“A Staggering Loser”

Like lots of news organizations today, the Los Angeles Times is digging into the Former Guy’s tax returns:

“The picture that emerged showed that for all Trump’s claims to be a great businessman, his core businesses — a sprawling network of hotels, golf courses and other properties — have lost millions of dollars year after year.

‘He’s a staggering loser,’ said Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.”

If he lied about his business acumen, what else might he have embellished?

Market Returns To Ponder

“The S&P 500, the most widely followed proxy for the U.S. stock market, has returned a negative 22.7 percent, including dividends, this year through Thursday, according to FactSet. In the same period, the Bloomberg Aggregate Bond Index, the most widely used benchmark for the broad, diversified investment-grade U.S. bond market, has returned a negative 14.4 percent.”

From, “Bonds May Be Having Their Worst Year Yet“.

Apple Does It Again

Wednesday’s Apple event was just the most recent reminder that when it comes to marketing, everyone else is competing for the red ribbon or the silver medal or the consolation bracket title. They are the LA Dodgers. Best in class and it ain’t close.

They’re so good they are going to convince a huge cross-section of the population that they need something they’ve been fine without their whole lives–satellite coverage in case of a car crash or other emergency. Hell, when we crashed our cars and got lost in nature before we had cell phones we were almost always fine. There were pay phones, people assisting one another, smoke signals.

Now, Apple is amping up everyone’s anxiety with a bunch of WHAT IFs with infinitesimal odds. And I have no doubt it’s going to work. Sometime soon, people will question your sanity if you venture into your car or the woods without satellite coverage.

And because Apple is going to leverage your anxiety so expertly, my AAPL stock is going to keep increasing in value. Thank you in advance.

Monday Required Reading

School starts tomorrow, so time to buckle down. Plus, Scottie loves assigned reading.

  1. I want one.
  2. Turns out, it’s really hard to scare a seal. Bonus trivia, the Byrnes clan is celebrating the fact that eldest daught lives 5 miles from the Ballard Locks as of today.
  3. Effective altruism has gone mainstream.
  4. The six forces that fuel friendship.
  5. How does it feel to be a teacher right now?
  6. Guilty as charged.

Looking Into Our Electric Vehicle Future

On the roads of Norway.

“In March this year, 16,238 passenger cars were registered in Norway. Of those, 13,983 were battery-electric vehicles. That’s an amazing 86% of all cars registered that month. Meanwhile in the US, according to the Argonne National Laboratory, sales of light-duty vehicles with plugs (including hybrids) made up just 5.85% of the market in March. That was nearly a 40% increase over the previous year, but still floundering in the single digits.

Why the disparity? Is Norway just a utopia of forward-thinking EV zealots? Not exactly. Where state and federal governments in the US have engaged in a haphazard collection of half-assed, confusing incentives to spur EV adoption, scattering a middling collection of carrots here and there over the years, the Norwegian government has instead chosen the biggest of sticks: taxes. Want to buy a gas-powered machine? Be prepared for a painful whack.”

The “greatest country in the world” is getting its ass kicked. Again.

Hypocrisy On A Staggering Level

A reader writes, “Hey Ron, who should I read and follow to better understand the housing crisis?”

Jerusalem Demsas.

But why did Marc Andreessen, billionaire venture capitalist and vocal affordable housing advocate, just block Demsas on Twitter?

Because of her brilliant reporting and scathing takedown of Andreessen in this Atlantic essay, “The Billionaire’s Dilemma”. In thirteen paragraphs Demsas teaches a master class on contemporary American life and the wealth gap more specifically.

The money paragraph. . . pun intended:

“Unfortunately, when local officials charged with overseeing development are confronted with balancing exercises, they almost always default to blocking or delaying projects. This happens in part because the future beneficiaries of new development cannot advocate for themselves. No one knows who will eventually live in new housing, what kids will be born there and go to school in the neighborhood and grow up to make the community better. But the present-day neighbors who are worried about construction, who believe that their home values might “MASSIVELY decrease” if teachers live near them, who are prejudiced against renters and people who live in multifamily housing—those people can and do speak up. And often, local officials bow to the pressure or are elected because they themselves oppose new housing development.”

I listened to an in-depth interview of Andreessen recently and was blown away by his intelligence. Demsas’s piece is a powerful reminder that the heart trumps the mind.

Reality Catches Up

A reader writes, “Hey Ron, August is finally here and I’m going on vacation. I wanna get my financial life in order. What’s one book you’d recommend with that in mind?”

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel.

I read Housel’s blog too. Today’s post is titled “Reality Catches Up”. It’s about the precarity of fleeting success. This paragraph will resonate with anyone with much work experience.

“It happens at work, too. A manager who can’t earn employees’ respect by leading often tries to force it through fear. That can feel great: Your employees say “Yes sir, right away sir!” But it’s unearned respect. Employees who fear you will hide the truth from you to avoid repercussions. So the manager flies blind, oblivious to problems large and small that won’t be apparent until it’s too late. Every bit of respect over what you deserve is a liability, a hidden form of debt.”