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Not Cocky Yet...

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I have to give a posthumous shout-out to Ronald Read, who was a soldier in WWII. He was a former gas station worker and a part-time janitor during the years most men stop working. He passed away last summer at the age of 92.


He was known for wearing clothes that were held together by safety pins. Once, a woman knitted a hat to replace his tattered baseball cap that provided little warmth during the harsh Vermont winters. This would appear to have been the death of a regular person who went through life without the need for any handouts, but who was otherwise nondescript.

As it turns out, Mr. Read had one passion- investing in the stock market. He was pretty good at it. However, I should really say that he was pretty good at not being shaken out. He bought plain old blue chip names and focused on "dividend-producing" stocks. We learned this week that he left $1.2 million to the local library and $4.8 million to the local hospital. There is nothing regular about that! How many people squander money each day and say they cannot change their lot in life? It can be done and if you are ready to sacrifice a lot of the trappings of life, you can also change the lots of others too.

Hold This Job

The jobs headlines are screaming great things, but workers are not buying it…yet. Consider this: job openings are at a 14-year high, hires a 7- year high, but quits at a 4-month high.

Job Openings5.03 million14 Year High
Job Hires5.15 million7 Year High
Quits2.7 million4 Month High

In fact, a close look at the JOLTS report shows ‘quits’ have actually declined for high-paying professional and business services from a year ago, up largely in the retail space.

JOLTS ReportDec 2013Dec 2014
Professional Services540453

Regionally, the south had an impressive increase in ‘quits,’ along with the Midwest that also had a positive gain.

JOLTS ReportDec 2013Dec 2014

We Don't Believe

Sure, the news around jobs is better, but according to Pew Research, only 28% of the population calls it “mostly good." People simply do not see the jobs market as portrayed by the government or commentators, myself included. This means, the economy is still missing that spark and it might take longer for it to materialize. Certainly, it will take longer than the rate of change in the data.

On the other hand, this is good stuff for the Fed–watchers, but I cannot wait for Ms. Yellen to start hiking rates. Of course, if Main Street begins to buy the hype too late and the Fed acts too soon, we could see the inflation crisis surge- which is bound to happen; it could be one or two years away.

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