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The Weekly Exit Poll


Minyans share their thoughts on Vista, savings, old guys in the sky, the economy and Super Bowl commericials...

Last week marked the debut of the Exit Poll, my attempt at summing up the week's Minyanville polls and the thoughts they provoked from Minyans. I had hoped it would elicit more feedback from the Minyanship on our polls...

Let's take a look and see what non-scientific observations we can make about the collective psychology of Minyans from this week's polls.

Monday: Are you excited about Microsoft's Vista?

The long awaited Vista operating system was finally set to hit shelves as of 12am Tuesday morning, and we wanted to know quite frankly, did anyone care? Microsoft liked to give you the impression that it would be life altering, but it seemed to me that no one really cared and this was a tiny blip on the radar compared to when Windows '95 debuted.

As I expected, two-thirds of you said you couldn't care less about Vista and felt it would be buggy, hacker-ready and pointlessly complicated. I'll admit to being in that camp, but I'm also a creature of habit and of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality so there's no reason for me to go spend money on an operating system when mine operates just fine. Nearly 11% of you said you were excited for Vista, but would wait 'til all the bugs are sorted out, a reputation problem Microsoft has come to have over the years, while a mere 3.5% were excited and felt it would be the last software of its kind. I'm not real sure what that means, since I'm pretty sure the computer's not going anywhere and I'm pretty sure it will continue to need operating systems. So unless Billy and his boys have figured everything out, including the future, I'll go out on a limb and say there will be more software of the kind -- expensive upgrades too I would bet. Nearly 6% of you said you swear by your Macs and Vista means nothing to you. I was slightly surprised by that figure, as I thought it might be higher, but I guess the finance world is still very PC-centric so a low figure makes sense. 14% of you have disturbing imaginations and the only thing that would get you excited at MSFT is Bill Gates in a leopard-print thong covered in baby oil. In fact, I don't really feel comfortable in the office right now, knowing that someone here came up with that scenario in their head.

For the full results from Monday's poll, The apathy for Vista seemed even more apparent in your response emails seeing as we didn't get any. Hopefully that's just the topic, because as I said last week, I'd like to share your thoughts here.

Tuesday: Live Now, Or Save Later?

Tuesday's poll was spurred from an article written by Prof. Kadlec in response to a NY Times piece over the weekend regarding savings, spending and enjoying your time. In the NY Times piece, economist Laurence J. Kotlicoff said Americans are saving more than they need, and noted, "There is risk in saving too much. You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money." Prof. Kadlec was troubled by the message; click the link above to read his views if you have not done so.

Minyans proved once again to be a bunch of finance savvy individuals, as 45% of you feel that modest sacrifices today will turn into big benefits for the future, while nearly that same amount (43%) said it is absolutely necessary to save now so we can live later. I'll go ahead and combine those (because I live on the edge like that) and say 88% of you believe saving is essential for the long road ahead. Just over 8% shared my fiscally irresponsible, credit card heavy generation's sentiment of, "what good is life if you can't enjoy it?" 3% of you said savings needs are overstated and excessive and accessed the poll from an internet cafe in your hostel while backpacking through Europe.

Some Minyan thoughts on the matter:

Professor Kotilkoff was WAY off base in his Times article. He was interviewed on CNBC the following day and he obviously was really lashing out at the financial services industry, suggesting they are creating unrealistic needs in order to sell products.

I am retired in an upscale boomer retirement community and find that many if not most families here need to work despite having achieved the so-called American Dream. Why? Because that dream is a moving target and increases as technology continues to 'ease' our lifestyles.
-- Minyan JK

I remember Jonathan Pond saying we should only buy a car every 10 years and save the $$$ for retirement. Why live a life if you can't enjoy it? You only have 10 years -- from 65 to 75, then everything fades to black and white. I am retired. I never saved a fortune. I have two new Mercedes and I have far less than seven figures in the bank. Point being--you don't know how long you will live. I will not outlive what I have. The money managers want you to save, save, so they can manage your $$$. They want YOU to live the Puritan life so they can live the high life. -- Minyan JF

Wednesday: How Do You Feel About the FAA's Push to Raise the Retirement Age for Pilots From 60 to 65?

In an issue that I didn't even realize was an issue, apparently the FAA wants to increase the age at which they force pilots out of the cockpit to 65. I suppose most pilots probably aren't in any hurry these days with all the pension fund troubles airlines are going through.

Nearly two-thirds of you said the change makes sense, while only 17% were against it and said air safety is too important to mess around with. Almost 6% of you appreciate a pilot's experience but ask, can't they split the difference? 14% of you were the class clowns and hoped that old age would equal forgetfulness and your flight to beautiful Milwaukee would end up in Paris instead.

Of the responses we received, most pointed out the twice annual physicals all pilots must take, regardless of age, to ensure the physical ability of pilots. Some other thoughts:

1. The current standard was negotiated in 1959 and had little to do with medical issues related to aging. This is really not a safety issue, but that is the argument that the Air Line Pilots Association has used to keep the current standard in place.

2. Pensions that have been turned over to the PBGC are further straining an already underfunded agency. Allowing able pilots to continue to fly until age 65 will ultimately save taxpayer money in the form of the payouts from the PBGC.

3. Most pilots are relatively high wage earners and allowing the extra five years to fly keeps them contributing to the national economy in the form of taxes and consumerism. -
Minyan MJ

To push the most experienced guys out the door because of a somewhat randomly chosen date is just foolish. For example, Al Haynes, who managed to save United 232 from becoming a total loss with 100% loss of life was pushed out the door within months of the event that is considered by most pilots to be the most extraordinary display of airmanship in the history of commercial aviation.

What's poorly understood is that the age 60 rule never had anything to do with safety. As
documented on Avweb (sorry free sub required), the rule's origin is more political than safety-related, and designed to serve the economic interests of the airlines; not the general safety. (Airlines like to get rid of their most senior and well paid employees.) Both the NIH and GAO have questioned the studies and justifications cited by the FAA.

Interestingly, the Airlines Pilots Association, which initially opposed the rule, now support it. Their biggest membership block is newer pilots potentially on the way up, who would like to see the older guys move out of the way.
- Minyan MG

Thursday: Where Will the Economy Take the Market?

After Wednesday's FOMC announcement that they were leaving rates unchanged and pointed to strength in the economy, it led many to believe that rates would be left unchanged for a while. The DJIA headed for higher ground, and we wanted to know what effect the economic outcome would have for the market in '07.

Over half of you said you are playing it safe at the moment because you see the market due for a correction sometime in the near future. 12.5% of Minyans are hanging squarely in Hoofy's camp and see the bulls continuing to run with the market to higher ground. 30% of Minyans, myself included, aren't even trying to predict the future with everything that's going on in the world and the unpredictability of the markets by nature. Believe me, if I knew what was going to happen tomorrow or the next day (especially on Super Bowl Sunday -- you know how much I'd win on odd prop bets?) I probably wouldn't be penning this column right now, and if you had that ability you probably wouldn't be reading it. Not surprisingly, only 4% of readers were the jokers who said they don't care.

Another option came by way of Minyan SF - Your question implies correlation or linkage between the economy and the market, see this among other research pieces. One of the proposed answers should have been "nowhere." Otherwise you leave a misleading impression.

Friday: Are Super Bowl Commercials Really Worth It?

For nearly two weeks now, anticipation has built up for the Super Bowl. Almost everyone gets excited for the big game, whether their team is in it or not. It's a time to gather with friends and family for nearly five hours of a drawn out football game, action packed with hits, touchdowns and commercials. CBS is charging an estimated $2.6 mln per 30-second spot in this years Super Bowl. We asked you if you thought it was worth that kind of scratch.

Early exit polls show that the fact that there is no empirical way to measure an ad's results, making the discussion pointless was the top vote getter with 35%, but there is still plenty of time to vote. Coming in right behind that is the opinion that running a commercial at that cost during the Super Bowl is a colossal waste of money. 19% of you use the commercial breaks of the Super Bowl to go to the bathroom, showing you care more about the game and don't care for commercials. Bringing up the rear in the debate are the 13.5% of you who believe the Super Bowl is the best advertising vehicle out there.

Share your thoughts with us on this matter, and enjoy the game. I'll circle back to this poll on Monday after we stuff ourselves with wings, chili and other Super Bowl goodness. I'll be watching attentively on both the game and the commercials and will share thoughts on both early next week.

Once again, I'd like to encourage you all to send your thoughts on our polls so we can get a better understanding of Minyans' thoughts on current issues. Do it for your fellow Minyans, so they can read more of your insights and less of my babble.

Have a great weekend!
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