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Weekend observations as we head into Super Bowl week
My wife and I were in another car dealership this weekend and it was the same story as last week’s trip to Cleveland — the place was PACKED. There were probably 10 small round tables in the lobby and every single one was filled with a salesman crunching numbers. People were buying and let’s just say, based on my ears and eyes, they weren’t paying cash.
There was one family that had three kids that looked like they belonged to Cousin Eddie. Dad was in pajama pants and wearing Crocs. No socks. He hadn’t shaved in weeks. It’s very possible he hadn’t showered in weeks. Mom looked like she hadn’t slept after working third shift.
As we were waiting to pay for our car, he told the kids the bad news — the vehicle was out of their price range. It’s possible they were credit victims.
Here’s how busy the place was: We waited approximately 90 minutes to sign our papers. The closer dude was overwhelmed. The dealership officially closes at 3 p.m. We didn’t leave until 5.
The good news after this weekend is that I no longer need to be spending my free time looking for a ride and spending Saturdays at car dealerships.
• Speaking of cars, I know old-school NASCAR fans cannot stand the Busch Clash at the Coliseum, but NASCAR officials got what they wanted out of last night’s event. The stands were full of young faces dancing in the stands to Wiz Khalifa, smoking blunts, drinking, partying, and in Los Angeles. NASCAR has been desperate for, oh, the last decade to diversify and get younger. The sport is also DESPERATE to attract these audiences to diversify its advertising opportunities.
• NASCAR has also been desperate to generate content BEFORE the Daytona 500. Guys, I hate to tell you this, but it’s highly unlikely NASCAR is leaving Los Angeles in early February anytime soon, especially with the NFL leaving the weekend open as the Pro Bowl keeps heading down a path of extinction (yes, the TV ratings will be great because it’s still the NFL).
• By the start of the finale, the Coliseum was pretty packed unlike Bristol these days. NASCAR is going back to L.A. It’s time for the doubters to get used to it.
• 27 cars in the Busch Clash finale is a tad much, don’t you think, NASCAR?
• Did you happen to catch the Grammys? If not, you missed being beaten over the head with tranny appreciation speeches and speeches on how it’s such a struggle for gay, lesbian and obese performers these days. Uh, try being a rock band these days. They don’t exist. Was there even an award for Best Rock Band that didn’t include Foo Fighters (because Viacom, which owns the Grammys, also owns Foo Fighters and makes sure the Foo Fighters win awards because it’s great for Viacom marketing)?
• Without looking, I’d have to say Viacom and Pfizer are banging. That’s right, sex. Doesn’t Pfizer sponsor “60 Minutes” and the CBS morning show? Does it seem weird for drug companies to be advertising like Pfizer advertises? Was COVID about saving humanity? That’s something to consider this morning before the work clock goes off.
• I watched about five minutes, maybe not that much, of the Pro Bowl and saw Derek Carr throwing passes to Tyreek Hill. Sorry, I can’t get into that content.
• Here’s a better idea: Let’s see these NFL guys gambling at blackjack tables, at the craps table, doing $500 pull slot machines. Give me Kirk Cousins playing Keno.
• Which one of you went to see “80 for Brady” this weekend? Go ahead, give us a review.
• John in SD analyzes the weekend on TV:
First weekend without “real” football! Saturday was horrible: early sports coverage on the major networks was painful. CBS, B12 MBB (boring): NBC, European soccer (snoozer): Fox, B1G MBB (yawn): ABC, pro-bowl dodgeball (curious, I’ll get that later): ABC local affiliate, HBCU Women’s basketball (what?)! Then all of a sudden, ABC ran an hour long special on Alex Ovechkin, great special and worth watching/looking up (unfortunately it’s produced by their 4 letter sports network).
I was convinced this was an easy time to go full negative and critical of the new Pro Bowl concept. I was hesitant to watch any of it but did flip back and forth at times, especially on Sunday. I didn’t grasp the whole concept of the pro-bowl experience since I wasn’t interested initially. Watching a limited amount of events (dodgeball was entertaining) and partial games, the players looked like they had a lot of fun and made it entertaining. Many of the players were into the concept and made it worthwhile. Definitely didn’t need analysts, you know who they were, doing play-by-play on flag football; just have some fun with the experience and let play calling go.
Who made, and how did, the Mannings become the media content owners of the NFL? Good for them I suppose!
Which gets me to my final point. I’m looking to start a college/NFL mental health rehabilitation center. I’m looking at in-house and telemedicine programs. The CFB program will start as early as December and the NFL program will start in January, except for Browns fans, it’s years long. Who’s investing and supporting me?
The Mannings are viewed by TV executives as the friendliest faces for advertisers. These two are Middle America influencers: chips, beer, pizza, etc.
Advertising executives: Oh, it’s a Manning broadcast…Middle America will be watching. We’re in! How much of our budget would you like?
The question becomes, when does Middle America hit its breaking point? Tim is an early breaking point guy. The Mannings are still heroes within suburban households. If Peyton’s eating these chips, so am I!
Spring is around the corner
• Wyn writes:
Hope everyone had a great weekend. This was our first warm weekend in what seemed like forever. Temps were above 50° both days and the skies were clear. Hell, when it’s 40° or warmer here it’s shorts and T-shirt weather.
I’m stoked we’re going to have an early Spring. How do I know that? Not because of the antics of a folklore rodent in some tiny Pennsylvania town, but because the Orange Big Box store has replaced the snow blowers with lawn mowers…front and center.
Spent yesterday reorganizing the utility garage, which is something most folks do in the Spring. Watched some kids playing down the street on scooters. Little girls and their moms walking the neighborhood selling Girl Scout cookies (of course bought a few boxes of Samoas and Thin Mints). Sure it’ll snow here a few more times but the coldest days are behind us. The days of TNML and garage beers will be here soon.
An economist on the state of the current economy
• Jared P., a professor of economics (I did my due diligence…he checks out!), writes:
Excellent question and please excuse my lengthy answer, which I hope illuminates the difficulty in answering the question. The pithy and yet unsatisfactory answer is that a country with its own fiat currency can borrow until no one will lend to it. Where that exact level of debt is unfortunately is unknown.
The US public debt to GDP level is roughly 120% (see here) [this debt does not include government debt to itself, like paying back the money the federal government borrowed from Social Security when Social Security was running surpluses]. Greece started running into trouble roughly around this debt to GDP level (see here for Greece’s data). However, Japan’s debt to GDP is significantly higher than America’s and there is little worry about their debt (see here for Japan’s data) and Greece did not have the ability to inflate away its debt since it uses the Euro and therefore could not print its own currency. Below I will explain why some economists are not worried about the debt while others are.
First, why are some economists not worried about the debt?
First, the US has never defaulted on its debt in the past, meaning lenders believe the US will not default in the future (compare this to Argentina which has defaulted 9 times in its modern history!). Therefore, the US has more room to run large deficits and larger debt because people believe the country will pay the debt back. This confidence will keep borrowing costs lower for the US than it would for countries less trustworthy.
Second, many central banks around the world hold the US treasury bonds and US dollars in their foreign exchange reserves (since a lot of trade [e.g. much of the oil market] is settled in US dollars). Therefore, there are willing buyers of US debt (let alone all of the investment funds that must purchase US Treasury bonds). This can change over time, but the general point stands as long as the US dollar is the world’s reserve currency.
Third, the US has an enormous economy and can grow fast enough to lessen the problem of debt (while not a perfect analogy, a wealthier individual can afford to borrow more than a poorer person). Fourth, any country with fiat currency can inflate away its debt, making default unlikely (an option individuals do not have with their own debt).
However, there are some significant worries about the debt of the US.
First, while the current debt may not be problematic, the future debt will explode (see the second figure here) and policymakers have not made any serious attempts to slow this trend. The rating agency S&P downgraded the US credit rating in 2011 for this exact point and the situation has only worsened.
Second, payments to cover US interest payments are increasing (see here), and have rapidly increased this year as interest rates in general have risen. US tax revenue is roughly $4.7 trillion dollars and yet we are paying roughly $853 billion to service past debt. The larger the percentage of tax revenue needed just to serve past debt, the larger the problem.
Third, there is a growing (though contested) literature that shows a higher debt to GDP ratio slows growth (thus blunting the third point in the positive category). See here for the paper that starts the modern literature on this topic.
See here for a critique. See here for a rejoinder supporting the notion that higher debt to GDP ratios hurt economic growth. Lastly, if a country decides to inflate away its debt, it can lead to uncontrollable inflation. The Weimar Republic is the classic example of this.
How to clean an Opal Ice Maker, as told by a Screencaps reader
• Danny K. is back with his advice on how to keep those basement ice makers clean and pumping out clean ice:
The cleaning of the opal ice maker is pretty simple: it has a switch on the back that you switch to clean.
- Drain the existing water refill with a teaspoon of bleach or vinegar and water to fill line.
- Hit start button runs about 3 minutes, drain and repeat with clean water no bleach!!
- Do this twice and machine is clean!! Switch off of clean back to ice and refill with water and you’re ready to make new ice!!
We prefer to use purified water because we are on a well and the water tends to be hard!! Less sediment,iron, etc
I can’t wait to use it in the hot summer months when a glass of ice water is ALMOST as good as an ice cold beer!!
Really not much to it and we love it!! Little pricey but you usually get what you pay for!!
Mike T. is car hunting in Italy
Screencaps observations from Japan
• John H. writes:
There is a stark contrast in travel experience between Japan and the US. On the busy train system in Toyko you hear very little noise from passengers. Conversations between travel companions are short and quiet. Similarly, on the trains traveling between cities, notice the request for reduced keyboard noise inside the cabin.
The antithesis of many US passengers who have loud phone conversations as if they are alone inside their home, video calls on speaker phone etc. “Hey I’m in the airport, I just made it to the gate, how was your day”. Shut the hell up, go sit on a live grenade.
That’s it for this morning. Let Super Bowl LVII Week begin. Get your squares. Get your meats. Get your new recliners and TVs…this is a huge week for retailers who sell those items.
Let’s be productive and head towards the middle of February by giving 110% for the employer or for the customer. And if you’re Peter King, enjoy your romantic dinner this week with Roger Goodell.
Have a great day.