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'Occupy' movement continues to evolve

It surprised me to learn that the Occupy Wall Street movement started in Canada -- a place where well-regulated banks had no problem at all during the financial meltdown. According to the New York Times, a Canadian organization called Adbusters Media Foundation coined the "Occupy" message last summer and managed to promote the concept in its magazine as well as on the Web. Needless to say, it's a message that has gained a life of its own.

The goals of the originators are pretty clear cut and hard to argue with. They include:

Boss's generosity now pays off in the future

My daughter and I spent a long weekend in Florida visiting my 95-year-old father who was hospitalized temporarily, and I am struck by how much time and energy goes into keeping our aging parents comfortable and anxiety-free. I have the advantage of having two parents in their 90s, married for 68 years, who are living together in an assisted living facility. It gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction to realize that they have lived long enough, as one older friend put it, "to see how everything turns out."

Hard lesson may come from 'super committee'

What do we think the "super committee" might have in store for us by the time it reaches its decision on Nov. 23, a mere three weeks from now?

I'm referring to the group of 12 senators and representatives back in Washington charged with taking a bite out of the deficit. Officially, they're known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, and all I can think of is the phrase, "be careful what you wish for."

'Snap-back effect' always follows crash

It's always reassuring to experience the "snap-back effect" that takes hold after a downdraft in the stock market. At times, it can be so exhilarating and unexpected that I sometimes find myself looking forward to a short-term crash just to enjoy what I know will be the inevitable, subsequent blastoff. It's like being at Cape Canaveral.

So, looking at some numbers generated since the Oct. 3 low point, I noticed that some of my favorite fund types gained as much as 10 to 20 percent in just a 10-day period. Whew.

Pine trees encroach on solar potential

Sunset magazine did a really bad thing 50 years ago when it began a campaign to encourage Californians to plant Monterey pine trees everywhere. Those trees were easy to grow and created a lot of shade.

The oldest of them, however, are now beyond their lifespan and are falling over or dropping limbs on people. They also shade roofs that could otherwise be productively covered with solar panels. As I write, a tree service is currently clear-cutting the pine trees that encircle my house.

Occupy Wall Street protest might inspire others to take action

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

The opening lines of Charles Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities" comes to mind as I read about the exploits of Occupy Wall Street -- a growing grass-roots protest of mostly young people frustrated by the shift of power from elected representatives (where it belongs) to Wall Street.

Those of us wondering for the past three years when the torches and pitchforks would be coming out may be seeing it, finally.

A lot of money is sitting on sidelines

The big news for August is that mutual fund investors moved about $50 billion out of stock funds and added about $10 billion to bond funds. Presumably, the $40 billion difference wound up being added to the $9 trillion hoard of cash sitting on the sidelines.

What makes the cash phenomenon more stunning is the historically unprecedented large amount combined with the fact that it is earning zero. In fact, with about 2 percent inflation currently, that money is going backward. Mutual fund investors? What do they know?

Avoid coming gold bubble

If you don't have any gold in your investment portfolio, are you missing the next big thing? With gold hitting an all-time high recently of $1,917 an ounce, I was prompted to pick up my dog-eared copy of Peter Bernstein's 2000 book, "The Power of Gold." Reading a little history on a possible bubble clears the mind of any irrational exuberance.

Gold's recent price, adjusted for inflation, is still less than its 1980 peak of $850. Actually, at today's inflation-adjusted dollar, the price would have to reach $2,300 to equal the previous high.

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