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[Note: This content is for entertainment purposes only] I WAS FIRST introduced to the concept of cycles through my career in financial services. The idea was that the natural world operates in waves, recurring patterns or “cycles” of varying lengths of time. The general premise is that people are part of nature and thus generate predictable patterns–and anything of predictive value was, of course, deemed useful to investors. One longer-term social cycle that is starting to get attention is the eighty-year cycle; history has produced some evidence that a serious calamity occurs roughly every eighty years. The most recent “serious” calamity was World War Two–which started eighty years ago in 1939 (we didn’t enter until 1941). Eighty years before that it was the Civil War,

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  [Note: I wrote this seven or eight years ago, before I moved back. But every time it snows during the night, I am reminded of this piece.]       I am in the North for a family visit. My elderly parents manage their simple life with a grace that humbles me. They could be threatened by the simplest acts. My minor setbacks would be their calamities: a fall, the flu, a minor accident driving to the store. Today they were mirthful and sweet and I could not decide if they were revisiting childhood or auditioning to become angels. Last month, I watched the movie “Amour,” an intense look at a couple managing change after half a century of life together (they managed it

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Movies

  Midway As with Dunkirk, the film focuses on a handful of individuals and their roles and experiences in the context of that critical battle in the War in the Pacific. A well-made historical war film, the Midway story shows how (as in Imitation Game) intelligence gathering–not merely firepower–turned the tide.  The special effects were thrilling, and the experience of a lower-tech war fought with what are now mostly relics as war machines made for an engaging movie and history lesson. They did well to consider the perspective and sensibilities of the Japanese, perhaps, more than in past films on WWII.     The Irishman Martin Scorcese’s 3 1/2-hour long saga of a teamster turned mob insider stars three heavyweights of American gangster films: Robert

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WHILE THE SPECTACLES of impeachment, daily scandal, and the democratic primary distracted voters from almost everything else, the 2019 Federal deficit accelerated to nearly a trillion. The interest alone  got to 380 billion per year.  In 2015, Obama only needed 485 billion for the whole year. Let me see…1) stock market is right on top of a new high, 2) unemployment is extremely low, 3) countries are supposed to use extended booms (ten years now) to pay down debt, and 4) the GOP—especially the “tea partiers”—have, prior to Trump, represented themselves as deficit/budget hawks. What’s wrong with this picture? There’s no mystery; it’s what Trump has always done: borrow big, promote shamelessly, get paid no matter what, and never use much of your own money.

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At an turning point in the film Joker, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), is assaulted on the subway.  Due to a disability that causes him to laugh randomly, some fellow riders described as “Wall Street types” decide to rough him up. Because Arthur still wore the clown outfit he used as part of his work, one of the assailants tried to sing “Send in the Clowns” as a prelude to the onslaught. That scene propels the action to the next level. Arthur Fleck, The Joker, in the corrupt and failing city of Gotham and with no intention of doing so, becomes the name and face of  what is best described as an anarchist movement [Note: The Joker, in his madness, may incline toward nihilism or absurdism

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[This is a seasonal piece from Unit Three Writings]     My Parents, a Forest, Some Clues My season approaches and with it arrive my best prospects for redemption. I refer to September, both as the ninth month and as a stage of Life–the ripeness of being that precedes the bitter cold. I refer to the September I was born in and those sweet, sad days that invite surrender to Melancholy’s caress. This belief takes shape in me only now, at fifty. It formed in increments by way of three separate and eclectic experiences. The first came while I was away at college, that blissful period when my future was undiminishable by doubt or skepticism, and a writing pad stuck out of my back pocket

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[This post is for entertainment or educational purposes only and does not offer investment advice of any kind. Investments decisions should be made with careful consideration on an individual basis along with a professional.] PUNDITS AND POLLSTERS will soon begin to argue passionately over their predictions for president in 2020. They usually make emotional cases and use tired, second-hand reasoning on either side–sounding much like sports bums at the beginning of a new season. Everybody loves a fortune teller. But despite the minor blips in the polls, the outrage du jour, and the talk of impeachment (and the expanding list of reasons for it), the best predictor of the election–assuming it’s held on schedule–will be the performance of the stock market over the next year.

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Markets

  MY INTRODUCTION to the concept of gold as an investment began in the late 1980s. I was a young stockbroker in Arizona, and while copper mining dominated the extraction industries then, there was still talk of gold mines and claims on thousands of acres that might translate into billions for lucky investors. After the inflation scare of the late 1970s (shortly after the US abandoned the gold standard), confidence in the financial system had eroded. Gold was seen as a way to preserve purchasing power if a currency kept losing purchasing power (due to inflation). Even as prices were coming down in the late 1980s, investors called in to arrange purchases of gold coins and silver bars. They brought guns and family. Precious metals

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[This piece, taken from the writing collection of the same title, is re-posted as an anniversary tribute. Dad died on August 12, 2013. ] The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder is my favorite book. It is probably also the most underrated novel of the last century. I never merely re-read it; every few years it summons me, and like a somnambulist I turn to the bookshelf and reach for my copy. A novel such as that is a conjurer’s orb: your hands surround and caress it, your eyes peer into its depths and… a voice sounds. The voice wields the kind of authority that dismisses fiction. The images, the characters—the story chronicles a series of events so rife with Truth that they must have occurred,

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Movies

    NOW THAT MERYL STREEP and Nicole Kidman are both starring in the second season of the TV series Big Little Lies, it’s probably safe to say that the bell is  ringing furiously to signal the end of an important socio-cultural era: the great period of feature films that began almost a century ago.  While there are still feature films and movie theaters, it seems as if most of the films are superhero fantasy or animated films. The energy, the talent, and the money is pouring out of “movies” into these TV-based series. We might have a net maintenance of creativity–perhaps even more. Maintenance of quality? Not as easy to say; the productions are very good and getting better as the market heats up. But

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