A Grab Bag of Goodies to Get You Thinking
Over the course of each month, I end up with quite a few random thoughts. They are the interesting tidbits that are not quite meaty enough to be worthy of a full column. But they often are interesting enough to stimulate thinking and provoke discussion.
Rather than toss them out, I save them up over the course of each month. Here is what October's random thoughts look like:
• Americans spend more than $2 billion on Halloween candy each year; we spend even more than that on costumes.
• The Bank of Japan surprised everyone by upping its stimulus to 80 trillion yen ($717 billion). Previously, it was more than 60 trillion yen.
• Tomorrow begins the best six months of the year for stock markets. Since 1950, almost all of the market's gains have come between Nov. 1 and April 30, according to the "Stock Trader's Almanac."
• No, Tim Cook didn't come out of the closet yesterday as gay. He was already "out" in 2011 when he took over as chief executive officer of Apple. He just didn't talk about it.
• Although gold tumbled today, it is down less than 4 percent so far this year.
• Stocks whose names begin with the letter "C" have outperformed the broader market for the past 30 years.
• The Japanese yen is now at seven-year lows versus the U.S. dollar.
• As much as people complain about the economy, we just finished the strongest six month period in more than a decade.
• After 33 years, David Letterman will end his run as host of a late night television show sometime early in 2015; Stephen Colbert is expected to introduce the new version of the "Late Show" in May 2015.
• Annual home sales in the U.S. are running about 30 percent below their 2005 peak.
• The Bank of Japan's quantitative easing program, relative to size of the economy, is three times bigger than the Federal Reserve's QE.
• If Carlos Slim spent $1 million per day, it would take him 220 years to blow his fortune. Bill Gates would need 218 years, while Warren Buffett would go bust after only 169 years.
• Pickup trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles account for 53 percent of U.S. automobile sales in 2014.
• Prompting people to merely "think about money" changes how they behave. Asking them to imagine $100 dollar bills makes them more likely to conceal emotions or engage in less social activities, according to a recent study.
• No single album has gone platinum (sold a million copies) in 2014; Taylor Swift's "1989," with over 900,000 sold, will likely be the only one this year to do so.
• The Nikkei-225 Stock Average rose almost 5 percent on the BOJ's QE news, and is now at seven-year highs.
• There is no Nobel prize for economics; what there is instead is the "Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences."
• When gasoline prices drop by 50 cents a gallon, it adds about 1 percent to the average consumer's disposable income, or about $600 a year.
• Hedge-fund assets under management, as of the end of the third quarter, total more than $2.82 trillion dollars.
• The word "tycoon" is loosely based on the Japanese word "taikun" - a title used by Japanese shoguns.
• The U.S. is on pace to sell to 16.4 million cars this year -- 1 million more than last year's 15.4 million.
• The number of billionaires in the world has doubled to 1,646 since the financial crisis ended in 2009.
• The most common name in the world is Mohammed.
• Getting into the top 0.01 percent -- the 1 percent of the 1 percent -- requires a net worth of about $100 million dollars.
Corrects spelling of Stephen Colbert's first name in 11th paragraph.
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