Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dad: Two Years Later

It's been two years since my Dad passed away.  I still feel as if he's here.  That I could pick up the phone and call him.  Or, that I could drive down to LA and meet him for dinner.  When I see the Dodgers or Angels on TV, I think of sitting down behind the dugout at the game as a little kid. 

In recent nights, my father has been in my dreams again.  Just last night, it was a family trip to Disneyland.  I don't recall much of the dream except that at one point I was impatiently waiting for him to get out of the shower so that we could head down to Disneyland.  And the second thing I remember is walking around the park looking for him.  I accidentally got on a bus that took me out of the park, and I didn't have my hand stamped so I was unable to re-enter.

Eh, some crazy before bed snack or something. 

Late last year, I took some old family film in to have it converted to DVD.  (No rush on the order).  The guy called me today to say that it's ready.  It may include a trip or two to Disneyland.  I'm not sure how easy it'll be to sit through initially, but I'm looking forward to it.

Dad, I'm thinking of you.  Hope you're subscribing to my blog feed up in Heaven.  I also added a widget so that you can receive daily email updates. Assuming it gets by Heaven's filters and doesn't end up in the Spam folder.

Miss you, Elmo.  (Not his name, just what I called him as a rebellious teen).

.6% GDP Randomosity

  • Sorry Paul Krugman. Sorry Barry Ritholtz.  No recession.  And you can't just get the superdelegates to vote for changing the definition of a recession, either.
  • Look, I'm not here to pitch for George Bush and the GOP.  I realize that there are folks out there hurting and we all wish the GDP were over 3%. 
  • In my view, the hate mail should be sent to Ben Bernanke (not pictured).  He kept rates too high for too long and has been jawboning inflation (that has yet to show up in the core rate).
  • The Fed cut .25%.  The market reacted to the announcement by selling off the rally earlier in the day.  If you're reading Adam Warner, you knew this was going to happen! 
  • At first glance it looks as if the QQQQ bounced down off the 200dma.  It'll make another run at it soon enough.  (Once folks pause their newly tax-rebate financed PS3 and Grand Theft Auto IV games long enough to enter a market orders to buy.)
  • The RSI(2) for the QQQQ is already down in the 30s, nearing oversold.
  • From 2004 data, the average use of gasoline per person in the US?  464 gallons.  Your individual use may vary, but if gasoline prices drop a buck how big of an impact on the monthl budget is it really?  Sure, you can't spend that money at the Cheesecake Factory or Best Buy; which are the stocks that have been hit with higher energy prices.  But heck, $40 a month...
  • That Dancing with the Stars results show is pretty difficult to sit through.  So I don't!  I do record it and zip to the end to find out who was eliminated.  I *may* have paused to watch Shannon Elizabeth. 
  • *May*.

Wrong Way Paul

My view on Paul Krugman is that he reaches his conclusions based on his political ideology.  PK has already formed all of his opinions.  It doesn't matter what economic numbers are released from day to day.  He doesn't like George Bush.  That's the only thing that matters to PK. 

The GDP for the first quarter came in at .6%.  Too slow to be sure.  But indicating a recession?  Lets go to Investopedia for the definition of a recession:  A significant decline in activity spread across the economy, lasting longer than a few months. It is visible in industrial production, employment, real income and wholesale-retail trade. The technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country's gross domestic product (GDP).

Today, PK says "The point is that the official definition of recession has become delinked from peoples’ actual experience."

Ah, rationalizing a bit PK?  Sorry if the actual numbers aren't jiving with your preconceived opinions on the economy.  If we take PK's point of view, then someone has to go update the history books.  There may have been thousands of recessions the past century if we just go on how people are feeling from quarter to quarter.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tax Rebate Stimulation Palooza

Tax Rebate Stimulation Palooza

  • I don't expect the site hit count to be very high today as folks rush to Best Buy to get a Sony Playstion 3 and the hot-off-the-presses Grand Theft Auto IV. Doesn't everyone want to be the first on their block to find the hidden sex scene(s)?    And in HD.... Hooo.
  • Just like real life, you'll have to go into some room, and press the buttons in just the right sequence, and flip the joystick at just the right time.  Make one wrong move, and you'll spend the night on the couch where you'll have to play in practice mode.
  • Don't forget the HDMI cable to hook the PS3 to your HD TV.  And if you don't have a plasma or LCD big screen, you can always charge that on the Visa (V) or Mastercard (MA).  Why go out and get the PS3 without HD?  C'mon, Mr. Analog!  Join the digital age!
  • Tax Stimulus Checks FAQ

Stock Market Same Same

  • But notice the NDX!  Love to see the Nasdaq 100 leading with its chin.  The tone has changed.  And for everyone saying that "Everyone is saying," be careful not to be the Greater Fool later on down the road.  The crowd missed the turn down in the low 1300's, and now they've caught the tide and will ride the trend for awhile.
  • Not to excuse myself for trying to catch the tide at levels slightly above here.  I WAS EARLY!!!  LOL.
  • So if one is still bearish now that the trend has changed, where does one get in?  Waiting patiently for a pullback?  Charging in and matching one's chin with the NDX's chin and saying, "I'm with ya, big fella?"
  • Of course, all is just my opinion only, and there are many opinions out there.

Blog Picture Palooza

  • I caught up on the final of Torchwood.  They offed Tosh!  Toshiko was played by Naoko Mori.  Check out here Wiki for an interesting read.

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's Just a Number Randomosity

  • Maybe Roger Clemens was doing research for a book he was writing.  Maybe Mindy McCready had a fake id.  Maybe this is some made-up stuff to take the focus off of steroids.  I can't wait to read Jose Canseco's take on it all!
  • Everyone was watching that 1405 number on the SP500 like they were anticipating the high heat from Clemens.  The off-speed change hit at 1402.90 as the index fell to just below flat for the day.
  • Tomorrow is another day.  But today, the tax rebates start to hit bank accounts for those folks who make under the rebate cap, and for those who don't make anything at all and filed a tax return claiming so.
  • Bill Cara's take?  US tax rebates to 130 million homes (says the President), starting this week, will likely drive revenues and profits of consumer electronics and household appliance manufacturers. Nowhere do I see any counseling of families struggling with debt to use this “found” money to pay down loans in order to improve their credit scores.
  • I read somewhere that even folks who pay down debt tend to run the credit back up to previous levels with in a year.  (Too lazy to find that link.)  So my take is that even if some do pay down a credit card, the credit will be whipped out faster than a Roger Clemens heater with an inexperienced batter at the plate.
  • Crossing Wall Street found Goldman Sach's Top Ten list for how rebates will be spent.  "I spent it all on cheesecake and petunias!"
  • Man, Battlestar Galactica is really frakkin' horrible this "last" season.  But I feel compelled to finish the series.

The Over 1400 Cheer!

The day after NFL draft weekend is always interesting. Most teams, fans, and sports writers are now convinced that all of the draft picks, including 6th and 7th-rounders, were potential 1st-rounders who simply fell through the cracks. 

Eh, I just wanted to lead with another cheerleader pic.  (Being honest.)

Okay, so OMFG, that is the SP500 trading above 1400.  Here in the worst economy the country, no the planet, no the galaxy, has ever seen, stocks move upwards. 

Saturday, April 26, 2008

NFL to the NBA

  • First, something money-themed.  I'm surfing around and really sensing a tug-of-war between the bulls and the bears here.  You can find the blogs out there pretty easily, but there is no consensus. It's as if there is no crowd opinion out there.  Except that oil prices are out of control.  We can agree on that, right?  World demand and a lot of oil is in crazy-ass countries. 
  • OK.  I've had it.  This NFL draft is lacking the drama of last year's.
  • ESPN went over to NBA, too.  So I flipped to the NFL Network.  Here's my two cents on the NFL Network:  Not as good as ESPN.  I started with the NFL Net, but switched back to ESPN. 
  • So I switch over to the NBA, where the Lakers are playing the Nuggets.  Not much drama there, either.  Kobe and Co. are taking it to Denver and it's looking like a 3-0 series lead. 
  • The Rockets and Jazz series is fun to watch.
  • Eh, back to the NFL Network.  I do love how every pick is seen as the Messiah by fans.  Being a Dolphins fan, I have to say I like Parcells fixing the lines.  That is where the games are won.  Open big enough holes, and I might be a 1000-yard rusher.  Okay, not me.  But your average NFL-RB looks pretty good with a stud O-Line.
  • I did get the bike ride in, despite the constant wind from the north.  Good grief, that was sapping.  About 2 hours worth.  My battery went dead on my bike computer so I'm not sure how far I went.  Going to go tomorrow, too.  What the hey.

NFL Draft Day Randomosity

  • Dolphins cheerleader Stefanie is sure happy about that Jake Long draft and signing.
  • Do you have your mock NFL draft sheet ready to go?
  • Starting off this weekend...  Barron's says that folks are ready to jump back into stocks and that the dollar may be ready to rally.  Contrarian indicator?  Naw, too early.  I believe the crowd is right for long periods of time, and they just tend to miss the inflection points when the trend changes.  The lows held on the correction, and it looks as if we're trending up.
  • The reality is that the economy wasn't as dire as folks were worrying about.  The whole debate of are we or aren't we in a recession indicates to me that we're not talking a worst case global meltdown scenario.  It's either an economic slowdown or it's a very mild recession, and now stocks are pricing in a better tomorrow.
  • Of course, I haven't read Abelson, yet.  I'm sure he's grumpy and dour.
  • Rice is being rationed in Sacramento.  Costco doesn't have any rice, but if you want 100 lbs. of kitty litter or 10 lbs. of cod, you're good to go.
  • ESPN talkin' QBs here early.  2 hours until draft starts.  I'll have to get my bike ride in early.
  • Reading Adam Warner's Time Well Spent is time well spent on how time is not well spent on Bubble TV.
  • Enough Wealth on Bad Tax Planning featuring Blade.  Er, Wesley Snipes.  (Not pictured).
  • I was watching Fast Money (on said Bubble TV) on friday.  Why does it seem that they're yelling at me?
  • QB Matt Ryan to the Falcons  you think? Trade?  I gotta get my ride in. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Guam for all the Marbles!

  • It would be fun if the Democratic nomination came down to Guam.  Guam for all the marbles!
  • Guam's Top Model.  It's the little island that could.  This pic is of Natalia Faculo, singer/student from the village of Dededo.  She loves to write songs, sing, and model. 
  • Hillary beats Obama but only gains a handful of delegates.  Not a big enough margin to do any damage to Obama, and she's running out of states. 
  • The stock market?  Are we all a little hungover from last week's run?  I believe the tenor on Wall Street has changed back into bull mode, and that the market correction is over.  Staying long.
  • I like Bank of America (BAC).  And Wells Fargo (WFC).   Keeping an eye on Philip Morris International (PM), too.  No positions in any of those at this time.
  • We know what there is to know about financials.  I think BAC is the monster here.  WFC is extremely well run and has avoided most of the subprime crud.
  • PM over MO, because of the domestic (US) anti-smoking and smoke-tax mania here.  Especially should Obama win in November.  I think smoking will continue to decline here. No matter how cool Katie looks doing it!  Not that I'm bearish on MO.  It'll probably do okay.  They do sell an addictive product.
  • Then again, so does Hershey (HSY)!  I think I need a chocolate fix right now!
  • I wonder if folks will sell dividend stocks should Obama get in and raise taxes on dividends....?
  • John McCain, the Presidential candidate who claims to know squat on economics, has an econ advisor!  See Greg Mankiw for linkies.
  • I wonder if I can watch Guam's Top Model over the web?  Hmm.
  • Maybe there's a slogan for Hillary in there somewhere, "Hillary:  Guam's Top President."  But keep the pantsuit on, Hill.  Lets let Natalia do the modelin'...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Recession Randomosity

  • President George Bush says we're not in a recession. And that's good enough for me!
  • Somebody update Investopedia with the new definition of a recession:  "We just ask George."
  • Well, after last week's gains, the market has had rough sledding so far this week.  I remain long.  According to my playbook, the week after options expiration tends to be weak if we've had a big options week rally.  And next week we have month-end strength!  That's just my playbook; actual results may vary.
  • Oh, the Fed meets again next week to cut interest rates for those keeping tabs.  Will it be .25 or .5?
  • From Todd Harrison at Minyanville"Are you getting bullish on upticks and bearish on downticks? If so, take a deep breath and a step back. Life ain't all cream puffs and powdered sugar."
  • I think we need a running score on how the PA vote is going.  A ticker for our desktops would be nice.  Could you imagine following baseball or football if "the results won't be known until tomorrow or maybe the day after?"
  • And what if the NFL draft is in a few days, but you know the results already?
  • Jake Long seemed at ease in his new role as the NFL's No. 1 draft pick, leaning into a news conference microphone to talk about his mean streak while his mother sat in the corner, nodding as she smiled. The Miami Dolphins were grinning Tuesday, too. They signed the Michigan left tackle to a five-year contract with $30 million guaranteed, and they'll select him with the top pick in the draft...
  • Something funky with the space-time continuum there, Captain.
  • Work sucks.
  • I search The Google news for dividend stocks, and the first six results are Motley Fool sites.  Can I search ex-Fool via the GOOG?  I don't want to read a column there that's just a soundbite for some subscription service they offer.  Just a GOOG advertising gimmick-click, I know.
  • I get a pack of mints, and eat them all in one sitting.  I don't think I could do that with creme puff or powdered sugar.

PA Smackdown!

  • Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the polling booth...
  • Obama and Hillary locking horns in PA today.
  • While it appears that Hillary is out of the race, she continues anyways.
  • Obama would like to eliminate the Social Security earnings cap.

Lost in Obama's calculations is that many of the people who would be affected by eliminating the earnings cap are small-business owners who employ more than half the nonfarm private-sector work force and create two of every three new jobs in this country.

The self-employed would be subject to a double whammy, since they pay both the employee and employer portion of the payroll tax.


Taxes would also be raised on 3 million small-business owners. By fiscal 2015, the number of job opportunities lost would exceed 865,000 and personal savings would decline by more than $55 billion.

And if you think this would raise taxes only on the "rich," think again. According to Heritage, taxes would be raised for 97,065 carpenters, 110,908 police officers, 254,992 nurses, 208,562 post-secondary teachers and 237,000 dentists.

Some quotes from PA...

  • Hillary has called for higher taxes for "The Common Good." Adding, "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
  • Obama: "I think that we can have a capital gains rate that is higher than 15 percent."
  • Obama: "What We Ought To Tax Is Dirty Energy, Like Coal And, To A Lesser Extent, Natural Gas."
  • Hillary:  Sen. Clinton: "You know, capital gains, I think we may have to nudge a little bit..."

Tax... Tax... Tax...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Booted Off Randomosity

  • Is everyone in agreement that 1405 is resistance up ahead on the SP500? Of course we do, fellow group-thinkers.  We are the Borg. 
  • Kristy Lee Cook gets booted off of American Idol, is getting married.  Settling, Kristy Lee?
  • Oil closes above $115, but we seem to have quit paying attention.  Cut spending elsewhere, right?  That whole bottled-water thing is a farce, start there...
  • Wndysrf on the cost of gasoline:   Amazing how there is no cutback whatsoever in gasoline consumption in Los Angeles.  Every day on the freeway, I'm passed by some guy with a monster truck driving 100 mph showing off his aftermarket chip, stainless steel exhaust system, etc., burning gas like there is no tomorrow.  Funny read!
  • Faking it, Deadliest Catch style.
  • US video game sales up 57% in March.  Say, I'm hooked on the simple yet addictive game of Link's Crossbow Training that comes with the Nintendo Wii's Zapper.  Blam, blam, blam.
  • Tonight?  Indian casino!
  • Obama keeps rolling as Hillary runs out of time.  Obama has expanded his lead on Clinton in many national polls and gained ground on her in the next battleground of Pennsylvania ahead of Tuesday's vote.  I hope Hillary stays in it until the bitter end or until TV repeats gear up, as the opening sketches for SNL have been pretty decent.
  • TGIF!

GOOG: Moon Shot!

Well, of course. The Google.  I hope you bought the (deep out of the money) April $520's at the close yesterday.  While the common stock is struggling, up only 21% today as I type, the April $520's are up 14,976.47%.

Where else could you have made that kind of money in a day?  Holy smokes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MO vs. PMI?

Somebody help me here.

Altria is the cigarette company formally known as Prince; er, Philip Morris. And they've recently spun off Kraft and Philip Morris International.  Maybe some other stuff; I don't recall.

Altria pays a dividend of 375% every few days, not to mention all the health benefits from smoking the product.   Well, it actually yields 13.8% yearly according to Yahoo, and there are "scientific" studies that indicate that "the debate is over," there are health detriments from using the product. 

But the investment drag could be that the US is passing more and more strict laws banning smoking (restaurants, cars, while pumping gasoline, etc.) and using cigarette taxes to fund government spending.  It's the only way we've figured out how to tax the poor.  It seems as if this could endanger growth and perhaps the dividend in the future, if fewer folks take up the habit down the road.

Philip Morris International doesn't pay a dividend, but it's all about smokin' international growth according to supporters like Slacker.

My thoughts here?  I'm wondering if all this spinning off is due to concerns over the fear of lawsuits and legislation here in the US.  I'm not sure how things work legally, but aren't there less assets now at MO then there were prior to the off-spinning?  Other countries may be less likely to be as politically correct, so Philip Morris International  may run free like the wind there.

I'm kind of rambling and maybe just looking for an excuse to post this picture.  But if anyone has gone through the thought process on MO vs. PMI, please join in on the comments and let me know what you're thinking.

Do you buy the growth?  Do you buy the dividend?  Do you take a pass on both?

Taxes (Again)

Following up on my comments from yesterday about taxes, here is an article from the Sacramento Bee on tax reforms:

As the debate continues, it's worth recalling what share of income Californians pay in taxes – including income, property, sales and excise taxes (such as alcohol, tobacco and gasoline taxes).

The latest California Budget Project update – "Who Pays Taxes in California?" – shows that lower- and middle-income families pay a larger share of their income in state and local taxes than higher-income residents.

Of course, higher-income California families pay a greater share of their income in income taxes. But lower- and middle-income families pay a greater percentage of their income on property, sales and excise taxes. As the accompanying chart shows, the higher you move on the income scale, the less share of your income you pay in California taxes.

An ideal tax system would be flat overall, with progressive income taxes offsetting regressive property, sales and excise taxes. That way, each income group would pay a similar share of income in taxes.

Should this kind of thinking apply outside of taxes? When one walks into a McDonald's, Starbucks, or Toyota, should a means test be applied before the price is determined?  Is it fair that Bill Gates pays less as a percentage of his income (or net worth) for a Big Mac than the worker bee making $50,000 a year?  Could you imagine the chaos and frustration by retailers trying to evaluate one's income statement?  That'd really slow down the drive-thru lane.

Maybe that's why the tax code is so complicated.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CA Taxes: Rich vs. Poor

It's the day after April 15th, and many are breathing a sigh of relief that tax day is over. But the business of tallying up the tax checks is just beginning for many states facing budget shortfalls.  I live in CA, where the budget picture seems to get worse with every passing week.  The current budget gap is estimated to be $16.5 billion. 

We often read that the rich don't pay their fare share and that the poor pay too much in taxes.  Or we'll read on the other side that the rich are overtaxed while the poor are getting a free ride.

Surfing around this morning, I found an article from the Ventura County Star on where the money really is:

Sure enough, the state Franchise Tax Board's most recent annual report on California income taxes revealed bad news for those with million-dollar-plus annual incomes: Although these 45,696 ultra-rich made up just 0.3 percent of California tax filers in 2005, they paid 36.5 percent of the income taxes.

This is why CA's budget fluctuates wildly with the state of the economy.  If those .3% of rich Californians are hit by an economic slowdown or recession, their incomes fall and the state budget gets whacked.

Ah, but the progressive taxers still feel that the rich aren't paying enough.

That report gives the state's progressive income tax structure its due. It notes that a single mother with one child in California last year did not pay any income taxes if she earned less than $39,283. A married couple with two children paid no taxes on its first $49,083 in income.

Most would agree it's a good thing that the people who struggle hardest to make ends meet get a pass on having to pay state income taxes.

The problem, says the Budget Project report, is that sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes and all the rest take a very big bite out of the incomes of poor and middle-income Californians. The bite is so big that it more than makes up for the break on income taxes.

"Measured as a share of family income, California's poorest families pay the most in taxes," the report says. "The poorest fifth of the state's households, with an average income of $11,100, spend 11.7 percent of their income on state taxes. In comparison, the wealthiest 1 percent, with an average income of $1.6 million, spend 7.1 percent of their income on state taxes."

So will this result in an effort to increase taxes on the .3% and reduce taxes on everyone else?  If so, won't this make the wild budget swings even more dramatic?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

McCain's Tax Pitch

So, John McCain is pitching his tax cut plan today. "Economic policy is not just some academic exercise, and we in Washington are not just passive spectators."

I think the cutting the gas tax idea would be popular if folks get the message.  Back when Arnold Schwarzenegger stole the CA governorship from then-Governor Gray Davis, he proposed a very popular reduction in the car tax.  People don't like paying taxes on their ride. 

That's Aki Hoshino, Japanese bikini model and potentially, McCain's choice for Vice President.

Looking Chipper!

Intel's earnings are out!

TheStreet: Intel's profit narrowed in the first quarter, but the chipmaker posted sales that were slightly ahead of Wall Street expectations and rebutted fears of a tech spending slowdown with a strong sales outlook for the current quarter.

BarronsSolid results from Intel has triggered a wave of after-hours enthusiasm for PC-related stocks.

BarronsOne more tidbit from the Intel release worth repeating: the company did not cut its capital spending plans for 2008.

What's it all mean?  It'd good news that INTC is not cutting their capital spending plans for 2008.  I think it means that if we are in a recession, it's a small one and that soon, Wall Street will begin to anticipate faster economic growth.

Another Myth Bites the Dust

As recently as just last week, I wrote about buying weakness ahead of options week and riding the glorious rally into options expiration. Adam Warner initiated a web free-for-all wondering if taking long or short positions based on weakness or strength the thursday ahead of options expiration week.

From Quantifiable Edges comes Mythdirection Thursdays. Since July 1978, "Average trade - -0.08%." 

There you have it.  Now, I know.  Of course, as I typed last week's entry, it was late at night, I was tired, I had already typed and said millions of things all week long, there was the sniper fire I had to dodge, and I was so bitter that I was thinking about turning to guns and religion.  I must've simply misspoke.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Randomosity

  • Stocks seem to be weathering the storm of news releases. I don't think they want to go down.  Maybe I'm thinking to myself on this one.  Or "hoping" to myself!  Things seem rather flat as I type. 
  • Today's financial news storm is Wachovia reducing their dividend and laying off folks.  But we know these kinds of things already.  Yeah, financial dividends are probably going to have to be reduced to shore up company earnings.
  • Will "engineered" ETFs spoil a good thing?  From CNN Money, "Wall Street is madly engineering new, supposedly innovative ETFs that are complicated, risky and more expensive - just the reverse of what ETFs are supposed to be."  My thought is that if one checks the volume on some of these special cocktail ETFs, the volume is pretty light.  If there's not much interest, they'll die on the vine over time.  JMHO.
  • Seizing moment, Hillary totes Bible to gun range.
  • Econ smackdown!  Volcker vs. Bernanke, from Greg Mankiw.
  • In the Worst Economy Since Hoover, there is a job opening somewhereThe NFL Network said Friday it was looking for a new play-by-play announcer to work with Cris Collinsworth on the network’s Thursday and Saturday night games.  Ah, the end of the Bryant Gumbel era.  Get your application in!
  • I don't like that Nutri Systems ad with the GET 'ER DONE guy.
  • So I went for a 20-mile bike ride on saturday.  Longest for awhile.  Due to knee issues, I didn't cycle much last year.  I'm not sure the knee issues are gone, but that's why God created Advil.  I'm trying for 30-miles tonight, weather permitting.   It's kind of cloudy and windy out there today.

Friday, April 11, 2008

GE: Imagination at Work (and Melissa Lee!)

Imagine a higher stock price...

Well, the news from GE is out, and it's not pretty. As I type, the stock is getting clipped by 12%.   GE has it's fingers and toes into everything Americana (and globalcana), so instead of listing what's going wrong at GE (everything), lets take a look at what's going rightThe one area that is doing well for GE right now is its infrastructure business, thanks largely to orders for energy-related equipment and services.

("There's always a bull market somewhere.")

Oh, and I'm wondering if Melissa Lee has had a little cosmetic surgery on her lips. A Lip Job.  I don't know.  She looks different. Looking at past pics, maybe it's a different shade of gloss or something.  So lets count that as bullish for GE. 

Obviously, GE is leading the market down today.  You know what that means... Buying opportunity!  Ah, the week before options expiration.  Always interesting.

In Edit! Here's an older pic of Melissa Lee. Maybe it's just a lower-volume lip gloss, new hairdo, new make-up crew, or a combination there-in.

CNBC Europe

What to do when one can't sleep?

CAC 40 looking good.

Hard to believe we're nearing mid-April. I was thinking that this is the time of year where I normally look for market strength and a Spring top or sell-signal to lighten-up heading into the Summer months. But this year, I feel differently. I think market seasonality pattern of "sell in May" may not work. Too early to tell, but I'm looking for more of a rally.

Going by the playbook, if one exists, if the week before options weak, I tend to look for a long entry point somewhere between mid-week and friday to take advantage of weakness in anticipation of a market rally through options expiration week. Alas, I'm already long anyways. But that's what I'd do if I were actively trading.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Flights Cancelled

American Airlines cancels more flights for Friday.

Anger, frustration, and confusion.

That's what passengers across the country are feeling after American Airlines canceled more than 900 flights today.

The problems at American Airlines could be just the beginning, as other airlines canceled some flights for inspections.

Between airlines shutting down and now grounding planes for inspections, it makes me glad that I have no travel plans in the near future. For those who do and are facing flight cancelations, they are left scrambling trying to make other travel arrangements.

Randomosity (and Kelly Hu!)

  • Breaking news: Yahoo to merge with Kelly Hu, and become YaHu.  To make it easy for us during the transition, typing in "" will automatically redirect the browser to the new URL, ""
  • Who can keep up with the players in the eventual Yahoo merger these days?
  • Hey!  The market was up today! 
  • I remain 100% long.  Nothing new there, as I continue to believe that the market correction is winding down, if not over completely, and the market will soon be pricing in the stimulative effects of the Fed rate cuts and government stimulus package.  I'm not even flipping or trading here.  Just pressin' the longs.
  • Hmm, my boss says I have to make a presentation to the Board in 15 minutes.  Fantastic.  Good grief.  Thanks for the advance heads up. 
  • Todd Harrison's 35 reasons the stock market hasn't hit bottom.  LMAO.
  • The 2000-2002 bear market never happened!  So says Richard Russell.  From Mark Hulbert.
  • Rich States, Poor States.
  • Barry Ritholtz says, "Two of the trends we have discussed over the past year are still quite evident: Food and fuel inflation, and consumers moving further down market to warehouses and discounters to save money."  Okay, we know that higher energy prices act like a tax on consumers and reduce consumer spending on other stuff.  Which, as we can see by the PCE, is not inflationary at the core (inflation less food and energy)!
  • How is universal health care going in Massachusetts?  Well, the doctor can see you in May - May 2009!  The number of new patients has increased demand on the same number of resources (doctors), increasing the waiting times for appointments.  Well... duh!

They Blocked Me!

I don't know what things are like at your company, but here at the Fun Factory we use an internet blocking program to prevent the worker bees from surfing specific web sites.  Over the years, the noose has been tightened around which sites are "work appropriate" or not.

Some of the sites that are blocked include sports, internet mail (ie, yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc.)shopping, chat, blogs, and social networking.  I think we all understand this at the conceptual level.  It's not appropriate to have folks "stealing" from the company by using time to surf the web for non-work related information.  But it is frustrating when you want to take a few minutes to check a score, news headlines, or what's going on in the markets.

Of course, most folks have come up with a workaround.  Some have brought in their own laptops with wireless cards.  Others use smartphones.  In addition, RSS (site syndication) allow folks to keep up on their favorite sites in an RSS reader (Bloglines, Google Reader, etc.) without tripping the blocking software triggers.

I think while the companies may be successful at preventing the worker bees from using company resources to waste time, the biggest resource being wasted may be labor.  The cost of labor is the biggest expense for most companies, and having workers go to extremes to take their mental breaks from the 8-to-5 grind may be counter productive.

Just thinking out loud on this one.  And tired of texting blog entries from my cellphone...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cramer Signs Multi-Year Deal!

Jim Cramer signs multi-year deal with!

We're not talking A Rod numbers here, but still quite a deal for the man who said that your money is safe at Bear Stearns!  At, in, up, down, new cars, used cars.  Whatever.  The deal for MVP Jim?

Cramer has signed a lucrative new employment contract with, the financial web site that he co-founded. According to a filing with the SEC, Cramer will be paid $1.3 million this year, $1.56 million next year and $1.872 million in 2010. He also gets a $100,000 signing bonus - think of it as mad money - and will be eligible for a bonus of 75% of his salary. He also gets 300,000 restricted stock units that vest over five years. And he gets six weeks of vacation.

Click the link for the full deal and what it boils down per-post. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Home Sales Spin

The news hits this morning that pending home sales declined, and the news can be spun in either direction depending on one's outlook, disposition, or financial interests.

  • National Bubble says "More bad news for the real estate market."  I suppose site-hits would decline on that website if they reported good housing news.
  • The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says "Existing-home sales to stablize before upturn in second half of 2008."  Well, I wonder what their vested interest is?  Have you heard any real estate agent not say that "the bottom is in!" all along the way?
  • Urbandigs notes the NAR positive spin, too. 
  • Bearmaster (who writes at Beartopia) blogs at Los Angeles South Bay Beach Cities Housing Bubble blog (phew!), "Given that sales have almost no place to go but up, I believe that some fish will take the bait from the government stimulus package and go shopping for falling knives."

Pending home sales decline:

A forecasting gauge of previously owned homes fell in February after rising in January.

The National Association of Realtors' index for pending sales of previously owned homes fell 1.9% to 84.6 in February from January, the industry group said Tuesday. Private analysts projected pending sales would drop by 1.1%.

NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said existing home sales could start to show a sustained increase within a few months. "We're looking for essentially stable sales in the near term, before higher mortgage loan limits translate into more sales in high-cost markets," Mr. Yun said. "The wider access to affordable credit should increase sales activity notably this summer as pent-up demand begins to be met."


My thoughts... Lots of PS (pending sales) in my neighborhood according to the local real estate site. Are they buying "falling knives" or buying a home to live in? I think the latter. And as long as they can keep their jobs and make monthly payments, I believe this is the sort of activity that will eventually work off that 10-month inventory of homes on the market. Knock on wood...

Kansas Jayhawks

Chalmers hits a three with time running out! The Kansas Jayhawks win in overtime!

One of the better NCAA finals, as Memphis squanders a lead and misses clutch free throws near the end of the game. Definitely has to be a frustrating loss for Memphis fans. Jayhawks never quit. Great job!

Chalmers' desperate three-point basket with 2.1 seconds left in regulation forced Memphis to overtime Monday, and a Kansas team that outlasted some of the best this NCAA tournament had to offer won the national title, 75-68.

"It'll probably be the biggest shot ever made in Kansas history," Coach Bill Self said.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bonus "on the other hand" Coverage!

On the one hand with bonus "on the other hand" coverage with Gary Kaltbaum

I realize that in order to be the most successful stock guru, one has to seemlessly play both bull and bear positions, in order to "be right" down the road.  I need to practice it myself.

Lets start with the bull comments:

Since the market's follow through day, the market continues to act constructively off its recent lows as up days have been on heavier volume while down days have been on light volume. One also has to like that leadership is indeed starting to show up.

Bonus "on the other hand" coverage:

Does the recent action mean things will be better in a few months? Maybe- just remember in bear markets, intermediate-term rallies do occur. I remember several during the 2000-2003 carnage. But the bottom line is that I do not look past my headlights... and that is the evidence that is NOW at hand... not the evidence that may show up later.

Down the road GK will be able to claim that "This is exactly what I was talking about," no matter what happens.  Pretty darn cool, huh? Now he is on the hook for at least an intermediate-term rally, but here on April 7th we've already had a decent move off the correction lows.


  • When we rally on bad news from Cody Willard. Cody says it's bullish!  He needs to see a barber, but he's right about the market!
  • Calgirlfinance says "For some reason, I've always been turned off by Suze Orman."  Lets just file that one under common sense, Calgirl.
  • I'm waiting for the blog entry from someone who has "always been turned on by Suze Orman."  I know you're out there.
  • Paul Kedrosky's take on the Microsoft and Yahoo noise, "By all accounts Yahoo's Jerry Yang is a nice guy. But he is beginning to bug me..."
  • Calculated Risk is keeping track of strip mall vacancies.  (As if we need a Starbucks and Panda Express every 100 yards!)
  • Hmm, I wonder what the strip club vacancy numbers are?  "Marissa to the center stage. Er, uh, has anyone seen Marissa?"
  • Sentiment update from Jordan "the wrath of" Kahn, saying that "the market looks like it is climbing the proverbial 'wall of worry'."
  • Laura cycled 60 miles.  Getting ready for another charity ride?  Stay in shape, help a good cause... It's all good.
  • Memphis and Kansas!  Say, I better hit the road...

Market Thoughts

  • I believe the market is anticipating an economic rebound and will continue to move higher. Tax rebates and low interest rates will work, and the market will anticipate that and surge forward before the economic numbers catch up.
  • The official economic numbers are a historical view of where we have been.
  • 100% bullish.  I've been this way for awhile, and view the recent market action as a correction - not a bear market.  The Fed kept rates too high for too long, the housing crisis and high energy prices have kept a damper on consumer spending.
  • Inflation is mild.  Ignore those who are worried about inflation.  They're out in deep right field.  Not even close.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Alternative Transportation To Hawaii

First, Aloha Airlines shut down. Then, ATA shut down.  Folks now left scrambling trying to figure out how to get to and from paradise!
Passengers approaching the closed ATA counters at Honolulu International Airport Thursday morning were met by state transportation agents, who distributed information about ATA's shutdown.

The Gary Kaltbaum Express

I don't want to pick on Gary Kaltbaum too much this week. He had some sort of "episode" on tuesday and was in the hospital for two days undergoing tests.  The good news is that he's okay, and the tests were negative.  He mentioned on the radio that he may have had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) (mini-stroke) or severe migraines that caused his problems.  Thoughts and prayers are with you, GK.  But that being said, he mentioned on his show Thursday that he "was no longer bearish" as of Monday.  So, of course I went to his Trading Markets column.

Monday 3/31 "Why am I worried?" I am just not seeing the signs that make up a new bull market. When a new bull market starts, you should start seeing great set-ups and strong breakouts. We are seeing none of this. ... Maybe the bottom is in...and maybe the market just needs time to repair itself. I have no bias. Just not feeling it!
Thursday 4/3/ "The real reason stocks are diving"The market continues to hold the lows, and is slowly building off those lows in spite of more bad economic news. This is actually a good thing. I'm just taking things one day at a time... not trying to get too far ahead in my thoughts. This has been a brutally tough market and I think it remains a tough proposition even if we head higher. Based on the follow-through day on Tuesday, I have been investing quite a bit.
I'm a daily listener to GK's show on my walks and bike rides.  I *think* his timing system is basically following IBD's trend calls. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Super Pii Pii Brothers

Try Super Pii Pii Brothers for the Nintendo Wii!  (A day late... winks).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


  • April? Blink, and another month goes by!
  • The stock market roared today to start off the quarter.  According to Yahoo Finance, the rally today was because "the financial sector is nearing a bottom."  Uh, okay. 
  • Or maybe the market liked Kristi Yamaguchi's tango last night on Dancing with the Stars.
  • In the bigger picture, I think we're pricing in the recovery from this economic slowdown.  The Fed has cut rates dramatically and the fiscal stimulus package is going to hit in just over a month.  The stock market discounts the future, and could be looking into a more robust 2nd-half of 2008. 
  • Man, I had the worst cold last week.  Sheez.  Hope you don't get that mess.
  • On the campaign, Hillary is basically eliminated from the Democratic nomination unless she somehow manages to steal the superdelegates from Obama.  I think the November contest will be between Obama and McCain.  Should be an interesting Summer.  Once Hillary gets out of the way of things.
  • A Final Four with all number 1 seeds?  I was pulling for Davidson, FWIW!
  • While sick, I finaly hit the medal rounds in the Nintendo Wii's "Link's Crossbow Training."  That's an addictive game that comes with the $19 Zapper accessory.  Short. Sweet.  Shoot up stuff.
  • More later...