Friday, November 28, 2008

The Friday After

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's a long holiday weekend. Next, no stressful gift giving to worry about. Football on everyday of the weekend. Plus college and NBA basketball. Lots of food. Hanging out with family and friends. Plus, the weather here in Sacramento is actually still pretty nice.

Oh, and the market is in a new bull market. Really. We're up 20% from last week. Sure, it could be just a snapback from the relentless selling the past few months. After the weekend, payday hits for many with the first of December and with it, contributions to 401(k) plans, that were 201(k) plans when the market fell 50%, and are now about 241(k) plans. Still a long way to go.

But think about it for a second. If you're younger than your fifties then what we're seeing is a chance to accumulate stocks at a far better price then what they traded for in the Fall of 2007. For folks who are dollar cost averaging in, the more months go by at these kinds of prices, the more "value" is being accumulated. And it's not like you had to wait and camp out 3-days in front of a Best Buy over the holiday weekend to get the deals. Here they are!

Speaking of, I never venture out shopping on Black Friday, but I "hear" it's very crowded out there. That's why I don't think we're in a Great Depression. I've said it before, but with gas prices down $3 from the top, that's a lot of cash consumers aren't sending to OPEC and can spend freely. Plus, many cash-strapped homeowners lost their homes over the past 2 years, and are now renting and have less monthly outflow. Combine that with a refinancing wave that could hit now that 30-year rates are just over 5%, and that could be the stimulus the economy needs to rev back up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Wrap

  • The SP500 is now 19.7% higher than it was at the lows on Friday, November 14th, 2008.  You remember back then, right?  Barack Obama was the President-elect and selecting his cabinet, the US automakers were seeking a federal bailout package, US troops were still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the US economy seemed to be in trouble.
  • That was then, this is now.  If we're in a long-term secular bear market that began in 2000, interrupted by a cyclical bull market in 2003-2007, back to the secular trend and new lows from 2007-2008, and now practically a new cyclical bull market from last Friday through today.  
  • A cyclical bull market in 3+ days of trading.  Simply amazing. 
  • The Detroit Lions are another NFL team with no cheerleaders.  *Sigh*  So I bring you their competition this week, Kerry, a Tennessee Titans cheerleader.  You have to think the Titans running game will be HUGE tomorrow.
  • Barry Ritholtz has the SP500 Index returns from 1825 to 2008 in a "ginormous" chart.  Very cool, BR.  This year is at the extreme left of the picture.  So far.  C'mon, Santa Claus rally!
  • Just as folks were having fun with the 3X beta ETFx comes the news that the VIX has fallen below the 50dmaA close below today will signal that levels of fear have finally started to decline.
  • Brooke Burke won Dancing with the Stars
  • Google ($GOOG) admits to using undocumented API in Google Mobile app for iPhone
  • $RIMM Blackberry Storm panned.
  • President-elect Barack Obama names former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to "New Economic Panel."  Sound like an old economic panel to me.  I hope he doesn't recommend raising the prime rate back to 21.5%.
  • Oh, phrase change with the coming Obama administration.  "Economic Recovery Program" is the new "stimulus" package.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chimed in, "We're not using the word 'stimulus.'"  Well, no wonder the market has rallied this week.  It's all about presentation.
  • Speaking of interest rates, 30-yr. fixed rates in the low 5's%.  WOW.

Pre-Thanksgiving Randomosity

  • Whoa Fonzie (not pictured), did you see that the dividend cuts are the fastest since the 1950's? “Until we start to see the economy turn around, you have to assume broadly that dividends could be at risk in many sectors of the economy, especially among financials,” said Fritz Meyer, the Denver-based senior market strategist at Invesco Aim Advisors Inc.
  • And those were the Happy Days?
  • President-elect Barack Obama has another economic press conference on Wednesday.  Seems like the guy is on TV everyday, like a soap opera star or something.  As the Economy Turns.
  • More iPhone stuff?  Downloaded the free game Jelly Car.  Played it for a few minutes without reading the instructions.  Didn't get very far.  Seems kind of addicting, though.
  • Plenty of buy signals from the Chart Pattern Trader.
  • Mistress demand falling? (h/t Greg Mankiw).  You know times are tough when the rich start cutting costs on their mistresses. According to a new survey by Prince & Assoc., more than 80% of multimillionaires who had extra-marital lovers planned to cut back on their gifts and allowances. Still, only 12% of the multimillionaire cheaters said they plan to give up on their lovers altogether for financial reasons.
  • Or maybe they'll offshore those Jobs to Thailand.
  • A Novel Way Around Smoking Bans.  A smokers fee is paid at the door, so that the bar owner can pay the fine.
  • I paid $1.99 for premium gasoline here in CA.  Wow!  Seems like it was close to $4.99 just a few months ago.  That means more cash to go to the local Indian Casino with! 
  • Keynes' Open Letter to Roosevelt.  Good read.

Triple the Fun with Triple Leveraged ETFs!

Boy, these triple leveraged ETFs sure look like a whole bunch of fun, eh?

Although they've been trading for less than a month, the 3x ETFs have already become very popular trading vehicles. And with a market that is averaging a daily change of nearly 4%, these ETFs have already taken traders for a wild ride.

Indeed!

Wednesday Market Thoughts

  • Yahoo Finance called Tuesday's market a "choppy day of trade," as the market was up 2% and down 2%, before closing with a small gain.  Looking at the internals, blech.  Not that good.  That's a bit troubling as we've had  a couple of big days and things seem to be petering out.  But this is a holiday week and should anticipate volume being light the more the turkey thaws.
  • I believe historically, the day after Thanksgiving is a decent day in the market.  And Thanksgiving is late this year.  When we come back from the weekend, it'll be December.  We'll have those 401(k) contributions piling in.  Assuming folks are still doing that.
  • I remain 100% invested.  Did some tax loss selling last Friday early, and rotated into like-kind things that have behaved well the last three days.
  • I was just thinking that historically, the market averages about 8-12% a year.  Or so.  But the past 10 years the market is flat.  We're taught that in order to plan out a savings goal, to use the "Rule of 72" to figure out how the money will grow over time.  Uh, how many times does 0% go into 72?  Throw those retirement and college savings goals out the window! 
  • Of course, folks are helped by dollar cost averaging in, and buying more shares when prices are low.  In addition, at some point, someday, we'll look back and see that over the long term the market is still sticking to its historically averages and there are some nice double-digit percentage gains in the years ahead to smooth it all out and make those numbers work.
  • Well, my subscription to Telechart expired this week.  It's been my major feed for data the past many years.  I love the service, and have some custom PCFs and such, but it's played a minor roll in developing my "trading systems."  I've mostly used the data as a feed into another tool, Amibroker.  In addition to Telechart data and others, Amibroker also lets  you download free quotes from various places.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Randomosity

  • $SBUX (Starbucks) fell 5% afterhours monday as consumers cut back on their coffee splurges. The coffee retailer, in a regulatory filing, said 2009 will be "extremely" challenging as it anticipates a pullback in spending by customers as more people lose their jobs, face foreclosures and file for bankruptcy protection.
  • But if people are foreclosed on and move from a $2000 mortgage to a $1200 rent payment, won't they have more money to spend on coffee?  The bank gets stuck with the house and the people move on.  And with gasoline prices down from nearly $5 a gallon to about $2 a gallon, that's a big boost to the wallet.  If one uses 15 gallons of fuel a week, that's $45 a week to spend on something else.   Stores and restaurants around here have been very crowded. 
  • But lots of competition for your coffee dollars out there.  I had one from McDonalds today...
  • Peter Brimelow takes a look at a money guru who has done well this year.  But - and it's a big but - the long-term record isn't that great.
  • Seems strange that just as the US appears to be ready to fight the good fight against "global warming," Europe is moving in the opposite direction.  Looks like the main reason is economic costs.
  • The electric car economy from Fortune.  It seems to be coming, but one troubling thing is they write, Another winner in the electric car economy will be solar and wind companies and utilities, particularly those like PG&E (PCG) and Southern California Edison (EIX) that are making multi billion-dollar investments in renewable energy.  Most folks would plug their cars in overnight, when there is no sunshine.  Unless they're working graveyard.  

Monday, November 24, 2008

iPhone Appgate!

iPhone Appgate!

Many users place a lot of trust in the App Store review system, but that appears to have changed in at least one case. In what seems to be the first reported instance of a developer relying on a bit more than a quality application to rack up good reviews, someone behind the SantaLive application has been spotted shelling out to get good "reviewers."

Doesn't anybody play by the rules anymore? Ah, they're not rules, they're "guidelines."  Seems a little like not playing by the rules to stack the deck for your app.

So far, I've downloaded about 20 apps.  I haven't reviewed any at the $AAPL app store, but maybe I will.   I listed some of my favorites here.  Some I've even paid for now.  Yeesh. 

The Financial Crack Team

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his crack team of men with middle initials who will serve as his financial team this morning. In the NY Times article it lists the middle initials of everyone except the President-elect.

The market faultered during the conference, as many were concerned about the lack of specifics during President-elect Barack H. Obama's speech. (Just showing you a little MI love, Mr. President-elect). But the swoon was short-lived, as the market had another huge day after the Citigroup ($C) bailout deal announced over the weekend.

That's two big days in a row for those keeping count. I believe that's called "a streak." Haven't had one for awhile. *Sigh*.

-- Post From My iPhone

Ben Bernanke Admits He was Wrong!

Ben Bernanke says that he was wrong and underestimated the impact of the mortgage fallout.

Ya think? There hasn't been a "wrong" that bad since the San Diego Chargers drafted Ryan Leaf with the number two pick of the 1998 NFL draft.

"I and others were mistaken early on in saying that the subprime crisis would be contained," Bernanke said in an article in the Dec. 1 issue of The New Yorker magazine.  "The causal relationship between the housing problem and the broad financial system was very complex and difficult to predict," he said in the piece titled "Anatomy of a Meltdown."

You know, I may be alone here, but I think college professors should stay at college.  Enough with these folks sitting behind their ivory towers of education.  The real world differs from a text book.

Picture is of Giselle, San Diego Chargers cheerleaderGiselle’s rich culture has influenced her love of dance, Latin food and salsa and merengue music.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's $306 Billion Between Friends?

What's $306 billion between friends?

The U.S. government agreed to a $306 billion rescue plan for Citigroup Inc, agreeing to shoulder some losses from toxic debt in the latest attempt to bolster a financial services industry in turmoil. Citigroup's package may also prove a template for other banks that are expected to face growing losses as economies worldwide sink into recession.

A "template for other banks?"  Good Lord, how much are we (the taxpayers) going to have to fork over to rescue the banks?

I suppose the bottom line is that the government is the lender of last resort.  Perhaps this is what it is coming down to.  But who gets to decide who goes under and who doesn't?

The financials make up about 20% of the SP500. At least they used to.  I imagine this would have a positive bump for that sector and maybe the market.

Futures up a bit tonight.

 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The New New Deal?

Everyone is sitting at the edge of their chairs in anticipation of President Barack Obama creating a new New Deal. He almost said as much in today's Message from the President-Elect

President-elect Barack Obama said Saturday that he has told his economic team to come up with a recovery plan focused on creating new jobs -- 2.5 million of them in the next three years to be exact.

In the Democratic Party's weekly radio address, Obama said that while the details are yet to be worked out, it will be a "two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation . . . and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy."

Among the targets will be rebuilding roads and bridges and modernizing schools, along with "building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead."

Sounds very 1930's.  But what were the causes of the 1930's and have we learned our lesson?  From the New York Times comes this view that the new deal of the 1930's didn't always work.

The traditional story is that President Franklin D. Roosevelt rescued capitalism by resorting to extensive government intervention; the truth is that Roosevelt changed course from year to year, trying a mix of policies, some good and some bad. It’s worth sorting through this grab bag now, to evaluate whether any of these policies might be helpful.

(Read article to see the analysis of the "grab bag.")

If you read the conclusion, lets hope that it doesn't take World War III to get us out of this funk. 

Picture is of the Miami cheerleaders. Student support for athletic teams at the University of Miami is perhaps best exemplified by the longstanding tradition of fine cheerleading squads. Uniforms and cheers have changed over the years, as this photograph of UM cheerleaders practicing for an upcoming football game in the 1930's illustrates.

WWLRD?

Roger Nusbaum asks, what would Lou Rukeyser do? Remember back in 1987 after the market crash?  Lou said, "Let's start with what's really important tonight," he told viewers. "It's just your money, not your life. Everybody who really loved you a week ago still loves you tonight. And now that that's all fully in perspective, let me say. .. Ouch! And: Eek! And: Medic!"



I've found myself saying much of the latter the past few weeks. It's been pretty brutal for us longs. I was able to do some tax loss rotations Friday morning. Hopefully, that'll be the end of that.

I've been running the Black Box models against the market, and the volatility is really throwing the models for a loop. As I mentioned over a month ago, I've quit trading them until volatilty settles down. And truth be told, there's no leadership in this market. At least from the bullish side. One can say that on the bearish side, financials have been leading.

Ah... Saturday. Hard to believe the college football season is winding down. Already!

The Timothy Geithner Rally

  • Stocks rallied Friday, with the Dow industrials closing up 494 points after reports surfaced that President-elect Barack Obama will nominate New York Federal Bank President Timothy Geithner (not pictured) as his new Treasury secretary.
  • E! entertainment television has just named supermodel Karolina Kurkova the sexiest woman in the world.
  • You be the judge on the real reason for the market rally. Timothy or Karolina?
  • Even with the market rally, financial lagged badly.  Not a good sign.  What are the chances of some Citigroup ($C) news this weekend?
  • Warren Buffett says that the automakers must rethink their business model.  Bankruptcy would be a poor solution for the auto industry, Buffett said, so he hopes a better way can be found to work out the union contracts and other issues the companies face.
  • The problem is that the unions don't want any more give backs.  Of course, bankruptcy would be the ultimate give back.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, and everyone is watching.  I imagine something will be done, but I hope it's not just propping up a poor business model.  The last thing anyone wants is for the companies to burn through the cash and come back in 6 months asking for more.
  • With oil prices low, people are forgetting about the need to "get 'er done" on .  The cold reality of plunging energy prices and the credit crisis have cast a pall over recently hot shares of solar-panel makers, as a leading Chinese manufacturer slashed its revenue outlook to close out a dismal week in the sector.
  • Other things are in the headlines, but once the world's economic growth resumes then energy demand will increase.  Will we take action now, or be saying "If we had acted years ago, the energy would be coming online?"
  • Downloaded the new iPhone 2.2 upgrade, and everything seems okay.  The streets view on the maps is cool.  Just like the desktop version.  Pretty slick.  Pretty fast.

Friday, November 21, 2008

TGIF Randomosity

  • The stock market again reverses late in the day. This time to the positive.  Decliners leading advancers, though.  Maybe shorts booking gains ahead of the weekend.  It's been another bad week for the market.
  • Bloomberg says  U.S. stocks rose and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rebounded from an 11-year low as NBC News reported President-elect Barack Obama will nominate New York Federal Reserve Bank chief Timothy Geithner to head the Treasury.
  • Timothy Geithner. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York president is widely praised for his management of the Wall Street meltdown. He also worked at Treasury for 13 years starting in 1988.  Hmm.  Management of the meltdown, huh.  Hmm.
  • The new iPhone operating system 2.2 is out!  Some issues and bugs.  What's new?  Podcast downloads!  Cool.
  • Well, I did my tax loss selling for the year near the lows today, and reinvested in like-kind things.  We'll see if I get to do that again in December...
  • "We likely are in for a protracted period of poor economic performance," said Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Court says Shell can't drill near Alaska.  Sure, oil prices are down now.  Anyone think that'll last?  Not me.
  • China fears job riots China's job outlook is "grim," and the global financial crisis could cause more layoffs and more labor unrest until the country's economic stimulus package kicks in next year, the nation's minister of human resources and social security said Thursday.
  • TGIF!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

1997

Forget that last entry. I meant 1997. Still need the rally monkey.



Can't Fight that 2002 Feeling Anymore

We're back near the 2002 lows. The financial sector is down nearly 6% so far and 67% year-to-date.  Goldman Sachs ($GS) once traded at $234, and is now around $50.  That's a "must own" all the way down, right?  And what about Citigroup ($C)?  Down to $5.25 as I type. Something very bad is happening at $C.  Leading indicators shows .8% decrease.  The Philly Fed Index came in at -39.1.

Everything is gloomy.  How can anyone sugarcoat this?  It's not possible.  The ramifications to most folks probably hasn't even been felt yet.  Companies will downsize.  Government revenues are going down much further than they are today.  Government employees are at risk. 

My grandfather lived through the Great Depression 1.  He told me stories about how bad it was.  Nothing like those of us in our prime have seen.  He always told me to pay for everything in cash, and to never go in debt.  He said folks in debt back in the 1930's lost everything.  Unemployment reached in mid-20% range. 

I'm an optimistic guy.  I see the malls, casinos and restaurants here, and they all look pretty busy.  I think the analysts are missing the additional cash folks have in their pockets due to falling gasoline prices and even smaller mortgage payments.  Yes, many have gone back to renting as their homes were foreclosed on or they were able to renegotiate with their bank.  I think that is providing some stimulus that will be showing up in the numbers at some point.

Here in 2008, the stock market is now back to where it was in 2002.  To paraphrase John Belushi in Animal House, "Six years of investing, wasted."

Do you remember 2002?

  • January 8 - The No Child Left Behind Act is signed into law by U.S. president George W. Bush.  (Gee, how's that one working?  Are there any children being left behind?)
  • February 3 - The New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams 20-17, in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.  (I had the Rams in this one.  Lost.)
  • February 8–24 - The 2002 Winter Olympics are held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • March 30 - Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother dies in her sleep at the Royal lodge, aged 101
  • April 1 - Maryland defeats Indiana 64-52 to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • May 26 - The Mars Odyssey finds signs of large water ice deposits on the planet Mars.
  • October 2 - The Congress of the United States passes a joint resolution, which authorizes the President to use the United States Armed Forces as he deems necessary and appropriate, against Iraq.  (But wait, I thought the Democrats in Congress all thought this was a bunch of lies?)
  • October 27 - The Anaheim Angels defeat the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series to win the title.  (Seems like yesterday - The rally monkey!)
  • November 5 - The U.S. Republican Party maintains control of the House of Representatives and gains control of the United States Senate.  (Ah, great to be a Republican back then).
  • November 6 - The U.S. Federal Reserve System drops its primary discount rate by 50 basis points to 0.75%, putting the real interest rate solidly below the inflation rate.  ("The more things change, the more they stay the same." - Cinderella).
  • November 25 - U.S. President George W. Bush signs the Homeland Security Act into law, establishing the Department of Homeland Security, in the largest U.S. government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947.  (That'll be the answer to a trivia question someday).

Lets hope the Rally Monkey helps us as much now as it did the Angels in 2002.

Bears' Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?


Well, not encouraging but this from Peter Brimelow asks if the Bears' glass is half-empty or half-full? Right now, I'd say their cup runneth over.

In the half empty camp: Dow Theory letters' Richard Russell. He wrote Wednesday night: "You may not realize it, but the Transports have already broken below their October lows -- up until today, the Industrials have not confirmed. Alas, the market has rendered its verdict-- today the Industrials closed below their Oct. 27 low. The primary bear market was re-confirmed. The direction of the market is to lower levels, how much lower, the Dow Theory can not tell us. The tragedy continues to play out, all that remains is the 50% principle level of 7,470 [half the bull market peak] and the 2002 low of 7,286"

...

Which brings us to the half-full camp: Michael Cintolo's Cabot Market Letter.

...

In the short term, Cintolo is almost hopeful, although Wednesday's action was obviously a surprise. He writes: "You can see how the Dow has tested the 8,000 level several times since early October ... you'll also see that the number of new lows has declined sharply on each foray lower. Even today's figure was relatively contained. That's a sign that selling pressures are gradually easing (believe it or not), which is a characteristic seen at every major low ... we wouldn't put it past the market to rally off this 8,000 area and begin a sustainable upmove."

Just to throw grease on the fire, Paul Farrell writes 30 reasons we'll be in Great Depression 2 by 2011.

New Bear Market Lows

  • Well, the market got trashed on Wednesday. Volume picked up on the decline.  It's very ugly in Whoville.  The Disciplined Stock Market Investor notes that the recent rally attempt is dead after three of four indexes make new 52-week lows.  We're at levels not seen since 2003.
  • He writes, It was a brutal day if you were a falling knife catcher as the market took those impatient bulls who believed the lows were in out and beat them silly with a 6.5% loss on the Nasdaq, a 6.6% loss on the NYSE, and a 6.1% loss on the SP 500. The losses were made even more damaging by the fact that they hit new lows from the recent rally attempt and volume picked up giving the market a very heavy distribution day.
  • Information Arbitrage writes, Why can't we admit that...  ...the stock market will continue to go down, regardless of perceptions that "this quality stock is cheap" or "this is the buying opportunity of a lifetime?"  And more...
  • You know, my intermediate timing models have been pure junk during this downtrend.  The old Black Box has been working at less than 50-50 and the huge swings are creating big whipsaws in trading.  The Black Box Jr., the recent model, is actually doing better.  It is on the sidelines.
  • Naked Shorts with random recession datapoint du retail.
  • Hey, even Warren Buffett's Berkshire falls the most in 23 yearsBerkshire has posted four straight profit declines, the worst streak in at least 13 years, on falling returns at insurance businesses and investment losses.  Hey, maybe Warren ought to quit meandering around with Barack Obama and take a look at some charts.  Or Value Line reports.
  • I felt a cold/flu coming on earlier.  Started the Zicam, and it seems to have helped.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In-, er, Deflation

All Spring and Summer every pundit and Fed member warned us about inflation. Looks like they got it back-asswards.


-- Post From My iPhone

CPI Falling Randomosity

  • Stocks trade near their daily low on the fears that the world is coming apart at the seams. Stocks are down sharply at midday as economic worries and speculation over the fate of U.S. automakers keeps buyers on the sidelines.
  • I know I'm becoming such an iPhone fanboy.  Sorry.  It's like a virus that's overwhelming my system.  With that in mind, check out this funny, "iStone vs. iPhone."
  • Consumer prices dropped at the fastest rate on record.  CPI down 1%.  Analysts said earlier concern about inflation risks may soon be replaced by worry about deflation, which also has a corrosive effect on the economy's performance.  Maybe that's due to all those FREE apps in iPhone app store. 
  • President Elect Barack Obama selects Tom Daschle as health secretary.  Does it seem strange to you that the guy who promoted change during the election campaign is recycling the same-old politicians?
  • Yeah, we want folks with experience next to President No Experience.  I get that and think it's probably a good idea.  So bring in Daschle, Summers, Rubin, et al.  We need folks who have been there.  I'm not so sure of Hillary dealing with foreign policy issues, though.
  • Kind of an interesting read about Netflix, Microsoft, and Sony.  Sony has made some of their movie content available to Netflix, for the instant-watching devices.  Well, except Sony wants to exclude the Microsoft XBOX 360.  Because Sony has the PS3. 
  • Speaking of, Microsoft's Chief Executive Steve Ballmer on Wednesday ruled out an acquisition of Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) but said his company was very interested in resuming talks on a Web search partnership.
  • Hey, Jason was in a bicycling accident. Stop by and wish him well!  He's one of our favorite financial bloggers!

iPhone Apptacular!

Well, almost a week with the iPhone for me. I'm loving it.  I think it's easy to be overwhelmed with the number of applications out there.  This is a quick post to link to 100 iPhone apps you've got to try.

I think the 100 apps list is a good place to start.  I haven't downloaded any games.  The LED Football game on the list will probably be downloaded soon. I just can't resist. I hope I still remember how to play in advance mode.   I've mostly downloaded free apps at this point.  Here are my most-used:

  • BlogPress:  Blog from your iPhone.  Fantastic.  Not free.
  • Byline:  RSS feed reader.  Syncs up with your Google Reader account.  Not free.
  • TrackThing Lite:  GPS tracker for your runs, walks and bike rides.  No more need for a pedometer or bike computer.  FREE!
  • AP Mobile News Network: This is a great app for all kinds of news, sports, and local news. Just enter your ZIP code and it shows you news from local news sources. FREE!

More later.  Defintely not a comprehensive list.  I have 4-pages of apps!  Some I haven't used much or the novelty wore off.  The interesting thing is that with the above apps, I don't use the Safari web browser very much. Most of the information I look at has an app.  Just click and go.

Market Near 5-yr Lows - What Next?

  • The stock market is near 5-year lows. Yikes!  Against this backdrop, market sentiment, as measured by the Volatility Index, remains complacent, suggesting that near-term risk remains to the downside.  Count me as complacent and bullish.  I think all the hell-in-a-handbasket stuff is overplayed.  Stores, restaurants and casinos are very crowded here in Sacramento.  Are we an island of properity or at last making do?  Was the worst a few months ago when gasoline prices were higher?  Somebody chime in.  How do folks appear in your neck of the woods?
  • Yeah, yeah.  Cheryl Burke was voted off the Dancing with the Stars island long ago.  I know.  Julianne and Cody voted off this week.   But Julianne was able to sing her song tonight.
  • From Guru Focus, what is T. Boone Pickens buying?  Valero ($VLO) is one.
  • Howard Lindzon asks "Do you have a gameplan for a fast break below 8000 in the DOW?"  Howard, my gameplan is go to Hooters and start drinking pitchers of beer.  But, I'd do that anyways as it's my standard gameplan 24x7.  Consitancy and patience, Howard.  Don't deviate from the gameplan!
  • But seriously, I remain long the market.  I don't think now is the time to "get defensive."  That would've been great around SP500 1550.  I think the downside for the total market is limited here.  Individual stocks have risk, but a diversified portfolio has probably seem most of the worst of it.
  • *Probably*.  Howard says it best, "This bottom is insanely elusive so far."
  • How much stimulus does falling gas prices provide the economy?  From Econbrowser.  Good column.  I think plenty more than a check in the mail.  And it continues, week after week.  Unlike the one-shot check from Uncle George, Uncle Harry and Aunt Nancy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

iPhone: Google Mobile Voice Search

I've been playing with yesterday's release of Google Mobile for the iPhone. This is the one with the voice recognition search. Works very well. I'm very impressed, $GOOG. So far, I've done four searches, and I must be enunciating very well as the new app recognized the words and popped up a list of search results and a map at the top of the results screen.

Unfortunately, $GOOG is now trading at $286 as I type. Almost a 5% drop for the day. Down from its 52-week high of $724. Yowch. Hey, whatever happened to that $1000 price target? If $GOOG was cheap at a then $700 price, then there's quite a blue-light special going on now!

Headline Randomosity

  • Sears ($SHLD) is for idiots! Investors who think shares of Sears Holdings are a bargain after plummeting 80% from their peak should think again.  Short list of reasons, include declining appliance sales due to real estate downturn and shoppers turning to lower-cost stores.
  • What's really killing Detroit? Bad car building decisions, opting for higher profit margin SUVs over smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, quality issues compared to foreign companies, no hybrids, bad union contracts, and CEO paychecks.  I think those union contracts for retirees are the big one.  When you compare the costs between car companies, that sticks out like a sore thumb.  They can't compete.
  • Thanksgiving travel to wane.  I expect an upside surprise here.  Why?  Fuel costs are down and folks have more disposible cash in their wallets.  I've been mentioning the past few weeks how crowded stores and restaurants seem.  They are.  Why?  An extra $40-50 per week in each driver's pocket, that's why.  Add in those who are now out of their mortgage that they couldn't afford, and that adds money to their weekly spending, too.  We shall see...
  • Home prices in 9% decline, but buyers stepping in.  We need to work off that inventory, and it will take a while.  Keep watching the inventory!
  • Hewlett-Packard surprises to the upside!  A good sign...
  • Tackling the national debt.  $41 trillion in unfunded liabilities.  Whoa.
  • Fortune's Allan Sloan says it's time to raise the gas tax!  Yes, a big gas tax would cause economic hardship, especially to people who are barely making ends meet. But we could refund the money to those needy people through the income tax. We could also refund the gas tax to those of us who aren't particularly needy, or else use it for energy research-and-development or public works or - dare I say it - for deficit reduction.
  • Step away from the crack pipe, Allan.  I know now that Obama won, the whole "spread the wealth" thing is very trendy.  But please.  We shouldn't penalize folks with a tax.  Lets instead build new nuclear energy power plants to power the next generation of electric vehicles and get off the gasoline.  If the government starts creating progams that are dependent on gas tax revenues, and they go away, then that money will have to come from somewhere else down the road.  Lets not go there.

Inflation Watch

Remember just a few months ago when everyone was worried about inflation? It seemed like some Federal Reserve member was warning us about inflation.




Well, it looks like they guessed wrong.


-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, November 17, 2008

Market Thoughts, Lower Oil Prices, Etc.

  • The market sunk into the close, as investors worried about the recession, layoffs, banking, blah blah blah. You know the drill. 
  • Of course, no one is more worried today than Mark Cuban.  Ya think?
  • Meanwhile, I remain long.  I've got a sneaky hunch that the market is basing here in this range and another trip to the recent lows can't be ruled out.  At some point, the market will anticipate an economic recovery.  I believe the news will be just as dire on that day, as the news headlines are reporting yesterday's news or even breaking news for today.  But the market is forward looking, and we will emerge from this someday.
  • Obama will fix it, right?
  • Stimulus?  The cavalry has arrived!  (Via lower oil prices).

Economists and politicians have been raising the stakes on fiscal stimulus to keep the U.S. out of a severe recession.

Yet very quietly, the cavalry has already arrived in the form of a roughly $90-a-barrel drop in oil prices over the past four months, slashing costs on everything from gasoline and home heating to business energy expenses. That translates into as much as $300 billion in stimulus - more than 2% of gross domestic product - without lifting a finger or adding to the budget deficit.

“I’m amazed that not more is being made out of it,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.

  • Well, I've been saying it, Nariman.  But then again, most people who come to my blog are here from Google search results for "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders" or "Grace Park Maxim." 
  • Okay, not all of you.
  • I've mentioned that the stores, restaurants, and casinos sure seem packed around Sacramento.  People suddenly have an extra $40-50 a week in their wallets.  Heck, their homes were foreclosed on months ago, if not last year.  They're back in apartments with lower expenses.
  • So I expect that at some point the estimates will be wrong and anlysts will be surprised at consumer spending.  Hopefully sooner than later.
  • Sarah Palin dispenses fashion advice.  Nice.

Well Off the Lows

  • Mark Cuban responds, sorta-kinda, to the insider trading thang on his blog. "I wish I could say more, but I will have to leave it to this, and let the judicial process do its job."
  • What passes for a "good day" in the stock market these days is when you hear a reporter say that we're "well off the lows of the day."  You know, the stock market drops 250 points, then we rally to be only down 100.  That's a good day.
  • Citigroup laying off a total of 20% of their workforce.  That adds another 53,000 to the total from $C.  Which is now trading in the single digits.
  • The White House is for helping the auto industry.  Instead of using an additional $25 billion from the $700 bailout package, the Bush administration supports using the already allocated $25 billion to help build more efficient vehicles.
  • You know, businesses come and go.  If the US automakers have made poor decisions and find themselves in a situation where they're getting their lunch eaten by the competition, well then shame on them.  Nobody to blame but themselves. 
  • iPhone app?  Shazam!  Ever hear a song and wonder what it is or who is singing it?  Let the iPhone be your brain and do the memory recall.  Run Shazam, let it hear the song, and within a few seconds it will tell you what song it is.  How cool is that?  And like everything in this socialist country, it's FREE!

Dancing with the Insider Trader

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, was charged Monday by the Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading.

According to the SEC, Cuban sold 600,000 shares of Internet search company Mamma.com in June 2004 using non-public information. Cuban is accused of calling his broker and instructing him to sell all of his stock from the Mamma.com after receiving confidential information from the company.

Uh oh. Turns out the following day, the stock price fell.

And on friday November 14th, oddly enough, Mark Cuban blogs I Hate to Lose.

I doubt Cuban will be commenting on his blog about this, but might as well subscribe to that RSS feed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NFL Sunday Randomosity

  • $GM may run out of gas before Obama arrives. Darn that George Bush.
  • Fidelity cutting 1700 jobsCombined with 1,300 cuts that Fidelity announced last week, the second round disclosed Friday will eliminate about 7 percent of the company's work force of about 44,400, said Anne Crowley, a spokeswoman for Boston-based Fidelity.
  • The Bonddad writes his blog entry from his iPhone today.  Not easy!
  • Rooneys race to sell the Pittsburgh Steelers before the President Obama capital gains tax rate hike. Republican Dan Rooney supported Obama for President. I guess when it comes to the rich paying their fair share, Rooney believes it's a good idea on paper, but he'd rather avoid it.
  • Seems like most financial blogs this weekend are leading off with, "Last week was a tough week."  Which is pretty much the same lead off the past few months.
  • Art Laffer, via Barry Ritholtz, U.S. automakers are "Never going to make it."  In my blog entry yesterday, I mentioned that I thought any promise by Pelosi, Reid or Obama to the automakers is just a promise to the UAW union.  They need the votes in future elections.  The need the campaign donations from the UAW.  The U.S. automakers have a bad business model, spending way too much money on health care and benefits compared to other automakers.
  • Professor Mark Perry  has a chart of total compensation of the Big 3 vs. foreign car companies.  Average total compensation for the Chrysler, GM and Ford is $73.21, while for Toyota, Honda and Nissan, the average total compensatin is $44.20.
  • With earnings falling, is it time to buy stocksThe S&P 500 total earnings is falling like a rock. Just like it did before the market took off in 82, 91, 02 and at other times in the past.
  • I was sucking down some beers yesterday watching football, and my buddy said he quit putting money in the 401(k) this month.  He heard somebody on the radio and Fox news say this is going to be a depression for the next few years.  He wants to wait until things get better before going back into the market.  I dunno...  Probably bad timing on that one.
  • If you have an iPhone, check out Shazam.  How many times have you had the radio or been somewhere when a song comes on that you can't identify?  Run Shazam, and it will identify the song and artist for you.  And it is FREE!
  • Is voice search on the Apple iPhone a killer application?


Picture is of Annaleigh from America's Next Top Model.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Billions to US Auto Companies


This seems more to me as a bailout of the UAW.

Friday, November 14, 2008

iPhone, I Am

  • Downloading iPhone applications like crazy tonight. I'll give a review of what I like and don't like in the days ahead. There are thousands of apps, and I doubt I'll load 20-30 of them. But so far, I do recommend Firemail as a way to type in landscape mode when sending emails.
  • I still only have AC/DC's Black Ice on there, though. Oh, and two Motley Crue songs from their last CD. Saints of Los Angeles is one song. Not the greatest but I can't get that song out of my head.
  • Apple is very tight about opening up their iPhone. Everything has to go through the app store, unless you "jailbreak" your phone. Even trying to convert MP3 files to ringtones to load on the iPhone is an extreme chore. It's like, darn, who wants to jump through all these hoops? I guess I'll just take the default ring. I'd rather spend $.99 on Fiddle-Faddle than a 25-second ring tone.
  • Amidst the gloom and doom comes an optimistic view from video game makers. Videogame sales are expected to be strong this year and in 2009, despite the economic troubles that have hurt some retail stores that sell the games, industry executives said on Thursday.
  • The retail stores are also now competing with downloadable content on the consoles, handhelds, and now the iPhone and soon Android phones.
  • I do wish Apple would let bluetooth keyboards hook up with the iPhone.

Friday Selling

  • Investors "cash in" from rally today. Sure, down 45%, rally 5%?  Book the profits!  Making a killing has never been so much fun.
  • Worse retail numbers in the history of mankind today.   The worst monthly drop on record for retail sales set off new alarm bells about the economy Friday, stepping up pressure on policymakers to figure out how to combat what increasingly looks to be a severe recession.
  • Did you hear alarm bells?  I had my alarm bells muted and on vibrate mode.  Felt nice.  Tension melted away when that sucker went off.
  • I had saved a draft from a blog entry last night, where I wrote that I thought yesterday's rally was meaningful.  The market went down on a retest, and huge volume came in and pushed the market for an intraday swing of about 9%.  In addition, some stocks were even poking their noses over their 50dma.
  • Pfft.  Nevermind.
  • I bought an iPhone last night.  Went to the local Apple store and battled the hoards who must've thought that, in these depressionary times, it was a soup line.
  • I know we're in a recession because I'm told so everyday.  But wherever I go to shop or eat, there seem to be very long lines.  $AAPL store last night.  Dos Coyotes Mexican restaurant today at lunch, etc.
  • Anyways, quick 1-day thoughts on the iPhone.  I'm a big fanboy now.  It's great.  Now, typing is a bit tricky when the iPhone is in the vertical mode.  I'm used to the buttons on the 8535 slider, so it's been a pain.  I can't imagine blogging more than a sentence or two from there.
  • I've downloaded some applications.  More later, but a quick list is WunderRadio, Bloomberg news, Beacon, BlogPress, Firemail, Twittelator, Stanza, and iTalk.  I had to pay for WunderRadio and BlogPress.  The others were free.  I put AC/DC's Black Ice on it.  Sounds great.
  • Very easy to use.  Very quick.  Wi-fi is wonderful. 3G is the same as my previous phone.  The ease of finding information is wonderful.  Definitely way less click intensive than my WinMo phone.
  • More on the iPhone this weekend...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bouncing off Secular Bear Market Lows

Remember this post from October 10th? The Secular Bear Market.  At that time, I put up a graph drawing the upper and lower boundaries.

We hit the lower line today and bounced up.

 


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Randomosity - 2nd Try

  • Does Erin Burnett cause bull markets? What is the best hour of the day to be invested?  Adam Warner takes a closer look.  Sounds like a new trade trigger right there!  Can we get pager alerts - er, hello 2008, text messages - on when Erin will be on or when Melissa Lee will be on?
  • Picture?  Another Chevy Race Queen.  LOL.
  • After-hours gloom?  $AMAT (Applied Materials) profits fell 45%.  1800 jobs to be eliminated.  The company said it would make the job cuts "through a combination of attrition, voluntary separation and other workforce reduction programs."
  • Why yes, that is the $QQQQ trading back under $30.    Hey, closing in on those September 2002 levels. What was that, around $21-ish? Wooo. 
  • Global warming bringing on an ice age“If the new Ice Age happens, it will likely be due to the melting of the polar ice. This will dump large quantities of cold, fresh water into the ocean. It would disrupt the Gulf Stream and cause the cooling of many areas that now have milder climates. Global warming will be the cause.” 
  • The warmer, the cooler.
  • Obama health care plan estimated to cost $75 billion.  And as with everything government, we can assume that the number is off by some monster multiple. Smells like a $500 billion plan to me with long waits and shortages.  "Unless costs are cut, growing health care costs will increase the costs of Obama's plan dramatically over time and reduce the effectiveness of mandates. This could make the federal costs unsustainably high," the report said.
  • Housing continues down.   ``It's clear we are at a unique point in history,'' Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president of data and analytics, said in a statement. ``We've had seven consecutive quarters of decline, and we expect that to continue until at least the middle of next year. Most markets are still seeing five-year annualized returns, but we will see more markets slip into flat or negative long-term change as the economy continues to suffer.''
  • The good news is that if housing continues to fall, we'll all qualify for a government bailout soon.  Or just walk away and toss the keys to the bank.  "You deal with it."  Move back home with the parents or in with the kids.  Get some roomies like back in the college days.  It's all good.  We'll make this work together, a'ight?
  • Nowhere to hide, says Barry Ritholtz.  Both domestic and global markets getting trashed.

Wednesday Randomosity

IN EDIT: I just realized I posted the same blog entry twice. A cut-n-paste mishap gone wild using a cellphone. I'm leaving it. Just because. new entry above. LOL.

  • When I was a kid, my brother used to play records over and over again.  It used to drive me nuts.  One song that I'll never forget the lyrics to is Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks.  It also happens to be a popular market timing strategy.  Coincidence?
  • Along the lines of repetition, comes another down day in the markets.  "Goodbye to you, my trusted friend" indeed.
  • Yahoo Finance isn't even trying to come up with excuses anymore.  Just "Sellers continue to drive stocks lower."  Yes they do.
  • Hey look, Citigroup ($C) is printing in the single digits.  Noice!  Almost a 10% drop today.  Way to go! 
  • Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, in the most explicit sign yet that Treasury was abandoning its initial plan for the rescue funds, said on Wednesday he preferred a second round of capital injections into financial companies to help them weather the worst market crisis in 80 years.
  • Best Buy ($BBY):  "Most difficult climate we've ever seen."  Climate change is George Bush's fault.  Oh, $BBY down 8% today.
  • The #1 issue facing the country?  Presidential Pooch WatchSeeing that Obama is the first "global president," it's not surprising that the Fido frenzy has gone international. Peru has suggested its native Peruvian hairless dog, a bald, toothless breed, which actually looks cuter than it sounds. (You can get better acquainted with the breed here.) The country even has a specific dog in mind. Nicknamed "Ears," the four-month-old has been offered formally to the future first family in a letter sent to the U.S. Embassy. If the Obama girls reject the Peruvian pup, we hope it won't create an international incident.
  • Meanwhile in auto land, Congress looking at a $25 billion to help auto companies.  Of course, these companies are burning through $6 billion a month, so that'd last 4 months.  Then what?  The problem with the US auto companies is those union contracts.  Toyota and all, who also build cars in the US, don't have those bad deals.  Anyways:

The cash would come with the same restrictions placed on other participants in the Treasury program, Pelosi said, including limits on executive compensation, a ban on golden parachutes, and other "taxpayer protections to ensure that any companies that benefit from this assistance -- and not the taxpayers -- bear the full burden of repaying any costs that are incurred."

  • For the record, gold would make a lousy parachute.
  • We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.  But the wine and the song, like the seasons, all have gone.

Gloomy Repetition

  • When I was a kid, my brother used to play records over and over again.  It used to drive me nuts.  One song that I'll never forget the lyrics to is Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks.  It also happens to be a popular market timing strategy.  Coincidence?
  • Along the lines of repetition, comes another down day in the markets.  "Goodbye to you, my trusted friend" indeed.
  • Yahoo Finance isn't even trying to come up with excuses anymore.  Just "Sellers continue to drive stocks lower."  Yes they do.
  • Hey look, Citigroup ($C) is printing in the single digits.  Noice!  Almost a 10% drop today.  Way to go! 
  • Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, in the most explicit sign yet that Treasury was abandoning its initial plan for the rescue funds, said on Wednesday he preferred a second round of capital injections into financial companies to help them weather the worst market crisis in 80 years.
  • Best Buy ($BBY):  "Most difficult climate we've ever seen."  Climate change is George Bush's fault.  Oh, $BBY down 8% today.
  • The #1 issue facing the country?  Presidential Pooch WatchSeeing that Obama is the first "global president," it's not surprising that the Fido frenzy has gone international. Peru has suggested its native Peruvian hairless dog, a bald, toothless breed, which actually looks cuter than it sounds. (You can get better acquainted with the breed here.) The country even has a specific dog in mind. Nicknamed "Ears," the four-month-old has been offered formally to the future first family in a letter sent to the U.S. Embassy. If the Obama girls reject the Peruvian pup, we hope it won't create an international incident.
  • Meanwhile in auto land, Congress looking at a $25 billion to help auto companies.  Of course, these companies are burning through $6 billion a month, so that'd last 4 months.  Then what?  The problem with the US auto companies is those union contracts.  Toyota and all, who also build cars in the US, don't have those bad deals.  Anyways:

The cash would come with the same restrictions placed on other participants in the Treasury program, Pelosi said, including limits on executive compensation, a ban on golden parachutes, and other "taxpayer protections to ensure that any companies that benefit from this assistance -- and not the taxpayers -- bear the full burden of repaying any costs that are incurred."

  • For the record, gold would make a lousy parachute.
  • We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.  But the wine and the song, like the seasons, all have gone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Got Ballots?

  • Have you been watching the Minnesota Senator race between Coleman and Franken? They keep finding all these "missing" ballots.  And Franken closes the very narrow gap.  Seems like it's just a matter of time before Franken "finds" enough ballots to win.
  • Hey, I was out walking the dog and while I was dropping off the poop bag in the trash bin, I found a box of Minnesota voting ballots!  All for Al Franken!
  • Russian stock market down 12% today.   As they're saying on Fast Money, "You want to feel better about the American markets?  Take a look at the Russian markets."
  • From Free Money Finance, The price of those 100-calorie packs will certainly lighten your wallet. On average, they cost from 16 to 279 percent more per ounce than the versions in regular packages, according to a study conducted last year by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. If you can buy snacks in their regular packages and use an ounce of willpower, your wallet will stay fatter.
  • I can't use an ounce of willpower.  Even when I buy the individual bags.  I'll eat 4 bags. LOL.
  • Biggest bang for the stimulus dollar?  The Curious Capitalist quotes that food stamps and unemployment benefits are the winners.  These are all estimates churned out by a model, not hard facts. Economy.com chief economist Mark Zandi says the model assumes that getting money to people with lower incomes has a bigger impact "because their saving rates are lower and they'll spend more quickly."
  • I suppose.  Just seems strange to me that the ticket to prosperity is food stamps.  Although, maybe in the big picture, if folks are using food stamps to buy steak and eggs, they can then use their disposible cash to buy beer and lap dances.
  • At lunch, I was coming out of the bathroom and someone commented, "Hey, something is stuck to the bottom of your shoe."  Yes, three Minnesota voting ballots.  Franken, Franken, and Franken.
  • There must be some auto-bots that subscribe to feeds in Twitter. 
  • Mark Cuban on Homes vs. StocksI think “Buy and Hold” for stocks is one of the all time great marketing scams. Ignore it. Always.  “Buy and Hold” for your house is a mantra you should always live by.
  • How about "Buy with less than 10% down, hold, don't make payments for 3 months, and get a sweet government refinance deal?"  And with stocks?  I think if one holds a diversified portfolio that minimizes individual stock risk (no big concentrations in any one name), ie an index fund, then buy and hold seems to beat everyone else on the planet.
  • Except for maybe Mark Cuban.
  • Hey, I was watching the Mavericks game on TV, Mark. I swore when the camera went to the bench that under Jason Kidd's chair, there was a box of Minnesota voting ballots!  All for Al Franken!

My Plan to Bail Out GM

  • As John Kerry used to say, "I have a plan. It's a great plan.  It's a stupendous plan. It's a plan I thought of it while making a plan about something altogether different.  Which is also a great plan."
  • Though we never found out what Kerry's plan exactly was, keep reading for my plan for a $GM bailout
  • The government is working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help bring relief to homeowners facing foreclosure. In order to qualify, borrowers would have to be at least three months behind on their home loans, and would need to owe 90% or more than the home is currently worth. Investors who do not occupy their homes would be excluded, as would borrowers who have filed for bankruptcyBorrowers would get help in several ways: The interest rate would be reduced so that borrowers would not pay more than 38 percent of their income on housing expenses. Another option is for loans to be extended from 30 years to 40 years, and for some of the principal amount to be deferred interest-free.
  • The government is also debating a bailout package for US automakers.  $GM is burning through cash as if it were funding the war in Iraq. 
  • Here's the plan.  Why not help homeowners and $GM at the same time?  In order to qualify for refinancing, a homeowner would also have to buy a $GM car.  Look, the government is reducing your house payment, right?  As I noted in the blog entry below, oil prices are waaaaay down and now you have more money to spend because of all the fuel savings.
  • What else are you going to do with the money, spend it on lap dances?
  • Buy a $GM.

GM, GS and Energy

  • The stock market made a nice reversal mid-day, but now seems to be settling back into the big malaise. The talk today is of $GM and $GS.  "Stock tickers that begin with G, Alex."
  • Deutsche Bank downgrades $GM shares from hold to sell.  Nice timing, fellas.  The stock is at the lowest price since 1943. 
  • If you watch bubblevision, everyone always seems to think that $GS is a buy.  Perhaps because Goldman Sachs contains the letters that spell GOLD.  Well, almost everyone.  Shares are up today despite a cut in estimates.  And the consensus recommendation right now is hold.
  • Larry Kudlow writes Mustard Seed, where he points out that while everyone seems to be expecting a big 3-4% 4th-quarter contraction, no one seems to be paying attention to what has happened with energy prices.  $200 billion drop in energy costs for consumers.  It's like a tax cut!  Maybe that's why I've seen restaurants and casinos crowded the last few times I've been out.  Very crowded.
  • You figure folks were paying $80 a week to fill up their gas tank in June, and now they're paying $40 a week. That's an extra $40 a week to spend somewhere.  And since the bank foreclosed on their homes, they are back to renting and have smaller monthly expenses and more money to spend.

A Veterans Day Shout-out - Thanks, Dad


A special thank you to the veterans and their families today. It is because of you that we have the opportunities here at home.

Thank you.

My dad served in the Marines. He came from a low-income background and once graduating from high school, had limited income and options for his future. He served a few years and matured during hs time in the Marines. He found purpose and direction. Many of his best friends came from his time in the service. He also met my mom on a night out. And we know how THAT turned out, Dad.

Dad never shared too many military stories with me. He had a scrapbook full of pictures and he'd talk about the people he served with. He taught me how to defend myself and see an opponents weakness. He said when you see the weakness, act immediately. Do not hesitate. But frankly, he was very laid back and preferred settling arguments with an agreement and laughter rather than broken bones.

I know many of you that come here have served in the military yourselves, or have friends and family who have. Please feel free to share a story in the comments, or if you're blogging about it today, put a link in the comments. I would love to read the stories.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dancing with the Veterans

A Holiday for Some

  • It's late. The day before Veterans Day.  My broker's splash page says something about "beware of funky hours" for mutual funds and such. 
  • Some close early.  Some don't trade.  Some go march in the Veterans Day Parade.
  • And beware of folks on the West Coast sleeping in!
  • Some contrarians think we've seen the bottom.  Maybe.  But it sure doesn't feel like it.  Feels bad in the pit of my stomach.  Which is a contrarian sign, too.
  • I saw lots of bottoms at Hooter's last week.
  • Dancing with the Stars closing in on semi-finals.  Where does the time go, Carrie Ann Inaba?
  • Nice words from Basil on Veterans Day.
  • I wonder how the companies that provide charting software and data feeds are doing in this market?
  • From Kevin Stecyk, will the government save $GM?  Kevin writes a good blog, and this is very thought provoking.
  • I think Obama, Reid and Pelosi will try.  Those are union jobs in battleground states, and they'll throw money in that direction to make sure those jobs are there in 2010 and 2012.  But long term, if those companies can't compete with other auto companies, then it's good money after bad.  The business model will fail because too much money is going out to wages, benefits, and pensions compared to the competition.

The Mobile Minute

  • So it's less than three days until I switch from my ATT 8525 smartphone to an iPhone.  I did the 2-yr contract, but in 18-months they let you trade in and sign a new 2-yr contract.
  • I was eyeing some other WinMo phones.  The Xperia X1 is coming soon, but has a price tag of $800.  Guffaw.  It looks nice.  But not that nice.  The HTC Touch Pro is out now, and runs around the price of an iPhone. 
  • The iPhone is just so easy, breazy, covergirl.  Easy and affordable apps.  Lots of free ones.  Nice screen.  I think the iPhone is taking over the mobile world very quickly and will be the standard.
  • The big drawbacks are the $AAPL monopoly/dictatorship on applications, no cut-and-paste, no bluetooth keyboard, no stereo bluetooth, no MMS.  Some of these things may be resolved down the road.  Some won't.  One can probably upgrade in 18-months if one wants to.

Slowdown at Starbucks

Starbucks ($SBUX) reported weak quarterly earnings and slightly higher sales Monday, as American consumers cut back on the number of expensive coffee beverages they purchased.

...

In the quarter, Starbucks reported an 8% drop in sales at U.S. stores open a year or more, a measure known as same-store sales. Starbucks said that it has seen less consumer traffic in the U.S., in addition to a decline in the average value per transaction.



You know, that's one thing I've cut back on a bit.  I used to buy three or four mochas a week.  Now it's just a couple a month, and the smallest size!

How about you?  Still have the Starbucks bug?

I bet another thing cutting into their sales is competition.  McDonalds now sells coffee drinks for a lower price, and their earnings are going gangbusters.  Then you have the other coffee vendors here and there.

Testing out emailing an HTML file and picture to Blogger to see what it does with it.  I'll be out of the office for awhile coming up and testing other ways of blogging.

Cheering for the Home team!

Backward and Downward

  • After a brief respite Friday, the stock market resumed the downward trend today. Big reasons du jour include automakers financial solvency and the continued worries about the US financial markets.
  • Don't you get the feeling that this one is worse than 2001 or even 1991? In this decade we've seen financial assets destroyed. Stocks from 2000-2 and from 2007-now, and real estate from 2006-now.
  • Of course, some of tne anecdotal evidence here is a bit different. As I noted earlier, lines at restaurants I went to this weekend were long. I went to two Indian casinos, and both were jam packed.
  • My hope is that the recession is very shallow.

The Transition
  • President-elect Obama met with President Bush today. Now we know that they discussed transition plans and perhaps touched on some of the economic and world issues facing our country. But I want to know if they talked about the issues of being a dog owner in the White House?
  • Obama is expected to roll back some of the Bush executive orders. One deals with expanded oil and gas drilling, as Obama feels that Americans aren't paying enough for fuel these days.
  • I'm going to keep mentioning this, but energy is this country's #1 issue. Without a plan for more domestic energy, I fear that energy prices will resume their march higher as world economies improve.

Fantasy NFL
  • I'm down by plenty heading in to tonight's game. I have two players, so it's not impossible. But pretty impossible.
  • In a league where interceptions are a -3 points, Sage Rosenfels did me some damage yesterday. Hey, big league and not much out there for pickups once Tom Brady and now Matt Schaub go down. DOH!
  • So I will be a huge fan of lots of poinits tonight. Lots of points. Especially involving Arizona RB Tim Hightower. LOL.