Saturday, February 28, 2009


It's not March Madness, yet. But can you feel it on the horizon?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thank God it's Freida

  • $C (Citigroup) was the government intervention du jour that sent the market down today. Citigroup Inc. agreed to turn over a big piece of itself to the government, a move that fanned worries that other banks would facecrippling trouble with bad debt.
  • What else didn't help?  $GE.  General Electric Co. slashed its quarterly dividend by 68 percent. I have to hand it to Gary Kaltbaum who on his radio show the past few months has been predicting single-digits for $GE and also dividend slashing, even though chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said he wasn't going to.  Oopsie.
  • I remain long as we cruise into March.  Yes, taking a beating but mostly in the Nasdaq.  It's been a lighter beating.  Thoughts are that we're retesting the lows still.  No reason to panic here, and believe that we may see a pretty big rally soon.  Then it will be time to decide what to do.  Not here.
  • Rosy scenario or the audacity of hope, from Greg Mankiw.  Obama's team predicting higher growth than private forecasters.
  • Yes, that's Freida Pinto from the Maxim cover shoot.  Nice.  Wearing an oversized sweater and little else (save the seductive, six-inch black heels), Freida's expression is deliciously ambiguous, a mix of naughtiness, playfulness and something else that's impossible to pinpoint but easy to love.  Easy, Breezy, Beautiful.
  • From Larry Kudlow, Obama declares war on investorsLet me be very clear on the economics of President Obama’s State of the Union speech and his budget. He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equityand venture-capital funds.
  • I dunno, Larry.  I don't think Obama believes that's what he's doing.  It certainly seems like it.  The Democrats have been outstanding at ostracizing the "rich" for all the nation's ills. While everyone knows it's all George Bush's fault!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Randomosity and Britney Spears

  • Fannie Mae $FNM asking for $15.2 billion in federal aid, although that number is expected to grow. Nice.
  • Did you catch American Idol last night?  Whew, what a bunch of crap that was.
  • Octuplets mom Nadya Suleman offered $1 million to do a porn flick.  And the offer does include health insurance for her and her 14 kids.  Now that's the kind of innovative way President Obama needs to tackle health care for the uninsured. 
  • President Obama admits to massive deficits, but says they're headed lower. Uh huh.
  • Yes, I'm embedding the Britney Spears music video, Circus.  I don't know why.  LOL.
  • Sam Farmer's first NFL mock draft.  So you know.  It's never too early to start making that "rookie break out" list for your fantasy football draft.
  • Oil prices up over 6% today.  Don't take the eyes off the energy football.  That's going to be the one that comes back and bites us, as we're no better prepared to deal with our own energy needs. Where are the plans to build more nuclear plants for electricity and for a percentage of our vehicle fleet to run on natural gas? 
  • Sweden is ditching its ban on nuclear energy.  Italy is embarking on new nuclear energy development.

Another Day, Another Trillion

  • After Tuesday's strong rally, I think we were all looking forward to an IBD follow-through day Friday or soon thereafter. But before that could happen, the market is tanking in the in-between days.  Hammered again today after a nice open.  Of course, as soon as the politicians start talking, the market fell.
  • And heck, where's the month-end rally?
  • Yahoo blames "negative headlines."  Yeah.  Right.  That's all we have had for months.
  • It seems like everyday, there is an announcement of another nearly-trillion in borrowing.  In the name of fiscal responsibility, of course.  Today, Obama announced that he is budgeting for another $750 billion bank bailout for later this year.  Yesterday, he announced $634 billion for health care reform.
  • Pretty soon we'll be talking about real money.
  • All of this to be financed by higher taxes on the rich via restoring tax levels to the Clinton-era rates and eliminating or reducing tax write-offs for the rich.  (Which is a massive tax hike, by the way).  In addition, the rich limit has been lowered from $250,000 to $209,000. I have a hunch it'll go lower.
  • Gary Kaltbaum opened his radio show today saying that the government has declared war on your money.  (And war on your wallet). 
  • It does feel like the government is doing things to prolong the state of the economy and to drive stocks down.   I think the government is good for oil and natural gas, as the current administration's energy policy won't produce much energy and will increase our reliance on foreign energy.  But that's been the status quo for decades.  So can't blame Obama for that.  He's not helping, but he's not doing anything different than the guy before him.
  • Picture is of Summer Glau. Of course!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Responsible Randomosity

  • So this is the fiscally responsible President, right? Just asking.

  • Market all over the place. Seems like it is just watching politicians speak. The more they speak, the crazier the market is. .

  • Normally I'd be looking for a month-end rally on deck. But these days all bets are off.

  • Only a few weeks of winter left. Days are warming in the 60's here when the sun shines.

  • Ash Wednesday, right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Night Obama Randomosity

  • President Obama gave his speech tonight, and ticked off millions by pre-empting American Idol.
  • You won't be able to avoid Obama's speech on the news. One of the funniest comments I heard about it was that he "is going to cut the deficit by increasing the deficit." Nobody cares right now. Pessimism is high. Lots of folks have lost their jobs or have seen salaries cut back. People want to hear a message of hope, and you have to acknowledge that Obama delivers that in spades.
  • Interesting comments on peoples' 401(k) habits through this bear market. Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab Corp. and other 401(k) account managers say most clients rode out the worst months of the stock market slump without changing weekly contributions or moving to more conservative money-market or bond funds. Promising!
  • On the otherhand, that's not the views of House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D). “For too many Americans, 401(k) plans have become little more than a high-stakes crap shoot,” said Miller. “We are realizing that Wall Street’s guarantees of predictable benefits and peace of mind throughout retirement was nothing more than a hollow promise.” Fear is selling well, and Bill hops on board. You wonder what he has in mind. Higher taxes and government guarantees? Are those reliable?
  • Global warming satellite lost in space. A satellite launched from California failed to reach orbit today, crashing into the sea near Antarctica and dooming a $273 million mission to study global- warming gases. The cause of the crash was blamed on global warming.
  • Yes, that's a picture of Sarah Silverman. Just cuz.
  • American Idol will be on Wednesday. Relax.

A Double Dose of Reassurance

  • Well, that's good enough for us! Why didn't you just say something earlier?

  • The market surged 4% today. Advancers trounced decliners. Volume was heavy. So let's call yesterday a retest of previous lows and see what folks can do with this.

  • Even Robert Prechter has said to close short positions. I'd link, but I'm on the iPhone! He warned of a "sharp and scarey" rebound for those still betting on a retreat.

  • Obama TV tonight. Folks are looking for details! Either that or mad that he is preempting American Idol out her in CA.

  • It was a good day. We have that.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Save the Cheerleader, Save the Stock Market?

Save the cheerleader, save the stock market? It's worth a try. The stock market isn't indestructible, it's not like Hayden Panettiere.

The stock market continues its free fall. Now down at 1997 levels. I received an email from a friend that he is delaying his retirement plans. I bet he's not alone. Portfolios are being crushed. Pension plans are no longer sound. Any home equity one hoped to cash in on, is gone. Private companies are shedding workers, and will government workers be the next to go?

If anything can be learned from economics, it is that economic booms are followed by economic busts. The government and Federal Reserve never seem to keep things on an even keel for too long. Things swing in excesses. In the past ten years, we've seen bubbles in stocks, real estate, and oil. We may have one in the bond market.

Sentiment seems to be at the "giving up" levels. Nobody is bullish anymore. The feeling is that it's all over.

It probably isn't.

I'm still long the market. Fortunately, I am outperforming the major indexes by a ways by being in non-financial stocks and mostly in the Nasdaq. Even with the new lows, we're still within the margin of a retest. But things do look gloomy.

Tonight as I type, Asian stocks are being pounded. Tokyo stocks near 26-yr lows.

This is where I want to whistle the tune to Monty Python's "Always look on the bright side of life." Lots to be said for that. I'm generally an optimist, and do believe things will get better. But right now we're all trudging through this valley and it doesn't feel good.

Back with lighter stuff tomorrow. This gloomy stuff is too, uh, gloomy. Keep it positive, Muck.

Fugly Day - Pic Only!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bigger U.S. stake in Citigroup?

The $C follies continue, with government trying to "help" even more. || Citi in talks over bigger U.S. stake - Report

NEW YORK ( -- Citigroup Inc. is in discussions with regulators about a plan for the federal government to take a larger ownership stake in the bank, according to a report Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that the government would convert a large portion of its preferred Citigroup shares to common shares.

The government received the preferred shares in return for investing $45 billion in Citi as part of the $700 billion bailout of the financial system.

Pasted from my iPhone!

Remember when $C was at $30 a share and everyone thought it was the bottom? The financials staged a powerful rally around there and many worried that they missed it. Well, two monster government bailout packages later, a new President, and a new Super Bowl champ hasn't brought hope to $C shareholders.

I'm wondering if the government will create similar miracles to share prices of other stocks? I think you have to let the bad companies fail rather than prop them up and postpone what seems to be the inevitable.

Slumdog Sunday

It's awards night, so you know what that means. Awards! I never watch the show. It's the long-winded speeches that get to me. But I did see Freida Pinto walking in on one of the shows before the shows. Wow.

  • Asian markets up a bit as I type. Everyone seems to be watching what the US government is doing. The latest is more intervention in $C (citigroup) via a larger government stake.

  • Remember the days when we cared about company earnings, growth, and spending? Now we're all just watching White House press releases. And news commentators speaking their minds.

  • I watched the Sacramento Kings play the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. Just to see the new Kings faces. If ever there were a franchise in need of a government bailout.

  • I'm on a chocolate milk kick. So you know.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Halving Your Troubles Away

President Obama wants to cut the budget deficit in half. The how? Letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the rich and cutting back on spending on the war in Iraq. Of course, debt service on the stimulus package borrowing probably is going to make it tough.

  • The economy was on the minds of those in the Fox Business Block this morning. Lots of predictions on the effectiveness of it all.

  • Someone called Bob Brinker's show today with the idea of letting Americans withdraw up to $10,000 from their 401(k) plans with no taxes or penalities. Interesting.

  • Lines at Costco today were huge. If all one did was watch TV and read the news, one would think the economy was shut down. But step outside and one is reminded that people are still living their lives.

  • Juno is a good movie. NFLXed it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Black Box Buy Signals

Black Box buy signals on the market. All over the place.

TGIF Gloomy Randomosity

  • It's been a rough week. Major indexes down 6% for the week. The SP500 is now near levels last seen in 1997.  The government seems floundering to do something (anything!) to fix it.  There was talk today about nationalizing the banks, later nixed by Obama.  Paul Volcker sees greater global regulations coming.  Yet, it one has to wonder that if the government, which got us into this mess in the first place, can resolve the economic issues with more of the same.

  • But it's friday.  And that means Numb3rs' Navi Rawat is here to take our minds off these troubling times.  If just for awhile.
  • 86-year old Nebraska woman receives $1000 phone sex bill.  The family of an 86-year-old woman who was billed for over $1,000 in phone sex calls suspects identify theft.   Well, that's always a good thing to blame it on. Fraud! Fraud!  (Make sure to have your cell phone set on silent while claiming fraud.) 
  • Babygloomers.  Some kids are having to support both their parents and their children.
  • Activists shocked at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments on China.  Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock Friday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China.  Nor global warming concerns, I'd bet.  It's easy to take a populist stance during the campaign season, but quite a different task to pull it off in the real world.
  • The crisis in the on-deck circle remains the same:  Energy.  Yes, we're having a brief respite.  But nobody is planting any new oil trees out there.  Obama should not delay offshore drilling.
  • Nuclear power would be nice, too.  I think windmills and solar panels make for nice promises during campaign season, but now we're in the real world and we have to build what works.  Say, can we put Hillary Clinton on this one, too?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Obvious in Retrospect

The market has been frustrating for the bulls. For me. In retrospect, it all seems so obvious. The previous stock bubble collapse destroyed a lot of portfolios. The real estate crash destroyed a lot of equity. Oil hitting over $140 a barrel and gasoline prices closing in on $5 a gallon last Summer destroyed a lot of discretionary spending. Government deficit spending growing under then President Bush and now President Obama. The nation is fighting multiple wars overseas and spending hundreds of billions on social programs here at home.

In restrospect, it seems so obvious that it has to end. Why would it continue? Those quarter-after-quarter numbers of over 3% GDP under Bush were a boom that has ended in a bust. The borrowing binge has ended for citizens. It continues for the government, but you have to wonder at what point foreign countries are going to want to bother with funding our government's spending. And an issue today that came up was an uptick in inflation. Maybe that will look obvious in retrospect, too. What do we think will happen with neverending trillions in stimulus spending combined with close to zero interest rates and falling energy prices? There's a lot of money out there that will eventually be chasing declining supply.

Just saying. Watch for it.

Meanwhile? The market? We're below the November lows on the DOW. Close on the SP500. If anyone is expecting this to be the retest and then we'll launch into a bull market, their poker faces aren't showing it.

If there is any good news out there, it is for those who are young enough to be contributing to their 401(k) plans every month via dollar cost averaging. Maybe over the long term, this to will just be a blip in history and those who continue to invest in a diversified index of equities held for many decades will end up as winners. And that will look obvious in retrospect, too.

Oh, picture is of KCAL news anchor Leyna Nguyen. You've probably seen her on many TV shows and movies playing a news anchor!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Does Bernanke Give You Warm Fuzzies?

  • Gee, the market didn't seem to budge on that news. .

  • I always want to know what the deal was prior to the promise to do his best. To do his worst? To put in a half-assed effort?

  • Maybe the market would prefer it if Mr. Bernanke did his least. You know, just stay out of the way and let the recession find its bottom without the government stepping in and postponing and prolonging this downturn.

Market Was Hammered Tuesday

  • The market was thoroughly hammered Tuesday. Economic pessimism and doubt over Obama's stimulus plan fueled the crash.  The SP500 is now near levels not seen since the November 2008 lows.  We've broken through the trading range to the downside, that had been keeping the sideways trending market in check.
  • No longer.
  • Internals were also fugly, with decliners trouncing advancers.  The financial sector made new lows.  And to top it off, the auto industry which pleaded for cash back in December because bankruptcy was too cruel of a Christmas present, are now pleading for more cash.
  • Notice that theme:  The government intervening to postpone the inevitable.  Maybe some businesses just have to fail so that others can take their place.
  • Elsewhere?
  • Is the worst yet to comeBut "the worst is yet to come," according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, who believes American's standard of living is undergoing a "permanent change" - and not for the better as a result of:  (see link, but negative wealth and debt...)
  • Obama readies his fix for foreclosures, which will probably just artificially delay the eventual end to the housing collapse.  He's planning on $50B worth.
  • That, and it's raining cats and dogs in Sacramento.  Hey, that's good news.  We need the rain and the moutains need the snow.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How is the PBGC Doing?

With the stock market near the bottom of this bear market, housing prices continuing to fall, and GDP in the negative, how are those defined benefit pensions coming along? And how are things for PBGC?

  • On this holiday Monday, the California government failed to pass a budget by a single republican vote.
  • Did you watch that new show Friday night, Dollhouse? Yuck.
  • The Fox financial shows spent most of their minutes on the stimulus package. You know how they viewed it. I tend to agree but I don't think things are that dire. Heck, I like the idea of high-speed rail between LA and Las Vegas.
  • A fun radio show that has been spending hours on the economy? Well, all of them are talking that these days. But check out Tom Leykis' podcast.
  • Rain most of the weekend. We need it here. But after six weekend bike rides in January, I've only been on one in February.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Trying to Hold On

  • Does it feel like the market is just holding on here? The market really hasn't done too much for months.  But even with dire headlines and investors turning up their noses at the heavy hand of government, the SP500 is still at 826.  Except for that brief trip to 744, the lower 800's has held the range lately.  Will it continue to hold?  Will it eventually fail?
  • I'm remaining bullish.  I can't see initiating new sells down here.  Reason for optimism?  Recessions don't last forever.  This period of bad economic times has been going on for awhile.  I'd imagine that we're closer to the end of it than the beginning of it.  And everyone seems bearish.
  • Doesn't help to have President Obama badmouthing the economy.  I know he's just trying to sell his stimulus package while the irons are hot and he has high approval ratings.
  • By the way, have you noticed how the Democrats are always trashing corporations, yet the Democrats say that they're "pro-jobs?"  How does that work?  Wouldn't you be doing things to help corporations thrive?  Or are we at the point where the government is going to provide the jobs?  Oh... the stimulus package. 
  • I've been battling a stomach flu this week.  Bleh.  Getting tired of it.  The first day was the worst and things are settling down some, but still as settled as I would prefer.  And I'm tired.  Nap-city, man.
  • Natural gas is under $4.50 as I type.  Seems like a raging buy to me.  I don't know about the one-day, one-week, or one-month performance of buying here, but I believe it will go higher.
  • Controversial "American Idol" contestant and former child star Joanna Pacitti has been booted off the talent show, apparently due to her past in the music business.  I always wonder about folks who are already in bands or in the business participating in American Idol.
  • Should weak banks be nationalized?  Uh, yikes.
  • I can't believe they made a second Pink Panther movie, as the first one was pretty bad.  Steve Martin laughs off criticism, saying comedies always had to overcome critical snobbery and that the genre was "not a critics' medium." This one has Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as the female lead, so maybe it's worth a rent down the road.   Which may be in a few weeks.  LOL.



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stimulus Randomosity

  • Looks like the House and Senate have agreed on a stimulus plan. That's porktacular!  Keep an eye on how the dollars get spent at Stimulus Watch.
  • Will the doorbells ($99,600) get installed okay in Laurel, MS?  And once they're installed, will the 2 jobs created by this remain?
  • Stock market meandered up today after yesterday's sell-off.  Yesterday, the blame was on the stimulus package.  Today, the credit goes to the stimulus package.  Word that congressional officials have agreed on a comprehensive economic stimulus plan provided stocks with a late bounce, helping stocks close with a solid gain.
  • In California, it looks as if the Governor and the Legislature have reached an agreement to close the $42B deficit.  Increase the sales tax.  Increase the income tax.  Increase the car tax.  Increase the gasoline tax.  Because raising taxes is the right prescription in a recession, right?  Read the comments at the link.  LOL.
  • 4 jobs for the environmentally friendly disc-golf course in Austin, Texas.  $886,000 for that. 
  • Is Sirius XM toast?  That's one gadget I don't have.  I could never see the attraction to it.  I'd rather just download podcasts on the iPhone.
  • 14 jobs and $500M for solar water heaters for rural families.  I hope they don't mind cold showers after sunset or when it's cloudy.
  • US budget deficit heading to $1.6T.  YIKES.  No, that doesn't include the price of doorbells in Laurel or any of the rest of the stimulus plan.  And it is important to note that this is the unified budget deficit that includes the significant Social Security Insurance surplus. The General Fund deficit will be even worse.
  • And people thought George Bush was a big liberal spender!  Somebody made the comment this morning on bubblevision that Keynesian policies don't work when nations already have a monster deficit.
  • $393,000 and zero jobs for patrol rifles for Pembroke Pines, FL.  The Neocons must've snuck that one in.
  • Yes, pic is of American Idol judge newbie Kara DioGuardi!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Geithner's plan falls flat || Geithner's plan falls flat

Why the Geithner plan won't work

The Treasury Secretary announced his strategy for a better banking bailout. But subsidizing the purchase of bank assets and forcing mortgage writedowns is the wrong way to go.

By Shawn Tully, editor at large

Pasted from my iPhone!

Just an example how everyone seems to be doubting The Plan.

If one was to be contrarian here, maybe the mess has a shot!

The unsettling thing about it all is how the political sides seem rather entrenched in their positions. I think the constant attention by the talking heads on radio an TV helps encourage the divide.

Intellectual Ether

  • Extremely fugly day on the market.
  • The bank rescue plan detailed by Timothy Geithner did not provide vital details of how his plan will work.  I'm not buying that. I think the market took a look at a solution of "spending money we don't have" as a continuation of what George Bush did.
  • Wall Street isn't fooled by BS.  The market is tired of the intellectual ether we're getting so far.
  • Yesterday, someone asked President Obama about Vice President Biden's comments that whatever they (the Obama administration) do, has a 30% chance of failure.  Cue the SNL skit:  "Look, whatever we do, there's a decent chance it's pure crap.  Completely worthless."
  • A new Kindle book reader from Amazon will be available on February 24th.  As I mentioned awhile ago, I've been using my iPhone to read books and such.  At $359, I see no reason to buy a Kindle.  But folks seem to like 'em.
  • Did you see who was on the next Dancing with the Stars?  Starts March 9th, FWIW.
  • Tom Leykis:   Folks the party is over. It's over. The party of spending, the party of going to Starbucks and spending $50 a week is over.

Wall Street Pukes on Stimulus Plans

As I type, Wall Street is tossing its cookies over Obama's stimulus plan as well as plans for the TARP cash. Seems like the more the markets have to worry about the government trying to mastermind the economy, the worse things get. I don't think investors like it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Summers: $50 billion for housing markets

Summers: At least $50 billion in Treasury plan for housing markets -

"The focus is going to be on increasing the flow of credit and doing it with transparency, with accountability for those that receive support and with a kind of consistency that frankly we haven't seen so far," he said. "There will be support for the credit markets more generally and absolutely critically, support and pressure that assures that these needless foreclosures are avoided...I expect there will be 50 billion dollars or more that will be directed at providing support for the housing sector of our economy."

Pasted from my iPhone!

Remember when the reason for the first stimulus package was to help folks struggling with their mortgage payments? At least that seems as how it was sold to us.

Kind of funny that we have spent most of the money on everything other than that.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Walking in LA

  • In Southern California this weekend.
  • I was listening to the radio on the drive down, flipping from talk show to talk show. I expected Bob Brinker to talk about the stimulus package and the economy. And he did. As did every other talk show, from political shows to local talking heads. The topic is unavoidable.
  • Big questions on the stimulus package are the size and how the money should be directed. Government spending vs. tax cuts.
  • Tax cuts and a way to create some incentives to buy homes.
  • Brinker mentioned a good idea: Converting the federal vehicle fleet to natural gas. This would reduce our use of oil and also help clean the.environment.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hoping for Stimulus

  • File this one under "Things suck so bad, now they'll bail us out for sure!"
  • Nasdaq erased all loses for 2009. Breaking even never felt so good!
  • I'm not sure where you are with regards to the stimulus package, but I'm for it. As long as it is geared towards creating jobs. There is lots of partisan bickering over this. Yeah, the Republicans suddenly have decided that they're fiscal coservatives, after eight years of spending like drunken sailors. But we will find out the details of this plan on Monday.
  • Lakers beat the Celtics last night in overtime!
  • I am still fully invested and adding cash to the market as I can.

Furlough Friday

Welcome to furlough friday in the state of California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger forced state workers to take the first and third fridays of the month off, combined with a 10% pay cut.

It didn't seem like traffic was affected much this morning. But it's raining and maybe that snarled things up a bit

The market raced up early and has so far continued to move higher. Financials seem to get either the credit or blame.

There is lots of speculation on whether or not an announcement on the financials will be made next week. Let's hope it's not to nationalize the banks!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Books on Cellphones

I've been using my iPhone to read books. I wondered if it was catching on.

On the iPhone I've been using the free Stanza reader. It's quite simple to get books on the phone. Reading and navigating is simple. There are lots of free books and deals of the day

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

217 Billion Cigarettes

  • How about sin stock $PM (Philip Morris International)?  A stronger dollar cut into Philip Morris International's bottom line in the fourth quarter as the global tobacco titan reported a drop in profit for the period. ... Volume was up 2% to about 217 billion cigarettes, with higher shipments in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America offsetting a slump in the European Union markets.  Stock took a hit today.
  • Remember the political battle over SCHIP? President Obama signed that law today.  U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law on Wednesday expanding a health insurance program for children and raising tobacco taxes to pay for it.  Of course, as Dick Morris said on Fox Business today, there aren't more doctors to take on the workload, more office space, or more equipment.  Basic econ supply-demand, if demand for medical resources goes up without increasing supply of medical resources, prices should go up.
  • I don't want to spend too much time on politics.  You can get that from Michelle Malkin.  She calls it "Obama's first tax hike."  On smokers!  At least Katie (pictured) lives in Australia.
  • You know those target date funds?  Those are the ones that have a specific date in mind for your retirement, and reallocate your portfolio as time goes on from aggressive at a younger age to conservative at an older age.  How are those funds doingIndeed, the most conservative target-date retirement funds -- those designed to produce income -- fell on average 17% in 2008 and the riskiest target date retirement funds -- designed for those retiring in 2055 -- fell on average a whopping 39.8%, according to a recent report from Ibbotson Associates, a Morningstar company.  I guess one just stays the course in those things and hope things average out over time.  I don't know.
  • Congress approves delay of digital TV conversion until June.  So if you're still using some tin foil and an aluminum pie plate for your TV antenna, you have a few extra months.
  • A new study concludes that viewers find TV more pleasurable when they watch commercials.  Anyone with a DVR watching commercials?  Kudos to you that are, because I'm certainly not.  DVRs allow for "power watching."  Zip right through an hour episode in around 40 minutes.  C'mon.

Take and Bake Wednesday

  • More of the same in the market. Today's flavor was up early followed by a swoon to take the DOW and SP500 down while leaving the Nasdaq near flat.  Not a good day.  From Yahoo Finance, Stocks dropped on Wednesday as uncertainty about the Obama administration's plan to stabilize the bank sector overshadowed data that showed the vast service sector shrank less than expected in January.
  • Cisco after the bell.  (Thus the picture).  Cisco Systems Inc. says its most recent quarterly profit fell 27 percent. But it still beat lowered Wall Street expectations for earnings and revenue.  Wow!  Not as horrible as we thought!
  • It seems as if all eyes are on Obama and Congress for the stimulus package.  Everyone wants a life line and "free money."  I'm concerned that the stimulus package doesn't contain enough for 2009 and 2010, and instead contains lots of paybacks and pork boondoggles.  Some of that latter stuff is to be expected, but the focus has to be increasing money in folks' pockets and helping them out day-to-day.
  • Obama's pay limit plan courts disaster.  The President wants to cap executive's salary.  In the real world, though, this sort of constraint is likely to make bad companies worse. A few public-spirited executives might relish the opportunity to run troubled enterprises for much less pay than they could garner from overseeing more successful ones.  Yeah, that's my thought.  Wouldn't a quality executive just go somewhere else?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

WFC and your TARP bucks

$WFC - Wells Fargo reconsiders plan to party in Las Vegas.

The company had planned a posh outing for its top mortgage writers to kick off this week at the Wynn Las Vegas. The conference is a Wells Fargo tradition. Previous years have included all-expense-paid helicopter rides, wine tasting, horseback riding in Puerto Rico and a private Jimmy Buffett concert in the Bahamas for more than 1,000 employees and guests.

I should think so. $25 billion of TARP money and folks might ask some questions.

The market had an okay day. I doubt anyone is jumping for joy these days on a smalll up day. It is as if hope and life have been sucked out of investment portfolios.

Volume light. So technically, no changes.

Back to Stimulus

With the Super Bowl behind us (and the Cardinals covering the spread and the over), the nations's eyes turn back to the economy.

Did Budweiser really spend $18 million on those commercials? I stopped counting at 6 commercials. Maybe it was more.

Back to President Obama's (not pictuted) goal of a stimulus package by Presidents Day. The question is how much in tax breaks and boondoggle pork to include to get consensus and help the economy. My thoughts are that we need help here in 2009. I'm a little nervous about an economic recovery that has wording like "by 2020, we' like to..."

The picture is of Gretchen Mol, from Life on Mars.