Monday assorted links


3. When none comment here , is it a good thing ? Plural?
None of the veterans has the first comment . Singular?

"Which Cars Have the Highest Maintenance Costs?" was a better headline. Cowen's paraphrase of it has 50% more syllables and introduces a note of ambiguity.

1. I think I had a good sense of a lot of this just from browsing used cars on craigslist. You see a lot of cheap sebrings with relatively low miles.

That's due more to being dumped into rental fleets than anything else.

So is a former rental car a bad bet? My dad always said so, reasoning that people beat the shit out of them when they rent them. Having rented cars, I agree, so I've stuck with his warning. But on the other hand, routine maintenance is probably performed at the proper intervals in most rental fleets, whereas Jimmy and grandma may not have been so careful.

The advantage of rental cars in terms of maintenance is they often have less content. More content means more things that can go wrong. For example, off-rental minivans lacked electronic sliding doors until recently. Those sliding doors are the biggest source of problems on a minivan. That's starting to change as they are contented for the resale market.

Do most people beat up rental cars? I tend to drive them really carefully, because I'm not familiar with them, I'm often in an unfamiliar location, and I'm afraid of getting charged a lot if I get a scratch on it.

Same here. We bought a rental car that had shockingly low mileage - like 8,000 in two years - and have had a great experience. Unfortunately what has gone bad are all the small motors Ted Craig references - the window motors, the seat adjustment motors. I would be very happy not to have any of that crap.

1. BMW and Mercedes-Benz: Hitler's revenge.

Whoa, when did rayward discover brevity?

Ya, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are great vehicles if you can afford them... but the routine maintenance & parts costs are extreme. Simple oil change at the Mercedes Dealership is $130 ($180 if you want the dashboard oil-change-monitor reset too).

Maintainability is not a top concern for BMW/MB automotive engineers. Apparently highly skilled/paid mechanics with lots of time... are the official solution to the overly complex components, in hard to access locations, and often requiring special tools & techniques.

Why on earth would you let someone else perform your oil change? High probability of it being overpriced and not done correctly. Changing your own oil is $50 and 1/2 hour tops, even on our 325i.

Really? Mercedes charges an extra $50 just to reset the oil change monitor? Citation needed.

1. So we must update the old rule of thumb (Japan > US > Germany) with a new one (Japan > Korea > US > Germany). I'm impressed that Toyota brands are all so consistently good. Now if only they hadn't set out to make the most boring car in the history of the universe in the Camry. It makes Altimas and Accords look like McLarens.

I have (in the present tense) a 2000 Chevrolet Prizm, which is essentially (if not actually) a Corolla. It is by far the most dependable car I have ever owned. All of its problems have been rust-related, which is pretty much unavoidable in western NY. The only thing that makes it the least bit interesting is its rust and body damage, and perhaps its bumper stickers.

But damn, I am strongly considering a Camry or Corolla as the next family car. As boring as they are.

But avoid holding onto a Toyota hybrid car beyond its hybrid battery warranty period. If you do, and the hybrid battery dies, it can easily cost more than the value of the car to replace the battery. So your car will become worthless overnight.

Prius batteries don't die overnight. They gradually hold less and less charge which means that the car gets overall worse and worse gas millage. You can get pretty far into that process before the car as a whole becomes worthless.

I dispute whether this article is measuring lemonicity. It's using cost of maintenance as a yardstick, and the cost of car parts is a big part of that. Mercedes and BMW have awfully expensive car parts. Volkswagen and the U.S. mid-range. Japan and Korea are low.

Well, my BMW 530xi is ten years old with 140,000 miles on it. In that time, other than oil changes, I have

- replaced one set of tires (it's on its third set of tires in total)
- one set of brakes
- front end set
- one air conditioner that blew up and took the serpentine belt with in (that was pricey)
- trunk lock

Total cost: about $5500. I bought the car for $28,000 used with 44k miles. Best investment I ever made.

But don't have it serviced at a BMW dealership.

Cool story bro?

Is that a question or a statement?

I am told there are two kinds of BMWs, those which are constantly in the shop and those which don't need a thing. Mine's the latter, at least to date.

I expected to keep the car to around 100k miles, but my service guy said it should be good to 200k. So far it's held up. Really drives well. I will almost certainly buy another certified pre-owned (or possibly 'used') 5 series BMW again. Wouldn't buy it new, though. Too pricey.

Steven, before he gets any more cruel on you, I'll explain that "Cool story bro" is meant to indicate that you've shared something that, while perhaps personally very exciting, means nothing to anybody else. The question mark was more for tone. And I will admit I laughed heartily.

But Kopits was on point, while Cliff was trolling.

Kopits was relating an anecdote. Which statistically means very little. There are probably thousands of BMW owners with relatively low maintenance fees, it doesn't mean the statistical data isn't valid. It just means he was lucky.

There was an element of that old joke to the anecdote as well:

Q: How can you tell if a guy drives a BMW?
A: Don't worry; he'll tell you.

Cliff is right here even though he has a small dick

His dick may be small, but he makes your Mom scream like a banshee with it.

Of course, lots of people do that so maybe she's just easy to please.

Did I mention my daughter's going to Harvard?

As for the BMW, I'm not sure they'll tell you they drive a ten year old BMW for which they paid less than a Toyota Camry. I was really pleasantly surprised. I'd never bought a used car before and I didn't expect to get much more than 100k miles out of it. And at 140k miles, it's still going strong. It doesn't squeak or rattle, handles great, the interior is still terrific and the paint is still resilient. It's an excellent vehicle, and if it continues to hold up, I am in no hurry to trade it in.

And I can tell you my next car: a three year old BMW 535i with 36-44k miles at a cost of $33-35k. I can't speak statistically, but if anyone I asked whether I recommend buying a used 5 series, based on my experience, hands down, yes

You are a font of cool stories, bro.

Honestly I have trouble taking your financial analysis seriously if you are that ignorant of statistics

3. If a word in a sentence seems awkward (i.e., it doesn't communicate clearly), then rewrite the sentence; don't have an endless debate about whether none is singular, plural, masculine, or feminine. Subject-pronoun agreement has become something more than a question of grammar; it's become part of the gender wars. The rule is that if the subject is singular, the correct pronoun is singular masculine (he or his), which sends some feminists into a rage, causing them to mismatch the singular subject with the plural "their" even though it makes the sentence nonsense. Of course, she could simply rewrite the sentence (with a plural subject), but he won't. It does seem that sex is the source of all conflict.

5 - good question. Maybe because the productivity slump isn't real, it's just a measurement artefact? Of course if there really is a productivity slump, incumbents advantages become greater. How can you have disruption like the replacement of industries without new productivity enhancing technologies?

Anyhow I was surprised to see this statement "Bond yields have, of course, been falling continuously for many years, partly because of quantitative easing by the central banks". Surely that should be despite some small quantitive easing by the CBs? How can inflation in the monetary base lower bond prices? NGDP growth is very low compared to recent history because of the propensity of central banks to target low inflation. Remember the Fed just hiking interest rates even though inflation is below it's target?

Can't read behind paywall, but I'd say stocks don't fall because there's nowhere else for big money to go. Bond yields are at rock bottom or negative, commodities too risky or (for gold) too crazy, so money goes into stocks and real estate segregation.

Yes its interest rates supporting stock prices. Maybe that means productivity growth has hit stock prices and caused them to be higher. Lower productivity growth has lower interest rates. So then the discounting of cash flows is at a much lower rate. Stocks still look really cheap to me compared to the bond mkt. You can't compare historical p/e's to current environment. Bonds were 20% in the 1980's now their 2.4%.

While low interest rates push stocks up, stocks still need to show earnings. The article makes the point that these are bound to decline in the future due to the low productivity growth. I think it's a reasonable argument.

It should be real. There are those that point to a measurement problem claiming GDP growth does not capture recent innovations in well being/convenience (say Twitter/Facebook) but this was also true in the past. Significant innovations such as indoor plumbing were not captured in GDP for example

Are you sure about that? Indoor plumbing involves stuff that gets paid for and counted in GDP: toilets, pipes, bathrooms, plumbers. The problem with internet services is so much of the value is free to the user. All you pay for is the phone and the internet service.

It counts some but does not count all the hours fetching water, heating water to take a bath, or visiting the outhouse ( contributing to ground water contamination) or the reduced mortality due to the enhanced hygiene. Facebook is monetized through ads, Twitter through the promoted tweets you look at. My point is not that they are fully accounted in GDP but rather than this issue existed more or less for all past innovations. Was the discovery of penicillin or the polio vaccine fully accounted in GDP for example ?

well it is somewhat accounted for since the individuals whose lives are saved by penicillin can be productive in later years (instead of being dead)

#4. I never thought I would see a bus make a wake.

I don't understand why Tyler put a question mark after the first link.

He probably wanted people to be interested and click on it instead of bored and skip over it. Also it is not a complete sentence with other punctuation.

Tyler puts a question mark at the end of a link to indicate he's not entirely sure about the piece he links to.

because it is crap?

That's the thing, it's not crap. In fact, it's far more accurate than some of the stuff he links to without the disclaimer.

It is tremendous crap, and we have no idea what the data set is.

Many many indicators of problems, but when you try to identify cars by models you get into trouble.

A 2006 BMW 328 vs a 2016 328 (to take the high cost example) is not the same car. Not even close. Things that will fail in the 2006 don't in the 2016. Defining it that way never helps.

Not even to mention the problems of defining "Maintanace" vs "Repair."

Is a broken radiator maintanance ? shocks? Springs? the little rubber gaskets on your suspension?

Wait, a list of cars which doesn't include Porsche? Such a sad list, because with parts that wear out after a few thousand miles of use (brake pads capable of slowing a car going 150 mph before entering a curve reliably are neither cheap nor long lived), a well maintained Porsche puts all the other models in the shade. (Yes, I'm ignoring comparable, but considerably less mass market, Ferrari models.)

Though admittedly, most American Porsche owners are unlikely to drive such vehicles the way they are designed to be driven.

"First, we looked at which major brands cost the most to maintain over the first 10 years of a car’s life."

Sales of fewer than 50,000 units per year isn't really a major brand.

I should clarify because prior_whatever will jump all over this that that number is U.S. sales. But the article was limited to the U.S. market.

Porsches occupy a strange segment, to be honest. Too mass market to be exotic like a Ferrari, too small to be considered a major manufacturer.

Oops - I wasn't supposed to say that, was I?

Well you'll be happy to notice that they didn't leave Volkswagen off the list. By the way, how are those various lawsuits for massive fraud going? It's surely an unfortunate turn of events for a company that is the epitome of German manufacturing. Of course they brought it on themselves.

Interestingly, as GM has now joined in the massive diesel fraud circuit.

Wait, you haven't heard about that? It was front page news here just last week -

Every couple of decades, the auto industry attempts the same basic trick, gets caught, then does it again.

Sorry, but this is worth highlighting for sheer amusement value - 'It’s surely an unfortunate turn of events for a company that is the epitome of German manufacturing. '

Nobody, and I mean nobody, in Germany considers VW the epitome of German manufacturing.

You're like a walking, talking "no true scotsman"

Let me repeat the joke told by a Mercedes manager that lives across the street, when referring to VW's (ongoing) attempt to break into the German luxury market with the Phaeton ( 'The Phaeton was conceived by Ferdinand Piëch, then chairman of Volkswagen Group. Piëch wanted Volkswagen engineers to create a car that would surpass the German prestige market leaders, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The decision to release the Phaeton was, in part, a response to Mercedes' decision to compete directly with Volkswagen in the European marketplace with the low-cost A-Class. It was also intended to support the Volkswagen brand image. Although the Volkswagen group already has a direct competitor in the full-sized luxury segment, the Audi A8, the Phaeton was intended to be more of a comfort-oriented limousine like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS, while the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series are more sport-oriented.' )

'It's a VW - you know, a Volkswagen, the name tells you everything you need to know.'

In part, he was referring to the reality that VW is a mass market manufacturer, as the name directly says. In greater part, he was simply trusting anyone hearing the joke to have sat in a VW at some point in their life.

Even VW does not consider a VW to be the epitome of German manufacturing, which is one of the reasons that VW finally acquired Porsche instead of continuing the long running, not quite formal, and essentially family based relationship between the two companies.

4. It's the entire Guangdong Province, of which Shenzhen is the largest city, that is prosperous. I'd say that it's no coincidence that it is close to Hong Kong and a long way from Beijing. As we enter the new phase of globalization (actual globalization as opposed to virtual globalization), Guangdong Province will be the location of our toughest competitors. Are we prepared? Several elite American colleges already have a presence in Guangdong Province, and many Chinese students attending school in America are from Guangdong Province. I had lunch last weekend with the mayor of one of the Province's largest cities, whose son is attending school in America. We have lots in common with these people. This exchange of knowledge and culture can be the source for a highly profitable partnership between our two countries. That's the optimist in me. On the other hand, well, I'm not that optimistic.

It is a very old saying throughout China that "The mountains are high, and the emperor is far away."

Wired mag interviewed various oversea companies on why they set up design centers in Shenzhen.

I was hoping they would talk about how they operate under the "gonkai'" framework rather than the traditional patent and copyright models. No such luck.

#2...I have to admit that I didn't see this coming. I've been a loyal reader of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the last eight years, agreeing with him almost all of the time. He was one of the first people to warn in Jan. of 09 of the threat of nationalism should this economic downturn get worse and continue for years ( as was Martin Wolf ). Back then, I often commented on his blog ( and Wolf's as well ). They both even mentioned Greece in particular in those days, as I recall.

So, being against Brexit ( and I'm not someone who can vote ), I expected Evans-Pritchard to be against it. Instead, as you can read, he's for it. After mulling over the post for a bit, I am, at least for now, changing my mind. I would be voting yes on Brexit if I had a vote. Read for yourself.

But the AEP article was weak. Essentially he's arguing that the Euro parliament has too much power via human rights abuses and that for England the EU central bank should have done more via monetary policy.

So two priors by AEP need examining:

1) The rights of war lords, drug dealers, and merchants of death in Africa and the Balkans is more important that the City of London, which butters its bread with EU integration, and,

2) Money is not neutral, and what the EU central bank does affects British unemployment, which is doubtful (Bernanke et al in his 2002 FAVAR paper shows central banks have a 3.2% - 13.2% effect out of 100% via policy shocks--hence money is largely neutral short term and long term).

Color me skeptical of Evans-Pritchard's arguments. I think essentially the Leave vote is nationalism, a 19th century construct (Google "Romantic Movement"), rather than logic.

Nationalism is only a threat two the cross-national society of twits, who are loyal to each other and despise their domestic working classes.

too philosophical and too melancholy

life is at the margins, we are @, the margins . . .

For the last six quarters unit labor costs has been rising faster than the nonfarm business deflator.

This negative spread is a major determinate of profits growth and for profits growth to turn positive firms will need to achieve some combination of stronger productivity, lower compensation growth and/or strong inflation.

Yet, I see wall street forecasting positive EPS growth-- as they have be been for the past year-- without any analysis of how firms will achieve this task.

The EU is a political ideology; there is no such country called "Europe" It will disband just like the Soviet Union disbanded. These countries don't have the same culture, the same work ethic, the same tax systems, the same approach to redistribution and welfare. Nothing wrong with Nationalism, nothing wrong with a state wanting to be sovereign and looking out for its citizens, instead of looking out for economic migrants or bailing out lazy insolvent countries that use Germany as a piggy bank and then complain when the piggy bank is empty.
Globalization can be achieved through trade agreements . The only argument to stay in the EU seems to be like for a bad relationship, divorce is painful.

nothing wrong with a state wanting to be sovereign and looking out for its citizens,

By saying this you are causing TC to brand you as a "neo-reactionary".

2. Magna Carta? For goodness' sake, this legal work of romantic fiction does not need to be re-imported from the United States back into its home country.

In the Evans-Pritchard world, if all Europe does not fund Spain or Italy in debt markets under their unilateral say-so, it's an economic war crime. Some democracy he endorses.

The bet fair odds seem to not be moving much from the recent polling showing a majority now wanting an exit. This has been the case for two weeks now.

Not discussed much outside of London is the possible strategic Scottish nationalistic case for an exit, which would trigger another referendum. This could tip the balance in favour of an exit.

The none thing harkens back to the prescriptivism debate about grammar, but I was always taught none is functionally "not one" so you would treat it as though those were the words in the sentence. Which would imply "is" not "are." For whatever that is worth.

I believe it is also etymologically "not one." Singular.

2, and, 3, excellent (2, caveat ambrose, didn't read the others)

1) What's the weak link for most of these? I can deal with windows that don't roll down but once the transmission dies it's usually more cost effective to get another car. Typical cost IME is $3k, usually far more than the value of the car at the time. The only time I've bothered to replace one was on a 2001 Civic which has notoriously bad automatic tranny's, really one of the only blemishes in Honda history. I could find a reasonable junk yard tranny (better rated year, they fixed the problem) and a local mechanic willing to put it in for me for less than a thousand dollars all together. The rest of the car is rock solid Honda and will likely go for a couple hundred thousand more miles. My alternatives were to get a re-certified transmission put in costing $3000, another used one for roughly that amount as well or a new car for the wife which would end up costing much much more.

Now that I've had more experience with cars built in this century I've been really impressed with their quality compared to older cars. Too bad millennials don't drive, there has been no better time to purchase a new vehicle than today considering minimal interest rates and top notch quality all around.

I'm still buying a tricked out late 70s lincoln continental when I win the lottery though.

tad depressing, introductory sentence there chap; work on that s, test on tuesday . . .

dear lil', f n, p's of ess's, we r here 4u . . .


In general, the word "none" can mean "not one", or it can mean "not any". In the former case, it is usually taken as singular, and in the latter taken as plural. There are exceptions, however. Mass nouns in the latter case will often change the verb to singular again- for example "none of the forest is logged".

If English is your native language, it is likely that you can simply try both and pick which sounds most pleasing to your ear. That is what I usually end up doing.

This was meant as a reply to prognostication above.

you can't purchase some songs, or tine & place, . . .

now you understand, just how much, of a bad ass i can b :)

liten up, pink flamingos, . . .

lil', p p f's, i do not know y, i talk 2u . . . .

u, stupid lilttle, p p f's, suck it up and appreciate a song . . .

kate bush discography post

life was good in pastoral land, a did, jefforson appreciated . .

5 - Equities serve as a monetary substitute that absorbs the cash bid from the enormous money-printing activities of the world's central banks. Same for high-end real-estate, art, antiques and, increasingly, gold, Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Of course, in the end things will not work out at all well for the ~15% PA creation of new currency units we've seen since 2009.

whining . . . , compare to any groveling savages of yesterday

lil puppies, we talk 2u, from time2time . . .

hear the tweety-bird, sing, sing, sing

life, as it is, circa, ba babah

that's a big buck, talking 2u, real life s . . .

lil, f o faces, we talk 2u sometimes . . .

hey stupid eff''s, i m talking . . .

u wish, u could, b me . . .

it is ok, lil poopies . . , i m still playing songs . . .

Funny how Audi=Volkswagen yet are rated so differently.

I like to buy 15 year old luxury cars for pennies on the dollar (three to eight percent of cost new) and set about fixing them with readily-available parts from donor cars junked because they were too costly to fix.

Camry's are purchased by people who buy their hamburgers from McDonalds.

I would way rather drive my Audi or the Porsche, but if I absolutely cannot risk not getting where I need to be I take the Camry.

I love what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and
coverage! Keep up the superb works guys I've included you guys to my blogroll.

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