Common Cents Archive

Common Cents for August 31, 2012

September 4, 2012, by John Norris

I don’t like politics, and haven’t for some time. So, I hadn’t planned on watching any of the Republican convention, and wouldn’t have if my mother-in-law weren’t staying with us this week. This ambivalence on my part frustrates the stew out of my father-in-law, and I understand why; poor civic responsibility and all of that. Still, I know how I am going to vote in November, and nothing the Republicans said this week or whatever...

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Common Cents for August 17, 2012

August 28, 2012, by Shelley deClerk

Last Thursday, I took my son on a ‘party boat’ to presumably fish for sharks. Having been on this particular vessel before, I knew the tackle, and understood we wouldn’t be catching Jaws or any of his brothers and sisters. Still, my 10-year old had fantasies, if you can call them that, of landing a really big fish, and was simultaneously thrilled and nervous about the prospect. For my part, I had a feeling we...

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Common Cents for August 3, 2012

August 6, 2012, by John Norris

Around this time last year, the markets were struggling with the potential downgrade of US Treasury debt. Investors were wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth about the potential ramifications. Just what would happen if the ratings organizations took the Treasury from AAA down to AA+? The general consensus, as fueled by the broadcast media, was it couldn’t be good. Those of us who have been in this industry long enough know a downgrade of...

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Common Cents for July 20, 2012

, by John Norris

Is leverage a good thing? In the aftermath of a major financial crisis brought about by ‘too much debt,’ the answer isn’t as clear as it once was. Couple that with Europe’s fiscal unraveling, and you could very easily conclude leverage is a bad thing, or at least something to avoid. However, debt, in and of itself, is innocuous. The issue is how the borrower uses it. If they take out massive loans to finance...

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Common Cents for July 13, 2012

, by John Norris

One of the biggest stories in the financial world is the perceived scandal surrounding Barclay’s PLC and its supposed manipulation of LIBOR rates. As you may know, LIBOR stands for ‘London Interbank Offered Rate,’ and is essentially where British banks estimate they can borrow money for various time periods leading out to one year. To make things a little simpler to understand, let me just give you the paragraph from Wikipedia which describes the calculation...

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Common Cents for July 5, 2012

, by John Norris

This past Tuesday, we had lunch with a client who is a business owner. His business has been growing nicely over the last couple of years. As a result, he is understandably a little more sanguine about the economy than most of the people I know. Without divulging what his company does, let me just it is a niche, and he has also tweaked his business model and delivery channels to meet changing market conditions....

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Common Cents for June 29, 2012

, by John Norris

 Yesterday, I sent a number of bullet points to a reporter friend of mine who had asked the question: “In your own words, tell me what you feel must be done to fix our job market in metro Birmingham and Alabama - despite (the) state trumpeting our big unemployment rate over last year, Alabama ranks near the bottom nationally in job creation - How can we turn thing around?” So, I sent him back the...

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Common Cents for June 22, 2012

, by John Norris

For Father’s Day, the family gave me a book I wanted entitled Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux. It is a narrative of the author’s trek from Cairo to Cape Town via truck, train, bus, minivan, car, ferry, and even dugout canoe. In his twenties, he had been a member of the Peace Corps in Malawi soon after that country’s independence; he spent another four years in Uganda as a professor at a university. Now,...

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Common Cents for June 8, 2012

August 1, 2012, by John Norris

Currently, my son is playing some post-season tournament baseball. When I was growing up, we called this sort of thing All-Stars; however, that was back in the day when you only had 1 All-Star team per grade per community. These days, most of the good players in the league can hitch their wagon to a team after the regular season is over. It is all in good fun, or should be. Now, I like to...

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