As the father of a 5-year-old, I worry about the cost of college and I'm sure many parents of young children do. Prices at my alma mater, the University of Richmond, have risen close to 200% since I graduated in 1997. Has the quality of education also improved by that much? It's doubtful. While amongst friends, we laugh uncomfortably at the thought of million dollar tuitions, but one wonders if there has to be a breaking point where people just turn their backs on higher education. At what point is it unaffordable?
I'm out on the West Coast this week for a series of business meetings, and I brought a book. Call me old school. Putting in earplugs and settling in with a good book is a great way to fly, a welcome break from the usual screen time, and it conserves my iPhone battery. Sure, the seats are cramped, lousy food costs extra, and flight delays are routine. Yet, the earplugs block out the noise in the sky. And being 35,000 feet up for several hours, without internet, blocks out the noise below.
I remember visiting Vegas as a teenager. My family stayed at the Excalibur Hotel and there was a lot of entertainment for kids with arcades and kid friendly games. We waited in line for the $1.99 steak buffet dinners. Parking was always free. Fast forward to 2017 and that Vegas is long gone and today's Vegas is much more flashy and expensive. The cheap buffets have been replaced by celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Thomas Keller. You can easily drop $50 just on lunch. Maybe I haven't looked very hard but I don't see any video arcades anymore. It is now all grown up entertainment from magicians to Celine Dion to Britney Spears to Jerry Seinfeld. And lots of people walking around with giant alcoholic beverages. This is the first time that I was hit with a mandatory $35 resort fee for wifi and not sure what else. And even free parking is gone. The casinos finally figured out that they could be collecting millions of dollars instead of giving it away - kind of feels like how the airlines charge for every little thing and it adds up fast.
Yesterday the White House highlighted a "Made in America" product showcase. Each state had a company represented and of course, I had to check out NJ since that's my home state - it was Campbell Soup Co. who offered tomato soup samples to government officials. Here is a full list so you can see what your state had to offer:
Congrats to Roger Federer on his 8th career Wimbledon title and 18th Grand Slam title! The man is simply the best player to ever play the game. At 35 years old, he is aging like fine wine. I remember that there were rumors that he'd retire on top many years ago but he just keeps on playing and winning majors. This year he cruised through the Wimbledon championship without dropping a set. He manages his playing schedule so his body doesn't break down. I'd say he is doing a pretty good job of that. In 2017, he has won both Grand Slams that he entered and carries a 31-2 record on the year, including an 8-0 mark against the top 10 players. What investing lessons can we take away from the greatness of Roger Federer?
This year, the talk of robots taking over our jobs has grown louder. Robots can build cars and even quick serve restaurants are using more technology at the front of the house. But you have to look to Japan for the future of self-checkout systems as they are already going live. Thanks to an aging population, Japan is searching for answers to mitigate expected labor shortages in their homeland. Because of this, the government in conjunction with their five major convenience stores plans to introduce self-checkout in the next several years. The new age registers will instantly calculate the prices of all items in a basket at once and also bag them for you.
I just read an interview with retired fund manager Bob Rodriguez who managed award winning FPA mutual funds in stocks and bonds. Like us, Rodriguez believes in owning cash when there is a storm on the horizon and he held significant amounts of cash (30-40%) in 2000 and 2008 in his actively managed stock mutual fund. He is now retired but he is seeing a perfect storm developing thanks to the huge shift into passive management where there are NO cash holdings. When the next downturn hits, many of those invested strictly in passive instruments will likely be hit extremely hard and their timing will be poor to hit the sell button. Here are his insights on the coming storm:
For the next couple of months, your Facebook and Instagram feeds will likely be dominated by beach holiday photos, beers in the sand and people's legs at the pool. School is out for summer and people are ready to vacation!
American consumers are as confident as ever and this should translate to a great summer spending season. This summer, Americans are expected to spend a total of $101.1 billion on vacations this year, representing a robust 12.5% increase from 2016, according to projections from the Vacation Confidence Index released Wednesday by insurance company Allianz Global Assistance. This is the first time in the index’s eight-year history that spending has exceeded $100 billion.
The first half of the year has come and gone. The S&P 500 ground its way higher and finished the first half up 9.3%. Unsurprisingly it has been robust S&P earnings that drove the markets to new all-time highs. Reported earnings were up 18% year over year. Despite the new administration's failure to pass new tax policy so far, analysts weren't expecting much movement in 2017 so earnings estimates haven't disappointed in the least. In fact, companies have continued to beat expectations on the top and bottom line and we expect more of the same in the second half. This has the Runnymede investment team optimistic heading into the second half of the year. As the market continues to hit new highs, there seems to be a guru warning of the next crash on a weekly basis. Just ignore the noise for now.
You may be wondering if you are in the right place. Did the Runnymede blog suddenly switch gears and turn into a fitness blog? Now don't you worry, we are still writing about finance and investments but we also believe in 4 pillars of health -- physical, mental, spiritual and financial. While the blog focuses on financial health, we believe that you should work on the other pillars as wells. I thought you may find this interesting because I did when I saw this short video by Bloomberg writer Aki Ito who tried 17 wearable technologies in her quest to get fit.
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