Bottled Water Is Still A Scam

Bottled Water Is Still A Scam.
Interesting Points:

  • It’s worth reiterating that Aquafina and Dasani are just tap water.
  • Fiji Water produces more than a million bottles a day, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have reliable drinking water.
  • If the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
  • 24% of the bottled water we buy is tap water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi.
  • The bubbles in San Pellegrino are extracted from volcanic springs in Tuscany, then trucked north and injected into the water from the source.
  • We pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year—in excess of $1 billion worth of plastic.
  • Worldwide, 1 billion people have no reliable source of drinking water; 3,000 children a day die from diseases caught from tainted water.
  • We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That’s a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water.

Gasoline is profoundly cheap in comparison with bottled water. ;-)

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

On the way home from Houston I finished the 8th edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street. It covered the two major schools of camp on stock pricing in detail: firm foundations and castles in the air. Firm foundation believers seek to determine a stock’s proper value or “the worth of any share as the present value of all dollar benefits the investor expects to receive from it.” Most firm foundation followers assume that the market is 90% logical and 10% psychological. Castle in the Air believers are chartists and believe that past history grants clues to future behavior. Most castle in the air believers assume that the market is 90% psychological and 10% logical. They seek to anticipate the behavior of the other players in the game. Will there be a bigger fool to buy this stock later?

It appears from the evidence presented that the stock market is very efficient at pricing itself. The exact level at which the stock market is efficient appears to be debatable. However, the historical data currently suggests almost no pricing inefficiencies exist that are large enough to take advantage of and make money (after transaction costs and taxes are subtracted). Luck would explain the extraordinary performance of most at picking stocks. The nature of averages is a few investors will have extraordinary results, just as a few people will flip tails consistently when engaged in a coin flipping contest (with a fair coin).

Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) assumes all investors are risk averse and want high returns with guaranteed outcomes. Harry Markowitz invented this theory in the 1950s and for his contribution received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1990. Basically, this theory uses diversification among asset class to manage risk.

The Capital-Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) says that the total risk of each security is irrelevant as far as extra results go. The important component of risk is the systematic part, since given a sufficient pool of stocks the unsystematic risk (or specific risk) can be eliminated. (The specific risk of all the stocks in a given portfolio balance each other out and go to 0 with a sufficient pool, usually > 60 issues.) Consequently the CAPM asserts to get a higher average return you should increase beta (systematic risk) in your portfolio. However, study of the beta to return relationship of all stocks over the 1963-1990 period (of all New York, American, and NASDAQ exchange issues) didn’t support this theory.

Definitely read this book if you are interested in stock pricing theory!

You’re Fifty-Now What?

I finished reading You’re Fifty-Now What? Investing For The Second Half Of Your Life on the flight back from New Orleans. When I checked it out at the library, the check-out lady made a joke of why a young man like me would be reading a book such as this. She thought I was picking it up for my father.

I found the book useful for figuring out how to reach the point of having a retirement that meets my expectations and empowers me to do what I desire. With proper planning, the golden years can be very enjoyable. Once retired this book covers how to figure out what you can safely spend in retirement without depleting your resources while still enjoying the long active lives modern medicine has rewarded us with. I think the title is misleading and both young and old will benefit from reading this book by Charles R. Schwab (founder of Charles Schwab).

Unfortunately, the library check-out lady represented our American culture all too well. We are too often spenders rather than savers (the average savings rate has fallen to below 2% per year). We seldom plan for tomorrow and drive with the pedal down today. I challenge you to not follow the herd mentality and realize you need to plan and set aside for retirement while you are still young.

Knowledge & Investing Disconnect

I have had my iPod for awhile and love it. It was the first Apple product I had ever purchased. My tech savvy friends (Bryce and John) were the culprits since they showed me how well their iPods worked and I had to purchase one. Now my less geeky friends are all buying iPods and are equally impressed with them.

Today, Apple came out with earnings (that easily beat expectations) with a significant portion of them due to solid sales of the iPod. Right now the stock is up 9.65% to $71.78. I keep asking myself why I didn’t invest in Apple back when I purchased my iPod in December of 2003. Back then, Apple was trading at ~$20 and I realized that the iPod was a stellar product. If I had invested in Apple I would be sitting on a 358.9% capital gain.

Next time, when all my geeky friends start buying a killer application or item, I am going to buy stock in the company behind it. Hmm, I wonder what Jeremy Z. has purchased lately?

Free Credit Reports

You are or soon will be eligible for a free yearly credit report from Annual Credit Report.com. This website appears to aggregate data from the big three crediting reporting agencies: experian, EQUIFAX, and TransUnion. This is a nice service to check up on your credit and verify you are not a victim of identify theft. Currently, identify theft is the fastest growing crime in America.

It is about time that a person can have free access to the data tracked about their credit, spending, and payment history. This is important data that determines interest rates available to you as well as the prices for most types of insurance. Hopefully, free access will eventually be increased to more than one report per year. However, kudos are appropriate for this step in the right direction.