Certified ChatGPT Free

Yesterday, my wonderful wife and I met our new financial consultant. We have been using the same brokerage company for 15 years and for almost all of that time have had the same consultant, even after we moved to Arizona. He was based in the mid-Atlantic.

Our previous consultant left the brokerage late last year and in a rare mistake the company assigned our account to a consultant not licensed in Arizona. We decided to “move” our money to Arizona although it’s all under the same umbrella.

During the meeting our new consultant asked me what I thought of ChatGPT. I told him I thought it was scary and that such AI technology would permanently change society, and not for the better, within ten years. He said he thought it wouldn’t take that long. He could very well be right, of course.

Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. I told our consultant that I was glad I was in my 60s and retired so I didn’t think the negative implications of AI run amok would affect me too much.


In case he hadn’t read it, I sent the link to this post to long-time friend VM. We met in the early 1980s while in graduate school at the University of Delaware.

He worked as a Regulatory Economist for the local power company for many years and later joined the Economics faculty of our alma mater. He recently retired after more than two decades there, in part so he can pursue his real passion, numismatics. Here is his email commenting on the linked post.


My thought about the zero interest rate policy in response to the pandemic (which I agree was stupid) is that it was a throwback to what the Fed did in the financial crisis.  Though it could be argued that zero interest rates were appropriate for the financial crisis, what made it such a disastrous policy this time around was that the pandemic was followed by massive fiscal outlays to address the economic decline.  These fiscal outlays were NOT present during the financial crisis.  Given the fiscal stimulus during the pandemic, there was simply no need for the Fed to follow a policy of accommodation (i.e. zero interest rates) especially given that the economic downturn in the economy had nothing to do with interest rates.  It was a terrible mistake by the Fed – it stoked the inflation rate that was already beginning to climb – and then the Fed blundered again by thinking that the inflation was “transient”. It’s hard for me to believe that with all of the ivy league PhD’s at the Fed that they could be so inept.

And I’m sure you’ll agree with questioning the wisdom of the fiscal stimulus.  Since when did it become the responsibility of government to make sure that everyone remains whole during an economic downturn?  There are many legitimate hardship cases among lower-income individuals, but “no money sense” is also a primary driver for the condition many of these folks are in.  (I see it in my own family.)  Of course I have no interest in helping the guy that wants to smoke pot all day instead of doing something productive, but I also have no interest in helping the person that chooses to go out to dinner six days a week and ends up with in little money for much else.  I have no interest in helping the guy who chooses to have a $75,000 Ford F350 for his daily 30-mile commute but has little money for much else.

A little belt-tightening never hurt anyone.  We already have unemployment insurance for job losses and other larger programs to help the down-trodden.  They have been in place forever.  We shouldn’t have been throwing money at people that had no interest in economizing or getting more efficiency out of what money they did have. But government was anything but discriminatory when it was handing out money like candy during the pandemic.  Add in the inevitable supply shocks that WERE a legitimate result of the pandemic and you have the perfect storm for inflation. I saw this in 2020.  How could the Fed be so blind?


Of course, I agree with VM. The failure of SVB and other banks is, in part, due to the Fed making a hard turn regarding interest rates because it failed to see the need for a soft turn sooner. In any event, since a large part of current inflation is supply-driven, monetary policy is not a panacea for the situation. In the linked post, Musicus Interruptus, I wrote:


I believe that we need the Federal Reserve Bank as a lender of last resort when all hell breaks loose. However, the Fed has too much power to be wielded by mere mortals. I believe it was Milton Friedman who advocated increasing the money supply by a fixed amount, say 2.5%, every year. When recession hit, the increase in the money supply would soften the blow. When the economy heated up to the point where inflation was a risk, the modest annual increase would act as a brake.


Anyway, I wanted to share VM’s cogent and informed reply to the post. Sorry, no automobile material or pictures today.






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Did the Fed blink?

CNBC’s Jim Cramer opined that Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has blinked. In early October Powell stated that he thought current Fed rates were far short of the “neutral” rate that neither stimulates nor dampens the economy, implying more rate hikes for 2019. Yesterday, Powell said that the rates were close to the neutral rate. Equity markets loved that news and stock prices soared.

Say what you want about Jim Cramer’s on-air histrionics, but he is a VERY smart man and was very successful running a hedge fund. He has been critical of the stance of Powell and the Fed regarding interest rates and the US economy. It looks as though Powell has listened to Cramer, either explicitly or implicitly.

I think it is a sad state of affairs that more Americans know who Kim Kardashian is (I don’t care if I spelled her name correctly) than who Jerome Powell is. Ignorance is NOT bliss!

FWIW, Cramer does not believe that China is a “friend” of the US. I believe that China, at least in their own hemisphere if not both, wants to be the dominant world power. Whether they can accomplish that goal before their population gets really old is an open question, in my opinion. (FYI, in 2017 the US trade deficit with China in goods AND services amounted to 1.7% of US GDP. I guess you can decide whether or not that’s a significant number.)

I love cars, but I live in the real world. As much as I despise politics, what large national governments do affects us all whether we realize it or not.


In an episode of the original Top Gear, the hosts stated their opinion that Lancia has built more great cars than any other company in history. On this day in 1906, Lancia was founded.


From hiconsumption.com a picture of the Lancia Stratos, one of the most successful rally cars in history. I really like the look of this car except for the box handle spoiler at the back of the roof.



From thedrive.com a picture of a Lancia Fulvia. A recent episode of Wheeler Dealers featured this model.

Fiat purchased Lancia in 1969. At first, the Lancia name stayed “independent” and the production of a model like the Stratos was a manifestation of that “independence.” Eventually, Lancia models really became badge-engineered Fiats.

At this moment I believe the only model with the Lancia name is the Ypsilon “supermini” built on the Fiat Mini/Fiat 500 platform. If Wikipedia is to be believed, then Lancia production has declined dramatically: from 300,000 cars in 1990 to 60,000 in 2017. Lancias were sold officially in the US only from 1975 to 1982. As I have written before a Stratos model recently sold on Bring a Trailer for $440,000.


I’m sorry, but does any other place exist where one can read a discussion of Fed policy AND about the Lancia automobile? If you like this blog, PLEASE tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.


P.S. From corvetteblogger.com comes this news about the key fob and LOGO for the C8 Corvette being unearthed from an FCC filing. Very big news, IMO.