I returned from the wilderness of northern Algonquin National Park in Canada with renewed vigor and a mind clear of all those daily entanglements that modernity creates. Imagine a life of no watch ... no cell phone ... no appointments ... no clients ... just a need to cope with simple living in nature. It was a wonderful trip and I recommend such trips to everyone.
We woke up around dawn every day and went to bed a little after dusk, or a bit later if the conversation and fire were especially enjoyable. We saw the Milky Way and more stars than I've seen at once for years. The call of the loon kept company, as did the "friendly" squirrels. No mosquitos !!!
And ... the promises of the fishermen were fulfilled !
Big Al and Big John proved themselves to be "les grands pêcheurs" - the great fishermen - as they bagged three smallmouth bass on one day. Those fish provided about 5 pounds of fillets that Big John deep fried over an open fire. He used a simple batter to coat the fish and fried the chunks in deep oil. The fried fish was superb, and was accompanied by wine supplied by that epicurean camper, Woody. A marvelous meal in the wilderness. Other fish were caught, including a large smallmouth weighing perhaps six pounds (no "fish story" - there is a photo), but were released.
Actually, all the campers were epicureans, even myself. I took along both ascetic, simple foods such as hardtack and the elegant - two flasks filled with fine Rémy Martin cognac. If one is willing to lug the gear over the portages, one can take a lot of gear in a canoe to enhance the pleasure of the camps.
I'll write more this week about the trip.
Big Events of the Past Week
The big event of the past week must be the re-appointment of Battleship Ben as head of the Fed. That is excellent. I believe that Obama did not want to do that, but the problems he's having with his health care plan led him to want to avoid any market risks that not appointing Ben might create. With Ben at the helm, I think the risks of a repetition of a 1970s style stagflation are much lower. By the way, this indicates that perhaps Barry reads this blog, as I've written for a couple months how important this re-appointment was. Keep reading, Barry.
The overthrow of the LDP in Japan could be a hugely significant event over the long term. What it could mean for economies and stocks, though, is obscure for now, except I expect the yen to weaken.
Pundits were Wrong Again
All those big mouth naysayers seem to have been wrong about the TARP and Fed interventions costing the taxpayer huge sums.
From FT: "The Federal Reserve has made a $14bn profit on loan programmes that have provided hundreds of billions of dollars in liquidity to the financial system since the start of the crisis two years ago, according to Fed officials. The internal estimate is based on the difference between the fees and interest on the lending facilities and the interest the Fed would have earned had it invested the funds in three-month Treasury bills."
From WSJ: "The U.S. Treasury has so far collected a combined $7.3 billion in dividend payments from many of the hundreds of banks to which it has loaned government capital, its latest report shows."
The gain or loss of these programs to save and re-start the economy will not be known in full until a few more years, but the disaster blather of many big mouth pundits and politicians seems to be in the process of being proven wrong .. again.
Doing nothing. I'm noodling over creating a list of exporter stocks to buy for Obama Fund. I see the world economic growth being led by increased world trade among the various emerging regions: China, southeast Asia, India, South American, eastern Europe. US exporters should be able to perform well.
Word of the Day
"Circumambulate" - verb [$10] formal
Circumambulate means to walk around or about.
Sentence: With his guide to the trees of Algonquin Park, Bunkerman spent some free time circumambulating the woods near the campsites identifying trees that he had never seen before: Yellow Birch, White Spruce, Mountain Maple. And the giant Hemlocks were magnificent.