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January 5th, 2011 — ,
2010 went by way too fast for me since I became a working mom. It has been extremely challenging and I have not had as much time and energy to write very thoughtful posts. I would like that to change in 2011, but I don’t want to push myself too far, either. I need to take care of myself to take care of my family and everyone else, and that’s what I’m planning to do. Anyway, I have been reading an excellent series of posts on Calculated Risk analyzing what . I highly recommend these posts, and they will appeal to those who really care to read thoughtful data-backed pieces about the economy. I do agree with his analysis about what will happen in housing and unemployment.
Anyway, here are some of my predictions about 2011. I don’t claim to be a prophetess or psychic, and my predictions aren’t backed by hours of research so it is best to take them as entertainment.
viagra us pharmacy- The Making Home Affordable program is not working as expected and is largely deemed a failure by everyone . I actually did (through common sense), but I am guessing that there will be more bailouts ahead to “help” the underwater homeowners. The problem is that there is no money, so maybe every troubled homeowner will get a $500 tax credit?
viagra us pharmacy- Jerry Brown is now governor. Enough said.
viagra us pharmacy- The Federal Debt is limited to $14.3 billion, and now stands at $13.9 billion. It’s pretty much a given that the ceiling will be raised because otherwise the goverment will stop issuing paychecks. That happened once in the past and it wasn’t pretty.
viagra us pharmacy – I don’t expect the deposit rates to go up at all, so savers that put most of their money in CDs and savings accounts will still earn a pittance.
viagra us pharmacy – In 2010 Social Security was already paying out more than it was taking in. Guess what Congress decided to do about this. They passed a cut of Social Security taxes in 2011. My guess is that Social Security will be even more underfunded in 2011 since unemployment hasn’t really gone down but more and more baby boomers are at their full retirement age this year. So, basically Social Security will be taking in less money across the board, and increasing payouts when starting point is already negative. So I am pretty sure that I nailed this prediction, unless there is some miraculous increase of millions of jobs.
viagra us pharmacy – She will make much more money on reality TV and on the internet. Heck, even this . I imagine Mrs. Palin makes a lot more than that from her role on Fox News and her show about Alaska on TLC. I think she’s actually pretty smart to just capitalize on her entertainment value since the media will make fun of her mercilessly anyway. So why should she take on a seriously stressful campaign when she can just collect millions by being herself?
viagra us pharmacy- Yes, there was a and some good ideas were thrown together in that meeting. I predict that none of it will actually be implemented because it is just much easier for the government to continue spending. Additionally, it’s going to be an election year and the politicians will want to be as popular as possible and they probably won’t want to rock the boat. Does anyone really think that these pansies will get rid of the mortgage interest deduction right before an election year for the future fiscal security of the nation? I don’t think so.
That’s all I can think of now, but hopefully 2011 will be a better year for everyone who is still here.
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August 21st, 2010 — , ,
A long time ago I wrote a post about stock options called Basically I wrote about why most people do not get rich from stock options here in the valley and I really hope that young folks coming out of college read my post. With that said, I am writing this post today because my company just got acquired by a huge company this week. This is one of the many mergers and acquisitions in the technology field this week and those of you who know me know which deal it is. As expected, I am not rich , but I will be getting enough from my shares to afford a decent vacation.
There were a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the past few years because having an IPO is becoming increasingly difficult. Although the stock market is a lot higher than last year, the truth is that the economy is still awful and is possibly even worse than last year. If you look at mutual fund flows, you will see that billions of dollars are still being pulled out of equities. Money is flowing towards gold, bonds, and just plain cash. Unemployment is actually higher than last year if you face reality and forget about the government swill in the mainstream media. Right now half a million people are claiming new unemployment benefits every week while only tens of thousands of private sector jobs are being created every month. It is basically like someone is trying to fill the Grand Canyon with a shovel and a bucket of sand. It is not pretty and I do feel fortunate to be where I am at right now.
Personally, I think that mergers and acquisitions make a lot of sense right now. Small independent companies like the one I work for have to work so much harder just to survive, and many small companies are dying out. I think a lot of small companies actually want to be bought right now because it would make life easier for them. Also, there is still a lot of money for the founders if they are acquired. One of my classmates from college just walked away with millions in the Disney/Playdom deal because he is a founder. You could say that he is just lucky, but he did found a company that has a product that Disney thought was worth buying, and his company does support many families. It takes hard work, dedication, and vision to build a company, and I do believe that founders of companies deserve the rewards they get in these deals.
I’m not sure what the future will be like with a big conglomerate, but for now everything should stay the same. After my last company was partially sold for a very high sum in 2007, recruiters descended like vultures and a ton of people left. I really hope that the same thing doesn’t happen here, but the culture of the valley is that once an exit event happens a lot of people will leave and try to strike it rich in another startup. I guess my take on that is the same thing I wrote years ago. If you are not a founder, then don’t expect to get rich. If you are a founder, don’t count on succeeding because most startups still die out or never reach an exit event. Anyway, I will still stick to my plan of early retirement, and this deal will hopefully put me a few months ahead of my original goal.
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May 4th, 2010 — , , ,
Today Goldman Sachs was handed a $450k fine for violating a short selling rule and there is an ongoing civil suit concerning their role in creating and selling a synthetic CDO product called Abacus. Here is what I think of the whole debacle.
First, let me tell you a little story. Yesterday my mom called me and told me of an investment property she and my dad were considering. Apparently the current owners bought two duplexes at the height of the bubble for $500,000 and put $250,000 down, and now these two buildings are listed for $77000 each. My mom’s comment was, “isn’t this sad? The hard working folks lost all the money and Wall Street won!” I basically replied to her and asked her what Wall Street won from this particular case. The lender to the couple will lose money in this deal, and it seems to me that this couple just made a bad investment. However, the general sentiment now is that all the bankers are to blame for everything ill in this world whether it is true or not.
The folks who bought Goldman’s Abacus product also made a bad investment, and it seems silly for them to complain that Goldman “knew” that the investment will go sour. Seriously, can you really blame Goldman Sachs for people who do not pay their mortgages? Did Goldman hold a gun to these people’s heads and force them to sign their loan documents and default? I think it’s ridiculous to say that Goldman or Wall Street in general knew that the housing crisis was going to happen when almost EVERYONE and their pets’ fleas were caught in the real estate mania and truly believed that real estate prices will never fall. The contention here is that the person who helped create Abacus felt that the underlying investments would go sour so he was on the other side of the bet, but obviously the buyers of Abacus felt that it was a good investment because they would not have bought it otherwise. They also trusted the ratings companies that rated these underlying securities to be awesome. So this case seems like the buyers of these investments are feeling gypped that their bet went wrong. The fact is that they had access to the data of every underlying security, and it is their fault for not doing their due diligence.
Although I am not a fan of market makers like Goldman Sachs because I feel that they control too much, in this case I think it is ridiculous to try them for fraud. If they committed fraud because they selected a consultant who believed that the securities would fall, then perhaps all the people that lost money in real estate in recent years should sue the real estate agents of the sellers that they bought their homes from. Perhaps those real estate agents counseled their clients into selling their homes because they felt that the real estate market peaked, and they gained from the sales financially. Have they all committed fraud, too? Goldman is an easy target because there is all this hate against big financial institutions now, but when will people own up to their mistakes? All the investors from the Wall Street banks that bought these CDOs to the “Main Street” duplex owners who lost money in the real estate bubble are only here because of their own greed and I am not shedding a tear for any of them.
As to the SEC, it almost seems like they’re trying to show that they are doing something productive after the . In this case I agree with by selling Abacus. I don’t know what kind of precedent this case would present to salivating lawyers. What’s next? Can anyone with a bearish opinion be sued when proven right? Will investors start suing blogs like Calculated Risk and Doctor Housing Bubble for “creating” the real estate collapse by writing about their honest opinions about the real estate mania? Lets be honest here, if the real estate bubble hasn’t popped yet then this lawsuit would not have been brought forth, and I really think that everyone should just accept their wins and losses in this whole madness and move on to better investment opportunities.
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March 25th, 2010 — , ,
So yes, the ginormous I am not going to get into the politics and nitty gritty of the bill, but I will write about how this affects our early retirement plan.
If this reform works like it is supposed to then it is actually a positive change for those who want to retire early and live a modest but comfortable life. The main reason is that the government will hand out subsidies for health insurance costs to those who make less than 400% of the poverty level. If you use the , you will see that a family of four with an income of $44,000 a year is required to pay 6.3% of its yearly income on health insurance and the rest will be subsidized. This works out to be $2765 a year or $230 a month. So even if this family’s health insurance actually cost $12,000 a year, at that income level the family would have to pay only $2765. That is equivalent to a bonus of more than $9000 a year. I think that we will be just fine on $36,000 to $44,000 of income a year in retirement so we will be receiving a subsidy since there do not seem to be any asset limits.
This subsidy also makes me think that it is much better for us to pay off our mortgage early instead of using investment or other income in retirement to pay for the mortgage. The reason is that if we lived in a mortgage free house we would not need the income to cover the mortgage, and a lower income means a larger subsidy. I know that some early retirees keep their mortgages because their rates are very low and their investment incomes surpasses the mortgage interest rate, but now it is possible that some may be able to save more in health insurance costs by reducing their incomes.
I am pretty sure that these subsidies will ultimately push health insurance costs up, and it is definitely wealth distribution, but it is unlikely that this law will be repealed. The law definitely makes health insurance affordable to many people through other people’s money, but I do not see much in the bill that actually reduces healthcare costs. I am just hoping that the plans available in the future health insurance exchanges are reasonable, and the flood of newly insured folks do not overwhelm the healthcare system like it already did in Massachusetts.
Ultimately, I think the passage of this law just reinforces my belief that we should retire early, live more, and consume less. I will keep a close watch on how this plan rolls out in the next few years, but at least for now those who want to retire early and do not have health insurance from a former employer can get a fairly clear budget of their health insurance costs based on their incomes in retirement.
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March 18th, 2010 — ,
Today the workers of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.(NUMMI) plant in Fremont . The 4700 workers are getting an average severance package of $54,000 each. Here are some of my thoughts on this news.
First of all, NUMMI is a joint venture between GM and Toyota. The main reason that it is closing is that GM basically died and Toyota no longer wants to keep the plant open. It is true that most of the cars manufactured there were Toyotas, but it also produced a good amount of GM cars over the past few decades. Now I feel that its ironic that Toyota is paying for the entire severance package and still getting a ton of bad press for closing down this plant. Where is GM with its bailout money now?
On the radio I heard a NUMMI worker who said that she will be getting around $65,000 in severance and she thought that it was very generous. She will also get unemployment pay, retraining, and subsidized health insurance. It is actually pretty ridiculously generous. If my company shut down I think I would be lucky to get even a month of severance. This whole thing makes me wonder if non-US based companies from Japan or Europe are more generous in their worker benefits. If so, perhaps it is good for everyone to pursue a career with those companies?
Ultimately this comes down to the issue of an increasingly global economy. I have always said that it is short sighted for Americans to only buy things made by American companies because non-American companies do create a lot of jobs here. If the president or our governor wanted to create more jobs then they should really work on attracting these multinational corporations to come and hire American workers. If the NUMMI plant were cheaper to operate then Toyota may have kept it open because by all accounts I have read it was a great plant that produced cars efficiently for decades. It really doesn’t surprise me that Toyota closed it down because California is probably one of the most expensive states to do business in, and the Bay Area is one of the most expensive labor markets.
It is sad that the Bay Area and California as a whole will be losing thousands of jobs, but I wish the best to all the former NUMMI workers. Perhaps some of them could retire now since their pensions are still intact. If I were in their shoes I think I would enjoy the severance a little and perhaps do something completely different. It is really a great opportunity for them, and I hope they make the best of it.