Friday, May 29, 2009

TGIF and Hmmmm ....

Strange news coming out ...

FT: "Japan’s industrial output bounced back 5.2 per cent in April compared with the previous month, a stronger rise than analysts expected "

And "India’s economy grew a better-than-expected 5.8 per cent in the first three months of 2009 "

Copper prices are rising decisively over $2.00/lb.

I suppose the doomsters can find something bad in that data. But in my humble opinion, up is up. Why overthink this ? Last fall was a panic caused by beefer Viking raiders, everyone got scared and stopped buying or ordering everything, so the economy fell off the cliff. But that can only last so long. Eventually people start living again.

It's like 1974 when the Arab oil embargo hit. Panic ... gas lines ... stocks fall 50% ... economy nosedives and bounces along the bottom for six months ... then life continues ... stocks rise 100% over the next year. Very long term, some troubling things exist that might hurt GROWTH later, but until the economy gets back to where it was, that resistance won't be felt.

Obama Fund is well positioned IF this scenario plays out. I chose many stocks in sectors that performed excellently after the 1974 air-pocket. Time will tell.

Scotch Whisky

Scotch drinkers: check out this site -

And here's a fine glass to best enjoy your fine Scotch whisky:

I drink my finest Scotch whiskies in a glass like this. I prefer the finest Scotches with just a small ice cube, which I let partly melt as I smell the aromas and enjoy the visual pleasures of the fine Scotch adhering to the glass as I tip and lightly swirl and sniff it. Then I sip it ... the partly melted ice puts it at the perfect temperature, about 50F and the bit of water releases the flavor and gives the Scotch better mouth-feel as the alcohol burn is reduced just enough.

I've visited the Royal Mile Whiskies store in Edinburgh. It's just a little shop, but has super selections and the staff was really helpful. I bought six bottles [each costing over $400]and had them shipped directly to home. This works OK if you limit it to four or six bottles, as they said they've never had a problem with customs.

[By the way, there is a store in London, too. I walked past it on my visit there on the way to the British Museum.]

So what if you want a good Scotch here in the US, without buying it from Scotland? Here are my tested recommendations.

Finest: Johnny Walker Blue Label. About $200 per bottle or so, depending where you buy it. This is a blend of superb single malts and has the mouth-feel and richness of a fine cognac.

Medium: Glenlivet French Oak Finish. About $40 per bottle, depending on the store and exchange rate. It's a single malt with a better, richer taste that the usual Glenlivit which is quite good.

Modest: Teacher's Highland Cream. I think one can get a 1.5 liter bottler for about $25 or so from memory. This Scotch whisky has the flavors of the fine Cardhu malts used in Johnny Walker whiskies, but is much cheaper. Best value.

By the way, just so you don't appear as a heathen or Philistine, it's spelled Scotch whisky, but conversely it's Irish whiskey. Only scotch is properly deemed a "whisky" - all the rest are "whiskey". We do have to let the Scottish people and their spirits have that respect- they invented it and we are grateful to them for that. Bourbon is an American originated whiskey made with over 50% corn. And Rye is originally a term used for whiskey made with over 50% rye grain, but is also slang for the many "American" blended whiskies like Seagram's, etc.

Word of the Day

"Liminal" - adjective [$10]
Liminal means 1.a. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage; 1.b. marginal, insignificant; 2. occupying a position on or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
Sentence: Quite a lot of recent economic data has liminal qualities portending new cycle of economic growth is commencing. It's not certain, but when is anything certain about economies or stocks ?

Le Mot du Jour

"Canard" - noun, masculine
Canard means 1. (Culinary) duck, (oiseau, male) drake; 2. (journal) paper, *rag; 3. (= fausse note) faire un ~ to hit a false note; 4. (terme d'affection) mon (petit) ~ my pet. Several idioms such as "Il fait un froid du canard" meaning "It's freezing cold.", but more literally, "It's cold as a duck":
La Phrase: Il fait un froid du canard aujourd'hui- 50F. Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé à réchauffement de la planète ?
Sentence: It's freezing cold today - 50F. What happened to global warming?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More consolidation

The bears and dip buyers are still playing a hard game of piing pong. That's good for traders, but investors hate being bounced around. Watching the pros play is better. I am still waiting for better time or price to add to Obama Fund. Perhaps I have some (temporary ?) immunity now for buck fever.

Doing nothing.

Timmy's bad asset purchase plan is collapsing. What a surprise! It was too complex by far. It they want to buy, just start bidding.

Word of the Day

"Bastinado" - verb and noun [$10]; a Mencken word
Bastinado means (noun) punishment by beating with a stick the soles of the feet; (verb, transitive) punish a person in this way (-oes, -oes). [from Spanish bastonada from bastón - baton].
Sentence: Comrade Obama's method of restructuring a company seems to be to bastinado the bondholders to extract money for his labor union pals. Hmmm ... extracting wealth from the bourgeoisie for the proletariat ? Where and under what system was that a standard operating procedure ? The Soviet Union.

Le Mot Du Jour

"Avoir du mal" - an expression of the common verb, "avoir", which is conjugated in it.
Avoir du mal means to have difficulty with or (+ à faire ) to have trouble doing something.
La Phrase: [from Le Monde] La Chine a du mal à côntroler son allié nord-coréen. Hmmm. Veut-il le côntroler vraiment?
Sentence: China has trouble controlling its ally North Korea. Hmmmm. Does it truly want to control it?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rally & Consolidate

The S&P 500 chart shows a consolidation pattern in the range of last fall's long, ragged trading range. Its 200 day moving average (DMA) is falling slowly to the level of the rising 50 DMA. The consolidation pattern is centered between the two moving average curves. So it's a battle of time and price.

Yesterday shorts seems willing to press futures lower before the opening, but buyers stepped in early and then when the big uptick in consumer confidence hit the newswires, the market popped up strongly and continued strongly all day long, closing near the highs. Most of that was probably shorts covering, but some must have been buyers.

Obama Fund is long enough, but would go longer at a good time or price, viz a bear raid knocking the prices to the 50 DMA.

Word of the Day

"Tosh" - noun [$10]; a Mencken word
Tosh means 1. rubbish, nonsense; 2. (slang) a casual form of address, especially to unknown persons. Mencken usage: " ... who writes such thumping tosh ..."
Sentence: Perhaps I should start calling CNBC the Tosh Network, of Toshvision. I watched a segment last Friday on short selling, which was such butt-kissing, one sided pro-short selling tosh.

Le Mot du Jour

"Pleuvoir" - verb
Pleuvoir means to rain.
La Phrase: Il pleut ici maintenant.
Sentence: It's raining here now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I see the pop up in stocks last Monday got hammered down. The S&P 500 chart now look like it wants to make an intermediate term A-B-C correction pattern bottoming around the 50 DMA at 850, maybe in a week ot two. Fine. I'll wait until that point or time to add to the longs in Obama Fund to get it to 150% long from the current level of about 125% long.

Fido Fund is still at 100% long. I'm noodling over adding there.


From comments here and conversations with some readers, I think that the "Good Music Theorem" needs some examples. I'm preparing a top 20 list of my favorite songs, and am even making them into a playlist on my Mac. For today, I'll provide two.

First is "Will You Still Be Mine?", a super song performed in 1941 by Connie Haines singing with the Tommy Dorsey band. The writers were professional songwriters Matt Dennis and Tom Adair. I think the lyrics are some of the best ever done. Here is a link on YouTube ->

Second is a favorite from the Depression years. "Happy Days Are Here Again" was a huge hit and become the campaign song of FDR's 1932 campaign for President. The song is the unofficial theme song for the Democratic party now. The lyrics are fun and the music is bouncy. Here is a YouTube production using a recording of Ben Levin and his orchestra -> This song and video are awarded the honor of being the official song and music video of the Obama Fund. If you watch to the end, you'll see Barry with a fine s***-eating grin. Such a fine vulgar Americanism, that word, s***-eating. I'm sure it makes pompous grammarians and anglomaniacs cringe.


I'm now reading "The American Language" by H. L. Mencken, in which he lays out the development and opposition to the creation of a true American language, as distinguished from English. For now, American creation of compound words and expressions is one element of its divergence from standard English. I completed a pushy survey over the weekend for the Commerce department for my businesses. It asked the language in which I did business. "American" was not one of the choices, so I checked "Other". Yes, I am contumacious.

Word of the Day

"Carboy" - noun [$10]; a Mencken word
Carboy means a large globular bottle usually protected by a frame, for containing especially liquids.
Sentence: Perhaps GM bondholders should order a carboy of vodka to drown their sorrows as Comrade Obama guts their rights and steals their value in his piratical "reorganization" of that firm with his union gang buddies.

Le Mot du Jour

"Étonnant, e" - adjective
Étonnant means surprisingly, amazing, astonishing.
La Phrase: Il sera étonnant si quelqu'un prêterait au GM à l'avenir.
Sentence: It will be astonishing if anyone lends to GM in the future.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Distrust Authority

I just finished a superb book - a collection of writings of H. L. Mencken titled, "The Impossible H. L. Mencken" edited by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. This is without doubt one of the best books I've read in years, combining insight, humor and lots of $10 words. Here's the last selection which view coincides with my own.

*** excerpt begins ***

Quod est veritas? I know the answer no more than Pilate did. But this, at least, I have observed in forty-five years: that there are men who search for it, whatever it is, wherever it may lie, patiently, honestly, with due humility, and that there are other men who battle endlessly to put it down, even though they don't know what it is. To the first class belong the scientists, the experimenters, the men of curiosity. To the second belong the politicians, bishops, professors, mullahs, tin-pot messiahs, frauds and exploiters of all sorts --- in brief, the men of authority.

My inclination, I suspect, makes me lean heavily in favor of the former. I am, as the phrase is, prejudiced in their favor. They fall, now and then, into grievous errors, but in their fall there is still something creditable, something that takes away all shame. What fetches them is the common weakness of humanity, imperfectly made by a God whose humor has been greatly underestimated. They have, at least, the virtue of fairness. And that of courage. Unhorsed, they pick themselves up and try again. They do not call for the police.

In the other camp I find no such virtues. All I find there is a vast enmity to the free functioning of the spirit of man. There may be, for all I know, some truth there, but it is truth made into whips, rolled into bitter pills. It is truth that has somehow lost all dignity, all beauty, all eloquence and charm. More often, it is not truth at all, but simply folly bedizened*. Whatever it is, it is guarded by the common enemies of mankind: theologians, lawyers, policemen, men armed with books, guns, clubs, goads, ropes.

I find myself out of sympathy with such men, I shall keep challenging them until the last galoot's** ashore.

*** end of excerpt ***

That was written September 7, 1925 and published in The Baltimore Evening Sun. And it is without doubt as applicable today as then.

Word of the Day

"Bedizen" - verb, transitive [$10] poetic, a Mencken word.
Bedizen means to deck out gaudily. From be + obsolete 'dizen' meaning 'deck out'.
Sentence: see * above.

Bonus word

"Galoot" - noun, colloquial [$10] a Mencken word
Galoot means a person, especially a strange or clumsy one. [19th century nautical slang]
Sentence: see ** above.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stock by Stock

After pondering how to start trading Obama Fund positions a bit more actively, I've decided to now shift to stock by stock tactics. The Fund has about 50 stocks in small positions with different sizes ranging from about 5% to 1%. I made the first few moves on macro reasoning, buying or adding to 10 and 20 at a time. Now I think I need to shift tactics.

I looked over all 50 charts yesterday and really liked what I saw: good patterns and many reasonable pullbacks to support. One needs to add at support, not extension, since when the beefers and traders bail out - usually all at once - the pain can be intense. Why have a large position on such risky, exposed ground ?

The review also showed that I missed some good buys in March, particularly in some restaurant stocks. Darn ...

An erudite commentor suggested a tech stock for Fido Fund: RIMM. That is intriguing as that firm "owns" the corporate portable communication market. I don't have one, being a convinced Luddite except for my youth movement to carry an iPhone. But lots of people love their Blackberry. Thinking ...

This means I have to work harder ... ugh.

Also, I am still contemplating buying some natural gas in my newly re-charged commodities account. I'm looking over contract specifications and thinking. The forward curve is quite steep in the fall. Huge amounts - near record - are in storage. Industrial demand is needed, but when will it pick up ? And I mean pick up, not just stop going down. Still thinking ...

I will be traveling to my hometown in Ohio all next week. That means no new posts unless I can convince Mrs. B to make an appearance as a guest blogger. She might want to write about the dogs, or ...

Word of the Day

"Invidious" - adjective [$10]; this is a word one hears often but might not know the precise meaning.
Invidious means (of an action, conduct, attitude) likely to excite resentment or indignation against a person responsible, especially by real or seeming injustice.
Sentence: Slashing the dealer networks might be a good, but invidious business move for Chrysler and GM as thousands of significant local businesses will be hurt across the country.

Le Mot du Jour

"Tabler" - verb, transitive indirect; regular -er conjugation; takes preposition "sur"
Tabler sur means to count on, to bank on.
La Phrase: (copied from Le Figaro) Le gouvernement table désormais sur un repli de 3% pour l'année 2009.
Sentence: The government [France] from now on counts on a pullback of 3% for the year 2009 [in the economy].

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shopping Trip

The double voodoo spell I cast last week is working, producing a reasonable pullback from the extended stock prices of last week. The S&P 500 has a broad base of support in the 850-870 area so buyers on the sidelines might step up their IF news does not turn to the worse. If one glosses over the Obama V move down & up in a few weeks around March 1, the market is really in a huge, long term base since last fall. Small stocks & banks have led. Why ?

That's easy. Those companies were being priced for BK. We now now most of those BKs will not occur as the junk bond market is open again. Companies with cash flow can refinance.

Bears are being bolder now, making strident calls for more doom. Some of these calls are quite stupid. Roubini writes that the Chinese yuan will become a "reserve" currency sooner than expected. I guess he doesn't read this blog. I destroyed that prospect a couple weeks ago in my series on "World Reserve Currency".

I will spend some time today going over charts and news on my Obama Fund stocks. I plan to slowly add to some of those positions to raise the fund's leverage back to 150% long. My thinking is that by mid-summer, the recession will be obviously ending and investors will start pricing in much better 2010 earnings prospects. I might cull some non-performers, too.

No rush, though. This pullback might run a few more days. Option expiration is Friday and the traders like to play games then.

Word of the Day

"Salubrious" - adjective [$10]
Salubrious means favorable to or promoting health or well-being.
Sentence: Like a couple glasses of red wine for the adult physiology, intermittent modest pullbacks are quite salubrious for a bull market. And again similarly, both excessive wine consumption and large pullbacks are bad.

Le Mot du Jour

"Voilà" - an exclamation; and its complement, "Voici"
Voilà means this/that/those/there/here is/are. Voici means expressly this/these/here is/are. As you can see, one uses voici when one expressly wants to indicate something nearby or close in some way. Voilà can be used for both if no distinction is needed.
La Phrase: Voilà le repli des valeurs que j'attendais.
Sentence: This is the pullback of stock prices that I was waiting for.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Troublemaker

Today, I am going to be a trouble maker ... again.

I played a CD from my collection yesterday evening: “Irving Berlin Goes to Hollywood”. The CD includes 25 famous songs written by Irving Berlin (lyrics and music) and performed by truly great singers: Ethel Merman, Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland, Al Jolson Betty Hutton, and Howard Keel, among others.

This CD is a perfect example of the correctness of my theorem that little great music has been recorded since 1954. On my Irving Berlin CD I have recorded songs written by one of the greatest songwriters and performed by some of the greatest singers. It’s a conflation of great components to make truly great songs.

What does modern music give us ? Some people rave about heavy metal. Other loquacious aficionados elevate a certain band with a cult-like following to godhood. But they have mediocre singers who can barely hold a note outside one octave without their voices quavering, or “play” electronic instruments making sounds not much better than a cat can make when angry. And when their “greatness” is challenged, what do we get in explanation ? A long contorted tome that in the end just says, “it’s great, man”.

Most modern music is mediocre songs with mediocre music performed by mediocre singers and instrumentalists. Of course we’re supposed to worship them because all these “skills” are in the same person. BUT that’s not how great music is made. That's not how any great complex thing is made. Skills from each person of great ability are conflated into one piece. That’s the division of labor and their conflation into a truly great song.

Here’s a mathematical example. Suppose one takes the cube of 99.9%, representing conflating skills at the 99.9% level of ability in all the population. The result is 99.7% - an A+ on any grading scale. Now take the cube of 90%, representing a merely good ability (B or B+level), albeit in the same person. The result is 72.9% for the product (literally and figuratively). On a percentage grading scale, that’s a D.


Word of the Day

"Sonsy" - adjective [$10] from Scottish
Sonsy means 1. Plump, buxom; 2. Of a cheerful disposition; 3. Bring good fortune.
Sentence: Performances of Irving Berlin’s great songs by sonsy Ethel Merman on Broadway provided great enjoyment even now decades later.

Le Mot du Jour

“Chanson” – noun, feminine
Chanson means song.
La Phrase: Une grande chanson doit avoir de grandes paroles, de grande musique, and un grand chanteur.
Sentence: A great song must have great lyrics, great music and a great singer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Obama's use of Chavez-esq tactics to crush bondholders and other lenders to Chrysler and GM is going to have serious unintended consequences.

First, how can either of these two companies ever emerge from bankruptcy with private financing. ? What lender would risk such a beating again ?

Second, lending to ANY union-dominated firm of size must now be viewed as having serious political risk. That political risk WAS largely absent from US lending criteria and confined to places like Ukraine, Russia, South America and Africa. Now a large segment of US industry must be considered as having substantial political risk.

Isn't lending to large states & large municipalities in the same situation ? If California got into trouble, would not Obama likely hammer its bondholders ? Bond buyers beware.

To me, lending to government supported entities like green industries falls into the same group. Would Obama let such fail in the old-fashioned way with lenders getting the firm out of BK ? Or would he step in & "save" them as a national goal ?

The same applies to major health care firms.

You can imagine if this is on my radar screen, it's now on the radar screens of every major private lender in the world.

Word of the Day

"Perfidy" - noun [$10]; perfidious - adjective
Perfidy means 1. the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal; deliberate breach of faith; calculated violation of trust.
Sentence: The perfidy inherent in Obama's gangster-esq treatment of traditional principals of financial reorganization will certainly cause serious disruption in future lending to any firms with political risk.

Le Mot du Jour

"Rompu, e" - adjective
Rompu means 1. worn out, exhausted; 2. well-versed, experienced.
La Phrase: Personne dans l'adminstration d'Obama n'est rompu aux affaires. C'est un problème !
Sentence: Nobody in the Obama administration has wide experience in business affairs. That's a problem !

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Morning Ramblings

Calls of "overbought" and "overvalued" and "extended" are raining onto us à propos the stock market. All true, except the "overvalued" claim. Those pundits point to current PEs. That one is so imbecilic as to almost be ignorable. Driving using the rear view mirror as a primary visual indicator would be considered rather stupid by everyone. Anyone looking at long term charts showing stock prices and earnings in prior severe recessions would "know" that the PE is the trough is irrelevant. What matters are earnings one year in the future.

So what are earnings going to be in 2010 ? A small gain over 2009 trough earnings ? Or a small discount from 2006 earnings ? Or what ?

My Obama Fund is predicated on 2010 earnings being the latter. The bears would say sell the rally since it will be the former. The distribution of expectations is what makes markets volatile as one group takes command, then the other, sort of like a closely matched bout of boxing.

But looking at charts, one can see instantly that all the market has done in this rally is recover to its levels of the fall of 2008. The Obama inaugural sell-off has been reversed. That's it.

Futures are down this morning. Good. Maybe I'll get a good pullback to load up again.

I am also studying the natural gas market. Obama's greenie nonsense "might" make many coal plants shift to natural gas. I've heard anecdotal evidence of that. And with a whiff of industrial demand, that market's glut might get taken up. Natural gas rose a lot last week, about 20% from the lows. That might just be short covering, hedging or new longs. The natural gas ETF saw big increases in volume. IF I do anything, it will NOT be to buy that ETF. It's a loser for anything but short term trading as the monthly rolls kill it.

I put some money back into my commodities account and would buy some more distance futures. IF I decide to do it. I have lots of study to do before that.

Word of the Day

"Jejune" - adjective [$10]
Jejune means 1. lacking nutritive value; 2. lacking interest or significance; 3. lacking maturity: puerile.
Sentence: Writing on the news pages of the Wall Street Journal has sunk to the jejune level of sophomore* journalism clases.

*see bonus below.

Le Mot du Jour

"Éxiger" - verb, transitive, conjugates like manger.
Éxiger means to erect, to set up, to establish (+ en ); S'éxiger means to set oneself up.
La Phrase: Des dirgeants européenes veulent éxiger le socialisme d'État en model pour l'economie du monde. Ils ont tort.
Sentence: Some European leaders want to set up state socialism as a model for the world economy. They are wrong.

*Bonus: a durable 5,000 year old concept: the "sophomore" and the "sophmoric".

The English word for "sophomore" derives from the Greek compound word, "sophos-moros" meaning "clever fool. It was first used in English in 1688 in Cambridge. BUT there is a Sumerian word transliterated as "galam-huru" that means the identical thing - "clever fool" - literally. The word is used in an essay in Sumerian literature that is a type of verbal contest between higher level students and lower level ones.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stress Tests

The point of these stress tests seems to have been to put the government's imprimateur on the financial strength of major US banks to enable them to raise DEBT in the public market without government backing. Theoretically, doing stress tests AFTER a major recession has hit is rather dumb. After all, reserves are designed to be used in recessions, not created. In recessions one wants banks to have already been strong enough to survive and lend. For example, even a AAA entity will certainly look worse financially in a severe economic trough than it did before the downturn.

But Timmy and presumably Ben wanted to reassure lenders TO BANKS [sic] that the banks are strong and even in a further leg down can survive. This is because they want to extract the government from the position of guaranteeing bank debt, money markets, and on and on. This makes sense, but of course we all know now that prior accounting rules, regulations and capital rules did not look to the future, but to the past. Banks could go to the market's casinos to play and trade and try to pad the pay of their internal hogs.

Hence the stress tests were done and we now "know" that some are fine and some need capital in the form of common equity. I think this crisis also puts the lie to preferred stock as core equity (whatever you call it) for a bank. The point is that cutting a preferred stock's dividend would be a sign that bank is likely insolvent, while cutting the dividend on common stock is not seem that way: it can be seem as bolstering current operations.

So in the future, I'd think government regulations will force banks to hold much more capital as common stock and cut back on preferred stock. By the way, in the 1990 recession, Elmer decided that preferred stock was a great source of capital for banks. Sighhhh.

For investors, all else being equal, this means lower growth rates for banks as the common equity base will be larger. What banks need to do is cut the pay of huge numbers of their bankers, particularly traders, who really make money using and risking the stockholders' money. Stockholders much be better compensated for the risks they bear.


A minor dip yesterday, but this morning futures are up. I really want a good sized pullback, preferably a lot more than a one day wonder. I'd like a good two week, three wave A-B-C pullback to some support level or some Fibonacci level. I want to get back to 150% long at a point of lower risk.

To accomplish this, I have cast my best market drop voodoo spells:
1. I publicly ( and honestly) proclaimed the recession is over - a very bullish call.
2. I bought a fine new car - an SUV really. Very decadent, but Mrs. B wanted it.

This should infuriate the market gods and cause a sizable pullback. I await it with plenty of skim to invest. I guess this will also test whether the market gods read this blog ;) If they do, they will propel the market much higher to frustrate me.

Word of the Day

"Subserve" - verb, transitive [$10]
Subserve means 1. to serve as an instrument or means of; 2. to promote the welfare or purposes of.
Sentence: Timmy's stress tests subserved the governments desire to extricate itself from extensive bank debt guarantees.

Le Mot du Jour

"Sommer" - verb, regular -er conjugation.
Sommer means (transitive) to command or enjoin [~ qn de faire qch -> to command or enjoin somebody to do something]; (intransitive) to add.
La Phrase: (adapted from Le Monde) L'administration d'Obama somme quelques grandes banques se renforcer leur capital.
Sentence: The Obama administration is commanding some large banks to strengthen their capital.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Creation of Civilization

Archeology and studies of seeds and pollen found in the earliest villages and cities in the dawn of the Neolithic age - perhaps even in the Mesolithic period - show that the core food staples in these communities were bread and beer. The term, "Neolithic" even denotes the age when early man began to domesticate plants and animals, perhaps around 8000 BCE in the Near East.

Sumeria built the first true cities circa 3000 BCE. The first city, Uruk, had perhaps 50,000 people, traded over a large area and its people had division of labor and skills. Sumeria also invested writing. And what is found in the writings of the common man in Sumeria ? Paeans to his beer.

The staple diet of ancient Egypt was also bread and ... beer.

Today's blog celebrates beer and as a multilingual blog, I've written THE crucial sentence that underlies all civilization in six languages.

English: I want another beer, please.
French: Je veux une autre bière, s’il vous plaît.
Italian: Voglio un’ altra birra, per favore.
Spanish*: Quisiera otra cerveza por favor.
Polish: Proszę jeszcze jedno piwo.
German: Ich möchte noch ein bier, bitte.

[* courtesy of an erudite multilingual reader and commentor as I am just now commencing Spanish studies.]

In case you are wondering, after my success and fun with French and recognizing my advanced age, I've decided to learn slowly four more languages at once: Italian, Polish, German and Spanish. With French and English, this will cover every major language and people in Europe. I realized that if I didn't start them all now, I would be 70 before I got to the last one if I just learned them sequentially, assuming about three years intensive study in each to become literate and fairly fluent in speech. I'll bang away at each and after a year, try to accelerate the learning.

This means the feature, "Le Mot du Jour", may occasionally stray to Germans, Italian, Polish or Spanish.


The recession is over.

The question is how long this bull market will last and whether a period of stagnation will occur once the economy recovers to its prior level. A period of 1970s like stagnation is quite possible due to the huge and all-encompassing new regulations and laws that Obama is proposing on health care and the environment. I expect a rapid market and economic recovery similar to the 1974-1976 period until the wall is hit. Whether inflation also occurs causing stagflation then is not determined. The more global economy and the growth in the emerging markets may affect this, too. There's no need to take a position on this now. I await further evidence and trends.

Meanwhile, Obama Fund is roaring up as is Fido Fund. I am sitting on and riding the elephant to the next water hole.

Word of the Day

"Poteen" - noun [$10]; a Mencken word
Poteen means Irish alcohol made illicitly from potatoes.
Sentence: As they drive stock prices higher, are buyers drunk on poteen after drowning their sorrows, or are they "efficiently and rationally" evaluating future prospects for corporate earnings ? I suspect neither. Less fear simply means the far negative end of the distribution of investor expectaions is being chopped off, forcing the central mean is up in price.

Le Mot du Jour

"Grippe" - noun, feminine: La grippe.
Grippe means flu. There's a line in that great movie (one of my favorites), "Guys and Dolls" where a "doll" is reading about health diagnoses and says "la grippe", meaning the flu. I never understood that line until I learned some French.
La Phrase: Cette panique de la grippe porscine sera une pagaïe.
Sentence: This panic about swine flu will be a mess.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lots of News

The Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings appears to be a mugging of the secured creditors orchestrated by Obama to give the company to the union. A good rule: never trust the government.

Some big banks are finding this out, too. BAC is rumored to need a huge infusion of common equity. This is the dilution I worried about in avoiding that stock.

The SEC is filing some cases for fraud and insider trading. So far the effort is anemic, but that's no surprise as its staff in practically on the payroll of the fraudsters.

Meanwhile, the junk bond market is roaring and seems wide open to new issues. That is hugely positive news for many small stocks which need refinancings to survive. I suspect that's part of the reason small stocks are performing so well lately.

Obama Fund is up 43% year-to-date. I guess buy and hold isn't dead as in investment strategy, but I do modify that with some trading to buy low and sell high on dips and rips. Obama Fund is benefiting greatly from the re-opening of the junk bond market as its cheap but risky companies are now perceived as less risky.

Fido Fund is up 45% year to date, showing that the gains are not tied to small stocks.

Both funds are about 100% long now as I've sold some bits of many positions after being 150% long around the lows. On a significant pullback, I'd go back to 150% long if fundamental news and outlook did not change.

Word of the Day

"Bespeak" - verb, transitive [$10]; past tense is "bespoke".
Bespeak means 1. engage in advance; 2. order (goods); 3. suggest, be evidence of (his gift bepeaks a kind heart); (literary) speak to. The usage #3 seems to be used when a thing is 'speaking'.
Sentence: Actions of the Obama administration bespeak racketeering tactics: force, pressure and intimidation versus the rule of law. I expect the judge - a government official - to bend over and let Obama have his way.

Le Mot du Jour

"Exprimer" - verb, regular -er.
Exprimer means to express. S'exprimer means to express oneself.
Le Phrase: Je veux apprendre exprimer l'idée, "I want another beer, please", dans six langues.
Sentence: I want to learn to express the idea, "I want another beer, please", in six languages.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I'm back in the saddle again - reading, thinking, doing. My mind is crammed full of data and visions of Sumerian and Egyptian art, culture and history after spending four solid days in the museums of London. Plus I spent a day in the National Gallery viewing fine paintings. That's five solid days of intense study in the humanities. I'm making up for 40 years of science, math and business. and doing quite well so far. The Bunkerman re-education program is at full speed now.

But I did let the body have some pleasures. Within very easy walking district of our hotel in the Mayfair district, we dined at quite fine restaurants every night suggested by the concierge of the hotel. We had a different style every night: British, Chinese, Indian, Italian and French. London has excellent cuisine. The Chinese restaurant produced some of the finest Chinese food we had every eaten. We were particularly delighted with a 'starter' in a vegetarian style of Peking Duck made with fried strips of bean curd served in the style of Peking Duck - magnifique !

British beef is superb. I had fillets twice - they pronounce the "t" in Britain - from Scottish beef which is so tasty and tender. And the wine lists had plenty of excellent reds.

Naturally I did not let the "depression" get in the way of vacation enjoyment. Overall, London is a superb city for the intellectual tourist. I'll write more later, but have an early errand now.


Up, up and away. The Obama Fund is roaring as is the Fido Fund. These funds are 115% and 100% long, respectively, and doing very well.

I wait to deploy new funds on the next intermediate dip.

Word of the Day

"Etiology" - noun [$10]; British spelling is "aetiology"; adjective is "etiological".
Etiology means 1. the assignment of a cause or reason; 2. the study of causation; 3. all of the causes of a disease or abnormal condition.
Sentence: Some academics in the history of English simply describe its evolution without considering and developing its etiology. I recommend the book, "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English", by John McWhorter. That is a excellent, readable book with solid ideas and evidence.

Le Mot Du Jour

None today - out of time. Also, I am planning to modify this feature of the blog to include other languages that I am now studying. The new "Le Mot du Jour" will be pan-European and include French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish. I'd include ancient Egyptian in the hierglyphic script, but Microsoft Word doesn't seems to have those signs as a font.