Thursday, August 31, 2006

End of August Already???

  • There goes August, as another summerraces by...
  • Month-end strength and historic Labor Day weekend strength wasn't enough to get the market moving today.  Could it be that this was all priced in and accounted for?  Maybe.  There does seem to be the "September is a horrible month to be in the market" mentality out there.  Everyone seems to be talking about it.  On a bike ride last night, I was listening to Gary Kaltbaum's radio show, and a caller called in speculating about how horrible September would be and that he "had his buying list ready."  So... uh.... Is that everyone's view?
  • Shocker... Iran rejects deadline.  How much of this is priced in?  Didn't everyone already know that they were going to continue to build nukes?  Look, they want to wipe Israel off the map.  They'll need the nukes to do this.  What's so hard to understand about that?  My bet is that the US or Israel will knock out their nuclear facilities within the next month or so.  I don't know if that's a good idea or not, but a nuclear armed Iran seems like a bad idea, too.  What to do when there are no good alternatives?
  • Updated all my RSS feed subscriptions to include NFL news.  Adam Vinatieri broke his non-kicking foot...  AND!!!! Today is the kickoff for NCAA football!
  • "Dear Santa, I want a new TV for Christmas."  Panasonic said on Thursday it would start selling the world's largest television set, featuring a 103-inch (262-centimetre) screen, for $80,000.  You're going to need a bigger sleigh, big guy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Endings

  • The market continues to drift up as we close in towards the end of the trading day. This week has shown the traditional upwards bias of end of month strength and Labor Day weekend.  Still have a bit to go, but I'm thinking the bulls will feel pretty good about things this weekend.  The bears?  The stock market bears seem to have gotten it wrong once again and the Chicago Bears have to decide between RBs Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson.
  • Brothels take the sting out of higher energy bills (Australia).  Once you've filled up your car, bring your receipt to the brothel and they'll discount the price of your visit.  "If you come in and spend time with one of our lovely ladies, we'll give you a discount of 20 cents a liter," Kerry, manager of Sydney brothel The Site, told Reuters Wednesday.  Sounds like a happy ending for everyone.
  • I don' blame Israel for not lifting the blockade.  The cease fire gives Hizbollah a change to regroup and re-arm.  I think everyone is skeptical over the longevity of any peace between the terrorists and Israel.  Lets hope it lasts.
  • More later.   Gotta run to a meeting about something nobody cares about but it'll kill an hour.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Fantasy Football Draft

The first 10 picks in the 10-team league I'm in....

1. RB Shaun Alexander (Seahawks)
2. RB Larry Johnson (Chiefs)
3. RB Ladanian Tomlinson (Chargers)
4. RB Tiki Barber (Giants)
5. RB Ronnie Brown (Dolphins)
6. RB Steven Jackson (Rams)
7. WR Steve Smith (Panthers)
8. QB Peyton Manning (Colts)
9. RB Rudi Johnson (Bengals)
10. WR Torry Holt (Rams)

I picked 6th, and drafted in this order: RBs Jackson (StL), Williams (TB), Parker (Pitt), WRs Burress (Pitt), Driver (GB), QB Culpepper (Mia), TE Cooley (Wash), WR Porter (Oak), RB Maroney (NWE), K Feely, WR McCardell, RB Barber (Dal)


Fantasy Football Draft Day

  • Fantasy draft tonight. I'm hoping Ronnie Brown is available at #6.   In the 2nd round, it depends on who is there.  But I have my eye on Carnell Williams or Willie Parker.  I think the latter is underrated in many of the mock fantasy drafts I've seen.  Maybe the former is overrated, though!  Hard to tell in August...  It'll all be obvious by Thanksgiving.  I do like 2nd year running backs, though.   Usually "break out" year.  (Or bust...)
  • I think the dips will be bought this week.  I continue to feel that we're going to see an upward bias through Labor Day weekend.  We'll have to see how that one turns out!
  • Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet was pretty entertaining.  And there's a season 2.  Mostly entertaining.  I like the way Carlos was always trying to scam on a Whiskers babe.  He's a playah!
  • I didn't watch the Emmys, but now I wish I had.  Don't know about the controversy regarding the plane crash skit.  Thank goodness for YouTube and Google video!  I'll have to check it out later...
  • Hmm....  Ronnie Brown.  We'll see.  Forgive the lack of posts today. I'll be reviewing my list of players a million times over the next few hours. Sigh.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bullish or Bearish

We used to be friends, Muck...

  • On Friday, I mentioned my number one trading rule, Investor Know Thyself.  My second rule is to determine whether my investing bias is bullish or bearish over the longer term.  This will dictate how I trade the intermediate term.  If I'm bullish, I will always have some exposure to the market.  If the SP500 has a beta of one, that is my default investment for the bull market.  Although in practice, I do diversify between small, mid and large caps.  I increase my beta on corrections, and decrease my beta on rallies.  I use the Black Box technical indicators, sentiment indicators, and seasonal/historical market patterns to spot opportunity and risk.  If I'm bearish, my default investment is a money market fund.  I'll then use the same indicators to try to make money on rallies within the bear market.
  • Search results...  Interesting referral today for somebody searching for George Hamilton Pita Chips.  Google returns The Learning Curve at #2 in that search query!  Hey, can I get some pay-per clicks on that somehow? 
  • I have to spend some time working on my fantasy football draft for tomorrow.  I'm picking 6th in a 10-team league.  So...  If you have a top 10 list for RB/WR, comment away!

Monday Bull

  • Well, as I mentioned last week, I expect this week on Wall Street to have a positive bias. We have end of month strength kicking in and also pre-Labor Day trend is historically positive.  I believe the day following the holiday is also historically a good one.  No guarantees, of course.  And one caveat is that folks are starting to talk about how good the market will be once vacationers return after Labor Day.  I sense the tide may swing back to bullish pretty quickly if this is a strong week, so we'll have to keep an eye out for too much enthusiasm  But lets not out think ourselves just yet...
  • Looks like folks are getting on the "we're not really experiencing inflation" bandwagon.  Higher energy prices have acted like a tax on folks, slowing their discretionary spending.  That's not inflationary.  And globalization has kept downward pressure on wages.  That's not inflationary, either.
  • I went out looking at new home subdivisions around Sacramento.  Those places were crowded this weekend.  I think existing homes are having trouble selling, but new homes seem to be doing well.
  • Work is busy here at the not-so Fun Factory.  Holy smokes.  It's supposed to be easy going here the unofficial last week of summer.  NOPE.
  • Been cycling tons the last couple weeks.  Almost every night.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Finaly Saturday...

  • Why does cereal get soggy in milk? Some political activists will tell you it's George Bush's fault, because everything else seems to be.  I was reading Paul Krugman's dire forecast on housing, where he cites references that folks are glum about the "direction of the country and the war in Iraq."  That didn't seem to bother folks as housing skyrocketed up until 2005.  Must be something else.  Speculation due to low interest rates and risky loan schemes?  A bubble mentality the last few years?  And doesn't Krugman work in a few anti-Bush lines in all of his columns?  Good grief.  Try to enjoy your cereal, Paul.
  • Search results!  Recent search results that landed folks here on The Learning Curve include "erin burnett naked" and "parakeet safe oatmeal." 
  • Hurricane season mostly hits from about now on, I believe. Here comes Ernesto.
  • Heading to a birthday party for my buddy's 5-yr old son.  20 other kids runnin' around.  Fortunately, my buddy has a beer tap installed in his backyard and informed me "the keg is fully loaded."  Thank goodness.  I bought Jr. a remote controlled truck that makes a TON of noise.  LOL.
  • 1/3rd in England to be obese by 2010.   Yeesh. 
  • NFL Preview!  Ah, the hopes and dreams of the new season.  For NFL teams and for Fantasy Football players!
  • On with the weekend...  Market thoughts later!


Friday, August 25, 2006

Hard Landing for Pluto

  • Coming recession will be deep and nasty, eh? The United States is headed for a recession that will be "much nastier, deeper and more protracted" than the 2001 recession, says Nouriel Roubini, president of Roubini Global EconomicsWriting on his blog Wednesday, Roubini repeated his call that the U.S. would be in recession in 2007, arguing that the collapse of housing would bring down the rest of the economy.  His blog is extremely dour on housing.  I know, there is no shortage of that opinion these days.  Lets hope employment continues strong.  I believe without big job losses, folks will just continue to make their monthly mortgage payments and live their lives.  That's the best scenario for a "soft landing" in housing.  But hey, another blog to add to the bloglines sub!
  • Turns out California's education system is crap.  They taught me Pluto was a planet.   "There are only 8 planets, you fools!" 
  • Most blogs by economists are kind of goofy.  Are they ever right about anything?  I'm writing in general, not to single out anyone.
  • This weekened?  California State Fair!  High prices.  Crappy food.  And lots of walking.  But it is a ritual for us Sacramento Dwellers.
  • I mentioned subscriptions in my last blog, but heck I was thinking I have had a couple of Netflix flicks sitting around for a few weeks.  I think I caught up with all the movies I hadn't seen the last 5 years, now I'm searching the bottom of the barrel for things to watch.  Maybe it's time to cancel NFLX and subscribe to the cable movie package!  I think that'd save another $100 or so a year.
  • Adam explains this whole Pluto-isn't-a-planet thing and relates it to the economy.  What's special about it, is that Adam uses a "metaphor."  Today is an eye-opener for us CA kids.
  • Russia rules out UN sanctions against Iran.  I guess this is the unofficial world OK for Iran to continue to work on their nuclear weapons program.  So the UN is out of the picture as being an instrument to discuss the matter.  Not that discussions ever work, by the way.  They're just a stall tactic anyways.  Maybe Russia (and China) are just being honest about it.  Why bother talking about it if Iran is going to build them anyways?
  • Hey, what about Disney dog Pluto?  Is he being demoted as a Disney character?  My childhood has just been trashed.

Investor, Know Thyself!

What's this hooey about knowing where you're trying to go, Muck?

  • The market action this week was a big yawn compared to last week's rally.  I think it makes an intersting set up for the last week of the month combined with pre-Labor Day weekend.  Both should be catalysts for a rally later in the week, but we'll see if investors try to game it early and send the market up monday.
  • I'm going to start writing daily blurbs about how I time the market.  Obviously, many of the things I write about daily are major factors.  The first item on my list is "Investor, know thyself."  I have to know what my goals and objectives are, and also understand what my risk tolerance is.  I don't have much success or patience for short-term trading, so I don't do it very often.  I do like intermediate-term trading, which means sometimes week after week I don't do anything at all.  I may make 3-4 major moves a year.  My goal is to outperform the SP500 by utilizing intermediate market timing.  Things I do outside of this, ie short-term trades, take my focus off this goal and jeopardize the objective.  Of course, doesn't mean I won't try it from time to time, but I understand the consequences. 
  • I was going through my list of monthly subscriptions.  I figured I can save around $2000 a year by whittling down the list.  It's kind of funny how $10 here and $20 there adds up.  I never really looked at it close enough I guess.  Everything automatically gets billed to the credit card and shows up as almost $200 a month that gets lumped in to everything else.  I get used to paying off the credit card monthly and don't even consider some of the junk at the line-item level.  Think about it.  $2000 on stuff I can do without.  Non-essentials.  Just think, I could spend half of it at strip clubs during the year and still have $1000 left over!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Black Box Thoughts

  • I crunched the stock numbers through the Black Box, and it didn't have much to say about the general market. Still on the buy signal from near the lows of the summer trading range.  It did hint that it didn't like the way pharma was looking (toppy).   Sell on PPH and some of the big drug names.  Doesn't impact me at this point, as I haven't been allocated specifically to that sector.  I missed a buy signal on the IDU back in the spring that has worked out.  Not sure how I missed it, because in April that was one of things I said I'd be looking for a potential summer run.  Well, the buy signal came and I must've had my head in a bag of chips or something.  Good grief.
  • Oh, in addition to the Black Box, we can keep an eye on the monthly stuff. Post-options week tends to be weak. But end of month strength could come as early as next wednesday, and then we also have the usually positive Labor Day pre-holiday trend.
  • Were Dawson and Pacey behind Paramount's dismissing of Tom Cruise?  Granted, Cruise is a little goofy.  But he's made Paramount of TON of money.  While he did steal Joey (Katie Holmes) from Dawson and Pacey, I still hope the next Cruise movie grosses $1B.  Show 'em the money, Tom.
  • For awhile, I was watching tons of Netflix flicks.  But the pace has slowed down.  I'm not sure it's that great of a deal for me anymore.  Other than the convenience.  The latter is probably why I'll keep the service.
  • Swamped here at the Fun Factory.  Extremely busy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


  • For today's early swoon, Yahoo Finance says Market remains under pressure midday as weaker than expected housing data, rising bond yields and ongoing uncertainty about Iran's nuclear ambitions (i.e. unsubstantiated reports of a potential nuclear breakthrough) overshadow a 2.0% decline in oil prices. Of course, if the market was rallying then this sentence could be reversed to say that investors were optimistic about the drop in oil prices and that overshadowed continuing doubts about Iran, housing, etc.   The week after options expiration tends to be weak, we're in the last summer vacation days for families, and month-end strength isn't on deck until next week.  Whatever the bulls can do to keep it steady...
  • Iran says they're okay with talks about their nuclear ambitions, as long as they're able to continue enriching uranium.  Let me compare this to an alcoholic who is okay with attending alcoholic anonymous meetings, as long as he's able to continue drinking whiskey.
  • Here's a bad idea.   A man comes to court drunk on DUI chargeA man who showed up in court drunk to be sentenced for drunken driving told the judge he routinely drinks 12 beers a day "and then some."
  • I missed Pole-A-Palooza...a competition for pole dancers at the Light nightclub inside the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada August 21, 2006. The annual competition awards a $10,000 first prize.
  • Hey, maybe we can get Erin Burnett, Melissa Lee, and the rest of the CNBC babes to have a Stocks-a-Palooza pole dancing competition on CNBC?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Hey, Muck. My meals come from a shaker!

  • The market!  I like this meandering action after last week's ramp.  We're still a week away from the end of month positive bias.  There should also be lots of chatter about investors returning from summer vacation after Labor Day and ramping up volume.  We'll have to keep an eye on the market and sentiment around that point.  Maybe it'll cause me to lower my beta a bit.  But, lets see how she plays out.
  • I finaly went and saw Pirates of the Carribean over the weekend.  It was long, that's for sure.  I'm not sure if I liked it or not.  I didn't dislike it.  It did have a "been there, done that" feeling to it.  So, as Randy Jackson might say, "It was just a'ight for me, dog."
  • I wonder if folks who are on ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) drugs have enough sticktoitiveness to read the new warnings on the label?
  • Stood in the dreaded long line at Subway today.  My first reaction was to leave and go somewhere else.  But driving time, another line to stand in... Might as well stay put.  Worked out okay.  But I don't have a lot of patience when the high school workers are standing there talking with the crowd instead of moving sandwiches along.   C'mon, folks.  Time is money.  The crowd is hungry and anxious.   Maybe they're psyched that Arnold and the CA Legislature have agreed on raising the minimum wage to $8/hr.  I suppose that means sandwich prices will go up.
  • I saw Dan Marino on a commercial shillin' for some "weight loss in a box" meal plan.  Do you think Marino eats his 3-squares from little boxes?
  • Herb on momentum investing
  • Iran says they're willing to talk about their nuclear weapons program.  My reaction?  They're dragging it out.  Whatever it takes for them to get from here to there (having a bomb).
  • Is "sticktoitiveness" a word?
  • Barry Ritholz wonders Does the bond market have it all wrong?  My answer?  No.  But read his views and the story he links to.  Always good to know.

Market Thoughts

  • As I mentioned friday, the week after options week tends to be a little weak. Can we blame it, after the nice run last week?  If we are in a new leg up, then the bears should take advantage of the weakness to try to play "catch up" after getting whacked last week.  If we're still stuck in the trading range, then this could be the dreaded August-September swoon that everyone seems to be expecting.  In either case, since I believe the overall trend is still bullish, I'm content to let the short-term folks play the wiggles while I remain in the volatile beta I picked up in June near the bottom of the summer trading range. 
  • Of course, whenever the Fed Freakies are out and about, they say the darnedest things.  Michael Moskow, talking Fed Head of Chicago, came out roaring like a lion.  He said his assessment of current economic conditions is "that the risk of inflation remaining too high is greater than the risk of growth being too low. Thus some additional firming of policy may yet be necessary to bring inflation back into the comfort zone within a reasonable period of time."  So we're back in the environment where the Fed are out scaring investors.  I think if the Fed continues to hike, they will create a recession.  Economic growth is slowing.  Energy prices are acting like a tax on consumers.  These certainly aren't inflationary.
  • The cartoon Tom and Jerry is in trouble for glamourizing smoking.  They chase each other at high speed, wielding axes and hammers. But the famous cartoon duo of Tom and Jerry are in trouble in Britain for smoking on screen.  Just my 2-cents, but this is ridiculous.  What are we trying to do, put kids in a bubble in the hope that they'll never be exposed to anything bad?  Excuse me, but I think parents are responsible for teaching kids right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy, and then when the kids are old enough they'll hopefully make the best decisions.
  • More later...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Weekend Links

  • My quick weekend summary of the market is WHOA NELLIE, WHAT A WEEK! I ran the Black Box and took a look at the stuff I follow, and I can't see a reason to be bearish here.  I have no sell signals.  Again, I'm thinking intermediate term.  Who knows if the market pulls back a bit first.  This had to catch folks worried about August and September a bit off-guard.   If we keep rallying through August, then at some point I'll look at easing back on the beta.  But not until the Black Box shows some worry lines.  Now.... On with the links!
  • Looking for more information on the Pension Reform Bill that President Bush signed into law this week?  Try here.
  • Awhile back, I jested about Terry Jacks having hidden stock market seasonality messages in his song "Seasons in the Sun."  He wasn't the only one.  Turns out The King, Elvis Presley did as well!  I don't want to bore you with the details but if you do enough math on the discography ...  These songs clearly define and warn us, years in advance, about the dot-com bubble.  Ah, it's not just the dot-com bubble.  Read the article and see why Elvis also predicted the Martha Stewart fiasco and contains other stock tips.
  • Cancel your plans to fly to Miami on monday to watch the Dolphins practiced.  It's a closed practice!  Do you have a Plan B?
  • You know Barry Ritholz is worried about inflation.  So is Don Luskin.  I guess I'll let them do the worryin' for me.
  • At Vox Baby, Andrew Samwick takes on Paul Krugman on Inequality
  • US health officials back use of viruses as food additiveA mix of bacteria-killing viruses can be safely sprayed on cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, US health officials said in granting the first-ever approval of viruses as a food additive.  Note to self:  When ordering the veggie sandwich at Subway, make sure the workers change their gloves.  YUCK.
  • TraderFeed  on Why is it so easy to lose money in the markets
  • If you aren't aware of Jim Cramer's 10 Commandments of Trading, you may want to click the link to the Madd Money blog's recap of Cramer's friday radio show.  You may not.  It's up to you.
  • An interesting rambling called "Summer Haze" up at The Capital Spectator, which goes over recent economic indicators.
  • It's not just my coworkers who need to lose some weight, check out what's going on in ChinaNumbers of people in China who are now classified as overweight and obese have risen sharply in a relatively short time.
  • Yankees were scoring touchdowns against the Red Sox.  Now that's some bad pitching.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Searching for Answers?

  • Searching for answers? Or do you have the answers and are just waiting for the questions to come along?
  • CNN review of "Snakes on a Plane" is actually good.  Want a second opinion review from ABC?  Same unexpected thing.  Good!  Yeah, surprised me.  At fist I thought the CNN review was being cynical.  But heck, glad to hear it.  Good and campy does it for me. 
  • The market did trend up after the initial down.   Quite interesting.  The bears can't even catch a break on profit-taking friday!   Poor "motherf—g" bears.  Oops.  Got caught up in a "Snakes on a Plane" moment. 
  • Say, maybe we need a Wall Street type of movie with Samuel L. Jackson.  What role could he play?  Maybe an SEC investigator.  That ought to lend itself to some "motherf—g" profanities.  Hollywood, what say you? 
  • Barry's got some answers on the Sentiment Issue over at The Big Picture.  It stirred up quite a reaction on the comment thread there.  Of course, I jumped in.  You know me.
  • Pension Reform Bill Saves the Stock Market.  I know we probably should all take time to understand what the Pension Reform Bill means, but I'm not too sure if it means stocks go to the moon.  Kevin blogs,  There are many good points to this bill and estimates are that it will increase the number of people participating in retirement plans. The numbers are still foggy but you are looking at anywhere from 30% to more then double the current number of 401K investors.  Check out what Kevin has to say, and he links to a CNN article
  • The German Finance Minister had an unpopular message about saving for retirement.  Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, just back from his summer vacation, urged fellow Germans Thursday to give up their holidays and save the money for their retirement.  Unlike Jimmy Page's new 1968 rock band, that comment by the Finance Minister really went over like a lead zeppelin.
  • England.  Jolly ol' England.  A couple weeks ago was the masterbate-a-thon.  I imagine many of you who couldn't make it to the event participated remotely.  Now comes the inaugural World Strip Poker Championship takes place at the prestigious Cafe Royal in central London with players battling it out in games of "No Limit Texas Hold 'em."  Each player starts out with 5 items of clothing.  ...players of both sexes from over 12 countries would battle it out for the "Gold Fig Leaf" trophy and the right to revel in the title of World Strip Poker Champion.
  • Outta here.

Short BMI (Body Mass Index!)

  • So we're getting the "expected" friday down day after trending up for the week. In a week where there are profits to be had, friday tends to be a good day to take 'em.  This is where we may find out if there are dip buyers in our midst.  It may be a little early to see that just yet.  Maybe we'll see them step in on any consolidation next week.  The week after options expiration tends to be a little weak, after all.  For today, I don't mind seeing some weakness, but I'd like to see a little uptrend in the day during the last hour.  But that's just me.
  • Consumer sentiment falls on inflation fears.  "Fears" are often different than reality, but we have to acknowledge the fear, right?  "The declines reflect the headline effects of the escalating Middle East conflict, the London terrorist arrests, rising gasoline prices, Fed tightening fears, and the housing slowdown," said economists at Action Economics. "Similar headline affects seen four or five times through this expansion have not translated to an impact on actual consumer spending, and there is little evidence that this time is different." Wall of worry? 
  • Notice in candy bar commercials how folks just take little tiny bite off the corner of the candy bar?  Who really eats a candy bar like that?
  • Here's a study casting doubt on the Body Mass Index (BMI).   Writing in Friday's Lancet medical journal, the researchers from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, found that patients with a low BMI had a higher risk of death from heart disease than those with normal BMI.  At the same time overweight patients had better survival rates and fewer heart problems than those with a normal BMI.   How'd you like to be the woman they singled out with a picture?    An overweight Brazilian woman and her friend walk into the surf on Ipanema beach...  Diet and lifestyle matters.   I'd like to see the same study overlayed with folks who eat low-fat vegan diets. 
  • Stupid Investment of the Week:  Brokerage sweep accounts.  Very good column by Chuck Jaffe.  ...if your brokerage sweep account is paying less than 3.5% interest on your money, you've got a Stupid Investment of the Week.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

More Stuff

  • Looks like the market is taking a bit of a pause today. After heading up early, looks like we're going to close flat to slightly green on the indices.    I do like that after the late day fade, that we ended up moving up into the close. 
  • A big thanks to Jeff at A Dash of Insight and to Abnormal Returns for the thursday linkage.  The Czechs are in the mail!
  • Condoms as a fashion accessory?  ... the project has a program that gets people making their own condom art pin. It all starts with a craft table, packaged condoms, scraps of colored paper, candy and other double-sided tape.   I don't know.  It all seems a bit silly to me.  Why in the world does this promote safe sex?  "Well, I had never thought about wearing a condom before.  But then, I saw one condom art pin that was all decorated with colored paper, candy, and double-sided tape, and thought to myself that I just have to slip one of these on next time!"
  • I have to admit that I'm having some fun with the animation package from Moho.  I'm only through tutorial 3.  I tried to get through some more while sick, but it was tough being in cookie tossin' mode. 
  • W. Virginia airport evacuatedAuthorities evacuated the terminal at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, West Virginia, on Thursday after a test on two plastic containers carried by a female passenger showed a possible explosive, the airport's director told CNN.  Good grief.  Definitely going to need a John Madden RV for traveling one of these days.  Also, with high energy prices and airport evacuations, I'm not even going to bother looking at any technical indicators on airline stocks.  Shame on me if I miss a rally in 'em, I guess.
  • Roger has the latest from Ralph Acampora.
  • Invest in Water? from Boston Gal.  I've heard this investment theme for awhile.  How is it playing out?  It all makes so much sense.  People get thirsty.  People multiply and have kids.  (Especially those who don't have a condom art pin decorated with with colored paper, candy, and double-sided tape).  It only rains so much and most everything we can dam up is dammed up.
  • When I go to add a Favorite to Favorites, I don't like to see some long and windy description in the link name.  Just give me the name of the site. 
  • JonBenet Ramsey story?  Creepy.   Hard to believe that 10 years have gone by.

Snakes on a Blog

  • Bears must be feeling snake-bit this week. The market started off strong this morning, but as we pass 11am PDT, looks like something has caused an about face.  It is options week, but it's been so strong that I wouldn't be surprised if bulls cash in ahead of the weekend.  As you know, fridays tend to move opposite the weekly trend and this week there has definitely been a positive bias to the market. But there are probably plenty of folks caught leaning the wrong way and who may be looking to buy the dips.  Stay tuned!
  • Couldn't they have been a little more creative with the title?  "It's a movie about snakes on a plane.  What should we call it?"    "How about 'Snakes on a Plane?'"  I can already see the line of sequels.  "Snakes on a Bus."  "Snakes on a Train."  "Snakes in a Building."  The possibilities and story lines are endless.  A bunch of folks get attacked by snakes, chaos ensues, and only one or so survive.  When they did "Snakes in the Jungle," at least they called it "Anaconda."  (And had JLo in it.  Just saying).
  • Mark Hulbert has a column up on the meaning of the record high put-call ratio.  As I've mentioned previously, I've seen the rise in the moving average of the put-call ratio as the summer trading range meandered along.  Quite normal for folks to get more bearish as they believe stocks are "going nowhere."  I don't think any one indicator can be used in isolation.   But I think it's important to keep an eye on sentiment.  I also like to see columns that say "It doesn't matter.  Nothing to see here."
  • Lunch time!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fantasy Football vs Productivity

  • Fantasy Football sacks real work production. Office workers combing the league waiver wire for running backs or back-up quarterbacks are part of a growing number of fantasy football owners costing employers as much as $1.1 billion a week in lost productivity, according to a study released on Wednesday.  37 million people spend 50 minutes of work time per week!  This study was done by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.  However, Challenger encourages employers to embrace fantasy sports in order to foster a sense of camaraderie in the workplace.  "The potential damage to morale and loyalty resulting from a fantasy football ban could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 minutes of online team management," said Challenger.  He must be a playah.
  • CPI core prices eased back in July.  This follows yesterday's tame PPI number.  Core consumer inflation eased back in July, rising just 0.2% after four months of 0.3% gains, and reducing the likelihood that the Federal Reserve Board will raise interest rates at next month's policy meeting.  OK, so at what point does Wall Street start collectively scratching their chins and asking, "Uh, Erin.  So what happens if this is more than a slowdown?" 
  • Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'... Sex workers march for rights.    "Sex work is work. Sex workers are workers," said Philal Sri Kumzaw from Thailand, standing amid pillows and sex toys in the Lounge.
  • Lets see what Yahoo Finance's wordsmiths had to say about today's market:  Stocks extended their winning streak to three days after a second consecutive read on inflation provided exactly what the market was hoping for -- further evidence that the economy is on track for the much-desired soft landing. Falling bond yields and lower oil prices also helped the blue chip averages close at their best levels in three months while the Nasdaq's 4.4% surge this week alone marked its best three-day advance since August 2004.  Since August 2004?  Holy smokes!  Long time ago, when the Republicans were busy riggin' the Ohio Diebold machines.  (LOL).  You know, this is how rallies go.  Big few days up (or down), then sideways for awhile.  If one misses the splurge, then a lot of the gains are lost. 
  • Lebanon orders army south.  Into Dixie?  Oh, South Lebanon.  Got it.  Any chance of this thing working out?  Eh, lets hope.  The war has raged for 60 years or even back to Biblical times.  Maybe George Bush is the guy who will get all the credit for peace between Israel and her neighbors.  That'd be funny.
  • HP is up afterhoursHewlett-Packard Co. beat Wall Street's expectations Wednesday, when the computer maker reported that fiscal third-quarter profit surged on strong printer and laptop sales. The company's shares gained nearly 6 percent in after-hours trading.  Life after Carly is agreeing with HP.  Now, are they just reeping the rewards of her efforts?  Hmm.
  • Tough day at the office for The Street's Staff Report Robert Holmes writing about ETF winners and losers.   Everything was a winner except for utilities!  Not to be out done over there, Kristina Shevory writes about oil being at 7-week lows.  Remember my oil trade in May-June?  Closed that one a bit too early, eh?  I'm not the best short-term timer on the planet.  I readily admit that.
  • Hey, I made it a full day here at the Fun Factory.   Flu be gone!  Hoo-hah!

Quick Hits

Off speed and a little out of the strike zone!

  • I made it in to work today.  I have my energy levels mostly back after a 3-day battle with the stomach flu.  The best line from Office Space about missing a lot of work lately, "Well, I wouldn't exactly say I've been *missing* it."
  • Looks like it's "rally on, Garth" for the stock market today.  How many folks were predicting a pullback after yesterday's ramp?  How many were calling it options week shenanigans?  Lots.   And the day is still young, so we could break either way.  I'd love to see another big up day, though.  None of this consolidation crud.  Give us a few days to break the spines on those freakin' bears.  I want them to capitulate.  Give in.  This see-saw summer trading range has got to end someday, why not now?  It'd surprise everyone, including me.  Because we all know how crappy August and September are supposed to be for the markets.  Lets throw Wall Street something off-speed and fool 'em. 
  • Have you noticed that when you come back to work after being sick from a cold or flu, your coworkers want to know the details?  They want to know if you had a stuffy nose, sore throat, chest congestion, earache, and stuff like that.  But when you tell them that you had the stomach flu, nobody wants to hear THOSE details. 
  • So you know, technology is leading the rally.  Have we been able to say that for awhile? 
  • In more bad news for lazy couch potatoes, Exercise shrinks abdominal fat cellsExercise may be especially helpful in reducing the size of fat cells around the waistline -- more so than diet alone, a study suggests. That's important, because fat specifically in the abdomen has been linked to the risk of heart disease and diabetes.   Definitely bad news as the new Fall TV Lineup is about to hit. 
  • Maybe the solution for airport security is to not allow luggage of any kind.  Nothing to check in.  No carry ons.  And furthermore, require full nudity before boarding.  No clothes allowed.  Passengers would be subject to a full body cavity search before boarding.  Maybe give each passenger a fig leaf before boarding. 

SAY WHAT, Abby Joseph Cohen?

CNBC's Erin Burnett interviewed Abby Joseph Cohen this morning.  Erin introduce Abby as "perennially bullish."  Abby corrected Erin, saying that in March of 2000, she was recommending folks to sell stocks.

SAY WHAT?  SAY FREAKIN' WHAT?  I've been taking a lot of flu medication, and suddenly I wondered if I woke up in some alternative reality where all the analysts made sell recommendations in March 2000 right at the top tick.  (They all sure seem to claim that they did, don't they?)

But with the help of the internet, we can hop in Peabody's Wayback Machine and see just exactly what Abby Joseph Cohen was saying in 2000.

  • From March 30, 2000 column at The Fools' site:  On Tuesday, she (Abby Joseph Cohen) announced a reduction in the stock allocation in Goldman Sachs' model portfolio from 70% to 65%.  "For the first time in a decade," the media-appointed leader of the bulls declared, "our model portfolio is no longer recommending an overweighted position in technology."

==> OK, so her "Sell signal heard 'round the world" was a reduction of equity allocation by 5% and to not "overweight" tech.  Does this classify as her telling folks to sell stocks?  You be the judge!

  • From Smart Money:   But when the equity-bubble popped in March 2000, ushering in the first recession in a decade, Cohen lost her leading status. For way too long, she stood by her 2001 price target of 1,650 for the S&P 500. And in March 2001 — when the recession is now known to have officially started — she advised clients to increase their exposure to stocks, explaining that economic imbalances "have been largely resolved."

==> I thought I had recalled some of her price targets.

  • Capital Stool in a March 31, 2001 column reviews Abby Joseph Cohen's performance from 2000-1.   Ladies and Gentlemen, the Mother (Cohen) was quoted in the media on March 22, 2000, one year and one day ago specifically recommending tech. On March 28th, Goldman recommended a portfolio weighting of 35% in tech and telecom. The Mother specifically said she was not at all bearish on tech. She maintained this recommended weighting throughout the tech collapse, and she publicly reiterated her positive stance on tech no fewer seven times between April 2000 and January 2001.  Dr. Stool wishes to point out that maintaining a 35% weighting in tech would have required constantly adding to positions all the way down, a strategy that would have been even more devastating than simply holding the original position, which was bad enough.

==> This is a good column.  Check it out for sure.  They also have another run down on Abby here.

  • From CNN on May 16th, 2000:  Speaking Tuesday at a conference sponsored by the Economic Strategy Institute, a think tank, Cohen said she expects the Standard & Poor's 500 index of large company stocks to reach 1,575 by year's end (2000)- a 7 percent annual gain.

Now let me ask you a question.  Did you see Abby Joseph Cohen on CNBC this morning talking with Erin Burnett?  What was your first reaction when The Mother (lol) said that she told folks to sell stocks in March 2000? 

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On This Evolution Thing

Barry has a blog entry up called Variant Perception in Science. I'm on way too much flu medicine to figure out what point he was trying to make, but he did put up a picture which surveyed folks "Did human beings, as we know them, develop from earlier species of animals?"   According to the survey, Iceland had the most "Yes" answers, while the USA was second to last.  Apparantly, folks here in the USA don't believe in evolution. 

Press the "Play" button.

It's all so obvious to those of us here in the US.  We're de-evolving.  And I have the music video to prove it.   Barry asks himself and quickly answers, What is the penalty for this belief system? Well, you probably won't get a Science-based job -- but that's about it.   I'd ask Barry, with YouTube, do we really even need folks that have Science-based jobs anymore?  Are we not men?

Fire in the Hole!

  • Did you hear about Dell's recall of laptop batteries? CNBC just interiewed some guy who lost his truck when the battery caught fire.  He had ammo in the glovebox, which went off and contributed to the truck's destruction.
  • The market closing strong?  Say what?  The Market Closing Strong!  Say what?  THE MARKET CLOSING STRONG!   Kind of a shocker.  I admit that I've slept most of the day away with Erin Burnett... on in the background.  But I did hear the skepticism all day about whether we'd finish the day strong.  Of course, we are in options week, so remember how that goes.  Should be good and volatile. 
  • Folks are excited about AMAT afterhours, so hopefully that'll lead some follow-through tomorrow.  Now that'd frost the bears. 
  • Hmm, Wal-mart posts first profit fall in decade. Customers were making fewer shopping trips to save gas, while Wal-Mart's own bills for fuel and utilities were up, he said. 
  • Barry keeps looking for inflation.  I don't think he'll see it with energy prices up, because it acts like a tax  hike.   If you're sending more money to OPEC every month, that means you have less discretionary income.  And we can see this in some of America's leading discretionary income retailers like Starbucks, Cheesecake Factory, and today Wal-mart.  It's not inflationary if you're buying less.
  • From The Shark Report... This brings back some memories!  If you like to buy high and sell higher, today was your day, of course it hasn't happened often but just about everything happens once in a while. Seems like Joey B. is back calling for NAZ 7,500 again, oh well.

Stupid Flu!

  • So there is "maximum strength" Pepto Bismol. Is there also "regular strength," "minimum strength," and "may not work at all strength?"  For the record, it's not working at all.
  • I decided to stay home again today.  Sleeping a lot.  I don't feel horrible, other than tired.  Chills hit me sometimes.  Weakness.  And then about 1000 trips to the bathroom a day.  No appetite whatsoever.
  • But who cares about me, what about the market?  We're up again early today.  Maybe the tame PPI news, or maybe there's just an early bias for the buyers.  Again, with energy prices up and acting like a tax on consumers, that is hardly inflationary.  Of course, we're all waiting for the last hour or so to see what really happens.  I remain long with beta, waiting out the summer trading range which I think will be resolved to the upside.
  • Home Depot predicts a challenging second halfThe cautious outlook added to mounting signs of a slowdown in US consumer spending, amid record energy prices, rising interest rates and cooling home sales.  Didn't folks used to say that if housing cools, Home Depot would do well because instead of flipping homes, folks would work on and improve their existing homes?

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Cold and Flu Edition

  • Yeah, stupid flu. Man, 2nd one I've had this summer.  So I am home, sleeping on and off.  Yeesh.
  • The market today?  Boy, that was sure a downer to see the selling hit late in the day and take away most of the rally.  August.  Summer cycle.  Election year cycle.  Would it surprise me to see us go back to the bottom of the trading range?  Absolutely not.  I remain long, but realize a ton of bucks could be had trading around this trading range.   But, focus on the goal.  Trading the IT trend can be frustrating but I think it's less difficult than ST timing.
  • Peace in our time?  As you know, a cease fire stands in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.  But in my opinion, this is a good thing for the terrorists as it will allow them to regroup, recruit, and re-supply.  Hezbollah says that they won't disarm, and that this was a major victory for them.  Stay tuned to CNN breaking news, because this is probably a pause. 
  • (A pause, just like The Fed?)
  • The LA Dodgers are en fuego.  15 of 16?  From the bums?
  • A new video game called Star Trek: Legacy will be out in the fall, with voice overs from William Shatner, Patrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew.  The hope is to revive the franchise, as it seems a little long in the tooth.  I'm a Trekkie, but sometimes you need a break to regroup and get fresh ideas in there.
  • OK, I can barely stay awake here.  Back to sleep!


Friday, August 11, 2006

Misc TGIF Stuff

  • I probably owe everyone an apology for the video in the previous entry. If you have that song running through your head this weekend, I am sincerely sorry.
  • And speaking of market patterns, the pre-options week weakness is definitely in play.  But instead of me telling you why, lets go to Yahoo Finance and see what they most recently added: 

Market remains stuck in its rut, unable to attract any concerted buying interest ahead of the weekend.  While believes the Retail Sales report reinforces the soft landing view, today's participants are viewing the data as a potential contributor to another Fed rate hike.  Those concerns are evident in the Treasury market's weakness, as well as the dollar's strength, which is undercutting commodity prices today.  Gold, for instance, is down $6.00 at $640.00 per ounce.  Copper futures, meanwhile, are down 4.3% following reports about strike settlement negotiations at the world's largest copper mine, though we suspect economic slowdown concerns are also playing a part in the pullback.

  • Ah!  So that's why!  It's the hard landing vs soft landing conflict causing the market to be stuck in its rut.  And Yahoo Finance basically played both sides of that argument.  Either way, they're right!  I'd normally stick a song in or something.  Maybe something from Aerosmith's Night in the Ruts album.  But, I've punished you enough with songs for today.
  • As I pasted in the link above, my MP3 player just randomly kicked on the Aerosmith song "No Surprize" from the above album.  I'm not kidding.
  • In Sacramento, this weekend is the big Buddhist Church Bizzare.  Sometimes I meander down there.  I might head out kayaking, but if not the Bizarre is an option.  STOP.  You're thinking I'm just oogling the Japanese chicks?  C'mon.  I go for the veggie tempura and rice balls!  *Wink* 
  • Just saw that TV Talk Show host and singer Mike Douglas died today on his 81st birthday.
  • Apple (AAPL) news out on their stock-option gaming.  Apple Computer Inc. said in a Friday filing to federal securities regulators it plans to restate past financial results due to issues related to its stock-option accounting, making official what the company said last week in a statement.  Apple also reiterated it would delay filing its quarterly report, or 10-Q, for the quarter ended July 1, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The technology giant also said it hasn't determined how big a charge it will take related to the options issue.

Market Seasonality

Terry Jacks wrote a song "Seasons in the Sun" which was a story about the frustration involved in trying to time the stock market. His lyrics contain a lot of metaphors about being whipsawed, the ETF manipulators, end-of-month shenanigans by institutional traders, and the gaming of options.  In the end, Terry stressed in the repetitive chorus that the stock market can be broken down into bad seasons and good seasons, the latter also known as "Seasons in the Sun."

I think being aware of these patterns can give one a heads up and help to anticipate market direction bias.  In April I mentioned the summer and election year patterns which led me to sell what I saw as a topping pattern in the market.   When I became more aggressive in June, I mentioned that I thought we were in a likely trading range for the summer but felt comfortable being long near the bottom of the trading range and just waiting for the bull market to resume.  I never thought that listening to the Terry Jacks song had such a major influence on my investing, but it all became clear yesterday as I was listening to Gary Kaltbaum's daily show yesterday.  Gary was interviewing  Pete Hoyt from Best Choice Software and discussed seasonal market patterns. 

Pete Hoyt opined that there are certain events during the year that affect the market.  He said that September is the worst month of the year historically.   According to Pete, he believes that the reason for this is that school is starting.  Folks sending their kids to college need a big chunk of change to pay school bills and have to sell large quantities of stock.  "Just like clockwork," said Pete.  Late January is the second worse period for the market.  What happens in late January?  Gary made a guess, "The Superbowl!"   Pete didn't pause much on that thought, and asked "What about all the credit card bills from Christmas?  It kills the market every year."   Gary agreed, "That is pure logic."

What about the absolute best time of the year?  In late October, the market (DOW) has gone up 86% of the time, or 31 out of 36 years.  Gary interrupted, "Halloween!"  Pete dismissed that briskly, and answered "Getting ready for Christmas."  He said this is when retailers are getting their supplies ordered and shipped as they ramp up for the holidays.  Pete added that if you want another slam dunk, it's the "ladies choice" of Hershey's chocolate in mid-February.  It's gone up 11 of 11 years.  Gary knew he had this one, "Valentine's Day!"  Pete rewarded him with "Exactly!" then added, "It's not a question of the event, it's knowing the patterns." 

There are the patterns described by Pete Hoyt.  Market seasonality is drilled in our head repeatedly in the mind-numbing chorus from Terry Jacks.  Just more information to add to the trading digest.  The big question that remains is that if the Terry Jacks song is played backwards, does it contain specific stock recommendations? I'll post my findings later.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Peperocini Gambit

But, er Muck. What about The Cisco Kid?

  • What happened to the market today?  I think everything was going gangbusters until I stepped up to the Subway counter and said "No peperocinis," and then the market tanked.  Geez, next time I'll take the darn things.  Wall Street is so lame.
  • Lets go back to our market calendar.  The Fed is done, and we're in August.  Not historically a great month.  We're in the week before options expiration, which is often times weak.  Sometimes we see a low around mid-week and rally into options week.
  • No doubt you've heard of the fake pictures used by the media during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.  For a little parody on it, see BlameBushIt seems the photographs, published by Reuters and described as "IDF forces marching across a field of human skulls while firing indiscriminately at civilians", were actually publicity stills of a popular Arnold Schwarzeneggar film with Hasidic Jewish hats and beards crudely pasted onto evil terminator robots.
  • Lame GOP campaign slogan of the day from GOP Vixen.
  • What would a labor shortage in China mean for the US?  I don't think much, because some of that work is already moving to Vietnam.  Not that I'm saying folks don't deserve decent wages, but if there are workers elsewhere who will do the same work for less money, that's what will happen.
  • Adam's Stop Trading today looks over some real calls from realmoney sluggers Lenny Dykstra and Joltin' Jimmy Cramer.