Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday


I love my iPad. This device is the best invention for reading and learning languages since the printing press. As a netbook, the iPad gets you away from the PC and the office chair. The iPad is so portable, yet is very easy to use for typing messages, checking email, and looking at web sites. The iPod function plays music or book CDs or foreign language dialogues. Except for more intensive business work and writing this blog, I almost don't need a PC any more.

The iPad can sit right next to you on a side table or footstool as you read. Then when you come to a $10 word, you can find its meaning with a few taps of the finger with the Dictionary.com app so fast the thought in the book stays in your mind and the word fits right into it. That makes learning and remembering multiples more effective and efficient.

The same applies to foreign language work. Gone is the drudgery and distraction of looking up new vocabulary in the paper dictionary. One can do verb exercises in German or Italian and get the new words almost instantly. This increases your speed many multiples. And by getting the meanings right away, again the distraction and loss of the double E's (effectiveness and efficiency) dissipates: the thoughts can stay in your mind, making you learn faster.

The iPad is almost like a brain implanted dictionary for many languages; it's a 23rd century sci fi dictionary ! If you like to read sophisticated books or learn languages, get an iPad.

Hogs Squealing

The CEO hogs have raised their snouts from the trough long enough to squeal at the new disclosure law for their pay. The recent financial reform law requires corporations to disclose the ratio of CEO pay to the pay of the average employee. According to today's FT, they are screeching that it's a logistical nightmare ? Really ?

Take CEO pay as numerator (N). For denominator, take ratio (D) of payroll to # of employees. Compute N/D. Gosh, that's hard, isn't it ! [Btw, if needed, normalize # of employees by hours worked to a standard 40 hour week.]

What a bunch of liars ! They are using sophistry to try to get out of this. They know the numbers are going to be ugly. Bring it on, I say ! Most CEOs are grossly overpaid hogs at the corporate trough.

Not All Good Ideas are Invented in the USA

It's a simple fact - undeniable - that the unemployment rate in Germany is much less than in the US. German unemployment is about 7.5% and US unemployment is about 9.5%. This is a FACT despite German unions, German national health benefits and the huge number of US part time workers. Thus all the usual canards touted by the Libertarian boomers are wrong by counterexample.

We need to examine the labor, education and health care systems in Germany to see if we can learn from them. Only a fool or a knave would not look hard at this situation as a social experiment in progress. We must learn. IF the USA is to be truly the flexible place we want it to be, let's see what we can learn from the Germans. Think and look outside the box - that's not just a slogan. Do it.


Krypto is waiting for lower prices to buy stocks. Soon ...

Word of the Day

"Desuetude" - noun [$10]
Desuetude means discontinuance from use or exercise.
Sentence: Let's not let the collective public mind continue to wither from desuetude. Engage in the Great Debate with logical vigor !

Monday, August 30, 2010

We Need Bigger Claws

Clawbacks, that is.

Everyone is unduly focusing on the financial sectors as 'the place' where executive clawbacks are needed. A 'clawback' is a return of prior years' pay when later losses occur which are connected to the decisions and situations the person created and was paid for. For example, Chuckie Prince of Citibank got paid hundreds of millions of dollars, yet the assets on the books of Citibank were massively overvalued leading to billions of losses. Ditto Stan O'Neal at Merrill Lynch. Ditto hundreds of traders, bankers and investment bankers.

But for a couple decades we've seen in all industries endless examples of the recurring non-recurring losses, where the executive suite books a few years of great profits, collects big bonuses and stock option gains, then takes a big 'nonrecurring loss'. Of course in the long run (for which the executive suite SHOULD be paid), all gains and loses are both recurring and operating gains and losses. These executive hogs are not even fired for those losses. And the prior CEO, etc., keeps his huge retirement package while the common man employee gets laid off in a restructuring.

This is no long tolerable ! It never should have been tolerated, but was created due to the incestuous, clubby nature of the compensation committees and compensation consultants. CEO pay and that of the entire executive suite is way out of line and needs a massive dose of clawbacks reaching into retirement pay, too.

You can also see one other logical result: stock options are not - never - a proper means of executive pay. They reward short term performance, no matter what the vesting period.

CEO and executive suite pay should be based on earnings (in $, not per share) smoothed by ALL nonrecurring losses (and gains) over at least three years - five is better. And any retirement package should be restricted stock that cannot be sold for at least five years and is subject to clawbacks, too. At least then the CEO will bear the cost for his mistakes as well as the employees. All retirement packages should include only restricted stock issues based on earnings, subject to the clawback.

Limit all cash payments to $1 million per year. That's enough. CEOs are not Dukes or Princes. No special deals for ANYTHING. They have plenty of money - let them pay like the common man for vacation air fares. The US needs a massive dose of populism to improve the moral of the common man. Reform this ruling class in the executive suite, too, along with their DC cousins.

All this follows from the concepts of fraternal libertarianism: regulations and restrictions and controls on the rich and powerful ruling classes, freedom and a strong safety net for the poor and working poor. This is the political barbell strategy that the US needs to adopt.

Fraternal libertarianism is the correct political strategy for the Tea Parties. This strategy and philosophy can let the Tea Parties attract a broad base of support and win general elections.


Krypto await lower prices to buy stocks, and will sell more TIPs on a further rally.

Word of the Day

"Connivance" - noun [$10] and "Connive" - verb, intransitive [$10]
Connive means 1. scheme or plot; 2. to cooperate secretly in an illegal act or wrongful action, collude; 3. to feign ignorance of or fail to take measures against a wrong.
Connivance means 1. the act of conniving; 2. (Law) knowledge of and tacit consent to the commission of an illegal act by another.
Sentence: For decades the connivance of the hogs in the ruling classes, compensation committees and consultants have looted corporations via gluttonous CEO and executive pay packages. Let's get their snouts out of the trough ! Bring out clawbacks for ALL in the ruling class !

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bunkerman Talks Bull

Bull Market, that is.

The portents are starting to appear. Credit cards losses are falling. Mortgage delinquency rates are dropping.

Now is the first time for years that millions of people can refinance their home mortgages and either lower money payments or cut years off their loan maturity by getting a 15 year fixed rate loan for the same or similar payment as their existing 30 year loan. Don't let the endless gloomy talk hide this fact. Sure, unemployment is high and fears are rightly high. But 90% of the labor force is employed and much of the US did NOT go on a home boom-bust roller coaster ride. They can and should be refinance to profit from lifetime low rates.

They are doing that, based on the wave of refinancing applications and the huge backlog there now.

Corporations are doing this, too, by issuing huge amounts of long term, fixed rate debt. This low cost permanent funding will give them a financial base to eventually expand operations. A solid, well funded foundation is being built; a solid foundation can support a big building.

The US economy is going to grow strongly next year. Not this year. The stimulus was squandered by the P-O-R ring and that hive of knaves in DC. Battleship Ben at the Fed, however, is still shelling heavily and he's now eliminating that last bastion of resistance to strong growth: existing high cost debt.

The military analogy is The Battle of Normandy. Weeks of slogging through the hedge rows culminated in a carpet bombing of the last German defenses in Operation Cobra. Those were crushed and First Army broke through. Patton then led Third Army's 'right hook' swept through north central France and the Allies pushed the Germans out of France in one great rush.

Battleship Ben is doing the heavy shelling that is crushing the last line of resistance. In a few months, the battle will be over. The US economy will then have a strong financial base and strong growth can occur. People and firms can takes risks IF their home castles are secure. Low cost, long term financing makes peoples' homes and corporations' finances secure.

Get Ready to Rumble ... Put your Buying Shoes On.

But don't jump the gun. Let the selling peter out. Soon it will be time to buy. Cut back on long term bonds and TIPs to build cash. Some time soon we will have good prices and then Krypto will be buying stocks heavily.

Word of the Day

"Pusillanimous" - adjective [$10]
Pusillanimous means cowardly, faint-hearted.
Sentence: Pusillanimous people cannot be good investors; once must seize opportunities. The maxims are: Sell high, buy low ... and ... Buy low, sell high. Do this asset class by asset class and good, long term returns at low risk will be your reward.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Municipal Bond Freeloaders - A Reprise

Yesterday a commentor again challenged my statement that municipal bondholders get a free ride on the backs of the middle class and the poor. I am therefore reprising my proof from this blog of Friday, June 15, 2007

***beginning of quote***

Wealthy Municipal Bondholders are Free-loaders: A Proof.

I was challenged by a reader on my statement that municipal bondholders are “free-loaders”. Wealthy municipal bond owners do not pay anything for the Federal government. That's not fair. Some say it is fair, as they take a lower interest that helps the states & localities. So I will now prove that it's not fair and they are free-loaders.

One of the appropriate definitions of "fair" is "regular and even" and "impartial" and "just to all parties"

So here's a gedanken experiment - these help work out difficult concepts. Suppose the Federal government wants to raise spending on something worthwhile to all, such as a war on terrorism? And pay for it instead of borrrowing?

They could institute an income tax surcharge like LBJ in the 1960s. This would be a uniform expansion of Federal revenues without any other changes to law.

So all pay their share of what is obviously a benefit to all people.

Uh .... not all --->> municipal bond holders don't pay anything to support such an endeavor. Hence are "free-loaders".

So their not paying any taxes to support the Federal government is obviously not "fair".


Some municipal bond holders pay something - the middle income retiree. The marginal tax rate on incremental municipal bond income for a middle income retiree with $40,000 taxable income about 22%.

This is due to municipal bond income causing more social security to be taxed.

So retirees would be paying for this hypothetical war on terrorism. But not multi-millionaires with $5,000,000 municipal bond income.


Obviously the current tax system exempting municipal bond income is not fair AND wealthy municipal bond holders are free-loaders. This type of gedanken experiment and analysis of effects due to uniform perturbations in systems is how fundamental principals can be determined. Things like laws of conservation of energy, momentum, angular momentum , and ...Unfairness of municipal bond free loaders.

PS: The free-loaders are people ALREADY wealthy, not those high income people working to BECOME wealthy. So that’s double unfair. Free-loaders. Ptui.

***end of quote***

One observation: the entire DC establishment shows its true colors on this issue - it's the green of greed. They are mostly already wealthy so love that municipal bond tax benefit. Both parties want to preserve it, naturally. The Bunkerman tax reform program would tax those people to support the national government, though, via the value added tax. And under Bunkerman's tax reform, the poor and working poor would pay only the value added tax and no income tax. Just like billionaire municipal bondholders. That's fairness.


Mrs. B has told me several times that I use the word, 'so', too much. From this old post, I see she was correct. I know I've cut back, but this old post was a good lesson for me to see how bad I was in the past.

Word of the Day

"Palpable" - adjective [$10]
Palpable means 1. one that can be touched or felt; 2. readily perceived by the senses or mind.
Sentence: The air of greed in DC is palpable to all who pay attention.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box

For all the big talk about doing this, no major figure in the public debate in the US seems to do it, ever. Even the so-called "Think Tanks" don't.

Last year the US was embroiled in a long "debate" on health care. But there was no debate, no presentation of well-argued positions, no evidence for positions was provided. The "debate" had the intellectual content of a football sports bar dialogue over a few beers. The P-O-R crowd hid behind closed doors and wrote a "plan" with the help of the lobbyists. The Rs bloviated against "socialized medicine". Did anyone look around the world for plans or systems that work ... better than what we have ? Nope. France and Germany have workable systems with very, very high public support. Who bothered to assess if all or parts could be applied here ? No one.

Take tax "reform". Does anyone with experience actually doing tax returns provide input ? Nope. All the players are economists and lobbyists who have agendas. Do you realize the US has multiple systems taxing "income" ? [regular income, minimum income, 'earned' income, capital income .. and then the corporate income] Why ? The complexity and unfairness is huge. Potential for favors and corruption are enormous. Dislocations and unfairness abound. Who among the blatherers knows that a retired person making around $35,000 a year can face marginal tax rates in the mid 40% range ? That's more than any billionaire.

Rs say the poor pay little or no tax. They are either stupid of liars. The working poor pay plenty in the form of social security taxes and medicare taxes. Those taxes come off the top, before ANY deductions. The Rs love to talk about the 'employer' payments when they talk about costs: they say it is really paid by the worker. YET they somehow forget that when it comes to assessing how much tax the working poor.

How much tax does a billionaire pay who owns municipal bonds ? Zero. He pays NOTHING for support of old people, for medical care of old people, nothing for national defense, etc. He's a total freeloader. YET who in the DC chattering classes talks about "fairness" in taxing that freeloader ? No one.

Any tax "reform" that does not unify and simply the systems is fraud. A simple, unified income tax at a low rate with a high exemption for the poor PLUS a value added tax would be fair. All would pay something. The value added tax would pay for Social Security AND a unified Shared Health Care Benefit. Taxes would be fair and collect plenty of money. Double taxation and loopholes would cease.

That is thinking outside the box.

Hey DC, read this blog !!!


I sold a bushel of TIPs [Treasury Inflation Protected securities] yesterday at a good price. The proceeds were put into a money fund. Krypto now have lots of cash to buy stocks on this dip. On a further rally in TIPs prices, I will sell more. The TIPs allocation in Krypto Fund is now 7.5%, down from a high of 12.5%. I have done the reduction in two steps, and will cut the allocation to 5% on a further significant move up in the price of TIPs.

My buying of US stocks will begin when the S&P gets closer to 1000. As always, I will buy in stages. Time diversification rules.

Word of the Day

"Obstreperous" - adjective [$10]
Obstreperous means 1. uncontrollably noisy, clamorous; 2. stubbornly defiant, unruly.
Sentence: The Tea Parties need more intellectual content to focus their obstreperous natures in order to expand support to the political center and win major elections - not just primary elections.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fine, Simple Food

I enjoyed some fine dinners in my hometown - the area is developing some wineries and one in particular has a fine restaurant attached. I took some friends there on two occasions, enjoying several varieties of wine ... and the MidWest red meat in the steaks and roast beef ;)

BUT the treat of the week was a lunch with Big Al, Grand Jean and a few colleagues at a special place. It's just a little trailer that looks like a log cabin and is parked on a small lot across from a pizza shop. The food was superb ! The special of the "House" is the "Plowboy" - a scrumptious baked potatoes filed with pulled pork and laden with barbecue sauce and some white sauce. The photo is my Plowboy half eaten (taken with my iPhone).

This food was just excellent - tasty, filling and cheap. The Plowboy costs $5. That's my root beer in the photo, courtesy of Big Al et al. Thanks, guys for a great meal !!!


I plan to sell a bushel of TIPs soon and put the money in cash. I'll buy stocks on a further dip towards S&P 1000 area.

Word of the Day
"Hendiadys" - noun [$10]
Hendiadys means an expression of an idea by two words connected with 'and' instead of one modifying the other [e. g., 'nice and warm' for 'nicely warm']
Sentence: Is Obama better described by the hendiadys, 'sleazy and mendacious' or more compacted as 'sleazily mendacious' or perhaps 'mendaciously sleazy' ?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bunkerman Busts Billionaries ... again

Are modern billionaires just hedonistic, selfish hogs ?

To me, the answer is yes.

I am listening to a CD lecture course on the Italian Renaissance. In Florence in the 14th and 15th centuries, some families gained enormous wealth. What did they do with that wealth ? They commissioned great artists to make beautiful art - much for the public. They commissioned public buildings to celebrate the greatness of ... Florence. Not themselves. Oh, they did want their memory preserved. But they recognized that the way to do that was to do great things for the people.

Florence had regained knowledge of the classics and that knowledge created much social pressure on wealthy persons to do acts of greatness. Aristotle had said in Nichomachean Ethics that regarding money, virtue required magnificence from a person of great wealth: magnificence meant doing great things with the wealth for the public. And "great" meant not just expensive, but wonderful , beautiful, and tasteful. Wealthy Florentines ensured quality both by specifics in the contracts and using committees to hold contests with all great artists permitted to enter. The commissions for art, sculpture, and architecture also paid well, ensuring top creativity and quality.

And it worked. Florence was the flower of the renaissance and its treasures are still recognized as truly great.

Here's a quote from Pericles given by Thucydides about a virtue of the Athenians:

"We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it."

And Athens in the fifth century was a locus of greatness in architecture, knowledge and culture.

Who among the modern mega-rich emulates the magnificence of Andrew Carnegie who donated everything to create libraries in multitudes of small towns in America, including my home town? Following Pericles, his great wealth was quickly used to increase the intellectual capabilities of the entire nation. It was not hoarded in trust or a named foundation to perpetuate the glory of the donor.

Who uses the money for magnificence or to increase knowledge and / or quality of art, sculpture, letters, architecture ? Who does acts of great magnificence for the public ? I can think of none.

Not even the Gates Foundation does acts or deeds of magnificence. Buffet simply gives his money to the Gates Foundation. Hedge fund billionaires mostly build palaces for themselves or buy old paintings. They create nothing new or magnificent.

I've written on this subject before. It vexes me. The public needs to exert social pressure on billionaires to show the classic virtue of magnificence. Social pressure works. If worthless billionaires were ostracized or ignored, perhaps they would get it. And do something great with their great wealth.

Word of the Day

"Hypomania" - noun [$10]
Hypomania means a minor form of mania.
Sentence: A worldwide hypomania of social pressure on billionaires to do something magnificent with their great wealth could make the 21th century a truly great time for mankind. The skills are out there among the people. The wealthy need to hire it to do acts of magnificence.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Distinctions in Christology

Have you ever wondered what makes the Coptic Christian Church different from the Catholic Church ? I mean theologically, not related to power or culture. Or what makes a Methodist different from a Presbyterian ? If so, then the course of The Teaching Company titled, History of Christian Theology, is for you. See http://www.teach12.com/

I have wondered about those distinctions. Reading many, many books on philosophy and history of places and times like the Byzantium Empire and the many empires of the Asian steppes, I ran across $10 and $100 words like hypostasis, monophysite, dyophysite, and even the $10,000 word, miaphysite. The concepts embodied in these words had real influence on history in the transition period from antiquity to late antiquity circa 300-400 AD and also later into the High Middle Ages (1000 AD to 1300 AD). To try to make sense of all this, I listened to the aforementioned CD course and have researched the meanings of those terms in my copy of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions and other reference works. My nascent study of ancient Greek has also helped immensely.

MUCH CONFUSION EXISTS ONLINE AND IN BOOKS AND EVEN DICTIONARIES. This appears to arise from linguistic ignorance and translation confusion. Many languages are involved, such as ancient Greek, Latin, Syrian, Persian, etc.

Below I provide my understanding of these terms ... as of now. As best as possible, I am applying Occam's Razor to these explanations - viz, I keep only what I deem essential to understanding.


A monophysite [$10] holds that there was a single birth with one nature of Christ. The word is made from combining the Greek word, 'monos', meaning alone, only, single, unique, with the Greek word, 'physis', meaning nature, inborn quality. An indisputably monophysite doctrine holds that Christ had a human body and a divine nature: there was a single birth of a human body with one divine nature. Mary is still the Mother of God. The doctrines of Eutychianism and Apollinarianism are indisputable monophysite.


A miaphysite [$10,000] holds that Christ had a human body with a united, conjoined nature, both human and divine, united indivisibly. This concept comes from the writings of St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 AD: "miaphysis tou theou logou sesarkoumenc" as transliterated from ancient Greek meaning "the one nature of God the Incarnate Logos/Word". The word is made from combining the Greek word, 'mia', which is the feminine form for 'one' with the Greek word, 'physis', meaning nature, inborn quality. Further elaborating, the "one nature" was both human and divine at once and never separate. There was one birth with a human body and one united nature (human+divine): Mary is still Mother of God under miaphysitism.

This is the Christology of the Coptic, Ethiopian and Armenian Orthodox Churches. Many, many references exists calling these churches 'monophysite', but they themselves reject the term. The confusion seems to arise from a lack of understanding of ancient Greek and from lifting words out of context. Notice the subtle difference between "one" as a single, unique entity, and a "one" that is a united entity.


A dyophysite [$100] maintains that Christ has two natures: one divine and one human, that are indivisible but separate. There is one human birth with two natures: Mary is Mother of God here, too. "... dyophysite Christology originated in the theology of Antioch (called Nestorians), but became modified as the single person, two perfect natures that are distinguishable (indivisible but separate) (Pope Leo I)." [source: History of the Byzantine State by Ostrogorsky, page 58].. This Christology eventually predominated in the council of Chalcedon (451 AD) and is held by both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The Oriental Orthodox Churches split off from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches after that the Council of Chalcedon.


A Nestorian [$10] holds that there are two distinct persons in Christ - human and divine. Nestorianism holds that Mary gave birth to a human person who was immediately infused with the divine nature. Mary is NOT the Mother of God in this Christology. This Christology is held to derive from Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 (d. 451). His Christology was strongly opposed by Cyril of Alexandria and rejected by the council of Ephesus in 431.

"Henceforth [after Chalcedon], Nestorianism became the label for Christologies that divided the humanities of Christ from his divinity, as if Christ were not one person but a combination of two separately-acting principles or persons." [source: History of Christian Theology, #11, Notes, page 42, para. III(C)(2)]

"The so-called Nestorian Church is the ancient church of the Persian Empire, now most properly called the Church of the East. ... The Nestorian Church expanded away from the dominating West, establishing itself in India and China. " [source: The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, page 692]. Many wives of Mongol khans were Nestorian, which caused those khans to give better treatment to Christians as they conquered much of Asia.

Word of the Day

"Hypostasis" - noun [$10]
Hypostasis means 1. (Medical) an accumulation of fluid or blood in the lower parts of the body or organs under the influence of gravity, in cases of poor circulation; 2. (metaphysics) an underlying substance, as opposed to attributes or that which is unsubstantial; 3. (in Christian theology) a. the person of Christ, combining human and divine natures; b. each of the three person of the Trinity.
Sentence: (A) (classical from Plotinus) "Plotinus spoke of a hierarchy of three divine hypostases: One, Mind and Soul." [from History of Christian Theology, #13, Notes, page 51]. (B) Miaphysite doctrine holds the two natures, human and divine, were united in one hypostasis, never were separate even for a moment.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Waiting ...

Krypto is waiting, but is considering selling TIPs to take that allocation down to 5%. Procceds would go to cash, then stocks once this beefer selling subsides.

The beefers decided to sell yesterday. Why ?

The Fed ? Nope, that just confirmed the obvious, that US economic growth was sluggish.

Unemployment claims numbers have been showing that for many weeks.

The Fed policy change ? Nope, that's a positive, as mortgage refinancing would have severely and quickly contracted the monetary bases from mortgage prepayments. Also, the drop in Treasuries is good. The window for corporations and homeowners to lock in lifetime low interest rates for long term financing is now a big, broad bay window, as wide as a barn door.

These actions will create a strong foundation for a huge new bull market in a couple years, led by the big caps.

So Why ?

Because beefers simply act like a herd now. Some start selling and the quants hop onto the trend. And no real buyers exists at these moderate, middling levels. Heck, almost no real buyers exist anymore anywhere. The Street and beefers and computer traders have driven them all away. It has become pointless to follow market action - all is now simply the transient fluctuations - often large - of beefer funds running computer trading models.

Patient real buyers like Krypto simply sit and wait for lower prices. Then we buy.

Word of the Day

"Ophidian" - noun & adjective [$10]
Ophidian means (noun) a reptile of the suborder Serpentes (formerly Ophidian) comprising snakes; (adjective) 1. of or relating to this suborder; 2. snakelike.
Sentence: The DC Ruling Class has a predominantly ophidian character: they slither and steal and tempt unwary voters with corrupt apples. Boss Ophidian = Barack Obama.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Refinance Now !

I know I am stating the obvious, but even if you have to put a bit of cash in, I urge anyone who can to refinance their home mortgage NOW. If you're a boomer, do a 15 year fixed rate loan and be debt free many years sooner. Rates are down to 4% - an historic lifetime opportunity.

The Fed is back to buying long term Treasury notes and bonds.

The US Treasury should be issuing these notes & bonds in large amounts. This will improve the US liability structure and spread out future refinancings.

US corporations should be issuing long term bonds, too, in large amounts. Corporate balance sheets can read levels of stability not seen since the 1950s.

The public should NOT be buying long term bonds or annuities. Wait.

Longer term, this historic opportunity to fund ... everything ... with long term, low cost funds will create a huge new bull market in a few years ... or sooner.


I will monitor the prices of TIPs and may cut back my allocation there soon.

Word of the Day

"Hypo-" - prefix [$10] before vowel or 'h', usu. "Hyp-"
Hypo- means 1. under (hypodermic); 2. below normal (hypoxia); 3. slightly (hypomania); 4. (chemistry) containing an element combined in low valence (hypochlorous).
Sentence: Prolonged exposure to cold, wet conditions can cause hypothermia, which is a body temperature below 95F.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Here is my dog, Sky, with a toy by the begonias. He has been winning some sheep herding events lately.

Nothing much is happening. The summer rally might have a bit more to go.

Obama's shine has worn off, even in Europe. Privately, many Europeans now think he's a fool. [their word].

That phony, high pay job for Mrs. Obama was a clue - it was a payoff by the Chicago ruling class to support him while he was groomed for higher office. Once he moved up, they eliminated the postion. The sleaze is everywhere.

Word of the Day

"Concision" - noun [$10]
Concision means (esp. of literary style) the quality or state of being concise; conciseness.
Sentence: Bman provides voter instructions with concision: Vote only for honest candidates.

Monday, August 9, 2010

End the Sleaze Now

The very highly paid CEO of HP resigned last Friday, as he was caught doing something unethical - viz., he seems to have caused HP to pay a "contractor" for work not performed. Guess what ? The "contractor" is a beautiful blonde lady, part-time actress. She claims no hanky panky was involved, but it really doesn't matter if Herr Hurd scored or was just trying to. He cheated the company.

Here is a ultra wealth member of the Ruling Class, caught as so many of them have done and are doing. Cheating on life. Recent ethics charges against Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, who are long term members of the DC ruling class, show another side of the rackets of all these ruling class knaves. [aside: can a woman be a "knave" or is that a male term ? Knavette sounds dumb, so I'll use knave as a gender-neutral term.]

Example of gross unfairness: Hurd keeps his huge, multimillion severance pay. If a midlevel person had done that, do you think that person would get 1 cent in severance ?

A congressman loses an election .. and goes on to become a $5 million a year lobbyist. [e. g., Tom Daschle]. CEOs love to cut pay for workers at all levels ... EXCEPT the top.

The Republicans seem to be in the pocket of the corporate ruling class. They now stupidly talk about cutting corporate taxes. Remarkably out of touch with reality on the streets, no ?

The Democrats seem to be in the pocket of the DC ruling class, public employee unions and trial lawyers. They defend pay and benefits for public employees far in excess of the private sector, who are the taxpayers supporting the government.

What is to be done ?

First, vote for only honest candidates (assuming you can find one).

Second, Americans need to look around the world and perhaps learn something from other nations who have come through crisis. Germany was leveled in WW II. Now it's rather prosperous, and has done much better than the US in recovering from this downturn. Why ? We must stop being myopic. We like to make fun of other nations for not adopting some of our ideas & culture. Why should we not adopt ideas of other nations that are proven to work ?

Third, apply social pressure. Why don't we ostracize CEOs, corporate people who are needlessly & ruthlessly laying off workers ? Why not demonstrate (and support demonstrations) against them ? Expose them for their tyranny.

Fourth, speak out. Write reasoned comments to online articles. Join some organizations. A great American cultural trait is voluntarism - joining organizations and pitching in to help. Do something yourself besides griping. If many people do it, it can make a huge difference.

Word of the Day

"Percipient" - adjective and noun [$10]
Percipient means (adjective) 1. able to perceive, conscious; 2. discerning, observant; (noun) a person who perceives, esp. something outside the range of senses.
Sentence: Americans need to be more percipient in two ways: (I) recognizing sleaze in the Ruling Class, and (II) recognizing that what works well in other nations might work well here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Got a New IPad

I just bought it yesterday and I like it a lot so far. Apple sure does a good job in both selling a quality product and helping one get good use out of it. I bought the fancy model with max storage, WiFi and 3G to the max. It's unlikely I'll ever use all the capabilities, but the extra costs were small so why limit myself ?

A guy at the Apple store helped me set it up - I even downloaded my first "app" there - ever. I chose a good Polish-English dictionary from Collins. It downloaded fast. This morning I downloaded six more language dictionaries: German, Latin, Italian, French, Greek and Spanish. I now have a small, good electronic dictionary for all those languages and don't have to carry the books around from room to room, or while traveling. Cool. Just like I saw on a science fiction show about 15 years ago. Amazing !

I think some dictionaries also have speaking examples - I'll have to check those out next. And I think my iPhone can use them, too. Ultra-cool.

Two Problems: for some reason, the wireless connection to my router is very slow. Odd. I saw some complaints of that online. I switched to the 3G connection and all went fast.

Second: American Express. These darned credit card companies really try to put "fraud detection" onto us. After a few purchases at Apple, Amex put a hold on my card, so I had to call them clear it up. You can be sure I expressed by dissatisfaction forcefully. Whether that gets passed on to the masters, who knows. It has worked on some cards.

Oh well, so far this device is doing just what I wanted and I'm very satisfied.

Word of the Day

"Estaminet" - noun [$10] from French
Estaminet means a small French cafe, etc. selling alcoholic drinks.
Sentence: Imagine Bman, sitting in an estaminet in Paris with his iPad, reading le Figaro and sipping some cognac. Ahhh ...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Public Employee Pay & Benefits

The leading issue for cutting the cost of government will be public employee pay and benefits. Today's WSJ story about the outrage and shock over exposure of ludicrous pay levels in some California cities and towns is simply a starting gun being heard.

From the WSJ: "LOS ANGELES—The state controller on Wednesday ordered that all California cities post employee salaries on a central website, the latest reaction to revelations that a tiny city south of Los Angeles was paying its city manager nearly $800,000."

"The upheaval over salaries in Bell has had an outsize impact, city managers and activists say, prompting residents around the country to demand salary information about their city officials. "

The secrecy of these pay & benefit levels has permitted them to grow and grow for decades until now they far exceed those available in the private sector.

I remember in the 1980s when a strikes by the subway workers and the railroad workers were threatened or occurred. Nowhere in the press was compensation levels discussed. Why ? Because both management and labor wanted it secret, to hide the gross overpayment at all levels. Fare increases were imposed on the working poor, while the employees got more gravy and cushy benefits.

This is a new battleground and the fights will be long and protracted.

Word of the Day

"Ponce" - noun & verb [$10] British slang.
Ponce means (noun) 1. a man who lives off a prostitute's earnings, a pimp; 2. (offensive) a homosexual, an effeminate man; (verb) to act as a ponce. Ponce about means to move about effeminately or ineffectively.
Poncey (adjective, also poncy) means to act in the sense of #2 of ponce.
Sentence: Watching US network TV, one gets the impression the world is littered with ponces of both meanings.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Small Business Lending

The press in the US and UK runs stories about a dearth in small business lending. I have no doubt such exists. Too many anecdotal stories add up to a problem, and where else could one find out about problems in obtaining loans from ... lots of small businesses.

Why ?

The answer is obvious. The mega banks and super regional banks are sucking all the deposits of the people to fund Wall Street trading operations. Or they fund purchases of securities. We know that Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JP Morgan control about 40% of deposits. Do you suppose they make 40% of the small business loans ? No way. The same applies to the big regional banks.

For three decades the big fish have been eating the small fish to get bigger & bigger. Big banks have bought hundreds or thousands of small banks to get their deposits. Do they keep open small town loan offices. Nope.

The government's Small Business loan program does help ... A LOT. Recently one of my companies sold a property to its current operator. Where did he get the loan ? From a small bank via an SBA loan.

The answer to all this is so simple. Break up the big banks ... AND the super regionals. Or put a MUCH LOWER cap on their deposits, net of small business or home loans. This would force them to either forego those deposits or make loans using them.

See how easy it truly is to solve problems for the people, once one gets away of the DC racketeers and knaves.

Word of the Day

"Perihelion" - noun [$10] (plural - perihelia or perihelions) A Mencken Word
Perihelion means the point in the orbit of a planet, comet, etc. at which it is closest to the sun. (Opposite - aphelion)
Sentence: (From The Impossible H. L. Mencken, page 415) "If it has its perihelions of triumph and gloriy, it also has its nadirs of defeat and despair."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Zzzz + more

I overslept, so no post today.

Krypto didn't - she ran the model & has a weak signal for an order to sell some emerging markets. On a further stock rally, she will have more sell orders. I choose to wait a bit, at least until she barks at me or grabs my pant leg.

Word of the Day

"Refectory" - noun [$10]
Refectory means a room used for communal meals, esp. in a monastery or college.
"Refectory table" - noun [$10]
Refectory table means a long, narrow table.
Sentence: At an investment bank where I worked in the 1980s, officers used to have lunch at a few refectory tables in a dining room high above Broad Street. The venue was good for exchanging ideas and building camaraderie, and a willingness to work together. Perhaps Congress should institute this ?

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Glance at a Chart

Over the weekend in Barron's I glanced at it charts for the Dow Jones Industrials. My take was that over the past few months the DJIA has formed a ragged Head & Shoulders bottom. And that a breakout occurred early last week and retest of the rough neckline happened near the end of the week. The potential rally is back to the Spring highs, viz. DJIA 1130 or so. The neck-shoulder line is upward sloping, hence a bit more bullish.

Interest Rates seem very weak - they are already very, very low. The public is buying bonds. Pension funds are likely having trouble making assumed rates of returns. If you need 8% total return, and bonds give you only 5%, then what do you do ?

Krypto Fund is balanced now - no near term buying or selling planned.

Business Ethics - An Oxymoron Now ?

Examples a nefarious behavior by companies and big business seem endlessly recurring. The WSJ has a story about buildings of developments putting in covenants requiring a 1% fee paid to them on any sales for 99 years ! What greed !

And the WSJ reports that Microsoft intentionally has made its Explorer software open to companies wanting to track the web surfing activities of people. In other words, spy on people. Why ? To sell to advertisers.

Germany has nearly recovered ALL the jobs lost in the recession. I guess they are doing something right. I wonder what it is ? It can't all be due to bribing third world governments to buy German equipment.

More than a few business practices seem rather insidious. I guess all those B-school courses on ethics were given to deaf ears.

Sigh ... and hiring people for a real job is no longer a good thing in the eyes of government. It's an opening for them to tax one and investigate one. No wonder employers are reluctant to hire.

Word of the Day

"Homiletic" - adjective & noun [$10] and "Homily" - noun [$10]
Homily means 1. a sermon; 2. a tedious, moralizing discourse.
Homiletic means (adjective) of homilies; (noun, usu. in plural) the art of preaching.
Sentence: A homiletic discourse from the Bman: There must be something in the Bible related to selling a quality product at a fair price, and not cheating or selling shoddy goods. Why or why can't business just to that ? There's only so much money one can make on a product until the moral line is crossed. Credit card companies crossed that line eons ago. Microsoft has, too. And homebuilders. I feel like Lot looking for one good man in Sodom. I suppose I'm overreacting, but the examples keep coming.

By the way, in the "put one's money where one's mouth is", early this summer I paid a big fee/commission to a fellow whom I could have easily stiffed. But that would have been wrong. So I paid without him even asking. It was the right thing to do.