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Category: General

Insider trading NFTs???

NFTs are fascinating because you’re seeing the early days of a financial market except with far more transparency than before. If you think about how the stock market must have been when it first started, NFTs are experiencing that today except everyone can see every transaction ever made. If you think about how much time and effort people put into researching and uncovering completely frivolous things, it’s no wonder crypto sleuths can tease out these:

OpenSea confirms executive used insider knowledge when buying NFTs [The Block Crypto] – “Twitter users last night accused Nate Chastain, head of product at OpenSea, of using secret Ethereum wallets to snap up the platform’s front-page NFT drops before general release. Citing transactional data on Etherscan, Twitter user Zuwu said that Chastain seems to be selling these pieces “shortly after the front-page-hype spike for profits.” His actions have been likened to frontrunning or insider trading, which in regulated financial markets refers to dealing on information that is not yet public.”

Income for Sale [Humble Dollar] – “How do you buy an annuity from the Social Security Administration (SSA)? For each year that you delay claiming Social Security, your benefit increases by about 8%. The CRR paper makes the case that delaying Social Security, while using your savings to pay current expenses, is the equivalent of buying an annuity from the SSA. The annuity’s cost is the Social Security payments that you forgo in the meantime. What’s the benefit? That’s equal to the increase in your Social Security check you receive in return for the delay.” Read the whole thing because it’s not good enough that you can buy an annuity, it’s important to know how it compares with alternatives (right now, it compares quite favorably).

WOW.

How Mushroom Time-Lapses Are Filmed by WIRED:

Regret minimization is harder than it looks

I remember when I first hear heard Jeff Bezos talk about regret minimization – it resonated with me.

But much like our first post of today, from software engineer Samvit Jain, I’ve come to realize it’s a good idea in principle but nearly impossible to execute if that’s your only guiding principle. So while I’d like to minimize regret, it’s now almost become a tie breaker for me when all other factors are equal.

Regret Minimization [Samvit Jain’s blog] – “You don’t know what you will regret – Our values change. I might value adventure in my 20s, but value stability more in my 30s. So a choice that was good for 25-year-old me may not be as good for 35-year-old me. In this specific case, regret minimization based on my current values may bias me toward a more risk-seeking path.”

Litecoin’s fake Walmart deal could have crypto regulators circling [Protocol] – “A Walmart press release announcing a “major partnership” with litecoin sent the cryptocurrency soaring early Monday, before it quickly plunged again after the report was exposed as fake news.” Hmm…

I Now Make More Money Than My Husband, and It’s Great for Our Marriage [Bitches Get Riches] – “Some men feel threatened or ashamed when their wives make more money than they do. In fact, among different gender couples, wives outearning their husbands increases the rate of divorce by 33%. In such partnerships, both the low-earning men and high-earning women are substantially more likely to cheat on each other, indicating a degree of pretty extreme unhappiness. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculously counterintuitive. One partner in a partnership making more money should be great news to the other, no matter their gender! It’s more money for the whole household! More money for the couple’s joint financial goals! We live in a country that worships at the Holy Church of Hustling. So what the hell kind of red-blooded Amurican husband wouldn’t celebrate his partner making more money?”

Take the money

I think the pandemic has taught us that the internet is FULL of bad advice and the worst part is that too many people believe it!

And Twitter is the apex of bad advice.

If you ever have the choice between $500,000 and [something else] and that [something else] isn’t “walk away because it’s drug money and you’ll be hunted down,” take the cash.

A Guy Who Said A Dinner With Jay-Z Is Worth More Than $500K, And More Of This Week’s ‘One Main Character’ [Digg] – “This week’s characters include a guy with ill-advised financial advice, an Atlantic staff writer who claims rural Americans take animal medicine all the time, a Congressman who claimed “real Americans” are already over the pandemic and the producers who came up with the worst game show idea ever.”

I made a mistake. NFTs are going to be much bigger than I anticipated. [The Pomp Letter] – “So what exactly is driving all this interest in non-fungible digital files? The short answer is that NFTs live at the intersection of a few different tailwinds. The positive perspective is that digital natives would rather own digital goods than physical goods, which means that we are watching the digitization of the collectibles industry. These digital natives want to use the NFTs as a way to play games, transact with each other, and generally recreate the collectibles industry.”

Are We in a Melt-Up? [Of Dollars And Data] – “Of all the things that you should do during a melt-up, the most important is to get invested. Do not sit in cash. Why? Because even if the market does eventually return to its prior levels, sitting in cash will destroy you psychologically. Just imagine how hard it would have been to sit in cash during the DotCom bubble from 1995-2000. For five years you would have to watch everyone around you (even people dumber than you) get rich while you sat on the sidelines. It would be infuriating.”

If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week? :)

I really liked the title of this story from the HARVARD Business Review. 🙂

If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week? [Harvard Business Review] = “In the old days, if you were a white-collar worker, the deal was that you worked as hard as you could at the start of your career to earn the right to be rewarded later on, with security of tenure and a series of increasingly senior positions. This is no longer true. Today, many senior leaders work longer and harder than ever. At the heart of it is insecurity, and indeed, elite professional organizations deliberately set out to identify and recruit “insecure overachievers.” Insecure overachievers are exceptionally capable and fiercely ambitious, yet are driven by a profound sense of their own inadequacy. If this sounds familiar, you should try to work exceptionally long hours when you need to or want to — but do it consciously, for specified time periods, and to achieve specific goals. Don’t let it become a habit because you have forgotten how to work or live any other way.”

Hiding in the Doing [My Quiet FI] – “I was the god of my days. It was up to me to dictate. And back then, I distinctly remember how I always needed to be doing things to justify what an amazing life I was living. But how much this was for me, rather than external validation, is much trickier to understand. The older I get, the more years I have lived and the broader my experiences and self-reflections have become, the less I can lie to myself.”

Speaking of hiding, I always like these funny “where do you hide money in your house” stories.

15 Secret Places to Hide Money Around Your Home [Well Kept Wallet] – “Here is a list of some of the best places to hide money around the house. Some of the hiding spots are free while others are products that you can purchase that blend into any houses decor.” Some fun ones on this list!

I’ll give you a hint about where we hide cash in our house… we don’t!

What to do when your house burns down

A few years ago, we had a pipe burst in our home that resulted in water damage and a near $70,000 renovation bill. But our house was fine, we could still live in the house, and it was mostly just an inconvenient situation.

I can’t imagine dealing with a house fire.

My House Burned Down! [Life Outside The Maze] – “What do you do when your house burns down? When you have rental properties it’s never good news when you get a text message from your property manager late on a Saturday night asking you to call ASAP. My first thought when I heard the word fire was whether anyone was injured. They were not. My second thought was, what do I do when my house is now half burned and exposed in the frigid midwest winter less than a week before Christmas during a pandemic? How much pain and how much money is this going to cost me? Now looking back many months later, I can share some lessons learned.”

Fortunately no one was hurt and it was “only” a rental property, not the house he was living in… but still. Yikes.

Worry About Yourself [All Star Charts] – “Somewhere along the way I think people forgot that we’re only in the market to make money. This is a very selfish endeavor. Who cares what other people are doing with their investments? Why should it matter to me that someone else may or may not be trading recklessly in the NFT space? That’s their problem.” Good advice when you see people doing things you think are reckless or silly – just worry about yourself. 🙂

And a fun story after the fire (not FIRE, but flames fire!) one:

That Time Obama Pardoned a Guy Who Stole Charlie Sheen’s Honus Wagner Card [Sports Illustrated] – “A Coen Brothers-esque tale about knuckleheaded kitchen staffers at the All-Star Café, a Hollywood A-lister, the Mona Lisa of baseball cards and a plan that went horribly wrong.”

Hiding in the doing.

Welcome to the end of the week, money nerds. It’s been a challenging one for me in a way. Kim and I have been completing our move from Portland to Corvallis, which means my attention has been focused elsewhere. It’s been tough to make time to read about money — and then share what I’ve read with you!

But I’ve tried to make a bit of time every day to keep up on the financial news. This morning, for instance, I’m up early before we make one last U-Haul trip. I have a cat purring in my lap, coffee by my side, and ten or fifteen articles open in my browser. Here are a few of my faves. Today, they’re all about living more and doing less.

Hiding in the doing. [My Quiet FI] — “When I look back and see the path of my life stretched out like a trail of switchbacks zigzagging up the crooked crags of my existence, I can’t help but feel that a lot of my doing was a form of hiding. Hiding in always being busy. Avoiding the real questions in life by doing what was expected instead of what my soul whispered in the stretch of my toes and curl of my fingers. I just think people have it all wrong. So, so wrong.”

Play the hand you’re dealt to live the life you love. [Route to Retire] — “It drives me bananas to see folks stuck on the hamster wheel and miserable. Too many people aren’t happy with their lives or large parts of it and just go through the motions anyway because that’s all they know. You’re the only one who can make the changes to live the life you fantasize about.”

What would happen if we slowed down? [Cal Newport] — “If you worked deeply and regularly on a reasonable portfolio of initiatives that move the needle, and were sufficiently organized to keep administrative necessities from dropping through the cracks, your business probably wouldn’t implode, and your job roles would likely still be fulfilled. This shift from a state of slightly too much work to not quite enough, in other words, might be less consequential than we fear.”

And that’s it for this week. As soon as I press “publish”, I’m hopping in the U-Haul to head up for our final load of Stuff. Kim and I are eager to be done with this process, to finally be able to shift from moving to unpacking. (We’ve unpacked essentials but mostly we’re living out of boxes.) So close!

Why restaurants have become more expensive.

Today, money nerds, we’re going to lead off with a non-financial video.

You see, when I was boy during the 1970s, my parents were huge fans of the music group ABBA. We didn’t have TV and we didn’t have a lot of money, but my father managed to find the cash for a fancy stereo. On rainy nights, we’d all sit together in the living room of our trailer house and listen to his records: Neil Diamond, John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, and — especially — ABBA.

ABBA disbanded forty years ago. They haven’t recorded an album since 1981. Well now, for whatever reason, they’re back. And the first two songs are pure ABBA. They take me back to my youth. I love them. Maybe you will too?

Here’s “I Still Have Faith in You”.

And here’s “Don’t Shut Me Down”.

The full album (called Voyage) comes out on November 5th. I’m eager to hear it!

But you’re not here for aging disco rockers. You’re here for money stories, aren’t you? Let’s get to them.

Why restaurants have become more expensive. [Grub Street] — “In January of 2021, wholesale food prices began inching upward across the country, maintaining at least a one percent increase every month since then — a trend not seen since 1973 — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In a study by the National Restaurant Association from June, two-thirds of restaurant operators said their total food costs were higher than they were before the pandemic.”

Are we in a melt-up? [Of Dollars and Data] — “Of all the things that you should do during a melt-up, the most important is to get invested. Do not sit in cash. Why? Because even if the market does eventually return to its prior levels, sitting in cash will destroy you psychologically.”

The best password managers (according to experts). [The Strategist] — “If you don’t want to bother with a dedicated app, three of our experts say the free password-management tools like Apple’s iCloud Keychain or the managers built into your browsers are all you need.”

How to make your marriage more financially equal. [New York Times, so possible paywall] — “There are plenty of reasons to equalize the financial decision-making in your marriage — and this goes for every couple, heterosexual or not. If you’re among the many getting married now as part of the great pandemic wedding boom, consider adding another promise: that yours will be a financially egalitarian marriage.”

That’s it for today. I’m off to listen to some old ABBA albums. Gonna be so much fun!

The everything bubble.

Hey hey, y’all. A bit of a gap here in our regularly-scheduled Apex article curation. Sorry about that. In return, however, I’ve gathered some longish and interesting things to share. Everything in today’s installment is meaty and worth your time.

Let’s dive in.

The everything bubble. [FTX Research] — “If global central banks and governments are going to continue to print money, investors are faced with [a predicament], where cash is literally burning a hole in their pockets, pushing them not just into risk assets, but further out the risk curve, exacerbating wealth inequality along the way, leading to even further risk taking.” While this piece could be better written, it’s still an interesting read.

The disastrous voyage of Satoshi, the world’s first cryptocurrency cruise ship. [The Guardian] — “Elwartowski thought he could convince the Panamanian authorities to let the ship anchor permanently in its waters and de-register as a ship, becoming a floating residence instead, so as to avoid some of the more exacting requirements of maritime law. But while Panama was happy to have the ship moored off its coast, it specified that the ship had to remain officially designated as a ship. Which led to another difficulty: the discharge of sewage.” This is a long but fascinating article about an impractical dream.

“How a $10,000 poker win changed how I think.” [BBC Future] — “What I’ve actually won is bigger than a heads-up match: a group of poker friends who have my back and a new way of thinking about my life. From now on, I’ll always remember the lessons of my tutors: curiosity is everything, losing is a part of playing, and our opponents in life are less important than the choices we make ourselves. And you know what? I’m ready.” Another long, fascinating piece.

Lastly, here’s a thoughtful 16-minute video from Ben Felix about answering the question, “How much is enough?”

There is no objectively optimal way to allocate time and money, but I am going to argue that for human investors these decisions should be anchored in the objective of living a happy life, so we need to know where happiness comes from.

That’s all for today, my friends! See you next time.

What really happens when a grocery store opens in a food desert?

Hello, Apexians, and welcome to another week.

It’s my first week of curating links from the comfort of my new home in Corvallis, Oregon. I love it! I moved down about ten days ago (and Kim moved down this last weekend). It’s a great place. I think we’ll be happy here. Very happy.

You know what else makes me happy? Money news!

How much should you pay for second-hand clothes? [Vox] — “With new items, the sale price is generally fixed to reflect the labor, shipping costs, overhead expenses, and profit markup that go into maintaining a store’s virtual and physical operations. Pre-owned garments, on the other hand, have a wider margin for fluctuation.”

“What I learned visiting two cutting-edge Amazon grocery stores. [Full Stack Economics] — “Amazon’s extensive knowledge and experience running complex supply chains—and owning Whole Foods over the last four years—would make it a formidable competitor even without its Just Walk Out technology. Add in the no-checkout technology, and incumbent supermarkets have a lot of reasons to worry.”

Lastly, here’s a short interview that really hit home for me.

What really happens when a grocery store opens in a food desert? [NYU News] — “Between 2004 and 2016, more than a thousand supermarkets opened nationwide in neighborhoods around the country that had previously been food deserts. We studied the grocery purchases of about 10,000 households in those neighborhoods. While it’s true that these households buy less healthy groceries than people in wealthier neighborhoods, they do not start buying healthier groceries after a new supermarket opened. Instead, we find that people shop at the new supermarket, but they buy the same kinds of groceries they had been buying before.”

I grew up poor. My family had pretty lousy food habits. As an adult, I’m constantly battling these deeply-ingrained instincts. It’s tough. I want Hostess Sno-Balls. I love Hamburger Helper. I don’t like salads. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all that food deserts aren’t the actual problem with nutrition for poor people. I have money now and I still make shitty choices with food!

And that’s all I have for you today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more interesting stories about personal finance (and more). See you then!

Who is the Wealthiest Generation?

Do you know who loves controversy? Human beings.

It’s why people watch reality TV shows – for the drama. 99.9% of reality is boring. No one would want to watch me sit in front of the computer and type. Certainly not millions of people!

That’s also why you always see articles about how “Generation [whatever] is doing this that or the other controversial thing.”

Or “Generation [whatever] has it easier or harder because XYZ.”

A “Generation” is so broad and only considers one factor (year of birth) that there’s no way someone born in 1980 into poverty is the same as someone born in 1980 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They aren’t even close.

With that in mind, I like how our first writer broke down a common cited image about wealth and the various generations and comes to surprising conclusions that make a lot of sense in interpreting the chart:

Who is the Wealthiest Generation? [Economist Writing Everyday] – “But wait. A few questions probably come to mind. For example, when Boomers were young they comprised a much larger share of the population. The original article makes an attempt to adjust for this, by calculating a few ratios towards the end of the article. However, there’s a much more straightforward way to adjust for this, which also nicely fits into a chart: put wealth in per capita terms!”

I hustled like mad in my 20s. Here’s what it cost me. [The Woke Salaryman] – “Financial, physical and mental health are all important. All of them can’t be ignored. […] Money is important, but less important if you ded.” I really enjoyed the format of this “graphic blog novella.”

Be careful!

Scammers have bilked consumers out of $545 million in Covid-related fraud [CNBC] – “Online shopping accounted for the largest number of reported scams to the FTC, at nearly 55,000 complaints. Americans increased their online orders during the pandemic since they spent more time indoors. But many were victims of “opportunistic websites” claiming to sell popular items — anything from hand sanitizer to gloves, electronics, clothing and even puppies, according to the FTC. Customers order the item but then never receive it.”

Enjoy your weekend!