When Will a Toyota Corolla be Faster than a Porsche? The Moore’s Law of Automobile Performance

“Speed, it seems to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley


(Photo: CarSpotter)

I recently wrote an article mentioning about how my old Acura Integra was faster than the fastest car from the 1920’s and 1930’s. The point was not that my Acura was necessarily fast (it was not) but that over the years the automotive technology has improved so much that even an average old jalopy, made over the last 20 years, is on average faster than the fastest cars made even 60 years ago. I decided to see just how fast that evolution was taking place and just how long it would take for your average car to be as fast as a sports car made today. For comparison I took the Porsche Boxter.

Depending what model we look at, the Boxter 0 to 60 times are between 4.2 and 5.5 seconds. I decided to use a good round number of 5 seconds as the time to reach for. I also picked a few car models which are not known for their speed and whose performance data went back at least two decades. I used 0 to 60 website to gather the information and used the fastest time for each year on each model. So how do the numbers look?

Toyota Camry

camry old

camry new

(Photo: Wiki)

First up is the Toyota Camry. The Camry is like the automotive equivalent of Nickelback. It sells very well but you never brag to your friends about actually liking it. Here is how the performance of the Camry looks like over the years.

Year Model 0 to 60 time
1983 Toyota Camry 12.4
1987 Camry DLX 2.0 9.1
1988 Toyota Camry All-Trac 11.4
1992 Toyota Camry SE 7.6
1993 Toyota Camry LE 10.9
1994 Toyota Camry SE 8
1995 Toyota Camry LE 7.9
1997 Toyota Camry CE 6.9
1998 Toyota Camry LE 7.7
1999 Toyota Camry Solara SE 7
2000 Toyota Camry LE 7.9
2001 Toyota Camry Solara SE 8.1
2002 Toyota Camry SE 7.9
2004 Toyota Camry Solara SE 6.6
2005 Toyota Camry SE 6
2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid 7.9
2010 Toyota Camry SE 8
2011 Toyota Camry LE 8.3
2012 Toyota Camry SE (V6) 5.7


If we plot a graph we can get a formula for the linear trend line.

camry chart


We can then solve the formula and come up with the year when the Camry’s 0 to 60MPH time will be under 5 seconds. In this case the year will be 2021.

Toyota Corolla

corolla old

corolla new

(Photo: Wiki)

Next up is the Toyota Corolla. Trying to decide between a Camry or a Corolla is like trying to decide between Billy or Stephen as your favorite Baldwin brother.

Year Model 0 to 60 time
1968 Toyota Corolla   16.8
1973 Toyota Corolla 1200   18.3
1974 Toyota Corolla 1200   16
1975 Toyota Corolla E-5   15
1976 Toyota Corolla SR-5 15.2
1980 Toyota Corolla Sport 11.9
1984 Toyota Corolla   13
1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S   10.4
1987 Toyota Corolla FX16 9.1
1991 Toyota Corolla LE   10.1
1993 Toyota Corolla DX   9.2
1995 Toyota Corolla DX   10.1
1998 Toyota Corolla LE   10.2
2003 Toyota Corolla CE 9
2005 Toyota Corolla XRS   7
2009 Toyota Corolla LE 8.4
2010 Toyota Corolla XRS 7.4
2013 Toyota Corolla S 8.5


corolla graph


And once we solve the formula we come up with 2019 as the year the Corolla will do 0 to 60 in 5 seconds.

Honda Accord

accord old

accord new

(Photo: Wiki)

The Honda Accord considered to be one of the most reliable cars in automotive history. The good news is that the Accord you bought in college all those years ago is still running well, the bad news you are still driving an Accord that you bought in college because it’s running well.  

Year Model 0 to 60 time
1976 HondaAccord 13.6
1981 HondaAccord 13.1
1982 HondaAccordLX 12.9
1986 HondaAccordLXi 9.7
1990 HondaAccordEX 10
1991 HondaAccordEX 9.3
1992 HondaAccordEX 9.7
1993 HondaAccordLX 10
1994 HondaAccordEX 8
1995 HondaAccordLX 8.4
1996 HondaAccordLX 8.7
1997 HondaAccordEX 7.6
1998 HondaAccordEX 7.1
1999 HondaAccordCoupe 7.3
2001 HondaAccordLX 8.2
2003 HondaAccordEX 6.1
2004 HondaAccordEX 5.8
2005 HondaAccordHybrid 6.9
2006 HondaAccordEX 5.8
2007 HondaAccordSE 8
2008 HondaAccordEX 5.7
2009 HondaAccordType-S 9.1
2010 HondaAccordCrosstour 7.2
2011 HondaAccordEX 6.1
2012 HondaAccordEX 6.1
2013 HondaAccordCoupe 5.5
2014 HondaAccordPlug-In 7.6

accord chart


As for the Accord 0 to 60 time will reach 5 seconds in 2016

Honda Civic

civic old

civic new

(Photo: Wiki)

And finally the Honda Civic. The Civic is Accord’s smaller less popular brother. It’s like the Frank Stallone of cars.

Year Model 0 to 60 time
1973 HondaCivic 19.1
1974 HondaCivic 15.5
1976 HondaCivic 14.2
1980 HondaCivic1500GL 11.1
1981 HondaCivic 15
1985 HondaCivicS 11
1985 HondaCivicWagon 11.8
1987 HondaCivicHatchback 13.5
1991 HondaCivicEX 9.6
1992 HondaCivicSi 8.3
1993 HondaCivicCoupe 8.3
1994 HondaCivicEX 8.7
1995 HondaCivicEX 9
1996 HondaCivicDX 8.4
1998 HondaCivicGX 11.8
1999 HondaCivicSi 7.1
2000 HondaCivicEX 8.3
2002 HondaCivicSi 7.5
2003 CivicHybrid 12
2006 HondaCivicSi 6.2
2007 HondaCivicLX 7.6
2007 HondaCivicType-R 4.9
2008 HondaCivici-CTDi 7.5
2009 HondaCivicType-R 6.5
2010 HondaCivicType 6
2011 HondaCivic1.8 8.8
2012 HondaCivicSi 6
2013 HondaCivicHF 8.5

civic chart


For the Civic 2016 should be the year when 0 to 60 times will be under 5 seconds.

So the good news is that all the acceleration you crave in todays sports cars will be available to you in ordinary cars at fraction of the cost in less than 10 years.

A Grain of Salt

Here are few possible flaws in my conclusions.

  1. The trend of cars getting faster and faster seems to be taking place over the last 75 years, but if we were to do these calculations in the late 70’s or early 80’s, we would come to the opposite conclusion. Due to the need for greater fuel efficiency most of the cars actually got slower in the 70’s. For example, the Ford Mustang 0 to 60 times was 7.3 seconds in 1964 but by 1974 was almost twice that at 14.1 seconds. Since the 80’s cars have been getting faster and faster but it is possible the trend might still reverse once again. There’s nothing to guarantee that the trend has to continue. 

  2. Even if the trend continues for a while longer it will at some point stop or become miniscule. For example the Toyota Corolla will reach 0 to 60 in 1 seconds in year 2037. That is never ever going to happen.

  3. There is clearly going to be a point where cars will not be allowed to accelerate at a breakneck speed even if the technology to make them go that fast does exist. Much like the regulations which limit top speeds on today’s cars.

    But for now the future looks bright.

    Michael Page

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Are We Living In The Golden Age of Cinema? Analyzing over a century of IMDB ratings.

People in Hollywood are not showmen, they’re maintenance men, pandering to what they think their audiences want..” – Terry Gilliam

(Photo: Scott Smith)

Everyone talks about the “Golden Age” of cinema and that they don’t make movies like they used to. But how much of that is really true? Were the movies made 40, 50 or 60 years ago really that much better than the movies made these days? I thought that would be an interesting question to try to answer, but how?

Luckily IMDB has a list of nearly every movie ever made along with the rating that people gave it. The rating is based on hundreds of thousands of movie fans who judge the movies they have seen and give it a rating from 0 to 10, with 10 being the best. IMDB makes its data available to the public, and if you take the time and effort to sift through the megs and megs of raw data, you can discover some interesting information. I was curious enough to try to find out.

After crunching the data and ratings of close to 250,000 different movies, I was able to come up with some answers. Let’s see how the numbers look.

Hundreds of thousands of movie fans rated over two hundred thousand movies which span over a century of movie making. For the first 20 years, starting in 1888, the average ratings are all over the map. This is probably due to very few movies being released (small sample size) which can create “lumpy” results. But starting in the 1920’s you can see movies ratings normalizing and evening out.

I decided to take a look at the median ratings as well as average ratings. The difference between average and median is that average takes all the votes and adds them up and divides them by the number of votes. Median lists out all the votes in order and then takes the number in the very middle. In other words if there are 1000 different movies which people voted on, median would list out all the votes in ascending (or descending) order and then take the value of the 500th movie. This means there will be an equal amount of movies rated better, as well as worse, than that median movie. As you can see with the median data, things started to normalize in the 1920’s as well.

But now let’s zoom in on the real data and ignore films made the first few decades after the movie camera was invented. I decided to make the starting point be 1922, the year that the Motion Picture Association of America got started. As you can see from the data, the quality of the movies has been steadily declining starting with the late 1920’s and bottoming out in late 1990’s. Since then, the data indicates that movies have been getting steadily better and better.

The same holds true for the median values as well. You can see a steady decline starting from the 1920’s all the way to the very late 1990’s and since then a very visible incline.

One thing to keep in mind is that IMDB only allowed people to vote for movies in the last two decades or so, so all the ratings are based on the mindset of the people living today. It is very possible that people living in a different time would vote differently for the movies and have different tastes. But from the perspective of the people living (and voting) today they preferred, on average, the movies made 70 years ago much more to the movies made 15 years ago.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people who might be fans of older movies are more likely to watch them and vote for them. So there might be a preference bias, since a fan of older movies might prefer them (and rate them higher) compared to newer ones. The average person might only vote for current movies and never have seen or voted for the older ones.

But how do the ratings look for the cream of the crop? If we count only the best movies ever made, are they getting better and better? The answer is “yes, but only slightly”. If we plot out the best 250 movies as rated by IMDB reviewers over roughly the last 75 years we can see a very slow rise in the quality of the movies in the 1990’s.

It is important to keep in mind that there are currently over 4 times as many movies made these days as were made in the 1950’s or 1960’s. And almost 8 times as many as were made in the 1920’s or 1930’s. So, yes there are good movies made today but the ratio of truly great to mediocre is getting worse and worse.

So what does this all mean? It looks like the late 1920’s and 1930’s really were the “Golden Age” of cinema. With the highest quality of an average movie made along with the slight increase in quality in late 1940’s. Ever since then, movies have been getting steadily worse and worse and bottoming out in the late 1990’s where the quality of the movies have been getting a great deal better. So while the average movie may have been getting worse and worse over the years till the late 1990’s the quality of the movies have been going up on average year after year. If the trends continue we might have already started entering into the new Golden Age of Cinema.

But wait there’s more……

After I looked at the data, one question kept popping up. Why did the movies all of a sudden start to get better around the late 90’s after getting worse and worse for decades? I found it just too much of a coincidence that the movies started to get better ratings right around the time that Amazon took over IMDB in 1998 when IMDB really started to become popular. Unless the rating algorithm was changed, which I doubt, then a possible explanation might be that people started to rate movies higher after seeing them in the movie theaters which might provide for a better experience. For example a person rating a movie from the 80’s has seen it either on TV or their laptop or in a movie theater over 20 years ago. Compare that to a movie that just came out which they might have just seen in the theater last night when it’s still fresh and new which might produce a higher rating. In other words if IMDB became popular 30 years ago, movies might have started to rise in ratings back then as well. It’s also possible that with the popularity of IMDB a lot more “average people” started to vote as well compared to movie aficionados who tend to be a lot pickier.

But regardless if Hollywood is making better or worse movies now there are so many amazing movies out there. Movies which can move you, enlighten you, inspire you and change your way of looking at the world. Next time bypass the typical Hollywood paint by numbers blockbuster and take a chance on something new and different. There are thousands of movies just waiting for you to discover them.

Information courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database
Used with permission.

Michael Page

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Does Corruption Improve Stock Market Performance?

He’s a businessman … I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” – The Godfather

(Photo: Artemuestra)

Having spent the last 2 weeks on vacation in Russia, I was amazed by the beauty, the people, the art and also the amount of corruption which exists in this country. After talking with many people, I learned that it is almost impossible to do any legitimate business in Russia without bribes, kickbacks and payoffs. The next logical question that comes to mind is why would anybody do business there? Why would anyone invest in any publicly traded company in Russia, since fraud and corruption are so prevalent?

 I thought it would be interesting to do some basic ‘back of the napkin calculations’ to see how corruption effects stock market performance. Transparency International publishes an annual Corruption Perception Index which ranks countries “by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.”

In the developed markets, the top 5 least corrupt countries year after year tend to be New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Singapore. The most corrupt are Italy, Israel, Spain and France and United States.

In emerging markets, the top 5 least corrupt countries are Chile, Taiwan, Poland, South Korea and Malaysia. The most corrupt are India, Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia and Russia (no surprise).

Having a rating for the counties over the last 10 years, I wanted to compare them to the average (arithmetic) stock market performance of those countries over the last decade to see if there were any correlations. Having full data for 10 years of Corruption Index and stock market performance for over 35 countries, I put together the chart below for developed markets.

As you can see, the least corrupt countries (those with highest Corruption Index Scores) tend to have better performances in the stock market over the last 10 years as the trend line shows. The picture changes once we look at emerging markets. If we look at 10 years of data in emerging markets, the countries which are more corrupt have had better market performances. 

It seems for developed markets, corruption does not pay, but in emerging markets corruption does seem to pay, rewarding the most corrupt countries with higher market performances. This is rather puzzling. Why would a corrupt country have better market performance? My guess is that corruption cuts both ways.

For example, if you own a publicly traded company in Russia that makes widgets, you are probably skimming the profits from the top and short changing the shareholders. At the same time, you are also bribing politicians to get more lucrative deals and paying off the local officials to make it difficult for other widget manufacturers to do business and compete with you. Thus improving your profit margins in the process. In the long run, it’s a losing formula for the overall economy. In the short run, the markets do not seem to care how the profits are derived. It is also possible that shareholders are bidding up the price of stocks in corrupt countries in expectation that things will improve and that the upside will hold rewards. Just another way of saying “things can only get better”.

So in corrupt countries, corruption does seem to improve stock market performances at least in the short run. However, in developed countries, corruption seems to have a negative effect on markets.

A word of caution about my findings, it’s very possible the data sample of 10 years might be too small and if we looked at a much larger data set the conclusion might be different. Also there’s a chance that we are simply seeing a correlation and not a causation.

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How To Determine Fair Price For A House In Under 2 Minutes

“Once again large segments of the population have come to believe that they have found the way to unending wealth by doing little or no real work.” – Anonymous

When I first moved to Florida around 2005 real estate was on everyone’s mind. It seems that no matter where I went, everyone I met talked about planning to buy a property or about the property they just bought. Everyone was expounding the virtues of owning a home. They would go on about what a great investment it is, how prices on houses have never gone down and why I should buy immediately!

There were a few things I remember that really bothered me and made me believe that this would all end badly. Looking back, I was probably the only person in Florida who felt this way in 2005 but as Warren Buffett says “You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right.”

The few things that really stuck out to me during that time were:

  • There were just too many people mouthing the same clichés about the virtues of buying a home. My question was always, “Why now?” Where were these people 10 years ago when prices were more than 25% cheaper? If today is a good time to buy, then ten years ago was even better. Where was the enthusiasm back then?

  • The arrogance of real estate agents. I specifically remember looking at a few properties and it seemed like the real estate agents felt they were doing me a favor by showing me the property. I have always found that whenever you buy something from someone who feels they are doing you a favor by selling to you, there is a good chance you are over paying.

  • The rule about investing is to be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. There was way too much greed in 2005, which was a sign to me to be fearful.

But the straw that broke the camels back was when I remember reading a news story about a few strippers who stopped stripping because they were making more money flipping houses. A good rule of thumb is that anytime you hear news stories about strippers getting into a new line of work be it Flipping houses or Day Trading odds are there is a bubble. That is not to say that all strippers are stupid or uninformed, (having dated a few). But it does mean that when the mainstream media starts doing stories which ties strippers with particular hot finance topic of the day chances are that we have jumped the shark.

Needless to say, I did not buy when I first moved to Florida. I chose to rent and I am still renting now. However, I’m starting to think about buying for the first time since living in Florida seeing that the prices are starting to look fair.

So how do you decide when is the right time to buy a house? How do you decide what is a fair price to pay for a property? How do you avoid a bubble? There are a number of indicators such as price to income ratios, debt to service ratios or price to rent ratios which can give you a rough idea if you are purchasing a property at a fair price. All of the above are a bit complex since they require some digging to come up with the numbers and only give you a rough approximation for the area.

Below is my simple back of the napkin 3 step formula to help determine what is a fair price to pay for a house or condo and takes less then a two minutes to determine.

Step 1: Forget all the clichés about a house being a great investment and that prices will keep going up. That is simply not true. Robert Shiller, who looked at home prices for over a century, has found that houses increase in value at roughly .2% above inflation. That is all. Assume that anything you buy will appreciate with inflation, anything above that is wishful thinking and luck.

Below is inflation adjusted Real Estate prices through 2Q 2012. As you can see prices are only now getting closer to historic averages.

Step 2: Determine the property you want to buy or something very similar in that area. Then look up historic sales prices on Zillow.com. Find the price of the property you are interested in (or similar) and look at what it sold for around 1992 to 1996 year range. This is a safe range to look at since those are U.S. pre-bubble prices and are a lot more accurate.

Step 3: Go to inflation calculator and plug the price the house sold and the year to determine what that means in today’s dollars. Assuming that no major renovations have been made to the property this is a fair price to pay for the house or condo.

It’s that easy. You are basically taking pre-bubble prices and assuming the housing appreciated with inflation. If you were to do this during the real estate bubble, you would see that prices have shot up over 25% above inflation prices in almost all the areas of the country and we are in a huge bubble. Then again, the housing bubble was like any other bubble in finance and was never about logic or reason; it was about greed and delusions.

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How Rich Would Warren Buffett Be If He Never Invested In Stocks?

“I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.” – Warren Buffett


Warren Buffett has had a big impact on my life, not only by shaping how I view investing, but also how I view the world around me. Over the years I have read dozens of books about him and I have attended the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meetings for close to a decade.

I thought it would be interesting to look at Warren Buffett’s wealth in a little more detail.

Below is a table of how much wealth Warren Buffett accumulated by what age. I adjusted it for inflation so all the numbers are in today’s dollars.
(Sources: Warren Buffett Wealth and Fortune Magazine)

Warren Buffett’s Age Warren Buffett’s Net Worth
11 $1,784
14 $65,365
16 $70,795
19 $94,741
21 $174,670
26 $1,184,261
27 $2,579,245
30 $7,773,142
32 $10,666,192
33 $18,045,882
34 $25,235,129
35 $51,130,000
36 $56,811,111
37 $68,887,725
39 $156,733,650
43 $176,191,210
44 $88,673,730
47 $254,384,400
49 $443,690,000
52 $896,496,900
53 $1,432,256,000
56 $2,939,041,000
58 $4,473,334,000
59 $7,050,991,000
66 $24,196,300,000
72 $45,658,800,000
77 $68,800,600,000
78 $39,540,200,000
79 $50,406,200,000
80 $52,758,200,000
81 $45,006,600,000

What I really want to focus on is how much wealth Warren was able to accumulate between age 11 and 21. Even though he purchased his first stock when he was only 11, he really did not start to invest successfully and professionally till he was in his mid 20’s. So the wealth accumulated before age 21 was mostly done through jobs and businesses he started.

What’s most interesting to me is that even before he started investing successfully he was able to accumulate close to $180,000 by age 21.

Here is how Warren did it:

At age 13 he had 5 newspaper routes delivering 500 newspapers, which made him $175 a month (around $2300 in today’s money). He then started a business selling used golf balls. At age 14 he purchased 40 acres of farmland with $1200 he had saved and leased it out. By age 16 he had read over 100 books on business and decided that he would be a millionaire (almost 8 million in today’s money) by age 30. He reached that goal.

In high school he purchased a used pinball machine with a friend and started a business placing them in barbershops and splitting the revenue. Soon he had 7 pinball machines around town making about $50 a week ($480 in today’s money). He later sold the business for $1200 (around $11,500 in today’s money). This was all done before he went college.

Here is a chart of his net worth from age 11 till age 21 in todays dollars.

As you can see from the chart, even if Warren never invested in stocks, it is safe to assume that he would still be a multi-millionaire today.

There are a lot of ideas and concepts that help make Warren Buffett one of the richest men in the world. I believe one of the main reasons was that he simply loved accumulating money and watching it grow. From an early age, he loved accumulating money even more than spending it. I have found that it is almost impossible not to become rich when you have that mentality.

Michael Page

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Do Really Rich People Make Better or Worse U.S. Presidents?

“I think that’s most unfortunate about our Democratic system, that you’re confining it to people who are either very wealthy in their own right or have capacity to gain access to large amounts of money.” – Birth Bayh

(Photo: Stuck in Customs)

With the upcoming election, a lot is being said about Mitt Romney’s wealth, which is estimated to be around 230 million dollars compared to President Obama’s net worth of only around five million. Many people insinuate that a person who is born into great wealth or is very wealthy might be out of touch with the common person, and therefore might not be a good leader for the country. But is that true? Do less wealthy people make better presidents compared to really wealthy ones? Since I have not seen anyone in the media look into this, I thought it would be interesting to find out.

The net worth of every U.S. president at their peak was recently calculated by 24/7 Wall St. and adjusted for inflation. The results are slightly skewed since a few presidents made the majority of their money after leaving office (Bill Clinton) and a few lost money (Thomas Jefferson), but overall, it should give a good approximation.

We can also look at historical rankings of presidents based on surveys of academic historians, political scientists and popular opinions which rank all U.S. presidents on such qualities as achievements, leadership, failures and faults. Wikipedia keeps a list of the major surveys. If we combine all the surveys, we can get a pretty accurate consensus of just how good, great or mediocre each president of the United States was.

If we look at the data, we can compare how great a president was compared to his net worth and see if there is any correlation.

But first is to dispel a common belief that any person despite his wealth or upbringing has an equal chance of being the president of the United States. It is a good sound bite and looks good on paper, but has not been true. Almost every president of the United States has been born into at least an upper middle-class family. The poorest being Andrew Johnson who was born into the upper part of the lower class. (Abraham Lincoln despite the legend was born to a middle-class family.)

So what we are really calculating is the question “Do semi-wealthy people make better U.S. presidents than really wealthy people?” Let’s take a look:

The three richest presidents have been:
(inflation adjusted)

  1. John F. Kennedy – worth almost one billion dollars.
  2. George Washington – worth almost 500 million dollars.
  3. Thomas Jefferson – worth 212 million dollars (although died in debt).

The poorest presidents who never were able to amass over one million dollars over their lifetime have been:

James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge.

The top three best-rated presidents have been:

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  3. George Washington.

The 3 worst U.S. presidents have been:

  1. Warren G. Harding
  2. James Buchanan
  3. Andrew Johnson

Here is the complete list. The table includes the presidential rating, net worth and the president’s net worth ranking, which was derived by sorting all the net worth numbers in order from the lowest (poorest) to the highest (wealthiest). I assigned the rating of one (lowest rating) for all the presidents whose net worth was under one million dollars.

Name President Rating (Lower the Better) Net Worth (Inflation Adjusted) President’s Net Worth (Lower the number the lower the net worth)
George Washington 3 $525,000,000 28
Thomas Jefferson 4 $212,000,000 27
James Madison 13 $101,000,000 24
John Quincy Adams 18 $21,000,000 14
William Henry Harrison 39 $5,000,000 5
John Tyler 36 $51,000,000 20
Zachary Taylor 35 $6,000,000 6
Benjamin Harrison 33 $5,000,000 5
Theodore Roosevelt 5 $125,000,000 26
William Howard Taft 22 $3,000,000 3
Franklin D. Roosevelt 2 $60,000,000 21
James K. Polk 10 $10,000,000 9
John F. Kennedy 11 $1,000,000,000 29
John Adams 12 $19,000,000 12
James Monroe 14 $27,000,000 18
Woodrow Wilson 6 $1,000,000 1
Franklin Pierce 40 $2,000,000 2
Rutherford B. Hayes 25 $3,000,000 3
Grover Cleveland 19 $25,000,000 16
Warren G. Harding 43 $1,000,000 1
Calvin Coolidge 31 $1,000,000 1
Harry S. Truman 7 $1,000,000 1
Andrew Jackson 8 $119,000,000 25
Martin Van Buren 24 $26,000,000 17
James Buchanan 42 $1,000,000 1
Ulysses S. Grant 37 $1,000,000 1
Chester A. Arthur 28 $1,000,000 1
William McKinley 20 $1,000,000 1
Herbert Hoover 30 $75,000,000 22
Lyndon B. Johnson 15 $98,000,000 23
Gerald Ford 26 $7,000,000 7
Jimmy Carter 27 $7,000,000 7
Abraham Lincoln 1 $1,000,000 1
Dwight D. Eisenhower 9 $8,000,000 8
Ronald Reagan 17 $13,000,000 10
Millard Fillmore 38 $4,000,000 4
James A. Garfield 29 $1,000,000 1
Richard Nixon 32 $15,000,000 11
Andrew Johnson 41 $1,000,000 1
George H. W. Bush 23 $23,000,000 15
Bill Clinton 21 $38,000,000 19
George W. Bush 34 $20,000,000 13
Barack Obama 16 $5,000,000 5


The chart below plots the president’s ratings in relation to their net worth.
The top left corner would be the worst-rated presidents who were also the poorest.
The bottom left corner would be presidents who were the best rated and poorest.
In the top right corner are the worst presidents who were the wealthiest.
In the bottom right corner are the best presidents who were the wealthiest.

The trend line shows that in the U.S., the pattern has been that wealthier people do indeed turn out to be better leaders on the average and make better presidents.

But what if we remove the amount of money they made, and focus only on what type of family they were born into? Are the people who are born into less affluent families turning out to be better presidents?

For that I had to find a 1986 book called The Log Cabin Myth: The Social Backgrounds of the Presidents by Edward Pessen who did the research into the families of past presidents.

He ranks all the presidents into eight tiers, based on the wealth of the families they were born into. Here are his findings: (The list stops with Ronald Reagan.)

Tier 1: Upper Upper Class
George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
John Quincy Adams
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Zachary Taylor
Benjamin Harrison
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Franklin D. Roosevelt 

Tier 2: Upper Upper Class and Lower Upper Class
James K. Polk
John F. Kennedy

Tier 3: Lower Upper Class
John Adams
James Monroe
Woodrow Wilson

Tier 4: Lower Upper Class and Upper Middle Class
Franklin Pierce
Rutherford B. Hayes
Grover Cleveland
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Harry S. Truman

Tier 5: Upper Middle Class
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
James Buchanan
Ulysses S. Grant
Chester A. Arthur
William McKinley
Herbert Hoover
Lyndon B. Johnson
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter

Tier 6: Middle Class
Abraham Lincoln
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Ronald Reagan 

Tier 7: Lower Middle Class
Millard Fillmore
James A. Garfield
Richard Nixon 

Tier 8: Upper Lower Class
Andrew Johnson

Here is how the tiers look based on their average president’s ranking.

The lower the reading on the vertical axis the better the president. As you can see, Tier 1 and 2 (presidents born into the wealthiest families) have an average score of around 20. As we get into families born into slightly less wealthier families (Tier 3), the ratings improve. Then the ratings get worse, till we get to Tier 6 (Middle Class) at which the ratings become good again. Followed by Tier 7 and 8 (Lower Middle class and Upper Lower Class).

If we plot the numbers to look at the trend line, we find that better presidents tend to be born into wealthier families compared to presidents born into poorer families.  

Since the book stops with Ronald Reagan, I will attempt to guess into which tier the presidents since Ronald Reagan would most likely have been placed into.

George H.W. Bush, born to the family of Prescott Sheldon Bush who was a Wall Street executive banker and Senator, would be most likely considered Tier 2 (Upper Upper Class and Lower Upper Upper Class).

Bill Clinton was born to a middle-class family (his father was a traveling salesman, who died before Bill was born). At age 4, his mother remarried an owner of an automobile dealership. Most likely, Bill Clinton would be considered either Tier 5 (Upper Middle Class) or more likely Tier 4 (Lower Upper Class and Upper Middle Class)—based on his wealthier stepfather.

George W. Bush was born to George H.W. Bush who was a successful business man by the time George was born. George W. Bush would be considered Tier 2 (Upper Upper Class and Lower Upper Upper Class).

Barak Obama was born into an upper middle-class family or Tier 5.

If we factor these presidents into the data, the graph does not change very much and the trend line still shows that people born to wealthier families on the average tend to be better presidents compared to the people born into poorer families. With the best U.S. presidents coming from the middle class or lower- upper-class families and the worst presidents coming from the lower middle class and upper lower class.

If we assume that the future correlates with the past, a bias could be made favoring candidates born into wealthier families. Or another way to look at the stats is to say that people who are born into poorer (lower middle class or upper lower class) have tended to make worse presidents on the average, not better.  

In life at times reality often is the opposite of what we expect.

Michael Page

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How Much Does it Cost to Have Sex?

Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good.” – Woody Allen

(Photo: dhammza)

Once my dating life took off and I started seeing a lot of people, I started to think about what would happen if I got someone pregnant even though the chance of that was small. It’s not that I have anything against being a father; it’s just like everything else, I want to do it on my terms when and if the time is right.

But unless a situation has an absolute zero chance of happening, given a long enough time line, it will happen. And even though I never have unprotected sex—given enough partners and enough time, it would eventually happen. But when? What are the odds and what would be the financial obligation if it did happen?

Since we have a rough estimate of how much it costs to raise a child and with statistics of the contraception failure rate, we can calculate roughly the cost each time you have sex.

So if you are having one-night stands or simply having casual sex, how much is it actually costing you to have sex? Let’s take a look.

First, let’s take a few knowns into our equation.

– It costs roughly $300,000 to raise a child. Let’s assume that you would be responsible for half of that. [1]

– Not all men are capable of having children, but for the sake of this calculation, assume that you are.

– 90% of women are capable of having children. [2]

– 4 out of 10 unwanted pregnancies end in an abortion. So even if you do get someone pregnant, there is still only a 60% chance that you will become a father. [3]

– A woman can get pregnant any time of the month but is most likely to do so around ovulation. Since a woman is least likely to have casual sex during menstruation and more likely during ovulation, let’s leave the time of the month you are having sex out of our equation.

– The odds of a woman who is capable of getting pregnant are roughly 4% each time she has sex. [4]


(Photo: Dollen)

 Let’s begin.

SEX SCENARIO 1:  Neither one of you uses protection.

10% of the women are not capable of having children, so the odds of your partner being able to have children are around 90%.

The odds of a woman, who can have children, getting pregnant during sex are roughly 4%. 

Odds of her keeping the baby are 60%.

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) = 2%

So the odds of you becoming a father if neither one of you uses any type of birth control is 2% or roughly 1 out of 50 chances.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 2.5 months of sex before you got someone pregnant if neither one is using any protection.

If we break down the 1 out of 50 chances of you getting someone pregnant and having a child with the cost to you being $150,000, it costs roughly $3000 to have unprotected sex ($150,000/50).

SEX SCENARIO 2:  The woman is on the “pill,” and you don’t wear a condom.

The most popular birth control method for women is the pill, which has roughly a 5% failure rate. [5]

Now the odds of her getting pregnant and keeping the baby are:

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) x .05 (odds of her birth control failing) = .1%

Or roughly 1 out of 1000.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 3.8 years of casual sex with a woman using birth control and you not wearing a condom before you had a baby.

If we break down the 1 out of 1000 chances of you getting someone pregnant and having a child with the cost to you being $150,000, it costs roughly $150 for you to have unprotected sex with a woman who is on birth control ($150,000/1000).

 SEX SCENARIO 3: Woman uses no birth control, and you wear a condom.

Condom failure rate is roughly 15%. [6]

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) x .15 (odds of condom failing) = .3%.

Or roughly 3 out of 1000.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 1.2 years of casual sex with a woman using no birth control and you wearing a condom before you had baby.

3 out of 1000 chances of having a child translate to roughly $450 each time you have sex with someone who is not using birth control while you are wearing a condom.

SEX SCENARIO 4: Woman uses birth control, and you wear a condom. 

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) x .05 (odds of her birth control failing) x .15 (condom failure rate) = .02 %

Or 1 out of 5000.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 19 years of casual sex before you had a baby if you and your partner were both using birth control.

If we break down the 1 out of 5000 chances of you getting someone pregnant and having a child with the cost to you being $150,000, it costs roughly $30 for you to have unprotected sex with a woman who is on birth control and with you wearing a condom.

SEX SCENARIO 5: Typical one-night stand, and you are wearing a condom.

Now let’s assume the most practical scenario, you have a one-night stand or casual sex and you wear a condom, but you do not know if the woman is on birth control or not.

38% of women do not use any type of birth control. [7]

So there is a 38% chance that we have Scenario 3 and a 62% chance that we have Scenario 4.

38% x (1000 / 3) + 62% x (5000 / 1) = 1 out of 3227

So, if you have a typical one-night stand, you have a 1 out of 3227 chance of having a child.

If you have sex 5 times a week, it translates to you having a child after 12.4 years.

And if we break it down even more, the true cost of having a one-night stand is $150,000/3227 or roughly $46.50


(Photo: Dollen)

So here’s a quick summary

Male Birth Control

Female Birth Control

Odds of Getting Pregnant and Having Your Child

How Long to Get Pregnant if you Have Sex 5 Times a Week

Cost each time you have sex (assuming it would cost you $150,00 to raise a child)



1 in 50

2.5 Months




1 in 1000

3.8 Years




3 in 1000

1.2 Years




1 in 5000

19 Years




1 in 3227

12.4 Years



So now you know that the true cost of having sex is a bit more than just the cost of the dinner and wine. :)

Michael Page


1. How Much Money Does it Cost to Raise a Child?
2. Infirtility Fact Sheet.
3. Fact on Induced Abortion in United States.
4. What are the odds of getting pregnant if you have sex only one time?
5. Overview Birth Control
6. Overview Birth Control
7. Fact on Induced Abortion in United States.


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How NOT To Make Money With A Time Machine – Investing in Art

“Success is what sells” – Andy Warhol

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Less than a year ago a family from the Middle East paid a record sum of over 250 million dollars for a painting called “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne (See above). Many people might say that the seller made a good deal and turned a hefty profit. That may be the case, but how good are returns on the most expensive pieces of art ever sold?

If you had a time machine and could go back in time and purchase the painting for the original price, what kind of return on your money would you see today?

Wikipedia keeps a list of the highest prices ever paid for paintings. I researched the list and included all the record prices paid for paintings for which I was able to find the original sale price. Since we know the sale prices and dates, we can determine how much the painting appreciated each year (geometric mean). Below you can see what kind of return you would get on your money if you purchased the art compared to investing it in the stock market over the same time.

Let’s take a look.

(Photo: Wikipedia)


Vincent Van Gogh


Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Sale Price:


Year Sold:


Original Sale Price:

$58 (300 francs)

Original Year Sold:


Years From Origin


Painting Annual Growth Rate:


Annual Stock Market Return During same Time:




 (Photo: Wikipedia)


Pablo Picasso


Garçon à la Pipe

Sale Price:


Year Sold:


Original Sale Price:


Original Year Sold:


Years From Origin


Painting Annual Growth Rate:


Annual Stock Market Return During that Same Time:




(Photo: Wikipedia)


Vincent Van Gogh



Sale Price:


Year Sold:


Original Sale Price:

$58 (300 francs)

Original Year Sold:


Years From Origin


Painting Annual Growth Rate:


Annual Stock Market Return During that Same Time:




(Photo: Wikipedia)


Thomas Eakins


The Gross Clinic

Sale Price:


Year Sold:


Original Sale Price:


Original Year Sold:


Years From Origin


Painting Annual Growth Rate:


Annual Stock Market Return During that Same Time:




(Photo: Wikipedia)


Pablo Picasso


Le Rêve

Sale Price:


Year Sold:


Original Sale Price:


Original Year Sold:


Years From Origin


Painting Annual Growth Rate:


Annual Stock Market Return During that Same Time:



Looking at the numbers, if you were able to buy the most expensive painting in the history of the world at the original price, your return would be only a few percent higher than that of the overall stock market! After you take into consideration storage, maintenance and insurance on the paintings, a big chunk of that out-performance would most likely evaporate.

Over the long term there are very few things which are more profitable than the return on the broad stock market. Particularly on things which don’t produce anything and derive all their value based on what someone else would pay for it.

But if we focus on art as an investment, it has performed surprisingly well in relation to the stock market over the past 25 years (although with a lot more volatility). But that says nothing about it’s performance moving forward.

It’s hard enough to pick a stock that you think would do well over the next few years, it is even harder to predict which artist and which piece of art would appreciate in the future…if at all.

As the time machine example demonstrated that even with perfect hindsight your performance would only be at best slightly better than the stock market. But since we don’t have perfect hindsight or a time machine it is rather foolish to think that we have the ability to predict which art piece would appreciate the most decades from now.

Buy art because you like it, not to make money.

Michael Page

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Are Film Critics Worth Listening To?

“Don’t pay any attention to the critics – don’t even ignore them.” – Samuel Goldwyn

(Photo: jontintinjordan)

I love going to the movies, but each time a new movie comes out, I am left having to decide if the film is worth my time and money. When deciding I have a few choices: I can watch the preview and try to decide, but usually that is not a very accurate method of determining if the movie will be good or not. I can wait till one of my friends recommends it to me, but then I am left having to wait till they see the movie first, and I am not sure that they would go to see all the movies which might have been of interest to me. The other option, which I most often choose, is to go online and see what the film critics think. Usually I go to Rotten Tomatoes which compiles reviews of dozens and sometimes hundreds of movie critics across the country and gives an overall rating for each film. I try to see most movies which have a score of 90 percent or higher. Which means that 9 out of 10 critics think it’s a worthwhile movie to see.

After following that method for a few years, I started to wonder if film critics are the best source of predicting whether a movie is worth the effort or if audience opinions are a more accurate indication? In other words are the opinions of the general public better that the opinions of professional film critics in predicting if a film is good or not? So I decided to dig deeper and find out.

Over the last few years each time I saw a movie I would write down the name and give it a grade of how good I thought it was. I always enjoyed documenting my life and making notes of things that I found interesting. I decided to compile a list of around 150 movies that I had seen over the last few years and convert my ratings to a 0 to 100 scale (100 being the best), and compare the ratings of film critics on the same scale to see how my ratings compare to those of film critics.

I compared my movie ratings with the following sources:

Rotten Tomatoes, MetaCritic and IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – This is simply a compilation of dozens of movie reviewers from across the country in newspapers and online. The score is simply a rating of how many critics think the movie is worth seeing and how many think it’s worth skipping.

Rotten Tomatoes All Critics Average Rating – This is the overall rating that the film critics have given a movie. If a critic uses a 1 to 5 rating for a movie or a 0 star to 4 stars, for example, Rotten Tomatoes converts it to try to make the ratings be uniform. I converted their ratings to a 0 to 100 scale to be uniform with my ratings.

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Ratings – This is a rating of what percentage of the general Rotten Tomatoes audience recommends a movie or not.

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Average Rating – This is an overall rating that the Rotten Tomatoes audience gave a movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic Rating – Top critics are a group of film critics, which Rotten Tomatoes believe are the most influential. These people would be the most read reviewers in the country. The critic rating is once again the percentage of how many would recommend seeing a movie and the percentage that think that it’s best to skip it.

Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic Average Rating – Overall Rating given by Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes converted to a uniform scale.

Metacritic MetaScoreMetacritic is very similar to Rotten Tomatoes, they use a compilation of ratings from numerous film reviewers across the county to determine an overall number grade for the movie

Metacritic Audience Rating – This is the overall grade the general Metacritic audience gives a movie.

IMDB – Another rating which I converted to a 0 to 100 scale judged by the general movie public.

Here is a spreadsheet of all the ratings that I put together.

If we take all my ratings and all the other ratings and compare them by using Pearson’s Correlation, we can determine which ratings most accurately match my ratings. Or in other words, which opinions best determines whether I will like a movie or not. Pearson Correlation measures how close a set of numbers correlate to each other on a scale of -1 to 1. One means total correlation, 0 means no correlation and -1 means the set of numbers negative correlation.

So which was most accurate?

Here is how they panned out from the best predictor to the worst:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Rating = .41
  • Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Rating = .40
  • Rotten Tomatoes All Critics Average Rating = .38
  • Metacritic User Score = .36
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating = .35
  • IMDB = .34
  • Metacritic Meta Score = .33
  • Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics Average Rating = .31
  • Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics Rating = .30

To my surprise, the general audience over all is a lot more accurate in predicting if I would like a movie or not. The general Rotten Tomato Audience had a .41 correlation with my ratings. The least accurate predictors were Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics .3 correlation.

What is most interesting is that regardless if you look at Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic in each website, the audience was a lot more accurate in predicting the movie likeability than were the critics. And the least accurate predictors were the “Top Critics” or the critics who are considered the most influential and the most important in the film industry. Another surprise was that when it came to mystery and suspense movies Rotten Tomatoes and Top Critic Ratings had a negative correlation, meaning that if I were to go see a mystery or suspense film, I would have a large chance of liking movies that the critics would be lukewarm about.

Also I found out that I have a lot in common with the general public when it comes to movies that the audience says go see but does not particularly like. (large gap between audience rating compared to average rating) Movies such as ZombieLand which the audience recommended seeing but did not particularly like. Or another way of saying “The movie is ok but you should still go see it”. Almost a .81 correlation.

But what happens if the audience and the film critics can’t agree? In the situations where the critics love a movie that the audience does not, the audience is usually right (.67 to .31). And in situations where the audience loves a movie a lot more than the critics, the audience is again usually right (.56 to .46).

The other interesting discovery is that overall the average person’s movie choices mirror more that of many movie critics than those of top critics (.64 to .57). In other words, an average moviegoer should listen less to those film critics who are considered most influential and best known, but instead listen to the general consensus of numerous film critics. (Which mathematically makes sense, since a large sample size of numerous critics should correlate more with the general consensus of the public compared to a small sample size of top critics.)

I always considered myself a bit of a movie snob with eclectic movie tastes, but from analyzing the numbers it looks like my taste is more similar to that of the general public than it is to the elite movie critics and professional movie experts. Moving forward, crowd-sourcing movie reviews from the general public might be a more accurate way of predicting if I will like a movie or not.

This small exercise really made me reexamine how much weight in my life I place on the opinions of so-called “experts.” Maybe the opinions of the most influential people are a lot less important then we think.

How much weight in your life are you putting on the opinions of critics and experts?

Michael Page

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