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In praise of grandchildren. In praise of Airbnbs. In praise of technology, maybe, one day. And, of course, the Mayan apocalypse

The best part of “losing” all that money on the Powell Stockmarket Sell-off was seeing all four grandchildren.

They don’t care about the market. They care about birthdays. We celebrated two birthdays on Saturday night.  I managed to snap this:

To continue over-indulging them (grandparents’ job), we took them to play mini-golf  (now called Adventure Golf):

Which brings me today’s point. (Sometimes I have one.)

The Northeast is loaded with help wanted signs for insipid jobs at Cumberland Farms and Stewarts Shops.  That’s not where the exciting jobs or opportunities are. They’re at “experience” parks like the Desert of Maine and Monkey C Money Do. The kids climb and zipline until they’re worn out. (Hopefully quickly):

Along with roadside lobster restaurants, ice cream shops, bay kayaking and farm tours, there are a lot of cash-happy entrepreneurs who are not showing up in our government employment statistics of people who’ve left the workforce and, will never return.

Which brings me to all the wonderful Airbnbs I’ve stayed in recently, including Maine and Norway. Our Maine one was owned by a local policeman who lived above us and happily produced two replacement MR-16 lightbulbs. He was a delight.

Anyone with a spare room or two, can “furnish” a rentable Airbnb from Ikea and appliances from Home Depot. And make extra money.

Airbnbs have one huge benefit. They usually have a washing machine/dryer, in contrast to hotel in Sweden which tried to charge me $196 to wash our bike clothes. That hotel put this brilliance in our room (in Swedish and English). Read it. The “logic” is impeccable.

The Fed continues to clobber

Here are the two paragraphs from Powell’s Friday speech that freaked the market on Friday (and less so today):

+ The Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) overarching focus right now is to bring inflation back down to our 2 percent goal. Price stability is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve and serves as the bedrock of our economy. Without price stability, the economy does not work for anyone. In particular, without price stability, we will not achieve a sustained period of strong labor market conditions that benefit all. The burdens of high inflation fall heaviest on those who are least able to bear them.

+ Restoring price stability will take some time and requires using our tools forcefully to bring demand and supply into better balance. Reducing inflation is likely to require a sustained period of below-trend growth. Moreover, there will very likely be some softening of labor market conditions. While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses. These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation. But a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain.

I added the bolding.

Blind Freddie can figure the Fed is determined to  clobber corporate sales and corporate earnings. And hence stock prices.

While the Fed clobbers, we will be in a bear market. That means we should own very few stocks — and concentrate what we do have in energy. I own OXY, CTRA, DVN and PXD. I don’t argue they’re the best. For today, they’ll do.

I also own one and two year treasuries which pay just under 3%. They have one big plus; They “tie” up my money from my temptations to do stupid — like gamble on Tesla or buy more stuff I don’t need. (Who needs another house, when there’s Airbnb?)

For Powell’s full Friday speech at Jackson Hole, click here.

Why waiting is torture

People complained about the slow elevators.

Solution: Don’t speed up the elevators. Put mirrors in them. That gives the passengers something to do, like look at themselves or others, without staring.

We hate waiting. There are people who study it and come up with sneaky ways to limit your annoyance — like moving Baggage Claim further from where you get off your plane. Walking is better than waiting.

From a New York Times article called Why Waiting Is Torture:

Fairness also dictates that the length of a line should be commensurate with the value of the product or service for which we’re waiting. The more valuable it is, the longer one is willing to wait for it. Hence the supermarket express line, a rare, socially sanctioned violation of first come first served, based on the assumption that no reasonable person thinks a child buying a candy bar should wait behind an old man stocking up on provisions for the Mayan apocalypse.

Read the entire piece here.

Ukraine and Putin profoundly depressing

My take: Putin is desperate to win Ukraine and will do anything to win, including calling up more, and more, and more untrained, raw recruits, also known as cannon fodder.

As the war grinds on and Putin uses oil and gas as a weapon (to lessen Germany’s motivation to help Ukraine), Europe will suffer economically. This will hurt U.S. firms who do business there. Europe will fall into recession. I’m guessing the Europeans will eventually learn that the only safe place for their money is the U.S. And that may help our stock market.

From the Washington Post:

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered the Russian military to increase the number of troops by 137,000 to a total of 1.15 million amid Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

Putin’s decree, which takes effect on Jan. 1, didn’t specify whether the military will beef up its ranks by drafting a bigger number of conscripts, increasing the number of volunteer soldiers or using a combination of both. But some Russian military analysts predicted it would rely heavily on volunteers, a cautious stand reflecting the Kremlin’s concerns about a possible fallout from an attempt to increase the draft.

The presidential decree will boost the overall number of Russian military personnel to 2,039,758, including 1,150,628 troops. A previous order put the military’s numbers at 1,902,758 and 1,013,628 respectively at the start of 2018….

All Russian men aged 18-27 must serve one year in the military, but a large share avoid the draft for health reasons or deferments granted to university students. The share of men who avoid the draft is particularly big in Moscow and other major cities…

For the full article, click here.

A death fatwa against Salmon Rushdie for his book Satanic Verses

I haven’t read Satanic Verses lately. I will this weekend. Meantime, here’s a couple of paragraphs from a reader who reviewed Satanic Verses on Amazon:

It’s fundamentalism, that’s what it is. Not exactly a spoiler. Those who struggle with a subconsciously held worry that their beliefs are fragile, puny, ephemeral and subject to destruction by countervailing views will always react with violence to any description of their orthodoxy which strays from the company line. And so it is with Satanic Verses. The true believer must leap to the defense of God, who by reason of frailty one supposes, is insufficiently strong to handle the defense himself. Apparently God exhausts himself with the first iteration of the revelation and must rely on believers to keep the revelation pure and unsullied by those who would vary the storyline. It’s sort of silly, although the silliness is somewhat blunted by the firebombs and terrorism with which believers often make their point.

The Satanic Verses is beautifully written, funny and marvelously inventive. Saladin, for instance, does not quite get the angelic treatment of Gibreel in that Saladin morphs into a faun, Pan, some sort of goat-legged horned-head Priapic sulfur stinking denizen of Hell with the personality of a complete sissy. It is a delightful read, and I wholeheartedly recommend it – just don’t read it looking for some hardcore blasphemy. Beats me if it’s in there anywhere.

By the way, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini the fellow who issued the death fatwa againt Rushdie, never read the book The Satanic Verses.

So which stocks to buy?

I’m impressed by the products Yeti is putting out. I like using Zoom. I am captivated by Nvidia’s technology. I love buying from Amazon. Google helps me to be “smart.” (Appear smart?)

But oih, look at their stocks over the past year. It’s enough to abandon my faith in technology.

It will return. It will return.

Judith Durham, who sang with Australia’s the Seekers, died recently at 79

There is a movement in Australia to make I Am Australian, their national anthem. Right now, Waltzing Matilda, is Australia’s unofficial national anthem.

Here’s Judith singing both.

The matilda is the folded handkerchief that the swagman (tramp) carries on a long stick  over his shoulder.

The matilda contains all his worldly goods. (It was written before Amazon.)

As he walks down the the street, the matilda bounces and up down. Hence it waltzes.

The swagman comes to a sad ending. But the song is sung with gusto in Australia, who have my perverse sense of humor.

The family and I are going to Australia in December.

I was born in Sydney. If someone asks, I’ll explain the entire Waltzing Matilda here.

Harry Newton.