This column is actually about money. (Well, a little.) The 40% some of you earned, the 0.43% return one of you earned, the electronic coupons you can clip – and (apropos of nothing) a little melondrama.

But first . . .

Dave Matson: ‘One quibble: I think Ron Reagan is great, but I don’t exactly think it is fair to characterize him as a Republican.’

☞ Good point. I meant to characterize him as the son of a Republican president, like John Eisenhower. But you are not the only one to point out the erroneous implication that he is a Republican.

A MOVIE EVERY CITIZEN SHOULD SEE

Several of you have already returned from the cinema and seconded this recommendation, so I am emboldened to repeat it: Quit work early today and see GOING UPRIVER. You spend more than 90 minutes choosing a refrigerator. The choice we face November 2 is a million times more important to you and your family. (But get the GE side-by-side with adjustable shelves and ice-in-the-door.)

A MOVIE YOU CAN WATCH AT HOME RIGHT NOW

Remember in high school English when we were given novels to read and then asked to identify their ‘themes’? I was never good at this. The river is one of the themes of Huckleberry Finn? How is a river a theme? What is a theme, anyway? And if I can’t figure that out, am I bright enough to be in this school? Am I a fake? Will they find me out? Could this all be tied, in some perverse way, to my terrible secret??? [But, yet again, I digress.] Click here for the theme of the recent Republican National Convention.

TIMBER VS. A COMMODITIES FUND

Doug Gary: ‘I bought some PCL a while back, and it’s done nicely. You suggested considering 5% or 10% of one’s portfolio in it as a bit of a hedge. I wonder if the PIMCO RealReturn Commodities fund might be a better long term play as it tracks the commodities index and carries TIPS as well. Thoughts?’

☞ I can’t begin to answer this well, except to say I’m happy to be in timber for the long term (and very happy PCL is up 19% or so with dividends since last writing about it May 4 . . . up about 40% with dividends since first suggesting it August 14, 2003).

Of course, its being more expensive now hardly makes it more attractive. I’m not buying additional shares here. But I’m definitely not selling, either.

Consider this: Many commodities don’t grow (copper, for example) and those that do grow require feeding (cattle) or fertilizing (corn) – or go bad if you don’t harvest them at just the right time (cranapples). Not timber.

ROBBED BY UNCLE SAM?

Marion [full name withheld because even the keenest among us can suffer an obtusion]: ‘I invested in a thirteen-week, $15,000 Treasury bill last week and just received a refund payment in the amount of $63.89. $63.89!!! That’s roughly .43%. Say what? This at a time when the coupon equivalent for this particular auction was reported at 1.68% in the newspapers. That’s the payment rate I was expecting. Such an investment rate is no great shakes, I agree, but I’m pretty much a risk adverse retiree. The folks at Treasury Direct advise that my $63.89 payment is correct. Silly me, I erroneously thought a mistake had been made. I tried to find out how Treasury calculates these payments but just couldn’t understand what they were trying to tell me.’

☞ As you seem to know, interest on T-bills is paid ‘in advance,’ when you buy them. There are four 13-week periods in a year, so the $63.89 is one-fourth the $255.56 you might expect investing this $15,000 for a year. And $255.56 divided by $15,000 is – voila! – 1.7% or so. In hindsight, you should have bought timber.

COUPONS YOU CUT AND PASTE

Jenna Hurst: ‘I just want to suggest a pretty decent coupons website. It is: KeepCash.com.’

☞ Well, tickle my clickles. You go to the site, copy, say, a $20-off ‘coupon’ for Amazon.com housewares purchases of $120 or more into your clipboard, then get re-routed to Amazon . . . shop . . . and paste the coupon number into the appropriate field at check out. Voila! Yankee ingenuity at its best.

A LITTLE MELONDRAMA

‘You should elope!’ urges the girlfriend.
‘We can’t elope,’ wails the prospective bride.
‘Oh, Honey – do!’

I wrote that myself.

Don’t forget: GOING UPRIVER.

Don’t forget: Debate at 9PM

Tomorrow: Uh, Oh – Gotta Worry About Nukes After All

(Notes to the Humorless: Cranapples do not exist. Obtusion is not a word – though if it were, it would signify an instance of being obtuse.)

 

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