Happy Friday! Here are eight great things I read this week.
I have a feeling we'll be hearing more about this:
The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers -- GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart -- and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.
"Computers are now one-1,100th of their price 35 years ago." writes Bloomberg. "Prices are still dropping. In January, computers were 9 percent cheaper than they were a year earlier."
Easy way to get poor
Corporate borrowing costs are dropping below 0%:
Once upon a time, you actually had to pay lenders to borrow money. It was an archaic ritual called "interest" -- here's the Wikipedia page if you don't believe me -- but it's over now ...
But it's not just governments that people are paying for the privilege of lending to. It's companies, too. Or at least one of them: Nestlé. Its 500 million euro debt that comes due in October 2016 became the first corporate bond of a year or longer to have a negative yield, after it got as low as -0.0081 percent on Tuesday. (Its borrowing costs later rose to a, relatively speaking, punitive -0.002 percent).
Finances are making us crazy:
Almost three-quarters of Americans are experiencing financial stress at least some of the time, and nearly a quarter of us are experiencing extreme financial stress, according to a study released today by the American Psychological Association.
Easy does it
The stock market likes it boring, writes Eddy:
The S&P 500 rose by more than 1.17% over 1,900 times (about 9.2% of the time), and it fell by more than 1.17% over 1,800 times (about 8.7% of the time). While the down days are fewer in number, they tend to be more severe. If we combine all the days with moves greater than 1.17%, it nets out almost perfectly to zero.
In other words, all those high-volatility days add up to nothing. The market's entire gain comes on days when the S&P 500 rises or falls less than 1.17%. The rest is just noise.
Streaming is killing digital music:
Mr Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger, are independently writing their views of Berkshire's extraordinary journey during the past five decades -- and what they expect for the next five. Neither is changing a word of the other's commentary. Readers will be able to compare the two sets of reflections and predictions, in addition to the regular annual letter.
Does financial literacy even work?
One recent study published in the journal Management Science found that studying financial literacy has a "negligible" impact on future behavior and that within 20 months almost everyone who has taken a financial literacy class has forgotten what they learned. For a working paper, Shawn Cole at Harvard Business School, Anna Paulson at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Gauri Kartini Shastry at Wellesley College discovered that high school classes imparting financial wisdom don't seem to make a whit of difference when it comes to how we handle our finances. Others have found that lessons in financial literacy don't lead to much in the way of increased test scores on the subject.
Have a good weekend.
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