"When you are standing at the pinnacle of financial Journalism you are standing at sea level." ~James Grant

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April 23rd, 2014

    With veep Joe Biden supervising the U.S. involvement in the Ukraine-Russia affair and President Obama flying off to Asia to set things straight, we can turn our attention to other matters such as finally getting tomato plants in and seeds planted. It's been a chilly spring in our part of the south.  With grocery prices inching up at a steady rate we'll be happy to consume our beans, squash, tomatoes, and other garden fresh vegetables this summer.  Nutritious, tax-free food!  What's not to like?  (We did pay sales tax on seed.)

     The quote from James Grant in the upper left corner is taken from the video of a speech he recently made.  Among the several points that he made, this one stood out in our mind:  "Thirty-six percent of Americans have savings of $1,000.00 or less."

     As a boy we thought $1,000.00 was a huge fortune.  But at the time the expression "going like sixty" meant traveling very fast.  Driving 60MPH on a highway today is considered a snail's pace and $1,000.00 a drop in the bucket.  And a third of Americans have that or less set aside in savings?  

     One could argue there's not much point to saving these days.  The Federal Reserve's low interest atmosphere has led to piddling or non-existent rates of interest on common bank accounts.  Bond yields have not been spectacular, and high risk stocks can be unnerving as well as unprofitable in the long run. 

     What next?  Predictions of higher inflation are making the rounds again.  The precious metals prices, on the other hand, are flashing a deflation signal.  Anyone who knows absolutely what the next eight months hold, and manages his/her spare cash accordingly, will do very well.  The rest of us will make our bets and keep our fingers crossed.  


An Unsettling Report from Britain

  (United Kingdom) - - "At least 1,000 hospital patients are dying needlessly each month from dehydration and poor care by doctors and nurses, according to an NHS study. The deaths from acute kidney injury could be prevented by simple steps such as nurses ensuring patients have enough to drink and doctors reviewing their medication, the researchers say. Between 15,000 and 40,000 patients die annually because hospital staff fail to diagnose the treatable kidney problem, a figure that dwarfs the death toll from superbugs like MRSA."  Dehydration Kills < This appears to be another downside to nationalized medical care.  

     Dehydration is dangerous to the human anatomy and particularly may affect people in hospitals.  The elderly, whether hospitalized or not, are often under hydrated.  Some fail to realize it and make matters worse by sipping coffee all day...coffee being a natural diuretic.  

     This report on dehydrated patients in Britain is an eye opener.  

      Dehydration is damaging to kidneys.  Why risk it?  Have a glass of water!

Don't become undone by come-ons like this:

    "On July 1, 2014 the U.S. Dollar Will Officially Collapse; because, on this date, U.S. House of Representative Bill 'H.R. 2847' goes into full effect, making it essentially impossible for Americans to protect their savings."

     This bill is an attempt to identify Americans who park money overseas away from the prying eyes of the IRS.  Foreign banks must start reporting these accounts to the IRS on July 1st and, likewise, American banks must report deposits they hold from foreigners to officials in their home country.  This will be a pain for smaller banks, particularly, and many are refusing to accept accounts from foreigners because of the cost involved in handling the data.  

        To suggest the dollar will collapse on July 1st is ridiculous.  It's true the U.S. dollar has been declining in purchasing power for a very long time.  The value of the 1913 dollar, for example, has become about ,  That looks like quite a wipeout to us!  

    "In the current discussions about increased inequality, few researchers, fewer reporters, and no one in the executive branch of government directly addresses what seems to be the strongest statistical correlate of inequality in the United States: the rise of single-parent families during the past half century."

     It's politically incorrect, of course, to suggest that single-parent families are not as economically effective as two-parent families - - but data strongly suggest that's the case.  If no one is looking you may wish to check out statistics and draw your own conclusions.  An Inequality Culprit


     "Golf has always reveled in its standards and rich tradition. But increasingly a victim of its own image and hidebound ways, golf has lost five million players in the last decade, according to the National Golf Foundation, with 20 percent of the existing 25 million golfers apt to quit in the next few years. People under 35 have especially spurned the game."   (N.Y. Times)  

   Uh-oh!  Has golf reached its zenith in popularity?  Is the young crowd abandoning the sport for something else?  Or, maybe it's too slow and time consuming for the fast-paced 21st century.

   We've always thought of golf as healthful, drawing players into the fresh air for long walks. We took it up for a while in the 1960s until we were injured in a car wreck which sidelined us for a long time. 

   The late cynic H.L. Mencken was quite undone when, in a 1948 radio interview, he remarked that journalists of his acquaintance and taken up golf.  Abandoning bar rooms for the golf course seemed to him to be strange behavior for news men.

   Who knows?  Maybe this will lead to a revival of Putt Putt Golf!  A lot less distance is involved and one does not need to rent a motorized cart to get oneself around the course.


Change your passwords on any website that contains sensitive information about you. You should first confirm that the site does not contain the Heartbleed vulnerability. 

If you’ve reused passwords on multiple sites, it’s especially important to change them. .

Beware of phishing emails and type website addresses directly in your browser instead of clicking on a link through an email.
Monitor your bank and credit card accounts for unusual activity.

   This appears to be sensible advice, but is a sad commentary on the safety of digital communications. New threats are constantly surfacing.  It's a veritable war between users and malicious hackers intent on stealing whatever they can.