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Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts

February 05, 2024


If you are like me, you are bombarded by offers from banks to transfer your credit card balance and pay zero interest for the first year. Since I never have credit card balances the offers go into the recycling bin. But that got me thinking, if the banks are feeling so generous, why not reduce or waive the interest rates on current balance holders for the next year? Do not hold your breath. Even better, don’t have credit card balances.

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I once read that “Traditions are answers to problems we’ve forgotten. And when the traditions disappear, the problems return.”

Twenty years ago, I lived in a beautiful “pre-war” condominium in Bayonne, New Jersey. The building was built out of red brick, had wrought iron railings with marble stairs, ten-foot ceilings and parquet wood floors. It was a beautiful place.

We had a building superintendent living in the basement. By all accounts and appearances, he was what used to be called an “old drunk.” Despite his frequent state of inebriation and less than friendly disposition, the building was kept in immaculate condition.

It looked like you could safely eat off the floors. If a package was left in the lobby, it would be placed in front of your door the same day. And this was not trivial, given that I lived on the fourth floor and there was no elevator or air conditioning! 

One sunny day we were informed that the superintendent had been let go and replaced by a handsome, 21-year-old new father. He was a nice enough man, young and strong. Out with the old; in with the new. Progress.

His first order of business was to change all the locks to the common areas. After which they worked only intermittently. I and many other tenants were locked out of the building and laundry room on multiple occasions. The contact number given to us for the new super was not of much use. When we called him, the calls generally went unanswered.

The condition of the halls deteriorated markedly. Additionally, we were obliged to carry our own packages up the stairs. I was young, so I did not mind. However, I noticed the changes. And I was not the only one.

Summer came. With it came the stench of garbage, wafting through the open windows of the building. That’s what happens when the person responsible does not get it out to the curb on time, to be picked up. Though it was as frustrating as it was smelly, I am now glad it happened. The experience taught me a valuable lesson.

While progress generally requires change, do not believe for a moment that all change equals progress.

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Speaking of which, I think the mother of all negative changes has been social media. This technology was supposed to bring us closer together but seems to have contributed greatly to societal polarization.

I have been saying for some time that social media seems to be 10% utility and 90% futility. It seems that social media executives agree. I have read several articles that make it clear these executives do not allow their own children to use the social media apps that made them wealthy. And if they do, they severely limit their use.

When the baker does not eat his own bread, we should take note.

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 Don’t look now but despite high inflation, dangerous conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and a rapid escalation in interest rates, the S&P 500 just broke its all-time high. For those of you who have been working with me these past two years it will come as no surprise.

While people seem to expect the stock market to be a lagging indicator of financial strength, it is almost always a leading indicator. In other words, the market usually moves higher before things improve in an obvious way, not after they improve.

This knowledge is valuable for two reasons.

First, there will be down markets again and perhaps we can put this information to good use in the future.

Second, it might mean that there is cause for optimism. Let us face it, the last four years have not been easy. We have battled through a global pandemic and a significant stock market correction. 

The market’s slow but steady rebound over the past year, despite all that is still unhappy in the world, could signal we have finally turned the corner!


Scott R. McGimpsey February 5th, 2024


This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market. UNIFIED PLANNING GROUP is an independent firm.