Things I Think This Morning

Inflation has heated up, meaning your dollar won’t go as far, which is bad news for savers, retirees and working-class people. At least in the short run, the president’s tariff policies are bound to increase costs, hurting more people than they help. As always, oil and gas prices matter, too. There’s no consensus on where they’re headed.

Roundup was found to have caused cancer this week, a reminder that people are too cavalier about all those home and garden chemicals. People fail to appreciate how toxic and hazardous many chemicals are. We need to be careful what we inhale and what we allow to come into direct contact with our skin. I was thinking quite a lot about cancer this week. I have a friend who is battling it, and my dad died from it. It’s a hideous disease. I hope we defeat it soon.

The stock market had a bad day yesterday. There’s a fierce debate raging over whether the market is a bubble or not. By historical standards, it’s certainly pricey. Whether that means we’re in for a crash at some point or merely a decade of poor returns, I have no idea. But it’s probably not the time to be taking too many risks. That said, I continue to cherry pick some stocks here and there, all the time being mindful that it’s more important not to lose money than to make money. I’m constantly surprised by the risks some people are willing to take. Given the debt people and companies have taken on the past few years, there will be a lot of pain when the market eventually corrects (or craters) and when interest rates rise significantly. When will that happen? I have no idea. Perhaps this year; perhaps well into the future. But it will happen. Someday.

For anyone considering a European vacation, there is good news: the greenback is continuing to strengthen.  We’re planning on going to England next year so I hope the exchange rate continues to improve.

We were at Costco yesterday. It’s my favorite store by a wide margin. I struck up a conversation at the gas pump with the attendant. Nice guy. He’s worked there 13 years. I asked him if Costco treated its employees as well as it’s been reported. He emphatically replied, “Yes, it’s a great company to work for.” Costco and R.E.I. are living proof that you can treat your employees well, do business the right way and still succeed. Indeed, you can excel. I don’t know why so many employers treat their employers so poorly. It’s short-sighted and, frankly, stupid from a business standpoint. Yet it’s prevalent. I suppose we simply have too many assholes running things.

Wife and I took another walk last night through center city Carmel, as we frequently do. It’s great to see so much happening here, proof that progressive community leadership can make a difference. When I compare it to ultra-conservative Loveland, Colorado, where we last lived, the difference is night and day. The people were great in Loveland, and we have some super friends there. But the community leadership was poor. Very poor. If I were young and starting out, I’d want to be sure to put stakes down in a place that was going somewhere, and not a place that was desperately trying to cling to the past. We live in the present and prepare for the future. The past is the past. Let go.

 

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