Saturday, November 20, 2010

Altered Life Forms

Mrs. Roy accepted a challenge by Jo in the quilt group to take a piece of clothing from my closet and repurpose it.  This lovely (if I do say so myself) scarf was formerly known as Mrs. Roy's stretched out linen crop pants.  In fact, they had already been deposited into the "waiting to go to the Salvation Army" box.  However, by cutting the longest and widest pieces possible from the front and back of both legs and then sewing them together to make two long pieces and then sewing the two long pieces together and then adding some fringe to the already hemmed bottoms, Mrs. Roy now has a scarf. 

Mrs. Roy got tickled when I cut the pieces out and found a tag that said "dry clean only."  If Mrs. Roy had known about that little tag, these crop pants might not have gotten so stretched out and shabby looking, seeing as how they were thrown in the washer and dryer on multiple occasions.  Fifi says that just proves you can't trust those little "dry clean only" tags. 

And here's the kicker - Mrs. Roy bought these crop pants at a consignment store in the first place so they are now on their 3rd life.  Life is good.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shoebox Party 2010

Samaritan's Purse is a Christian organization that does mission work all over the world.  One of their most successful projects is Operation Christmas Child, where folks like you and Mrs. Roy take an empty shoebox and fill it with toys and clothes and toothbrushes and school supplies.  Samaritan's Purse takes those shoebox gifts and gives them to children in need all over the world, telling them that Jesus loves them and the people who packed the shoebox love them.  Mrs. Roy loves getting to be a part of that.

Several years ago, Mrs. Roy and a couple of her friends started getting together in November each year and collecting shoeboxes.  The first year we collected about 25 boxes and thought we had done great!  This year, we collected 93 shoeboxes!  We had lots of friends come join us in putting together the shoeboxes, enjoying fellowship with each other and eating Christmas cookies and punch.  What started out as a little get together at Mrs. Roy's house has grown to the point we have to use the church fellowship hall to hold everyone.  It's a glorious thing. 

If you would like to contribute to Operation Christmas Child or if you would just like to know more about the things Samaritan's Purse can do and maybe hear about some of the children who have received shoeboxes, just click here.  Or watch a video by clicking here.

Life is definitely good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Economics by Mrs. Roy

The following commentary appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel on Saturday November 6, 2010.  First of all, it shows how big a nerd Mrs. Roy is that I actually read this.  Second, Mrs. Roy has read several articles and heard commentators recently who are saying the same thing. 

Dr. Black makes a valid point – with the uncertainty in Congress re taxes, health care and other unfunded mandates on top of knowing the interest rates are articificially low, businesses don’t know what decisions to make so everyone just stays in a holding pattern.  They (the Fed) are going to have to loosen their control of the money and let the economy have free reign in order to get any long term correction.  That’s scary, of course, because it means interest rates are going to go up – good news for savers but bad news for borrowers and bad news for consumers because prices will go up again.  But it has to happen sooner or later to break this pattern we are in.  Seems no matter what happens, consumer prices go up, doesn’t it?
It’s going to get worse before it gets better no matter what.  People sure don’t want to hear that and politicians don’t want to say it.
Mrs. Roy thinks the next two things we are going to see are an end to extended unemployment funds which is going to trigger an avalanche of foreclosures, which is going to cause more squatters and is going to cripple the mortgage industry but Congress will extend the Bush tax cuts for at least a couple of years which will help small business owners - if the Fed will quit artificially manipulating the system.  Confidence by small business will lead to a creation of jobs which is going to have to happen before the economy turns around. 
Mrs. Roy just felt like going on the record about this.  Mrs. Roy hopes she and Dr. Black are wrong.  We'll see.

Dr. Harold Black: Fed policy 'startling incompetence'

Dr. Harold Black, University of Tennessee

Saturday, November 6, 2010

John Maynard Keynes, commenting on the Federal Reserve after World War I, is reported to have called it a body of "startling incompetence."

Well, the current Fed carries on that tradition. After embarking on a policy of remarkable monetary ease, the Fed seems determined to continue that policy despite no indications it has done any good. What that policy has done is to accomplish little. It has pushed short-term interest rates close to zero and has punished savers and those who depend on their savings as a source of income, such as retirees.

It has resulted in dollars being borrowed at low rates and then shifted into countries such as Brazil to earn higher returns. It has relentlessly driven down the value of the dollar.

The low rates are a result of the Fed buying short-term Treasurys to support the dramatic increase in government spending over the past four years. In buying Treasurys from the banks, the Fed has created excess reserves of more than $1 trillion. These excess reserves basically have sat on the banks' balance sheets because of low loan demand by businesses and consumers. As long as the excess reserves are not lent, then no money is created and inflation stays low.

However, when the Fed buys Treasurys directly from the U.S. Treasury - monetizing the national debt - the result is an increase in the money supply and sets the stage for an inflationary recession. At its Open Market Committee meeting last week, the Fed announced it will start buying long-term Treasury bonds directly from the Treasury. The result will be to lower long-term rates to stimulate investment spending by businesses.

The immediate result, however, will be a further drop in the value of the dollar as more dollars are created by the Fed's purchases and an increase in inflation. There is no guarantee that businesses will invest unless the uncertainty about the future is resolved - something that is up to the Obama administration and Congress. Moreover, when the government is interfering in the market, the private sector knows that rates are being actively manipulated and less risks are taken because of increased uncertainty about the future. What rational person or business will make important decisions not knowing about future taxes, costs related to health care and energy policies as well as the ever-increasing costs of regulation?

What is intriguing about the Fed's new policy of buying long-term Treasurys is that I know of no monetary economist that supports this action. Indeed, after having created much of the economic problems through monetary ease in the first place, it now only compounds the problem. The blame lies not just with Chairman Ben Bernanke but with the entire Fed. Bernanke only has one vote on the Open Market Committee along with the other Fed governors and the presidents of the New York Fed and three other reserve banks.

However, to be fair, the presidents of Fed banks in Kansas City, Mo., Dallas, Minneapolis and Philadelphia have expressed opposition, with the Kansas City president calling the new Fed policy a "bargain with the devil."

Maybe the "startling incompetence" just radiates from Washington.

Dr. Harold Black is the James F. Smith Jr. Professor of Finance at the University of Tennessee. He may be reached at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mrs. Roy Mails Empty Envelopes

Mrs. Roy hates getting junk mail.  Mrs. Roy is also not a big fan of credit card companies.  Regardless of my lack of affection, these folks continue to send junk mail to Mrs. Roy.  (Yes, I've opted out on lists again and again so don't tell me about that.)  However, Mrs. Roy has found a way to get a small amount of satisfaction, thanks to Dave Ramsey.

Years ago, Mr. Ramsey suggested that you mail these unsolicited solicitations back to their owners with a snazzy letter he had composed telling them something along the lines of they should be ashamed of themselves for charging huge interest rates and taking advantage of people.  Eventually Mr. Ramsey removed that fine letter from his publications and website but Mrs. Roy thinks a good idea is a good idea so I just keep sending the envelopes back - empty.  It costs the company 44 cents to get their junk mail back and Mrs. Roy has a smile on her face.

Life is good.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Penny Saved

Last night Mrs. Roy was walking home from church when my flashlight caught something shiny in the grass on the side of the road.  When Mrs. Roy looked closer, I saw it was a penny, so I picked it up and put it in my pocket.  Mrs. Roy's lucky day!

When Mrs. Roy was a little girl, Grandma would always say it was my lucky day if I found a penny on the ground.  It always made Grandma genuinely happy to find a penny and she expected me to be happy about it, too.  When Mrs. Roy got older, I asked Grandma what she thought was going to happen good because of the penny and she said it had already been her lucky day because she had found the penny.

Mrs. Roy has thought about that a million times over the years - the magic of the penny wasn't its monetary value; it was the smile it created when it was found.  A blessing is a blessing, no matter how small; the secret may be in recognizing it. 

Mrs. Roy hopes you will stop and pick up the pennies that come your way today and smile.  Life is good.