Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quick Hit - Rick Santelli vs. Arianna Huffington

Rick Santelli and Arianna Huffington faced off on CNBC's Squawk Box today.

Santelli, "I think we have only one responsibility - we need some good regulation and the best regulation that I think I've ever heard is failure. If you take failure out of the system, all other regulations really don't do very well."


Click the link for more...

End of Quarter (and Jimmy Rogers)

  • Last day in quarter, and market rallying nicely. Looks to have bounced off (or near) the 50dma.  That's a good thing.  Will check the internals later, but nice day heading into the last hour.
  • Jimmy Rogers (in a bowtie and not pictured) on CNBC, doesn't believe the market has bottomed, and is buying commodities.  Says fundamentals for commodities are improving, while bank fundamentals aren't.  And that the printing of money will lead to higher prices.  He says Obama should've let the banks go bankrupt and "stop throwing good money after bad." 
  • Jimmy, "300 million Americans are propping up a few guys so that they can keep their Lamborghinis."
  • Jimmy lives in Asia now.  Has only bought Chinese stocks in the past year, but not buying them now.  Says China is spending their money on intelligent things, while America spends money on "makework projects."
  • Not enough diversity in Obama's bailouts?  "We are not going to sit by and allow billions of dollars to be dumped into this economy and have the same old players being advantaged by it," said Rep. Maxine Water, D-Calif. "We are tired of being overlooked."
  • Flying under the radar for the financial crisis?  Don't these guys deserve some of the blame for the last few years?  Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.

Pic is of Cheryl Burke. Of course. I actually voted after Dancing with the Stars last night. The Woz, Steve Wozniak, just because. And Cheryl.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Market Thoughts (and Battlestar Galactica!)

  • Another down day for the market, but on relatively light volume. Everyday counts, and now we've had two significant days in a row of selling that brings the SP500 just below the 50dma.   Hopefully, this will act as support.  For those looking for a pullback to get in, maybe this is it.  With stops, of course.  Could be back down to the lows.  But we're at the 50dma so worth watching closely here.
  • The easy blame goes to President Obama rejects the automakers plans, as GM and Chrysler may face bankruptcy.  I doubt it, as I can't see Obama letting the bankruptcy courts throw out the union contracts.  But what strange negotiating tactics to say that Chrysler has a 30-day deadline to work out a deal Fiat.  Doesn't that put Fiat in the driver's seat in the negotiating game?  Fiat can wait it out, try to get the best deal, or let it go bankrupt and try to swoop in on assets.   What say you?
  • Still following Natural Gas, via UNG.  Just a feeling on this whenever natural gas gets below $4, it's going to bounce.  Oh, 5 reasons Natural Gas is going to bounce.  Just for reading, that's all.
  • Darn, Louisville.  My 5-1 ticket is dead, Jim.
  • Battlestar Galactica over?  No.  Battlestar Galactica: The Plan coming this Fall.  Cool.  Although, if they say it was all Bobby Ewing's (or Bob Newhart's) dream, I'm going crazy.
  • Top 10 Battlestar Galactica WTFs.  LOL.  Yeah, the Starbuck thing was really stupid.  I'm talking Triple-O Stooopid.  The whole show was tough to watch this last season, and it wrapped-up oddly.  JMHO, of course.
  • 10 Business Lessons from Battlestar Galactica.



Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Mas Grande Randomosity

  • Maybe it's just me, but I'm nervous about bonds. Especially bond mutual funds and ETFs.  Why?  I think the economy is improving, but the government is still throwing stimulus at it, and the end result will be lots of money chasing stuff to buy.  I think the Fed is always late (reactionary) when responding, and tend to over-do.  What say you?
  • The liberal blog Thinkprogress says they've convinced UPS to stop advertising on Bill O'Reilly's TV show, The Factor on Fox.  Does this sort of thing impact your investing decisions or is it all just noise?
  • If the job of advertising is to get eyeballs, check the ratingsFox remains on a mountain above its two closest competitors, with its prime-time audience in March more than that of MSNBC and CNN combined. “The O’Reilly Factor” has done particularly well, keeping more of its postelection audience than anything else on CNN and MSNBC.  I rarely watch any of those channels, but do watch CNBC and Fox Business.  If a hurricane rolls in, I do watch Fox.  Maybe UPS wants to save advertising dollars.
  • Over 80 degrees here in Tent City, California.
  • I get an email from a friend up at a sportsbook in Reno, and he has Mizzou +5.5 against UCONN.  See that missed lay up right at the end of the game? Instead of UCONN by 5, it's UCONN by 7.  Adios, dinero.
  • Yes, I am on Twitter.
  • Hmm, I wonder if Barry Ritholtz ever disagrees with Paul Krugman?  
  • Adam Warner has more on Dylan Ratigan leaving CNBC's Fast Money.  The story was making the rounds on Twitter last night.  Click my Twitter link up there and go down a few to see the comments on Ratigan's fill in, Melissa Lee.  Just saying.
  • Hmm, picture of Melissa Lee or UCONN cheerleader....

Friday, March 27, 2009

TGIF Market Thoughts

  • A little selloff today. The market has had "the biggest 3-week run since 1982" according to CNBC.  That was a good year to go long.
  • We're near the end of month, and cash dollar-cost averaged into mutual funds should help for a bit.  Of course, the market is overbought.  But internals have looked good.  Consider just last week we had two distribution days following the IBD follow-through day the week before.  But the market is moving up even with the negative headlines, which is a good thing.
  • One comment thread I'm hearing is that this is like 2002-3, where we had a bottom in the Fall of 2002 and rallied, then retested in March of 2003.  So the thought is that we're in the midst of that sort of thing again, and that there will be a retest of the previous lows in the months ahead.  Maybe.
  • Overall sentiment still seems somewhat bearish.  But the rally does feel good for those who are long. I imagine it may be frustrating for the bears who have been trying to pick a point to short, and then getting stopped out on rallies (or watching losses mount).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Rally and Obama Webcam Townhall!

  • Continued better-than-expected earnings news.  I keep watching for some indication that the rally is over.  But internals decent today, too.  Keep on trucking'...  Financials lagged, but techs surged.  Takin' turnsies leading the market up?  Fine with me...
  • President Obama had his on-line thing today. I wanted to ask him to put shoe on head.  (lol - the first definition at that link...)
  • Anyways, I went to ask a question and saw that no more questions were being accepted.  The top question was about legalizing marijuana.  So I figured OH BROTHER why bother watching?  Then he started off with his same ol' thang speech.   Blah blah blah.  Yawn.. 
  • I wanted to ask about energy, because IS ANYONE ELSE NOTICING INCREASING OIL PRICES?  You will.  If not now, it'll be soon. 
  • Greg Mankiw on history repeating itself.  Compares Obama's 2009 promise of a middle-class tax cut to Bill Clinton's 2003 promise of a middle-class tax cut.  Stay tuned!
  • Even bonddad is sounding chipper today.  The rally continues. Prices are now above all the SMAs. in addition, the 10 day SMA is about to move through the 50 day SMA, which would be a very bullish event. Also note the 20 day SMA is moving higher and the 50 day SMA has lost its several downward sloping trajectory.  Hmm, contrarian bells making a lot of racket on that.  Just kidding, BD.
  • Calculated Risk notes that the unemployment rate is still rising.  No surprise. Lagging indicator.  Companies usually cut folks as a last resort, and then wait awhile into the recovery before adding folks back on.  They'd prefer to work folks overtime in the early stages.  Watch hours worked! 
  • You know what lags even more?  Government revenues!  We pay taxes on last year.  So the government will probably be in crash mode for a couple of years longer than the recession.  Well, I'm not factoring in relentless borrowing from abroad to keep the boat afloat.
  • Paul Kedrosky observes that the Nasdaq is now flat for the year!  (Link to his real blog, not the Seeking Alpha one).  The Nasdaq Composite is the first of the major three U.S. indices to blow the all-clear whistle, it seems. It touched being flat year-to-date today, which is fairly remarkable considering it hit its low not even a month ago.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hump Day Randomosity

  • Economic news continues to improve. Today the latest durable goods orders data and new home sales figures both turned out to be better than expected.
  • Strange day in the market, as the early buying was met with big selling and then a swoosh up late in the session.  Internals not so good today.
  • The average rate for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dipped last week to 4.63 percent from 4.89 percent a week earlier, according to the MBA report.  The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 4.48 percent from 4.52 percent a week earlier, while the average rate for one-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 6.22 percent from 6.20 percent
  • Hybrid car news?  New 2010 Toyota Prius worth a look - over 50 mpg.  That mileage will come in handy when gas goes back near $5 a gallon as world economies improve and fuel demand increases.  Maybe that's what I'll get when I ditch the sports car.  Go Green.  Not sure what the new Prius will cost, but keep an eye out in May. 
  • Hyundai coming out with BLUE-WILL soon, too. Of course, Ford Fusion hybrid out for the "buy American" folks.
  • Tim Geithner sends dollar on roller coaster ride.  So, China talks about a new global currency.  Giethner causes a 1% plunge almost immediately when commenting, "I haven't read the entire proposal," Geithner said. "But the governor is a sensible man [and] anything he says deserves consideration." As for "increasing the IMF drawing reserves, we are favorable to that."
  • Paraphrasing Gary Kaltbaum, I don't think I'd let Tim Geithner run a lemonade stand.  What a goofball. 
  • Shamwow vs. Zorbeez:  Which works betterWe put the rival rags head-to-head in a spill test of some blueberry beer we had lying around. We also soaked snow puddles and clocked drying times.   Who wins?  Shamwow.  But using blueberry beer that's been "laying around" isn't a good testimonial for the beer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Market Pauses Tuesday

  • The market gave back a little today, with the selloff accelerating into the close. We can cut the market some slack for a pullback after yesterday's move.  But I get the feeling we better keep close watch on it.  A little head fake over the 50dma like in January?
  • I'm staying long here.  But I may have to re-evaluate that if this rally fails.  Nothing for me to do yet.  Watching the 50dma.  Watching volume and price action.  Watching the Black Box, which has been doing decent lately.
  • How does Steve Wozniak survive elimination on Dancing with the Stars?
  • President Obama pre-empts Dancing with the Stars.  Again.  Zogby has his approval ratings at 50-50 now.  Don't mess with Idol, Barack.
  • What did I like about Obama's speech?  I don't know. Seems like more of the same to me.  He's been on TV a lot lately - like Leave it to Beaver reruns.
  • Obama's statement on energy seems ridiculous.  Like wind farms and solar panels are going to make a huge difference.  Meanwhile, oil prices climb.  I think OPEC is looking at the stimulus spending, and wants their fair share when you go to fill 'er up at the pump.
  • China calls for a new global currencyThe world economic crisis shows the "inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system," Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan said in an essay released Monday by the bank. He recommended creating a currency made up a basket of global currencies and controlled by the International Monetary Fund and said it would help "to achieve the objective of safeguarding global economic and financial stability."
  • Monday, March 23, 2009

    Huge Rally Monday!

    Nice rally in the stock market today carrying indexes above their
    50dma. We haven't seen that since early January, when the markets
    quickly turned around. Volume was a little lighter than one would hope
    for a strong price move. But after last week's two distribution days,
    we'll take it!

    The market is obviously short-term overbought and extended here. What's
    next - basing around the 50dma?

    Short entry today, and no pic as I'm just emailing this in. New job for
    me and was quite busy with the meetings today.

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Ron Paul: 15-year Depression

    Ron Paul (not pictured) predicts a 15-year depression. On the otherhand, a lot of people think that Ron Paul is a crazy loon. However, the bad economic headlines are out there. People are hurting and losing jobs as unemployment increases. Banks have a lot of foreclosures and losses on their hands. And the US is spending trillions it doesn't have, while at the same time, China is questioning whether purchasing more US debt makes sense.

    I'm not sure where to start the excerpt. The gloom and doom goes down most of the column. Here are some of the quotes:

    “People will start to abandon the dollar as current and past economic policies create a steep rise in interest rates,” Mr Paul says.

    “If you are in Treasuries, you will need to be watchful and nimble to time your escape.”

    ... “fiat” currencies will all decline over the coming years as measures to try to haul the world economy out of recession fail. “The current stimulus measures are making things a lot worse,” says Mr Paul.

    “The US government just won’t allow the correction the economy needs.”

    “The last place you want to be is in the stock market,” he says. “It may not bottom out for 10 years – just look at Japan.”

    “The dollar as a reserve standard is done,” he says.

    “This is the big one.”

    Yikes. Maybe the US government should've put $1 trillion on North Carolina to win the NCAA tournament. After all, Obama did pick North Carolina in his bracket. Er, Barack-etology. I think UNC was either 5-1 or 8-1 at the sportsbook. Now THAT would help the economy.

    Yet Another Trillion

    Are we getting numb to these numbers? Trillions are running through the government's fingers like water.

    Will the result be inflation? If so, are TIPs the place to hide?

    Market Thoughts (While Watching Syracuse)

    • With options expiration behind us, what will the market do now? After the IBD follow through day the previous week, we had two distribution days last week.  Not a great sign, but it doesn't mean it's all over.  The market hasn't had much leadership and there has been some speculation in the financial "penny stocks."
    • Again, there are major headwinds in the news.  The technical analysis folks are warning of the bear market rally being over and that we're heading back down.  Of course, just a reminder, but these folks tend to get the trend right but miss the inflection points (turning points) from bull to bear and from bear to bull.  I think missing the ends as it were, causes them to underperform buy-and-hold over longer stretches of time.
    • But the front page headlines are often times a contrarian indicator of where we are.  By the time the average journalist is writing about it, the economy has moved on and is looking towards the future.
    • There are rumors of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner resigning.  President Obama says he wouldn't accept a resignation.  Uh, what if Tim quits?  "Take this job and your March Madness brackets, and shove it, Mr. President."
    • We have projected additions to the national debt of $10 trillion over the next 10 years.  Borrowing money at 4% would add an additional $400 billion in interest payments to the annual budget.  That money is gone, too.
    • Oil prices are beginning to firm up.  This story wants to know why prices are up.  Weak dollar or economic rebound?  How about production cuts from OPEC?  Oh, and how about falling non-OPEC oil production?
    • As the latter link says about declining supply (and increasing prices), That basically amounts to a booby trap waiting in the path of the expected economic recovery.

    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Saturday Madness

    I like Texas and the points. UCLA and Villanova seems tougher.

    Tired of beer an smoke. But doing well at the sports book.

    I saw the trillion a year in debt projections and can only be sad that government estimates are usually wrong. As in way off.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    March Madness - TGIF

    About 15 of us here in Reno watching hoops nonstop since Wednesday. What could be better?

    With that in mind, I haven't checked the financial news today. But I see there was a bit of selling. I blame the Pitt Panthers for a pathetic showing against ETSU.

    On the positive side, Dayton was the easiest pick on the board so far.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    March Madness

    Up in Reno to bet on the first round of March Madness. Not doing great
    on the NIT prequel, but Baylor has made a comeback.

    The market made a nice comeback today. The Fed basically held steady
    but indicated they'd be buying debt. As I've mentioned, the end result
    of the stimulus and easy money will be inflation. But perhaps that is
    not today's business.

    Barack Obama made his bracket picks today. Glad to see he has his
    attentiion on the important things.

    Wednesday Thoughts (and UCLA Cheerleader!)

    • Financials lead as I type. Look at $ETFC go.  Up 25%-ish.  Maybe the financial stocks will drag the market up this time, rather than lead us down.
    • Everyone has been quick to dismiss the rally as just another bear market rally.  We've had quite a few head turners during the bear market.  One of these days, it will be something more than that.  Is this it?  The rally that nobody believes in?  Or is the easy money on a retest of the previous lows before we move higher (or lower...)?
    • Barney Frank and Co. yappin' up something.  The very folks who have been behind the mess act like they're the redeemers.  I'm skeptical whether the "centralized planning" of this all benefits anyone.  Let the good companies thrive, let the bad companies dive.  Dog eat dog.  Evolution.
    • Have your NCAA March Madness brackets ready?  I was reading something somewhere about how folks waste too much time picking upsets.  Not just in their brackets, but when at the sports book betting on games.  That was me last year, and I think the favorites went 21-11 against the spread (ATS) in the first round.  Or thereabouts.  Watching those favorites with the tight spreads. 
    • Did you see the Will Ferrell movie, Semi-Pro?  YIKES.  Not good.  Yes, I did laugh here and there.  I didn't expect much going in, and didn't get much.  Thank goodness I didn't go to the theater for that one.  Yay, $NFLX!

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Green Day!

    Today's strong market was what the bulls wanted to see after yesterday's distribution day. Volume was strong. The market closed at the highs. Advancers led decliners by a nice number.

    Financials were strong again. And one thing the market needs for a new bull market is strong financials. Finacials are a large part of the index.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Jim Rogers on Bailouts

    Always enjoy reading commentary from Jim Rogers. He has made some great calls. This article is from Bloombeeg. Sorry no link, but no cut and paste on the iPhone!

    Rogers believes that the US should let AIG go bankrupt. No doubt with the AIG bonuses being paid out that, a lot of people would like to see the screws turned tight on AIG. But there are lots of bad ramifications to that. Many pensions and annuities are with AIG. You wonder if the US involvement will just postpone the inevitable.

    Distribution Day Monday

    Today registered a distribution day in this rally. See for yourself:

    • From IBD: A day of mixed trading stacked a distribution day against the young rally, despite strong gains by transportation and financial stocks.
    • From Fallond Stock PicksNo surprise to see bulls taking money off the table after the gains in the market. Volume climbed to register a distribution day with some heavy trading in the Dow and S&P. Looking for some follow through downside tomorrow, the inverse doji lending to the bearish tone.
    What's it mean?  I listened to Gary Kaltbaum's take on it this afternoon, and he said that having a distribution day so close to the follow through day was generally a bad omen for the market ("90% of the time," said Gary).  We have definitely seen that pattern before during this bear market.

    Don't let it distract you from the all-important task of filling out  your March Madness brackets!

    • Obama to appear on Leno.  I'm expecting some good AIG jokes.
    • Toyota to discount price on Prius.  I'm not sure why someone would pay the premium for batteries when you could get a Honda Civic for waaaay cheaper.
    • ATT to replace their gasoline vehicle fleet with 8,000 natural gas cars.  ATT will convert Ford vans and trucks.  Nice.

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Economic Impact on Sports?

    • Watching Fox News about the impact of the economy on sports. They say that players are signing lower salary contracts.  WHAT?   It may be that the lower-tier players are taking the hit.  But big stars like Manny Ramirez and Albert Haynesworth signed for huge money.  All those salaries are payed by sports fans in higher ticket prices and food priced.  Parking your car at the stadium or arena costs more. The costs for televising games are raised, and people pay higher monthly cable and satellite bills.  Just saying.
    • CBS says the internet ad revenue for NCAA March Madness could be 30% higher.  You know, they're charging to watch March Madness online, but if  you have Orb running on your PC at home (and a TV card in your PC), you can watch the games for free wherever you have an internet connection (work, cellphone, etc).
    • Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is concerned about the economy's impact to baseball.  “I used to think we were recession-proof. I really did,” Selig said during the Angels' 6-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs.  ...  The Angels and Cubs played to a sellout crowd Saturday. However, Cactus League attendance was down 22 percent over the first 11 days this spring, USA Today reported.
    • NBA revenues up 2% from last year.  Although some individual franchises could be in trouble.  The Simon Brothers told the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board that they no longer could afford to assume the losses of their Pacers franchise and operate the team's home arena. The Simons are seeking relief and could sell or move the franchise with some city layer of government doesn't step in.
    • I used to have season tickets to the Sacramento Kings.  I gave those up years ago.  The costs skyrocketed and they started televising every single game.  In addition, with TNT, ESPN, and NBC televising other games, there is plenty of NBA action to watch without spending a ton of money. 
    • Arena Football is on hiatus this season.  But the minor league version is still a go.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Best Week Since November Randomosity

    It's the best week for the stocks since November! So say we all:

    • Best week for stocks since November.  Fears have eased that the nation's major financial institutions would collapse or at least require additional government lifelines in order to stay alive. Market veterans were quick to rein in hopes that the market would chart an uninterrupted recovery but many still saw the four straight days of gains a good sign.  It's good news, unless it isn't.
    • Wall Street chalks up 4-day rally.  A sharp rebound in bank shares and easing worries about the economy pushed stocks to their best week since late November.  The market shot up in one week as it might in some years, with major indicators chalking up gains of around 10 percent.  Reminder:  We've had some sharp rallies in this bear market before.
    • How will the Republicans spin the best week in the market since November?  (Read the comments...)

    Government tax revenues lag the economy by a bit, as it takes awhile for revenues to hit the coffers.  Yet, even with bad times evident, governments usually have no clue that it could possibly impact them.

    • The state of California, after closing a $42 billion budget gap with spending cuts and tax hikes, confess that they may already be $8 billion in the hole"Even in the few weeks since the budget was signed, there have been a series of negative developments. Our updated revenue forecast projects that revenues will fall short of the assumptions in the budget package by $8 billion. Consequently, the Legislature and governor will need to adopt billions of dollars in additional solutions in the coming months to bring the 2009-10 budget back into balance."
    • The city of Sacramento comes up $168.5 million short in general fund.

    What does that all mean?  More spending cuts?  More tax hikes?  More reductions in government worker pay and benefits?  All of the above?  Maybe if the market rally is for real and predicting an economic revival soon, perhaps the government tax revenues will improve in the years ahead.  Well, maybe none of that is today's business.  It is Friday in a pre-Spring weekend where the most important thing going on is NCAA March Madness teams selection on Sunday.

    TGIF! Thank God it's Freida! Have a great weekend!

    CNBC's Jim Cramer Responds

    I don't subscribe to Realmoney, theStreet.com's paid site. I used to, but with the amount of financial commentary on the web these days, it's not a must-read for me anymore. But Jim Cramer (not pictured) writes a blog at Realmoney, and after last night's appearance on Jon Stewart's Daily Show, Cramer blogged back (excerpt at Hullabaloo). Draw your own conclusions.

    CNBC has been taking a lot of flak lately. I think many financial types have been complaining about the network for quite awhile, but now that the country is in a horrible bear market and some of the hosts (Cramer and Rick Santelli) have been criticizing Obama, the network is on the national stage.

    CNBC has guests on who voice their opinions. It's only natural that mutual fund managers are bullish. Their mutual fund charters demand that they be fully invested all of the time.

    Corporate CEOs are also always cheerleading their company. Selling and marketing their business is part of their job descriptions. We're never going to see a CEO who says "Boy, we're sucking wind and cooking the books to make it appear as rosy as possible." Won't happen. Their stock would dive and they'd lose their job. The board of directors would fire them.

    I still watch CNBC. Especially around the market open. But I flip to Fox Business News quite a bit. Much more sincere, calm and rational, with less corporate cheerleading. Emphasis on the "less" part of that last sentence.

    Daily Show: Jim Cramer vs. Jon Stewart

    After weeks of back and forth between CNBC's Jim Cramer and the Daily Show's Jon Stewart, Cramer visits Stewart's show and gets smacked around a bit.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Follow Through Thursday

    Follow Through Thursday

    That's all you need to know for today. Haven't heard from IBD, the official caller of follow-through days.

    And how Anoop survived last night...  I mean, Jasmine is better than Anoop.  C'mon.

    Oh, and Scarlett Johansson is going to star as the Black Widow in the Iron Man sequel.

    Another Problem: Pensions

    Probably not a shocker with stocks and real estate in bear markets.
    I'd imagine that it's a problem in government pensions, too.

    Public pension funds' rosy forecasts a problem. Pension funds have been hit hard by the stock market crash, losing about a third of their value in some cases, and there may be another problem. Before the crash, some financial experts warned that pension funds were making overly optimistic projections of investment earnings in the decades ahead, often assuming about 8 percent a year.

    (That wasn't hard to find...)

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Market Pauses Randomosity

    • Truthiness be told, today is probably sorta-kinda what a bull would want to see. A day of consolidating the gains with a little give and take.  Advancers led decliners by a bit. Keep an eye on a potential follow-through day in the days ahead.
    • Did you watch American Idol?  Easily the worst performance of the night was Anoop singing "Beat It" by Michael Jackson.  I'm thinking he'd have been better off singing the Weird Al Yankovich version, "Eat It," and walk out on stage wearing the fat suit, carrying a box of donuts.
    • Laura embedded an iPhone video on a thread below, where 3 folks have their iphones playing the Smashing Pumpkins.  Whoa...  Who needs to bother learning real instruments anymore? 
    • America's Emptiest Cities.  Abandoned houses.  Well, it was a crazy bubble, no?
    • Layoffs on Sesame Street?  Are Bert and Earnie hitting the pavement for something other than an anti-Proposition 8 rally?  Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of "Sesame Street" and other kids' programs, is cutting about one-fifth of its work force because of the economic downturn.
    • No one wants to use recession or depression. It's a downturn.  Got it?
    • Natural gas prices diving due to "supply shock."  And we're also entering the 70-degree weather months were we don't need as much, too.  I think that this is one to keep an eye on trading volume, and watch for a reversal.  I don't believe prices in things that we use for energy will remain low for long.  Watching....
    • FDIC collected few insurance fees the past decade.  Like that won't be a problem down the road.  Sheez.  The federal agency that insures bank deposits, which is asking for emergency powers to borrow up to $500 billion to take over failed banks, is facing a potential major shortfall in part because it collected no insurance premiums from most banks from 1996 to 2006.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Everybody Says Bear Market Rally

    • Everyone knows today was a countertrend rally.  Just a bear market rally. Everyone knows we're going to revisit these lows.  Everyone knows we're going lower.  And everyone has been so right about this market, we should pay attention to them.  Right?
    • From CNBC to news websites and blogs, the consensus is that today was just another bear market rally.  Maybe a one-day wonder.  Maybe something more significant that last weeks or months, that retraces up to 50% of the bear market, then only to crash and revisit the previous lows and perhaps make new lows.  That's the mood out there.  Nobody believes that this could be "it."  Who can blame them?  The market has done this before.  Teased the bulls enough to create a false sense of hope, only to crash shortly thereafter.
    • Havne't seen IBD, yet.  My guess?  Day one of an attempted rally, and waiting for a follow through day on day 4 through 10.  Right???
    • Setting a bottom, or a bear market rallyHere a list of the 15 biggest one-day percentage moves on the Nasdaq.  Note that most of them come in a bear market.
    • Do you want to play guitar on your iPhone?  Check out iShred.   Oh, check out their Youtube videos.  Very cool.  As a matter of fact, embedded one!
    • The subject of talk shows today is President Obama's education reform, or taking on the school unions.  Merit pay for teachers?  I can't think it would actually happen.  Michelle Malkin wonders if Obama is sincere and wonders if it's a bunch of hype.  She put up some links following the news today, oh boy.  My thoughts?  Definitely need merit pay and competition in schools.  Although, I don't think we need to spend much more on schools than we are now. Obama said it best himself today, that maybe parents need to tell kids to turn off the TV and video games.
    • Dancing with the Stars?  Uh... I was looking forward to Jewel, who is out with the injury.  YIKES.  I don't have a favorite yet.  Although the Bachelor reject girl, Melissa Rycroft, was working for me.  And that dress?  Hoo.  Indeed. 
    • I missed 24 because of DVR contention, so I had to pick one show to watch live.  Had to be Dancing with the Stars so I could multitask in-between the boring stuff, and learn how to play "Picture Book" (The Kinks) on the iPhone.  LOL.

    Monday, March 09, 2009

    Demoralization Nation (and SNL does Tim Geithner!)

    • SNL skit this weekend made fun of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Well done!  (SNL = Saturday Night Live, for those new to the planet).
    • From WSJ, Markets end another session demoralized, as investors were once again unable to generate sufficient enthusiasm to warrant further buying after stocks bounced in the early going.  ... “Valuation is extremely attractive for stocks, but is being ignored with the massive pessimism and uncertainty in the markets,” notes Bill Stone.
    • You can flip through the WSJ blog and find link-worthy columns all over the place.  (Feeling Numb!)  The pessimism is thick, and it's expected day after day.  There is no hope that tomorrow will be anything different than what we saw today.
    • But... it is time to start thinking about your March Madness brackets.  There is that.
    • And there are folks making the most with guitar apps for their iPhone.  Check out the result of that video search of youtube.  Amazing.
    • Enjoying the Kindle iPhone application more than the Stanza one.  I think because it's so darn easy.

    Sunday, March 08, 2009

    Anecdotal Sunday

    Hello, Stephanie Sy. Happy Sunday!

    I've been out Friday and Saturday nights. The restaurants were crowded with long waits. Then went to one Indian casino one night, another on the next. Both were packed. Plenty of traffic on the roads going here and there.

    I know the unemployment rate has gone from 5% to 8%, and maybe adjust both those numbers a little higher for California. But it doesn't quite feel like it's a Great Depression out there.

    Not yet, anyways.

    Saturday, March 07, 2009

    Spring Ahead Saturday!

    • The markets are flat today. Yes, it's Saturday.  But I wanted to give you some good market news for a change.
    • Yikes.
    • $WFC (Well's Fargo) slashed its dividend by 85% yesterday.  Calling it a "very difficult decision," Wells Fargo & Co. on Friday slashed its quarterly dividend 85%, to 5 cents a share from 34cents, in an effort to save $5 billion and help the company pay backthe government's recent investment in the firm.
    • The Kansas City Federal Reserve president speaks out against the government's bank rescue efforts.  "We ... are drifting into a situation where institutions are being nationalized piecemeal with no resolution of the crisis," Thomas Hoenig remarked in a speech in Omaha, Neb.  I expect a White House briefing soon from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs denouncing Hoenig.
    • The takeovers of Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Countrywide and Merrill Lynch were "hasty," according to Hoenig. He called for the Obama administration to declare banks insolvent and use its power to takeover failing institutions and continue operations under new management.This would be "temporary" and has precedent in history, he said.
    • Oil is back over $45, as the US government ignores the energy issue. 
    • Over at Cafe Hayek, Russell Roberts writes, LET THEM FAIL. We're going to run out of money. We can't keep GM and AIG and Fannie and Freddie and every insolvent bank and every mortgage afloat. It can't be done. It's not a strategy. It's just desperation to avoid pain. We're going to have to start letting them fail.
    • It's Saturday!  NCAA hoops on the TV as we march towards March Madness.  The sun is out there, and there are yard things to do after a  month of rain. 
    • Yes, that's Kristin Kreuk!

    Friday, March 06, 2009

    Power Nap

    • On CNBC, they're talking about where the bottom is. I mean, quit guessing.  The only bottom nearby is on Melissa Lee's chair.  Aren't we all a little tired of seeing these folks on CNBC every hour of the day telling us the bottom is in or at hand?
    • I didn't watch the Grammy's, but I guess Robert Plant sung with Alison Krauss.  On February 9th, Jay Leno joked on his show,  "When did Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin turn into the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz?"  See picture.  Whoa.
    • From above link, Robert (Plant)again was confronted with the inevitable question Sunday in thepost-Grammy interview tent about his future involvement in any Zeppelintour. "How old are you, man?" Plant responded. "Because youlook older than me. You try to do 'Communication Breakdown' in thesepants."
    • I ate a PBJ, and didn't notice until the end that the crust was a little moldy.  Nice.

    Thank God It's Freida Randomosity

    • I bought my first ebook on $AMZN for the $AAPL iPhone Kindle application. You buy it from Amazon's website, and when you run the iPhone Kindle app, the book shows up via Amazon's Whispernet.  The reader seems to work just like other readers I've tried.  The cool thing is not having to transfer the ebook to the iPhone.  It's just there when you turn it on.  Plus, Amazon's book library is pretty extensive.  Also seems like Amazon pricing is better than the other ebook vendors I've used. 
    • It's a winner.  Like Freida Pinto.  And thank goodness it is Friday.  It's been a long week.
    • The market is tanking as I contemplate what to have for lunch.  Maybe rice and beans.  No, that may be coming later for all of us.  When the futures were up this morning, I could almost sense the false optimism on CNBC.  As if even though the futures were up, just give it time.  The sellers were still hitting their snooze buttons.  Once they got up, the selling commenced.
    • Looks like the Nasdaq is catching up after a few months of outperforming.  I think I need air quotes around "outperforming."  Right?
    • The Japanese Tokyo stock price index (TOPIX) is at a 25-year low.  Nice.
    • $GM at lowest price in 75 years.  Nice.
    • The job market is nearing 1982 levels.  The government’s broadest measure of unemployment and underemploymentwas 14.8 percent in February. That includes some of the people who havestopped looking for work because they don’t believe they can find jobs.It also includes part-time workers who want to be working full time.  Nice.
    • The anatomy of a natural gas spike.  Interesting.
    • Why Wal-mart is surging.

    Thursday, March 05, 2009

    Sinking into the Abyss (again)

    • $GM going bankrupt? General Motors Corp.'s auditors have raised "substantial doubt" about the troubled automaker's ability to continue operations, and the company said it may have to seek bankruptcy protection if it can't execute a huge restructuring plan.
    • Back in December, remember how the politicians were stumbling all over themselves to give the US auto companies money so that they could survive?  Then there were those who warned that any amount of billions given to the automakers was just postponing the eventual bankruptcy, because these companies didn't have viable business models. 
    • Well, here we are in March, and the money must've run out and they want more.  Will we get fooled again or just let them shut down?
    • Another beautiful day in the market 'hood.  Everything trounced as usual.  More bad news.  Although new jobless claims dropped and some of the retailers are showing some good numbers.  So, how bad is it REALLY?  Yes, it's not good but it's being sold as something worse than horrible.  Is most of that political to push through huge government spending programs? Maybe this isn't the 1930's but 1974 or 1981. 
    • Boy wins tropical island. Nice!  A 4-year-old boy has won the use of an uninhabited tropical island, with white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters, in a Taiwan lottery aimed at boosting spending during an economic downturn.
    • So summary of Lost last night: 3 years later 3 years earlier.  And James is really Captain Kirk and gets all the girls!

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    Wednesday (Rally) Randomosity!

    • Kindle e-book reader for $AAPL iPhone. Great news!  Amazon said that it has made a free Kindle application available through the App Store operated by Apple Inc. ... Users can download the application free of charge and use it to read electronic versions of books over their Apple devices.   I've been using Stanza and downloading books elsewhere, but this really opens up the library. Tanx, AMZN.
    • Stocks rise for the first time in 5 days.  Don't give me that look! Truly, they did!  Stocks broke a five-day losing streak Wednesday as hope spread that China and the U.S. are taking convincing action to restart their economies.  Prices for key commodities such as oil and metals also soared, lifting shares of industrial companies like Alcoa Inc. and Caterpillar Inc.
    • "Convincing."  LOL.  And watch the oil prices.  Everyone knows the US isn't doing anything about ending our reliance on foreign sources of oil.  And we know how that strategy has worked out time and time again.  Not well.
    • Greg Mankiw takes on Paul Krugman. 
    • It's Wednesday, Muck.  Don't forget to take out the trash tonight!

    Tuesday, March 03, 2009

    Jim Cramer on President Obama

    I think we have to go contrarian on this.

    Maybe Obama is doing a fantastic job after all. And Jim Cramer will probably say something down the road where he said he's been praising Obama all along.


    TALFin' Tuesday

    • $GE (General Electric) CEO Jeffrey Immelt acknowledged on Tuesday the company's reputation had been "tarnished." ...  "No one is more disappointed than I am with the performance of our stock in this tough environment."  Well.  I know some GE engineers who have lots of stock in GE who are pretty disappointed, Jeff.  I may be going out on a limb here, but I bet they're having a little tougher time sleeping at night than you are with their kids' college funds and retirement accounts in the balance.
    • If at first you don't succeed, TALF TALF again. Well, more government hijinx ensues, as another $200B thrown at the system using another acronym.  The Fed will lend up to $200 billion to spur consumer lending -- for autos, education, credit cards and other consumer debt. The money will be used to provide financing to investors to buy up the debt.
    • Let the warm fuzzies ensue.  Oh, wait.  The market is selling off.  Again.  Check that, the market is now mixed.  Er, okay.
    • Has your home equity line of credit been cut off?
    • Innovations of the future.  It mentions electric cars.  But nobody seems to ever ask the question of what energy source is going to recharge batteries.  I don't see new nuclear power plants on the horizon.  Where is the electricity going to come from? Are we going to import charged batteries from France?
    • Oops, now the market has slipped back into the red.  Of course it has.

    Monday, March 02, 2009


    • In this week's episode of Dollhouse, Eliza Dushku plays the role of US Treasury Secretary trying to sell the mortgage bailout and stimulus package to Americans, while showing lots of thigh. She'd probably do a better job than Timothy Geithner (not pictured).
    • Will the rich side-step Obama's tax hikes?  A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to benamed, told ABCNews.com that she plans to cut back on her business toget her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obamatax plan be passed by Congress and become law.  ... “We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00,” she said.  Ah, American ingenuity at work!  (h/t Michelle). 
    • I wonder how practical that is, though.    I could understand if one is self-employed and paying both sides of Social Security and Medicare, in addition to a high-state tax.  Once one is paying over 60% in taxes on that last dollar, maybe one will decide that they'd rather do something else than work for Uncle Sam.  Just saying.
    • Is it time for a 4-day workweek?
    • I'm not watching The Celebrity Apprentice this time around.  Last year was entertaining.  But I think I've had it.  Besides, Andrew Dice Clay and Dennis Rodman?  Is that the best they could do?  Are they "celebrities?"
    • TLoWe had a huge Crash Monday, yet there is golden silence as the boiled frogs finally stopped croaking “is this the bottom?” Finally. At last, equities have been given up for dead. R.I.P: The Death of Equities.
    • Boiled frogs?  She's right about the feeling that everyone seems to be throwing in the towel.  Most everyone, anyways.  It does feel rough out there, and I'm riding it down and for some reason, not too frustrated.  It is what it is, and I continue to do what I do.  Reallocate where my indicators tell me.  Dollar cost average in each month.  Etc.  We'll see how it plays out. Either it will or it won't.  Then I guess I'll just go back to the college days and get some roomies.  There's always a way to make things work out.

    Weekend at AIG's

    • Listened to Dennis Miller quip on $AIG at lunch, and he said the government is propping AIG up like Weekend at Bernie's, moving the arms around, etc.
    • I can't say anything positive about the market.  It's a better buying opportunity today than it was on Friday.  How's that?
    • Did you want to read Warren Buffett's annual letter to shareholders?  Funny, when you open the letter there's a soundtrack with it.  Tom Petty's "Free falling."
    • Even Dr. Doom is scared.  In sum, Buffett and much of the rest of humanity are just now coming around to Nouriel Robuini's way of thinking, the economist known as "Dr. Doom" is upping the ante on his longstanding bearish views. A year ago Roubini was forecasting an 18-month recession with a U-shaped recovery; now, he's now expecting the downturn to last at least 24 months and possibly 36-months. He also sees rising risks of a Japanese-style L-shaped stagnation, i.e. a prolonged period with little or no economic growth.
    • How much lower can the market go?  How about SP500 of 460.  Yikes.  Of course, the big bear predictions usually get bigger and more bearier as we go down.
    • I go to leaf for lunch, and it's pouring cats and dogs outside!  And I left my umbrella, ella, ella at home.
    • Jimmy Fallon debuts on Late Nite... Tonight!

    (Oh, another pic of Lee Hyori. Embedded the U Go Girl music vid yesterday. So you know.)

    Stop the Bailouts!

    I was critical of many of the Fed members last year when they were worried about inflation. But here's a good column from former member William Poole, Stop the Bailouts.  Excerpts, and my comments:

    THE fundamental causes of this recession, unique in the experience of the United States, were mortgage defaults and the consequent insolvency of major financial firms. These insolvencies, and especially fear of them, damaged normal credit mechanisms.

    You'll hear folks talk about the need for more regulations or the "greed of Wall Street."  I think that's just an effort to politicize the crisis.  The bottom line on why we are where we are is that loans were made that never had any hope of being paid off.  If the mortgages were paid monthly, everything would've worked.  But folks couldn't make the payments.  Yes, these folks were caught up in the greed of it all and wanted a piece of the American dream before it got away, and lenders preyed on that.  All bubbles seem to work in that fashion.  But the bottom line of the crisis is that mortgages went into default  A lot of mortgages.

    The self-correcting nature of markets will ultimately prevail. We should not underestimate the power of monetary policy; with the sharp increase in the nation’s money stock starting in September, monetary policy is now extraordinarily expansionary. I believe, though without great confidence, that the recession will end in the second half of this year.

    Businesses that make bad decisions go out of business.  If loans were made to folks who didn't have the means to pay them back, it was a bad decision by companies to make those loans.  In a world without government bailouts, these firms would go out of business.  The free market wouldn't allow them to survive.  It would be painful, but those businesses that made more prudent decisions would emerge the evolutionary winners.  The strong survive, the weak perish.

    The government is trying to stimulate the economy, and now is where we should start watching for signs of inflation.  Especially as we begin to recover.  The economic indicators provide a rear-view mirror snapshot of what has happened in previous quarters.  It'll be important to watch the bond market.

    My thoughts are that the worst of the recession is already over, and that the employment numbers are lagging indicators.  I also say this realizing that I underestimated the severity of the recession!

    Federal policy is damaging the economy’s prospects. It fails to provide the needed tax incentives for investment in factories and equipment, incentives that were central to efforts to revive the economy during the Kennedy-Johnson era and under Ronald Reagan. But government spending can’t lead the way to sustained recovery, because its stimulating effect will be offset by anticipated higher taxes and the need to finance the deficit.

    The federal government is trying to prop up businesses that would otherwise fail.  I believe this postpones the inevitable for these companies.  I don't believe there is enough stimulus in Obama's stimulus package.  More should've went to tax relief and less to earmarks. (Such as $200,000 for tattoo removal in LA).  These earmarks are less stimulative than putting money in people's pockets.  Obama stood up and told us that there were no earmarks in this package.  There are over 8000.  C'mon, Mr. President.

    In addition, many states are raising taxes and fees as the stimulus is being releases.  In CA, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is raising the sales tax, gas tax, car registration tax and income taxes.  This will more than suck up the stimulus Obama is providing families in direct tax relief.

    Obama also promised "not a dime" in tax hikes for those making under $250,000.  C'mon, Mr. President.  Be honest.  He's raising the gasoline tax.  He's raising taxes on electricity, natural gas and heating oil.  Don't folks making under $250,000 pay those?  He's also lowering tax deductions for mortgage interest for folks making over $209,000.  That's a tax hike, sir.

    And no serious energy policy.  Windmills and solar panels today contribute less than 1% to our energy grid. Obama wants to double this over the next decade.  Ooooooh.  What about nuclear power, as Italy and Sweden are now embarking on (and many other countries are already doing)?  What about using natural gas for our federal vehicle fleet?  The latter would have a quick impact on our consumption of foreign crude.  Wait until oil goes back to $5 a gallon.  Lots of the stimulus package will flow to OPEC.

    I'm digressing.  I realize that President Obama was voted in because folks wanted to make changes.  And Obama is delivering.  But I think it's fair to criticize his actions if they don't make much sense and there are other options available.

    Phew.  Thanks for listening.

    Sunday, March 01, 2009

    March Kpop Randomosity

    • That's Korean singer Lee Hyori.  U go, girl. She is the highest-paid female singer in South Korea.  She's the Albert Haynesworth (not pictured) of Kpop.
    • Worse job losses in 60 years expected.  "Pink slips continue to fly," said Meny Grauman, an economist for CIBC World Markets.  Seems like we had a bubble in stocks, a bubble in real estate, a bubble in energy, and really a bubble in employment when the unemployment rate was under 5% for so long.
    • I expect energy prices to go back up.  Obama isn't addressing our energy needs in anyway that's meaningful.
    • A double-top in gold?
    • Kathy Lien's thoughts on how US bank nationalization would impact the US dollar.  Nationalization will ultimately be negative for the US dollar becauseit increases the debt and liabilities of the US Federal Reserve andhence taxpayers.  Only the "rich" taxpayers, Kathy.
    • Peter Schiff says that Obama is putting the economic cart before the horse.  I haven't seen Pete on the Fox Business Block lately.
    • Heading into March, the path of least resistance is down"The path to least resistance remains down," said Alec Young, marketstrategist at Standard & Poor's. "We need some real capitulation,and for people to stop buying the dips and let it crash. Then, we couldget a new low." 
    • At least the AFC doesn't have to run through Albert Haynesworth, anymore.  He was a fantasy stats killer. Should be a good thing for the Redskins.
    • Warren Buffett taking some heat on his recent investments. From Mish, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. posted a fifth-straight profitdrop, the longest streak of quarterly declines in at least 17 years, onlosses from derivative bets tied to stock markets.


    Just a quick note on energy. I was listening to Bob Brinker's show on Saturday. In the last hour of the program, Dr. Bill Wattenburg was on talking about energy and mentioned that he had taken out an advertisement in the Washington Post. I went to Dr. Bill's website and found the advertisement, and I have to admit it makes a lot of sense. The advertisement urges President Obama to consider using natural gas for the federal vehicle fleet.

    No matter where one stands politically, I believe we all want the economy to mend and grow. My fear is that we've taken our eye off of the ball on energy. I believe that the United States will recover, and when we do our energy demand will increase. That could mean $5 gasoline again. What a shame it would be to see a large chunk of the stimulus package end up in OPEC.