The Trend is Your Friend

“The trend is your friend” is one of Wall Street’s best-known sayings, although the message is incomplete.  A more accurate version would be, “The trend is your friend, until the end, when it bends.” If you are market timing, which we do not recommend, the trick to investing is to be patient through small fluctuations … Continued

Consumers and Taxes

It is generally accepted that the U.S. economy is largely consumer driven.  It is also probably true that most Americans spend virtually all of their income.  Therefore, anything that reduces consumers’ disposable income may expose the U.S. economy to additional risks. With that in mind, investors could benefit by giving some consideration to the nature … Continued

Understanding the Social Security Trust Fund

It is generally accepted that longer life expectancies and the gradual retirement of the baby boomer generation are combining to raise questions as to the sustainability of current levels of Social Security distributions beyond 2034. The Social Security Administration collects payroll taxes and uses the money collected to pay Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits … Continued

Understanding the Big Picture

When considering a possible investment, it is important to understand the big picture as opposed to focusing on a single issue.  In general terms, business activity includes both supply and demand.  This translates into determining whether a product or service can be provided at a price that is profitable to the supplier and attractive to … Continued

A New Challenge to Dual-Class Stock Structures

CBS’s lawsuit against National Amusements, its controlling shareholder is, among other things, a challenge to dual-class stock structures. National Amusements controls almost 80% of the voting stock in CBS, but actually owns only 10%. Dual-class stock structures are already under fire from regulators, index providers and the courts. Here at Sigma, we have consistently voted … Continued

The Job Skills Gap

We are probably all familiar with the nationwide work force problem relating to the gap between prospective employee skills and employer requirements. It appears that the U.S. military is facing a similar problem.  In 2017 the Pentagon found that 70% of Americans aged 17-24 were ineligible for military service.  The interconnected issues of health and … Continued

“Silent Spring” – Update

“Silent Spring” is an environmental science book written by Rachel Carson, and published on September 27, 1962, that documented the adverse effects on the environment by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Although “Silent Spring” was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, and led to a nationwide … Continued

Is Cash Obsolete?

It is becoming increasingly evident that money is now almost entirely transferred electronically.  Recently, the deputy governor of the Norwegian central bank suggested that the level of transactions in that Scandinavian country is now so low that it can be considered cashless.  Central bank data indicates that less than 10% of the number of transactions, … Continued

A Strong Economy – More Evidence

Recently, the Army announced that it will not meet its goal of recruiting 80,000 active-duty soldiers this year, and has lowered the goal to 76,500 for 2018. The struggle to meet this year’s recruiting goal was attributed to the favorable U.S. economy, increased completion from private-sector employers and the declining quality of potential recruits. On … Continued

Look Ma, No Hands

While our title comes from the classic anecdote of a kid riding his bike without using his hands on the handle bars, it is certainly applicable to the current enthusiasm for autonomous driving systems. Investors interested in the potential for autonomous driving might want to devote some attention to the question of when rather than … Continued

Crime and Punishment

Corporate misfeasance is not a new problem.  While there are exceptions, such as Enron, the perpetrators, including employees, supervisors, senior management and directors, face little or no serious punishment.  On the other hand, shareholders nearly always take a hit. For example, Wells Fargo has engaged in a number of unacceptable practices and recently agreed to … Continued

Universal Basic Income – A Setback?

We have previously commented on proposals by economists and political scientists that would substitute universal income polices as credible alternatives to existing social programs such as unemployment insurance.  (see blogs dated 2015-12-17 and 2016-11-22) The idea is straight forward:  Provide citizens with a minimum allowance, without means-testing, that would give everyone the wherewithal to live … Continued