Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don't Get Angry ...

Do something !

Over 400 years ago the famous French philosopher Montaigne wrote his essay #4 titled "How the soul discharges its passions on false objects when the true are wanting" [Great Books, vol. 23, page 57-58]. In that essay he gave many examples from history how rulers misdirected anger according to superstitions and myths of the time (such as Xerxes having the waters of the Hellespont whipped for making his crossing difficult), or beating their own bodies in some manner (Augustus Caesar beating his head against the wall saying "Varus, give me back my soldiers" after the defeat at the Teutoberg Forest in A. D. 9). Or referring to a tale of a man pulling his hair out in grief, "Does this man think baldness relieves grief ?" Montaigne observes: "So it seems the soul, once stirred and set in motion, is lost in itself unless we give it something to grasp; and we must give it an object to aim and act on." If a legitimate object is not found, the soul "forges a false and frivolous one." [loc. cit.]

Now in our time currently, many of the public at large display much anger at Obama's crypto-fascist maneuvers to impose obligations on the people via sheer power politics. The "Tea Party" movement is channeling some of the anger into positive political responses. These remind me of the Howard Jarvis led Proposition 13 movement in California in the 1970s that brought real estate tax relief to California homeowners. And Barbara Anderson's similar effort in Massachusetts brought forth Proposition 2 1/2 which gave Massachusetts citizens a direct vote in their towns on real estate tax hikes over a 2.5% per annum trigger. Those were successful, peaceful rebellions against oppressive government.

Obama's shills are screeching against the efforts of the common man to regain some power. That means they are worried. A good blog I read yesterday about the Anger described a New York Times writer calling all the angry people 'racists'. That's sheer nonsense and a polemical, ad hominen fallacy to disrupt the debate. How should we interpret the anger, though ? Is it more general than anti-Obama feeling ? Yes, in my opinion. Past commentors here raised the issue even before Obama was elected. I've pondered it myself, but can't remember putting the ideas into one cogent statement that encapsulated the frustration and despair of the common man. Here's how the perspicacious* blogger cited above put it: "The real cause of the rage is the sense that money seems to be flowing only upward (away from the middle class) and not circulating in small business and consumer lending or in the form of pay raises, and the resulting fear and sense of general disease is horrifying to people." [cited from link given above.]

That sounds about right to me. The common man is getting the short end of so many sticks he is fed up ... or in despair. Government and the ruling classes have gone too far. When an average family faces a 45% marginal tax rate on income from extra effort, that's far, far too high. Obama is now resorting to mandates as raising taxes with rates already so high is soon to be counterproductive. Big corporations and the ruling classes are his co-conspirators in putting new burdens on the common man, and in sucking more money from him and his communities. It is infuriating !

As Montaigne pointed out 400 years ago, one needs to direct one's anger properly. Miss-directed anger at myths does nothing. Stop mere sloganeering & griping to your own circle of friends. Volunteer some time or money or both to help nascent movements get off the ground. Find local, HONEST candidates to support. Contact representatives with ideas. Early money donations are crucial for getting campaigns started - whether for candidates or for initiative efforts.

Stop shopping at Wal-Mart and other conduits for China. A huge amount of the money spent there flows straight to China. Cut your use of imported oil (yes, Sun Boy is right). Take your money out of mega-banks and money market funds and put it into local banks.

"Fear and rage accomplish nothing productive. But working together, we are some of the most productive people on earth. It is time to face up to what is bothering so many of us and get back to being the "can-do" nation that we are." [loc. cit.]


Ms. Market seems tired of dancing. Every jig lately runs out of steam fast. Beware of complacency. This is no place to be leveraged long. Seasonal strength runs out soon. Take some profits so you'll have some money to buy a big dip. Lots of events can cause it and it will be unpredictable. Constant Vigilance is the watch word.

Word of the Day

"Perspicacious" - adjective [$10]; "Perspicacity" - noun [$10]
Perspicacious means of acute mental vision or discernment.
Perspicacity means acuteness of perception, discernment or understanding.
Sentence: Writing a trenchant blog post requires perspicacious observation and insight, and the ability to express thoughts verbally with simpicity and clarity.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We Need a Rebellion ...

in attitudes, not violence. Yesterday at noon I crawled out of a two month session in Tax Preparation Purgatory, having suffered many, many torments imposed on me ... and the rest of US population even if they might not realize it. It's mandatory - the government says do it, or they'll jail or even kill you (if you resist). After that annual oppression, I needed to get some rebellious entertainment last evening: I watched that great, hilarious movie of rebellion of the 1970s - Gumball Rally.

Xers - and certainly not the Y and Z generations - might not know about the experience of the 1970s in government mandates: wage & price controls, a multitude of new regulations on business and products, and "gasp" that symbol of oppression - the 55 mph national speed limit. Double nickels, it was called. I remember it well - the drive to/from Harvard to my hometown in Ohio became an interminable 16 hours versus the prior 12-13 hours.

Gumball Rally is about an illegal, unofficial cross-country auto race from New York City to Long Beach, California: no 55 mph speed limit, all means of smoky [aka highway patrol] detection permitted, the hottest cars roaring down the highway at over 120 mph all the way. The characters are wonderful, and since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, that its entire plot and many characters were copied in the 1981 hit movie, Cannonball Run and its sequels, is certainly high flattery.

In our times, the government has imposed so many insidious mandates on us that we forget that first one (in our lifetime) from another era, it seems. There are toilet mandates, soon there will be light bulb mandates. And sooner than you think, the IRS will enforce the health insurance mandate. What next ? What part of the word FREEDOM do the seigneurs in DC not understand ? As for that first mandate - "Double Nickels" - people fought it and eventually won - the 55 mph national speed limit was repealed under President Reagan.

Assert your freedom. Say to yourself every morning - I am not a number, I am a free man !

[That memorable line is from the intriguing TV show of the late 1960s - The Prisoner].

And don't just get angry - unfocused anger accomplishes nothing. And the enemies of freedom will pejoratively label mere anger as ignorant. Join the debate, use good arguments for freedom, and claim victory when the opposition resorts to ad hominem fallacies to close off debate.

Do something to save our freedom ! And it you want some humorous, motivational entertainment - watch Gumball Rally.


I will check with Krypto today to see if she has any sell orders for me - one regarding selling a bit of US stock was close last time she checked. Look for a PS here later.

Word of the Day

"Obnubliate" - verb, transitive [$100]
Obnubliate means becloud; to cloud over; obscure
Sentence: Don't let the use of ad hominem fallacies obnubliate your mind or arguments in a critical discussion or debate. Screechs of racism when one criticizes Barry's policies are truly an admission that the screecher has no rational rebuttal for you: you've won - claim victory over the point loudly and move ahead.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gross Unfairness

That's the current US system for taxation of income. The capricious and vindictive nature of the technical details of the system are grossly unfair to the people. How ? This post concentrates on one type of pure unfairness: inequality before the law. The example: payments for health insurance.

Persons working for big companies or governments who provide that benefit don't notice it. That's because the company or government pays. The employee pays nothing and it never shows up on his taxes. The company deducts the premium expense as an ordinary business expense. Even IF the employee pays part of the expense in a share of the premium OR the co-pays under the policy, often that is structured to use pre-tax money: A portion of pay is diverted pre-tax into an account to be used for that purpose. So these people get health care from pre-tax money.

That's a good deal IF you can get it, since including Social Security and Medicare taxes, marginal rates are really very high even at low incomes. Adding the 15.3% Social Security and Medicare tax to the 25% bracket [which kicks in at $67,900 for joint filers, $34,000 for the single] and adding 5% state income taxes, too, one gets a very, very high marginal tax rate of just over 45% for the bulk of the middle class. Using pre-tax dollars means buying at a 45% discounts - quite a "sale".

What about persons working for small companies or even larger companies who do NOT provide to all employees ? They have to buy their own insurance. That is very expensive. I pay for our health insurance now. The plan is that of Mrs. B's former employer, as she was able to retain it as a retiree, having worked there over 30 years and being over 55. BUT we must pay the FULL costs for coverage of ourselves. That is about $14,000 per year. Not chicken feed. [By the way, I priced other plans and for a married couple in MA, the cost is about the same for the same "Preferred Provider" plan.]

A person in the 45% marginal tax regime must earn $25,450 to be able to pay that cost. You can easily see why many, many persons don't buy health insurance if their employer does not provide it. It is very, very unfair that those with GOOD JOBS from stronger employers get health insurance cheaper than those working for weaker, less financially able companies, often for less pay.

[NOTE: one might be able to deduct part of that cost in the itemized deductions, BUT that is limited to the amount over 7.5% of one's income. If one is a middle class family of two earners making $200,000 per year, that limit is $15,000 - hence NO deduction. see how capricious the system is ?]

What about the self-employed ? Can they use pre-tax dollars ? Yes, they can, IF the plan is "established under your business". For a sole proprietor, that means in the name of the sole proprietor. IF that condition is met, then the self-employed can take take an adjustment to income (that's good - it's before the adjusted gross income line and before all the limits on itemized deductions).

BUT if the policy is in the name of the sole proprietor's spouse, then NOPE, no adjustment. that person gets screwed and must use very costly after tax money to pay for the premium.

AND you might now guess that we are in that situation. The coverage we could retain from Mrs. B's former employer is in her name. I pay the same cost, but we get no income adjustment.

Treating the same expenditures differently for technical reason is simply unfair - no, it's grossly unfair. All payments for health insurance should at least be given an adjustment to income. That's still not a good as those working for big companies and governments get, as those get the coverage before those big Social Security and Medicare taxes. But it would be a start.

With all the focus on health insurance reform by Obama, you would have thought his supposedly "historic" "reform" would at least be roughly fair. BUT noooooooooooooooo, his "reform" did nothing to repair this gross unfairness.

Reality is the very, very few persons under the Obama mandate to buy health insurance will be able to afford it even with the subsidies, due to its cost and the unfair tax treatment.

What would be fair ? Payment for health insurance should be, at a minimum, an adjustment to income for everyone making the payments.

To be truly fair and equal and not destructive of jobs, the Federal government should provide this as a Shared Benefit to all, funded from a national value added tax.

Does ObamaCare move towards a truly fair program ? Nope. He retains the superstructure of the old, corrupt, unfair system. It's going to be a cruel joke on all when (IF) it goes into full effect in a few years.

Word of the Day

"Plangent" - adjective [$10]
Plangent means loud, reverberating.
Sentence: The sound of the season should a plangent roar for tax reform, but it's not. The public is numbed or unaware of how grossly unfair the income tax system is. IF they knew many of them faced a 45% marginal tax rate on extra earnings from work, they would revolt.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Just a Matter of Time ...

for US interest rates to go up ... a lot.

They are below equilibrium levels versus long term core inflation of 2%. And the supply is huge, a tidal wave of huge Treasury auctions as far as the eye can see. Corporate and mortgage competition is low due to the weak economy. What will have IF house sales grow to normal levels ? Demand for mortgages will grow precisely when the Fed is no longer a buyer, but is a seller.

The competition from corporations and households for loans is very weak. Household debt levels keep dropping. Banks flush with excess reserves put the money in T-bills and short term Treasury notes. When their customers start to want money - and when the economy is obviously stable so banks will be willing to lend - that source of demand will vaporize.

Foreign buyers have gotten a good return lately as the dollar strength gave them a bonus. But soon the dollar will stop going up and those buyers will face losses IF the dollar resumes its long term decline.

Yesterday's auction showed some weakness - WSJ: "A sudden drop-off in investor demand for U.S. Treasury notes is raising questions about whether interest rates will finally begin a march higher—a climb that would jack up the government's borrowing costs and spell trouble for the fragile housing market."

Maybe the calendar in Japan caused the drop-off. Or may it was the derivative market - WSJ: "Adding to the focus on the Treasury market's woes this week has been an unusual development in an important, but usually ignored, market: interest-rate swaps. These common derivatives entail contracts that typically involve trading one stream of interest income for another. And in the past week, investors are being paid more to own U.S. Treasuries than U.S. corporate bonds."

Why does this derivative market exist ? It's just a casino for hedge funds and banks to pits trading skills against each other. It serves no useful public purpose. And it can impact the "real" market for bonds. Get rid of it NOW.

The huge tidal wave of governmental demand for debt in the US will soon run into natural demand from a stable economy. That collision will cause trouble for the stock market, in my humble opinion.

Hence my neutral - bearish intermediate term outlook until that rate rise gets priced in.

Word of the Day

"Trenchant" - adjective [$10]
Trenchant means 1. lean, incisive (a trenchant comment); 2. forceful, effective and vigorous; 3. caustic, cutting (trenchant criticism); distinct, clear cut.
Sentence: Writing a trenchant blog every business day is not easy; a lack of ideas occasionally occurs and then ... I wing it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What to Do ?

Many people are now turning attention to the future as the memories of the Panic of 2008 fade ... at least for those with jobs. The victims of the Wall Street and international bank lust for trading profits have not been forgotten, as a poll published yesterday shows high levels of "hate" for the finance industry. Maybe Congress will pass some true reform. Maybe they will fake it. Time will tell.

BUT the huge amounts of borrowing by the US, its States and cities, and many major developed nations will have to dealt with eventually. For now, I'll stick to the US. What is rather obvious to me now after the enacting of ObamaCare and its huge tax burden on higher income people, is that when combined with the coming huge tax increases on those same people (due to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which really helped only those above the AMT thresholds, viz. those making almost $1 million per year), that the ability of government to get more money from that well is nearly gone. They need to go after another pot of money.

Who will they target ? To me, it's obvious that big corporations will be the target, either through rate increases or technical changes or through more mandates. That means stock prices will be hurt.

But the title of this post is "What to Do ?", not "What will they do ?".

We need REAL reform. The elections of 2010 should be nationalized with a new Compact for Reform. Some party, or both, should adopt the following policies for the Compact for Reform.

1. No more secret earmarks, none. Forever. All appropriation requests are fully disclosed in Committee for 30 days in advance of any votes with sponsors identified.

2. Any lawmaker taking political contributions from any person or group benefiting from specific appropriation which they sponsor will be subject to ethics violation and fined - paid personally - equal to double the amount of the contribution. The public money MUST benefit the public, not special interest groups. Spending the public money must be based on reason and open argumentation, not bribes.

3. All taxes on jobs must be replaced with a value-added tax. High taxes on employing people are a cause - maybe THE cause - of long term high unemployment. A value-added tax shifts the burden to those spending the money, not working to create it. A value added tax on ALL goods makes those who consume imported goods pay for something to support the nation. Now production of those goods overseas and their consumption here adds NOTHING to the nation. This will be a huge shift, but a needed one.

4. All mandates on employers regarding employee benefits will be removed except ONE. This one mandate will be that ANY benefit provided to top management be equally provided to all employees in strict proportion to salary or wages (or that gives the lower pay levels more). An excise tax will make "top heavy" benefits prohibitively expensive. NO more will the bosses get great pensions and benefits when the workers get the shaft.

5. No more secret laws voted on by those who cannot have not read them. All bills in excess of ten pages shall be publicly disclosed for a minimum of thirty days.

6. A Fairness Commission will be created to compare all public sector wages and benefits to those in the private sector (the whole private sector, not just big companies), and shall take into account job security; small business will be a major part of the comparison. The commission will make its results public with recommendations for changes needed to equalize pay and benefits.

7. A new small business tax policy will remove ALL taxes on newly created businesses UNTIL they recover 100% of invested capital. This will apply to corporations, partnerships and sole proprietors.

Those simple seven reforms will shift governmental policy in America toward honesty, openness and pro-employment policies. Some can be done with rule changes in Congress. Some require laws. They should be adopted with large bipartisan majorities.

Word of the Day

"Fillip" - noun [$10]
Fillip means something tending to arouse or excite
Sentence: With adoption of the reforms of Bunkerman, appropriations bills and seats on Appropriations committees will no longer be a fillip for lawmakers and lobbyists. The strict standards will draw those devoted to public service, not to sticking their snouts in the trough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We Are All ...

Bosons. At least our whole selves are.

There are two fundamentally different types of elementary particles: fermions and bosons. A fermion has intrinsic spin in half integral amounts: 1/2, 3/2 and so on. A boson has integral intrinsic spin: 0, 1, 2 and so on. Intrinsic spin is the angular momentum of the particle's intrinsic self, which is a point of infinite smallness. What causes it and what that spin "is" fundamentally is not known. For now, it just "is". It's quantized in multiples of 1/2 and it is conserved.

Fermions and bosons have extremely interesting, different properties in their aggregation. We, after all, aggregations of elementary particles, so their properties of aggregation are important.

No fermion can be in the same state, place and time and otherwise, as any other fermion. They just don't like being close to each other. They repel each other. Contrapuntally, bosons love to be in the same state. They gladly lie on top of each other [ no sex jokes, please ;) ]; they can be stacked on each other in huge numbers barring other repulsive forces.

Our world exists as it does because of the fermion repulsion: without it atoms would collapse.

Light photons are bosons: that's why light's intensity in a beam can increase on and on to extremely high levels. The photons are being stacked onto each other.

What does this have to do with humans ? I'm borrowing it allegorically to describe human natures and our history through space and time.

We are bosons by our natures. Humans form communities, social organizations, towns, cities, and nations. The history and path of these organizations tend to stick together and flow though space and time like a river.

Yesterday I was working hard on my German. German is a bit odd for an Indo-European language. The grammar of Latin is closer to Polish than it is to German. Many German verbs oddly change internal vowels in tenses other than the present. The ending on their adjectives and articles have irregular endings. Germans word order is weird. Why ? In my opinion, German got heavily modified by whatever language the original inhabitants of that part of Europe had BEFORE the proto-Germans moved in (maybe 4,000 years ago or more). For all that Nazi "racial purity" bs, German is a very, very impure mutation of old Indo-European.

Both Latin and Polish are much purer descendants of old Indo-European. I joke that Polish is mostly Latin grammar with all the words changed.

About 2,001 years ago, the Roman legions of Varus were wiped out in the battle of the Teutoberg forest by the German tribes led by Arminus. That ended the Roman effort to conquer the Germanic tribes in what is now Germany. If the Romans had won and stayed, the German language today would be a lot more like French or Italian than like modern German. And I would have a lot easier time learning it.

That single event cause the "river" of Germanic history, language and culture to flow separately from the rest of the Roman empire. Without it, the German river would have merged with that of Gaul (France), Spain and Italy. The Franks who later took over Gaul were a Germanic tribe. As were the Visigoths who took Spain. But so many of the existing sedentary peoples had lived centuries under Roman rule that their original Celtic languages changed and merged with Latin, making old French, Spanish and Italian. The Germanic of the invading Franks, Visigoths, and Lombards was mostly lost over time, overwhelmed by the vulgar language of the mass of common sedentary people.

The then separated German river flowed on its own path. The German langauge remained and evolved from its older mutant form. And I suffer daily studying it.


More up yesterday. At the prodding of a commentor yesterday, I looked at some charts. To me, the market is going where I had thought it would last fall, but took an extra six months & a twist/turn that threw me off: a "return to normalcy" pricing of around 1200 on the S&P.

The Nasdaq and Russell 2000 are getting closer to their old highs as they did not have the heavy financial ("fins") weights. The effective zeroing of many fins is making the S&P and Dow look worse than indices without fins. The transports back that up, too. All those are at levels that I don't want to have any more than a "normal" long positions. I still am expecting a big pullback "soon". Krypto will be "some" equities selling every few % up, adding to cash for now.

PS: Krypto checked the portfolio this morning and then told me to sell some Pacific stock index funds & put the money in cash. The Pacific funds were 5% over their standard allocation, trigger the sell. Good doggie ... here's a biscuit.

Word of the Day

"Sodality" - noun [$10]
Sodality means a confraternity or association, especially a Roman Catholic religious guild or brotherhood.
Sentence: Toqueville in his famous book, Democracy in America, written circa 1840 and based on his travels in the United States, noted the plethora of clubs, fraternities, sodalities and other social organizations that its citizens formed and joined. In other words, he observed and remarked on our highly bosonic natures. Presumably, that nature in Americans was significantly more than existed in Europe at the time. American social mobility was at work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Zzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Above is a photo of the real Krypto, a very happy dog and a super fund manager.
No post today as I slept late as I'm still recovering from a cold.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Unintended Consequences

The unintended consequences for passing the health care monstrosity will be far reaching and painful IF it survives the elections in November. For now the press liberals are ga-ga talking about the "historic" bill. The lies from Obama are getting further play on and on.

Bart Stupak shows himself to a fool or a knave: either he did not believe the principles he stated OR he is truly a fool for thinking an executive order can prevent the misuse of Federal money as he wanted. Any President can change an executive order at a whim. He just got a fig lief to cover his lies.

The taxes on investment are quite onerous as they are on top of the AMT and before all deductions, even before charitable contributions.

The taxes and impositions on business are huge, as is the coming obligation on the people to buy what will certainly be very, very expensive health care policies.

Overall the coming taxes on hard work, investing and effort seem so onerous, I wonder why anyone will do it ? After one reaches the very, very high marginal tax rates to come, why do more to make more money ? The government will take more than half of your income over around $250,000 in a very punitive manner. One can no longer even work more to use the omoney to give to charity, as they government will take its cut first. That tithe - 10% - is now 6.2% as the government's coming slice of 3.8% comes first. 'Why not take it easy' seems to be the order of the day.

The people reap what they sowed by electing fundamentally dishonest politicians who would send some crumbs back the the district.

For now, I'll read what's in the bill once anyone truly reads it and writes some good articles about it.

The phase-ins are rather long. BUT one idea is now in the forefront: ROTH IRA conversion. I had once rejected that thinking the gains were not enough to be worthwhile. Now the gains seems much larger and the downside lower. More analysis to come.

PS: "Historic" is not synomymous with "good". The Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court in 1857 was historic and intended to eliminate slavery as a public issue; instead it led directly to the Civil War.

Word of the Day

"Desideratum" - noun [$10] from Latin 'desidero' meaning to long for, to desire, to miss'
Desideratum means something lacking but needed or desired.
Sentence: The principle desideratum of Congress and the health care bill is common sense.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Prescription Drug Price Discrimination

This week I've written about the lack of real debate on issues, so today I'll practice what I have been preaching. Price discrimination is the technical economic term for offering different customers the same product at different prices. Obviously this can happen only when the product is not freely traded. The company can choose what to sell to whom at whatever price they think that market can bear. It's a matter of degree and economists split price discrimination into first, second and third degree price discrimination. Bulk sales at low prices to one buyer is one common example. Senior citizen discounts are another.

The market for prescription drugs world-wide is a good example, too. I suppose you won't be surprised the the US common man is the loser.

Drug companies sell drugs in the US at high prices while they are under patent protection, while selling those same drugs worldwide to various national health care systems are much lower prices. Why ? The national health care systems bargain quite hard and are backed up by national governments, who threaten to break patents for essential drugs.

In the US,. the common man pays full price, and even the US Medicare system does, too. There is some bargaining as insurance companies will negotiate better prices when substitutes are available. But overall the US common man pays a LOT more than those drugs cost in France or Germany. This price exploitation is not limited to US companies. European drug companies like Roche do the same thing: charge the US common man more than Germany.

Congress and the public have been screeching about this for years, talking up "re-importation" from Canada. But that debate does not go to the crux of the problem. Drug companies say they must make good profits to fund R&D to find new drugs. And they are right. BUT why does the US have to pay all the money for those profits ? Why do high prices in the US pay for ALL the research that the whole world benefits from ? That's just unfair.

Since all the world benefits from new drugs, fairness requires that each nation's people and all drug users pay for their fair share of the profits that are needed for the research. The US common man should NOT be forced by price discrimination to pay for it all.

Get the rest of the world off our backs and make them pay more. And lower US drug prices. The prescription drug market requires a "fair price" law requiring drug companies to sell drugs in the US at the same lower price as they sell them for in other developed nations. Such a law would give the drug companies muscle to charge MORE in Europe and Canada. Good. Let Europe and Canada pay more and the US common man to pay less.

Why can't the knaves in DC (aka RC racketeer central) figure this out ? Why doesn't this crucial part of the debate get more public exposure in the media. Well, that's what I've been ranting against all week. The media and the knaves are all part of the problem.


Doing nothing. The 1-2-3 Fund needs a new name and focus. My efforts are going to the Krypto Fund, this is where most of the money is anyway. I'll keep checking for asset re-allocations.

Word of the Day

"Gnosis" - noun [$10]
Gnosis means knowledge of spiritual mysteries.
Sentence: There is no requirement for a Ph. D. in Gnosis Studies for one to use simple reason in thinking about major issues. The racketeers in DC seem to infer this requirement when they impugn critics as not being "exerts' or publishing in "referred journals". BUT if they can't answer simply questions and respond to critiques using simple reasoning, they are truly mountebanks selling a secret patent medicine at a high price.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just the Facts, Ma'am

That was Sgt. Joe Friday's request on the fine old TV police show, Dragnet, to a person being interviewed after a crime when they started to embellish or provide opinions or conclusions about the event. This principle needs to be applied to much of modern life. Too often we receive opinion, or worse, spin, fallacies and outright false statements from person seeking to sell their ideas. I think this is a very, very broad problem with public discourse. When was the last time you saw a true, honest debate in the major media grounded in facts ? Perhaps 30 years ? Gen Y and Z might answer never.

For me ( a boomer ), I think the last one was in 1978 when Ronald Reagan debated William F. Buckley over the proposed Panama Canal Treaty. I remember that very, very well. Point and counterpoint was presented respectfully with plenty of facts and reason. Have you heard ANY such debate over health care ? Nope.

We need to elevate the "is" over the "ought", "might", "perhaps" and "maybe". Deeds and facts trump words and images.

This problem is a very broad one in modern life, extending to the realms of art and music, too. In those fields, the connections to the "is" broke down about 150 years ago when Impressionism and Romanticism became dominant, respectively. The value of a painting or piece of music became tied to what one wrote or said about it, not what one saw or heard, respectively. The words replaced the facts _ what the work of art or music was on its face became subsumed by what what the painter or author or critics "said" about its meaning.

The huge growth in fiction in literature over that same 150 years is likely connected to this movement. Novels get more readership now than actual events or experiences. A travelogue of what someone actually experienced in Africa or Mexico - even if embellished to make it more readable - is now secondary to what some fiction writer makes up. A movie gets credence even though it never happened, or is a goulash of events from different times and places.

In the 1920s, popular culture completely misrepresented and misinterpreted the success of Einstein's special and general theories of "Relativity" to wrongly apply that term to many, many other aspects of human society and culture. Blather like "Every thing is relative" ... "It depends on one's perspective" seemed to get scientific support. WRONG ! In Einstein's Special Theory of Relative, there is absolute truth: the speed of light is a constant and is THE SAME in every frame of reference - from every perspective. All the popular blather is simply wrong.

Nietzschean perspectivism is not universal: there are absolute truths in human thought. Mathematical theorems are TRUE in every aspect and from every perspective. Events do happen. One event can cause another from ALL perspectives.

Movies nowadays are being fabricated entirely from computers: why film on location when the computer can create what one "thinks" the location "should" look like. When will people be replaced entirely in films ?

The Latin language is over 2,500 years old. Its verb for "is" or "be" has the infinitive form, "esse" from which our American word, "essence" is derived. We - the people - need to return to the "is" of our world, its essence, its facts, its reality. Drop the dreamy imaginations, reject the propaganda. Bring back the "is" to our thinking.

Just the facts, Ma'am.


More up. I sold CLF from my Fido Fund - the fund I keep old favorite stocks or moderately to long term investments - for a 100%+ gain over about six months. It might go up more, but I'm not a pig. Je ne suis pas un goinfre.

Word of the Day

"Devoir" - noun [$10] archaic [from French]
Devoir means 1. duty, one's best (do ones devoir); 2. (in plural) courteous of formal attentions; respects (pay one's devoirs to)
Sentence: Each voter will need to do his/her devoir this fall, and pick a representative who IS honest. If a politician lies to you once, why do you ever believe him again ?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey has always been on of my favorite drinks. During the 1980s and early 1990s after a hard workout on the weights, I would go to the New York Athletic Club "Tap Room" bar for some refreshment and convivial conversation. During winters I drank Irish whiskey, straight on the rocks. Brendan, the bar's loquacious Irish bartender at the time, always enjoyed pouring me a Jameson. And of course when some beefy fellow down the bar ordered a glass of wine or Coor's Light, he would grimace.

I bear a surname well-known to the Irish; it has a rich heritage there with connections to the early Norman knights who went to Ireland in the 12th century and stayed. I'm not claiming any connection to the nobility - I suspect the name was borrowed from the Duke by one of the saloon keepers on his estate at the time the common man was ordered to take a surname. And I know my great, great, great grandfather ran a saloon in SE central Ohio about 200 years ago. All that is to point out that drinking Irish whiskey might have some deep and long connection to me.

Thus on this St. Patrick's Day I write about Irish Whiskey.

Most Irish whiskey is distilled three times versus double distilling for most Scotch twice. Peat is rarely used in the malting process, so that Irish Whiskey has a smoother finish as opposed to the smokey overtones common to some Scotches. There is lots of variety and overlap in the flavors, of course. If you like Scotch, I urge you to branch out and try Irish Whiskey. It's rather simple to buy: unlike Scotch, there are a limited number of brands. The quality is very high in them.

Here is my primer. For ease, I have classed them alongside some well known Scotch whiskies. The Irish whiskey is a bit less expensive in general, simply as it's less well known and can bear less price premium.


Jameson Gold - this is the best Irish whiskey that I've ever had. The flavor and finish reminded me of Johnny Walker Blue. Both bring to mind a fine cognac with whiskey flavor. Cost is around $60 per bottle (750 ml).


(A) Black Bush from Bushmills. This whisky is a bit lighter and very, very smooth. I class it alongside Johnny Walker Gold. Cost about $40-50 per bottle.

(B) Bushmills Single Malt. As a single malt you'd expect a stronger flavor and you get it. Johnny Walker Green is the parallel scotch product. Cost is about $40-50 per bottle.


(A) Tullamore Dew 12 year old - very fine, very smooth. About $30 per bottle.

(B) Jameson 12 year old - my standard at the NYAC bar. About $30 per bottle.

Both are analogous to Johnny Walker Black.

LOWER (A very high low)

Jameson - good, full flavor, reasonable price at around $15-20 per bottle.

My bar has far fewer Irish whiskeys that Scotch simply because there are few brands. If you stick to products of Jameson or Bushmills, you'll get a fine product. Try them and experiment. I'm always on the lookout for new Irish whiskeys. The distillers are slowly moving out new premium products as they lag far, far behind the Scottish distillers in creating brand differentiation and premium, niche products.


I drink them in two ways. One way is simply on the rocks in a short glass: I fill the glass with ice and add the whiskey. I let the ice melt a bit to make the taste better. Again as with Scotch, I think the cold water brings out the flavors and aromas better and permits better mouth-feel and taste as the bite of the alcohol is cut a bit.

The second way again follows my Scotch drinking pattern. I pour the correct amount into a special curved whisky glass that brings out the color and texture, then add a single ice cube to the glass. I let it melt and then sip the fine whiskey. I also swirl the whiskey around the glass and enjoy its color and aroma. Last night I had a glass of Jameson Gold in this manner - it was exquisite.

OK, I admit it: last night I had a taste-a-thon of the top three Irish whiskeys listed above as research for this post :)


The grind up continues. Krypto has no sell orders this morning, but some might be close at hand. CLF in Fido Fund is up a lot - I need to look at its chart to see if it's in sell territory. I had expected that company to be taken over at a high price, but if it gets to my sell range, I'll let is go anyway.

Word of the Day

"Educe" - verb, transitive [$10]
Educe means 1. to bring out or develop from latent or potential existence: elicit; 2. infer, elicit a principle or number from data.
Sentence: In the "humble" [ ;) ] opinion of Bunkerman, a small ice cube added to whiskey educes its inherent flavor and aroma to come forth in much more quantity for a more enjoyable drink.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

People and Money

The world is awash in money now. US dollars held overseas are the monetary base for the world and provide foreign central banks with the capability to increase the supplies of their own local currencies. This is particularly true for China - it needs dollars to support the yuan, which would otherwise likely be deemed valueless, as currencies of dictatorships usually are. The world is awash in Euros and yen, too.

Signs of this are everywhere in the financial pages of major newspapers - from FT: "Sovereign bond markets in developing countries have seen a record $129bn in new deals so far this year ... Emerging market yields narrowed to 2.57 percentage points over US Treasuries on Monday compared with 3.5 percentage points a month ago ... Indonesian five-year bond yields, for instance, have fallen to 3.77 per cent. "

Who is buying Indonesia bonds for a puny 3.77% absolute yield ?

US corporate bond yields are very, very low, too, and bonds sales are huge. The huge high tide in money worldwide is finding its way into the bond markets, raising their prices and lowering yields. Spread measures don't tell the true pictures. The US five year Treasury rate is 2.4%. Core inflation is about 2%, so people are taking a real return of less than 1% locked in for five years.

Again, who is buying this paper at foolish absolute yields ?

One answer is the banks. Instead of making loans to productive companies, banks prefer buying securities. Obviously the regulators again missed something important. Why are banks becoming houses of securities instead of the engines of lending to productive companies that was their original purpose ? Likely because they are run by executives from Wall Street and not loan officers. And also because regulators actually give some preference to liquid securities in assessing that oft-cited number, "Tier 1 capital". Loans require more Tier 1 capital versus high grade securities.

The Fed and other regulators need to change this if small and medium sized business is to get the loans they need to grow.

Who else is buying those bonds ?

CLUE: What other "asset" is the world awash in ?

ANSWER: Older people - the grey hairs, the cue-tips. Demographics data show a greying Europe, a grey Japan and a very rapidly greying China. The US is somewhat greying as baby boomer hit retirement ages, but has some balance from decades of large immigration of young people and echos of the baby booms.

People in retirements - those with the money to retire - want safe yield from bonds and annuities for a large portion of their assets. Older people are buying them, or are investing in funds that do the buying.

Two major countries with youthful demographics are India and Brazil. I already mentioned China's grey hair. Russia is greying, too. That means BRIC is really a quite BI and a rather old RC. Very, very different demographics. The long term implications of this are huge.

What does this mean ?

Stop thinking about BRIC as a unit - that might have worked by accident in the first decade of the 21st century, but it won't work in second decade. Those nations are too different to lump together.

Don't buy those bonds. The absolute yields are too puny to risk locking up your money there. One is better off in blue chip, dividend paying stocks, gold and cash or TIPs. Worldwide inflation is likely coming and will likely be worst in the emerging markets. The convergence of world price parity eventually means serious inflation in those nations, or deflation in the US and Europe. Obviously the huge tide of money worldwide means it will be the former, not the latter.

IF you must buy fixed income, I'd stick to some fixed annuity type for a small/moderate portion of assets and put that money there strictly using time diversification. Use only AAA rated insurance companies and avoid high fees if possible. One benefit of this is you won't have the price risk worries owning bonds. The time diversification will give you some protection from inflation.

The only bonds worth buying are municipal bonds - 5% tax free is a great absolute rate now. But you'd better diversify hugely and stay away from anything with an unusually high yield. And use time diversification there, too. No CA, NV or AZ. No major cities. No Michigan. Nothing with event risk, such as medical centers in hurricane target zones. Get at least 5% and get 5 years call protection on a 20 year bond, or 10 years call protection a 30 year bond. Buy bonds with A ratings or better. No A- or lower.

I used to rule out FL, too, but now I realize it is not addicted to a graduated income tax. I'll look at the west coast - no east coast as it's a hurricane target zone. Hurricanes have a tough time curling around enough to hit the west hard.

Word of the Day

"Passe-partout" - noun [$10] (also "passepartout") from French for "passes everywhere"
Passepartout means 1. a master key; 2. a simple picture frame (esp. for mounted photographs) esp. one consisting of a piece of glass stuck to a backing by adhesive tape along the edges; 3. adhesive tape or paper used for this.
Sentence: Today's post poses questions and issues to consider, but provides no passe-partout for investors.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Facts Trump Fiction

For almost 200 years literature, plays and in modern times, TV and radio have created a mythos of the noble American Indian being cruelly oppressed and mistreated by the White Man. This revisionism began in the early 1800s in books and theatre and continues to this day. One need only listen to NPR awhile to hear this blather in real time. What all this re-writing lacks is any link to original sources or facts. Simply put, most of this mythos is sheer fiction.

Reading that first sentence stating the mythos reveals one internal contradiction in it. How could the White Man "mistreat" the American Indians ? They are people and had a culture and controlled the continent. The answer was given in my blog post of Columbus Day, October 12, 2009: The American Indian culture and technology was very, very primitive compared to the western European culture and technology. There was no equality of ability or capability or even of simple social organization at all.

Last week's Book of the Week (March 8 - Changing Military Patterns of the Great Plains Indians by Frank Raymond Secoy) provided a large amount of first hand information gutting the mythos to shreds. Before 1500, the American Indians had no horses and no metal tools. That means they had to walk everywhere and had no tomahawks, iron arrow points and no guns. This is irrefutable. The reality of the diffusion of the horse and guns meant that neither were present in the Great Plains in significant quantities until beginning around 1650 and the full diffusion was not complete until about 1800.

Before the horse and gun, Indian warfare used clubs and lances with hardened wooden or stone points, and bows with stone tipped arrows. The bows had little penetration power. "Armor" was folded hides to create layers or layers of hides held by glue. Sand-glue coatings gave some external hardness. With six or so layers, an arrow or lance could not penetrate. Hide shields were used and could ward off arrows.

The reality is that an Egyptian army with bronze weapons could have routed any Indian force on the Great Plains. A force of Greeks under anyone like Alexander the Great could have created a huge empire. Genghis Khan could have replicated his empire in the New World with ease. American Indian technology was just so primitive compared to anything in Europe or the Near East for 4,000 years.

The horse arrived via the Spanish and local breeding populations were large enough in the northern New Mexico area around commencing around 1650. What happened ? The Apache developed a Post Horse, Pre-Gun culture and immediately used the technical superiority to attack, kill and enslave neighboring tribes. This was not the White Man - this was the noble Indian, simply acting as people have done for millenia. The Apache simply behaved like the Mongols, Turks and other steppe peoples.

What else ? The Shoshone to the north obtained horses and did the same thing, expanding onto the Great Plains from the west. How did they obtain the horse ? By selling Indian captives as slaves to the Spanish. The "noble" American Indian was a slave merchant.

The gun arrived to the Great Plains from a long trading line stretching back to France and England: furs - primarily beaver - were traded for metal axes (tomahawks), iron pots and guns. The Spanish forbade selling guns to Indians. The French and English would sell them, hence the gun diffused from a completely different direction from the horse.

Tribes with access to guns pushed out and massacred tribes without guns. The "noble" Indian did that themselves. Tribal cultures were rather different from the woodlands to the plains. Plains Indians like the Sioux were shocked by the cruelty they saw in the woodlands Indians as those Indian mistreated, oppressed and stole their lands: burning prisoners cruelly and cannibalism was unknown to them. Those were standard practiced of the "noble" woodland Indians of the Northeast (i. e., east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio).

I will not reproduce the first hand accounts of Indian cannibalism - they are sickening. The book provides such with documented quotes of persons who saw it.

The early Sioux had an unusual custom: they would weep when greeting strangers. This was misinterpreted by new arrivals such as the Ottawa and Huron, who thought they could easily defeat such "women". Eventually the Sioux acquired guns by training pemmican and other foods to fur traders who needed concentrated, high caloric foods for long journeys into the Canadian fur zones. Then the woodland Indian found out how wrong they were. And with guns, the Sioux were able to encroach onto the northern plains. Beginning around 1775 the Sioux acquired horses and could expand onto the entire Great Plains, pushing out indigenious tribes that depended partially on horticulture for food.

In the south the arrival of guns enabled oppressed tribes to push the Apache back. The Apache resorted to stealing horses and guns from the Spanish. This was helped by the Mexican revolution that ended in 1821 and which left a vaccuum of power in the entire Southwest.

[Aside: to those who hear hispanic baloney about how the US stole the southwest, one can note the Mexicans got independence just 14 years before Texas won its own independence. Mexico had no effective authority over that entire area, as the accounts of Apache successes when Spain's power crumbled proves.]

Over the decades, the horse and gun became available to the entire Great Plains principally from American traders from St. Louis or New Orleans. The Hollywood image of the Plains Indian culture is true, BUT that culture was a new one, being in existence only about 100 years or less. And it derived from and was entirely dependent on trade with the White Man. The entire American Indian mythos is built on sand.

This information is all available in books. TV and the Internet do a lousy job in compiling a complete or true account. One need the facts and sources records that books can provide. Last week's Book of the Week in 100 pages trumps hours upon hours of NPR, TV, and fiction accounts in plays, literature and theatre.

Read books.


Futures are down for now. I see no significant news. I am holding my puts. On further moves up, Krypto will have sell orders.

Word of the Day

"Bricolage" - noun [?? perhaps $10] a loan word from French that is now in some English dictionaries. It's NOT in the OED or any of my normal paper dictionaries. This word came to me from Woodie, one of the Epicurean campers, who saw it in "Green Days in Brunei", a book by Bruce Sterling (fiction).

Here is the French meaning for "le bricolage" : do-it-yourself; makeshift repair or job; odd jobs. In French, le bricoleur is the handyman, or a do-it-yourselfer. gives this for English now: (A) 1.a construction made of whatever materials are at hand; something created from a variety of available things; 2. (in literature) a piece created from diverse resources; 3. (in art) a piece of makeshift handiwork; 4. the use of multiple, diverse research methods. OR (B) Something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available: "Even the decor is a bricolage, a mix of this and that" (Los Angeles Times).

The English meanings seems to use more of the sense of bric-a-brac than the original French.

From all this, I presume it's a recent adoption in English from the French and its meaning is not yet stable.

Sentence: Obama annouced a new education initiative. He now seems to be the bricoleur trying to perform some emergency bricolage with the pieces of his crumbling presidency.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Ms. Market keeps dancing a slow waltz up. Without the public buying, one wonders who is ? Perhaps there are still bears covering and euro-beefers re-deploying funds to the US as the dollar has shown it's not going to zero soon. Fund performance chasing helps, too.

I can't get excited. The press says the new 17 month high for the S&P gives "confidence". To whom is unclear and whether that matters is also unclear. Perhaps this is all buying that was deferred when the Greece mess popped up.

For me, I will re-check allocations in Krypto Fund and see if she has any orders for me this morning. If one does not sell "some" at highs, one won't have any money to buy dips and pullbacks, except new money. The puts are deep underwater but have much time left, as the are April strikes. A lot can happen in a few weeks. But the best one can say about that trade is that is was "early" in both time and price. Not good.

My caution is primarily based on the poor jobs performance. I wanted solid jobs growth by year-end 2009. It's now mid March and yesterday's unemployment claims were over 450,000 in a week. That's far too much. State and local governments will have to layoff workers and cut pay and benefits.

Washington DC continues to be Racketeer Central. Voters need to vote out anyone who uses earmarks, regardless of party; any liar; anyone who hasn't kept promises; and anyone who does not respect the proper use of the public trust and pocketbook.

Many, many CEOs and high corporate executives are grossly overpaid. Stockholders must exercise their new advisory votes on executive pay wisely. I've been voting against many pay plans, but not all. Hmmm .... perhaps this is an idea for a later blog.

Word of the Day

"Gurn" - verb, intransitive [$10] also "girn"
Gurn means (esp. dialect) to grimace, to pull a face (esp. for a competition).
Sentence: Bunkerman gurns as he reviews his put option play.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back from the Beast

NYC is still there, a weird conjunction of the spectacular and the drab. The architecture and museums are wonderful sights to behold. The people are still stuck in the mud - figuratively. They mostly wear drab black, dark blue, dark browns and grey. The color of muck is yuck. Your writer, of course, tried to bring some color into that boring milieu with bright ties, colored shirts and pocket silk handkerchiefs. I had quite a bit of success, at least from the compliments I got from several beautiful women unknown to me ... and still unknown to me !

What's new from the Beast ?

Taxi fares are up a lot. Rides that used to cost me $6 are now $10. Metaphorically, one leaves a trial to $10 and $20 bills traveling through the city. Subway fares are up, too, to $2.25 a ride. Net of the multi-ride discount, it's $2/ride.

Business seems rather active. My favorite sushi restaurant seems to be doing fine; it had a good number of Japanese businessmen there on a Monday evening.

I heard Karl Rove speak yesterday at a luncheon at the Union League Club. His talk was interesting, but far too short. And it was concentrated on tossing some red meat to the crowd of businessmen and financiers who lost friends in the 9/11 attack. Publicity and $$$ overruled courtesy, as he left early for his book tour. It was typical behavior of the ruling class from RC.


Grinding higher, moving my put speculation further into the red. This is definitely purgatory for my breaking the Green-Red rule. :(

Fido Fund owns DVN. It will be up sharply at it seems to have gotten a good price for the deep water drilling assets to be sold to BP. I've been waiting for this deal and will likely sell soon to take the sugar.

Word of the Day

"Rebarbative" - adjective [$10] literary
Rebarbative means repellent, unattractive.
Sentence: The rebarbative dress of most New Yorkers shows no signs of joi de vivre - the joy of living: no spring colors, just drab winter gloom.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Into the Belly of the Beast ...

That means I'm going to New York City for a few days - "The Beast" is New York and its belly is Manhattan. The next post wil be Thursday morning.

Not much is going on. I keep hearing that the market rose Friday because the jobs report was "good". That's weird. The number was negative and unemployment was about flat. Oh well, it's probably just boob bait for homo boobus. The press writes headlines and stories that sound like they "should" be true, not that are true.

I think the rally was short covering by a large number of traders who were positioned short expecting a worse jobs number. Without that confirmation to bring in new sellers, they had to cover.

Over the weekend Krypto did her numbers - she pushed the button with her paw - and came up with some sell orders for me. She says I need to sell some emerging market funds, and some gold/silver. I will obey. The money goes to cash.

Book of the Week

Changing Military Patterns of the Great Plains Indians by Frank Raymond Secoy. this short book (a bit over 100 pages) covers Indian tribal warfare from pre-European periods and how it evolved as the horse and gun were introduced. In this process, many Hollywood myths of the Plains Indians get shattered. The book also provides good, hard information on military patterns of other areas, such as the woodlands tribes (Iroquois, etc.). As a dividend, this book provides a good overview of history of the American Indian tribes and conflicts for the great central heartland of the US.

Word of the Day

"Décolletage" - noun [$10]
Décolletage means a low neckline of a woman's dress, etc.
Sentence: Congressmen flock to talk of more money for earmarks as quickly a man's eyes focus on the décolletage of an attractive woman.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Business as usual prevails in RC (Racketeer Central = DC). That place is such a den of knaves and fools. The cluster FUBAR of their actions and past actions is building into something unstable. Tax policy is insane; energy policy is insane; foreign relations seem sophomoric. Do any of them take seriously that they are spending the public's money ?


The people need to exercise their ultimate authority and clean that swamp out. This fall's elections are crucial to avoid a crumbling ... slow or fast ... of US strength constructed since World War II.

This state - Massachusetts - sent a message in electing Scott Brown. He is not perfect, but it's a start. People in other states need to recognize and follow their lead ... as they did in 1775.

Book of the Week

Private Yankee Doodle by Joseph Plumb Martin, originally published in 1830, my copy is a 1995 edition of the 1962 reprinting. The secondary title explains the book's subject matter perfectly: Being a Narrative of some of the Adventures, Dangers and Suffering of a Revolutionary Soldier. This book is a first hand account of the author's experiences in fighting the Revolutionary War as a common soldier. You cannot understand this war unless you understand what the individual soldiers did. Many, many TV historical accounts draw bits and snippets from this book. Read it all yourself and get the full measure of insight from its pages.

Joseph Plumb Martin joined the Continental Army in 1776 and served until discharge in 1783. He was at every major battle that Washington's army fought; he was at Valley Forge; he was at Yorktown. The book gives his narration of what he did and experienced. It hasn't been filtered or drained of life by the ham handed massaging of professional historians. And it's not a polemic. It's a simple account of one man's experiences in the crucible that led to the creation of the United States of America.


The slow grind high continues. My belief that it is running out of gas is being tested. Futures are perking this morning. Perhaps too many short plays exist and they are slowly capitulating. My April puts give me quite a bit of staying power. For now, unless the news convinces me I'm wrong, I'll let the hand play out over the next few weeks.

I'll check Krypto Fund allocations this AM. The buying that Krypto did at the recent lows might need to be removed. Check for a later "PS".

PS: No changes yet.

Word of the Day

"Dehisce" - verb, intransitive [$10]; "Dehiscence" - noun [$10]
Dehisce means to gape or burst open (esp. of a pos or seed vessel or of a cut or wound).
Dehiscence means the act or an occurrence of dehiscing.
Sentence: Was the Massachusetts election of a political outsider a sign of a nationwide deshiscence of pent-up anger of the people, or just a localized blip ? Time will tell.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Double Zzzzzzzzz

That one set of Zzzzzzzzzz for me oversleeping, and another set of Zzzzzzzzzzz for the lack of news today.

I think I need to work out a septalingual version of "Nothing is happening."

Word of the Day

"Declivity" - noun [$10]
Declivity means a downward slope, esp. a piece of sloping ground.
Sentence: The stock market needs to show declivity soon for my put speculation to pay off.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Typical Wednesday

That means nothing is happening. Sighhhh.

Spring is arriving here on time. Meteorological winter ended on Sunday and the daffodils are perking up, poking their heads up in places with southern exposure.

I'll still reading Empires of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. The book has 500+ packed pages. I just started on the times of Genghis Khan. He's a fascinating figure and leader who made a remarkable comeback. Reading about how people lived then is a dividend: in the steppes and hunting and fishing in the forests north of the steppes. Their epic tales sound a whole lot like those of the American Indians, being laced with animal metaphors. Perhaps that's no accident, as the ancestors of the American Indians came from that area of Asia.

Obama is still playing Captain Ahab, seeking to take the whole Democratic party down in his lust for his Great White Whale, viz. ObamaCare.

Regulators are looking at beefer attacks on the Euro and at naked credit default swaps. Gosh, such diligence ! It's only 18 months after the Panic of 2008. Does anyone else notice the regulators seem to care only when their own financial status is at stake ? It's obvious they care nothing about the common man.


I put on the last slug of my put position. When fully in the money, that will make my 1-2-3 Fund 300% short effectively. That's enough, IF I'm right. This might not work ...

Word of the Day

"Longanimity" - noun [$100]
Longanimity means patience, forebearing, long suffering; patient endurance of hardship, injuries or offense; forebearance.
Sentence: (A) Genghis Khan's longanimty as a vassal of Wang-khan let him survive until his forces were strong enough to survive the final betrayal that Wang-khan perpetrated against him. (B) The common American man's longanimity as Racketeer Central continues to feed on his product must soon end in a taxpayer revolt.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Market Muddle

The stock markets moved up yesterday. So far, it has recovered about 2/3 of its Greek panic losses. For this blogger, I have not been able to visualize a path for much higher prices grounded in reality, not hope. My old target from 2009 was 1200 on the S&P, and perhaps that can be hit. World trade has recovered considerably. Today's FT online: "Global trade in goods has continued to bounce back rapidly from its huge fall a year ago, with an authoritative index recording the fastest monthly increase in December in its 19-year history. Data from the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, a Dutch research institute, suggest that little permanent damage has been done to the world trading system by the financial crisis."

More: "Richard Baldwin, professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, said that the rapid recovery suggested that it was largely a fall in demand that had caused trade to contract. 'A large part of the fall was the shock to expectations – the ‘Oh my God’ factor,” he said. “Anything postponable largely got postponed.' "

That was my analysis from early 2009 published here at various times - a Panic caused by the beefers in the fall of 2008 led to the huge economic contraction as everythign was deferred. Here's the link to the full FT article ->

By the way, FT is my first read in the morning. Sometimes I read it online the prior evening - many stories are current then as it's ready for the European morning ahead of ours.

Another very interesting article in FT is this one, on similarities - and differences - between quantitative easing in Japan after 2001 and the current Fed adn ECB policies. See ->

Back to the markets, my thinking is a slow slide down this year until around S&P 1000. Jobs numbers stink. The Fed will cease buying mortgages in March. Obama's stimulus plan was crappy and did not work as the Pelosi-Reid crowd wasted it. State governments have huge pain to go through and must but pay and benefits, particularly for retirees. I expect a wave of taxpayer revolts.

The US will recover from all this eventually and do well. But lots of restructuring must be done and Obama is NOT providing any leadership to a stable future. His plans and efforts want to push the US to a proto-fascist swamp where the US economy is run by the EPA and his bureaucrats control and ration the health care of everyone. That's not a "glide path" to optimism. Hence my moderate bearishness.

BUT that opinion and $1 will get you a cup of Joe in most diners or corner coffee shops. Make the $5 for Starbucks, $2 for Dunkin Donuts.

1-2-3 Fund

My April puts are red. Ugh. My original plan was to buy three slugs to go 300% short. I never got the third slug as the market dropped. Now perhaps I can get it. I'll wait for S&P 1120 to improve my average price enough for the added risk. Well .... that's the rationale I'm using to violate my Green-Red rule. This might not work. Rule violations can bring punishment from the market gods.

Word of the Day

"Dolorous" - adjective [$10]
Dolorous means 1. distressing, painful, doleful, dismal; 2. distressed, sad.
Sentence: US state and local governments face a dolorous future: the bubble of easy tax money from capital gains taxes, high income persons and real estate was squandered and is gone. They locked in a huge cost base in employee pay and benefits, particularly retiree benefits. Now they must cut and the squeals from the public sector hogs will be shrill.

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Climate Lies Exposed

Once the dam broke and the raw temperature data was finally released after decades of being hidden, truly independent, unbiased analysis is now being done. A few weeks ago I reported here how Russian scientists reported the Russian data appeared to show great manipulation and maltreatment. What the climate-mongers were doing was tossing out relatively pure rural measurements with long continuity and that were unaffected by urban heat effect, in favor of those very corrupted measurements from urban areas. Weird behavior for honest scientists, no ?

Yesterday I saw a chart of the US raw data, separated by urban and rural locations. See In short, there is NO rural warming since 1950. The urdan data show warming - from all the blacktop, parking lots, roofs and air conditioners in the cities. One would expect an unbiased scientist might adjust urban data to correct for the well-known urban heat island effect. But do the greenie scientists do that ? Noooooooooooo. They adjust the clean rural data to make it agree with the urban corrupted data.

If they were doing this to gold mine data for a stock offering, they would be jailed.

But the greenie scientists are hungry for fame, grant money and tenure. So they lie, manipulate data, attack critics, prevent opposing views from getting published, and on and on. They are co-conspirators with the big greenie institutions to lie their way to getting power over the lives of the common man.


Futures are up a bit, and my speculative put play is going to be underwater a bit more today. I'm wrestling with giving it up, or waiting for Friday's employment number. So far, my thinking is to wait. After all, this was to be an intermediate term speculation as I bought April puts, not March. The Green-Red rule nags at me. I can find excuses for not obeying it, but ....

By the Way

That blog,, is very good (if complex). The writer is a talented theoretical physicist. For you "Black Hole" TV enthusiasts, he also comments on that show occasionally.

Word of the Day

"Panoptical" - adjective [$10]; from "Panoptic" - adjective [$10]
Panoptic means showing or seeing the whole at one view.
Sentence: In my statistics class at MIT's B-shchool, I remember the professor saying that one MUST look at the raw data - do a panoptical study of it - before any adjustments or correlations or phenomena are inferred. If it's not in the raw data, beware. For l'affaire de climat, this panoptical study evinces scientific fraud.