Posted by: philipfontana | March 24, 2012


The Numbers:

Blog Statistics


Local Banks


Federal Reserve Building, Washington, DC

     Excuse us for living, but the statistics, or “the stats,” on this blog are doing better than the interest at the banks! Both my wife, Geri, and I have had a marvelous experience with this blog thus far. It has kept us busier than we anticipated just posting once a week. And the interactions with you the readers from comments on the posts, that you can read as well, to e-mails and telephone calls have been so nice. –Just so upbeat, positive, and encouraging. I have learned a lot already from this experience. The “stats” provided by the online service, WordPress, are a hoot in themselves: 1,270+ “hits” so far with only 9 posts. And the last one, the 1stPastaPost, was the most popular with 161 visits to Excuse Us…in the first few days of the week. (And that includes 25 from the UK, 3 from Hungary, and 1 from the Czech Republic! Who are you?) Maybe the previous post, “The Story of Friday Night,” helped as a precursor teaser with, “look for future PastaPosts.” Or, more likely, pasta recipes are just popular! Anyway, while we were not totally surprised by the popular reaction, we still were amazed! Pasta reigns! Politics and news wane! It tells us something about ourselves, our society, and maybe about the “silly season” of primary politics, our improving but dragging economy, and the sad state of world affairs. Pasta! Lord, help us! –There will be a 2ndPastaPost sooner than later! Thanks for the good numbers!

We are all too familiar with the not so good numbers at the banks with .2% on savings accounts these days, years! Maybe with a required minimum deposit and balance you have seen a special checking account sink to .6% and a money market account sink to .7%. We will forgo discussion of those “come-on” 3-4% checking accounts with all sorts of monthly required transactions.

Well, here’s an “excuse us for living” story, if I ever saw one. It appeared in The New York Times, Sunday, March 4. “0.2% Interest? You Bet We’ll Complain,” was the title of this news column/analysis by Gretchen Morgenson. I started cheering, “It’s about time somebody spoke up for us in the news!”

Morgenson said at issue was the Federal Reserve driving down interest rates to “almost zero,” actually .25%, “to shore up big banks and an economy that those banks helped drive off the cliff” in the first place! But then she stokes the fire for us by saying, “Stop your bellyaching,” to Americans making almost nothing on our savings accounts. She doesn’t stop there but adds tongue-and-cheek, facetiously, “So suck it up, America: If it’s good for the financial system, it’s good for you.” At this point, she had me hot under the collar!


Sarah Bloom Raskin, one of the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

     Then Morgenson explained the motivation for her ire. She went on to report on a speech by one of the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Her name is Sarah Bloom Raskin and she gave a speech in Westport, Connecticut, the week prior, Thursday, March 1.

Raskin started off her speech playing down the effect of the Fed’s low interest rates on our savings accounts, CDs, savings bonds, etc. She then irresponsibly stated that this money is only “7% of household assets,” whatever she meant by that. “Instead,” she continued, “the bulk of household wealth is held in stocks, retirement accounts, business equity and real estate.” At this point I was thinking, who is she talking about, and “What’s in her Koolaide?” Then she went on to scold us that rates of return on these assets depend on the strength and growth of the economy. And then, to add insult to injury –and I think this more than anything caused Gretchen Morgenson to write this column—Raskin, member of the Federal Reserve, claimed that we all benefit from low interest rates when we finance cars and other goods and refinance our mortgages. –And the final clincher, thus, “freeing up income for other uses.” –Truly a “holy cow” moment!

She must be delusional! That can’t be all of the 99% we hear so much about that she was talking to. The Fed better pull their own member from the talk circuit! You can bank on that! –Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Excuse us for living, but the blog stats beat the interest rates at the local banks any day soon.

Comments? Please!



  1. AHH Gumba Phil.
    Enjoyed the post about Pasta night. Magnificent. Now, I know we had this talk a few years ago. Equities and fixed, or variable rate instruments of investment. The only sure thing in life is, Death and Taxes. Some may soon dare to utter the R word. Revolution. Financing the national debt and paying a higher yield is a tough paradigm. Diversity, now that is the spice of anxiousness. The Feds are an arrogant bunch. With some strange perspectives. Let them eat Pasta, instead of cake. No that is a novel idea. Phil I think we are in for some challenging times. But, what else is new? Thank you for the blog. It is great food for thought. Enjoy the weekend, back to chillier temps. God Bless.

    • Pacheek! My savior commenting! i.e., the first person on this post. You’re right that we have been watching/discussing the variable vs. fixed approach for years now. Obviously this lady from the Fed thinks all middle America is in the market. But while the Fed rate will eventually rise & with it simple interest on bank accounts, etc., this may be the new normal for the foreseeable future….slow but sure economic growth & modest returns on fixed investments. So, I now have a folder labelled, “If The Economy Remains In The Shitter.” –No joke! In it I outline various new Plan Bs for our little retirement yearly fund for travel & “fun.” Pasta talk is more fun! Thanks for your kind words! Phil

  2. —-Raskin, member of the Federal Reserve, claimed that we all benefit from low interest rates ——-

    That comment is insane! as you said phil-what is she drinking(or smoking?)…oye…

    So glad that the Pasta comments recived high ratings…Jim claims he is going to make your recipe. We shall see….

    You and Gerri take care…

    • Margaret, Wasn’t that lady something?! As retirees, that little more interest would really help. It adds up. Oh, tell Jim to cook up that clam sauce because there’s another really great pasta recipe coming soon. This next one is more delicate & all our own idea. We love it! Be well you two. Easter coming! Phil

  3. Hi Phil. Your posts keep me smilin’ and my mouth waterin’. I just made my grocery list and look forward to this authentic ‘pasta & clam sauce Fontana.’ Thanx to you and Geri!

    In this post you’ve (so articulately) put into words the incredulousness and frustration of those of us who cannot fathom who these people running our financial system and behind the fed desks. They’re representing US? Really?

    If I may share something given to me by my very vital 96 year-old aunt and subsequently shared with me on how to fix the economy.

    There are about 40 mil people over 50 in the work force.
    Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement…with the following stipulations:

    1. They must retire. Result…40 mil job openings. Unemployment fixed.
    2. They must buy an American car. 40 mil cars ordered. Auto industry fixed.
    3. They must either buy a house or pay off their mortgage. Housing crisis fixed.
    4. Require all members of Congress to pay their taxes. No exceptions.
    5. Require Congress to retire on social security and medicare.

    It can’t get easier than that.
    Love you guys! 🙂

    • SANDRA!!!!! Off the charts WONDERFUL!!!! You put a smile on MY face with your reply! So great to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words & encouragement. Yes, try that clam sauce! And, since we got such a huge response with that one, next week will be the 2nd PastaPost…You’re the first to know assuming no one reads this!
      Agreed about the Fed. And, the more I learn about our government & the Treasury Department & the Congress being in bed with Wall Street, the situation for us common folk is hopeless. The Occupy Wall Street movement should please the powers that be rather than the revolution they deserve. Really, it’s amazing we have not had more violence.
      And your dear 96 year old Aunt is right on. Those ideas/words come from a great Forward from over the last year or so. And it really makes a lot of sense. Sometimes great ideas are really simple ones.
      Thanks again for the comment & our love back to you so fondly.
      Phil & Geri too!

  4. Banking is like pasta sauce… its all about the quantity of the clams…

    • John, Quite a good analogy! Bravo! I missed that opportunity, i.e., the interest at the banks is inversely proportional to the measure of the clams in the recipe! Or something foolishly silly like that! I like your line much better! Good one!!! Phil

  5. How come the little guy always has to tolerate it because it’s good for America?

    • Russel, EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wall Street got bailed out, auto industry got balled out, banks got bailed out, insurance companies got bailed out AND the US Treasury got bailed out with lower interest rates out of the hide of the poor & middle class low interest rates!!! And that’s NOT good for America in the long run!!!!!!!!!!!!! Phil

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