It’s an old story. Lucy holds the football for Charlie Brown to run up and kick – she promises to hold it this time – and just as he lets loose, she pulls it away and he’s flat on his back. How many times did Charlie Brown fall for that?
Well, those of you who’ve read The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever (Ever! Really! Ever!) Need (which I have recently finished revising yet again) know that, for one thing, it contains a lot of annoying parenthetical asides (why does this not surprise you?) and, for another, that, despite the revisions, it leads off every time with the story of the Mexican peso.
I won’t recount the whole thing here – that’s why God invented libraries (it was the devil, I fear, who invented parentheses) – but basically, Americans casting about for better than the paltry interest rate available in Chicago or Spokane would stash their money in Guadalajara to get a higher return. Which seemed smart until – bang! – they awoke one day to find the peso devalued 40% against the dollar, meaning an instant 40% loss in the value of their savings.
Each time I revised the book, I found myself adding a new sentence or footnote to acknowledge the latest such event. Because Lucy, often as not, had done it again.
Well, today I sat at lunch with a Mexican-American businessman who told me he could get 7% interest down south, versus 1.5% from his bank here in the US, but that he wasn’t biting. The peso, he says, trading at 9.1 to the dollar, is way overvalued and should be more like 13 to the dollar. He doesn’t know when the devaluation is coming, but he believes that it will.
I don’t know either; but in case you’ve decided to juice up the return on your savings by converting your fortune to pesos, atender! It seems to be coming around again.
And speaking of Mexico, I replaced my troublesome Tivo with a brand new Tivo2 the other day – so far, so good – and I was interested to see that it was Made in Mexico. To one eager to see Mexico prosper (as presumably we all do), it was heartening.
Kevin Respecki: ‘If you’re having trouble with your Tivo, you should really look into the Replay TV4000 by SONICblue. With these models I’m going to be able to watch Detroit Tiger games here in Hawaii that are recorded by my brother in Michigan. Anybody with a Replay TV4000 can share whatever they record with anyone else who owns one over a broadband connection. Plus all the other goodies like ‘commercial erase’ and digital photo storage. Go to the SONICblue website and check it out.’
☞ I did, and it seems like a good bet for someone who already has his computer connected to a home network, or is undaunted by the task of setting one up. (I am totally daunted.) Some of the advantages Replay offers over Tivo appear to have been matched by the new Tivo2. And some of the complaints I remember hearing about the Replay (a clumsy remote you couldn’t read in the dark) appear to have been fixed with the Replay4000. If we consumers are lucky, both companies will aggressively compete, taking turns leap-frogging each other with advances in features and – I hope – in ease of use that make it more and more fun to get old.
I don’t know whether Tivo or Replay themselves will make it, but the Tivo concept surely will. Within just a few years, I can’t imagine any TV set being sold without the Tivo/Replay functionality that lets you stop live TV – just freeze Tom Brokaw in mid-sentence while you answer the phone – and then start him back up again or have him repeat what he just said or watch him in slo-mo. I can’t imagine TV’s not allowing you to automatically record your favorite programs, as Tivo and Replay do now, without having to keep track of what time or channel they’re on. And commercials? I watch them sometimes, but only when I want to. It takes me only 20 minutes to watch the news each night (I fast-forward through the commercials and the story about . . . well, there’s always one skippable story), and that saves me 3,000 minutes a year, or 50 hours.
Quote of the Day
It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.~Bill Clinton
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