Investment “Vehicles” Redefined


The WSJ takes a very interesting look at classic autos as alternative investment “vehicles” (their pun, not mine) in a recent article titled The New Investment Vehicle.

“To some degree, new interest in old cars is a reaction to the past few years’ lackluster stock performance. But it’s also a product of wealthy baby boomers seeking out cars they could only dream of owning a few decades ago. Now, 6.7% of drivers describe themselves as car collectors, according to CNW Marketing/Research of Bandon, Ore., up from 4.9% four years ago. Classic-car sales are also growing: At the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., considered a market barometer, sales totaled $38.5 million this year — up roughly 40% from levels of the three previous years. And so far in 2004, Barrett-Jackson and two other top auctioneers, Christie’s and RM Auctions, say 193 cars have sold for $100,000 or more, up from 154 for all of last year.”

If you are an online WSJ subscriber, you can see the full article — with many cool pics here.

If not, go to my extensive (and poorly formatted) excerpts at essays and effluvia.

Category: Finance

Learning Economics

Category: Books, Finance

Bush’s Lead Narrowing In Post-Convention Polls

Category: Politics

400GB DVR DVD Recorder

Category: Finance, Television, Web/Tech

Employee Compensation

Ever look at the breakdown of employer costs for employee compensation? It is actually quite fascinating. According to today’s BLS release, for June 2004:

· Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $24.96 per hour worked;
· Wages and salaries, which averaged $17.70, accounting for 70.9% of costs;
· Benefits, averaging $7.26, accounted for the remaining 29.1%;
· Costs for *legally required benefits averaged $2.03 per hour 8.1%
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp(Note that represents the largest non-wage employer cost).
· Life, health, and disability insurance benefits averaged $1.93 (7.7%);
· Paid leave **benefits was $1.66 (6.6%);
· Retirement and savings benefits averaged $1.01 (4.1%).

All of the above is “per hour worked”

*Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation

**vacations, holidays, sick leave and other leave

National Compensation Survey – Compensation Cost Trends

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Category: Finance

Challenge Time

Category: Finance

Chart of the Week: SPX

Category: Finance

Half a Million Hits!

Category: Weblogs

Customer Acquisition versus Retention: A case study in costs

Sprint_1 versus Cingular

Is your contract up with your cellular carrier? Don’t renew it, cancel it.

That’s how you can get the best deal from your current provider. At least, that’s what I learned when I attempted — unsuccessfully — to renew my contract with Sprint, my now former cellular carrier.

The lesson unintentionally taught me is that consumers get a much better deal from the “Retention” department of a large subscriber-based corporation than they do from the “Sales” department. Its not just Sprint — but they were the company that taught me these things. It turns out to be the case not only from mobile service providers, but other entities, such as ISPs — AOL is notorious in this regard.

We are also former customers of credit card provider Capital One, for the very same reasons: The deal they offered to the public was unavailable to us as customers. Over the years, their rates crept up on my (triple A credit) wife’s Master Card to 15%. They advertise a 10% card all the time. When they would’nt offer the same deal to us, it was buh-bye Capitol One (we got the preferred rate elsewhere). I suspect its true for a slew of other subscriber services.

I learned valuable lessons, and I share them with you, dear reader, in the belief that you will profit from my experiences. I also harbor the irrational hope that just maybe someone from one of these outfits will see this, and wise up.

But I am ahead of my self. Our quaint little story begins Christmas 2002, when we purchased a pair of Samsung N400 phones from Amazon. $200 each, plus a $200 rebate. (You may recall that I wrote how rebates sucked, and after much huffing and noise, we eventually got our cash. But that experience soured me on rebates, and I swore off rebates forever. I have stayed true to that oath).

Anyway, our contract expired in January. We got a marketing letter from Sprint to re-up. However, the deal they offered us, as their present customers, was far, far less attractive than the one they seemed to be spending billions of dollars advertising more or less nonstop on every media outlet available to everyone who is not their customers.

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Category: Finance, Web/Tech

Accelerated Depreciation of Capital Spending

One of the questions which has been puzzling me for quite a while is this: Why have Economists been so wrong — and by so much, and for so long — about Job Growth?

Or as the WSJ put it, why is “Slow Job Growth Puzzling Economists?”

That quandry was the muse for this series on a relatively unknown portion of the Bush tax cuts. I decided to take a closer look at the effects of the soon-to-sunset bonus of Accelerated Depreciation of Capital Spending (ADCS). Our report is in two parts.

My conclusion?

1) ACDS stimulated corporate capital spending;
2) Very aggressive spending was made in ERP / Business Intelligence software;
3) Some of this capital spending came at the expense of new Hiring;
4) We are likely to see one last spasm of spending heading into Q4;
5) Some of this spending is being pulled through from 2005;
6) Once ADCS sunsets, there may possibly be an improvement in Hiring in 2005.

That’s the broad overview; continue on if you want to read the gritty details.

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Category: Finance