Decem

Despite my not posting for a good chunk of the month, November had the highest number of unique visitors for any month in the history of Disaffected Musings. It also had the third highest number of views and would have easily had the highest if I had posted on a more regular schedule from the beginning. Thanks for reading and please tell your friends. I’ll spare you the longer commercial today.

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According to Wikipedia, “December got its name from the Latin word decem (meaning ten) because it was originally the tenth month of the year in the calendar of Romulus c. 750 BC which began in March. The winter days following December were not included as part of any month. Later, the months of January and February were created out of the monthless period and added to the beginning of the calendar, but December retained its name.”

Of course, this is the last month of 2020, a year of scourges. Maybe the following news, from CNBC, is a ray of hope:

 

CDC panel to vote Tuesday on who gets vaccine first

A CDC panel is set to vote Tuesday on who will be first in line to get a Covid-19 vaccine once one is authorized by U.S. regulators.

The meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an outside group of medical experts that advises the CDC, comes after Moderna and Pfizer requested emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for their Covid-19 vaccines. Vaccine doses could be distributed in the U.S. in as little as two weeks. [emphasis mine]

Medical experts have said health-care workers should get the vaccine first, followed by vulnerable Americans, including the elderly, people with preexisting conditions and essential workers. The CDC will follow ACIP’s guidance, but states are not obligated to do so.

 

Of course, some would say the CDC has played a role in the havoc that has occurred with its inconsistent messaging and “guidance.” Some would ask why the FDA is waiting until next week to “evaluate” the requests from Moderna and Pfizer. Anyway, some real weapons are on the way.

My long-time friend, the estimable Dr. Hoss, has made out well investing in “vaccine stocks.” As a Ph.D. in a difficult science discipline from an Ivy League school, he is among the sharpest knives in the drawer. He was warning me about the damn virus well before it reached the public radar screen. He is also optimistic that these new vaccines, created with new technology, will make a real difference. His belief is echoed by many doctors in the field of public health.

Let’s hope it really is at least another 100 years before another scourge like this is unleashed on the world.

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On this day in 1914, and in the middle of The Great War, Maserati was founded in Bologna, Italy. The five Maserati brothers had been involved in automobile racing/building for more than a decade when they founded the company, which was almost exclusively a racing company and not one that manufactured cars for the street.

The brothers that were still alive sold the company to the Adolfo Orsi family in 1937 and they moved the company headquarters to Modena, where it remains to this day. (Would have been a nice dovetail if the city name were Moderna, like the pharmaceutical company that has developed a promising vaccine candidate for the damn virus. Hey, Modena is close enough.)

After the crash that killed 16 people, including 13 spectators, at the 1957 Mille Miglia, Maserati moved into building Grand Touring automobiles. I have previously shown the “picture” below, but it’s worth sharing again:

 

 

This rendering of a Maserati 5000 GTI is from The Golden Guide To Sports Cars, first published in 1966 and first purchased by me in 1968 or 1969 through a program sponsored by my elementary school. This copy of the book is one I bought far more recently, but remnants of my original version are still in my possession. I have been a fan of Maserati automobiles since seeing that rendering.

Although wildly impractical, I still hold onto a sliver of hope that one of these will be in our possession in the not too distant future:

 

See the source image

 

A picture of a GranTurismo coupe that I have shown before (from Motor Authority). Hey, they have four seats and a trunk meaning they could function as Grocery Car/Taxi and would certainly qualify as a worthy Corvette Companion. Yes, I know: too expensive to acquire and to maintain, too long for the garage, too valuable to park outside, too small a backseat. Details can be a pain in the ass.

 

#December

#Maserati

#MaseratiGranTurismo

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Racing Gas

Yes, I “broke down” and purchased 100 Octane gasoline a few days ago. It was, by far, the most expensive fill-up in my life. Maybe it was just my imagination and/or the power of suggestion, but my Z06 did seem to have “stronger legs” and run more smoothly with the higher octane fuel.

I can’t predict with any accuracy how often I will use the high octane gas, but that was never an option anywhere near us in the mid-Atlantic, at least not as far as I know. What was also not “an option” in the place in which we used to live is to be able to drive 5-10 miles without stopping on roads that have lights.

On a couple of the major north-south roads near us, I have had multiple drives where even though there are lights, the way the lights are timed meant I didn’t have to stop for miles. Sometimes, I could see a red light in the distance, but by the time I reached that intersection the light had changed to green.

Obviously, that makes for a much more enjoyable driving experience. The fact that this area has about 300 sunny days a year and no snow doesn’t hurt, either. OK, maybe it will snow once every 4-6 years, but the snow will be gone within 24 hours. We have been told to be careful driving on the few days it does rain and if we don’t have drive when it’s raining, then we shouldn’t.

Here’s a photo not of a major road, but of a road in a neighborhood close to us:

 

 

Hey, you’ve been warned about my affinity for the native scenery and of my propensity to show it here.

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Here’s a photo of some more “native scenery.”

 

 

This Maserati GranTurismo coupe is typical of the genre of automobiles we see in this area. I have written this before, but it is really the case that I see more interesting cars in three days here than I would see in a year in the mid-Atlantic. Oh, that color looked amazing in person.

As regular readers know, I am quite enamored with these cars. Unfortunately, they are simply too impractical (read that as too expensive to acquire/maintain, too long for our garage, too valuable to be parked outside) for us to acquire for any reason at present. Maybe some day…yes, so many cars, just one life.

 

#RacingGas

#TimedTrafficLights

#MaseratiGranTurismo

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Maserati Sunday

Yesterday I mentioned that Maserati is bringing back the GranTurismo and has shown a new car, the MC20. From driving.ca, a teaser of the new GranTurismo.

 

 

The most recent version of the two-door GranTurismo has been out of production since last year after a long run that began in 2007. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful the new version will have a V-8 although Maserati’s V-6 is a nice powerplant. Oh, the new GranTurismo will also be available in an all-electric version, supposedly as early as 2022. What do you think of an electric Maserati? From Top Speed, a picture of the now defunct GranTurismo:

 

See the source image

 

Regular readers know that the earliest versions of this car, say from 2007 to 2010, were under consideration to be purchased after (if?) we move to the desert. (Don’t get me started on the difficulties of selling a house and the ineptitude of some in the real estate business. I am not referring to our realtor.) I would still like to buy one, but mindful of the axiom “Happy Wife, Happy Life” I seriously doubt that will happen.

I have decided, however, that IF we buy a four-door car, it will have to be a Quattroporte. We will just have to buy one a little older than we previously considered. From Maserati’s website, a picture of a Quattroporte:

 

See the source image

 

“Older” versions, say from 2005 to 2007, can be purchased in the $15,000 range, give or take a couple of thousand. In all honesty, my original plan for another car had a “price tag” of about $15,000.

From this article in Forbes pictures of the new Maserati model, the MC20:

 

Maserati MC20

Maserati M60 cockpit

maserati mc20

 

I think the fact that the MC20 will be powered by a Maserati-built engine is great news. Maseratis have had Ferrari-built engines for more than 20 years. The MC20 will feature the Nettuno (Neptune, in Italian), a 3-liter, twin-turbo V-6 that produces…621 horsepower. The car should be able to accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 202 MPH.

The MC20 will be available in the US, but probably not for at least a year. How much? The base MSRP is supposed to be around $210,000, which is actually not a high price for a car of this idiom.

I have been a Maserati fan for a long time. That affinity began with “pictures” like this:

 

 

This rendering of a Maserati 5000 GTI is from The Golden Guide To Sports Cars, first published in 1966 and first purchased by me in 1968 or 1969 through a program sponsored by my elementary school. This copy of the book is one I bought far more recently, but remnants of my original version are still in my possession. This shirt that I have had for at least 15 years is also still in my possession.

 

 

The Ferrari/Maserati dealer in Plano, Texas, where we used to live, gave me that shirt. My wonderful wife and I visited that dealership quite often. We test-drove a Maserati spider (convertible) on one occasion and after that test drive is when I may have been given the shirt.

OK, you are probably suffering from Maserati overload. It is not possible for me to do so, however.

 

#MaseratiSunday

#MaseratiGranTurismo

#MaseratiQuattroporte

#MaseratiMC20

#Maserati5000GTI

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Tariffs For Tuesday

I realize that this title will turn off some potential readers, but that’s OK.

I have a Masters degree in Economics. When I earned that degree the institution I attended did not have a Ph.D. program. After finishing my Masters I applied to and was accepted by three of the top Ph.D. Economics programs in the country. The university whose offer I accepted even let me defer my admission a year. I blew them off; I never registered for classes and never informed them of my decision not to attend. Hey, I was in my mid-20s.

Tariffs have been in the news recently, of course. People who are closer to their Econ curriculum are better at explaining this than I am so here is a definition and some exposition from Investopedia.com:

 

“A tariff is a tax imposed on imported goods and services.

Tariffs are used to restrict imports by increasing the price of goods and services purchased from overseas and making them less attractive to consumers. A specific tariff is levied as a fixed fee based on the type of item, such as a $1,000 tariff on a vehicle. An ad-valorem tariff is levied based on the item’s value, such as 10% of the value of the vehicle. [emphasis mine]

Governments may impose tariffs to raise revenue or to protect domestic industries – particularly nascent ones – from foreign competition. By making foreign-produced goods more expensive, tariffs can make domestic-produced ones more attractive. By protecting these industries, governments can also protect jobs. Tariffs can also be used as an extension of foreign policy: imposing tariffs on a trading partner’s main exports is a way to exert economic leverage.

Tariffs can have unintended side-effects, however. They can make domestic industries less efficient by reducing competition. They can hurt domestic consumers, since a lack of competition tends to push up prices. [emphasis mine] They can generate tensions by favoring certain industries over others, as well as certain regions over others: tariffs designed to benefit manufacturers in cities may hurt consumers in rural areas, who do not benefit from the policy and are likely to pay more for manufactured goods. Finally, an attempt to pressure a rival country using tariffs can devolve into an unproductive cycle of retaliation, known as a trade war.”

 

ALL policies have trade-offs. In terms of the auto industry, some people may do without purchasing a new vehicle, which hurts domestic dealers of foreign and domestic autos, because the price of all cars can increase because of tariffs. Also, for some consumers domestic automobiles are NOT a substitute for foreign ones.

Theoretically, automobile manufacturers could build cars in the countries to which they want to sell them in order to avoid tariffs. For example, BMW’s largest plant is in Spartanburg, South Carolina. However, the capital investment needed to build a plant is enormous. In addition, the “host” country might not approve the construction of a plant as a way to exert leverage over foreign countries although I don’t know how often that actually happens.

In general I am a proponent of what I call “open trade.” I dislike the phrase “free trade” because nothing is free. It would be wonderful if tariffs were at or near zero for all goods and services. However, that is not the real world. One of the reasons I so dislike political ideology is that a definition of an ideologue is someone who refuses to acknowledge that the policies they advocate have costs.

I also think that tariffs have their place in a policy portfolio. (You know me and alliteration.) Governments can enable domestic industries to sell goods at a “loss” abroad because the governments subsidize companies in those industries. Those goods are, therefore, less expensive than the alternatives produced in the purchasing country. Of course, proving such behavior may not be as easy as one might think. I am also not saying that foreign countries are subsidizing their automobile industries so that their car companies can sell cars at a loss abroad.

I think that competition is usually a good thing for consumers. I also would hate to see cars like the one below de facto excluded from the US market:

 

https://s.aolcdn.com/commerce/autodata/images/USC80MSC051A01300.jpg

From autoblog.com a picture of a Maserati GranTurismo coupe. By the way, only about 7 percent of all vehicles sold in the US in 2018 were manufactured in Europe. Keep that in mind as you hear news about automobile tariffs.

 

I would like to hear from you on this topic. Thanks.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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