Category: Big Markets Small Markets


“Official statistics no longer countered this (Ossies) group — who were disproportionately young, clever, female and ambitious — as East Germans.” — The Economist’s “Thirty years after the Wall fell, ” November 2, 2019

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, more than 1 million Ossies took advantage of their newfound freedom from Communism, immediately heading to West Germany and for the most part … thriving. More than one-quarter of East Germans aged 18-30 moved to the west, two-thirds of them … women.

They recognized there were two paths to go by, but in the long run, there was still time to change the road they were on … especially young, clever, ambitious females.

For those 16 million-plus souls adversely trapped for 28 years behind the borders of stultifying-oppressive-surveillance state East Germany, there finally was an opportunity to leave, begin a new life and build a lucrative career. Many took this new road to affluent Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg … and never looked back.

Is moving to a more promising venue, the catalyst for success and building wealth?

Only one way to find out.

“I’m in Favor of Progress; It’s Change I Don’t Like” — Mark Twain

Ever meet Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer or Gloomy Gus?

Their cups are always half empty. They impress upon you what they can’t do rather then what they can do. Their little rain clouds follow them wherever they go … and in the most cases … they don’t go anywhere.

They settle for status quo mediocrity or worse. And soon it will be late … too late in their lives to make a change for the better.

They will choose neither path, and the road will soon be closed for good.

Almost DailyBrett was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The former steel town is a great place to be … from.

Fortunately your author’s family was afforded the opportunity to move to Southern California. For Almost DailyBrett, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Pleasanton, CA Ellensburg, WA and now Eugene, OR followed.

With each move came a change of scenery, variables, superiors, colleagues, subordinates, issues to confront and problems to solve. There were always vexing adversities and intriguing opportunities, and most of all challenges to overcome.

In their coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall earlier this month, most of the newsies focused on the disparity of those who reside and succeed in former West Germany, and those who remain mired in chronic poverty in former East Germany. For many, they could have moved to seek a better life, but for one reason or another … they didn’t.

Yes, there is income disparity even in a model European nation.

The story also needs to reflect the shift away from an agrarian economy, which is largely cosigned to the Stone Age. The following industrial revolution of Johnstown, PA is kaput. The world is now consumer dominated (e.g., 70 percent of the United States economy), digitized and service oriented.

Advantage women … particularly young, clever and ambitious women.

The service oriented consumer economy is right in their sweet spot. Public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, local government, law, real estate, health care, hospitality … heck, even hardware stores … are dominated by the fairer gender or at a minimum … heading in that direction.

Can men, who once dominated the agrarian and industrial economies with their brute strength, ignorance and testosterone, succeed in this new service economy? Yes for some, but will they en masse? The evidence is not promising.

Not only have women passed men in terms of labor force participation, the same X-curve apply to women vs. men college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. And in the vast majority of cases, one must or want to move away from home to go to college. Universities and colleges should be a one-way ticket to independence, not back to mom and/or dad.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

If professional women were a publicly traded stock compared to an equity for professional men, Almost DailyBrett would not hesitate to invest in the growth potential of the fairer gender. As your author has always noted, stocks are a forward rather than a lagging indicator … women are leading, men are behind and the gap is growing.

The wind is clearly in the sails of professional women, particularly those who are brave and smart enough to recognize there’s still time to change the road they are on.

And when their ship comes in they will be ready to board and set sail.

Alas way too many men will be killing time, playing video games at the airport.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/the-night-the-wall-came-tumbling-down/

“Billionaires should not exist.” — Millionaire U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)

“Every billionaire is a policy failure.” — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York)

“Personal wealth is at best an unreliable signal of bad behavior or failing policies. Often the reverse is true.” — The Economist

Super talented and accomplished media superstar Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s net worth is $1.9 billion.

Hip-hop star/investor Jay-Z just made into the three-comma club at $1,000,000,000.

Did government fail when Oprah, Michael and Jay-Z all succeeded and thrived, each because of their hard work, fortitude, perseverance and incredible talent?

Did anyone of them trade on their … privilege?

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember Oprah engaging in insider-trading.

Do you, Secretary Reich?

Ditto for Michael Jordan profiting from a monopoly unless Mr. Reich is pointing to Michael’s near-monopoly of talent against the competition he faced night-after-night in the NBA?

Is Jay-Z guilty of fraud, a political payoff or did he inherit his wealth?

Wonder if any of these “basically 5 ways” to accumulate a billion dollars in America apply to Nike founder/Philanthropist Phil Knight?

Have you read “Shoe Dog,” Professor Reich? Nike almost went under about nine times.

The former Labor Secretary’s “5 ways” Twitter screed is intellectually dishonest, and remarkably easy to discredit.

Alas, it is beneath the respect normally afforded to Robert Reich. Next time go high Mr. Reich instead of racing to the bottom. Talented and hard working people can earn their wealth on their own without resorting to nefarious deeds.

From a policy standpoint, we need to ask:

Should we punish Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Uncle Phil and so many others who worked their tushes off to legitimately make their fortunes with a punitive Elizabeth Warren 6 percent wealth tax (up from the original 3 percent proposal), and income tax rates reaching 90 percent or beyond?

Whattyathink Senators Sanders and Warren?

Class warfare — born out of jealousy — is not new.

The effective tax rate for achievers in the United Kingdom in the 1970s once reached 98 percent. If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, ask The Beatles … ask The Rolling Stones, who fled to France and recorded “Exile On Main Street.”

Can a near 100 percent confiscatory tax rate, which was thankfully eliminated in the UK by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, happen in the United States of America? Let’s hope not.

Celebrate Instead of Hate?

Almost DailyBrett remembers boys and girls practicing basketball, so they could be “Just Like Mike.”

Your author can imagine girls admiring and wanting to be the next Oprah.

You should check Ellen’s interview with Bill Gates. They discussed the works and deeds of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donating a cumulative $50.1 billion to fight global childhood poverty and to improve public schools in our country.

According to Forbes, Gates is worth approximately $96.5 billion — give or take a shekel or two — making him the second wealthiest homo sapien on the planet. Virtually everyone in the first world is using Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, inspired and written by Gates. And his charitable foundation has contributed more than any other non-profit ever to make our world a better place (more than most governments).

His former company Microsoft is valued at $1.14 trillion, generates $96.5 billion in annual revenues, and employs 144,000 in well paying positions with full benefits and stock options. Taken together, the performance of Microsoft as a company and the generosity of the Gates Foundation, puts Bill’s wealth into perspective.

Can we have more “policy failures” just like Bill Gates, Phil Knight, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Jay-Z and so many more?

Instead of hating people who are wealthy, let’s celebrate and cheer for the achievers (e.g., Michael Jordan).

If we are concerned about billionaires, our policies should focus on stimulating competition (i.e., über-tough content streaming, video game, smart phone markets…), not limitless redistribution or punitive taxation.

If our political intent is to further divide, demonizing billionaires (as others have been publicly denigrated for ages) is a good way to engender one of the seven Deadly Sins: Envy.

If our goal is growth and prosperity, then let’s encourage Millennials and the generations, who will follow, to shoot for the stars. Let them become tomorrow’s Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Bill Gates and Uncle Phil.

And if they succeed financially, let’s celebrate them and at the same time root for competitors to keep them on their toes.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/09/billionaires-are-only-rarely-policy-failures

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/11/07/have-billionaires-accumulated-their-wealth-illegitimately

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/foundation-factsheet

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/the-lonely-guy-standing-in-line-for-a-burger/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

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

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

If a private sector position with full benefits isn’t the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised … what on earth is?

In order to avoid saying she will raise taxes on the middle class for “Medicare For All,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing federal confiscation of all pretax employer paid Medicare health care benefits for literally millions of working achievers.

Her plan will eliminate private health insurance for 150 million Americans or more, and nationalize the $530 billion private health insurance industry.

Isn’t the termination of $8.8 trillion in cherished pretax employer-paid health care benefits for millions of employees, the equivalent of a middle class tax increase on steroids? Keep in mind, the annual federal budget is only … $4.45 trillion.

Instead of Starbucks paying $20,000 for this benefit to each of its 291,000 employees for private insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Kaiser …), the legendary coffee roaster would be compelled to turn-over a similar amount to the federal government. In turn, these employees would lose their Starbucks offered pretax Medicare benefits and choice of private health insurer, only to forced into government paid … and only government paid … DMV-style insurance.

The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” bill (which Warren supports) calls for a 4 percent federal income tax increase for middle class workers. In order to avoid saying she is raising middle class taxes, Warren proposes instead federal confiscation of pretax employer paid health care benefits.

“In practice this (redirection of employer-paid health benefits to the government) would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans.” — The Economist, November 9, 2019

Deciding which plan (Sanders or Warren) is worse is just as difficult as deducing which is better.

How about keeping and retaining private health insurance, and our ability to choose our own doctors, dentists and optometrists?

Almost DailyBrett has always exhibited a libertarian streak. If we empower our $4 trillion behemoth federal government to confiscate pretax employer-paid health insurance, and eliminate private health insurance for 150-million-plus souls, the obvious question is:

What’s next?

Tax On Billionaires

” … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us?” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the spectre of a Warren presidency to the company’s 35,000 employees.

The public relations spin by Bernie and Elizabeth has focused squarely on the likes of Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Leon Cooperman, including Warren mocking the latter for his tearful concern about the future of our country.

Consider the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $36 billion to fight third-world poverty. Does no good deed go unpunished?

The centerpiece of the billionaire vilification campaign is a 2 percent wealth tax on those with assets exceeding $50 million (how many folks in blue states California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts … are included in this tax?), and 6 percent for those with $1 billion or more. We are not just talking about giving “two cents” (on each dollar) more.

How would the federal government determine the amount of wealth to be taxed and confiscated? When would it be paid? How much stock will needed (needlessly?) be sold (maybe even at loss) and how much will be immediately bought back? What’s the algorithmic multi-billion dollar impact on the 52 percent of the country investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds for their retirement or children’s education?

Is this tax, constitutional? Are we talking about double taxation? More to the point, do we want as a nation to empower … there’s that verb again … our massive government to punitively confiscate wealth and with it, achievement? How about a tax on lower upper class wealth? Ditto for a levy on upper middle class wealth? And how about … ? The possibilities are limitless.

Three European nations still impose wealth taxes: Norway, Spain and Switzerland. How’s Spain doing?

Eleven European nations have rescinded their wealth taxes: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.

That’s right, wealth taxes didn’t work in Denmark and Sweden, why should it fly in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

According to the stately The Economist, Warren’s all-government all-the-time programs include requiring Amazon, Facebook and Google to be regulated as platform utilities (before or after their breakups?), 40 percent of all board seats held by “public reps” (read, unions), bans on nuclear power and fracking, 75 percent lobbying taxes, 37 percent taxes on capital gains, and the imposition of taxes on unsold stocks (employing Enron-style mark-to-market accounting or MTM) … and the list goes on and on and on.

Warren supporters caution America’s Investor Class (52 percent of the entire nation) not to worry; her plan will eventually be watered down or not approved. If so … what’s the point?

Are Warrenites and Sandernistas supporting Republican control of at least one house to serve as a check and a balance to radicalism? Didn’t think so.

Some see Warren as a Socialist champion against Capitalism or buy low sell high.

Instead, Almost DailyBrett sees Bernie and Elizabeth as two peas in the same pod.

They are threatening our economic freedom. They will dip into our wallets, and deny us benefits and physician choices we already enjoy. The only winner? Big government.

Instead of wisely controlling the size and scope of government, some will be cool with a greatly empowered … there’s that verb again … carnivorous federal bureaucracy with even more power over our individual abilities to chart our own financial futures.

Be afraid … be very, very afraid.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/elizabeth-warren-wealth-tax-european-nations/

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/elizabeth-warrens-health-care-medicare-for-all-single-payer-unfair.html

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/10/24/elizabeth-warrens-many-plans-would-reshape-american-capitalism

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/07/how-would-elizabeth-warren-pay-for-her-health-policy

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/mark-zuckerberg-said-elizabeth-warrens-presidency-would-suck-for-us.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

Hell knows no fury like a Hillary scorned.

Bitter Hillary was rejected by her own party in 2008, and eight years later she lost to (gasp) … Donald Trump.

And to top it off, her husband was less than semper pi. His name is … Bill.

What’s a Hillary to do? How about getting into a public spat with Tulsi?

Tulsi Who? “Favorite of the Russians”?

Are we talking about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) an after thought in the Democratic presidential nominating contest … until now? Her RealClear Politics average stands at 2.0 percent. That’s it.

Almost DailyBrett must pause here to ask:

Why is Hillary providing Tulsi (“holy basil” in Hindu) with manna from publicity heaven, an amazing public relations gift of a nationally covered food fight with a notorious and reviled party stalwart?

Considering that Hillary has a long-track record as the nation’s first lady, a U.S. Senator from New York, the nation’s secretary of state and the first woman presidential nominee in the country’s history, why isn’t she using her record to project herself as a senior stateswoman? She could be a modern-day Richard Nixon.

With all due respect, Tulsi should not be on Hillary’s personal radar. Baring a political miracle, Tulsi is not going to win the party’s nomination for president.

Somehow, someway Tulsi got under Hillary’s thin skin and triggered an inappropriate response. Why is Hillary providing Tulsi with a new platform? When you are seen as an enemy of Hillary that designation instantly attracts attention and new friends.

Worse yet Hillary believes the Russians are behind Tulsi’s campaign, maybe even as a third-party stalking horse. Another vodka, Madam Secretary?

It’s obvious that Hillary isn’t going away … quietly. Is this screed, Hillary’s definition of ethos? 

Tulsi’s 15 Minutes of Fame, And Then Some?

Almost DailyBrett counsels employing social media strategically, but not the above tweet, which goes far … way too far.

“Great! Thank you @Hillary Clinton” was probably all that was needed. Tulsi’s joyful and grateful response is more than appropriate.

As Michelle Obama once famously said: “When they go low, we go high.” There’s no reason for Tulsi to race Hillary to the bottom, just bask off the glow of windfall media attention, and fully exploit a fantabulous public relations opportunity.

Your author suspects there is more that inexplicably prompted Madam Secretary without any forewarning to go after a mere member of Congress of her own party.

Telegenic and fearless, the 38-years-young Tulsi is a fourth-term member of Congress (e.g., Hawaii’s 2nd District) and the nation’s first Samoan-American representative. She is an accomplished major in the Hawaii National Guard having served two tours in the Middle East: Iraq in 2004-2005 and Kuwait in 2008-2009.

As such she projects reasonable gravitas, her views on foreign policy should be respected.

Tulsi exhibits a strong anti-interventionist streak. opposing “regime-change wars” and wanting the U.S. out of Syria and Afghanistan. She is a moderate, putting her at political and maybe personal odds with Hillary.

Why Hillary chose to elevate Tulsi at this time, when the nomination is crystalizing around bumbling former Vice President Joe Biden and confiscatory Senator Elizabeth Warren, is inexplicably beyond the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett. 

Guess it must be time: Tulsi Time.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/10/24/what-feud-between-tulsi-gabbard-and-hillary-clinton-about/4082268002/

https://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-tulsi-gabbard-bio-age-family-key-positions-2019-4

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1101/holy-basil

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/2020_democratic_presidential_nomination-6730.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/the-new-nixon-and-the-newest-hillary/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/what-happened/

Welcome to America’s cul-de-sac: The Pacific Northwest.

There is no state in the nation’s contiguous states, which is located further away from a steady supply of stud football players, let alone media markets, than Oregon.

For the Oregon Ducks, geography could be an easy excuse. Instead, it is a challenge that must and is being surmounted.

Oregon has chosen to compete in terms of marketing, facilities, swagger and success.

Autzen Stadium is rocking on Saturdays, and yet there are some who cannot pronounce the name of the state correctly particularly those east of the Hudson and in bucolic Bristol, Connecticut. … It’s Or-ee-gun.

As a 30-year season ticket holder, Almost DailyBrett was rooting for the Ducks before it was cool.

Your author earned his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting journalism from USC and his master’s degree in communication from the University of Oregon. There is no game that tugs at the heart strings more than when the Ducks and Trojans come together as will be the case this Saturday at the LA Mausoleum.

The illustration of the GPS disparity (e.g., 858 miles) between Los Angeles, California and Eugene, Oregon cannot be minimized. Oregon is the home to 4.19 million souls. The Los Angeles area has 18.79 commuters.

Geography matters.

USC easily has greater access to more stud athletes within a 40-mile radius of its urban campus than Oregon has in a 400-mile radius of its college town setting. Historically, USC recruits and signs more decorated big men on high school campuses than Oregon.

What? Oregon is a 4.5 point favorite over USC in Los Angeles.

How can that be even remotely possible?

Oregon Chose To Compete

Can’t tell you how many times Oregon was confused in the 1990s with … the Beavers.

You can’t tell the difference between “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones”?

The working pejorative by the lazy sports media was to simply lump the Ducks and Beavers together as … “The Oregon schools.”

Attempting to stay in the game with USC, UCLA, Stanford and Washington for a quarter or two was an accomplishment. If that was indeed the case, the next obvious question was … why bother?

Athletes in Oregon could not practice their game 24,7, 365 because of the state’s wet climate. The team would never prevail. Oregon would never win the conference crown. The Ducks would never go to the Rose Bowl. They would never play for the “Natty.” A Duck would never win the Heisman Trophy.

Whatever happened to all these modern-day Nostradamus,’ who uttered these ex-cathedra proclamations?

Since Almost DailyBrett first purchased his Oregon season tickets and made his initial donation to The Duck Athletic Fund in 1990, the Ducks have won six conference titles. They have played in Pasadena on New Year’s Day four times, winning two. They have competed in the “Natty” twice. And Oregon deity, Marcus Mariota, won the Heisman.

With each accomplishment, Oregon blew away each recruiting disincentive: Can’t work on your game, never will win, never play in a major bowl, never compete for the national championship, will never be in the conversation for the Heisman … let alone win the trophy.

Oregon Reign

It reigns in Oregon. It reigns big time.

Oregon is the ultimate overachiever, not just in football but men’s and women’s basketball and track and field as well.

What are the components of Oregon’s accomplishments?

Marketing: Oregon is forward-looking. Buy the stock. The school doesn’t concentrate on past tradition, but pivots off immediate success to project forward.  Oregon has identified its target audience (high school sophomore and junior studs) with fun football, cool uniforms, playing in ultra-loud Autzen Stadium on national television. The Ducks are cool, and everyone knows it (including those in Seattle and Corvallis). Maybe their images and likenesses of future Ducks will draw the attention of … Nike?

Facilities:  If you build it, will they come? Almost DailyBrett remembers the alumni tent in the gravel parking lot. That mental image was light years ago. Conservatively, Oregon has invested $15 million for the Moshofsky Center (indoor practice facility), $41 million for the John Jacqua (athletic academic support center), $68 million for the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex (football operations center) and $68 million for the expansion of Autzen Stadium.

Kudos for a huge assist from Oregon’s resident alum swoosh billionaire, Phil Knight.

Swagger: The Golden Era of Oregon football has returned. Former lineman Mario Cristobal has brought Alabama smash-mouth football with speed to the perceived soft Pac-12 conference. Cristobal’s energy is infectious. Every potential recruit coming to Eugene, leaves with photos of himself in Oregon football pads with the Nike logo prominently featured. Once again, Oregon is the hunted, not the hunter.

Success: As John Madden once said: “When you win, nobody can hurt you. When you lose, nobody can help you.” After the school’s best-ever results (46-7) during Chip Kelly’s tenure from 2009 – 2012, and recorded three straight conference titles, four BCS bowl games, Oregon fell back into the Pac. Coaching matters.

Oregon comes to the LA Coliseum this Saturday with the wind in its collective sails (5-0 in the Pac-12). The Ducks respect USC, but don’t fear the Trojans. As evidenced by the Washington and Wazzu games, the contest is expected to be close, real close.

One way or the other, Oregon will be competing for conference title on December 6.

Will our fine-feathered friends have a Rosey future? Expect the Ducks to compete like hell for Pasadena, because they can.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-conference-of-champions/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

 

“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work. We are workers. And by selling this idea, ‘Hey man, I’ll teach you how to be rich.’ How is that different than an infomerical?” — Jon Stewart to CNBC’s Mad Money host and former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager, Jim Cramer

No truer words were ever spoken.

During the course of his 2009  infamous viral dressing down of CNBC’s “Mad Money” Jim Cramer, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart took direct aim at the notion of get-rich-quick, particularly in times of an economic meltdown.

Some acquaintances of Almost DailyBrett have inquired and even critiqued your author’s daily devotion to CNBC, the repeated clicks on Charles Schwab’s retirement IRA platform, and the checking of the value of the Eugene, Oregon residence on far-less-than-perfect, Zillow.

Yours truly is a dedicated capitalist, devoted to maintaining and growing wealth under the banner of Buy Low Sell High.

Buying low and selling high generates … profits. Yes, profits. Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth.

Some vehemently argue that nothing-is-guaranteed Wall Street is more or less, gambling.

Almost DailyBrett disagrees with this conclusion, but clearly recognizes that gamblers are energized and engaged. No one plays poker and puts their chips on the roulette table and cavalierly accepts the verdict. They play to win the game.

As Herm Edwards said: “You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game.”

And more times than naught, gamblers lose. The staggering accumulated wealth and gaudy palaces along the Las Vegas Strip are monuments to the … losers.

Don’t investors want to win too? There are no guarantees on Wall Street. Invested money is placed at risk. Doesn’t that make Wall Street the greatest casino of them all?

Achieving the spread between buying at a lower price and eventually selling at a higher price is more … much more … than simply investing in a 401k or IRA and forgetting about it. ‘Ahh … just let the pension fund chiefs or the mutual fund managers worry about it.’ Don’t worry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about your nest egg. Growing, caring and nurturing your tomorrow is a business. In effect, it is the ultimate business.

You want to ensure that you live a long and happy life, and that you expire before your money runs out.

The Wall Street crash of 2007-2010 is still fresh for most of us. Ten years later, we are enjoying the fruits of the longest bull market in American history with a record low, full-employment Department of Labor unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

Time to put up our feet? Hell, no.

Manage Rather Than Be Managed

“Stewart had no special Wall Street knowledge, as he was the first to admit. What he had was a nose for a scam, and an uncanny ability to articulate what the rest of us were feeling.” — New York Times columnist, Joe Nocera

Recognizing that Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a stock market analyst or technician, he is nonetheless still right: “Our wealth is work.”

Part of the task before us is to understand completely a very simple question: How does a company makes money?

Please allow Almost DailyBrett to speak ex-cathedra: If you do not understand how a publicly traded company makes mula (e.g., McDonald’s makes hamburgers and feeds 1 percent of the planet each day), then you are gambling on a stock, not investing.

Remember posing this question to my classes about Bitcoin.

Some students volunteered that Bitcoin is a crypto-currency … whatever that means. “It’s been going up” (and down). Currencies are associated with countries (i.e., greenback, USA; Euro, EU; Pound Sterling, UK). What country backs Bitcoin?

Nada.

Therefore in your author’s portfolio, there is no place for Bitcoin or any other Ponzi Scheme.

Stewart publicly undressed Cramer because the former believed the latter’s network (e.g., CNBC) was not doing enough to protect retail investors, particularly those who were experiencing the daily assault on their portfolios between 2007-2010.

Most of us wish to forget that time, and yet we took the steps to manage our accounts and protect our nest eggs. We chose to manage instead of being managed.

Maintaining and building wealth requires us all to work, to stay alert, and have a healthy batting average when it comes to making our financial decisions.

Stay alert. Stay engaged. Stay the course.

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

http://money.com/money/3982267/jon-stewart-5-best-money-moments/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

The beer stand at Oregon’s Moshofsky Center indoor “tailgate” party offered an intriguing choice last Saturday.

One could purchase a 16-ounce Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale for $10.

Or one could consume two 12-ounce Coors Lights (a.k.a. “The Silver Bullet”) for the same price … $10.

Here’s the question: What is more important … the quality of the beer or the cost of the suds?

Back in college we never blinked about the source of our fermented hops, water and barley, our only considerations were access and cost (e.g., Oly quarts for 55 cents).

Heck, we even tapped keg beer and consumed nothing but foam.

When contemplating this national issue, consider that Oregon is celebrated for its microbrew culture (along with Pinot Noirs and Cannabis).

Almost DailyBrett is a big fan of user friendly Mirror Pond pale ale with its smooth full taste, reasonable amount of malt and barley, and low alcohol.

But would your author … even for a nanosecond consider drinking two Coors Lights (24 ounces) for the same cost of one Mirror Pond (16 ounces)?

The real question: Was yours truly willing to make “love in a canoe” in the name of thrift?

“Life Is Too Short To Drink Cheap Beer”

The Germans are legendary for their beers, namely golden (helles) and dark (dunkles) lagers.

Das Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law goes back to München 1487, five years before Columbus set sail for the New World.

Besides setting its protectionist standard for beer (e.g., no Silver Bullets in Deutschland), the Germans also coined the above phrase about life being simply too short to ingest Coors Light or any other Ausländer lager, let alone English ales.

For Almost DailyBrett, is his expected stay on this planet way too short to even consider … let alone drink … Coors Light regardless of price?

Mirror Pond pale ale is the anchor brand for Bend Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, and favorably rivals Chico California’s Sierra Nevada’s Pale and Ft. Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium’s Fat Tire.

Admittedly, $10 is pricey for a one half-pint when you consider you can buy a “sixer” at your local supermarket for approximately the same price. One should also consider and weigh the ambiance of game day at Moshofsky with several thousand of your most intimate fellow Duck fans.

Isn’t Gemütlichkeit or being warm and fuzzy all over with kindred spirits the same whether one Mirror Pond or two Coors Lights are being carried and consumed?

That question is the essence of the dilemma. How many beers do most people quaff before, during and after a nationally televised football game (e.g., Oregon’s 17-7 win over Cal)? For Almost DailyBrett, the answer is typically two.

Okay, let’s rephrase the question: Two Mirror Ponds for $20 (32-ounces total) or two Silver Bullets for $10 (24-ounces).

Would your author actually Make Love In A Canoe?

Gasp, would yours truly consume two beers that are F…… Close to Water?

Alas, dos Coors Lights were the shameful order of the day in direct violation of the Reinheitsgebot, and everything we hold dear in America.

At least your author was not tempted by PBRs at any price or quantity.

When it comes to a race to the bottom, yours truly will only stoop so low.

https://www.coorslight.com/av?url=https://www.coorslight.com/

Mirror Pond Pale Ale

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

 

Are free dinners the same as free lunches?

Almost DailyBrett is simply amazed by the sheer volume of invitations received every day since the onset of his retirement.

There are annoying robocalls, carnivorous telemarketers, “personal” letters, informational packets, not to mention a slew of digital and broadcast ads.

Dinner for two at the nicest places in town … free of charge.

New “friends” wanting to lend a helping hand in managing your author’s investments, providing a swell place to take vacations year-after-year, distributing retirement savings or taking over residential equity and kicking-back crumbs month-after-month.

Why does one need a middle-man for your own retirement nest egg?

There is a thriving industry to provide Almost DailyBrett and everyone else with a spiffy “vacation club,” spending quality time annually with family (assumes one wants to spend more time with family).

“You deserve it.” How do you know?

Conversely, there is reciprocal industry to extract (for a fee) pigeons from foolish time-share contracts.

Too much time with the family? Too good to be true? Didn’t read the contract? It must suck to be you. Only we can help.

Buy a time-share, get out of a time-share … either way the Land Sharks win and you lose.

Somebody is making money and sad to say, it’s the salesmen/saleswomen.

These apex predators all have the gift of gab with wonderful smiles and they are all well dressed, hiding their dorsal fins.

They have a deal … such as deal … for you.

Their basic proven strategy: Get your derriere into a comfy seat with a nice drink (or two or three … ) and soon it will be time for the contracts … time share, annuity, reverse mortgage … all waiting to be signed.

Just affix your signature right here on the bottom line … muther sucker.

“Die And Go To Hell”

“We don’t sell annuities. I would die and go to hell before I would sell an annuity.” — Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments’ 60-second advertisement

Can’t forget the image of Leonard DiCaprio giving the middle finger to a vacillating on-the-phone investor in Martin Scorsese’s over-the-top plethora of gratuitous F-bombs, drugs and skin: The Wolf of Wall Street.

What value to society is created by time-shares, annuities, reverse mortgage sales dudes and sales dudettes?

Do they really care about their clients? 

As we grow more mature, there seems to be a mindset that retirees in their sixties … let alone older … are losing it upstairs. They are ripe for exploitation.

It seems that new friends are popping up here, there and everywhere. They are always ready to help. Trust us.

Almost DailyBrett detests the hard sell. The harder the push, the greater the personal resistance.

Your author gravitates to proven friends. A prime example is Charles Schwab, which has managed my retail investment portfolio for a generation.

Is publicly traded Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW) intrinsically interested in driving the top and bottom lines, consistent with its fiduciary responsibility to investors? Absolutely.

Schwab’s core business … providing a low-cost trading platform (e.g., $4.95 for equity, mutual fund and bond transactions) … may be a tad boring and predictable, but the client is provided with real shareholder value.

Didn’t CNBC’s Mad Money with Jim Cramer write a book entitled, “Get Rich, Carefully?”

Does anyone think he or she is going to get rich carefully with a time share, annuity or reverse mortgage?

Didn’t think so.

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/has-it-come-to-this-tom-selleck-and-henry-winkler/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/506-f-bombs/

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/timeshare-salesman-says-he-lied-for-a-living-062615.html

https://www.cnbc.com/mad-money/

 

“To liberals, the US is not good enough for the world. To conservatives, the world is not good enough for the US.” — Pulitzer Winning Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

My dear wife Jeanne and your author walked 125 miles, an average of 6.8 miles per day, during the course of 20 August vacation days, spanning three European nations: Austria, France and Germany.

We even dared visit  Paris in Verboten August, and were greeted by beautiful weather, easy access to restaurants and virtually no lines for Versailles and The Louvre. Wasn’t anything and everything supposed to be closed for vacation?

One never missed the living Renoir-style impressionism of the sidewalk cafes in France and the beer gardens in Austria and Germany, and could easily come away with the conclusion that all Europeans are happy, content and satisfied.

Touring the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, visitors are easily impressed with the union of 28 countries, speaking 24 separate languages, and serving as the home of 512 million people working together — sometimes in harmony — as members of the European Union (EU). Europe for the most part recorded almost 75 years of sustained peace since the establishment of the EU, rather than being at each other’s collective throats.

And yet there are storm clouds that won’t go away easily, namely Brexit.

A plethora of higher moral ground activists point to Denmark, Norway and Sweden as “happy little” royal countries. They rhetorically pose: ‘Why couldn’t the US be more like them?’ Almost DailyBrett must reply: We rebelled against monarchy (telling King George III where to put his royal scepter), so why wouldn’t we automatically reject monarchy, even constitutional monarchy?

If the expressed goal is true socialist justice, then how can one accept all the state-sponsored extravagance being bestowed upon the ultimate winners of a biological lottery, those born into a royal family? Versailles in France and Neuschwanstein in Germany are vivid examples of monarchial excesses, which ended with the King Louis XVI being guillotined and Mad King Ludwig II mysteriously drowning.

And yet dynastic monarchy is still being practiced in the three aforementioned Scandinavian countries, plus Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and of course, the United Kingdom. If the social justice types complain bitterly about the top 1 percent in America, how can they tolerate the birth-right exclusive … 0.000000000001 percent … in Europe?

Certainly, America has its own issues particularly when it comes to personal health, namely obesity, Diabetes, Opioids and more. Does that mean the vast majority of Europeans are better when it comes to waistlines and personal health? For the most part the answer is, yes.

However, the collective European commitment to the environment and public health abruptly ends with smoking. The deadly habit and its directly related second-hand smoke is right beside you in Europe, literally everywhere.

The warnings on packs of smokes are not mushy as is custom in the states. Even a non-German speaker can easily understand Rauchen kann ist tödlich sein (e.g., Smoking can be deadly), and still one can easily conclude the filthy practice is alive and dead on the European continent (some reportedly inhale to stay skinny). Most likely, they will have beautiful corpses.

Visiting Strasbourg in Alsace Lorraine in France and Baden-Baden in Germany’s Baden Württemberg, it’s easy to reflect on how many times these French-German towns have traded management teams at the point of the bayonet, particularly the former. The Germans took control in 1871, the French took it back in 1918, the Germans again in 1940 and then the French in 1944.

Is there any place in America that has been the subject of that many repeated wars in the 150 years? The answer is an obvious, no.

Let’s face it, a huge reason why Europe has remained peaceful for the past three generations has been the continued placement of U.S. troops and weapons systems in Western Europe during and after the Cold War. Europeans should write thank you notes to US taxpayers. Time for Europe to pay up in the form of their required 2 percent annual GDP equivalents to fund the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known by the acronym, NATO

The French in particular were notorious (read: Charles DeGaulle) for not acknowledging our leadership in the liberation of France. Thankfully, French President Emmanuel Macron, gladly speaking English, has pointed to the countless U.S. GI graves in Normandy and recognized our role.

Sorry to say, Denmark did not liberate France and end Nazi and Communist tyranny in Europe. It was the United States in the forefront … of course.

Some complain about the presence of US corporate logos all over Europe, particularly Starbucks, McDonald’s, Apple, KFC, Amazon, Nike etc. The same concentration of European brands is not seen (exception: legendary German cars … BMW, Daimler, Audi, Porsche) other than French cosmetics and Spain’s Zara.

Let’s face it, there is no Silicon Valley in Europe and the entrepreneurial venture capital culture is not the same, maybe with the exception of Germany’s business software provider, SAP or Systemen, Anwedungen und Programmen (Systems, Applications and Programs).

According to The Economist, America’s top five companies in market capitalization (stock prices x number of shares) are technology firms with an abundant focus on services provided. Together, they average 30-years of age, generate $4.3 trillion investor capital and trade at 35 times last year’s earnings.

Conversely, Europe’s top firms are goods-oriented were founded a century ago (i.e., Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever). Collectively, they worth less than $1 trillion (Microsoft alone is larger) and trade at 23 times last year bottom lines. When it comes to “unicorns” or innovative privately held start-ups, think USA not Europe.

In terms of market performance you can’t beat America’s NYSE and the NASDAQ … sorry Britain’s “Footsie,”France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX. And if you want to tie up your disposable investment income for 10 years in government bonds, which guarantee a certain loss … Europe (e.g., 10-year BUND) is at your beckon call.

Buy high and sell low?

Having traveled to Europe four times in the last five years for holiday, and many times before for business and pleasure (no one goes to Brussels for kicks), Almost DailyBrett qualifies as a spirited Europhile. Having said that, your author is a proud American.

Denmark may be happy. Good for the Danes and their lovely harbor mermaid.

When it comes to changing the world for the better, there is no contest. Europe en-masse cannot compete against the U.S. when it comes to being truly exceptional. This reality may drive certain elitists crazy, but your author has to call ’em as he sees ’em.

https://beta.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/charles-krauthammer-pulitzer-prize-winning-columnist-and-intellectual-provocateur-dies-at-68/2018/06/21/b71ee41a-759e-11e8-b4b7-308400242c2e_story.html

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/g12797004/current-monarchy-countries-in-the-world-list/

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g19733989/happiest-countries-in-the-world-2018/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/09/12/the-economic-policy-at-the-heart-of-europe-is-creaking

 

 

 

“Anytime. Any Place. Any Conditions.” — Former Oregon basketball coach Dick Harter discussing 4 am practices.

“I’d kick off at 6 a.m. When you wake up — if you’re a college football player or coach, you want to wake up and you want to play football.” — UCLA Football Coach Chip Kelly.

Does the “Anytime” motto really apply to long-suffering Pac-12 fans, including the select oh-so-few who chose to show up for the conference “championship” game last December?

Does anybody actually care about the good folks who make generous athletic department contributions and buy football season tickets?

For Almost DailyBrett, this fall will mark his 30th as an Oregon season ticket holder. Your author is therefore entitled to ask:

When is Oregon playing Stanford? To-Be-Determined, TBD.

When is Oregon playing Washington? TBD.

When is Oregon playing USC? TBD.

When is the kickoff for the Civil War game between Oregon and Oregon State? TBD

And who is doing the To-Be-Determining?

Are we waiting for the 12 university presidents and athletic directors to set the times for these games and hundreds more? Fat chance.

The universities have absolutely no say when it comes to answering the week-by-week TBD questions. Pac-12 universities in particular prostitute themselves to the sports networks.

The $5.3 million paid yearly Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is now exploring 9 am PDT/PST kickoffs in order to ensure conference teams make the football highlight shows in God’s anointed Eastern and Central time zones. Highlight shows?

What? Larry, you just received a $500,000 annual pay raise for that “outside the box” thinking?

Bloody Mary breakfast tailgates as the sun rises over the stadium parking lot? Middle of the night drives home?

Anybody consider the safety of the fans?

“We Don’t Control Our Schedule And When We Kick Off” 

(Washington Coach Chris Petersen) “should be thanking ESPN for actually having a relationship.” – ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit.

“The hardest thing with Saturdays is when you wake up and then you’ve got to wait until 7 at night. But we’re also big on we don’t control our schedule and when we kick off. So tell us where it is and when we’re kicking off, and we’ll be there.” — Chip Kelly

Who runs the Pac-12 universities? ESPN and Fox or the university presidents?

As a proud capitalist Almost DailyBrett understands that cash is king, and that obviously applies to contract broadcast fees.

Bur isn’t the money donated by alumni (e.g., Phil Knight), just as green? How about university athletic fund members and season ticket holders?

We know the university presidents and athletic directors are in bed with the networks, but what about the fans who fill up the stadiums and buy over-priced beer, snacks and trinkets?

Oregon’s first two-games against Auburn and Nevada are set for 4:30 pm(PDT) kickoffs. Sounds good.

Oregon’s next game against Montana is scheduled for a 7:45 pm start or 10:45 pm in the EDT and 9:45 pm CDT. What’s the point for such a late kickoff when virtually no one in the Eastern and Central time zones will watch the game?

Pac-12 (programming) After-Dark?

More importantly, why should Oregon fans wait until every other football game is played that day (September 14), and then be faced with a midnight drive back home. Heck, isn’t it easier to simply watch the game at home in high-definition comfort?

Maybe that is the point for the networks. Why not play these games in sterile studios instead of near-empty stadiums and forget about the fans?

Making The Pac-12 Great Again?

Don’t university administrators want to bring alumni back to campus for some school spirit, social inebriation, and some check writing too?

How about the energy that comes from the student section?

Why can’t the Pac-12 presidents huddle with overpaid and overrated conference commissioner Larry Scott and declare:

Our football games are going to be played between 12:30 pm PDT/PST and 5 pm PDT/PST, which are the best times for our fans whether they are attending in person or watching on television. We provide great content to ESPN, Fox, Pac-12 Network and others. They are welcome to cover our games.”

Undoubtedly Harvard-Head lawyer Scott will point to existing television contracts and the fact that every Pac-12 game is televised. Keep in mind that contracts expire. They are typically renewed. Let’s get better terms.

Almost DailyBrett has noted those  poor souls, who were born in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, lost the biological lottery. We are two-or-three hours behind the rest of the nation. That’s a fact of life, but not an excuse.

Why don’t we concentrate on Making The Pac-12 Great Again?

Let’s schedule our football games, particularly homecoming contests, at times and places, which are convenient for the vast majority of our fans, alumni and students.  If the East of the Hudson types want to believe we all exist in Baskets of Deplorables, we can only conclude that mindset says more about them than us.

The Pac-12 universities, their respective presidents and athletic directors need to declare their independence — or at least co-existence for the good people who matter — alumni, students and friends, those who actually go to the games.

https://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/2019/05/canzano-pac-12s-biggest-news-commissioner-larry-scott-got-a-raise-to-5300000-a-year.html

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/27259246/pac-12-commish-exploring-idea-9-games

https://goducks.com/schedule.aspx?path=football

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/pac-12-after-midnight/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-conference-of-champions/

 

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