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Profile Information

Name: Tom Conroy
Gender: Male
Hometown: CT
Home country: USA
Current location: Langley, Virginia
Member since: Sat Mar 6, 2021, 08:56 PM
Number of posts: 7,107

About Me

Member of NAFO. Living large on an enormous CIA paycheck.

Journal Archives

The best investment book I have ever read

Is a book by Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis called 'The Elements of Investing'. It's a short book, only about a hundred pages. It's theme is that anyone can be a successful investor. It is a skill that can be learned like any other. It is best read when you are in your twenties. With the magic of compound interest, if you start out young, becoming wealthy in retirement is not difficult. I wish the book had been around when I was young. It took me many years to figure out what I was doing with my money.
When our nephew was in college we gave him a copy of the book. His reaction was 'Is this a joke?' We said 'No. You have had earnings from a job this year. We are going to fund a little IRA to start you off. Now just read the book so you will know what to do with it'. I don't know if there is a connection but he graduated, worked for a few years and paid off his college loans, and now has just been accepted at the Wharton School of Economics at Penn. We made the same offer to our niece but she wanted the money to pay down her loans. We'll try again when she is in the working world.
The lessons of the book are pretty simple but often hard to follow in real life. You will never be rich unless you save. You will never save unless you spend less than you earn. Ninety percent of profesional money managers can not consistently outperform the S & P average. Dollar cost average. Stocks are the one thing people don't want when they are on sale. To the long term investor the bear market is your friend. Buy low cost index funds. You can't control the direction of the market. You can control what you pay for an investment.
I lived through the bear market of 2000-2003. I was working for myself. Every month I had to write out the checks myself. Imagine, you put money in every month and your balance just keeps going down. I really didn't know what I was doing but for some reason I kept writing the checks. The smartest thing I did was eventually I just stopped opening the statements from T Rowe Price. I didn't realize it at the time but I was doing what you are supposed to do. I was buying low. When the crash of 2008 came along, I had figured it out. It was the greatest buying opportunity of my life time. By then it was easy. I was working for the state. I just had them take a bit more out of my pay check.
Malkiel and Ellis quote Warren Buffett on long run Investing': If you are going to be buying hamburgers your whole life, you want hamburgers to be cheap. The same with buying stocks.
I just think the book is valuable for all of us whose retirements are dependent on our 401ks and our own Investing' skills. You don't need an investment advisor or high priced fund managers. You just need to master a few Investing' lessons.

Start packing your bags!

I saw the New York Times is up with a lead story tonight: The European Union is going to allow fully vaccinated American tourists to travel virtually everywhere in Europe this summer.
Bit by bit, the lights are coming on again (at least in the EU).
Now I'll have to start looking for a cheap flight.

Connecticut to end all covid restrictions May 19 (except for indoor masks)

Governor Lamont announced a few days ago that covid restrictions are coming to an end in a few weeks. Outdoor masks will go by the boards, bars and restaurants will be 100% open, the six foot distancing rule will end. It could be that the indoor mask will be a recommendation, not a requirement.
This comes about because Connecticut has one of the highest vaccine rates in the country. It is expected that 70% of state residents over 16 will have received at least one shot by the end of April.
This is Connecticut folks, not some right wing nut job state. It wouldn't be happening if it wasn't safe.
The end is in sight. Our liberation is near.

Mr. Clarke's Wonderful Bar

Maybe the end of the plague is in sight. It gets me in mind of trips to New York City which often as not would end up at the legendary bar P. J. Clarke's. The place has survived since the 1880's and the front bar room must look pretty much the way it did when the place opened. Stories about the place are legion. Johnny Mercer wrote the song 'One for My Baby, And One More For the Road' while sitting at the bar one night. Billy Wilder recreated the interior on a Hollywood set for the movie The Lost Weekend. Jackie Onassis was a regular for lunch when she worked in publishing.
Long ago, by custom or law, unaccompanied women could not sit alone at the bar. One day in the late 1960's a group of women grabbed seats at the bar and demanded to be served. The bartender hopelessly looked to the owner and said 'What do I do?' The long time proprietor Daniel.Lavezzo thought for a second and then said "Oh pour them a drink. I gotta go make the Daily Double at Belmont Park". Out the door he went and thus human progress was made. The food was usually decent and for New York the prices were reasonable.
I looked at the website and they will send you an email when the place is ready to reopen. The six foot rule will have to go by the boards. When will it be? The summer? Surely by the fall. I for one can't wait to strike a blow for Liberty in P. J. Clarke's wonderful bar.

My next new car

I was born in 1955. Like so many my age (boys), I have had a deep love affair with American cars. When it came time to buy something I owned a couple of used Buick sedans with a 350 V8 engine. Got about 12mpg. Then around 1980 I bought a really terrible Chevy Chevette new. It later had the reputation as one of the worst cars ever made. It actually lasted until I was in a bad auto accident (my fault). For some reason I then bought a Mazda 323. This was all the rage. Japanese cars were so much more reliable than American cars. Of course with mine the engine blew a few thousand miles after the warranty expired. After that it was back to American cars, for some reason usually GM. Always sedans. The SUVs always seemed sort of wasteful. At any rate, I was happy with the next four cars. They were reasonably reliable GM sedans. I did have a bias toward Ford and GM. I thought it was important to buy a union made car. Although I favored Buicks, I have been a long time share holder of Ford. I thought that since the Ford family controlled the company through a special class of shares, the owners and investors interests would be closely aligned. I also cherished the story that when Bill Ford, then CEO of the company, learned of an accident at a Ford plant, he dropped everything and rushed to the scene, against the advice of many in the home office. He did his best to comfort the families, assuring them that they would be taken care of. The union rep on the scene came up to him and said "I will never forget what you did today." (That's a family company). For decades Ford's reputation with the UAW was that in negotiations, they were the easy company to deal with.
Well, my last car was a Buick Regal. Highly rated by Consumer Reports at the time, it's been very quiet, all leather, a pretty luxe ride. My Quaker wife thinks it's pretty luxurious. (Does anyone remember when Buicks used to be referred to as 'The doctor's car?). My theory of car ownership has been to drive until death. The Buick has 100000 miles on it. I'm retired so I'm only racking up 10000 miles a year. So it has a way to go. But I am at the point where I am checking out the new models. I looked at the April CR and I guess I shouldn't be surprised but Ford and GM offered no sedans. It was all SUVs and trucks.
At my age it was a bit of a shock. A sedan still appeals to me as a bit more modest than the big trucks. And maybe it's a lonely cause, but I would prefer an automobile built by American union workers.
I really am at a loss. I read a review in the latest CR of the Subaru Forester. Seemed very desirable, but not union made. I am at a loss.
Does anyone else out there have these issues? Is the Toyota Prius the answer to all moral issues? I wish we could unionize those damn southern states. That would make things a lot easier. Does anyone have any thoughts?

My wife's translation of The Gospels

My wife is Sarah Ruden, a noted translator of latin and greek. In the world of classics she is famous.(Gary Wills reviewed her line for line translation of Vergil's Aeneid in iambic pentameter as 'The first translation since Dryden's that is itself a great English poem')
She is out this week with a completely new translation of the four Gospels and I hope it is alright if I give it a plug. It is published by Random House in the Modern Library imprint. Sarah says it is the first translation that is really true to the original greek. The head of the Modern Library imprint told her it is the one book that he takes home to read at night.
I hope that anyone with an interest will check it out. It is her attempt to bring us ever closer to the actual words of Jesus. The Gospels by Sarah Ruden, available at book stores today.

Lunch at the "Gris"

The. Griswold Inn in Essex, CT has been serving diners since 1776. Even more than good food, I love a great atmosphere, and "The Gris" has that in spades. Laid out in a series of wood paneled rooms, the main dining room walls are covered in nautical paintings and prints. The restaurant features the largest collection of Antonio Jacobson's ship's paintings in the country. Another room features a large collection of 18th century firearms. When I was courting my wife I took her here for. lunch. At one point she looked around and said, "This must be the preppiest place in America." It wasn't meant as a compliment.
In the time before the plague, the place would attract a good crowd, particularly in summer when people would dock their boats in the harbor and spend the evening in the crowded tap room. Usually there would be live music, often a jazz band. One summer night I was enlisted to ring the ship's bell on the wall in time to 'Sweet Caroline'. I was told by the band members I did pretty well. Apparently other people who tried had a hard time keeping time to the music.
We went there today for lunch. Like all places these days, The Gris is trying to scrape by. There were about a half dozen widely spaced tables taken. The food was decent. Lunch entrees ran in the fifteen to twenty dollar range. This being the land of the preppy, the martinis were on the generous side.
For anyone who is vacationing in the area of Essex, CT the Griswold Inn is definitely worth the visit. It's a Connecticut landmark and a unique dining experience.
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