HAS APPLE PEAKED?

Probably not, and it’s a national treasure, for sure . . . but – if you can stand some sharply off-color language from cartoon characters – here is a VERY funny video that compares my iPhone 4 with the HTC Evo I must admit I am now beginning to yearn for.

MAKE YOUR OWN CLIP?

As if you had time for this – you can now apparently make your own laugh-out-loud video, like the one above, with this. Free. Easy. (Is it? I haven’t tried it.)

TREES/PERSON

Trees take CO2 out of the air and convert it to oxygen. Today, there are roughly 400 billion trees and nearly 7 billion people – 60 trees for each of us. When I was born, there were roughly 50% more trees and 4.5 billion fewer people – so roughly vaguely 240 trees per person. Discuss.

THE ANSWER?

Hard to imagine it could be this simple – I haven’t a clue – but I love thinking it could work: a solar-powered process that takes CO2 out of the air and turns it into fuel. They talk of returning atmospheric CO2 levels to pre-industrial levels within a decade of ramping up.

BUILDING AMERICA BONDS

Bob Fyfe: “I recently heard about Build America Bonds and after a small amount of research feel that they may be a good fit for an IRA, especially in a Roth. I’d like to hear your thoughts, and on the PowerShares Build America Bond fund (BAB) in particular.”

☞ I’m all for building America but would not jump at this. As you probably know, these are federally taxable municipal bonds (so keeping them in an IRA makes sense) subsidized but not guaranteed by the United States Treasury (so you are accepting some risk).

Actually, you are accepting two risks.

The first is that rising interest rates could depress the values of these long-term bonds as they would depress the value of any other fixed-rate long-term bonds. (Who wants to pay full price for a bond yielding 5.7%, say, if new bonds of similar quality and maturity are yielding 8%?) You’d still get your interest, and repayment in full decades from now if you held on to maturity; but if there had been a bout of inflation along the way, the $25,000 you invested today would have greatly diminished purchasing power when the bond matured.

The second, lesser but real risk is that the issuer might default. One imagines an individual issuer that got in trouble would likely be rescued by the state – lest investors demand higher rates on all future bond offerings from within that state. And one imagines that if an entire state got into trouble, the Federal government would step in for the same reason. But in a worst case scenario, where many states were looking to the Federal government for a bail-out, one can imagine some sort of grand restructuring plan where the Treasury does not simply print enough money to bail everyone out 100 cents on the dollar.

So if it’s safety and peace of mind you’re after for your IRA, you might consider TIPS. The Treasury will not default. And if we have inflation, the value of your bonds will rise with it, at least in large part. (The government’s calculation of inflation may not match the inflation you experience.) I would stick with recently issued TIPS so they that don’t yet have much “inflation accretion” built into the settlement price – lest deflation deflate that accretion.

 

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