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How much money is enough?
The more money we have, the more choices we have in life. So, money is important.
But as we all know, money is not the only thing that matters.

Its a Wonderful Life plays on the major television networks each year at Christmas. The films main protagonistGeorge Baileystruggles with how to value his life. He evaluates his contributions, contemplates the rewards life has yielded back and grows increasingly dissatisfied. The film resonates across generations, and has persisted in the publics consciousness, because everyone ponders the same sort of…

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Few hosts of Saturday Night Live have been funnier than Steve Martin. But one of the SNL skits he was in The Homanids didnt just get laughs. It also made an important point about how the world should pursue increased productivity, greater wealth, and a better quality of life and how not to.
The skit was set a million years ago, in the savannahs of Africa where our ancestors roamed. Martin played a caveman way ahead of his time articulate, creative and visionary but frustrated by the denseness of the tribal leader Okna, played by Bill Murray, and his strategy of…

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If there is one thing about the Eurozone on which most economists can agree, it is that Italys economic performance since the Euros 1999 launch has been appalling. If there is another thing on which consensus can be found, it is that an over-indebted Italian economy needs a coherent and reform-minded government to get the country quickly onto a higher economic growth path.
Sadly, in the run up to next years Italian parliamentary elections, which is most likely to take place in March 2018, the prospects do not appear to be promising that Italy will get itself such a government. This…

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Many years ago the HBO television comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm devoted a rather funny episode to those who choose to hide their generosity. In The Anonymous Donor Ted Danson, playing himself, manages to discreetly inform a number of well-to-do supporters of a very Beverly Hills, very entertainment, and very lefty environmental group that hes in fact the anonymous donor of the money that made possible a wing of the organizations headquarters.
Larry David, the creator of Curb and also its central subject, is miffed at Danson. Having similarly donated a wing, albeit in his…

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What is it about that photograph of the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and his wife, Louise Linton, holding a sheet of dollar bills that has so captivated Americas journalistic elites?
The chief fashion critic of the New York Times, Vanessa Friedman, fingered Ms. Lintons black leather gloves. Black leather, after all unlike, say, brown leather is one of the most emotive sartorial symbols in the wardrobe, imbued with a host of cultural and historical associations for almost everyone, Ms. Friedman wrote. It is the de facto outfit of villains everywhere, from…

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has come up with a unique way to evaluate a trade agreement. He doesnt seem to mind so much if the United States economy would be hurt by the end of NAFTA, so long as Mexico would be hurt more. Hes quite prepared to cut off his nose, just so long as his face bears the brunt of the injury.
The end of NAFTA “would be far more damaging to them than to us,” Ross told a business conference organized by the Wall Street Journal last week to discuss renegotiating the trade partnership bonding the US, Mexico and Canada.
This them-and-us formulation is…

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As outside temperatures fall, we will soon see a predictable rise in the number of iron pipe water main breaks across our nation. The looming water infrastructure debate in Congress will be vital in addressing that problem, as Members will decide how to address our nations corroding iron pipe water system. Fortunately, when it comes to determining the best material to replace whats now underground, lawmakers will base those decisions on the facts not on the claims of iron pipe surrogates, posturing as independent thought leaders, advancing the industrys monopolistic agenda.
Iron…

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It sets up the most interesting conundrum in decades. For a paradigm wholly dependent on rational expectations theory, for Economics to now so publicly chastise and try to degrade the most significant markets on the planet is perhaps a case study in unraveling. The contradiction is just too good to ignore.
And it is a very simple case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Central banks around the world claim they are normalizing monetary policy for the first time in a decade because their respective economies have finally healed more than enough to warrant some normalness….

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When it comes to investing, most people are in search of reliable return streams to facilitate lifestyles and legacies they aspire to. And while we are all unique, we have many things in common in the way we want our money to work for us.
The perfect return stream, if we were to sketch it, might resemble the Mystery Fund depicted in the graph below. Specifically, the Mystery Fund has three traits investors covet:
Safety Growth Consistency

Datastream, Business Insider

Safety
You cant secure your future if you dont first preserve your past. So the first rule of money…

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Requiring seven years to draft and weighing in (currently) at 1.4 million paragraphs of rules and regulations, Europe’s new Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II will affect virtually every bank, mutual find, exchange, broker, pension fund, retail investor and high frequency trader that does business in Europe. In other words, almost every financial services company in the America. The European Union’s social engineers will try to regulate virtually every aspect of the financial markets, covering everything from maintaining taped conversations of securities orders to regulatory…

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Reports suggest that the US Congress is making progress toward tax reform.  The House of Representatives is still slated to vote on its version tomorrow. It appears likely to pass. The Senate version will be marked up in committee this week. The latest revisions include repealing the individual insurance mandate and ending the middle class and small business tax break after 10 years to reduce the long-term costs while keeping the corporate tax cut permanent.    Many proponents of the proposals make it seem that a corporate tax cut is a panacea for all that ails the US. It will…

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Two events at the APEC Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit provide a clear lesson: One of the problems with an America First trade policy is that it prompts the rest of the world to put America last.
That message could not have been any clearer. Trump opened the APEC CEO summit with a hard-edged speech in which he described his America First theme, warning that U.S. trade deficits would not be tolerated. The next day, 11 Pacific Rim countries reached a deal Saturday to proceed with the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership without the United States.
Under its new name, the…

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The old saying goes, Dont judge a book by its cover. Im willing to go along, as assorted people have told me that they like my books, but are not crazy about the covers. And now its my turn.
Earlier this year, Regnery Publishing put out two volumes on the U.S. presidents The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents, Part 1: from Washington to Taft and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents, Part 2: from Wilson to Obama. While theres clear value in the books, quite frankly, Im not crazy about the covers.Part 1 offers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson…

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Warren Buffett presently pays billions in federal taxes, but business writer James Stewart finds all of this unfair. To be clear, Stewart thinks the tax code is slanted toward Buffett (and others like him) despite the billions Buffett hands over each year to the federal government. In fairness to the New York Times columnist, his analysis is based on Buffetts faux - and long ago discredited lament that he pays a lower rate of tax on his income than does his secretary.
Income is italicized up above simply because Buffett was engaging in a bit of rhetorical trickery that most…

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President Trump, in a brief telephone call with the New York Times earlier this month listed what he saw as his biggest accomplishments, including a focus on deregulation.
The Times relegated the mention of deregulation to a paragraph low down in the story, which itself ran inside the newspaper rather than on the front page.
It wouldnt be the first time that the elite press or its readership made the mistake of failing to pay attention to, and to actually hear, what Trump is saying.
More sophisticated observers are starting to take note. The Economist, in a piece published…

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