Beer and Circuses

Today, another day in markets. Stocks down, crude light down. Bonds up, gold down and copper down. Swissy down noticeably.

Markets are the front line. Behind markets are arrayed the people with the money, the people who put the money to work. There are also the producers, the people who actually make the money, as well as the speculators. Behind them are the people who think about the money, pontificate about it, strategize and comment. After those people we probably find you and me, likely as not paying no attention.

Which is more or less as it should be. Big, official markets don’t necessarily connect with we everyday folks every day. Our lives have more important priorities, like keeping our freedom, becoming independent, fighting back government, keeping our families intact and solvent. That kind of thing.

Trouble is that markets do infiltrate our lives. Low (or negative) interest rates stop us wanting to save. Low interest rates make life much more difficult for insurance and life companies. (That is important because these folks assume a lot of risk for us. Risk that we cannot individually accept.) And while low oil prices might at first blush look to be a good thing, this is a business with a very, very long tail, meaning that today’s bonanza might not look such a bargain in a few years.

And a few years roll around way quicker than we think.

Then of course we have central banks and federal governments. They know zilch about, but do nothing but interfere with markets and their participants, your life and all that surrounds it, and even how industries (like insurance) work.

Yep. Another day.

For The Children

The bleeding obvious is not always so bloody, nor as obvious as we might believe.

It might appear that links exist when in reality we’re merely falling victim to our most recent experience bias, the so-called availability heuristic.

Oh dear, I have slipped into impenetrable jargon mode…sorry.

Ahem. Rather than me explain, try this article about the effect of household income on household children. Yes, it might seem like a clear case of Duh, but you’ll see why I think it is important.

Money makes your children smart.

Survival

South of Adelaide lies the Fleurieu Peninsula, a fertile, undulating place of mild climate and lonely roads, rising no more than 800 feet above the sea. It juts out like a witch’s chin, pointing south-west towards Kangaroo Island. The peninsula has around sixty or seventy miles of coastline along the Gulf St Vincent and the Southern Ocean. There are sandy beaches, but it is mostly a jumble of rocky outcrops, bluffs, cliffs, coves, estuaries and windswept valleys. There is some development, but inaccessibility foils much human effort at such things. It is a beautiful, wild, raw kind of place.

I spent a lot of time there as a child. We lived at the beach near the city, but for vacations we went to other beaches. Oftentimes we went south, to the Fleurieu. Over many summers and school field trips, you learn a thing or two about nature, and the nature of life in water and near it. As a place to discover such things, there are few peers.

For a while, the life that lay beneath rocks near the water fascinated me. There are many tessellated outcrops between Adelaide and Cape Jervis, replete with tidal pools, corals and all kinds of life. I loved the crabs that live in this semi-sea, semi-land environment. Nothing made me happier than overturning a shoebox-sized rock to note the crabs living underneath. They scuttled away, but I caught them, sometimes paying for it with nips.

How did they squish themselves into such small spaces? Did they grow into big crabs or stay palm-sized? (Child’s palm-sized!) What did they eat? What did they do when the tide came in and covered their house in seawater?

~*^*~

We live in a time when the tide is coming toward us. We are living under a rock for the moment, more-or-less dry, more-or-less happy, kinda doing okay. But I fear that we will need to quickly adapt when the sea truly begins to roll in, as it will. That is the lesson from those afternoons spent fooling about in rockpools – some crabs survive, others don’t.

Which will you be?

Transparency

 

You can see straight through.
You can see straight through.

When in doubt, look in the mirror.

If I think a particular way about something, others do too. It’ll be an unknown percentage of any population, but I’m not deluded enough to think my ideas are any different from the bloke or bloke-ette ahead in the coffee line. He or she is wondering the same thing as me: Why is the coffee line taking so long?

Selling to me is actually pretty easy. I’m interested in new and different and shiny, but I am annoyed by the subterfuge of tricky sales maneuvers. The first new car I bought, a Mazda MX-5, back in 1993, was my first experience of “the grind”. In the car business, the grind is the time-wasting and frustration-inducing process that some salespeople use to manipulate you into taking their finance deal, or otherwise get more money. It didn’t work on me, because I had cash, and knew a fair price for the car. The guy had no leverage. I left feeling he was a fool for not being honest with me. His loss.

Now that I do selling for myself, I took that lesson to heart. I’m as upfront as possible. Yes, this is a request to give you a sales presentation. Of course I’m planning on making money by selling. Naturally I want you as a customer. What’s the point of me doing this otherwise?

The corollary of this brutal honesty is the following:

  • The products I sell are ones I use and love myself. Yes, love.
  • I believe my company’s products can (and more than likely will) improve your life.
  • I know my company’s products are at least as good as any supermarket brand.
  • I know my company’s products are a better value than any supermarket brand.
  • I know my company’s products are better for you, better for your household, and better for the planet.

 

Hello. I’m Tim. Are you interested in my sales presentation?