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.

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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.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.hiconsumption.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/1974-Lancia-Stratos-HF-Stradale-0-HERO.jpg

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.

 

https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/1975-lancia-fulvia.jpg?quality=85&w=1717&h=966

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.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Wednesday Weirdo

Actually, I’m a weirdo every day of the week, but you don’t need me to tell you that. 🙂

Halloween? My parents had been in the US only about two years when I was born. I may have physically grown up in America, but culturally I was not raised here. My mother disapproved of Halloween. “You go around and beg for food,” she used to say with disdain. I think I only went trick or treating twice in my life. Of course, I didn’t need a costume as I looked scary enough on my own. I don’t consider Halloween to be anything except an excuse to eat candy; it does not remotely approach holiday status for me.

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I have owned two Corvettes and my next car will almost certainly be a custom restomod C2 Corvette that I will buy and/or build. I love high performance cars with what I consider to be great styling, like this car:

https://i2.wp.com/www.extravaganzi.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ferrari-365-GTB4-Daytona2.jpg

From extravaganzi.com a picture of a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona.”

 

So why do I love a car like this? See, I told you I was a weirdo.

https://disaffectedmusings.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/e8f49-1989_nissan_figaro_concept_01.jpg?w=1448&h=966

From pistonheads.com a picture of a Nissan Figaro. The Figaro was produced only for the 1991 model year. Originally only 8,000 were going to be made, but the demand was so high that Nissan ended up producing 20,000 of them.

They were powered by a turbocharged 987cc (everybody chime in, 60 cubic inches for Bill Stephens) inline 4-cylinder engine that produced 76 HP/78 LB-FT of torque. The Figaro had a three-speed automatic transmission.

I have a couple of pictures of me sitting in a Figaro at a local auto gathering, but didn’t want to show any of them here. I have shown a picture of me on this blog, but I was with three other people so it isn’t clear which of those people is me. In the Figaro photos I am the only person in the picture. See, I told you I was a weirdo.

Do I have to say it? The Nissan Figaro is adorable. Since all of the cars are now more than 25 years old they can be legally imported into the US. What do you think of the Figaro?

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Thanks to everyone from the Corvette Forum who read yesterday’s post making it one of the most read posts on Disaffected Musings. If you like this blog, please tell your friends and please share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com).

Thanks to everyone who read this blog this month. October has had more views, unique visitors, likes and comments than August and September combined. I am grateful; please keep reading and please feel free to post thoughtful comments.

Here are the most read posts on Disaffected Musings not counting, of course, the home page:

1) Sunday Studebaker

2) Paean For Pontiac

3) Saturday Studebaker

4) Tuesday Notes

Thanks to 56packardman for posting links to this blog, when relevant, on other car forums.

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Thanks to an interesting email dialogue with Steve Dallas I am re-considering the engine choice for my restomod C2 Corvette build. He pointed out that in the real world titanium connecting rods and intake valves (stock on the LS7 engine) are really not a difference maker and that a crate LS3 can be purchased that makes more HP out of the box than the LS7.

I am not an unintelligent person, but I know that I don’t know everything about anything. As the title of a book by the late, great Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver said, “It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts.” I think that many people who suffer from delusions of grandeur and delusions of omniscience are really among the most ignorant. The more one learns the more one should realize how much they don’t know.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Here We Go

The Khashoggi incident shows that the Saudi leadership is hardly an enlightened group and still believes in medieval methods. I would love it if the US never bought another drop of oil from Saudi Arabia. Before one compares what happened to Khashoggi to US interrogation of terrorists, Khashoggi was no terrorist.

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My love of cars with internal combustion engines may seem very inconsistent with my desire to stop buying oil from the Saudis. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” I believe that the phrase “a foolish consistency” applies to those who blindly follow a particular ideology. Repeat after me: NO ONE has a monopoly on truth and wisdom and neither does ANY ideology.

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An interesting set of comments from BMW’s head of research and development, Klaus Fröhlich, as quoted here in Automobile Magazine: “If you assume that, from this 30 percent [pure electric cars and hybrids], half of them are plug-in hybrids—I have 85 percent in my portfolio in 2030 with a combustion engine.” Fröhlich also remarked, “But the world—Russia, Australia, a large portion of the world—they will have combustion engines for a very long time.”

More than 1.2 billion cars and trucks are owned by citizens all over the world and almost all of those vehicles run on gasoline or diesel. Every year, more than 70 million new cars and trucks are purchased by people all over the world and most of those run on gasoline or diesel. Even forgetting that the manufacture of plastics is based on petroleum, the sheer number of vehicles in the world using internal combustion engines means that the oil infrastructure is not going away any time soon. Countries that seek to ban all internal combustion engine vehicles from operating within their borders in the intermediate future are seeking a pipe dream and/or a harmful disruption to their economies. “Be careful what you wish for because you may get it.”

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Does that last statement apply to winning the lottery? The level of Mega Millions ticket sales has boosted the annuity value of the jackpot to $970 million and the cash value to $548 million. I believe this is the second highest jackpot in US lottery history. I can’t find rock-solid research on this topic, but I have read in multiple places that about two-thirds of lottery winners are bankrupt within five years of their win. I have my theories as to why that might happen, if true, but those theories are extremely politically incorrect and I am not interested in starting a flame war. I will simply repeat something I have written here: Ignorance is NOT bliss.

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If my wonderful wife and I were to win the Mega Millions lottery, what other cars might I buy besides a C2 Corvette and a De Tomaso Longchamp? Earlier this week I showed the 1987 Buick GNX as a possible purchase. How about this?

See the source image

From hotrod.com a picture of a 1967 Mercury Cougar with what I think are non-standard wheels. While every regular Disaffected Musings reader knows I am not a big FoMoCo fan because of its founder, I like to think I am an agnostic when it comes to cars. That is, with the exception of Volkswagen and Porsche, I try to judge the car apart from its manufacturer.

While the Cougar was basically a Ford Mustang with a different body I think the Cougar is a great example of crisp American styling. I didn’t show the front end, but I am a big fan of hidden headlights, which is one of the very few topics about which I can be accused of preferring form over function.

Six 1967 Cougars are currently listed for sale on Hemmings, not counting auction vehicles. The asking prices range from $8,000 to $29,900 with four of the six listed at less than $20,000. I didn’t grow up with money so maybe that’s a partial explanation as to why I like so many cars that are not expensive.

OK, folks…what cars would you buy if you won an unimaginable amount of money?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

It’s safe to assume these people aren’t reading this

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentinelese

Have you heard of these people? They live, virtually isolated from the rest of the world, on North Sentinel Island in the Andaman Islands of India. They resist attempts at contact with people from the “outside” world, have no metal-working ability nor have they mastered fire.

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From the late and famous writer and professor, Isaac Asimov:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

If you ask someone on the American right about controlling federal deficits, many will answer, “just cut foreign aid.” When informed that foreign aid represents less than one percent of US federal government spending, many of these people will reply, “That’s a lie. It’s like 25 percent. You must be a part of the conspiracy.”

Ask someone on the American left about the same topic and they’ll just tell you to tax the rich because, “80 percent of America’s wealthy inherited their wealth.” When you tell them that 80% of American millionaires are first-generation millionaires, many of these people will reply, “That’s a lie. You must be wealthy.”

Ignorance is NOT bliss.

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OK, what car is this?

From carbuzz.com…the only hint is that it is a concept car.

Monday Musings

Little doubt exists that the Chinese government is enabling its steel and aluminum companies to sell at prices low enough to suppress the market. The debate is the remedy.

The trade deficit amount has NOTHING to do with the amount of the national debt. The national debt is, basically, the accumulation of federal government deficits and surpluses as measured by outstanding government debt. A trade deficit is when the value of a country’s imports exceeds that of its exports. Having a trade deficit is a drag on a country’s GDP, but does not directly have anything to do with government deficits. It is disappointing to read and to hear how many people think the two issues are directly related. An uninformed public is a dangerous thing. Ignorance is NOT bliss.

Enough on policy…I am still hoping to read about what cars you drive. Here is a car I used to own:

This is the 2007 Corvette I used to have. I bought it new to “replace” the 2002 model that I had purchased used in 2004. I had a thriving business then as a player personnel/baseball operations consultant to multiple major league teams and the Vette was not a financial stretch, by any means. Although I have a nice car now and my wonderful wife has a great Corvette that I can drive if I want, I still miss this car. I sold it in a panic when I lost my business in 2010 and thought I needed to raise cash.