Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blogging schedule for my finance blog

I want to start blogging more on my finance blog and I am thinking that having a schedule might make sense in terms of reaching people who are paying attention to the financial markets during the day. Here's my tentative initial plan:
  1. Late evening post (8 PM to 12 AM.) Not so much for the night birds, but to have something for the early birds the next day. A more thoughtful contemplation of what transpired during the day and response to late news.
  2. Early morning post (6 AM to 8:30 AM.) Not quite early enough for the hard-core early birds, but something early in the day for normal people.
  3. Late morning post (10:30 AM to noon.) Response to news of the morning.
  4. Mid-afternoon post (2 PM to 3:30 PM.) Response to news of the day. Before the stock market closes
Whether I manage to do all of that remains to be seen, but at least I have a plan to work from.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What does ICYMI mean??

Oh well, I guess I might as well go ahead and admit that I am one of the slowest guys on the Internet. I mean, five minutes ago I had not a clue what "ICYMI" meant. I got an email from a big-deal group in Washington and the subject line started out with "ICYMI –".
Lucky for me, enlightenment was just a Google click away. The acronyms section of "The Free Dictionary" web site has a page that tells me that it stand for "In Case You Missed It." Ah... okay... yes, I had missed it, but now I know.
Hmmm... I wonder how long I have been missing it?
There is a Wiktionary page for ICYMI that dates to October 2009. Technically, it is an "initialism."

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How can I become a millionaire?

There were actually a couple of short periods of time back in 2000 when I was technically a "millionaire", at least on paper (plus one time when a broker error made me a millionaire for a weekend!) But, as they say, "easy come, easy go." And back in 2005 I was doing so poorly financially that I actually filed for bankruptcy. Since November 30, 2005 (the day my bankruptcy was discharged) I have gradually been slowly climbing back up the lower rungs of the wealth ladder out of the pit of gloom, primarily through regular retirement contributions but also cutting spending and saving when possible, so that now I actually have a modest amount of "investments." I'm certainly not a millionaire or in the top 1% or even the top 10%, but I'm somewhere in the top 20% now. I won't disclose my exact "wealth", but it's very loosely north of $50,000 and south of $250,000, so lets pretend that it is $100,000 for the sake of argument and to have a nice round number. So, the question of the day is:
How can I become a millionaire?
Seriously. It's a legitimate question. How likely I am to become a millionaire again is an open and essentially unanswerable question, but what options or paths to that end are available is a reasonable question.
Here are the practical paths that I have identified in just a few minutes today:
  1. Buy a winning lottery ticket. Hey, sometimes it actually does payoff, but I won't bet on it.
  2. Marry a wealthy woman. Ditto.
  3. Start a successful business. Ditto, except that it actually still is a (semi-remote) possibility.
  4. Join a hot startup. Ditto, but a little more possible. (Seriously, send me leads on this!)
  5. A short string of wildly-successful option trades. Hey, I actually did this in 1998 and 1999, but... a long story... and not likely to be repeated.
  6. Invest in a hot stock that rises 40% a year for 7 years. Technically possible, but the odds remain long.
  7. Investments that rise 20% a year for 13 years. More doable, but still quite difficult.
  8. Investments that rise 15% a year for 17 years. On the fringe of being practical, but too long to wait.
  9. Investments that rise 10% a year for 24 years. Starting to sound within reach technically, but not within reach time-wise.
  10. Investments that rise 8% a year for 30 years. Great, something I might actually have a shot at achieving, but only if my goal is to leave a million in my will rather than enjoy it during retirement.
  11. Investments that rise 5% a year for 48 years. Ditto. I could reasonably expect to do this, but again not for my personal use.
  12. Investments that rise 4% a year for 59 years. That rate of return is reasonable and achievable for an average investor, but won't achieve the end goal within my expected lifetime.
And then there is inflation, taxes, bad years, etc. And presuming that you have a reasonable income stream while your wealth is growing.
And then there is a bigger pair of questions. Once you have accumulated $1 million:
  1. How do you keep it?
  2. How can you live off of it in a sustainable manner?
It may seem obvious that you save $1 million for retirement and then spend it all in retirement, but that is a risky expectation due to uncertainty about the future. Better to define an allocation of money that you will be spending and money that remains dedicated to further investment. That's a topic for future discussion. Here we're just concerned with getting to $1 million (ASAP) in the first place.
Where do I do from here? The only things I can say with certainty are that I will continue making my retirement contributions and hopefully see some compound returns over the years. I guess I can also safely say that unless I manage to achieve 20% annual returns I won't hit $1 million when I retire in 13 years. That is at least a good starting point for thinking about where I am, what I could achieve, and what my options are.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Wall Street Occupied (by the Dark Knight)

On a typical Saturday I walk all around lower Manhattan (starting my walk from my apartment on East 50th Street), sometimes walking up Wall Street. Since 9/11 Wall Street has had limited access, but usually the sidewalks are open to pedestrian traffic and even the street itself is usually open to pedestrian traffic. Since the Occupy Wall Street movement moved into the neighborhood there have been the usual steel barricades to assure that people stay on the sidewalks. But, this past Saturday (11/5) I walked up Wall Street from the East River and around Water Street or Pearl Street even the side walk was closed with barricades and there were two police cars blocking the street.
Except, the police cars were an odd color of blue and had some strange-looking emblem on the doors. I figured maybe they were for some private security company since some of the banks on Wall Street have intensive security forces. There were no cops near the cars, so I walked up to examine the emblems and they did say "Police Department", but for the "City of Gotham." Ah... that explains it. I had seen some movie production trucks a block earlier. So, this had to be filming of the new "Dark Knight" sequel That had been rumored.
I detoured towards the south of Wall Street and then parallel to Wall Street to get to Broad Street where the New York Stock Exchange is located. They also had Broad Street barricaded, but after a few minutes of looking around I noticed them open up the barricade on the east side of Broad Street and they were letting people through.
Walking north on Broad Street across from the stock exchange I noticed a lot of little piles of fluffy white stuff, which I presume was fake snow.
Crossing over Wall Street in front of the old Morgan bank building I saw a large stream of movie extras entering the building, many of whom were in full, heavy riot gear with body armor and assault rifles. Presumably they had just finished filming on the closed-off portion of Wall Street.
I noticed that all of the usual steel barricades at the intersection of Broad and Wall were gone. I guess they just didn't fit into the movie screenplay. Ironic, that a movie shot with heavy security and street violence would want less security measures visible than what are normally on the street on a typical, uneventful day. Interesting how reality can be stranger than fiction – the old adage that truth can be stranger than fiction since fiction has to make sense.
Just up Nassau Street a half-block (Nassau is the continuation of Broad Street but the name changes at Wall Street!) I saw a movie flyer taped to a pole which detailed access restrictions that day due to filming for "Magnus Rex", mentioning the use of simulated gunfire and assault rifles (and noting that this required careful coordination with NYPD). So, yes, this definitely was probably filming for the new Dark Knight sequel. And, once again, quite ironic how with all of the tenseness and quasi-violence of the nearby Occupy Wall Street encampment (two blocks north and one block west), they would have all of this fictional violence at the same time.
Is fiction mocking reality or is reality mocking fiction?
And, as expected, when I walked along the outside of Zucotti park it was nothing but a kind of calm buzziness not unlike any NYC park – except for the uncontrolled frenzy of the drummers and the spectators egging them on as they approached their 6 PM drumming curfew.
AFAICT, the size of the Zucotti Park "movement" was about the same as in recent weeks. It hasn't managed to spill into surrounding areas and other nearby parks yet and is too packed for much more internal growth. In fact, the Manahatta Park at the East River end of Wall Street is still completely empty except for a few kids on skateboards and those little trick bicycles and with no apparent security guards or policemen to give them any grief. Who knows, maybe Manahatta is simply too far from the limelight of Broadway and the World Trade Center site, even if it is actually on Wall Street. There is also a reasonably large brand new park area across the street on the East River and adjacent to the ferry pier, very underutilized and completely devoid of any occupiers, but unlikely to draw the attention of anybody other than a lot of tourists and odd people like me.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ignoring Occupy Wall Street for the rest of the year

I've followed the whole Occupy Wall Street movement with great interest over the past month, but it is time for me to hit the "ignore" button on them for the rest of the year (at least.) They've gotten repetitive and predictable and don't appear to be likely to do anything truly of long-term interest. Who knows, maybe they'll surprise me and somehow get their act together, but they simply don't appear to be on an upwards trend at this point, in terms of garnering significant additional deeply passionate support from the rest of the so-called 99% that is not already active in the movement. Yeah, sometimes the various unions (a small fraction of Americans all together) join in, but only halfheartedly, like with the so-called "General Strike" in Oakland right now. Sure, things could change at any moment, but I'll make that judgment on January 1, 2012 and determine then whether I can keep them on "ignore."
For now, I'll simply write off OWS as an offshoot of the anti-globalization movement. There's a little more to it than that, but that basically summarizes them quite well.
FWIW, here's how I have been following the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement:
The Adbusters web site. These are the guys/brains/puppet-masters behind the global "Occupy" movement. The "Culture Jammers HQ."
The Occupy Wall Street web site. The "official" web site for this "leaderless resistance movement."

On a typical Saturday on my normal schedule I walk all around lower Manhattan, including Union Square, Washington Square, Battery Park, Battery City Park, the World Trade Center Site, and sometimes Wall Street and even past Zucotti Park, so I am sure I will "notice" if the OWS movement actually does take off. And I regularly walk to, around, and through Central Park on various days of the week as well, so I'll certainly notice if OWS makes good on their "threat" to "occupy Central Park" as they have said they would.
So, if the OWS movement does actually take off, I'll notice it first hand without having to waste another moment of my time reading about it on the Web.