Friday, June 10, 2005

Summer Vacation!

by Tom Bozzo

This will ratify what some visitors may have already noticed in the content of posts, but in honor of the end of the school year, Marginal Utility is going on summer vacation. This does not mean that there won't be regular posts, though for better or worse you can expect more of the whatever-crosses-my-mind variety and less of the important-issues-of-the-day variety (unless the latter happens to be the former). To the extent commentary is deemed necessary:
  1. George W. Bush is the worst president of my lifetime, if not ever, and people (corporate titans possibly excepted) who voted for him and don't regret it are somewhat stupider than they think they are slightly nuts.
  2. Social Security privatization is a bad idea that hard-headed analysis shows will make most people worse off.
  3. Bush foreign policy is more dangerous, misguided, and incompetently executed than Bush domestic policy, which is saying something.
  4. Visitors to financial markets should wear hard hats and other appropriate safety gear.
  5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the best of the prequel trilogy by far, and not that much worse than the OT.
Edited to make intended sarcasm more apparent.
Wow! Thanks for the insult. Pulling out the 'stupid' card is one of the lamest attacks that can be made. FTR, I do regret that we had such a terrible choice for president in 2004 (and 2000 as well), but I don't regret not voting for John Kerry - truly one of the most pathetic Dem. nominees in 'my lifetime, if not ever.' I will also admit that you seem to be less nice than I thought you were - so count me as naive there.

As for SS privatization - I talked with my brother, a stockbroker, the other day. The mutual funds I am in have all averaged 13+% over the last 10 years (and also for their lifetime). 13% over the internet bubble, GWB's supposedly terrible economy, etc. I do wish the option were available to invest my SS money, but regardless, if people aren't investing, they are missing the boat.

I do not share your pessimistic attitude on policy matters, foreign or domestic.

Best wishes on your summer vacation!
Bryan: Let me put it another way. However smart you may be (and I assume you're reasonably successful as an MMoS), I'd consider you to be smarter if you agreed with your wife more often. Maybe that's not so nice, but it's how I feel.

As for your funds, if you got into them in your mid-to-late teens, more power to you. The 10-year average stock market returns are, with the exception of a few specific sectors, averages of extraordinary performance over the bubble (now roughly the first five years of the period) and basically terrible performance averaged over the last five years. For the Social Security privatization question, it's forward-looking returns that matter in any event.
I guess as long as you are the arbiter of smartness, then I won't be allowed to disagree. FTR, I think smart vs. stupid arguments are quite stupid. I don't think that being smart or dumb - however you define them - are correlated with political views, either. There are very smart people involved in any and every political group.

As for stock returns, they were 30+% in 2003, and although they have been bad in several years in the 2000s, investments made for the long term will pay off.
Not that I haven't known this for some time, but irony is dead.
Maybe he's just lacking the ability to understand irony.
First, I'm stupid and now I must also have brain damage. It's a wonder I still visit!
Bryan, you're as welcome as any other commenting pixie. However, you do seem to have failed to detect the sarcasm with which the original comment was intended (even with help from the opening of my first reply comment!), not to mention the actual target(s) of my ire.
I realize, of course, that many of you already know these facts, but perhaps it is worth repeating that although the stock market from the period of 1980-2000 has done quite well, in fact for the 1960-1980 period, we find that the index yield was only 4.5% a year, and in 1965-1975 it was in fact zero. Mr. Smith may have a wonderful brother who's a wizard at stock picking, but a particular does not a generality make.
I do believe Mr. Smith's brother will be busy as all stampede to assure a good future for themselves (but, hold on; isn't Mr. Bush suggesting portfolios that are 'conservative'? Is that what Bryan Smith is in?)
One particular? That's every mutual fund from American funds (all above 14% lifetime and for the last ten years) - and required no stock-picking ability from me or my brother.

And how about this for a generality -

"Since 1926, for every rolling 30-year period (measured on a monthly basis), a 50-50 portfolio (half stocks, half bonds) earned more than a 6.3 percent annualized return 97 percent of the time, according to Ibbotson Associates. A 60-40 portfolio did so 100 percent of the time."

But please stay out of the market if you wish. There's lots of money to be made. I know I'll enjoy my retirement.

Tom - I am still missing something. I *don't* get the joke of being called stupid.
whoops, that should have said every American Fund that I am in.
whoops2 - I apologize - I'm not actually sure at the moment who all of my mutual funds go through. That's the best part though - I don't do anything at all and don't have to know anything and I still make money in the market. Sheer stupidity.
Bryan: You're missing the point on the stock returns, and seemingly re-missing a point I've tried to make repeatedly that the Bushite privatization plan differs materially from ordinary saving and investing, which I've stressed is a good idea.

Anyway, since you're obviously highly aggrieved by my sarcastic comment (certainly more so than I ever was by your blog campaign against 'liberal hypocrisy'), I am inclined to follow my wife's advice and make a peace offering of frozen custard or, alternatively, beer.
P.S., welcome to the commenting pixie party, Darcy!
Tom, I understand your argument on SS privatization very well - I'm not missing anything. I was just pointing out that the market is good to be in, whether or not SS stays the same or not. I think too many people think that buying mutual funds or stocks = gambling. In gambling the house always wins in the long term, in the market you always win in the long term. You are right that this is somewhat of a sideshow to the SS debate, but I'd still like the option to invest a portion (or preferably) all of my payroll taxes.

I am not highly aggrieved - don't you know by now that most things I say are tongue-in-cheek? I was only slightly miffed by the stupid comment and the brain damage comment, but I have made peace with them now. BTW, my campaign was against the hypocrisy of the editors of the Capital Times - not liberals in general. I would never insult all liberals by aligning them with the likes of John Nichols. That would be mean.

This is precisely why I retired from the world of political blogging. Maybe I need to retire from commenting as well. Life is too short and too sweet to get mired down in the details. Regardless of all the problems we have, I am very optimistic that things will continue to improve regardless of who is in charge. Of course, I'll continue to be vigilant at the ballot box.
Oh sh*t, now I get it after your edit.

I seriously am a dumbass. I apologize for my first several comments. Seriously.
Tom: I may be a liberal, but I hope this means we can have beer (but not custard!) sometime before I leave Madison.
Jeremy: at your convenience.
Voting for Bush is selfish, not stupid, but then again, if we all follow our self interest blindly the commons is depleted and everyone eventually loses. Voting for Bush is shortsighted, like riding the profits of a crumbling Auto Giant and pulling out before it bottoms out. People out of work, your stock goes up, but at the end, will the center hold?
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