I don’t have very much in common with President Biden. He’s a career politician, a Democrat and someone who holds many political and philosophic ideas that I stridently disagree with. He’s also a man who has many, shall we say, “backward” ideas on how to live.
Perhaps the best example of these ideas was illustrated way back in 2008, in an article I wrote about my five-hour plane ride with then Senator Biden, “We All Scream for Ice Cream: A Joe Biden Tale.” If you haven’t yet read this article, let me give you the Cliff Notes version: He ate his meal in reverse order.
This behavior revealed what I concluded to be a type of reverse-thinking pathology of the sort that leads to bizarre and backward ideas, the latest of which being the proposals found in so-called “Bidenomics.” This is the economic playbook that consists of bigger and bigger government subsidies and spending, and more rules and regulations as a panacea for growing the economy from “the middle out and the bottom up — not the top down.”
Now, as a free-market advocate and a radical for laissez-faire capitalism, you likely know what I think about these ideas. So, the president and I certainly don’t share this key philosophic view.
So, what do I share with Joe Biden?
Last week, the White House confirmed that President Biden had recently begun using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea. The admission came largely in response to the visible indentations caused by the CPAP straps that were seen on both sides of the president’s face last Wednesday morning.
If you don’t know, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is a device that uses mild air pressure to keep breathing airways open while you sleep. It is the primary treatment option for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, forcing a person to essentially wake up constantly during the night, therefore depriving him/her of entering the various necessary sleep stages. It’s also a condition that an estimated 30 million people in the United States have, a number that I suspect is way too low.
I say that, because last year, I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, a condition I suspect I had been suffering from for many years without even beware aware of it. And here, you see, is what I share with Joe Biden — we both have sleep apnea, and we both use a CPAP to help us deal with this subversive health condition.
Your editor wearing his “nasal pillow” CPAP machine.
Like the president, I experienced some facial indentations when I first began using my full-face CPAP. However, when I switched to what is called a “nasal pillow” device, the facial indentations disappeared.
Now, the reason I am writing about this medical condition I share with President Biden is because sleep apnea is a very serious problem that, left untreated, can result in a host of serious health complications. For example, multiple studies have shown an association between sleep apnea and problems such as type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and even a shortened lifespan.
I don’t know about you, but I love my life, and I want it to continue for many years to come. I also want that life to be as free of disease as possible, and as healthy as possible. And considering that more and more research has revealed that quality sleep is a critical component of optimal health, a kind of health superpower, if you will, it only makes sense to get the best quality sleep you can.
Finally, I want you to seriously consider this vital health issue, because you may suffer from sleep apnea and not even realize it. If you, or most likely your partner, notice that you snore heavily, or if you feel sluggish in the morning, have unexplained fatigue and mood swings or if you have dry mouth and/or headaches when you awaken, you may have sleep apnea.
To begin the process of treating this condition, I recommend seeing your doctor and having them refer you to a sleep specialist for an overnight sleep study. This is when you go to a sleep facility, where they place sensors on your head and body that monitor your sleep and calculate your “apnea events” during the night.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), sleep apnea and the number of apnea events are categorized into mild (five-15 events/hour), moderate (15-30 events/hour), and severe (>30 events/hour). When I did my sleep study, I was off the charts at 66 events per hour. That means more than once per minute I was waking up and gasping for breath!
Thankfully, this situation is now under control. In fact, my CPAP monitor actually tells me how many apnea events I experience per hour. Last night, it was 0.0 events. So, from 66 events to zero — that is what you call deep sleep progress.
So, if you have any suspicion at all that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, I strongly urge you to find out if you share what the president and I share — a condition you should by no means feel embarrassed by, one that can be treated by medical technology and one that can help you live a healthier life.
Ok, now call your doctor.
ETF Talk: Smaller is Better with This Small-Cap ETF
In life, bigger isn’t always better. A large side of fries always seems like a good idea until your stomach later rebels for indulging in an oversized portion.
Sometimes, smaller is better than bigger, and in the realm of investing, this holds true with small-cap stocks. Investors have found that there are several advantages for investing in small-cap stocks, including high growth potential and better long-term returns compared to large-cap stocks.
With so many small-cap stocks to choose from, however, it may be hard to decide where and how to crack into the small-cap-investing scene. To this end, many prefer to enter the market through small-cap focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs), giving them a diverse and more generalized starting point for entering this sector of the market.
One such ETF is the iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF (IJR), founded in 2000 as part of BlackRock’s Core ETFs. IJR is often used as a portfolio building block, since the fund tracks the S&P SmallCap 600 Index, a collection of 600 stocks selected by the S&P to represent roughly 3% of the publicly available market.
IJR’s holdings avoid most of the illiquid small-cap names, factoring into its overall strong liquidity. It has $66.40 billion assets under management, a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 14.61 and a distribution yield of 1.61%.
In addition, 100% of IJR’s holdings are U.S. stocks. Otherwise, the fund offers a diverse portfolio. Plus, 22.78% of its holdings are in the finance sector, and IJR has a significant stake in manufacturing and consumer goods and services.
Another large part of the fund’s holdings is in various technology sectors, such as electronic technologies (9.39%), health technologies (6.91%) and technology services (6.62%). Top current holdings include SPS Commerce, Inc. (SPSC), Rambus Inc. (RMBS), Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (FIX), Axcelis Technologies, Inc (ACLS) and e.l.f. Beauty, Inc. (ELF).
Courtesy of stockcharts.com
As you can see from the chart above, IJR is currently trading above its 50- and 200-day moving averages. As of July 3, the fund is up 2.51% in the past week, 3.68% in the last month, 6.07% in the past three months, 6.71% year to date (YTD) and 9.29% in the last year. IJR has a modest expense ratio of just 0.06%.
While the stocks within this fund may be “small,” the decision to invest in them is anything but minor. Remember to consider your personal financial situation and goals before making any investment. Investors are always encouraged to do their due diligence before adding any stock or ETF to their portfolios.
I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You may just see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.
In case you missed it…
Freedom’s Just the ONLY Word
The great Kris Kristofferson has written many classic songs, including the iconic road-trip anthem, “Me and Bobby McGee,” a song made famous by the sultry and gravelly voice of Janis Joplin. The most memorable lyric in the song is the following, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”
As beautiful a lyric as that is, I must disagree with the sentiment. To me, freedom isn’t just another word for anything. And it’s most definitely NOT just another word for nothing left to lose. So, if I may be so seditious to the music gods, I will offer my alteration of this lyric based on what freedom really means:
“Freedom’s just the ONLY word we can’t afford to lose.”
Now, given my penchant for freedom and what it means to me, I only wish there was an annual gathering of free minds that I could interact with over the course of several days that could supply me with the spiritual fuel and arm me with the intellectual ammunition I need to battle the anti-freedom forces all around us.
Oh, wait, there is such a gathering?
I jest, of course, because long-time readers know that I am referring here to FreedomFest, the world’s largest gathering of free minds. This year’s event is just one week away, and the theme is “The Soul of Liberty,” a theme that I really love. The reason why is that my conception of “soul” is one that exists free of coercion, free of servitude and one imbued with libertarian freewill.
As the brilliant novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand wrote in “Atlas Shrugged,” “As man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul.” Indeed, I think we are beings of self-made soul, but in order for that soul to prosper, we require the freedom to choose. Yet as Ronald Reagan once warned, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Now, while freedom is a beautiful concept, it’s also one under constant assault.
Anti-freedom, authoritarian forces on both extremes of the political and philosophic spectrum actually abhor the notion of liberty, as free minds thinking for themselves are viewed as a threat to their ability to impose control. And guess what, they are right.
Free-thinking humans are always a threat to wannabe demagogues, would-be dictators, authoritarians, nationalist movements or any other stripe of collectivism intent on telling you that they know what’s in your best interest and how you should live better than you do.
I reject this concept, and I do so by assuming the responsibility of thinking for myself. And, knowing that I have the responsibility of thinking for myself is why I love FreedomFest.
You see, in order to come to rational decisions about the world, one must be exposed to the best ideas. Moreover, one must also be exposed to ideas that one may disagree with, because it is only through carefully weighing opposing views that you can truly understand and properly defend your own views. And at FreedomFest, there are many opposing views presented, which is one of the reasons why I love it.
For example, one of the featured speakers last year was businessman and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Now, I wouldn’t vote for Andrew Yang, as we have very different views on politics and the role government should play in our lives.
Your editor exchanges ideas over libations with Andrew Yang at FreedomFest 2022.
Yang wants to provide everyone with a “universal basic income,” and I want to provide everyone with “universal basic reason.” Still, Yang was offered a platform at FreedomFest to talk about his new project, the Forward Party. Here is an area of agreement I do share with Yang, as the new party’s motto is “Not Left. Not Right. Forward.”
This year’s keynote speaker at FreedomFest is a man who my friend, colleague and FreedomFest founder Mark Skousen calls, “the man who has restored his faith in America.”
That man is Mike Rowe, executive producer of such TV series as “Dirty Jobs,” “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” “How America Works” and “The Story Behind the Story.” Mike also is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Way I Heard It,” and he’s also a podcaster extraordinaire.
One reason why both Mark and I really like Mike Rowe is that he brings Americans together. Here’s a man who can comfortably talk with Chris Cuomo on NewsNation (and CNN before that) and Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Now, how rare is that!
I’m really looking forward to hearing Mike’s message about how he is making a difference in reinvigorating America’s work ethic through his mikeroweWORKS Foundation. I’m also looking forward to sampling some of Mike’s Knobel Tennessee Whiskey, as his sample offerings will no doubt result in one of the most popular booths at the Memphis bash.
Of course, Mike Rowe is only one of the many fantastic speakers already inked for FreedomFest. The lineup also includes Steve Forbes, John Fund (National Review), Steve Moore (Heritage Foundation), Tulsi Gabbard (a former Democratic congresswoman), Michael Shermer (Skeptic magazine), Enes “Freedom” Kanter (a former NBA basketball player), David Boaz (Cato Institute), Bryan Kaplan (GMU), Douglas Brinkley (“America’s Historian”), Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform), Art Laffer (famed economist), Richard Epstein (New York University law professor), Amity Shlaes (historian), Magette Wade, Barbara Kolm (VP of the Austrian central bank) and many more. Go here for the full lineup.
Returning as master of ceremonies is Lisa Kennedy, host of Fox Business, along with my most excellent friend and cohost, the sublime Heather Wagenhals. There’s the Anthem film festival, a libertarian comedy festival and a full three-day investment conference, including such financial gurus as Alexander Green (Oxford Club), Louis Navellier and David Bahnsen. Plus, there will be a special interview with Jeremy Siegel, the “Wizard of Wharton,” and Burt Malkiel (Princeton).
There’s even a FreedomFest “jam session” where musically inclined attendees can go on stage and play music together. And here’s a bit of breaking news, your editor will be there playing and performing, too, and you may even hear a few original songs from my upcoming album, “Tender Warrior.”
And last but definitely not least, my fellow financial editors at Eagle Publishing will be at FreedomFest — including Bryan Perry, George Gilder, Roger Michalski, Paul Dykewicz — and of course, Mark Skousen.
The full agenda — speakers, panels, debates and breakout sessions — is now posted online. Go to www.freedomfest.com/agenda to check it out. I guarantee you will be impressed. You can also click on the name of each presenter to see when and on what topic they will be speaking. Click here to find out more.
When registering, use the code EAGLE50 to receive a discount. I hope to see you at FreedomFest in “Music City,” Memphis, Tennessee, July 12-15, because after all, freedom’s not just another word, it’s the ONLY word we can’t afford to lose!
Be A Hero
“Man’s proper stature is not one of mediocrity, failure, frustration or defeat, but one of achievement, strength and nobility. In short, man can and ought to be a hero.”
— Mike Mentzer
It’s not often you read about a “Mr. Universe” doling out philosophic profundities and conceptions of man, the hero. But that’s what the great Mike Mentzer did with regularity in his various books, speeches and articles in many bodybuilding and fitness magazines in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mike was a genius, and one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. He is also a hero of mine, and a man who inspires me to this day with his insights into training, and the heroic nature of man. I met Mike in the mid-1990s at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California. It was our only meeting, but one that I shall always remember every time I reflect on the man and his work. Sadly, Mike died in 2001, but his innovative ideas on building muscle, and his concept of man as a heroic being, continue to be a profound influence on me and countless others who love their lives, and who aspire to be heroes.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.
In the name of the best within us,