Tuesday, July 04, 2017

My Review of "Prosperity Without Growth:Foundations For The Economy Of Tomorrow"

5 out of 5 stars

What struck me as very consequential in the book, by Tim Jackson, is that in the two decades in Japan of low growth following good growth during the previous decades, life expectancy grew nicely.

Thus, the question the book explores, is GDP growth necessary for prosperity? It all depends on how one measures prosperity. Jackson says there should be a Subjective Well-Being measurement, kind of a middle ground measurement between a totally consumer material goods and totally socially oriented economy. Poorer societies do need more consumption to achieve basic human needs of hunger, shelter, etc, but having achieved those basic needs for most of its people, societies need less consumer goods consumption and more services - all together maybe of lesser monetary economic value.

The book does look at the 2008 financial crash and how it brought the world closer together, as needed, since one of the causes of the crash had been less economic coordination.

Bottom line, the book is excellent in showing GDP growth numbers, alone, can be very misleading in measuring prosperity. I recommend the book......
#Amazon

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Portfolio "Update"

I sold my CAT, CDK and HYH (CDK and HYH were spinoffs from ADP and KMB), while adding some IBM and GIS, basically to narrow down the number of stocks in my portfolio and focus better on my dividend growers. The portfolio is ordered by largest position to smallest....

 WBA (Walgreen Boots Alliance)
 PG (Procter and Gamble)
PEP (PepsiCo)
HAS (Hasbro)
MMM (3M)
T (AT&T
GPC (Genuine Parts)
VZ (Verizon)
KO (Coca Cola
MAT (Mattel)
ADP (Automatic Data Processing)
KMB (Kimberly Clark)
IBM (International Business Machines)
GIS (General Mills)
K (Kellogg)
HPQ (Hewlett-Packard)
SYY (Sysco)
DPS (Dr. Pepper Snapple)
6% GNMA (Government National Mortgage Association) Bonds

This portfolio represents about 30% of my assets, about 15% is a home mortgage, about 2% precious metals and collectibles, and the rest are CDs.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Review of "Automatic Society"

Worthy subject, bad thinking....

2 out of 5 stars

The author looks at how work has been de-humanized to the point of being just part of a society structured around, as he calls it, computational capitalism, a system where consumer consumption is the measure of success. And, we are ruled by "algorithmic govermentality."

Sure, automation has lead to less needed human work hours, and there is dignity to hard work, be it manual or intellectual. But, this is the way progress happens. The world is the healthiest (longest life expectancy), most educated, etc. By the way, video games require higher order thinking than reading (parallel vs sequential thinking). Not that one replaces the other, just that most everyone's brain is more capable of the creative and critical thinking the author thinks has been lost.

Bottom line, I think this book is misguided AND masked with words so pedantic, one needs a dictionary to read almost every page.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Portfolio "Update"

I sold my Chevron (CVX) and added General Mills (GIS). My portfolio, ordered by largest position to smallest....

WBA (Walgreen)
PG (Procter and Gamble)
PEP (PepsiCo)
HAS (Hasbro)
GPC (Genuine Parts)
MMM (3M)
T (AT&T
VZ (Verizon)
MAT (Mattel)
KO (Coca Cola)
ADP (Automatic Data Processing)
KMB (Kimberly Clark)
K (Kellogg)
IBM (International Business Machines)
SYY (Sysco)
HPQ (Hewlett-Packard)
CAT (Caterpillar)
DPS (Dr. Pepper Snapple)
CDK (CDK Global)
GIS (General Mills)
HYH (Halyard Health)
6% GNMA (Government National Mortgage Association) Bonds

This portfolio represenents about 25% of my assets, about 16% is a home mortgage, about 3% precious metals and collectibles, and the rest are CDs.





Sunday, January 22, 2017

The New Economy

As a new president begins handling the economy, my take on where we stand now....

The US stock, bond and RE markets are near all time record highs, with low inflation, and about 8 years of economic expansion and the world's best economy at nearly full employment. Most importantly, this has been achieved through great innovation - the Cloud, Big Data, Mobility, Robotics, the Energy Revolution, etc. And, geopolitically, a minor amount of American casualties. Thus, a solid economy.

Unfinished business, so to speak, is large income inequality and a high number of underemployed workers. Plus, about $20T of national debt.

As it looks now, the new president offers reduced corporate income taxes including repatriation of foreign income, reduced personal income taxes, reduced corporate regulations, an infrastructure program, a protectionist trade policy, a restrictive immigration policy, repealing/replacing ACA, and cutting federal programs except the military

With nearly full employment and a proposed restrictive immigration policy, there will likely be a shortage of workers for any large, new infrastructure program. Already there is a shortage of low end agricultural and construction workers. It seems the biggest need for whatever slack there is in our workforce is for retraining many for the new, more technology advanced economy. Thus, no short term benefit can be expected from such a new infrastructure program. Plus, with our aging demographics, we should be facilitating greater immigration and legalizing not deporting illegal residents. On top of that, repealing/replacing ACA could throw our healthcare workforce, an important part of our growing workforce, into disarray. So, overall, a questionable worker program.

In conclusion, tax cuts and less regulation would likely stimulate the economy short term, but longer term, they are of questionable worth since there is no certainty how long or how much our economy can expand until the next recession, plus with such a large national debt, we are in terrible shape to handle the next recession. So, seems with a healthy economy, instead of continuing our slow and steady progress, we are introducing massive uncertainty, not to mention a major expected foreign policy reset.





Saturday, August 06, 2016

My Review of "The Fix"

4 out of 5 stars.

The book, by Jonathan Tepperman, excellently looks into the world situation, as many describe as hopeless, but sees many examples of extraordinary success in tackling big problems and presents them as ways which might also be used elsewhere. The common denominator of the successes is using pragmatism, not looking for perfection, but moving positively.

First, he sees the Terrible Ten problems being income inequality, immigration, corruption, Islamic extremism, civil war, the resource curse, energy, the middle income trap, gridlock I, and gridlock II.

As for possible improvements, I will cover these.....

Brazil's poverty.

Rather than lots of social programs, Lula introduced Bolsa Familia, just giving poor families cash  with certain rules, like having the kids attend school so that future generations will have greater chances for success in addition to making the parents better consumers. And being cheaper for the government. Basically combining left wing goals with right wing, Milton Friedman  economics......pragmatism.

 Canada's need for more people, but white resistance, even from existing minorities.

So, rather than an incremental approach to immigration, mass immigration with strict vetting for those most likely to help the economy, resulting in a true multicultural nation. And with strong government support for multiculturalism, it made the nation more Canadian, not less.

Mexican gridlock.

Since the winning party had no majority, it created a plan to have all three major parties participate.

America's shale revolution

It really could only happen in the US because of such things like its bankruptcy laws which encourage risk taking, RE laws which sometimes allow residential land owners also mineral rights thus encouraging investment returns for average people, Wall Street lending/investment, environmental costs effectively managed, lesser population density than Europe, etc.

Other topics include Rwanda's overcoming its genocidal past, Indonesia overcoming terrorism, Singapore overcoming corruption and lack of natural resources and Botswana overcoming conflicts over new diamond riches.

Sure, it takes special situations, like good leaders or just good luck, but all counties or governments could gain insights from the book, hence I recommend it.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Review of "California Comeback"

California Comeback

4 out of 5 stars.....

The author, Narda Zacchino, is well-qualified to analyze what is happening in California, both by growing up and having a long, distinguished journalism career in California.

And I, having lived in California since 1973, think she has done a fine job in concluding that this is not just a comeback, but as her subtitle states, a model for the nation.

The book starts with the California Dream beginning with the 1849 Gold Rush and the hope for anyone striking instant wealth, but just story-like until 1963 when CA overtook NY as the most populous state, signaling the Eastern elite better take notice. Governor Pat Brown, inspired by FDR's New Deal, basically had brought about a CA New Deal,

Then CA turns Right, the Reagan Revolution, all leading up to the 2008 crash, where CA was ridiculed.

Enter Jerry Brown, Pat's son, as governor in 2011. Having been governor from 1975 to 1983, plus having served in many positions like Secretary of State, Attorney General and Oakland mayor. Always socially liberal and fiscally conservative, plus with such experience, pragmatic, he set CA on a remarkable path, just passing France as the world's 6th largest economy and distancing itself from the previously heralded Texas model.

The book covers many more details and history, such that I do recommend the book.