard against game-changing “egregious” mistakes?

It used to be a passed football was complete, intercepted, overthrown, underthrown, dropped or trapped. And yes, there was the necessity for two feet down in-bounds in the NFL, and only one-foot down in college.

But that’s not good enough. Now we have to debate whether the ball survived the ground even though the receiver is five-yards, out-of-bounds before gravity kicks in.

It used to be the NFL’s overreliance on field goals was the reason the league was a boring counterpart to college football. That was before the explosion of penalties, reviews and “Dilly-Dilly” commercials.

Maybe with a little less emphasis on procedural perfection, the NFL can reverse the tide and its ratings can survive the ground.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXSsNvpIyOM

https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/penalties-per-game

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/09/nfl-record-for-most-penalties-game-season-2015-holding-nfl-game-length-average-taking-longer

 

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