Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Why hasn't American had a reform in spelling ? Usually Americans are quick to adopt innovations and new ideas. Why is "laugh" spelled in such an archaic way ? Even comic strips sometimes spell it, "laf". Maybe the new text message written dialect will eventually incite a reform in spelling.

Maybe 700 years ago in Middle English the "gh" in laugh was pronounced in a gutteral Germanic asperated "ch" as in "ach". The printing press froze those archaisms into the spelling, but in oral speech, they are long gone. Noah Webster started a break from English spelling in the late 18th century and over the 19th century many American spelling simplifications were adopted, such as public for publick. Another successful change our revolutionary ancestors made was to get rid of the "u" in words like colour, making it color. But many, many suggested spelling reforms died stillborn.

About 80 years ago in his fine book, "The American Language", H. L. Mencken traces American spelling and shows how a large number of reforms were adopted, but said that Anglophiles, pedantics and schoolmarms inhibited the adoption of new words, grammars and spelling. He also shows that in Britain, adoption of American spelling reforms was inhibited by Ameriphobes, pedantics and schoolmarms. Sheesh.

Early last century, a Simplied Spelling Board subsidized by Carnegie was active, making many spelling reform suggestions. Very few seem to have been adopted.

Langauges like German and Polish had spelling reforms after World War II (German was as recent as 1996). Why not American ? Sheesh, are we being out-innovated ? America is supposed to be modern, innovative, using concepts and creating new ideas, uses and things. Why don't we reform spelling ?

Words like laugh, slaughter, daughter, eight, and on and on.

Let's start with the obvious, easy ones.

Laugh -> laf.
Slaughter -> slauter
daughter -> dauter.

Eight -> ate. [upon reflection, "ait" works better, as in wait, bait]
Foot -> fut to follow put. That's how the texters spell is now anyway.

Well, I'm running out of time, but I'll post many more suggestions later. And any "good" suggestions from readers are welcome & I'll post those, too.

Word of the Day

"Orthography" - noun [$10]
Orthography means 1(a) correct or conventional spelling 1(b) spelling with reference to its correctness (dreadful orthography); 1(c) the study or science of spelling; 2(a) perspective projection used in maps and elevations in which the projection lines are parallel; 2(b) a map so projected.
Sentence: Reform in American orthography in coming, led by the new text message written diglossia. Bunkerman is calling for a commission to Simply American Spelling, or perhaps a global convention to simply spelling of the American-English language.

La Parola della Settimana

"Bere" - verb, irregular
Bere means to drink.
La frase: Adesso bevo il caffé.
Sentence: Now I am drinking coffee.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Most Politicans are Knaves

That sentence in French was Friday's "La Phrase" - the French noun, "fripon" translates as "knave". And that sentence was also used in Thursday's "Zdanie" as an example for Thursday's Polish Słowo Tygodnia, "niegodziwiec" which also translates as "knave".

Today's news brings many, many examples, as well as some knaves getting into trouble.

The President of Honduras, a Chavez wannabe, wanted to hold an unconstitutional referendum to gut the constitution so he could remain in power. At least the Honduras army had the backbone to stand up to him and kick him out. It's laughable how some politicians [read: Obama] are calling for his reinstallation. What are constitutions for ? Oaths to uphold the constitution need to be respected. If a knave violates it, he should get the boot.

WSJ: "BUENOS AIRES -- President Cristina Kirchner suffered a stunning setback in Argentina's congressional elections, losing absolute majorities in both houses of Congress. Mrs. Kirchner's husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, lost his own bid for a seat from Buenos Aires province in Sunday's election." I wonder if the people of Argentina might be awakening from their multi-decadal infatuation with demagogues.

The NY state senate continues its farce. Members refuse to work. I suppose they are fighting over patronage and payoffs, and whose will be cut in the budget cutbacks.

The California gridlock continues. That state will run out of money to pay bills any day now. States relying on "soak the rich" taxation systems incur the costs of that folly. In hard times, that income drops fastest, leaving huge budget holes. This happened in the tech bubble, too.

The US House of Representatives passes a foolish climate change bill to kowtow to Obama and the Greenies. Of course that bill is larded with provisions that are untenable, such as tariffs on goods from China and India. Fat chance those have of ever coming into force. Any legislator pointing to those to justify his vote wears the label, "knave",

Five examples are enough.

Ooops, one more: a Bible toting, values touting governor of South Carolina gets caught taking very, very private Spanish lessons from his Argentine mistress. He's married with four kids. Sheesh, what a knave.


Doing nothing. As more news of economic recovery appears, the bears should be suffering slowly on the rack. Chance of an upside buying panic will grow. Target: that air pocket in upside resistance from about S&P 950 to 1200. A solid recovery should get the S&P back to 1200. After that, the details will matter.

Word of the Day

"Provenience" - noun [$10]
Provenience means origin, source.
Sentence: The provenience of power for knaves is the fatuity of the people in a democracy. This caused the destruction of the power of Athens in the Peloponnessian war 2,500 years ago. Will the people ever learn ? No. This is why the US constitution provides for a republican form of government with distributed power and many checks.

Le Mot du Jour

"Tromper" - transitive verb, regular -er conjugation
Tromper means to 1. deceive, to fool, to trick; to be unfaithful to, to cheat on; to mislead; 3. to elude
La Phrase: Les fripons peuvent souvent tromper le peuple. Pourquoi ?
Sentence: Knaves can often fool the people. Why ?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Learn from the Ancient Greeks


Dear Congressional Niegodziwce*: Regarding your glee in smearing a true stalwart for US economic stability, Battleship Ben Bernanke, please re-read the famous tragedy, Oedipus. Some knowledge is not worth knowing. Your own posturing in seeking “transparency” seems rather vile, as you surely love the cloak of darkness for your earmarks. And many financial decisions are best made quietly as the unintended consequences of letting every single market participant know a decision is imminent can cause huge dislocations.

Like making sausage or how that steak got on your plate, or the past of Oedipus, some knowledge is better not known. Learn from the Greeks. [The hubris of Oedipus in incessantly seeking the knowledge of his origins led him to learn and show to the public that he had unwittingly killed his own father and married his mother. Consequently she killed herself and he blinded himself from the torment of that knowledge.]

*Yesterday’s Słowo Tygodnia aka Word of the Week in nominative plural form, meaning “knaves” or more humorously, “nogoodniks”.


It’s rather obvious that German policy makers’ are delusional, particularly Ms. Merkel and the finance minister. They seem to criticize US decisions by the Fed, Paulson, Timmy and Obama, yet don’t recognize their own nation needs the same efforts immediately. The evidence ?

FT: “Germany’s powerful export industry is warning of a credit squeeze in Europe’s largest economy even after the European Central Bank’s injection this week of one-year liquidity into the eurozone banking system. The German BGA exporters’ association on Thursday forecast a “dramatic deterioration” in credit conditions in coming months, which would result in “massive financing squeeze”.

"Anton Börner, BGA president, told the Financial Times that “for middle- and long-term credit we already have significant difficulties”. Even for short-term credit, he expected banks to “exert massive pressure on borrowers”.

"The alarmed tone is significant because German policymakers have argued that the export-dependent country is not facing problems in the supply of credit to business or households. Instead, the economy is seen as being hit by a global collapse in demand for its industrial products.” [my emphasis]. "

My dear Angela: it’s 2009, not 1923. [I suppose that should be in German. Eventually ...] Let’s hope she and the finance ministry cease their glee at US problems and focus efforts on their own. And they’ll be eating crow soon as they copy correct US policy moves. Their hubris is being punished.


Same situation. Past hubris is being punished – that is, the glee shown by Putin and Medvedev at US problems.

FT: “Russia is looking at a bail-out of its banks that would go further than the emergency action taken by the US, amid growing fears that bad loans could paralyse the country’s economy. “Igor Shuvalov, deputy prime minister, will consider taking stakes in troubled banks when a group of experts on the financial crisis meets on Friday to discuss ways to recapitalise Russia’s banking system, according to a draft proposal seen by the Financial Times. “

Dear Dmitry & Vlady: those “bad loans” were not made to US subprime borrowers, but to Russian magnates. Shut up and fix your own problems, please.

Central America

WSJ: “Honduran President Manuel Zelaya's push to rewrite the constitution, and pave the way for his potential re-election, has plunged one of Latin America's poorest countries into a potentially violent political crisis.”

A Chavez wannabe is causing trouble. Dear Obama: Don't let this get out of hand. Honduras IS in the US backyard.


Ms. Market put on a miniskirt yesterday and danced on the table. Rising stock prices seem to underline a defense of the markets 200 day moving average [“DMA”] and 50 DMA, after the usual break to run stops. Thank you beefers for your predictable antics that gave us a decent dip to make a few adds.

Word of the Day

"Flagitious" - adjective [$10]
Flagitious means criminal, utterly villainous
Sentence: Some Congressmen are mere knaves, but others are flagitious.

Le Mot de la Semaine

"Fripon" - noun, masculine
Fripon means knave, rascally fellow, rogue. Thus, niegodziwiec and fripon have the same meaning. The adjective, fripon, [F friponne] means mischievous.
La Phrase: L'homme du bunker pense que la plupart des politiques sont des fripons.
sentence: Bunkerman thinks most politicians are knaves.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sigh ....

Sometimes being right over and over again wears on one, especially when, if the ruling classes had listened in the past, much of these economic troubles could have been substantially mitigated. Here's another example.

FT: "Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the US derivatives regulator, on Wednesday signalled the Obama administration's desire to extend oversight of hedge funds, saying they had “destabilised” the financial system by causing “runs on liquidity”. "

And: Mr Gensler also praised a US Senate report released yesterday that accused commodity index traders of causing a bubble in wheat futures prices last year. The report, issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, argued that big wheat purchases on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange pushed up futures prices, disrupting convergence between futures and cash prices and increasing costs for farmers and consumers. Carl Levin, the Senator who released the report, said the CFTC must “change course, rein in commodity index traders and clamp down on excessive speculation that is disrupting commodity prices”.

Hello Senators: They did it in oil, too, last summer. That run to $150/barrel hurt the consumer at the worst possible time last summer.

This whole Wall Street-Hedge Fund swamp is full of hogs wanting to sell crappy products, create bubbles, and in general simply rob the common man of fair prices and stability.

Of course, now they hire ex-Treasury officials and ex-SEC officials to lobby against new financial regulations.

The Fed Decision

The Fed, as expected, left interest rates unchanged after a two-day meeting and repeated that borrowing costs would stay exceptionally low for some time.

“The Fed is on the record as saying they are in no hurry to raise rates,” said Larry Kantor, head of research at Barclays Capital. The US central bank also made no change to its quantitative easing policies as it said the pace of economic contraction appeared to be slowing.

ECB plays Catch-Up

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank pumped €442bn ($617bn) into the banking system, at a rate of 1 per cent in its first offer of one-year funds – more than analysts had expected. Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, an executive of the ECB’s executive board, said that banks must now lend on the funds they had borrowed.

CA Nightmare

FT: "California’s controller said on Wednesday that he would have to issue IOUs in a week if lawmakers are unable to quickly solve a $24bn budget deficit, as the state’s treasurer plans to tap a reserve fund to meet debt service costs."

The multi-decadal folly of that state comes home. That's fine with me. That State is one of the most rapacious in existence. I do some business there and I know firsthand how unfair they are.


Doing nothing. I still have my list for adds on a dip.

Word of the Day

"Fatuity" - noun {$10]
Fatuity means 1. stupidity, folly; 2. a fatuous remark, act or sentiment.
Sentence: The colossal fatuity in the US Congress sometimes overwhelms me.

Słowo Tygodnia

"Niegodziwiec" - noun, masculine; the genitive is either niegodziwcze or niegodziwcu. Interestingly, given the meaning, the word sounds a bit like "nogoodnik", that humorous word from the old Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.
Niegodziwiec means rogue, knave.
Zdanie: Bunkrowiec myśli, że większość polityków są niegodziwcy.
Sentence: Bunkerman thinks that most politicians are knaves.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Foolishness Redux

FT: “The US is to make billions of dollars in cheap loans available to Ford, Nissan and Tesla, the California electric carmaker, so they can re-equip their plants to build a new generation of electric and other fuel-efficient vehicles. Ford will receive $5.9bn, Japan’s Nissan $1.6bn and Tesla $465m from $25bn of government money that was set aside in 2007 for a scheme known as the advanced technology vehicles manufacturing incentive programme."

Sighhhhh ... governments and corporations are repeating the foolish errors of the 1970s as they throw billions seeking a Holy Grail of "Green" or "Clean" energy. The laws of physics don't matter. By these I means the law of conservation of energy and the laws of thermodynamics. Proven technologies are ignored [read: nuclear]. Man is blamed for all problems and all changes on the Earth. That such beliefs are demonstrably wrong is ignored. The Green Gods must be worshipped and appeased with sacrifices. Such thumping tosh !

Here is a FACT: The temperature of the Earth has varied greatly for millions of years, on timescales of years, hundreds of years, thousands of years and millions of year. The past 70 years has seen very large changes - long BEFORE any affects of carbon dioxide from man's use of fossil fuels became sufficient to affect global temperature EVEN IF one believes the money grubbing claims of the green "scientists".

Anyone looking at the historical record can see numerous episodes when the Earth was as warm as it is now. Obvious examples are the period around 1100 C. E. and around 5,000 years ago. Man did not cause that change. Something else did. So WHY OH WHY does Man get blamed for the current minor warming even thought the "scientists" cannot explain the PAST?

I apologize for the "screaming" but the simplest standards of proof are being tossed aside to appease the Green Gods. These people are NOT well-meaning. They want to control every aspect of life. The "scientists" pushing this tosh want money from grants and tenured slots.

Word of the Day

"Evince" - verb, transitive [$10] a redux word
Evince means 1., indicate, to make evident; 2. show that one has (a quality).
Sentence: The historical climate record of the Earth evinces causes of temperature changes other than man.

La Palabra de la Semana

"Beber" - verb, regular -er conjugation
Beber means to drink. I am re-doing this exercise as I completely screwed up that last attempt.
La Frase: Ayer bebí dos cervezas. Yesterday I drank two beers. Ahora estoy bebiendo un café americano. Now I am drinking a large black coffee [aka American style coffee]. Beberé dos cervezas esta noche. I will drink two beers tonight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The public discourse in the US suffers from that disease - Metaphoritis. It's a syndrome arsing from sloppy thinking, poor verbal skills and weak argumentation. The metaphor of the day is "green shoots", lately deemed to be "withering" by bears or "patchy" as I just heard on Blabberg.

Pundits and news writers seem intellectually incapable of simply discussing and arguing the facts. For example, Trichet says the economic downturn in Europe is decelerating. That's a simple statement based on European data. The rate of change of GDP must decelerating before turning positive. That's simple math. So why oh why do we get buried in these "green shoots' metaphors over & over again by every news outlet ? And then instead of pointing out conflicting data, those disagreeing resort to the metaphor on a metaphor - the "green shoots" are "withering" or "patchy". Sheesh, such thumping tosh !

However, some news writers in Europe (of course) do have some intellectual skills beyond formula articles and commentary. I just heard today's word of the day - deracinate -and another $10 word - rapprochement - on Blabberg by a person with a clear British accent. Hooray ! Maybe he reads this blog. As a bonus, the word, rapprochement, was spoken as it would be in French from which it was borrowed.

Europe is catching up with US, finally.

FT: “The European Central Bank is on track to deliver a record-breaking “stimulus by stealth” to the eurozone economy on Tuesday, as the first-ever offer of unlimited one-year funds could see demand running into several hundred billion euros.

“The size of the ECB’s emergency liquidity-boosting operation, which was announced last month, is expected to be bolstered dramatically by the belief in financial markets that eurozone official interest rates will not fall – and the opportunity to borrow on such favourable conditions will not be repeated.”

And: “German business confidence has brightened more than expected this month with companies in Europe’s largest economy becoming markedly more upbeat on prospects for the next six months.

“The Munich-based Ifo institute reported its closely-watched “business climate” index had risen for the third consecutive month, from 84.3 in May to 85.9 in June to the highest level since November.”

Emerging Markets Pulling Their Oar.

FT: “India’s Congress party-led coalition government is planning to invite foreign investors to participate in an ambitious move to increase road construction 10-fold as the country seeks to boost much-needed infrastructure development.”


I added a bit to positions in MOS, FCX, GSI and EXM in Obama Fund. And flipped a bit of EEFT. I am simply doing my stock my trading tactic, viz., "buy dips, sell rips" on a stock by stock basis when the market pulls back. With 50 stocks in Obama Fund, that's the only way to do it. I have six more stocks on the "on deck" circle for adds if they pull back a but more.

Word of the Day

"Deracinate" - verb [$10]; transitive, literary
Deracinate means 1. tear up by the roots; 2. obliterate, expunge.
Sentence: Without a doubt, this recession has deracinated whatever "inflation" truly existed in 2007. And Battleship Ben's superb monetary policy has deracinated deflation risks. The doomsayers, however, now are dreaming up a "hyperinflation" fear. What thumping tosh !

Słowo Tygodnia

[That's "Word of the Week" in Polish (I think). That letter - ł - is pronounced as a "w" and the Polish "w" is pronounced as "v"]

"Pić" and "Wypić" - verbs, imperfective and perfective forms, first conjugation
Pić and Wypić mean to drink. The imperfective form denotes incomplete or habitual or repeated action; the perfective form is used for completed actions. Polish verbs require this distinction.
Zdanie: Wczoraj wypiłem dwa piwa. Yesterday I drank two beers. Teraz piję czarną kawę. Now I am drinking black coffee. Dziś wieczorem wypiję dwa piwa. Tonight I will drink two beers.

By the way, the adverbs go at the beginning of the sentence, not at the end.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Meandering

News, stocks, weather ... trendless lately.

In case anyone missed it with all the bloviation about the 40% rally from the lows, all that "rally" really did was erase the February Obama-Timmy panic. Prices are mostly just back to the rough levels of October. What does this mean ? Fears of another downleg are being erased. Now dealing with the beefer-induced recession ...

I wonder how many people notice that huge "air pocket" in resistance from S&P 900 to S&P 1200 ? That's the drop caused by the Viking shorts & beefers in raids on the world financial system - courtesy of the arms race approved by the SEC and Elmer (viz., removal of uptick rule, creation & non-regulation of credit default swap derivatives, no naked short rules, non-regulation of hedge funds, etc.) and the huge concentration of wealth in trading hedge funds by the dumb rich.

My take: a bit of good news in economic growth will cause a buying panic and explosion in stock prices to S&P 1200 "real" resistance.

FT: "German business confidence has brightened more than expected this month with companies in Europe’s largest economy becoming markedly more upbeat on prospects for the next six months."

Blabberg says insiders are selling heavily. I suppose they have gotten the message of diversification, viz., don't put most of your net worth in your companies' stock. If the company gets into trouble, you can lose both your job and your life's savings.

Lots of "talks" going on: Turkey talks to IMF, Russia talks about deep nuclear cuts, China and US in talks on military. Xstrata in merger talks with Anglo American. Maybe Obamitis is contagious - Obamitis is a new syndrome of talking, not doing.

Voting in Iran seems to have been conducted in the style of old Chicago. Surveys show more votes cast that voters in many places. Hmmm ...

Doing nothing today, except working on my languages. If "they" knock stocks down to S&P 900, I'll start looking for adds.

Word of the Day

"Declamation" - noun [$10] and "Declaim" - verb [$10]
Declamation means 1. act of speaking pompously or bombastically: harangue; 2. rhetorically delivered speech or reciting in elocution.
Declaim means 1. to speak or utter rhetorically or affectedly; 2. practise oratory or recitation; 3. protest forcefully; 4. deliver an impassioned (rather than reasoned) speech.
Sentence: Obama is obviously a master of declamation, but as for "doing", his very poor record in filling many important Federal posts shows he does not have management skill.

La Palabra de la Semana

[That's "the word of the day" in Spanish. My multilingual exercises in using the verb, "to drink" continue.]

"Tomar" - verb, regular -ar conjugation
Tomar means to drink.
La frase: Ayer tomé dos cervezas. Yesterday I drank two beers. Ahora tomo un café sin leche o azúcar. Now I am drinking a coffee without milk or sugar. [that's also 'un café solo', I think.] Tomaré dos cervezas esta noche. I will drink two beers tonight.

Notice that like Latin, Spanish usually leaves the subject pronouns out, as they are redundant due to the verb endings. Polish & Italian do that, too.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back from the Beast

New York City seems to be coping quite well ... so far. Of course the bears are talking gloom, but the bar was packed, as were the lunch rooms at the clubs. Even the dining room was quite busy.

Fashions seemed alive, too. I saw fewer men in "undertaker" uniforms, and less black in women's fashions. No 1970s era "earth -mother" fashions were in sight. Fashionable tailored pants or skirts several inches over the knee was the rule. The Apple store on Fifth Avenue was crowded at 3PM on a weekday. The fashion indicator is NOT 'flashing" a depression or even a severe recession.

I'll read more about Timmy's financial regulation reforms, but so far, it's OK. He included regulations for hedge funds and all derivatives - both good. I have some problems with relying on these agencies like the SEC. It's still obviously on the take from the Street, as it continues to approve these fraudulent ETFs designed solely for day trading. But I need to read more and will comment more fully later.

Hmmm ... the index of leading indicators is up again. The Philly Fed - for what that's worth - was OK. I guess that cancels the recent poor Empire State number. Net zero, I'd say.

US News & World Report (online): "The Labor Department reported today that the number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell for the first time since January, a sign that the economy is slowly recovering. Total unemployment rolls declined by 148,000 to 6.69 million in the first week of June, the largest weekly drop in more than seven years. The decline also breaks a streak of 21 consecutive weeks in which the number of people collecting jobless benefits for more than a week increased."

Sounds like the recession is over and growth is occurring. It's a long way back up, but ... up is up.

I suppose I'll be accused of "data mining". But gold nuggets found when mining are gold and up is up.

The recession ends when growth returns from whatever absolute level. That's the meaning of the terms. A "recession" has to have "recessing" - i. e., declines. Period.

An astute commentor suggested I look at RIMM for a buy. I had deferred for awhile, looking & thinking. I like what I see and plan to buy it for Fido Fund today. From my point of view, the Apple iPhone gets the business of the young and music/entertainment oriented consumer, while RIMM's Blackberry gets the business of the email oriented person. The markets are huge and both can do well. I like the revenue growth and new product innovations. Mrs. B has AAPL in her Sky Fund, so I'll put RIMM in Fido Fund.

Today is triple witching day so volatility could be large. If we get a pullback to the S&P 900 area, I'll probably add to many positions. Otherwise, I'll go over the Obama positions today to see what has had good dips.

Word of the Day

"Geminal" - adjective [$10]
Geminal means 1. of or relating to germs or of the nature of a germ; 2. in the earliest stage of development; 3. productive of new ideas.
Sentence: My language skills in French are rather developed, but for German, Polish, Italian and Spanish, they are much more geminal.

[In the spirit of a multilingual blog, I am switching to a penta-lingual "Word of the Week" for French, German, Polish, Italian and Spanish. I'll try one or two words of each a week and write a sentence using them. For some languages in which I have less skill, the words and sentences will be rather simple for awhile. Important words like drink, beer, wine and similar crucial concepts for humanity will be foundation for awhile.]

Das Worte der Woche

"Trinken" - verb, strong.
Trinken means to drink. The simple past Stem is trank. The past participle is getrunken. One can quickly recognize the common proto-Germanic roots of English and modern German. Compare drink-drank-drunk to trinken-trank-getrunken.
Der Satz: (A) Ich habe drei Biere gestern getrunken. OR (B) Gestern habe ich drei Biere getrunken. OR (C) Ich trank drie Biere gestern. OR (D) Gestern trank ich drei Biere.
Sentence: (A) I drank three beers yesterday. (B) Yesterday I drank three beers. C translates the same as A but uses the simple past tense instead of the conversational past. D translates the same as B, but also uses the simple past tense. German word order is quite sensitive. Putting the adverb, "yesterday" requires significant changes in verb-subject positions in German, versus no changes in English.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Into the Belly of the Beast

I travel to NYC [midtown] this morning for some meetings and to see some museums. I'll be there through Thursday evening, so no new posts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Election turmoil in Iran continues. Those claims by the past leader of a resounding win seem far-fetched. Perhaps a big lie ?

Barry to bloviate more. What else is new?

Tonight I expect to have a Golden Kryptonite Martini as the "club" bar. It's quite a convivial place, but I know fewer and fewer people nowadays. Time marches on.

Congress seems unable to walk and chew gum at the same time. Financial regulatory overhaul is running into Barry's health care reform and climate change legislation.

My German is making good progress now. But that language sure has some weird constructions. Why would one separate a prefix from a verb and stick it at the end of a sentence or clause ? Weird. And these stem vowel changes are so common. They are a relic in English, too, of its Germanic roots. [e. g. drink, drank, drunk] Some linguists think these oddities go back to a melding of a Semitic language [Phoenician] to proto-German circa 500 B. C. E. Perhaps. This wierdness came from somewhere and not from early Indo-European.

I took Latin in high school and remember some. From a time and population movement perspective, Latin must be rather closer to Indo-European than many modern languages. And its grammar seems closer to Polish than to English, French, Spanish or German. Of course the words themselves are very different.

A language has two dimensions: its words and its grammar. Both are important for understanding linguistic roots. Too much attention is placed on simple word evolution. Grammar might be more important. I strongly recommend the books by John McWhorter on this subject and the Teaching Company CD course by him. He's an excellent lecturer and writer. and extremely knowledgeable without being pedantic.

A language is really a bundle of closely related dialects with one annointed "standard" dialect, usually from the region of capital city of the nation. Standard English comes from the London dialect; standard French from the Paris dialect; and Polish from the Warsaw dialect.

Enjoy the week. The blog will return Friday.

Word of the Day

"Clinal" - adjective [$10]; from cline - noun
Cline means 1. Biol. a graded sequence of differences within a species, etc.; 2. a continuum with an infinite number of gradations.
Sentence: "All peoples of the world speak complex varieties of language, differing in clinal degree from one another and often not assignable as any one "thing". [from McWorter, The Story of Human Language", notes for the Teaching Company CD course, part 3, page 28.]

Das Wort der Woche

That means, "Word of the Week" in German. Coming soon.

Słowo Tygodnia

That means, "Word of the Week" in Polish. Coming soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009


So far that's how I'll grade Obama aka La Grande Bouche [The Big Mouth]. He's said a lots of things, and done little. Much of what he says causes worries, but I wonder how much will ever get through Congress. He gets semi-bad - not full bad - simply for getting the Stimulus Plan through. It was not a great plan - lots of wasteful, dumb spending - but has enough stimulus to get some impetus to the economy to stop the downward spiral.

Did anyone else notice that blurb in his speech at Normandy about one of the reasons D-Day invasion is revered was due to its "sheer improbability of success" ? What nonsense ! Montgomery and the allies spent two years building up forces and air superiority to make its likelihood of success high. I think that was a bit of fantasy by Obama or his speechwriters to try to connect Normandy to his "Yes We Can" slogan - succeeding against the odds. Of course that the connection is false for D-Day doesn't matter.

This is a problem with Obama - what is the connection to reality ? So far he's gotten a pass on it, but that won't last forever. Maybe a few more months, at best.

The title to today's blog is borrowed from that GREAT movie by Burt Reynolds, "Semi-Tough". The movie is a hilarious parody of 1970s self-help fads, like E.S.T, pyramid power, rolfing, etc. E. S. T is mocked as B.E.A.T. - Bismark Energy Attack Training, with its promoter, Friedrich Bismark. Hilarious skits poke fun at all that psychobabble nonsense about experiencing people and sharing space. One of my favorite lines is when Robert Preston, aka Big Ed Bookman, a NFL team owner from Dallas, slugs and tosses Friedrich Bismark onto a table saying, "experience this, you a**h***!.

Stocks were down in Asia and Europe and US futures are down. Ping-pong or a pullback? I don't know. I'm just sticking with the Obama Fund strategy and trading tactics.

Estimated taxes are due today for the second quarter. So much money for so little. Ugh!

Word of the Day

"Tocsin" - noun [$10] American Indian term
Tocsin means 1. an alarm bell or the ringing of it; 2. a warning signal.
Sentence: I'll stick with my Obama Fund strategy until I hear a reality-based tocsin.

Le Mot du Jour

"Marcher" - verb, regular -er conjugation
Marcher means 1. to walk, to march; 2. to agree, to play along; 3. to work (in sense of to function).
La Phrase: La stratégie des Fonds d'Obama marche très bien jusqu'ici cette année.
Sentence: The strategy of the Obama Fund is working very well so far this year.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Nothing is happening. Let's call it a week and have a three day weekend.

Timmy continues to crawfish away from real financial sector reform.

La Grande Bouche dit encore. [translation: The Big Mouth is still talking.]

Stocks continue to consolidate recent gains.

Word of the Day

"Propaedeutic" - adjective [$10] from the card file
Propaedeutic means needed as preparation for learning or study.
Sentence: Yesterday Bunkerman received the propaedeutic workbooks that he ordered for German. Real progress can now be made.

Le Mot du Jour

"Voisin, voisine" - noun M,F
Voisin means neighbor.
La Phrase: L'homme du bunker croire que le meilleur voisin n'est pas de voisin.
Sentence: Bunkerman thinks that the best neighbor is no neighbor.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Does It Mean ?

By "it", I refer to the rise in the yield on ten year US Treasury notes to nearly 4%. This is so easy, yet oddly, the doomsayers and pundits on Toshvision and Blabberg seem not to grasp it.

It's a harbinger of a return to normalcy. It means the "panic premium" on US Treasury debt is going away - gone. Buyers want a rational, real return, not just "safety" at any price. If a buyer doesn't get the expected core inflation rate [i. e. 2%] plus a real return of 2% on those notes, then he's either stupid or panicked. For the US 30-year bond, he should get about 3% "real" in my opinion.

The marginal buyer of 10 to 30 year US Treasury debt is now a "real" buyer, not a speculator or a panicked investor or even a Central Bank needing dollar investments. Real buyers mean normalcy in debt markets. This is good.

FT says stock funds got positive cash flows again last week for the twelfth straight week. The accompanying chart was interesting. During the three week Obama panic, cash flows were hugely negative. Otherwise, the flows are positive for many weeks.

Obama Fund is performing well. Yesterday I flipped bits of AKS, SPAR and SSCCQ. Their position sizes had gotten too large. This is just portfolio management. I still like all three stocks. [Beware: SSCCQ is ultra-risky as a stock.]

Word of the Day

"Descry" - verb, transitive [$10] literary
Descry means to catch sight of, discern.
Sentence: Bunkerman descries the return to normalcy.

Le Mot du Jour

"En" - this is a ubiquitous word in French with many uses as a preposition, an indefinite pronoun and in expressions. For today's Le Mot du Jour, I've picked one usage which was the subject of a French workbook lesson last evening. Which I did imbibing a glass on fine French wine - an excellent 2005 Pomerol.
En means (indefinite quantity) 'of it', 'of them'.
La Phrase: Les Fonds d'Obama ont cinqante actions, mais les Fonds d'Fido en ont juste neuf.
Sentence: Obama Fund has 50 stocks, but Fido Fund has just nine of them. [NB: The 'of them' is often not translated or expressed in English, but the 'en' is mandatory in French.]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What is Normal?


That's where the S&P would be if the SEC and CFTC and Congress had not gutted financial market regulation to let the Vikings rape & pillage stocks without any rules or regulation.
  • They repealed Glass-Steagal to let banks speculate in the financial markets with depositors' money.
  • They dropped the uptick rule so raids could push stocks down with no relief to cause fear & panic.
  • They gutted efforts to regulate derivatives, which then let credit default swaps and equity derivatives become new "weapons of mass destruction" for the Vikings to manipulate stocks and cause more panic.
  • They permitted creation of uncountable numbers of short and ultra short ETFs that are essentially betting machines for speculators.
  • And they opened the field to the Street market makers via the Madoff rule and the ETF short sale rules to let market makers "print" stocks to short with NO rules at all. Short selling of nonexistent shares rose to huge amounts.

[Doubters: when Warren Buffet and George Soros agree with Bunkerman, question your thinking.]

And the panic happened last July to October. The retirement savings of middle America was gutted by 35%. The drop stunned the people and they reacted, gutting spending on everything. The real recession began. Thank you, libertarians. I hope you enjoyed the fruits of your "no regulation" mantra. Letting the Vikings raid the financial landscape sure helped, didn't it.

So the panic dropped the markets to the 800-900 range last fall. Then the Obama "panic of the conservatives" dropped it 666 in March. All the rally from early March to April did was wipe out the Obama panic, to get the markets back to the fall trading range, i. e. to the Viking Raid panic levels. The "too far, too fast" crowd doesn't seem to recognize that. Erasing a panic fall - which did go too far down too fast - is NOT becoming overextended. The baseline is the fall trading range.

The stock markets have been consolidating in those levels since late March. Now the S&P 500 is over its 200 day moving average. The 50 day moving average is rising.

Commodity prices are rising, perhaps to re-entry by speculators, or perhaps to user hedging. Shipping rates are rising. Demand in Asia is rebounding. And all that "stimulus" money remains to be spent. The Fed is still accomodative. TALF is working. Well-run major banks are re-paying TARP monies foisted on them.

Lots of pain exists in housing, especially in the sun and surf areas where speculators & the second home crowd played. And the jobs market stinks. Thanks to the Vikings. And the financial libertarians. But all the newly free people of the world want to improve their lives and that tailwind is huge.

Obama Fund is sitting long at about 125% long on stocks that should continue to outperform on a "Return to Normalcy".

Word of the Day

"Crawfish" - noun and verb [$10]
Crawfish means (noun) = crayfish; (intransitive verb) (often followed by 'out') US colloquial retreat, back out.
Sentence: As Bunkerman watches Congress and the Obama administration crawfish away from real, comprehensive reform of the financial markets and regulation, he feels disgust and anger.

Le Mot du Jour

"Salir" - verb, regular -ir conjugation
Salir means 1. to make dirty, to make a mess in, to mess up; 2. to corrupt, to defile.
Le Phrase: Les libertaires de la haute finance salissent le monde.
Sentence: The libertarians of high finance messed up the world.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

HItting the Wall

California spending will do that soon. Big spender Arnold should soon be forced to actually cut and make real decisions on priorities. He's been a colossal failure and disappointment as for a few years he's been a rubber stamp for squandering the State's wealth.

The Boston Globe might do that soon, too. The left-wing militant Newspaper Guild (a union) has rejected pay cuts necessary to stop the bleeding. Notably, the true "workers" - viz. printers and drivers - agreed to cuts, but the leftist intellectual writers did not. So much for Marx. I have personally despised the Boston Globe writing for decades, so "good riddance" if the paper closes.

Obama says he will "create or save" 600,000 jobs over the next 100 days. Sure. Talk is easy.

And from WSJ: "The Obama administration is backing away from seeking a major reduction in the number of agencies overseeing financial markets, people familiar with the matter say, ..."

A great opportunity is being squandered.

Here's the new name for Obama: "La Grande Bouche". Big Mouth. All talk, no action.

Word of the Day

"Verein" - noun [$100] from German
Verein means a union, association or society.
Sentence: Intransigence at leftist vereins leads to pain for workers either in the short or long term. Their ideological leaders seem incapable of rational decisions.

Le Mot du Jour

"Gueule" - noun, feminine. Many usages are insulting, low (*) or vulgar (**).
Gueule means mouth or face: 1. "ferme ta gueule!" = Shut up!* ; "ta gueule!" = get stuffed!** "un fort en gueule" or "un grande gueule" = loudmouth; 2. face - "il a une belle gueule" = he's good looking; "gueule de raie" = fish-face**; 3. (d'animal) mouth; 4. mouth, muzzle. "gueule de bois*" = hangover (literally, a face of wood).
La Phrase: Trop boire peut causer une gueule de bois.
Sentence: Drinking too much can cause a hangover.

Note: The unabridged dictionaries I use make a low or insulting term as * and a vulgar term as **. An obscene term gets ***.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Passel of Hogs Rewarded

Obama is using taxpayer money to reward a principal contributor to the bankruptcy of the US-owned auto industry, viz. the UAW.

For fifty years, the UAW was at the trough and was quite successful, obtaining health care, wage and pension benefits for its members far beyond anything common in the workplace. Two of the most idiotic benefits that management capitulated to give were retirement at full pay after 30 years and payments of wages while laid off. The full health care benefits for such early retirees is a close third. Remember, these are not low paid, government clerks or soldiers, but persons whose cash wages made them well up on the pay distribution.

Fine. That was what they negotiated and the companies accepted. I have no problem for that. People should try to obtain the most pay and benefits they can.

BUT ... these contributed to driving GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. And now who is paying for this ? The US taxpayer. And cheated bondholders.

Some of these very bondholders purchased obligations of GM that were sold to FUND the pension plan. Now they are being given cents on the dollar while the obligations of the pension plan are being transferred in full to the new GM. No write-down for them.

These GM and Chrysler "reorganizations" are wholesale looting of the bondholders AND the US taxpayer. Obama is forgiving billions of debt incurred to the taxpayer. He is trampling on decades of precedence in bankruptcy to favor the UAW and labor.

According to Barron's, the UAW and related entities are receiving between 60 and 70 cents on the dollar for the post-retirement health benefits AND the full pension benefits are being transferred to the surviving new companies. That means they pay for the full retirement pay after 30 years, which can be at age 50.

Bondholders who lent in good faith to GM are getting around 15 cents on the dollar. The UAW recovery is 4-5x that of the bondholders. Even the taxpayer gets less than the UAW, around 50 cents on the dollar for super-senior debtor in possession financing.

Here's what the UAW said about its deal: "For our active members, these tentative changes mean no loss in your hourly base, no reduction in your health care and no reduction in pensions." Quite a deal for one of the guilty parties. Obama protects his supporters.

This whole procedure and outcome is so outrageous. But I don't expect the courts to intervene. They are part of the government and quite political at times. For now, I fear they will bent over for the new golden boy in town.

The unintended consequence: no lender in its sane mind would ever lend to either GM or Chrysler ever in the future. That means these two firms will NEVER cease being wards of the US taxpayer. Obama is curing a short term problem with a long term disaster.

I'm glad I bought an SUV made in Alabama, not by the UAW.

Word of the Day

"Paludal" - adjective [$10] a Mencken word
Paludal means 1. of a marsh; 2. malarial.
Sentence: Obama is leading the taxpayer into the paludal swamps of UAW appeasement, which destroyed two great companies. A bad move.

Le Mot Du Jour

"Amoureux, -euse" - adjective and noun (M.F)
Amoureux means (adjective) 1. in love (de with); 2. love, amorous; 3. amorous; (noun) lover; love; sweatheart.
La Phrase: L'homme du bunker est amoureux du mot.
Sentence: Bunkerman is a word lover.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Nothing is happening. Obama is still on a world tour. Does he ever do anything except bloviate? And rob bondholders?

Rio Tinto's trenches collapsed - that is, the scorched earth anti-takeover sale of core assets to Chinalco to defend against BHP cratered. Obviously RTP top management should be all fired.

It's still raining cabinet ministers in the UK.

According to a poll conducted by Le Figaro, Americans and French people appreciate each other anew in equal amounts: about 47% have a favorable opinion of the other, vs. around 30% four years ago. The unfavorable opinion levels are in single digits now. A link follows.


Tomorrow is the 65th anniversary of D-Day. I read in Le Figaro and Le Monde that Obama will visit Normandy. Let's hope he makes a good speech. I wonder if he can approach the moving speech of Ronald Reagan in 1984?

The movie, THE LONGEST DAY [as corrected] is really good and quite authentic. I have read a lot of nonfiction history and can confirm its quality. Also, the movie follows the book by Cornelius Ryan quite closely, too. I'll watch the movie again tomorrow - yes, I have the DVD.

Mozillo charged with insider trading. Finally, a big shot might pay for his greed. What a hog at the trough !!!

Futures are up ... for now.

Word of the Day

"Repristinate" - verb, transitive [$10]
Repristinate means to restore to an original state or condition.
Sentence: The investment strategy of the Obama Fund is that Battleship Ben plus Obama's weak stimulus plan will be able to repristinate the US economy. If so, large profits will ensue. So far, it's working.

Le Mot du Jour

"Ressentir" - transitive verb, conjugates like partir or sentir
Ressentir mand to feel, to experience, to be affected by.
La Phrase: Selon le sondage, 47% d'Américanes ressentent la sympathie pour la France maintenant. Peut-être, je suis à l'avant-guarde de nouveau intérêt à la langue française.
Sentence: According to the poll, 47% of Americans feel friendship for France now. Perhaps I am in the vanguard of new interest in the French language?

By the way, "la sympathie" means liking, friendship in this usage, not sympathy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why Isn't it Friday ?

Nothing is happening. Let's end the week now.

The singular item of note is that United Airline is putting out a bid 150 new jets. It's an example of a firm looking to the future when the world becomes normal again.

That's what Obama Fund and Fido Fund have done. Good results after a tough start ... so far.

Ms. Market rallied nicely towards yesterday's close. And futures are up this morning.

Word of the Day

"Fain" - adjective and adverb[$10] archaic
Fain means (predicate adjective) (followed by 'to + infinitive') 1. willing under the circumstances to; 2. left with no alternative but to; (adverb) gladly (especially 'would fain')
Sentence: Thank goodness Battleship Ben is fain to break the old Fed behavior patterns and do strong monetary moves.

Le Mot du Jour

None this morning . I'm working on a Polish sentence for "Bunkerman will be drinking Scotch soon" for after the close today. Very subtle.

A Sexa-Lingual Treat.

Suppose someone annoys you and is an arrogant bastard. Here is how to tell him off in six languages. Just add his name after the exclamation.

English: Go to H***!
French: Allez l’enfer!
German: Geh zum Teufel!
Polish: Idż do diabła!
Italian: Va' all'inferno! or Va' al diavolo!
Spanish: ¡Vete al diablo!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Whatnot Wednesday

Not much happening.

Angela Merkel - the German Chancellor - opens her mouth on Central Banks and reveals a deep, broad level of ignorance.

Stocks held up well yesterday.

Another hedge fund craters.

Obama to visit Egypt.

It's raining British cabinet resignations.

Europeans stocks are down early; US stock futures are down a bit.

Doing nothing. I'm taking Sky to sheep herding lessons this morning, so will be out most of the day.

Word of the Day

"Wowser" - noun [$10] Australian slang
Wowser means 1. a puritanical fanatic; 2. a spoilsport; 3 a teetotaler.
Sentence: Germany's Merkel reveals herself as a typical German inflation wowser.

Le Mot du Jour

"Étoile" - noun, feminine
Étoile means star (astronomical, object or figuratively)
La Phrase: Étoile Blanche, c'est le nom de nouvelle voiture de ma femme.
Sentence: White Star, it's the name of my wife's new car.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Big Move Up. Now What?

Yesterday the S&P 500 cracked through the upper resistance levels to move to intermediate term open water.


WSJ: "Driving stocks and commodities was news from across the globe that orders for manufactured goods were finally beginning to recover. A survey in the U.S. showed manufacturing orders picked up for the first time in 18 months. Manufacturing surveys in China, India and Europe also showed signs either of slowing declines or actual growth."

Maybe. A few weeks ago another big more up happened on a Monday, but then the market consolidated for awhile. This move broke out of the consolidation range. I'd guess a huge number of beefer hedge funds are underperforming massively and are in panic mode.

Usually they pile into momentum winners and after a few weeks all bail out at once in a correction. So what to do?

I plan to flip some winners and recent adds into future strength to cut back over time to 100% long. I like to be longer on dips, but on breakouts I like to cut back. This way the brutal corrections are not so painful, and I have money to make adds on dips.

Obama Fund is performing marvellously, as is Fido Fund. I will stick to the strategy: this is month 5 out of the envisioned 18 month rebound.

Target: S&P 1200+ by mid 2010.

Word of the Day

"Debouchement" - noun from the intransitive verb, "Debouch" [$10];
"Debouch" this is pronounced di bowch with the stress on the last syllable.
Debouch means 1. (of troops or a stream) issue from a ravine, wood, etc. into open ground; 2. (often followed by 'into'; of a river, road, etc.) merge into a larger body or area.
Sentence: Yesterday's debouchement of stock prices into intermediate term "blue sky" country must be making bearish beefers sweat.

Le Mot Du Jour

"Déboucher" - verb, regular -er conjugation
Déboucher means (transitive) to unblock, to uncork, to open; (intransitive) to emerge, to come out (+ sur ou dans).
La Phrase: Hier cours du marché des actions ont débouché en haut sur les espaces ouverts.
Sentence: Yesterday stock market prices emerged upwards onto open spaces.

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the first Monday in June, 2009

GM will file a petition for voluntary bankrupcty. A 100 year-old firm that was for decades the largest corporation by sales in the world bites the dust. Why? Management stupidity and union greed. The industry and product did NOT evolve away. New products did NOT replace the need for automobiles. Very large automotive manufacturers DO exist today. This is simply a matter of human failures at GM. People and their decisions do matter. Tolstoy was wrong.

More strange news coming out ...

FT: China’s manufacturing sector continued to expand for the third straight month in May, according to the country’s official purchasing managers’ index, a sign that the government’s stimulus package is starting to have an impact and that the recovery is likely to broaden. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing on Monday said the index pulled back slightly to 53.1 in May from 53.3 a month earlier. A reading above 50 signals an expansion while one below the threshold reflects a contraction.

Well, well, communist leaders in China seems to know how to do an economic stimulus program better than Americans. Remarkable.

Or maybe there is something to decoupling. I think there is. It’s not a perfect decoupling. Who ever said it would be perfect (other than big mouth pundits on Toshvision)?

WSJ: GM to file for bankruptcy today after a majority of bondholders voted to accept a revised offer. Obversely, Chrysler might come out of bankruptcy today as a unit of Fiat.

Futures are up big this morning. Copper prices are up. The German DAX is up over 3%. I wonder if the GM BK and its not being the train wreck that pundits forecast and bears were salivating over signal a capitulation of a large group of bears ?

Snidely Whiplash was a character in the old Dudley Doright cartoons that were part of the Rocky & Bullwinkle TV show that I watched with joy as a boy. He was a caricature of evil and bad behavior. The modern Snidely Whiplash seems to be banks. The WSJ has an article how they violate the spirit if not the letter of the law by grabbing social security and disability benefits to pay fees on garnished bank accounts. This populist libertarian is sick of banks and their rapacious efforts for make more and more money from simple products.

Only so much money can be made from services such as checking accounts and credit cards. Banks simply should accept that and cease these endless piranha bites. For example, after using my Bank of America Visa card in London, I received a notice that in the future, Bank of America will charge 4% [sic] for foreign currency transactions. How ridiculously greedy! What will I do? Easy, use a different credit card. To me, anything over 2% is simply robbery. After all, the banks are already getting some interchange fees on the transactions and the foreign currency conversions done in bulk cost them next to nothing.

Capital One is reported to charge nothing extra for foreign currency transactions. I now plan to obtain one of their credit cards for the future.

Further in the saving bits of money department, I see from an ad in Barron’s and checking it out, that Ameritrade is now robbing me on the cost of margin loans. I suppose this goes back to the Lehman debacle. From memory, they were once fair. They are now charging over 8% while the broker call rate in Barron’s is 2%. I’ll call them today to let them know that I’ll be changing accounts to Interactive Brokers over this matter. IB charges about 2%, and the commissions are lower, too.


My Krypto Fund asset allocation model commands me to sell some emerging markets funds and buy REIT funds. As an intraday trading tactic, this morning early I'll let some VWO go, but will wait for a late-morning or midday pullback to buy the VNQ. This has worked well recently.

Word of the Day

"Panoptic" - adjective [$10]
Panoptic means showing or seeing the whole at one view.
Sentence: If any government official has panoptic vision over the economy, he is Battleship Ben.

Le Mot du Jour

"Faillite" - noun, feminine
Faillite means bankruptcy (d'entreprise); collapse, failure (d'espoir, méthod).
La Phrase: GM déclarera en faillite aujourd'hui.
Sentence: GM will declare bankruptcy today.