Throw In The Towel Thursday

Seemingly overnight, the world is beyond me. Bitcoin, which to me is an “asset” based on nothing but peoples’ belief in it, is soaring to new high values. Some companies are adding it to their balance sheet. The oldest bank in America will now hold, transfer and issue Bitcoin on behalf of its asset management clients.

Jim Cramer of CNBC, whose opinion I respect, owns some Bitcoin and thinks companies should do the same. He believes it’s a hedge against the activities of central banks. It is true that in the last year the M2 measure of the US money supply has increased by $4 trillion. Obviously, this monetary policy has been in response to the effects of the damn virus. Incredibly though, more than 20% of all U.S. broad money now in circulation was created during the last year. (Thanks to Rick Rieder and his group at Blackrock for that data.) I think that Bitcoin is too volatile to be a currency, an investment or anything else, but maybe the world is way beyond me.

Vehicle manufacturers are proceeding rapidly to an all-electric portfolio in the next 10 to 15 years, even though very few people actually buy electric vehicles today. (The best estimates are that electric vehicles account for only 2%-3% of sales at present.) The cynical part of me thinks part of the motivation, particularly for Ford and GM, is they want the price of their stock to grow like that of Tesla.

I am very aware that many changes are unforeseen and of huge magnitude. Something about all of this is still quite unsettling to me.

I am appalled by the seemingly exponential growth in what I call the “Ignorant Me Me” population, which I think is fueled by “social media.” It is frightening to me how many people have zero regard or respect for anyone else. It is mind boggling that so many people listen to politicians, to actors, to athletes instead of listening to scientists. I don’t think science is perfect–it is an endeavor of imperfect people, after all–but the vast majority of scientists are just trying to understand some part of the universe better, not trying to get you to vote for them or watch their movies/TV shows.

I guess I’ve had my say, for now. I would like to read your thoughts. I’m not really going to throw in the towel, but at times I really want to.

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This Corvette Blogger article has some relevance to today’s post. Unlike some who have predicted the C8 will be the last ICE Corvette, Dave Cruikshank offers his informed opinion that “the C9 Corvette will be to the C8 as the C6 was to the C5.” Cruikshank does think, though, that the C9 will be last ICE Corvette. He writes, “With all the R&D money invested in the C8’s exotic architecture, we predict that GM will want upwards of ten years of production to maximize the return on its latest brainchild. Let’s be crystal clear here though, there will not be another gas-powered Corvette developed after the life-cycle of the current car expires.”

From the piece a picture of the mid-engine Corvette Indy concept car:

 

Mid-Engine Corvette Indy Concept

 

Many Corvette “purists” wrung their hands and dogmatically predicted the demise of the Corvette after the announcement of the mid-engine architecture. Not all precincts have reported, but early returns suggest that they were wrong as the C8 seems to be extremely popular, especially among buyers who would not have purchased a Corvette before.

IF it is done properly, it is entirely possible that an all-electric Corvette could be very popular. It won’t sound like this, though:

 

 

#ThrowInTheTowelThursday

#Bitcoin

#JimCramer

#IgnorantMeMe

#C9Corvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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PS, from my friend of almost 40 years, Professor M:

 

Bitcoin is just another commodity right now, no different that the host of others.  Some think it may eventually become a recognized currency, but regulation of its use and fierce competition from other cryptocurrencies will occur long before.  It remains to be seen how things will turn out, but to me, Bitcoin is a fad at present.

As for the money supply, I share your concern about its recent growth.  (The Fed has also changed its accounting – M1 now contains savings account balances, which were previously counted only in M2, so the difference between M1 and M2 has become barely noticeable.)  However, just as in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 – 2011, the velocity of money has slowed considerably.  This results in more money in the economy for any given level of GDP i.e. the additional money isn’t necessarily translating to increasing aggregate demand – that’s the only reason it hasn’t been particularly inflationary (up to this point, anyway.)  It’s the result of QE (quantitative easing) which is being carried out to keep longer-run interest rates low in addition to SR rates, ostensibly to fuel the economy.  One of the obvious downsides to this strategy is that the low interest rates give government a greater incentive to borrow.  (Quantity demanded and price are inversely proportional.)  Not to mention creating a disincentive to save which sends the wrong message especially to young people.

Politics will defeat sound economics every time.  Trump thought the economy meant the stock market.  Biden is acting like he wants to pay for his election to office by being overly generous.  Go figure.

Throwback Thursday 43

First…yesterday I criticized those who think taxes have no impact on behavior. Yes, there really are people who think taxes don’t affect how people act. This story from CNBC is about yet another of the countless examples of how taxes profoundly influence behavior.

Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of Palantir and founder of a venture firm named 8VC, is moving his company headquarters from San Francisco to Austin, Texas. In an interview, Lonsdale specifically cited California’s high taxes as a key reason why the company was moving to Texas. Peter Thiel, co-founder and Chairman of Palantir, recently announced that his company headquarters were also leaving California and moving to Denver, Colorado.

If they can, people vote with their feet. Making rich people poorer will not make poor people richer, at least not in the developed world. The politics of envy are a road to nowhere.

Second…Hallelujah! Fack Fucebook is likely to be the subject of two antitrust lawsuits, including one that could be filed as early as next week. State attorneys general are preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook as soon as next week and at least 20 to 30 states could join in. Many sources are reporting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also likely to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook.

Facebook has a de facto monopoly on “social media” especially when one considers that they own Instagram. I have tremendous respect for Jim Cramer of CNBC, but disagree with him on this issue. The possibility that the cost of digital advertising will increase if Facebook is broken up is a poor reason for not doing so. The power the company has is dangerous and time and time again they have shown disrespect for the data of their customers.

Delete Facebook! Fack Fucebook!

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What was the best-selling car in the US fifty years ago, or 1970 for those of you who are mathematically challenged? It was a model that sold over a million units for model year 1965 and even though by 1970 that figure had diminished by more than half, it was still at the top of the heap. Here is a picture (from Classic Car Database):

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1970 Chevrolet Impala. For that year about 496,000 Impalas were produced. Based on my admittedly less than thorough research, I believe the #2 car model was the Ford LTD at about 374,000.

For a model that was so successful for so many years, it is quite sad to me that the Impala is no longer being produced and probably never will be again. From the first year that the Impala was a completely separate model, 1959, through 1968–ten model years–more than seven million Impalas were produced.

As I have recounted before in this blog, I have a sentimental attachment to the Impala. When my ’67 GTO was wrecked in an accident two weeks before I was to leave for college for the first time, it was my father’s ’61 Impala that got me back and forth between home and college during my first semester. My aunt and uncle owned a ’64 that they would let me pretend to drive.

Car enthusiasts, particularly American car enthusiasts, should acknowledge the significance of the Chevrolet Impala.

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#SayNoToThePoliticsOfEnvy

#TaxesMatter

#FackFucebook

#JimCramer

#1970ChevroletImpala

#1970FordLTD

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Wednesday Incoherence

Some of you might offer that this Wednesday is no different than any other day on Disaffected Musings

Thanks again to 56packardman for posting the URL to yesterday’s post on the Studebaker Drivers Club forum. Once again, I would like to thank SDC forum readers for clicking on that link, but I doubt any of them are reading this.

Blog readers are not “sticky” in the economic sense of the word. When 56packardman posts a link to my blog on a forum the number of views/visitors gets a two-day bump. When Bill James (father of modern sports analytics, should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame) tweeted the link to my blog, traffic for the next two days was the best ever, but only for two days.

Either my blog is not as good as I think it is or the competition for eyeballs is overwhelming given the hundreds of millions of active blogs. For my own sanity, or what’s left of it, I have to believe the latter explanation.

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CNBC’s Jim Cramer is a polarizing figure. Some think he’s a shill for the stock market. Others think he’s not as expert as he wants you to believe. Others, like me, think he’s an extraordinarily intelligent and hard-working person whose insights are quite valuable.

This CNBC article has quite a long title, “Cramer on stock record: We need apologies from trade war naysayers who said US would be damaged.” In the piece Cramer says, “I think there’s some mea culpas that we need to hear from the people that said cyclical America would be damaged…It turns out, the industrials are not as perturbed about China as you would have thought.”

As I have written before I think the word “war” to describe the current state of US-China trade is an overstatement. However, the current administration is trying to shift the state of trade to a different place.

I think people, in general, overstate the effect of most potential changes in the status quo. I think that’s happening in the UK with Brexit. Neither the UK nor the EU will collapse if Britain leaves. The “remainers” are overstating the negative consequences. Of course, the “Brexit-ers” may have overstated the advantages of leaving, but that’s really the same phenomenon.

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No doubt should exist that the NFL is the Emperor of American Sports. The recent Sunday night NFL game between the Packers and the Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs had 61 percent more TV viewers than the fifth game of the World Series. (The fourth game of the 2019 World Series was the second least-watched World Series game ever.) Baseball may call itself “The National Pastime,” but that’s a delusion.

I can easily envision a US sports landscape where baseball is no higher than #4 in the hierarchy behind football, basketball and soccer.

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I had to note that on this day in 1963 Lamborghini unveiled its first car, the 350 GTV prototype, at the Turin Auto Show. The GTV would quickly evolve into the 350 GT, Lamborghini’s first production car.

 

See the source image

 

From rmsothebys.com a picture of the beautiful Lamborghini 350 GT, in this case a 1965 model. Of course, many of you have heard or read the story—which may or may not be true—that Ferruccio Lamborghini, a very successful builder of tractors, was disappointed in the clutch of his new Ferrari. When he expressed his disappointment to Enzo Ferrari supposedly Ferrari remarked, “Get knotted [or some other less family-friendly uttering], tractor-maker. Go build your own car if you don’t like mine.” Even if the story is not true it sure is a good story.

Of course, Enzo Ferrari pissed off Ford Motor Company and Henry Ford II so much when Ferrari pulled an 11th-hour withdrawal from an agreement to sell controlling interest that Ford vowed to beat Ferrari at LeMans. I think Ferrari cars had won LeMans from 1960 to 1965. Ford exacted its revenge by winning LeMans with the legendary GT40 from 1966 through 1969, inclusive. Some race drivers who didn’t drive for Ferrari called Enzo Ferrari “Enzo The Butcher” because of the number of drivers that died while driving for Ferrari.

 

#UnStickyBlogReaders

#BillJames

#JimCramer

#NFL>>MLB

#Lamborghini350GT

#somanycarsjustonelife

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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.

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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

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