The Great Risk Shift: The Assault on American Jobs, Families, Health Care, and Retirement--And How You Can Fight Back by Jacob S. Hacker (2006)

A bit on the fearmongering side, sprinkled with lots of personal examples how things can go wrong with ordinary Americans, this book still points out a to be feared aspect of change in the US wage earning system, the volatility of year-to-year income continues to increase, together with the ever widening gap between the rich and poor (and the disappering "middle class"). It is not only expensive to raise kids (basically with no help from the side of the society, unless you happen to be on welfare), but it also increases the risk of declaring bankruptcy. The social safety net is also being dismantled, while Americans still do not quite understand, how self managed retirement savings work ("you are not supposed to withdraw and spend it all at the first opportunity"), so the "ownership society" is more of a pipedream ... Healtcare is also in a dire shape costwise, delivering good to excellent quality of care with ever rising costs (in particular for "risky" patients). While some personal and policy measures are proposed by the author, they do not seem to close these ever opening gaps. If of interest, you might also want to watch this lecture on the topic by Elizabeth Warren.


New Insights on Covered Call Writing: The Powerful Technique That Enhances Return and Lowers Risk in Stock Investing by by Richard Lehman, Lawrence G. McMillan (2003)

A somewhat basic treatment of covered call writing, offering a short overview of US tax implications (like writing a "deep" in-the-money call will reset the counter towards long-term holding, only LEAPS get long-term tax benefits), some "rules-of-thumb" on selecting the security, strike price, expiration and more. Studying the multi-year covered call writing results prepared by the authors for 20 large cap stocks (the data was collected from Wall Street Journal's microfiche, which demonstrates the openness of these markets well ..), the "ugly" truth rears its head. While the volatility of yearly returns decreased by 30%, the average returns were unpredictably effected, which is the consequence of the cap on maximum returns, when these calls are written. It would be hard to predict, which stocks would keep going constantly up (where writing calls is a limitation on the returns), vs. which stocks would exhibit more of a roller coaster like price change (where writing calls would add to the bottom line). Considering this, and the potential loss of preferred long-term and dividend tax rates (at least under the US tax code), writing covered calls for individual securities might not be a good idea. This is not to say, that an index or ETF based buy-write strategy or product (like BXM") offers no value, especially in a tax deferred account, where all proceeds are taxed at income rates.


On-demand book publishers

Lightning Press
Yurchak Printing

Fahrenheit 451: A Novel by Ray Bradbury (1953)

This book seems as relevant as ever, by looking at big screen TVs (although they are not taking up all four walls in the TV room yet(?)), people walking around with their ears plugged with iPods, most neighborhoods having nobody walking around, and no front porches, one wonders how far or how close we are to be required to view the world through a soap opera lens locked into a TV room ... And strangely this might not happen by government edict, but as an answer to the limited needs of the masses.