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Money burns a hole in your pocket. And other dangers of our zero interest economy

I hear it all the time. “I have money in the bank. They’re paying me nothing. I am scared of the stock market. It always goes down. I have found this great investment in ….”

… Apple growing. Horizontal oil drilling. Multi-family residential. Student housing. Retirement communities. Crypto-currencies. Timber land. Cannabis factories.

When I was young, one the great “investments” in Australia was pig farming. A well fed sow (that’s a female pig) will produce at least 10 piglets from each pregnancy and may have two litters a year.

Pigs give new meaning to compound interest.

I can’t blanket say that all the Internet investment schemes are all awful. I can say if you find it on the Internet, it probably is awful.

There are four  major disadvantages with investment schemes now proliferating around the Internet:

+ You don’t know the management. You have had no experience with them. No experience.

+ They are better promoters than they are managers. The glossiness of their web site will tip you off. I found one that had this neat little slider. As you slide it to the right (with your cursor), it shows how much money you will make. It looks a bit like a coronavirus infection chart.

+ Once they have your money, they have your money. Good luck getting it back. You can’t sell apple farmland from one day to the next.

+ The promoters/managers usually get an annual asset fee. Like 2%. Why would they ever return your money? I wouldn’t.

What should you do with your idle money? First, take a good chunk of it and invest half in VTI and half in VGT. These are “no brainer” low-cost ETFs from Vanguard. Here’s their performance over ten years. Better than keeping your money in your soul-less, interest-less bank:

Then, when you’ve stuck a chunk here — via a free account with Fidelity — you can take an hour or two each weekend and read about investing in the market.

Being a customer and being an investor

Peter Lynch says if you like the company’s products, buy its stock.

I’ve been a customer of Verizon for eons. I’ve never been a stockholder.

The last five years of Verizon stock has been erratic, though generally up.

Verizon understands technology, sort of. But has no clue about marketing or customer service. No clue.

I called them. I fled New York City for safety in the country. Can you put my Verizon FiOS service on hold?


So, I returned (at their shipping expense) all this delicious equipment:

As a result my monthly FiOS bill dropped from $348 to $159. It means I no longer get TV from Verizon. But I do get 100 megs of Internet — more than enough for YouTubeTV via a $38.01 Roku. By the way, that’s a one-time charge. I don’t rent my Roku. I own it. I rented all that equipment (pictured above) from Verizon.

To buy your very own Roku, click here. This Roku product is magnificent.

The next chart is grossly unfair. It compares Roku with Verizon over the past five years. It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad. That’s Verizon in green.

Does this chart frighten you?

It freaks me out because it’s going to get much worse in coming weeks — with Thanksgiving and Christmas superspreader indoor family events.

I’m 78. If I get Covid, I’m dead. If I don’t die, I’m in hospital –if they have a bed for me. Which they won’t. Even if they did, they wouldn’t have the staff. If they did have staff, it would be exhausted.

From the latest Atlantic:

There is a name for this feeling, says Kevin Doerschug, the director of the hospital’s medical ICU: moral distress, or the sense of loss and helplessness associated with health-care workers navigating limitations in space, treatment, and personnel. Just a few weeks ago, a man in his 30s with no medical problems arrived in Doerschug’s unit with a severe case of COVID-19. After a week on a ventilator, the man’s health had greatly improved. Nurses removed his breathing tube, and his vitals were stable. But just a few hours later, the man was dead. “Our whole team just sat down on the ground and cried,” Doerschug told me outside the hospital, his voice muffled by his mask and the sound of the heating vent. Trauma like that compounds when a hospital fills up with critically ill patients. “The sheer enormity of it-it’s just endless,” Doerschug said.

You can read the Atlantic story:

Iowa Is What Happens When Government Does Nothing
The story of the coronavirus in the state is one of government inaction in the name of freedom and personal responsibility.

Click here.

How to make better zoom calls

+ You must use a lapel mike. They will be able to hear you. Buy this $35.35 one:

Click here.

+ Sit in front of a window or a light shining front on.. Overhead lighting is not good. I’m currently testing a ring light. We’ll see.

+ You need a better camera. But I can’t find a decent webcam, yet. Apple stuff — like iPads — have good cameras. Most Windows laptops are garbage.

Tesla shares boom

Here’s the past two years of Tesla.

Watch this short video and you’ll know why. Watch it to the end.

Forgot your mask?

More Covid comments

Our winter sunset view

The Fall came and took all our leaves, It revealed a neat view of the distant Catskill mountains:

The only place I go these days is to the tennis court and one small retail store which I rush in and out of.

I’m scared of Covid. Big time scared.

Susan and I watched more of Netflix’s The Crown last night via Roku. It’s sort of interesting if you’re into watching the world’s most dysfunctional family in action.

I’m not selling anything. I keep nibbling away at stocks like Palantir, Snowflake, and LAZR. I am aware that our portfolio — see right hand column — is scary, and volatile. We’ve had big drops in SPLK, Zoom, AYX and AZN. But our others have more than covered those loses. See you soon. — Harry Newton