Peeking at California’s Mesothelioma Attorneys

Since 1988, California juries have awarded approximately $42 billion in damages to victims of mesothelioma that have dealt with the cancer that manifests itself two to four decades after asbestos exposure.

Unfortunately for the victims, companies have been able dodge asbestos liability by filing for bankruptcy, establishing a trust fund for future mesothelioma litigation which limits the recovery potential for the affected persons that bring the lawsuit, and then continue on with their business as if they didn’t leave behind a trail of cancer-inducing harm in their wake.

You see it in instances like the 1982 bankruptcy of Johns-Manville. It went through a five-year bankruptcy, created the Manville Personal Injury Trust Fund in 1988 that would be responsible for all asbestos-related lawsuits, and then re-emerged under the name Manville Corporation that year. By 2001, it had renamed itself Johns-Manville, got purchased by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway for $2 billion, … Read the rest of this article!

ExxonMobil Stock This Generation

The ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM), the largest of the “Seven Sisters” that originally comprised the Standard Oil Trust brought to the market by John Rockefeller in 1882, provides one of the most important lessons on what it means to be a long-term investor.

With cyclical stocks, I find it difficult to pound it into both the heads and hearts of my audience just how long it can take for an investment thesis to come to fruition.

If you invest in the oil majors, you almost have to dedicate yourself to become an income investor because the investment returns in the sector are so non-linear.

Perhaps this will illustrate the point:

You buy $10,000 in XOM stock thirty years ago in 1987. By 2014, twenty-seven years into your investment, your annual returns are 8.7% and your investment value grew into $93,000 for an almost ten-fold increase in your investment.

What happened though, … Read the rest of this article!

How Does A Reverse Mortgage Work?

Reverse mortgages work by permitting a borrower to take out money with no immediate requirement for repayment (the house is offered as security for the reverse mortgage lender’s loan).

There is nothing particularly unique about a reverse mortgage that separates it from other real estate transactions except for the fact that the date upon which the bank collects repayment is less definite than traditional loans that involve real estate.

Typically, these types of mortgages come with three variations. Some lenders provide borrowers with an immediate lump sum payment, others provide smaller lump-sum payments in a manner that mimic a home equity line of credit, and the third option—which is most recently discussed, involves a lender paying the borrower a fixed monthly income.

In my view, it would be a disaster to ever consider the first two options. If you reach a point in life … Read the rest of this article!

When Instagram Changed Its Terms of Service

When Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $715 million, it got its hands on the four hundred million user base that was severely under-monetized. So what’s the first thing that Facebook decided to do? Why, of course, change the rules so that the user base would enjoy diminished rights and the Facebook-controlled Instagram could take greater commercial advantage of the activities that occur on the image-sharing site that it hosts.

To achieve this, Facebook’s law firms, one of which was rumored to be Charlie Munger’s firm of Munger, Tolles, and Olson, announced that it was changing its terms of service in December 2012 and if you didn’t like it, you had until January 19, 2013 to object by deactivating your account.

Among the changes to Instagram’s terms of service were the following:

  • Instagram was granting itself the right to repurpose user posts for its own commercial purpose or any legal
Read the rest of this article!

Average 401(k) Balance by Age: The Full Data Set

It took me awhile, but I finally compiled a data set that tracks the average 401(k) by age for American workers from age 25 through 67. It was difficult to get a full apples-to-apples comparison because some studies use premises like “assuming two years of employment with a job before calculating” and also the data sources rely on averages rather than medians which has the affect of an upward skew because people with millions of dollars in a 401(k) raise the numbers of what is “typical.”

My view is that it looks like a good chunk of Americans waste the opportunity in their late 30s to sock aside a meaningful amount for retirement. By age 35, the average American has a little over $32,000 in a 401(k). But over the next four years, the amount only goes up to $39,000. Without factoring in any capital appreciation, that suggests a … Read the rest of this article!