Forty-six dollars a barrel, $46/bbl, FORTY-SIX $$/bbl!!

Oil production continues in spite of falling prices, indicating there is plenty. Bad news for alarmists, good news for the rest of us.

On  IFO wrote: “What a great day – oil just closed at UNDER $100! So much for Peak Oil. This is the free market at work, though many do not understand how it happens.”

Today, the WSJ writes in “Oil Falls Below $50 a Barrel”:

The world’s benchmark oil price fell below $50 a barrel Monday for the first time in six months as a sluggish global economy and rampant oil boom keep crude markets crashing.

Monday’s selloff comes after oil spent July plunging into a bear market. Record production in the U.S. has led to an international competition to produce even more, cut prices and fight for customers around the world. The past week brought signs that production is still going strong, dashing hopes that low prices may force producers to slow down.

We are getting pretty tired of the constant predictions of “Peak Oil” – the idea that we have reached, or will very soon reach, the highest production of oil that we ever will. Soon after that, petroleum will be all used up, alarmists say.

Peak Oil has been predicted regularly ever since about one year after the first gusher in Titusville, Pennsylvania, more than 100 years ago. Not long ago, the prediction was that oil production would start to fall off dramatically in the year 2000. Well, you see how THAT worked out.

But a current website entitled “Peak Oil” doesn’t mention the original thesis in the posts visible on the front page today. Sure, lots of disasters predicted, dire warnings issued, and irrelevant articles posted: our favorite: “Mysteries of Eleuthera.”

The “mystery” the authors say with a straight face, is that “[2300 ton] boulders, we now know after extensive research by many geological experts, were dredged from the ocean floor, taken up and over a cliff and left there like Easter Island statuary, in a great storm event during a past interglacial warming epoch.”

The “extensive research” by “experts” meme should be a clue to watch out for a coming whopper. And sure enough, turns out it was caused by…, wait for it… CO2!!! The article is a rehash of a “seminal” piece by none other than James Hansen and co-authors.

Yes, he’s still at it after being busted and debunked many times over. We leave the debunking to our readers. Just Google James Hansen and learn from contrarian “experts” where he has gone wrong.

Our favorite takeaway from this absurdity is this sentence: “It is hard to imagine that the air we exhale lifted these huge boulders, but indirectly, it did. ‘CO2 is the principal determinant of Earth’s climate state, the “control knob” that sets global mean temperature,’ Hansen’s group says,…”

BTW, the link to the referenced “seminal” article mysteriously failed. If you are surprised, you haven’t been reading IFO long enough.

But back to the fall in oil prices. It’s not warmists who are off the mark in understanding natural climate processes, economists and analysts never seem to get economics right. Their predictions are almost equally as bad. Just what is the word “hopes” doing in that WSJ article?

Hope is just another word for prediction. One thing you can say about economists, they’ve gotten smart enough not to make outright predictions any more. At least THEY have memories. Warmists don’t even have that.

But then, Economics is not a religion. Warmism is. IFO definition of “religion” – belief in something with no proof whatsoever, and none desired. Faith, belief without evidence, is required. If you have evidence, you are using Reason.

The battle between Faith and Reason is ongoing and unrelenting. See any Star Trek episode where Spock and McCoy interact. McCoy thinks faith means emotion and is the opposite of reason, which to him (McCoy) means unfeeling. Spock has no idea what he is talking about.

What do we learn from this? If you own oil stocks, don’t worry about falling stock prices. The companies understand the oil business, knew this was coming, and have provided for it. They will maintain their dividends (barring management incompetence) and your rate of return will simply go up. If you don’t sell, the falling price(s) are simply paper losses.

Also, look for a price rebound, but enjoy lower gas prices if you can. After all, the bears are out in full force:

 

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These are a few of my favorite things

My favorite thing!

My favorite thing – pot filler in action! (Click for larger view.)

King Midas treasured his piles of gold. Maria loved raindrops on roses, etc. Longtime readers may think that IFO’s favorite things would run to money, stocks, CEOs… She does appreciate the first two, and enjoys the human aspects of investing as embodied in CEOs.

But her REAL favorite things run to what she can do and buy. So, travel and food, or Reise u. Speise as she named one of her categories. She also likes to read and listen to music, live or on CD.

But her favorite, favorite, favorite thing is her … pot filler. She just got one via Home Depot (HD:NYSE), installed by a local plumber.

She loves it as much as Midas loved his gold. You see, dreams need not be expensive, just somewhat difficult to achieve.

It’s a simple and relatively inexpensive plumbing fixture that carries a lot of psychological freight with it. Her love of cooking stews, beans, spaghetti; hot water bath canning her own garden produce. She uses Ball(c) Jars, formerly made by Ball Bros., but they spun the canning division off into a new company known as Jarden (JAH:NYSE).

She loves the filler’s total compatibility with her gas oven and range – another obsession recently realized. Do you see that oven? The widest she’s ever had – great for French bread. Also pictured is the outsize rolling pin, shown with a regular size one for comparison.

If she had known about that rolling pin it would have been an obsession, but she just ran into it at a restaurant kitchen supply house in Salt Lake City on a visit to her daughter. It’s fabulous for pie crust and … French bread!

Remember “Ratatouille?” It is an Academy-award winning animated Pixar film (2007) about a rat who wanted to become a French chef. Pixar is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company (DIS:NYSE).

The movie had some of the most gorgeous scenes of Paris, the French countryside, and … a French restaurant kitchen! Nirvana! In picture below, look behind Collette’s shoulder on the left, above the stove. A pot filler! Source of  dreams, obsessions.

What we learn from this is pretty clear – when you focus on your dreams, everything else seems easy – even investing on your own.

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Happy Aug. 1!! Swiss Independence Day

Originally posted on InvestingforOne:

Appenzell celebration
We took this picture last year during the Appenzeller Landsg’mend – direct democracy, during the single day of the year when all eligible citizens of the Canton elect government officials and vote on the budget.

One of our favorite holidays is today. Celebrated with parties all over the world, where the wandering Swiss land – business people, travelers and vacationers, and ex-pats party down for a day, remembering their origins. According to Swissworld.org

August 1st is to the Swiss what July 4th is to Americans, or July 14th to the French. Swiss national day is only just over a century old, and it was only in 1993 that the hardworking Swiss agreed that they could all take the day off, but the event it commemorates took place 700 years ago, and at the heart of the celebrations is a custom which doubtless goes back into the mists of time.

The…

View original 202 more words

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Is Procrastination a problem for you?

Alyce Cornyn-Selby, before and after (turning her life around). HT: justalyce.com

If procrastination is a problem for you, you are not alone.  Just yesterday, we found our original, 1986,  signed copy of “Procrastinator’s Success Kit,” by Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby, a true, self-created character. Her book turned IFO’s life around.

What a surprise it was to find it again! When you have moved as many times as IFO has, you start to lose track of what books you kept and which ones you saved.

The book is no longer in print, but Amazon lists 36 books from new to highly-used as still available. “The ultimate self-management solution including a step-by-step guide to the trademarked method of reframing behavior,” says Amazon’s review.

“Provocative system that looks at the creative benefits of procrastination and describes eight different characters or styles of procrastination with explanations and solutions for each.”

We saw her in person at a state credit union association convention that year, since we were covering the convention for one of the publications we were writing for at the time. She was highly entertaining and highly convincing as a motivational speaker.

Motivational speakers’ schtick is usually a tale of hardships overcome and Cornyn-Selby has her own: overweight and poor self-image. That was hard to understand, since she was clearly confident and gorgeous.

Here’s what her Speaker’s Bureau says about her: “Alyce isn’t a speech; she’s an event. Alyce Cornyn-Selby, highly acclaimed speaker and nationally recognized master on the subject of sabotage, lead a corporate group to become the most award-winning team of its kind in the country. She maintains a 100 pound weight loss using her trademarked system for beating self-sabotage.”

For IFO, the key takeaway from her approach is that you wouldn’t procrastinate if you didn’t get some benefit from it. Hard to believe, eh? Don’t we just hate that we procrastinate? Isn’t it just awful?

Well, no, C-S explains. Benefits include: “to add a little drama to life, to drive people away, or to be rescued.” And everybody does it. “We procrastinate because we need to in order to get what we want.”

We are more creative and more productive as we put off doing one thing by doing any number of other things to avoid the first thing. C-S confesses she gets more housework done at tax time than any other time of the year.

Also, you can get rid of people by putting off an important project until the last minute. “Sorry. I’m on deadline.” Boom. You’re all alone, finishing your project. She admits bad things happen due to putting things off – things like going to the doctor to take care of that cough, or flunking out of college – IFO is using her own examples here.

Like IFO, C-S recommends getting serious about your Self, know why you put things off, and decide WHETHER to stop, or go on doing it because the reward outweighs the drawbacks. This is key.

After you figure out the bad procrastinations, C-S offers cute, helpful little check-lists to evaluate yourself. Another cause is perfectionism. You want your project to be done so perfectly you are afraid to tackle it, because you know it WON’T be perfect.

She also talks about self-sabotage, a topic all by itself. Her definition: “When we say we’re going to do something and then we go about making sure that it doesn’t happen.”

Whew! That hurts, eh? Some examples that apply to IFO: something that appears on your “to do” list more than 10 times; setting up a plan and then not doing it. She’s right when she says its easier to recognize this in someone else than in yourself.

Well, what do you think? Can this book help you? Well, then, stop procrastinating and get a copy from Amazon! or check out her home page.

 

 

 

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Problem solving tips for investing and … life

HT: UKstudentlife.com

In a way, investing can be viewed as a metaphor for life. Success or failure depend on your approach to the topic. We began this blog almost five years ago (anniversary coming up!) to address a situation that had bothered us for several years.

IFO has wonderful, intelligent, witty, hardworking friends. Most have some assets, including financial assets: cash, land, livestock, stocks, bonds, mutual funds. Many were recent widows.

Several do not take responsibility for their own wealth, but are content to leave it in the hands of their brokers or lawyer who set up the trust on instructions from their husbands.

We’re not sure a person can do much with a trust, except under its written terms. We’ve never inquired about that because it is way too personal. Women in our station in life simply do not discuss our financial affairs with friends. IFO is just infinitely grateful that our own DDH did not saddle her with a trust.

In any event, in an attempt to show people of all ages and genders that doing your own investing can be fun and exciting, we started this blog. Recently, we have learned that younger women are also reading it, so we’ve altered our approach somewhat, now leaning more into a lifestyle direction.

How do you live to get the most (**, $$, ♥♥) in life?

One issue that everyone must face, whether in life or just in investing our excess dollars, is fear. Fear of loss. Fear of failure. That never goes away, but there are tricks to putting fear in its place. Yes, you always should have a shiver of fear in the back of your mind to prevent injudicious moves – financial or otherwise.

We intend this advice for our male readers as well, but we just don’t see the same kind of fear in money matters that we do in our women friends.

Men’s fear issues are more likely to be about performance and competition rather than failure and loss. So, that would be rate of return in investment (in life or in financial assets) compared to an internal measurement (how am I doing compared to last year?) or external (how am I doing compared to the guy in the next cubicle?) one.

No matter, though. Fear causes funny reactions. Some reactions stem from issues buried deep in one’s subconscious. See our June 6, 2015 blog post on that issue.

For example, we recently had a lovely visit with a friend we will call Petunia. She’s a strong, independent, artistic, intelligent woman. We have much in common. As we strolled through a beautiful and calming garden, we chatted about one thing and another.

Then, she mentioned a problem that had cropped up suddenly. It wasn’t a huge one, but quite vexed her.

Continue reading

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More on CEOs – sometimes faces alone tell the story

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, left, walks with Anthem chief Joseph Swedish. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

Here’s an interesting WSJ article on CEOs shaking up health care [insurance].

It’s about two CEOs who are pursuing giant mergers with other health insurance companies, which, if successful, will significantly reduce what competition there is left in the industry.

Of course, the ACA has already done a good job of reducing competition, since insurance companies are tightly bound by thousands of pages of ACA and other federal regulations.

Highly recommend that you read the article if you are investing in this industry. The WSJ does a pretty good job at this major, round-up style stories. The two CEOs head up Aetna and Anthem, the two health insurance companies proposing two separate mergers..

But what we want you to look at now, is the photo accompanying the story (click on the story’s photo and it will appear almost full screen size) and reprinted above at left. What do the faces, hair cuts and color, and clothing tell you about these men?

Do you agree with the WSJ story’s portrait of them?

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“Balancing” your portfolio – wisdom or chimera?

Chimera at DeviantArt.net

Still giving advice to young investors here.

Longtime readers are familiar with this IFO theme: forget the advice from the smart guys who want to manage your money for you, because, you know, you are too busy, too ignorant, too scared, to do it for yourself.

If this attitude annoys you as much as it does IFO, you can use the article below to bolster your confidence, if you need it, or your in-your-face contradiction of the money managers, if you prefer that.

From the WSJ: Investors warned on Carlyle Hedge Fund:

Hedge-fund losses are causing more headaches for private-equity firm Carlyle Group CG 0.04 % LP.

Carlyle’s $4.9 billion hedge-fund firm, Claren Road Asset Management LLC, faces the prospect of investor withdrawals after an influential consultant advised clients who are invested in Claren Road to pull their money, according to people briefed on the matter.

The consultant, Cliffwater LLC, has clients with about $800 million invested in the firm, one of the people said, comprising 14% of Claren Road’s total assets under management. It wasn’t clear why Cliffwater made its recommendation, though the move follows a 4.9% loss in June by Claren Road’s flagship fund and a 10% loss by the fund last year. The flagship fund mainly invests in corporate debt and credit derivatives. [emphasis mine]

The market has been nasty lately. In my opinion and experience, when the market is declining, nearly every asset declines. “Balancing” is a chimera, as Wikipedia says:

The term chimera has come to describe any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative, implausible, or dazzling.”

Or, a thing that is hoped or wished for, but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve. illusion, fantasy, delusion, dream, daydream, pipe dream, figment of the/one’s imagination, castle in the air, mirage

Just get the assets you want, know and understand, and you’ll be fine.

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Of CEOs and other matters

Is this your idea of a stuffy old banker? UBS’ CEO, Sergio Ermotti

We are going to talk about CEOs again- winners and losers. This is why IFO thinks it is important to keep track of who your CEOs are in the companies you are investing in.

For example, Sergio Ermotti, head of UBS [$UBS], the big Swiss bank based in Zurich. A year and a half ago, Forbes Magazine wrote a fascinating article comparing Ermotti to another CEO, Robert McCann, Ermotti’s former boss and mentor at Merrill Lynch.

The two men had worked closely for years at Merrill, then the financial crisis hit and all h3ll broke loose. While UBS was suffering all kinds of hits, Merrill was forced to merge with Bank of America, a huge shot for long-time Merrill employees, including McCann.

Bob McCann, Irish-American banker extraordinaire

“McCann took eight months off. He did some soul searching, played golf and took a film class with his wife at New York University,” according to the Forbes article.

“When [former UBS CEO Oswald] Grubel came calling from Switzerland to ask him to fix UBS’ operations in the U.S., it was a lifeline for the workaholic banker. McCann’s first move was to reassemble his A-team of old Merrill Lynch buddies…”

We highly recommend reading the entire article for a fascinating look at the inside of banking management, its risks and its rewards.

Also, for our young women readers, check out the Forbes staff writer (now deputy editor), Halah Touryalai.

And, now the story of Marc Beer, former CEO of Aegerion, which dumped him today, after he got it into FDA trouble for talking too freely. Eric Palmer, of FiercePharma, wrote this today:

“Aegerion Pharmaceuticals ($AEGR) CEO Marc Beer may be a fast talker but he has been a bit of a slow walker when it comes to giving up his position as CEO.”

Long story short: the FDA thought he was exaggerating the benefits of the drug the Cambridge, Mass.- based company was working on. Boom! Gone. Today. Too bad.

Right: former Aegerion CEO, Marc Beer.

Somehow, we suspect he will land on his feet. He can do what McCann did after his departure from Merrill Lynch. Or, he could move to the West Coast, where failure is valued.

And now for something completely different. We were reading today’s NZZ (Neue Zurcher Zeitung) today on the web and noticed a headline regarding Obama’s speech combining “Lob und Tadel.” Hmm. Had to look it up. Says he greets the Africans with “Praise and Criticism.”

But Tadel – that sounds a lot like tattle, as in tattle-tale. Bet that’s where that word came from. After all, English gets about half of its words from the Saxon (German) side of the language and half from the French side. Just never wondered where “tattle-tale” came from before.

Online dictionaries we found said nothing about origins or claimed relationship to Dutch and Middle Low German, but not current German. Actually the meanings may have diverged under different regimes. Since “tattle” now means something akin to “gossip.”

What do we learn from all this? You can follow all kinds of ideas and words down the Internet rabbit hole to interesting places.

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Investing for young people: Part Four: Tale of two women

Cool job, eh? HT: Totaljobs.com

We want to return to the theme of starting your own business as a wealth-building strategy. First, it’s a good idea to have one or two of your early efforts fail. We heard this seeming contradiction in a talk by a venture funder who had been asked to explain why local high tech entrepreneurs weren’t getting much venture money. You can find more detail in the link above to a 2012 IFO post.

Next, starting a business can be rewarding on many levels – monetary, of course, but also spiritual, social and psychological. We’re not talking about selling shoes (Phil Knight’s Nike) or computers (Michael Dell’s Dell Computers) out of the trunk of your car while you’re in college, though those stories certainly illustrate the virtues of hard work, commitment and enthusiasm.

Our two women’s stories are very different and far less grandiose, hence more achievable by ordinary people – like you!

The first is a still-young, beautiful, never-married mother of three beautiful girls with three different dads. In keeping with our privacy in naming policy, we’ll call her Dahlia. She has a successful retail shop filled with eclectic products – clothing, both vintage and new for men and women, doo-dads, musical items, accessories, and more.

Dahlia’s staff are also good looking and all are relaxed and cheerful. The shop is in the high-rent district of a chi-chi tourist town, yet she took the time to chat with IFO and a friend about this, that and the other thing. We were impressed.

We heard the second woman, who also was cheerful – are we sensing a trend here? She had called a right-wing talk show guy to chat about her preferences for Conservative presidential candidates.

The host kept her on the line for a long time because she was so uplifting and had a compelling story. “I retired several years ago and moved here [to the South],” she said. “Just couldn’t put up with the liberals in my [Northern] town and my own family.”

Well, he could understand that! Then the unexpected bombshell: “I’m a gay woman,” she said, adding that she had no problem supporting conservatives’ advocacy of limited government and she liked Donald Trump’s refusal to back down to media people.

The host, totally unfazed by her description of herself, just said, “Uh, huh. Go on,” urging her to finish her thought on limited government.

Since she said she knew the person who did Donald Trump’s hair, we suspect she was a successful hairdresser, perhaps in NYC, and so was able to retire early. But given her cheerful, positive, helpful personality, we also suspect she’ll start another business in her new location, when the joys of farming no longer appeal.

Or given her peppiness, maybe she’ll do both – light farming plus hair-dressing. You DO know that hair-dressing requires the skills of an artist (coloring and styling) and a trained psychologist (listening and sympathizing), as well as an accountant (billing), don’t you?

These are just a few examples of how much fun and freedom you can have while making money running your own beloved business and helping people. There are no limits on small business owners!

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How to recognize a huge scam

Found an excellent blog with a fantastic post yesterday, titled: “The Eight Stages of Scam” Their analysis works for cholesterol and global warming, but they omitted  (Paul Ehrlich’s baby] overpopulation. The linked NYTimes article starts out saying, paraphrased, “Well, the prediction of disaster hasn’t panned out YET, BUT…”

We liked the post on scamming so much, we’re going to post it verbatim:

Taking note of the fact that the long-held conventional wisdom about cholesterol has been overturned, the proprietor of the wonderfully named Barrel Strength blog over in the UK offers up the “Eight Stages of Scam” as applied to climate change. This one is worth marking down:

The cholesterol scam bears a strong relationship to the anthropogenic global warming scam.

1) it is propagated by scientists on a non-scientific mission.

2) it is believed because it plausibly explains an observation (increasing global temperature [for a time], increasing heart attacks from smoking in the 1950s and 60s). It taps into large anxieties about too much wealth, too much happiness, in western societies. There must be sin somewhere, and the public is ready to flog itself in the cause of a secularized idea of God, uh, I mean Good.

3) the causal relationship is weaker than first supposed; the research is found to be sloppy, the facts have been fudged, subsequent studies do not fully support the original claims, nevertheless the orthodoxy is promulgated all the more harshly for being doubted.

4) by now, powerful economic and ideological interests have taken hold. They supply an ongoing source of funds and opinion to ensure the perpetuation of the alarm: in the case of cholesterol, the margarine industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical establishment, and in the case of AGW, the tribe of bureaucrats and leftists who seek to control markets, whose god of Marxism had failed, and who needed a new god (Gaia) to justify their rule.

5) The skeptics who have patiently argued on the basis of facts that the science of each phenomenon was weak, are ostracized by the opinion establishments of medicine and global warming. Cranks, but the cranks are right and the orthodox priests and Levites are wrong.

6) Eventually, after fifty or sixty years, the subject of discussion just changes. In the case of cholesterol, the evidence gets weaker and weaker, and the problems caused by too much sugar consumption (obesity, diabetes), caused in part by people not eating enough fats and meats, reaches a stage where it can no longer be ignored.

7) the retreat of the orthodoxy is covered by a smokescreen of fresh concerns for some other catastrophe. No admissions of error or apologies for wrecked careers and following bad science are ever issued. Time flows on, bringing neither knowledge nor greater understanding of the role of folly in human affairs.

8) stages 6 and 7 have been reached in the cholesterol cycle; they are beginning in the anthropogenic global warming scam. Fifty years from now, there will still be clanking windmills in the North Sea, but whether they will be still linked to a power grid is less likely, and whether anyone will pay attention is doubtful. The lobbies that keep them there, however, will still exist.

Clever readers – can you think of any other scams of this nature?

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