Friday, May 28, 2010

Remembering ...

Monday is Memorial Day - first called Decoration Day as it spontaneously began when many, many women went out in May 1866 to decorate the graves of the Civil war dead. The time was approximately one year after the parade of the Grand Army in Washington DC to celebrate the Union victory. This day now commemorates all US war dead - those who fell in preserving the nation and freedom. Lincoln's Gettysburg address captures the sentiment perfectly. He modeled parts of it after the Funeral Oration of Pericles, given about 2,300 years before. Here are the words of Abraham Lincoln - they are worth re-reading out loud.

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

***end quote***

Think a bit about the meaning of this on Monday at that BBQ. And fly the flag.

Word of the Day

"Viand" - noun [$10] formal
Viand means 1. an article of food; 2. (in plural) provisions, victuals.
Sentence: As we verily savor our BBD'd viands on Memorial Day, let us remember those for whom the holiday was made to remember - the nation's war dead - whose sacrifices have preserved this nation and our freedom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fixed. Gotta go All Mac.

The past few days I've been fixing some problems with Windows on this computer, which runs Vista. My modus operandi is to buy a computer with what I need on it pre-installed, then not change it. That works rather well, BUT when Windows induces problems, it doesn't.

When I bought this computer from Dell about three years ago, Dell offered a pre-installed MacAfee antivirus program. So I figured, that should be safe, & I bought it.


[That's a grade, not a curse]

The MacAfee antivirus did not work - caused crashes. I called MacAfee and was told to do a complex process to fix it. I told them to "bleep" themselves and got a refund.

Of course Windows is a defective product by nature, requiring an antivirus program. I turned to ZoneAlarm, which I have on my three other computers that run Windows XP. I bought the ZoneAlarm product that was "supposed" to run on Windows Vista. It worked a while, but then I started having strange "blue screen of death" crashes. Eventually I traced them to the ZoneAlarm product.

I uninstalled it and put Windows OneCare on the computer. That worked fine, BUT Microsoft stopped supporting it a couple weeks ago. Nice. Only a monopolist can act so imperiously to customers. I needed a new antivirus program.

I bought ZoneAlarm again, figuring that over the intervening years, they had fixed it. And even Microsoft said it worked.


A few days after installing it, I got another "blue screen of death" crash.

Sooooooooooooo ... I uninstalled it again and put on "Microsoft Security Essentials", which is a free antivirus from Microsoft. It's really the antivirus program that was in Windows OneCare, but without the other features like backup, etc.

So far, so good.

You can tell that I'm sick of Microsoft and their absolutely abysmal operating system, Windows.

I'm NEVER going to buy another computer that runs Windows only. My plan now is to buy an Apple iPad in a few months, then learn how to use it. Once I do that, I'll replace this computer with a new Mac. And then, I'll start using Apple's "MobileMe" that unifies those two to my iPhone. I've subscribed to it for a few years, but never learned how to use it. All that has to change.

I expect to be All Mac, All the Time by the fall.


Doing nothing. Krypto has some cash left, but futures are up strongly this AM. That's OK. Trying to be perfect in stock investing is a fool's game. Good enough is fine.

Word of the Day

"Verisimilitude" - noun [$10]
Verisimilitude means 1. the appearance or semblance of being real or true; 2. a statement that appears true.
Sentence: Windows' verisimilitude of being a well-constructed operating system collapses with use. The program is a p. o. s. riddled with bugs and it induces many problems that the Microsoft should be liable for, but naturally they can hide behind their licensing agreement.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Whither Now ?


Yesterday's ringing rejection of sub 10,000 territory of the Dow seems likely, barring new "news", to be an intermediate term bottom. The bears found few US sellers lower and upon that miss, buyers - short covering and nibblers following this blog's recent moves ;) - ran the table.

Euro-fears still abound but what else is knew ... or different from what has already been experienced ? The world seems OK except for Korea. European companies can still make plenty of money selling goods in the US and in the emerging markets. Obviously the Euro is now dead for a decade as a reserve currency. That realization simply means that perception matches reality. This site exposed the delusion of the near-term idea of the Euro getting that status months ago.

Fears of the dollar losing its position in the world - so prevalent late last year - are now shown to be the silly blather that this site called them at the time.


Why is North Korea so bold now compared to a year ago ?

The answer is Barry's big mouth. Barry (aka Obama) changed US nuclear policy recently to state the US will not use nuclear weapons first. Sure, he added some qualifiers, but who believes those ? Not Kim Jong Il.

If North Korea attacks the South, Barry will have been the enabler.


A famous quote from T. S. Eliot is "We had the experience, but missed the meaning ... "

That seems likely coming true in the derivatives regulation fight in DC - at least it applies to Barney Frank. What makes a bank "Too Big to Fail " ? The answer is the counterparty risks. What are the biggest of those other than mostly overnight trades ? Derivatives.

Derivatives can persist for years and extend to all other financial institutions. Breaking that link is absolutely crucial to prevent one firm from dragging down the rest. Ring-fencing a bank's derivatives operations would do that. Barney the Boob wants to cut that part from the bill. That's simply foolish and exemplifies the T. S. Eliot quote.

Word of the Day

"Aporia" - noun [$10]
Aporia means 1. Rhetorical. an expression of doubt; 2. a doubtful matter; a perplexing difficulty.
Sentence: [T. S. Eliot quoted in "The Cambridge Companion of T. S. Eliot", page 48] "the old aporia of Authority v. Individual Judgement". That phrase uses aporia in the sense of "a perplexing difficulty". Fraternal Libertarianism resolves that aporia by limiting regulation and Authority to be used only on (not by) the ruling classes (aka the rich & powerful).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Heavy Shelling ...

The Euro-beefers are bailing out, hence the severe weakness in the AM futures markets. I think yesterday's very late, massive sell-off was the precursor to the today's AM drop off. I'd guess the Street had the orders in already or knew that Euro-beefers were being liquidated, so used the firmness yesterday to front-run the moves at the close.

Of course, since all participants [except the common man investor] have learned to recognize signs of computer order floods, and to climb the trees to safety at first sight, the swings are much larger and faster than an orderly market would normally have. For all the blather about "liquidity" provided by computer trading, is it not NOW obvious to all that such "liquidity" is a phantom, and is NOT there when needed ?!

Get rid of ALL computer trading EXCEPT within very narrow market windows of time and price.

The knaves at the SEC won't do that, though. They care NOTHING for the common man investors. All they want to to line up a job with fat pay at the Street or the Street's law firms after leaving government.


Waiting. Krypto has plenty of cash to redeploy. She did a LOT of selling as the market approached the recent highs - I posted them all. Notice that UNLESS one does selling on the way up, one will not have cash to buy on big plunges. You really do have to buy low, sell high AND sell high to buy low. It will take a good bit more drop to trigger Krypto's buy programs again. Just sitting & waiting.

Mrs. B has a bit more more cash to redeploy, too. No ideas in mind for now, though. Lolol, I think she is the only buyer at her local broker's office lately.

Word of the Day

"Apophasis" - noun [$100] Rhetorical
Apophasis means denial of one's intention to speak of a subject that is at the same time named or insinuated, as "I shall not mention Caesar's avarice, nor his cunning, nor his morality."
Sentence: In modern political dialog, one often hears examples of apophasis as a way to smear an opponent with negative or even false accusations, while seeming or purporting to be clean.

[From Greek, ap'opha(nai) - to say no, deny]

Monday, May 24, 2010


First, what is a Statesman ? A dictionary definition will not do. Instead, I turn to that given in a CD lecture course to which I recently listened, viz., A History of Freedom taught by J. Prof. Rufus Fears. He is an excellent lecturer and the course is offered by The Teaching Company. See

A true statesman can be easily distinguished from a mere politician or national leader. A statesman has a bedrock of principals, a moral compass, vision and the ability to build a consensus to achieve that vision.

Winston Churchill was a statesman. In my opinion, so was Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush was not; neither was George H. W. Bush. And it's rather obvious that Barack Obama is not, despite the attempt to canonize him with the Nobel Peace Prize.

The world obviously has some big problems: excessive debt and radical Islamic groups.

Debt is a claim on future resources. Too many people and nations have borrowed too much money and promised to pay with resources in the future. And too many wealthy people and nations with trade surpluses have lent that money instead of spending it now, either on tangible investments or on currently offered goods & services. The debt problem is a two edged sword. The borrower has a problem and the lender has a problem when the risk of repayment grows.

Both sides need to recognize that and deal with it. BUT what world leader today is talking about it seriously ? None. They mouth platitudes about "cuts" and "imbalances", merely dancing around the issue. China needs to stop piling up dollars and SPEND the dollars it earns on goods and services. Wealthy investors need to spend the money - buy stuff. Stop trying to make more money. Do something with their wealth.

And then there is radical Islam. That is a problem in the Islamic world and the rest of the world. Radical Islam wants to turn the clock back to the 11th century and marginalize half the human race (viz. all women). The rest of the world does not, and is mostly happy with current social systems. And guess who would win a war ? The rest of the world CAN crush radical Islam like a bug. This is a problem for places like Saudi Arabia and Iran. They talk big about their version of Islam, but militarily are a zero. Ditto Iran. IF they push too far they will be crushed.

A real world statesman would say this bluntly. Of course none are saying it. European leaders hide like ostriches as do US leaders. I will make conditional prediction. IF world statesmen do not deal with this, AND a large successful terrorist strike occurs, the worst type of leadership will get traction and the world risks a turn back to the early 20th century: major wars and genocides. Not a good outcome for anyone.


On Friday at the close, Krypto bought more US, Pacific and Emerging Market stocks. Mrs. B bought CLF around 3PM. She preferred CLF over BHP and FCX. Both BHP and FCX have country risks and are often acquirors. CLF has little country risk, has pulled back more and is more likely to be acquired, not make a major cash acquisition.

Word of the Day

"Apostatize" - verb, intransitive [$10]
Apostatize means to renounce a former belief, adherence, etc.
Sentence: Radical, fundamental Islam is not consistent with a modern, free society as it enslaves women. The long term choice for any person now holding those beliefs is to move to an isolated nation like Saudi Arabia or apostatize.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I must be jaded after living through the past three years. The screeches of panic just don't affect me any more. I lived through the Crash of 1987, the Panic of 2008 and then the grinding fall to the lows in March 2009. This latest "panic" seems just stupid. To me, it's another sign of too much money sloshing in trading hedge funds. For a few months they loaded up on resource stocks, tech and some big industrials. Now they all sell at once on "fear" (reportedly). Of what ? Most likely, on the fear their management fees for the year to date will be lost.

Sigh ...

It's good to have a dog running my Krypto Fund. My dog, Krypto, is unaffected by all this bloviation and blather. She only understands a few words of American and simply invests by the numbers. I'll run Krypto's model this AM to see if she has any orders. A week has past since the last actions, so it's time to re-look.

Mrs. B seems ready to buy some stocks now. If she does, I'll post it.

Otherwise, it's a beautiful day here and I'll likely take a long walk.


My study of ancient Greek are going well. I think I'll be able to become roughly literate in it in a couple years, but I will, of course, be dictionary-dependent. Once ancient Greek gets onto a solid footing, I'll re-start by general language program.


The Senate passed the financial reform bill. I suppose the head DC knave, Harry Ried, just could not resist playing some political games as he refused to let votes come up on some good amendments, viz., those of McCain and Cantwell. The sleaze is DC is so manifest: the Augean stables were pristine compared to DC.

Word of the Day

"Repine" - verb, intransitive [$10]
Repine means to be discontented or low in spirits; complain or fret; 2. to yearn after something,
Sentence: Bunkerman repines for a few honest leaders to be elected in November for DC.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Movie

Last night we watched a very enjoyable movie - Tremors. It's a humorous spoof about a remote desert community finding itself invaded by huge, carnivorous underground creatures [named "Graboids" by the townspeople] that are inferred to have arisn by radiation induced mutations. What's really fun about the show is the character, Bert Gummer, who's a skilled survivalist living with his equally competent wife in a ... bunker.

Here's some info about the character of Bert Gummer:

We enjoyed the TV series that came from the movie when it was repeated on the Science Fiction channel a few years ago. The monsters are a bit like the giant worms from the book, Dune, but smaller. The show (movie or series) is a hilarious parody of sci fi monsters, survivalists, country/western characters, rowdy blue collar workers, scientists, and government bureaucrats - lolol, maybe it's a parody of everyone.

If you want to have a some fun and can put ourself in a silly frame of mind, try it.

And when you see Bert & Mrs. Bert and their bunker, think of moi et ma femme - me and my wife. [a joke]

One thing ... my bunker has much better concealment and terrain cover than Bert's.


Krypto is still salivating, but is patient. Mrs. B is nonchalantly patient.

Word of the Day

"Imbricate" - verb, transitive and intransitive [$10]
Imbricate means arrange (leaves, scales of fish, etc.), or to be arranged so as to overlap like roof tiles.
Sentence: Roman legionaries had good body armor: steel greaves and helmet, chain mail shirts and sometimes steel plates imbricated with wire to form flexible covering for the chest and back.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Germany Leading ...

in putting the financial markets back to reality. Germany acted alone, why ? I'd guess they are sick and tired of the platitudes and theoretical baloney bantered about in London and the US at the behest of hedge funds and the Street, mostly by people getting paid by, or in the pocket of those same parties.

FT: "... The euro fell to a fresh four-year low overnight as traders were spooked by news that Germany was banning ‘naked’ short-selling – selling securities such as shares and bonds that are not owned or borrowed – of some banks’ stocks and bonds. This provided a deadly compound for the market to swallow ... "

Oh woe !!! Traders can't sell shares they don't own or haven't borrowed.


Thank you, Germany, for showing some reason and leadership.

And "Germany is also prohibiting investors from buying credit-default swaps on sovereign debt unless they own the underlying bonds. "

GOOD !!! That ban should be worldwide and apply to all credit default swaps.


How STUPID is the SEC ? Their report on the "flash crash" say ETFs got hit hardest. Why ? That's because the market makers can do naked shorts on ETFs. So when e-minis go down a lot, the market makers who might not be able to do naked shorts on stocks in the S&P 500, can do them on ETFs. So they dumped them.

Ban ALL naked shorts by ANYONE, including market makers.


The sleazy politician, Arlen Specter, was defeated. Excellent !

Richard Blumenthal, the current Connecticut Attorney General and a candidate for the US Senate, lied about serving in Vietnam. That is a particularly despicable lie and proves he is a knave. We don't need more knaves in the US Senate.


Krypto is salivating, awaiting a chance to buy more stocks at good prices. But having feasted last Friday, she will wait at least one week. One must diversify over time, too.

Word of the Day

"Bricole" - noun [$100]; - verb [$1000] obsolete, rare.
"Bricolage" - noun [$100] from bricole.
Bricole means (noun) 1. (from Billiards) a shot in which the cue ball strikes a cushion after touching the object ball and before hitting the carom ball; 2. an indirect action or unexpected stroke; 3. an ancient military engine or catapult for throwing stones or bolts; (verb) to cause to rebound, to pass a ball, toss it sideways.
Bricolage means a pattern or collection of the bricoles or the results of bricoles.
Sentence: (A) (from "How to Live: A Life of Montaigne" by Sarah Bakewell, p 242) "In the city, as with his book, he [Montaigne] thought creative bricolage and imperfection preferable to sterile orderliness, and took pleasure in contemplating the result." (B) The bricole that Germany provided last evening to financial markets overnight - by imposing a ban on naked short selling of government debt and putting some restriction on some credit default swaps - is causing some volatiliy this morning.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yes !!!

Great news in today's WSJ !

***quote follows***

A Guilt-Free Hamburger

Maybe that juicy steak you ordered isn't a heart-attack-on-a-plate after all.

A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that the heart risk long associated with red meat comes mostly from processed varieties such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts—and not from steak, hamburgers and other non-processed cuts.

The finding is surprising because both types of red meat are high in saturated fat, a substance believed to be partly responsible for the increased risk of heart disease. But the new study raises the possibility that when it comes to meat, at least, the real bad actor may be salt. Processed meats generally have about four times the amount of salt then unprocessed meats.

In a report that pooled data from 20 different studies from around the world, the researchers found that daily consumption of about two ounces of processed meat was associated with a 42% increased risk of heart disease and a 19% heightened chance of diabetes. By contrast, a four-ounce daily serving of red meat from beef, hamburger, pork, lamb or game wasn't linked to any increased risk of heart disease. There was, however, a small, but statistically insignificant risk of diabetes. ...

***quote ends***

I'm looking forward to a fine black Angus hamburger today, fried in olive oil, with pickles and Valveeta cheese..

But ... sighhhh ... I guess Spam comes out poorly, as does my wonderful European sausage. Guess I have to keep the amounts of those that I eat down.


That study exposes a major composite fallacy in much public health, diet and even climate dialogue - the combination of Secundum Quid, aka Hasty Generalization, and Argumentum ad Verecundium, the inappropriate appeal to experts.

Far too often, results of poorly designed research studies which do not properly segment major differences in the object of the study (food types, people) are propagated as Truth incarnate for policy. Yet they are simply wrong in their conclusions. As this more thorough study shows.

Eat some red meat ... and hold the salt.

Word of the Day

"Recension" - noun [$10]
Recension means 1. the revision of a text; 2. a particular form or version of a text resulting from such revision.
Sentence: I gleefully await the recension of dietary recommendations that will include more red meat - steaks and unsalted hamburgers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Failures of Obama

Today's news is littered with specific examples of the failures of Obama's economic policies. It is now about 15 months AFTER the passage of the purported "stimulus bill" of the Obama-Pelosi-Ried axis . That is plenty of time for all lags in its effects. And what so we see ? Nothing but a whimpering economy with huge numbers of unemployed and underemployed people, scrapping to find or create work. Now there's nothing wrong with that - that shows the nobility of the American people, their work ethic and the entrepreneurial spirit.

BUT for spending almost $1 trillion, one would expect - demand - solid successes. What does the US have to show for that $1 trillion ? Almost nothing. Why ? Because it was frittered away and wasted on the politically favored. Do we have new rail networks being built or refurbished to save energy and provided infrastructure to move people and exports goods ? Nope. What about America's ports ? Are they getting infrastructure support ? Nope. How about high speed Internet for help our people become more globally connected ? Nope. A modernized air traffic control system ? Nope. The tale of lost opportunities is endless.

Here are a few examples from the WSJ of proof that Obama is a cluster FUBAR for the American people:

Joblessness Hits the Pulpit
More Churches Lay Off Clergy as Donations Drop; Few Get Severance Benefits

States' Tax Collections Falter, Widening Budget Gaps
April tax collections are falling short of forecasts and even dropping below last year's depressed levels in a number of states, complicating budget troubles and prompting some governors to dip into rainy-day funds. Following several months of modest improvement, the weak April revenue numbers are disappointing for states that hoped for economic recovery soon.

Census Takers Provide Early Snapshot of U.S.
Many of Bureau's Workers Hold Advanced Degrees, Showing State of Economy
... Thanks to double-digit unemployment and battered retirement plans, unusually high numbers of people with advanced degrees and top-level management experience have applied for temporary census jobs, many of which pay $10 to $25 an hour depending on level and location.

Auction Highlights a Drop in U.S. Capacity
MOBILE, Ala.—The slow unraveling of a piece of the U.S. economy was visible last week on the waterfront of this port city as much of what was left of Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. went on the auction block. More than 2,500 "lots" were laid out on the floor of one of Bender's faded buildings and on the ground outside. Items ranging from bundles of chain hoists to a 700-ton machine for bending steel girders were up for sale. ... Sitting on a giant metal valve slated for auction, he said he worries that if more shipbuilders like him go out of business, he'll have a harder time getting the supplies he needs. "The guy who's making this," he said, rapping his knuckles on the valve. "I don't know where he's going to be" if there aren't enough customers.

So what to do ?

The Tea parties seems to be successful in targeting some incuments, BUT to me they might be being co-opted by big mouth demagogues with foolish conspiratorial ideas. The people's misdirected anger is frittering away the opportunity of a generation for real change. In the anger of the 1970s was born the tax cut movement and Ronald Reagan. What do we see now ? Tea party people in partnership with socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont in attacking the Federal Reserve. Shades of the old John Birch Society villain list - the CFR. Sheesh, good people are being duped too easily, perhaps from not knowing enough history.

A couple HS friends and I are starting a new not-for-profit corporation to try to re-direct the energy of the American people to more productive, positive efforts. I'll write more later when the entity is officially formed. To me, it's self-evident that the wealth of America is our own people; what we have and do with our current human, economic and physical assets will determine our future. There is no magic bullet or free lunch ... or free money from DC. We have what we do and make by ourselves. Period.


On Friday Krypto bought her first slug of stocks (US, Europe and Emerging market index funds) with money from selling some TIPS. Now, patience. On significant further declines, Krypto will buy more from TIP sales.

Sky intends to buy some CLF soon. It's pulled back a lot and being an American company, does not have the risks inherent in BHP or FCX. Also, it is more likely a takeover target, not an acquiror.

Word of the Day

"Refractory" - adjective and noun [$10]
Refractory means (adjective) 1. stubborn, unmanageable, rebellious; 2. a. (of a wound, disease, etc.) not yielding to treatment; 2. b. (of a person, etc.) resistant to infection; 2. c. (of a substance) hard to use or work; (noun) a substance especially resistant to corrosion, heat, etc.
Sentence: Pundits are now calling America's employment problem a refractory, long term problem; but that's just foolish when no real efforts have been made and more anti-jobs government taxes and mandates are still being imposed.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Ms. Market seems to be tired and recovering from the hangover of the exuberance of Monday. Krypto has many buy orders in US stocks, European stocks & Emerging Market stocks. And Sky has one for a resource stock. I'll swing that bat upon a reasonable pullback.


Pelosi put on a fig leaf to try to cover up the House looting of the public on travel expenses. But she's gotten caught, as today's WSJ story shows. The Senate hasn't even done that. I guess they still underestimate public anger. I hope the anger holds and the bums get tossed out. And hope that the public elects honest alternatives, not just another big mouth.

Word of the Day

"Redound" - verb, intransitive [$10] a very old one from the card file - must date to high school.
Redound means (A) to lead to a usu. unplanned end as if by an inevitable flow of consequences; (B) 1. to have an effect; 2. to return, recoil; 3. to contribute, accrue.
Sentence: Let's hope the voter anger redounds to a more honest Congress this November.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I've been wrestling with what will be my focus for the next three months - that is, besides bashing beefers (aka big, evil funds).

First, at the prodding of Mrs. B, an old high school teacher and my readings from the ancient world, I will start to learn ancient Greek. That will complete my language program to truly cover ALL the major languages of Europe and European history. I have one advantage - I already know the Greek alphabet from my physics training.

Second, I will start an intensive program in German. My German has languished as the beginner study materials available are a bit inferior to those available for the other languages. BUT I think with an intensive effort, I can overcome that and move my German to the next level, where the study materials are quite good.

Third is GREASE. I am making this the summer of the Half-track. A local friend & I will finish the brakes and suspension spring check-out. We have one track brake to adjust properly, which involves removal and re-installation of a 400 lb. track. After that, the rest is easy. Then I'll clean the spark plugs and fire it up. The half-track will roll again !!! Photos to be posted when it does.

A 3G summer should be fun.


Market were up again, frustrating me. Doing nothing, have cash to reinvest.

Word of the Day

"Pertinacious" - adjective [$10]; "Pertinacity" - noun [$10]
Pertinacious means stubborn, persistent, obstinent (in a course of action).
Pertinacity means the quality of being pertinacious.
Sentence: Bunkerman hopes the "tea party" movement has pertinacity in finding honest candidates who will reduce the size of government.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Failures in Government

Today's papers illustrate that government in the US at both the Federal and local levels has moved further into fantasy land.

On the local level, read this one from the FT: "Health campaigners have opened up another front in the battle against childhood obesity after a California county prepared to approve a ban on the use of toys and gifts to sell fast-food meals. ... Ken Yeager, the county supervisor who introduced the latest measure, told the Financial Times the ban was a “tool to combat the skyrocketing rate of childhood obesity”."

Why stop at fast food ? Candy, etc. to follow ? No more baseball cards in bubble gum. No more toys in Cracker-Jacks. Heck, they will probably ban Animal Crackers, too.

Why not just seize all children at birth and put them in state-run clinics where they can be properly indoctrinated into agents of state policy ? Where does one draw the line there ?

Here's another example of arbitrary government from the WSJ: "When officials at New York Stock Exchange parent NYSE Euronext and the Nasdaq Stock Market's owner Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. decided last week to cancel certain transactions made during Thursday's market tumult, they drew a sharp dividing line. On one side stood investors allowed to cash in on the trade of a lifetime. On the other side were people who narrowly missed. Now some are speaking out against the exchanges' decision, which they say was arbitrary and has served to undermine confidence in the markets."

Who can say they aren't correct ? The order cancellations WERE arbitrary. Why a cut-off at 60% ? That's a HUGE change. Why not 10% ? I'd guess the SEC/Exchanges want to protect the "market makers", letting as many trades go through as possible.

The SEC/Exchanges (except NYSE) really don't care about investors. All they want to do is preserve the vig for the Street and the big money boys.

We need people with a clear philosophy of fairness to INVESTORS and who want market to serve INVESTORS, not the Street or big money traders. But all we have now are people who want their next job to be a high paying one with the likes of Goug'em Sachs or its law firms.

Sigh ...

We need to clean out the stables full of manure that is DC.


None yet. Krypto wants lower prices to swing her bat.

Word of the Day

"Gimcrack" - noun & adjective [$10]
Gimcrack means (adjective) showy but flimsy & worthless; (noun) a cheap, showy ornament, a knickknack.
Sentence: All I expect from the SECto the latest market disaster in another gimcrack response to be announced in a big press conference with soothing, but meaningless words.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Unplug the Machines. II.

An article in today's Wall Street Journal online makes the situation last Thursday clear: it was a catastrophe perfectly preventable and precisely caused by excessive use of machines for trading. And it was caused by Wall Street firms and the big hedge funds. "Real" investors had nothing to do with it.

***A few quotes from the WSJ follow***

Did a Big Bet Help Trigger 'Black Swan' Stock Swoon?

On any other day, this $7.5 million trade for 50,000 options contracts might have briefly hurt stock prices, though not caused much of a ripple. But coming on a day when all varieties of financial markets were deeply unsettled, the trade may have played a key role in the stock-market collapse just 20 minutes later.

The trade by Universa, a hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of "Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable," led traders on the other side of the transaction—including Barclays Capital, the brokerage arm of British bank Barclays PLC—to do their own selling to offset some of the risk, according to traders in Chicago.

Then, as the market fell, those declines are likely to have forced even more "hedging" sales, creating a tsunami of pressure that spread to nearly all parts of the market.

The tidal wave of selling fed into a market already on edge about the economy in Europe. As the selling spread, a blast of orders appears to have jarred the flow of data going into brokerage firms, such as Barclays Capital, according to people familiar with the matter.

Exchanges, in turn, were clogged by huge volumes of offers to buy and sell stocks, say traders and exchange executives. Even before some individual stocks collapsed to just a penny a share, data from the NYSE Euronext's electronic Arca exchange started to appear questionable, say traders.


"It did point out that there is a structural flaw," said Gus Sauter, chief investment officer at Vanguard Group. "We have to think through how you preserve the immediacy and yet preserve the liquidity."

The episode highlights a bigger question about the stock market. In recent years, the market has grown exponentially faster and more diverse. Stock trading's main venue is no longer the New York Stock Exchange but rather computer servers run by companies as far afield as Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; and Red Bank, N.J.

This diversity has made stock-trading cheaper, a plus for both institutional and individual investors. It has also made it more unruly and difficult to ensure an orderly market. Today that responsibility falls largely on a group of high-frequency traders who make up an estimated two-thirds of stock-market volume. These for-profit hedge funds look out for their own investors' interests and not those of investors in the stocks they trade.

***end of quotes***

It's simple. Whenever the market (or individual stock) moves past a precise limit, unplug the machines. Make people make the decisions. Expose orders widely to everyone and give PEOPLE time to think. In these situation, liquidity is irrelevant. Fairness matters a lot more.

If this sounds like the OLD NYSE order imbalance mechanism, then you're right. Bring it back and enforce it on ALL markets.

The market is for investors, not computer traders. They come last.


I deferred Krypto's orders as yesterday gave no good buy points. The futures are down today, to it's likely I'll buy Krypto's buys today.

Word of the Day

"Kakistocracy" - noun [$100]
Kakistocracy means government by the worst person; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power.
Sentence: Al Capone's Chicago was a 20th century example of a small kakistocracy that was not ideologically driven. But modern DC seems moving towards a venal kakistocracy where its ruling classes are interested only in their own money and power, not the good of the nation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Unplug the Machines

The solution to avoid ANY more crack-ups in the markets is so simple and pure that, of course, the SEC and Congress will not do it. This potential for a disaster has been talked to death for almost 25 years since the crash of 1987.

Thursday's meltdown appears to have been purely machine driven as they took over the markets: trading algorithms, rapid-fire trading, program trades ... on and on. They moved so fast that no one had time to make rational decisions. And we all know that the "selling" was largely naked short selling by hedge funds and market makers. You know very well they did not have borrows in place. That famous "market maker" exception - that's the same fig leaf Goldman Sachs hides behind for a lot of its deceptive trades.

Sigh ... 25 years of building trouble and no one listens or does anything. That's the power of money. Wall Street and hedge fund money has bought the markets for their own playground. The seller ? The SEC, which dithers for years doing ... nothing.

The solution ?

Unplug the machines. Not permanently, as in stable markets they provide good liquidity benefits in stable or slowly drifting markets. Unplug them whenever stock has fallen (or risen) 2% or a major average has fallen (or risen) 2% from the prior day's close. Let people handle those trades. And enforce trading halts nationwide. And extend them to options and futures markets. AND to derivatives. AND "dark pools". Apply them to ALL broker-dealers for ANY trades.

I don't care if "market makers" have a tougher time. That's their problem. If they want to sell options and can't "hedge", just charge more for the risk.

I don't care if electronic exchanges have trouble and lose business. That's tough - they simply do not work fairly in rapid markets. Force all trades in fast, unstable markets onto the NYSE.

More: no short selling when a stock is down 2%. No naked shorts by ANYONE including market makers AND ETFs. And for ANY short sale not from the broker's in-house holdings, I think a borrow should be pre-arranged.

No more ETFs backed by derivatives. And get rid of the ones that exist now. The markets should be brought back to REALITY from the phantom zone.


I spent a few days in my hometown last week. What a fine place to live ! Uh .. that is, if one has a good job. Unemployment is very high and I'd guess "underemployment" is stunning. A cousin had me over for a BBQ - ahhhh ... the pleasures of burgers, baked beans and beer ! And a taco salad for multicultural diversity.

And then ... Big Al had a BBQ and produced a culinary masterpiece: grilled spam burgers with cheese. Mon dieu ... c'est magnifique !!!


Krypto has many buy orders for me, as does Sky. I will do them sometime today, likely not at the open as futures indicate a huge up day on the news of the Euro-EU stabilization package. Krypto wants me to sell TIPs, and cash and buy European, Emerging market and US. Sky wants me to re-buy some resource stocks (these will be one or all of BHP, FCX and CLF).

By the way, I closed Fido Fund as a separate fund and now put those stocks in the Sky Fund, run by my fine herding dog, Sky, as directed by whistle commands from Mrs. B.

More ... Sky placed 6th and 7th in the weekend's sheep herding trials in northern New Hampshire. This was Mrs. B's (near) debut as a handler and she did very well, of course. Krypto was a bit of a goofball, but she's a beginner.

Book of the Week

The Grass Crown, by Colleen McCullough is the follow-on book to The First Man in Rome. This very fine historical novel combines good writing with solid research to produce an engaging and enjoyable story of the rise of Sulla to power in Rome. And it puts "meat" onto the dry historical accounts of the 100 years destruction of the Roman Republic. By who ? Easy ... the rich and powerful in the Senate did it by their lust for money and power. Too few had old fashioned integrity or any sense of fairness.

The Grass Crown is superb - if you are interested in Rome, read it.

Word of the Day

"Retradition" - noun [$1000] (rare)
Retradition means the action of handing back.
Sentence: Financial markets need the retradition of ALL trading in fast or unstable markets back to the NYSE where humans can stop the machines from causing disasters.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Off to Ohio

I'm off to my hometown in Ohio until Friday evening. Next post will be Monday, May 10.

I hope Sulla (=Barry = Obama) and the rest of the DC racketeers don't mess up the world too much in the interim without my guidance ;)

Enjoy the week !

Traders: make money !

Uh ... that only applies to natural people, not hedge funds ;)