Quora: What small thing can each individual do every day to help shrink the wealth gap?


Figure out ways to own strong, appreciating, assets.

If you don’t own any assets and you just earn your salary and save your money. You strive for a certain percentage raise per year. Well, so does your boss and bosses boss and so on. They make more than you, so as time goes on, their dollar value increases faster than yours and the gap grows in perpetuity.

Another thing you can do, and many may not want to hear this — and I hate to get political — but perhaps something would be to get involved with politics and embrace capitalism. True Capitalism, that is.

To make myself clear, we do NOT have proper capitalism today. If we had true capitalism, the banks would have been allowed to fail and go bankrupt in 2008 during the GFC. Yes, it would have hurt, but we would have come out the other side stronger, with smarter institutions (in my opinion). Iceland was the model to follow.

But with true capitalism and limited regulations, it would provide more opportunity for the little guys to start their own companies, create more competition, and bridge the gap.

[Gee, for a self-proclaimed independent, I sure sound Republican, huh? To be clear, Establishment Republicans today aren’t real Republicans. And we definitely need some regulations in place and some social services. But enough of that political jibjab.]

Business ownership is the ONLY way to close the gap. If you have more businesses, it’s more competition, each business makes a little less money, and the gap closes. And again, the way to create more businesses is to remove as many barriers as possible to start new businesses. Case in point, look at what Amazon AWS service has done for the software industry. Million-Dollar, even billion-dollar businesses have started with an Amazon account and a credit card.

And to be clear, buying shares or acquiring equity in a business is a form of business ownership. I’ll even posit here that real estate is a form of business (it’s an asset, anyway).


WSJ: In this Economy, Quitters are Winning

[LinkedIn Post]

Commentary on this article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-this-economy-quitters-are-winning-1530702001

Don’t read this if you’re happy in you’re current role! The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Be thankful you’re happy. BUT…

If you aren’t happy, do something about it! Life is short; don’t waste time that you can’t get back. This is as good an economy as it gets. I love working, but I know I’m not normal.

If working is miserable to you, in general, at least be miserable with 30% more dollars in your pocket! 🙂

I know loads of folks hiring in digital analytics and data science. Demand is larger than Supply.

I also know individuals that are looking (secretly) and I’m happy to match where I can. I’m here to help. Society is better when ppl are happy.


More Big Retails Closing Stores


Amazon is buying physical (Whole Foods Market), partnering with physical (Kohl’s), and building physical (AmazonGo) while traditional retailers shrink.

Right-sizing for the changing consumer behavior and adjusting the business to market conditions are part of business. 

There are some great brands on this list. Are they shrinking physical and ramping digital to fight back? Are they thinking about total Customer Experience?

I love American Apparel clothes and used to buy a lot from them. But I haven’t bought anything from them in many years. They’ve done a poor job of nurturing our relationship and I’ve moved on.

Maybe Toys ‘R’ Us should go all digital, create a toys-only marketplace online, and adopt “seasonal store” model, like Spirit Halloween.

Amazon is fantastic and has certainly changed my consumer behaviors. But they are not the end-all-be-all of retail. Companies that invest in the right areas and leverage their existing assets well, still have a great opportunity to thrive.

Silicon Valley is Losing her Luster

According to The Kaufman Foundation 2017 Startup Activity report, SF & San Jose slipped several spots. Cities such as Miami, Austin, and Los Angeles are moving up. St. Louis, Cincinnati and San Antonio are cities that jumped up the most.

Silicon Valley will always be Silicon Valley. It is la creme de la creme. But it makes perfect sense, and is good overall, for entrepreneurship to extend beyond the valley.

The greatest concentration of engineers is in the valley. The greatest concentration of venture money is in the valley. But if I’m starting a new company, I wouldn’t start it in SF; it’s just too darn expensive.

We used to live up in SF area and we have a strong network still there. But, even if we wanted to move back, it would be extremely difficult to do (while maintaining the same lifestyle). The bang for the buck is so much better outside of the valley. As a company, I think you could attract the talent with a pretty good salary (but much less than a SV rate) and better cost-of-living. A $200K salary in the bay area is perhaps $100-120K outside, but that person can get a 3-Bdrm, 2-Bath house for $250K Vs $2M.

We’ve thought about moving out of California as well because the state taxes are ridiculous. This makes Texas and Florida very appealing (we do enjoy the sun). But alas, California weather is the best. Where else can you Snowboard and Surf on the same day?

I do like the start-up activity moving south. Los Angeles is nice, but the traffic is terrible. I’d love to see more companies moving down to Irvine. It will happen, I’m certain, the appeal is too great (think SF to San Jose). If a company is really good, the talent and money will come to it.

China Yield Curve just went Inverted

China’s 10 year just went lower than the 5 year. 

Yet another sign (and this one is a screamer) that China may be the catalyst to the coming (and long overdue) global bust. Note that this has NEVER happened in China’s history.

In the US, this has happened 7 times. And each time led to a recession.

An inverted yield curve is when the longer-term bond yields are lower than shorter-term bond yields from the same entity (E.g., Sovereign Bonds). This situation is largely seen as a predictor of a recession.

This is a pretty rare occurrence. I mean, why would you tie your money up for a longer period at a lower yield? It doesn’t make financial sense. If I’m going commit money for a longer period, naturally, you want a higher rate of return. So what this is saying is that investors are showing little confidence in the economy, such that they want their money tied up for a longer term. The alternative is taking the shorter term and having to find another parking spot when the bond matures (and presumably the economy is weaker and that same bond would be yielding an even lower rate than today).

Also, it makes banks lending tighter. They won’t borrow short-term money to lend out long-term with an inverted yield curve. Look at the drop in M2:

China WMP – Is this the Catalyst to the Coming Crash?

A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.

It is said that US Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Bernie Madoff was the biggest, most famous Ponzi scheme. Apparently, Chinese banks (including State-owned ones) are running Ponzi schemes.

Chinese banks are selling Wealth Management Products (WMP). These products offer ~5-8%+ of “guaranteed” returns. But these aren’t bonds. WMPs are something like the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Guess what took down Lehman? … CDOs. :/

Look where these things invest:

Madoff was a $65B Ponzi scheme. China WMP are at $9-Trillion. Markets are as inter-connected as they’ve ever been. Once there is a failure and people start to panic and pull money out of these things, it’s over.

Apparently though, the Chinese consumers feel like their money is safe (at least the principal). The Government will bail them out, if there are any problems (like FDIC insurance, in a way).

This is why Kyle Bass has been betting against the Yuan. His theory is that the Chinese Gov’t will have to drastically devalue the Yuan to save the system. Remember, many of these are State-owned banks investing in State-owned projects.

Read more at Jim Rickard’s Daily Reckoning blog.

Could the DOW Really Double From Here?

Hedgefund manager Erik Townsend hosts a podcast called MacroVoices. This week he had Martin Armstrong on. I like to listen to podcasts at Overcast.fm because you can adjust the speed (save time).

Martin Armstrong makes his case for why the DOW could double from here, despite being already “over valued” or at elevated levels. Essentially, government debt sucks, the DOW is the best of the worst and money can/will come from all over the world.

I believe that stocks are currently overvalued and are way overdue for a crash. US GDP numbers for Q1 2017 came out at 0.7% , which means fundamentals aren’t supporting the asset prices. This makes it really, really hard to buy. But maybe another reason to buy. Usually the hardest trade is the right one.

I’m going to wait and see what happens with the government shutdown. The decision was put off a week. Also, there is the Sell in May motto. If things hold through mid-May, perhaps I’ll dip my toe into this fear trade.


2017 Best Jobs in America and 2017 Worst Jobs in America

Careercast.com released its annual job rankings for 2017. They rank 200 careers based on Income, Growth Outlook, Work Environment, and Stress.

It’s no surprise that the top jobs are STEM-based. I do question the algorithm. I mean, they have Computer Programmer at #49 with Projected Growth = “Very Poor”. Aerospace Engineer also gets Very Poor Projected Growth, despite defense spending continuously increasing, despite Jeff Bezos’ investment in the space, despite the future of personal flying devices and the growth of drone technologies and uses.

Yet, the Projected Growth for Hair Stylists is Good.

Also surprising are some of the jobs towards the bottom of the list. Firefighter at #193. I never met a firefighter that didn’t love their career. They love the schedule and the security (pension) and they ENJOY fighting fires.

In fact, the further I dig into this, the less I value this report. In fact, I’d say that I don’t value it much at all. But it’s still interesting to see.


Is this the Top of Toronto’s Housing Bubble?

I am from Toronto. It is a fabulous city. All my family is there. I’d probably live there, if not for my obsession with sunny weather. But even if I wanted to move there, I couldn’t afford to. House prices are absolutely ridiculous.

A couple weeks ago, the gov’t put a 15% tax on foreign buyers. A similar measure by Vancouver last year put a halt to Vancouver’s housing bubble.

But maybe even more important, Canada’s biggest mortgage lender, Home Capital Group, crashed as it made arrangements for an emergency line of credit. Read more here.

New Century crashed on March 8, 2017. Look what followed:

I haven’t lived in Canada for over 20 years, so I’m not intimately familiar with the mortgage application process and what not. But I believed that it was much more stringent that the US. I didn’t think there was any concept of “Liar Loans”, but maybe I’m wrong. Greed is greed and people will get very creative when chasing money.

What I’ve always been concerned about with respect to the Toronto bubble is the loans themselves. Interest rates are a historical lows and have been low for a very long time. Is this sustainable? Canada doesn’t have long term fixed interest rate loans like in the US. I believe most people are on a 5 year variable. If interest rates spiked (or even started to rise), that will be doomsday for folks who already extended themselves to buy a home within the bubble.

Clash of the Titans: Euro Predictions

Jim Rickards and Martin Armstrong. These are two individuals that I hold in very high regard for their opinions. They are Super Heavy-weights in my mind. Each came out with opposing views with respect to where the Euro is heading.




Armstrong says the Euro doesn’t stand a chance. Rickards says the Euro is poised for a strong rally this summer.

Very, very interesting… Only time will tell.