13% TAX FREE
This is stupid and trivial, but — because I may have invented the Forever Stamp (though presumably not) (though I did get to pitch it to a Postmaster General one New Year’s Eve, so you never know) — I’ll tell you anyway: January 26, first class postage jumps to 49 cents. If you’re not already swimming in Forever Stamps — and if you ever actually use stamps anymore — buy at least a year’s supply at 46 cents while you can. You save 6.5% off the new price; but if you use them evenly throughout the year, your blended average holding period is just half a year, so you’re earning the equivalent of about 13% a year on your $46 (if you were to buy 100 stamps).
If you use stamps primarily in December, to send out holiday cards, that would give you a much longer holding period and drag the annualized rate of return back down toward 6.5%. Lower still, likely, if you buy more than a year’s worth. But there’s really no harm in buying too many. Apart from the convenience of never running out, you will always “earn” — tax-free — at least the rate of postal inflation. Which could well exceed the general inflation rate, as the costs of delivering mail come to be spread over relatively fewer and fewer envelopes . . . and as the $15 cost of a FedEx still leaves the USPS quite a bit of room to raise prices before the budget-minded would jump ship.
JEFF IS ONE SMART COOKIE
Jeff Cox: “You seem to miss almost nothing that comes from the web (the Danish speed control bikini bandits would still be my favorite), so you probably have seen this ‘ignorance test’ but just in case. The gist is that people don’t know anything about the world. However, just for the record, though the accompanying story says no American respondent scored better than eight of ten right, I did. I scored nine, and I should have figured out the other one, too. I’m guessing my lack of ignorance probably comes from reading your column.”
☞ Well apparently not, because I scored only 8. Though — like you — I really would have scored 9 — and, actually, 10 — if I had tried thinking a little harder. I gotta start doing that.
SO IS GLENN
Let’s just hope he is right about SIGA. (He thinks it’s worth quadruple or more the current price — and makes a case for buying shares of its nemesis as well.)
Quote of the Day
In 1800, 75% of [an American's] working man's expenditures went for food alone. By 1850, that had dropped to 50%. Today it is a little more than 11%.~The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1996
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