Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 30, 2014

Brian Gongol

Podcast: Updated weekly in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. Subscribe on Stitcher, Spreaker, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or iHeartRadio

Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.

If I were setting up "Brian Gongol University"...

Gas prices aren't going anywhere soon

OPEC has decided not to cut production of oil, which is an interesting move. The countries that make up OPEC still have a lot of influence over the price of oil, but not the stranglehold that they once did, now that the United States, Canada, and Mexico make up a serious production force to be reckoned with. But it's important to note that America's oil production relies heavily upon stuff that's more expensive to produce than the oil drilled elsewhere. With oil now selling at less than $65 a barrel on the world market, some American sources are no longer profitable. If it remains cheaper to produce oil in places like the Middle East than it is in the US, and if the production costs aren't offset by transportation costs (and security costs -- never to be overlooked, for sure), then OPEC's decision is almost like a set of sanctions against the United States. Whether that's what they are intended to be or not is another question...but it certainly has that effect. In a commodity market (like the one for oil), the low-cost producer is the biggest winner.

The dirty little secret about "Small Business Saturday"

On the surface, "Small Business Saturday" is a fine idea -- encouraging people to shop with their local, independent retailers on a big holiday shopping weekend. To that extent, I have no problem with it.

If you look at the real motivation behind it, American Express isn't out to promote "Small Business Saturday" for selfless reasons. They want people to shop, using credit cards (like their own), which racks up merchant fees for credit-card companies like Amex. Of course, they also want to earn the loyalty of the small-business owners who might then become more loyal to American Express for their own purchases. Again, there's nothing wrong with that.

But if you really want to see what's wrong with the system, it's that small businesses pay much, much higher fees for processing credit card transactions than do their larger competitors. Small businesses often pay around 2% for "interchange fees" on credit-card transactions. Large sellers negotiate much better terms due to their size. But this 2% toll on every transaction is no small matter for small businesses. It's huge in the aggregate.

Some recent idle thoughts

In '94, we dressed like hippies to be ironic on school spirit days. Are future students supposed to dress as hipsters, but extra-ironically?

— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) November 22, 2014

As a news junkie, I'm finding myself unfollowing the feeds of particular news outlets and adding individual journalists instead. (1/2)

— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) November 22, 2014

Finding reporters and analysts who really know their beats dramatically increases the signal-to-noise ratio. (2/2)

— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) November 22, 2014

I'd be less embarrassed to be seen walking around w/an issue of Playboy than this Fortune cover. #brownpaperbagplease

— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) November 21, 2014

This week

In case you missed it