Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as stock market bubbles, FTX collapse, clapping for SBF, 2022 World Cup Total Football, AI Tools directory, crypto is the commoditization of populist anger, gambling and crime, more hideous shitcoins, life in Ukraine is hard and there were never any separatists in Donbas, murder and loathing in Las Vegas, breathtaking small towns, cycling Africa, the latest promotions and most important developments in the crazy miles and points world and lots more!
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This blog publishes every Friday and some Tuesdays.
Welcome to all new blog readers from George, your diligent curator of the BEST web content I find and share with you. No ads, no clickbait.
BLOG EVOLVES AGAIN
NEW: As mentioned above, I am going to start posting on some Tuesdays aiming to make the blog posts a bit shorter because my wife said that my Friday posts are too long. We’ll see how this goes with my upcoming trip to Greece. Always expect the Friday blog post going forward. In addition, every year I do Annual Review list posts over the holidays and I may sprinkle those in here as well as they come together. Always evolving…
Going forward, there will be more emphasis towards Personal Finance. I have shifted the Travel section and the Miles & Points and Travel Rewards credit card sections lower. So, if you are just not into them you can still enjoy the content about Personal Finance, Crypto and the latest developments blowing up such as the FTX fiasco and Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and then click away. Or stay on to read the Ukraine Russia war section which will stay until the war is over. You can check out the Oddz and Endz and Buzzing sections if you like, variety will always be valued here. If you are into the miles/points game, you can stay for the final sections and help support the blog by choosing to use its credit card links.
Anyway, thanks for reading. This blog started as a joke back in 2012 to keep track of the best content in my quirky hobby of collecting frequent flyer miles and points to enrich my travel addiction. It has slowly evolved to its current version of posting every Friday with a carefully curated list of the best web content along with my snarky and sometimes witty (and seldom incendiary) commentary. And now focusing primarily on the area of personal finance which is what I do for a living actually. My goal here is to offer a different and quality blog to help readers enhance their quality of life. Also, to contribute my part to end world hunger and bring worldwide peace. Or something like that.
This is really good: To Build Inevitable Wealth, Simply Avoid Financial Ruin. I think the most important thing good financial planners do is keep clients from making big mistakes.
While there are many ways to get rich, there are only a few ways to go broke. Here’s one mental shortcut you can use next time you’re considering putting your hard-earned money on the line:“Do I understand this investment?” [I wonder how many out there could have been saved from ruin if they could control their emotions and held from trying to get rich quick!]
This one expands our discussion here about bubbles and stuff like that. And it brings in FTX and Elon Musk and politics, so be warned: Bubbles Aren’t Just For Stock Markets. The author makes a strong case that the following were indeed related and you should read his arguments if interested:
What was historic was we saw the collapse of three giant bubbles within hours of each other. The crypto bubble had its biggest comeuppance yet with the collapse of Sam Bankman-Freed (“SBF”)’s FTX empire, Elon Musk lost his halo, and the election results appear to have taken the air out of Donald Trump‘s political career.
We know all bubbles end eventually…
…historically investment bubbles originate out of stimulative monetary policy. That’s certainly an explanation for crypto and even Tesla, to some extent. But can this also explain political bubbles? Perhaps indirectly. If you look at prior populist movements in the US (Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan), they were in response to large financial panics. Certainly, our current populist movement traces back to the financial crisis. The Fed responded to the crisis with unprecedentedly easy money. This helped create the eventual market bubble, as well as exacerbate wealth inequality, which further increased the support for populism. So the financial crisis, combined with the Fed’s response, brought us to this moment where we had simultaneous market and political bubbles. And, while they would have ended eventually, you can certainly argue a global virus is what it took to stop them.
Some good stuff also here: Never Simple. Back when I was younger I thought there will come a time when Americans will be so sick of the complexity in IRS tax rules they will embrace a much simpler tax code, maybe even a flat tax. Well, I was wrong. The tax code complexity marches on, sometimes I wonder if the lawmakers are in bed with lawyers and CPAs, oh wait…Anyway, you need to be careful and the tax laws change every year. The article brings to your attention some common mistakes taxpayers do in regards to the “still-working exception” for Required Minimum Distribution RMD rules, the Qualified Charitable Distribution QCD rules, how the capital gain tax rates work, warnings about doing backdoor Roth IRAs and rollovers and always confusing rules for charitable gifts and how to deduct them.
It is disgusting to watch media STILL kiss up to this thief, still pursue him for interviews and being so soft at him. Do NOT fall for this non sense, the guy belongs in jail imho. And I agree with this: FTX’s Collapse Was a Crime, Not an Accident.
Banks can be hit by “bank runs” because they are explicitly in the business of lending customer funds out to generate returns. They can experience a short-term cash crunch if everyone withdraws at the same time, without there being any long-term problem.
But FTX and other crypto exchanges are not banks. They do not (or should not) do bank-style lending, so even a very acute surge of withdrawals should not create a liquidity strain. FTX had specifically promised customers it would never lend out or otherwise use the crypto they entrusted to the exchange. In reality, the funds were sent to the intimately linked trading firm Alameda Research, where they were, it seems, simply gambled away. This is, in the simplest terms, theft at a nearly unprecedented scale. While the total losses have yet to be quantified, up to one million customers could be impacted, according to a bankruptcy document.
When I saw them clap for this guy I cringed so much while my inner rage indicators skyrocketed to dangerous levels! Why they clapped for Sam Bankman-Fried.
But I thought it was weird. Bernie Madoff confessed his crime to his sons and he was in handcuffs before the end of the day. And that shit was like fifty times more complex than wiring customer funds into a hedge fund or using collateral to buy properties in the Bahamas in your parents’ names. Madoff had an entire floor of an office building in Manhattan dedicated to creating fake account statements, staffed with multiple accomplices, over the course of decades. Sam looks like an amateur in comparison. A dabbler. Still walking free, weeks later. It’s inexplicable. As inexplicable as the round of applause he received after an hour of accidentally sorta confessing to multiple financial crimes.
Meanwhile, here goes another one: BlockFi files for bankruptcy.
I have linked to this guy many times before in my blog, he could have easily joined the crowd and earned lot of easy money in the crypto space like so many others. But he didn’t, got to respect that: Stephen Diehl: Crypto is the ‘commoditisation of populist anger, gambling and crime. The software engineer has denounced crypto assets as vehicles for pure speculation. But his views have made him a target of harassment — including death threats.
“After 14 years, it is still a solution in search of a problem. It’s not building a new financial system. It’s not building a new internet. It’s not an asset uncorrelated with the market. It’s not a hedge against inflation. It is a vehicle for pure, naked speculation detached from anything in the economy. It’s a casino that’s wrapped in all of these lies. When you tear back those lies, what’s left looks like a net negative for the world.” You may not be interested in crypto, but you should be. “It reveals a lot of our dark tendencies,” Diehl says. “And it’s a mirror for a lot of the political struggle in society.”
And of course shitcoins just keep coming, this is an especially horrific one, wow! Shitcoin project tests the limits of cringe by building $600,000 statue of Elon Musk and delivering it to Tesla HQ.
UKRAINE RUSSIA WAR
Do you wonder how life is in Kyiv these days? This Twitter thread from the president of the Kyiv School of Economics, a former minister of economy of Ukraine, and a professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh will show you.
I must admit the Russian propaganda worked great…as I also thought there were separatists in the Donbas. Absolutely not, this thread will explain it all.
ODDZ & ENDZ
This is cool, the largest AI Tools Directory: Futurepedia.
Best of Web: Murder and Loathing in Las Vegas. I am sure you must have seen the news of a local official in Las Vegas who killed the journalist who wrote an investigative article about him. Well, it is an insane story. It all started in the office…and you won’t believe what happened next, wow! The employees of the Clark County public administrator’s office were at odds over their ambitious boss, Robert Telles. Then Vegas’s biggest newspaper ran an exposé on the chaos, the reporter behind the story turned up dead—and Telles was charged with his murder. Now his staff is left wondering: How did it come to this?
I am loving the 2022 World Cup action in Qatar, it has been fantastic! So great to see team USA advance to the second round! Next game is against Netherlands. I was in love with the Netherlands team when I was growing up. Partly because I resembled and played like Johan Cruyff, my favorite soccer player of all time. Netherlands is a three Wold Cup finalist, probably the only nation that should have won at least one World Cup. It has also developed a deserved reputation of under achievers despite the vast talent they have. And team infighting…and choking. But they appear to be coming together with this coach who is a legend. He also has cancer and is not going to be around long. Anyway, I have said that I believe in this young US team and they did what they had to do beating Iran to advance in a game not suited for people with a heart condition. Ok, back to Dutch football. At a time it was plain orgasmic to watch the way they played! Life, Death, and Total Football.
Some interesting choices here: The Most Breathtakingly Beautiful Small Towns in the World.
With some amazing shots, enjoy Connecting Two Distant Corners: Cycling the Length of Africa.
Some amazing photography here: The 2022 “inFocus” Nature And Wildlife Photography Competition.
MILES & POINTS NEWS/PROMOS/MY ACTION
Just in case you have hotel stays this month, here are the best hotel promotions for December 2022.
This promo is very tempting and if I did not have a trip to Greece coming up I will definitely look to see how I can get it done: American Express Business Checking 60,000 Membership Rewards Points Bonus. I remember getting flyers in the mail for 20,000 points, then 30,000 and now…it is up to 60,000! Here is the Amex page for it.
Lots of targeted Chase credit card spending promotions currently underway, check what you get HERE.
I have always been confused about the Capital One Shopping portal, this explained it very well: “C” is for confusion: Capital One Shopping vs Offers vs Travel offers.
Delta does what Delta does best, stick it to its Skymiles members: Delta Makes Major Changes to Sky Club Access for 2023. I can not believe anyone does mileage runs these days lol. Loyalty is not what it used to be…
I think I am going to do this…at the very last day as I don’t have any American Airlines flights booked yet. No big deal really and American Airlines is sure making it much more complex than it should be: American Airlines launches a fast track to status for Hyatt Elite Members.
I am not having much luck finding award tickets to Greece and I told everyone I will be there in like ten days lol. Just a few saver level options on United with ridiculously short connections and just crazy routings. I think flying into Thessaloniki SKG and not Athens makes it much harder. And looks like the days of flying Business class are over, cheapest is 152k United miles for one way…Oh, every airline becoming like Delta revenue maximizing everything smh. You want to help? Detroit to Thessaloniki SKG, December 11.
My daughter’s trip to Paris was booked with 33k United miles. She plans to study abroad there until early June and come back to start at Microsoft as an intern for the summer. I also canceled son’s Hawaiian Airlines credit card online and I hope Barclays bank will process it correctly, never know with this bank. We managed to get a few trips out of the signing bonus with it, he is on a trip to Tokyo for two weeks later this month.
Crazy trips we do in this hobby. So, I am going to Chicago for two nights, one in the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, which belongs in Hyatt’s Unbound Collection hotel portfolio. And one night at the Chicago Fairmont. This Sunday and Monday. Why? Well, I have an expiring free Hyatt night certificate I do not want to waste. And this night gets me to the magic 60 number requalifying me for Hyatt Globalist elite, which gets me another free Hyatt Category 1 -7 night, two more Suite Upgrades and another year of access to my Hyatt Concierge who has been pretty good so far.
I have an annual complimentary night at the Fairmont along with a few Suite Upgrades and some food certs as a Lifetime Platinum member due to a short lived legendary deal…I also need to generate a few points to renew my Accor All points as well. I also managed to score an $80 round trip on Amtrak saving me the driving, gas and parking. Hopefully, no Amtrak strike ruins my plans!
A section where I go on and on about some stuff that happens in my life and anything else that just does not fit in another section above.
Today is the last day of watching four World Cup games every day! Starting tomorrow with the round of 16 it all calms down as the games get more dramatic. Hopefully we all celebrate a huge win by Team USA against the Netherlands…
Running is going well, mostly maintenance mode. Earlier this week I ran through the University of Michigan campus at what was the coldest day of the year. Every year that goes by the winter is getting harder it appears on my body…
It was great to see the University of Michigan beat Ohio State in Columbus after twenty years!
This made me laugh, smh! Every monk in Thai temple defrocked after testing positive for meth.
MILES & POINTS
HOT CREDIT CARD OFFERS: 80k CITI Premier, 75k Southwest Cards (ENDING 12/5/2022), 60k CHASE Sapphire Preferred, 75k Capital One Venture X, 90k CHASE Ink Cash, 90k CHASE Ink Unlimited, 100k CHASE Ink Business Preferred, 60k CHASE World of Hyatt Visa, 20k CHASE Freedom Flex, up to 30k CHASE Freedom Unlimited, 140k IHG Rewards Premier AND 1 Free Night and many more, including many AmericanExpress cards, including Delta, Marriott and Hilton cards! Please check out my Affiliate links. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. If you do not see a credit card with my affiliate links, perhaps I could refer you?
This section is about my
hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! SKIP if you are not into it!
As of today, I have burned 1,137,335 miles/points year to date and have 4,790,337 miles/points in the bank. Some do drugs, I do miles lol!
Thanks to US banks, very lucrative travel rewards credit card offers come and go all the time. This section will act as a reference point on the best CURRENT offers. I will designate new material preceded by NEW.
BASICS: This travel hacking hobby is mostly about getting the fat Signup Bonus of travel rewards credit cards while of course NEVER EVER carrying a balance. Banks have a marketing budget and are willing to give us many THOUSANDS of miles/points to travel mostly for free hoping to hook us to charge 20%+ interest rates on our balances. The poor souls who fall for their marketing paying these ludicrous interest rates end up subsidizing us responsible consumers who enjoy taking advantage of, cough, such bank marketing budgets! Some of us have been doing this for thirty years creating amazing travel memories…Feel free to ask me questions or post them in the comments.
BASICS: Prefer credit cards from the proprietary points programs of banks, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Network, Capital One Rewards Miles because they are a lot more flexible and are not devalued as frequently. Over pure airline and hotel travel rewards credit cards. Pure cash back credit cards may work for you best and they are getting more valuable as airline and hotel loyalty programs keep getting devalued. Sometimes, a pure no annual fee 2% cash back card works best for simplicity!
TOP TRAVEL REWARDS SIGNUP BONUS CARDS
These two NO ANNUAL FEE Chase Business cards are now offering an amazing 90,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, the Chase Ink Business Cash and the Chase Business Ink Unlimited! Bottom line, I think these are the BEST business travel rewards cards out there right now! The 90k Signup Bonus can be earned after $6k of spend on the cards in the first three months. I am not going to make a fool of myself with recurring “69 reasons I love these two cards”, this is not a sales maximization blog ok? You can click to find out more about them and you can apply HERE to support this blog, thank you.
Citibank increased the Signup Bonus for the Citi Premier card from 60,000 to 80,000 Thank You points. Annual fee is $95 and the minimum spend to score the Signup Bonus is $4k in the first three months. The Citi Premier card has a solid earning structure as it earns 3 points per dollar on gas/groceries/dining/travel and 1 point on everything else. Of course, you can transfer your points to mostly foreign airlines and JetBlue. Or you can cash out at one cent per point. Therefore, 80,000 points means $800 less $95 annual fee——-> BOOM! Read the newbies paragraph above and always think…taking advantage of bank marketing budgets! Available HERE, thank you!
The Capital One Venture X card offers a 75,000 point Signup Bonus after a minimum spend of $4k in the first three months. If you like simplicity and looking for one (premium) card, I highly recommend this card (and yes, I have it myself!). It has an annual fee of $395 but it comes with a VERY easy $300 statement credit for travel booked on its excellent travel portal, essentially turning it into a $95 annual fee card. But wait…there is more! On each card anniversary you earn 10,000 points essentially making it FREE! Every dollar of spend earns 2 points and flights booked on the travel portal earn 5 points per dollar. You get access to Capital One and Plaza Premium airport lounges and a Priority Pass Select lounge membership and, this is important, you can add FOUR authorized users FOR FREE who can also have their own Priority Pass Select airline lounge membership. You can transfer your Capital One points to up to 18 Transfer Partners. No foreign transaction fees. Free Hertz President’s Circle rental car top elite status. Cell phone protection and PRIMARY rental car coverage. Awesome seats at baseball stadiums for just 5k points each. And lots more. Available with my Credit Card Links, thank you for your support!
ENDING 12/5/22! Just like clockwork, the Chase Southwest cards are again up to 75k Signup Bonus! Three personal cards, Priority at $149 Annual Fee, Premier at $99k Annual Fee, Plus at $69 Annual Fee. The minimum spend is ONLY $3k in the first three months. 75k offers expire December 5! Each Southwest point is worth about 1.4 cents so DO THE MATH! Bags always fly free and the friendliest cancellation/change policies in the industry. And if you can time it right…you could earn the amazing Southwest Companion Pass for 2023 and 2024. You can read the blog posts below to learn more and you can return here and apply for them HERE, thank you!
We have higher Chase United card offers! Chase United Airlines Cards: Increased welcome offers, up to 100K. Respect blogs that DO promote the best credit card offers for their readers while hurting their own pockets. Which means run away from blogs that only write about their own inferior affiliate offers hurting their own gullible readers who are kept in the dark. Anyway, my own REFERRAL LINK has the best offers listed, except the offer 90k United Quest card, use the link in the article instead for that one.
There is a new offer which could land you 130,000 Hilton Honor points along with a few Hilton free night certificates if…you can afford to devote $15k of spend on the Hilton Business card. If you are interested, please support the blog by applying for the card HERE, thank you!
Remember, you are NOT allowed to ever carry a credit card balance if you ever get a credit card here!
Let me leave you with this…
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