Enron V.2 Oh, Elizabeth. Artemis 1. Commando? The King Of Beers. Thanksgiving. The Haka.

GAAP Accounting Principles? Blood Fraud. The First In A Series Of Missions. We Really Do Not Care. A Dry World Cup. It Is Not All Things Turkey. The All Blacks Doing Their Thing.

“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here,” Ray said. “From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.” This is not a statement about Enron or Worldcom, famous for their downfalls due to accounting scandals, but from John Ray III, the newly appointed CEO of FTX. FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, once valued at $32 billion, collapsed in a matter of days last week amid a liquidity crunch and allegations that it was misusing customer funds. Ray, who oversaw the Enron bankruptcy, said “he had never seen such a complete failure of corporate controls.” Does anyone want to chime in on the lack of oversight in the cryptocurrency world?

Regarding the world of fraudulent activity: She was once the young heartthrob of Silicon Valley, dropping out of Stanford University to start Theranos in 2003…at the ripe old age of 19. A long story short, her med-tech entity, a blood testing company, was rife with fraud and the misleading of investors. There is a movie about Elizabeth Holmes, and she will now be watching that docudrama within the confines of prison, being sentenced to eleven years. Justice well served.

The Artemis 1 mission, delayed with a leaking valve and hurricane issues, finally did launch last Wednesday morning at around 1am. This was the first launch in a series of missions to build a sustainable, long-term human presence on the moon. Yes, a “human presence.” This first mission lays the groundwork for the future Artemis endeavors, to specifically ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery. The crewed Artemis 2 launch will take place in 2024, the Artemis 3 crewed lunar landing in 2025, and then the Artemis 4, which will dock with the Lunar Gateway in 2027. The Lunar Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides vital support for a sustainable, long-term human return to the lunar surface. This does not seem plausible but neither did the first moon landing on July 20, 1969.

The Artemis 1 launch last Tuesday from Kennedy Space Center.

Headline of the Week: Jenna Bush Hager Admits She Never Wears Underwear…
“I think it makes a more pretty silhouette!”
1. Who cares? 2. TMI 3. Get over yourself. 4. I am sure that your father, a two-term President of the United States, is very proud.

The first game of the World Cup starts this morning at 11am EST – between the host country Qatar and Ecuador. We will leave alone how and why this once every four-year event is taking place on this peninsula that is smaller than Connecticut, but we will note that over 1.5 million fans will visit this country over the month-long tournament. I sincerely hope that this tournament goes without serious incidents – but adding an additional 1.5 million visitors to the mix raises a number of questions in my mind. Speaking of questions, Budweiser is a prominent sponsor of the World Cup, and they have many questions after the decision that no alcohol will be sold at the eight stadiums which will host the tournament’s 64 matches. Talking about awkwardness? A World Cup and no beer sales.

Qatar 2022 is the first World Cup to be hosted in a Muslim nation where alcohol access is restricted.

The Thanksgiving holiday is like no other. Never mind that I am not a fan of turkey, the Thanksgiving holiday, whether with a group of family and friends or solo, is a time to reflect on the thankful things. No matter your surroundings, enjoy Thanksgiving for what it is meant to be: A day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. At whatever level, enjoy.

Speaking of tradition, the haka is a ceremonial war dance. The haka is a representation of a tribe’s pride, strength, and unity. New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, perform the haka before each of their matches in what I feel is a stunning show of power and strength. In this match, England, their opponent, assumed the strategic “arrow” formation in opposition to the All Blacks performing their haka. The chant and words of the haka date back to 1820, and you only have to watch this once to understand the All Blacks focus and intensity.

Rugby and the All Blacks.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Storm Surge. Short Takes For Mid-November. Our Veterans.

The West and East Coasts 43 Days Apart. A Few Random Thoughts.

  • I do not necessarily agree with the cliche: ‘It could have been worse.’ The Fall storms that have caused massive damage to both coasts of Florida will affect the lives of many people in the state and the region. The residents and business owners in the Gulf towns of Naples and Ft. Myers, as well as their barrier islands, will be recovering from Hurricane Ian for a long time. Just forty-three days later, Hurricane Nicole, the latest storm to hit Florida in forty years, pummeled east coast towns from Melbourne to Flagler Beach, leaving beachfront homes wrecked and flooded. My only hope is that when the rebuilding begins, distinct levels of code and construction are instituted to help prevent some of the wind, water, and beach erosion issues we witnessed over a month ago and again last Thursday. It will be a lengthy battle for some to figure out what to do with their homes and businesses, and we can only wish all of them the best of everything. This video is difficult to watch.
Only 43 days separated Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

Short Takes For mid-November

Any guess what Elon Musk will do with Twitter? He obviously has a strategy in mind after spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $44 billion to acquire the social media platform. Maybe Musk has reviewed Mastodon, a free and open-source software for running self-hosted social networking services Mastodon is gaining widespread popularity so maybe Musk, facing many issues with his newly acquired business, will change Twitter once and for all.

Seinfeld on Thursday nights. Never to be replicated, the writing by Larry David and the cast of characters was amazing. I do not think I watched every episode, but I do remember this one with Seinfeld handling a cold-caller, George and his date, Susan, and Kramer just doing Kramer.

Larry David’s writing was laugh-out-loud funny.

Have you ever watched an eight-year veteran NFL quarterback play like a rookie? Last Thursday night’s puzzling performance by the Atlanta Falcons’ Marcus Mariota must have head coach Arthur Smith wondering if he should start rookie Desmond Ridder. The Falcons have other issues with their team, but Mariota’s decision-making in last week’s Thursday night game against Carolina was head-scratching to say the least.

After I questioned the Fed about their four successive 0.75% rate hikes, the Consumer Price Index actually beat forecasts for the month of October. Something has to give as we do not want the U.S. to follow suit with what is happening in Great Britain. Britons are currently experiencing a severe cost-of-living crisis, with decades-high inflation and a jump in energy prices caused by the Russian war on Ukraine. Let us not get to that point, Mr. Powell.

Most have us have experienced the baggage check-in scenario where your bag is a bit over the weight allowance, as well as our top-performing TSA agents around the country. Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco never explained it better.

The Airport Experience.

After reading this headline it is obvious the world of online gaming has not resonated with my intellect or reasoning: Oculus Rift Creator Designs Frightening VR Set That Kills You for Real if You Die in a Video Game. Say what?

The World Cup opening match between host country Qatar and Ecuador is next Sunday. Over the last two weeks, the thirty-two countries participating in the World Cup have been revealing the twenty-six players who have made their final roster. Some countries do their “reveal” with big presentations, but this reveal by Uruguay is excellent and quite creative. The U.S. is grouped with Wales, England, and Iran, with their first game a week from tomorrow against Wales. By my account, this match is a must win in order for the Americans to get out of their group.

A very creative reveal by Uruguay.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin with the most ‘master of the obvious (MOTO)’ statement ever: “I will not attend the G20 Summit in Indonesia due to assassination fears.” Oh, come on Vladimir, show yourself to the world. 🙂 I am sure that the UASOF, Utti Jaeger Regiment, The Jaeger Corps, JW GROM, and Mossad would enjoy meeting you face-to-face (these are special forces units from Ukraine, Finland, Denmark, Poland, and Israel).

This Grammy performance some forty years ago will live in infamy. With all due respect to Fred Astaire and Mikhail Baryshnikov, we had not witnessed a live, televised event where the performer ‘glided on ice.’ My favorite YouTube twins had never seen this Billie Jean performance from Michael Jackson, and their reaction is great. Only my friends RP and S² can moonwalk as well as MJ. You can skip to the 1:45 and 6:20 minute marks to watch Michael do his thing.

The one, the only, the late Michael Jackson.

Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The Veteran’s Day holiday was observed this past Friday, and to all veterans: praise, honor, admiration, and thank you.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday.

The Consumer Price Index. Conflict. Dire Straits.

Are There Other Ways To Slow Inflation? Things Are Bubbling Up. Mark Knopfler.

  • It is time to pay attention, and I am not referring to Tuesday’s midterm elections. What I am referring to is the various economic news and information we are unfortunately consuming. Turn on any news program, whether it be on your television, radio, or social media, and the words inflation, the Federal Reserve, and the infamous federal funds rate are mentioned and discussed with incessant and non-stop blabber.

I mentioned some economic news last week regarding the Fed’s efforts to curb inflation. I questioned the rising federal funds rate, which is the interest rate that banks charge each other to borrow or lend excess reserves overnight. The Fed’s objective with raising the federal funds rate is to curb the consumption of goods, and by all accounts their actions to slow down consumption with interest rate management is working. Unfortunately, the rise in rates is not without negative vibes within many sectors including the housing and automobile business.

I wanted to level set why all of this federal rate activity has been instituted, and the word of the day is inflation. Inflation is defined as the sustained increase of the price level (i.e.: just compare food prices at your grocery store since the beginning of the year). When we hear “rate of inflation” it refers to the change in price levels over a period of time. When the price levels rise, our currency buys fewer goods and services – so in layman’s terms, inflation reflects a reduction in our purchasing power. The result of the inflation we have experienced is that we are forced to spend more and our cost-of-living increases over time. The cause and effect of higher interest rates has a trickle-down effect to us as consumers, as we theoretically must slow down our spending, which in turn the Fed hopes will curb inflation.

A high rate of consumption by us drives demand for goods and services which in essence drives up inflation. Last week I questioned the Fed’s rate hike tactics and questioned if there were other ways inflation could be slowed. The Fed raised the federal funds rate again last week, another 0.75 percentage points as part of its ongoing effort to fight inflation. This sums up the situation we find ourselves in: “A fourth consecutive rate hike of 0.75 percent – after going 28 years without one that large – speaks to the urgency of the Fed’s task,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst. “They were late to acknowledge inflation, late to wind down stimulus, late to start raising rates, and late to ramp up rate hikes in a meaningful way. They’re still playing catch-up against inflation that continues to run near 40-year highs.”

What does all of this mean for us? Borrowing money. As mentioned last week, rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have climbed above 7 percent for the first time since 2008. Mortgage demand from homebuyers is half of what it was one year ago. Pending home sales have plunged 31% from a year ago to their lowest level since 2010. Car loans: Forecasters lowered their expectations for 2022 U.S. auto sales yet again to just 13.7 million new cars and trucks, down about 9% vs. 15 million in 2021, and down almost 20% vs. 17.1 million, in pre-COVID 2019.

Are there other ways to curb inflation other than systemic Fed rate hikes? Terms like supply-side economics, Keynesian theory, trickle-down effect, and Reaganomics come to mind but I do not have the bandwidth to analyze those tactics and policies. The good news is that there are many of you who do have the financial and economic background to do so, and your comments are welcome. Richie, you are one of them, so please chime in.

  • Did you win the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot? Do tell.

  • Has it always been this way, or does it seem like many parts of our planet are bubbling up and tense with conflict? North Korea firing missiles over South Korea, Pakistan on the verge of civil war, Iran sending drones to Russia, Russia and Putin in Ukraine, Myanmar’s civil war, Haiti’s continued instability, and many others including Sudan’s political uprising amid drought and conflict. The ability of media coverage to span the globe and create and distribute content on-demand has obviously alerted all of us to worldwide issues, but it does seem like global conflicts are on the continued rise.

  • Twenty weeks. I cannot wait for March 12, 2023.

They have always been a top-five band for me. Formed in 1977, this British rock band brought us a combination of sound, including folk, blues, and country. Mark Knopfler’s guitar skills are renowned, with his ability to combine a smooth style with “picking” which is often aligned with blues and country. Most of us remember their hit single, “Sultans of Swing” but the video below shows off Knopfler’s abilities at his best. The band: Dire Straits.

Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits in 1988.

Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!