Money For the Rest of Us Podcast

Money For the Rest of Us

An Investing and Business podcast featuring J. David Stein
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Why Markets and Economies Are Ceaselessly Creative and Radically Unpredictable
#101 How memes, stories, people, systems, goods and services mix and interact to create an expanding economic web that is ceaselessly creative and radically unpredictable. To sign up for the Insiders Guide, text the word INSIDER to 44222.
Don't Be A Commodity
#86 How not to be a commodity even if you work in a commodity business. Plus, an update on commodities and master limited partnerships. Show notes at: To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
Are You Hoarding Or Investing?
#60 What is the difference between hoarding and investing. Most people do both. Show notes at: To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
Should You Invest In Commodities?
#40 What you need to consider before investing in oil and other commodities. Two schools of thought regarding the direction of oil prices. Show notes at To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
Investment Performance—What You Need To Know
#35 Power laws, fractals and investor psychology. Why security prices behave like they do. Show notes at To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
The Role of Luck In Success
#31 How luck and skill intertwine to make you successful. Show notes at To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
Die Broke
#32 How to deplete most of your assets before you die by using single premium immediate annuities. Show notes at To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
With Interest Rates Falling, Why Do You Own Bonds?
How an asset class such as bonds can play different roles in your portfolio depending on your investment philosophy. In this episode you will learn:What are bonds and how can they be used in investment portfolios.What is interest rate anticipation.Why individuals have an advantage over institutions because they don't have to worry about outperforming a benchmark when it comes to bonds.Why U.S. interest rates could rise and fall from current levels.Why China is unlikely to sell all of its U.S. Treasury bonds.Examples of higher yielding strategies other than bonds that can benefit from falling interest rates.Thanks to LinkedIn and Policygenius for sponsoring the episode.For show notes and more information on this episode click here.[0:20] Generating a return on bonds. [2:22] David explains why his own portfolio has not seen huge success in bonds.[3:56] What is the role of bonds in your portfolio?[6:41] A historical analysis of bonds.[9:55] The advantage of being an individual investor.[10:59] Speculating whether or not interest rates will go up or down.[14:50] The effects of the global economy on US bond behavior.[17:12] Strategies for diversifying your portfolio.[20:49] What to focus on as an individual investor in bonds.[22:19] Comparing the story of the carpenter and the tree to the life of a bond.[24:23] Deciding which path to choose for the use of your bonds.
Is College Worth It?
#245 With more and more college degrees being granted and higher student loan balances, when does it make sense to go to a highly selective college or to college at all? What can increase earnings more than just having college degree? Thanks to TripActions and Shipstation for sponsoring the episode.For show notes and more information on this episode click here.[0:17] The price paid by parents for their children’s prestigious degrees.[3:28] David’s college experience.[5:14] Does ambition or a selective school earn more?[7:44] The influence of family background.[9:32] The importance of college networking.[10:30] Overcoming discrimination.[12:12] College degrees as hiring filters.[15:45] How much student debt should you take on?[20:28] Student loan forgiveness.[23:36] Is college worth it?
Are You Spending Too Much? (FIRE Edition)
#244 How we can use filters to better manage how much we spend and make sure our spending has a meaningful impact on ourselves and the world. Thanks to EveryPlate and LinkedIn for sponsoring the episode.For show notes and more information on this episode click here.[0:16] The FIRE movement and how much you need to retire early.[1:23] What are we supposed to be seeking?[3:23] How do we define the “bare necessities?”[8:58] The superfluous things in life are what we spend our money on.[11:12] Finding joy vs. chasing pleasure.[13:51] Skills to reduce spending in order to retire early.[15:41] Establishing filters to lessen our spending.[18:51] Rethinking materialism.[21:01] There will always be more.
What If Home Prices Always Fell
#235 How to evaluate the purchase of a depreciating asset, such as buying a house in Japan where prices have declined 23 out of the past 29 years. Thanks to The Great Courses Plus, LinkedIn and Sleep Number for sponsoring the episode.For show notes and more information on this episode click here.[0:20] Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula for dealing with a housing bubble.[2:33] Making the decision to purchase a second home.[5:31] Japan’s declining housing market.[13:10] Another quirk of the Japanese house: it’s freezing.[20:28] Should we imitate the Japanese when making decisions regarding the housing market?[24:19] Keeping priorities straight: making a purchasing decision based upon what matters.
The U.S Is More Socialist Than Denmark with Home Mortgages
#238 How the U.S. mortgage market differs from the Danish mortgage market. Danish mortgage rates and defaults are lower than the U.S.. and unlike the U.S., the Danish government is not involved in protecting investors against mortgage defaults. This episode also explores how the mortgage broker industry has evolved since the housing crash. Thanks to ShipStation and The Great Courses Plus for sponsoring the episode.For show notes and more information on this episode click here.[0:23] The socialist catastrophe of Venezuela[1:42] Who is the most socialist in housing finance? Denmark or the US?[2:50] Meet Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae, and Freddie Mac.[11:26] Danish mortgage securitization.[15:42] Why Danish borrowers actually pay less.[19:32] Who’s liable for the loan and why it makes all the difference.[22:09] Why do mortgage brokers exist, and should you use one?
Demography Rules
#91 How the number of retirees compared to workers impacts economic growth, inflation and stock returns. Show notes at To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
Capitalism, Complexity, and Cuba
#93 Why uncertainty and failure is necessary for a functioning economy and why Cuba is embracing both in its struggle to reform its economy. Show notes at To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
Where Federal Money Flows
#126 Why cutting federal spending and trying to lower the national debt reduces household income and spending, potentially causing a recession.
Your Retirement Depends On Robots
#112 How productivity increases due to robots and other technology enhancements should lead to both higher wages and higher investment portfolio returns, allowing workers to save enough to eventually retire. Show notes at
The Power of Less and Local
#197 Why having less things and activities gives us more freedom and happiness. Why low probability risks are unacceptable if the consequences affect all of us. More information, including show notes, can be found here.Episode SummaryThe inspiration behind this episode came from the idea of the power of local and less, from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Skin in the Game. David discusses the power behind experimenting at the local level in order to avoid systemic risk, as well as why less is more when it comes to happiness.Living in a via negativa mindset can set you freeTaleb writes extensively about “via negativa” in his book, which explains that “The act by removing is more powerful than acting by addition.” If having nice things means working long hours at a job you hate while sacrificing time with your loved ones, then perhaps having nice things shouldn’t be the end goal in life. If you’re not concerned with physical “stuff,” then you are free to live your life and pursue your greatest joys without the burden of material goods. David argues that if you’re not happy with less, then you certainly won’t be happy with more.By removing the negative aspects of your life, you can increase your level of overall happiness.A simple landscaping example illuminates this idea perfectly. If a wonderful hotel has impeccable landscaping, but the surrounding grounds are littered with trash and clutter, then the only thing one must do to improve the overall situation is to remove the clutter – not add more landscaping! Since via negativa states removing unnecessary or unwanted parts of your life will result in greater levels of happiness, it only makes sense to conclude that adding things will not give you the same result. People spend decades collecting items that they do not need or truly want. And the more they seek, the less happiness they find. For true happiness, one must appreciate all the good things in life and simply live day to day in a joy mindset.Why taking action against climate change is so critical, due to the precautionary principleWhile seemingly unrelated to via negativa, the second major principle discussed on this episode is just as critical. The precautionary principle is what drives Nassim Nicholas Taleb to take action against the global threat of climate change. Taleb argues that If an action could potentially destroy the planet, it is on those who pollute to show a lack of tail risk. So much of the controversy regarding climate change is about the accuracy of the scientific models, but what would the correct policy be if we had no reliable models? We only have one planet. Even a risk with a very low probability is unacceptable when it affects all of us – there is no reversing a mistake of that magnitude. If we don’t fully understand something, and it has a systemic effect, we should avoid it completely. This episode of Money For the Rest of Us makes an undeniable case for why every single person should care about climate change, and you need to hear it.How to change the world at the micro level, starting with a single businessChanging the world on the macro-scale sounds romantic, but it is simply not feasible for the vast majority of people. To truly do good in the world and make a difference, David urges his listeners to simply start at the local level. Start a business in your community and spend freely at other local businesses. Get to know your neighbors and care about their lives. Take bounded risks, don’t attempt to change the entire system, and tinker at the micro level until you see some good come from it. All this and more is covered on this encouraging episode of Money For the Rest of Us.In This Episode You’ll Learn[1:00] David introduces his topic for this episode, “the power of local and less”[2:12] The first main idea for the episode, via negativa, is discussed[6:47] So how do we solve this pursuit of unreachable happiness?[9:29] A second example of living through via negativa[12:45] David shares a third example of a via negativa lifestyle[15:51] Why David and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb believe in taking action against climate change, due to the precautionary principle[21:20] How to change the world by starting a business
Is It Time To Invest In Commodities?
#232 Why investing in commodities such as oil and gold is challenging. What you need to know before you invest. Thanks to New Retirement Planner for sponsoring the episode.For show notes and more information on this episode click here.[0:18] Where do commodities help us in the economic cycle?[2:00] How to interpret the apparent statistical decline in commodities.[5:40] Are master limited partnerships (MLPs) helpful to your portfolio?[8:19] How the energy transition will affect the future of commodity investment.[11:43] Contango and how it affects the performance of your futures contract.[16:20] Looking back at the history of commodities may help in determining their future.[24:29] The benefits of investing in gold as a commodity.[28:11] Traders and psychology are really what determine commodity prices.[30:08] Cash flow should still be the foundation of your portfolio.
The Biggest Market Crash Is Recyclables
#208 How a Chinese ban and careless recycling habits by households and businesses led to a market collapse in recyclables. More information, including show notes, can be found here.Episode SummaryThe biggest market crash facing the United States today isn’t entirely economic in nature. It’s actually surrounding the idea of recycling and recyclable goods. Recycling is a service that most communities require and demand. But is it economical? Why has the market crashed in recent months? What are the solutions? This episode of Money For the Rest of Us will answer all that and more, so be sure to listen.What are the current values of recyclables, given the market crash?Most types of recyclable products have fallen steeply in price. Mixed paper prices have fallen 98% in the past year. Corrugated cardboard has fallen 48% and plastics ranked 1 to 7 have fallen 78%. Co-mingled plastics, aluminum, and steel have been holding steady or even increasing, however, the vast majority of recyclables aren’t bringing in the high returns they used to. In areas such as the Pacific Northwest, you even have to pay a company to take it off your hands. What changed? Be sure to listen to this episode to find out.What has caused this massive market crash?The biggest influencer in the recyclables market crash was China’s decision in January 2018 to ban imports of 24 different types of recyclable materials. Americans recycle 66 million tons of material each year, and much of this material used to be sent overseas to be sorted, cleaned, and processed. However recyclable exports to China fell 35% in the first 2 months after the ban, and future rates aren’t looking favorable. Now, all of this recyclable material has nowhere to go. To get the full story behind the China ban and how it impacts the US recycling industry, be sure to catch the full audio for this episode.The 5 main ways we can improve our recycling habitsTo solve the market crash issue, Americans need to rethink their recycling habits. The problem with “aspirational recycling,” or thinking everything can be recycled just because we want it to, is a contributing factor to this complex issue. 5 ways to combat the recyclable market crash and current mindset about recycling are featured on this episode of Money For the Rest of Us. Here they are:Understand that recycling isn’t going awayConsider recycling rate stabilization fundsConsider banning certain materials at specific plants to reduce contamination and mixed goodsRevamp educational programs about recyclingDevelop recycling markets right here in the USWhat’s the real solution to the recycling market crash issue?Even with all the great strategies discussed on this episode, simply recycling in better ways isn’t enough to solve the true issue. Everyone has to start considering the life cycles of the products we use every day. Changing the way countries around the world handle waste and preventing it from entering our waterways and contaminating our land is the real solution – basic recycling is just a temporary fix to a much larger issue.Episode Chronology[0:42] Why the recycling business is currently crashing and collapsing[4:28] The current value of recyclables, given the market crash[8:09] What has caused this crash in recycled goods?[9:32] The problem with “aspirational recycling”[14:38] Why we have to do better at recycling[22:05] The true heart at the of the recyclables market crash issue
Has A Trade War Begun?
#195 Why duties and other actions are necessary to address trade disputes, but across the board tariffs are a blunt instrument that can lead to a devastating trade war and global recession. More information, including show notes, can be found here.Episode SummaryWith President Trump recently unveiling new tariffs, many investors and economists are asking the question, “has a trade war begun?” On this episode of Money For the Rest of Us, David Stein explores this idea and explains the new tariff plans, the potential impacts on the steel and aluminum industries, and why there are better solutions to the complex trade system than just blanket tariffs.Why new tariff plans were created and the concern surrounding national securityWhen President Trump unveiled his new tariff plan and claimed via Twitter that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” the stock market fell 2% and people across the world began asking countless questions. Are these tariffs going to apply to every single country, even longstanding US trade partners? How will this impact the US economy? To answer these questions, David explains that trade investigations regarding steel, aluminum and oil imports have occurred several times in the past, and one of the main goals is to determine if competition from imports is having a negative impact on national security. National security goes beyond just national defense and include impacts on the overall domestic economy.Recent findings and insights on the 2018 aluminum reportThe January 2018 report on the aluminum industry found that there is a connection between the economic welfare of the US and national security because of the loss of skills, higher amounts of foreign investments, the unemployment rate of US forces, and many other reasons. Since the US aluminum industry is only operating at 43% of capacity, and aluminum imports comprise 90% of consumption and are up 60% from 2012, the Department of Commerce determined that aluminum imports are directly impacting national security. The report found domestic aluminum production was becoming unstable and nearing a point where US forces would be unable to respond to a national emergency that would require an increased level of production.How do the findings on the steel industry differ from those of the aluminum industry?When compared to the findings of the aluminum study, the US steel industry and the impact of foreign steel are not nearly as dramatic. While imports have increased due to foreign competition, there’s no shortage of domestic steel. Imported steel only makes up approximately 30% of US consumption, and the Department of Commerce recommendation for taking action was because steel imports were weakening the U.S. economy rather than there being insufficient steel to meet national defense needs.Additional solutions that could prevent a trade war and why trade needs to be viewed as a complex systemAfter reviewing the latest findings on steel and aluminum in the United States, David explains why there are more effective solutions to global trade and imports than just blanket tariffs. Even if tariffs are deemed to be the best solution, they should be addressed on a country-by-country basis. Existing legislation such as the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Buy American Act of 1933 already address the issue of foreign imports. Across the board tariffs could negatively impact longstanding trade partners, and U.S. exports could be taxed at a much higher rate in the coming months. While it is normal to want to protect a nation’s workforce and industries, it cannot be done in such a way that jeopardizes a country’s ability to interact with other countries’ economies. Global trade is a complex system that must be viewed as a whole, rather than individual parts. The long-term impacts of these recent developments are sure to spark continuing conversations, but to hear a stellar synopsis of the trade issue today be sure to listen to this podcast episode of Money For the Rest of Us.
The Retirement Journey
#117 Why lower retirement spending rates means most retirees will need to work some during their retirement years. Show notes at
Why Investors Can't Ignore China
#116 Will China's growing debt burden lead to a banking collapse? How would that impact investors globally, and what should you do about it. Show notes at
How To Protect Yourself From Bail Ins
#110 What are bail ins and how to protect yourself from them. Show notes at
Work, Freedom, and Leaving A Legacy
#107 How to find the balance between work, freedom, meaning, and leaving a legacy. Show notes at
Are ETFs and Indexing Becoming Too Popular?
#58 What are the hidden risks of ETFs and passive investing. Sow notes at To sign up for the Money For the Rest of Us Insider's Guide text the word INSIDER to 44222.
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Podcast Details
May 15th, 2014
Latest Episode
Jan 22nd, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
29 minutes

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