Saturday, February 28, 2009

Waste Management


Let's be adults about this. The topic is human waste management. The NYT article presents an interesting alternative to the sewage system treatment plant that we are familiar with.

Like it or not, this is the future. It might not happen in our lifetimes but its still going to happen.

The old farmhouse that we bought has a commode that must use enough water to irrigate an acre in summer, in one flush. The new European design commode is soon to make its appearance here. I suspect my water bill will be cut by about 60 to 70%.

NYT: Yellow Is the New Green
...after a decent period of storage and composting, be applied to the fields as pathogen-free, expense-free fertilizer.

Toilets can use up to 30 percent of a household’s water supply.

Hitchcock - "The Kind Waitress"

Ugly Wall Flowers


I am spending the afternoon removing old wallpaper.

Old wallpaper is equally as scary as a conservative convention with Gingrich and Santorum except in a more personal or micro type of way. Both throw a dark and gloomy pallor on a potentially vibrant experience or environment.

Here's what I am doing.

- score the wall with a weird little wallpaper perforation palm held tool, costs a couple of bucks.

- spritz the wall with Dif wallpaper removing liquid. I spritz with a flower mister.

- scrape off the paper with a wallpaper scraper. The alliteration is free.

- repeat steps 1 through 3 because it doesn't work the first time, sucker.

- clean up the mess, and try again tomorrow because you can't finish a regular room in an afternoon, not even close.

Hoping He Fails

Rick Santorum in his own words -

Obama Weekly Address

I tried to post Obama's weekly address and had some technical difficulties.

The clip was on an automatic play mode that I couldn't fish out of the embed code. So every time you load the page, the clip automatically starts playing. That's a drag.

Until I figure out how to stop the automatic play from happening, here's the link.

Weekly Address

Negative Feedback Loop


Financial journalists are predicting that next week will continue with losses in the DOW and S&P.

More data on jobs and banks showing how the economy is contracting is due to come out.

So buck up, relax over the weekend, stay positive and afloat, we will all get through this economic hail storm. As they say, its a time to count one's blessings. In truth it always is.

Reuters: Banks and economy to keep bears' grip on stocks
"It unfortunately appears that the same issues creating the contraction in the economy -- that being job losses and (home) foreclosures -- are the same issues impacting banks' balance sheets," said Dean Curnutt, president of Macro Risk Advisors in New York. "There's a real unfortunate feedback loop here."

Doodled

Add doodling to the things to do list.

A doodle - "a rough drawing made absentmindedly."

Yahoo: Take Note: Doodling Can Help Memory
...test subjects who doodled while listening to a recorded message had a 29 percent better recall of the message's details than those who didn't doodle.

Tell Republicans That Americans Won't Take No For An Answer

"Hackensack"

John Coltrane & Stan Getz

Friday, February 27, 2009

Holy Cripees


Good god, the numbers are gaudy. Its the quality of the numbers that we are talking about.

Numbers like 1980, 1975, 1971, these are the numbers that our eroding economy is starting to resemble.

Reuters: U.S. economy plummets
- ...deepest contraction since early 1982 in the fourth quarter...

- ...hammered U.S. stocks to 12-year lows.

- ...consumer spending...dropped at a 4.3 percent rate in the fourth quarter, the biggest decline since the second quarter of 1980.

- Exports...tumbled at a 23.6 percent annual rate, the steepest plunge since 1971.

- ...business investment fell at a 21.1 percent rate, the largest drop since 1975...

30 Rock

Larry King and Financial Crisis

Ultra Pessimistic Outlook

Reviewing the various MSM Bush-recession articles out there, I ran into this ultra-pessimistic outlook by Robert Prechter.

Simply stated, he predicts a Bear Market for years. He predicts companies will continue to shrink and consequently stocks will continue to fall.

Today the DOW lost 119 and the S&P lost almost 18. The DOW is about to lower into the 6000 area. From this perspective the 8000's of only a few weeks ago looked good.

Reuters: Stocks bear market has years to run: Prechter
...Prechter said, the S&P index could fall by half from these levels over the long term...

"The market is still overvalued, one reason being that companies continue to lower earnings."

"It's a deflationary environment. Safe cash equivalents are still where you want to be," he said. "I am still in favor of (U.S.) T-bills," he said. "The dollar bull market has more to run. That is one reason to hold them."

Global Economic Instability

As the economy shrinks in the USA, the rest of the countries of the world are experiencing equal or worse.

The economic instability is feared to potentially lead to political instability. In a world replete with terrorism, a deeper unspoken fear is that the final result of worsening economies would lead to the worst case governance of those countries.

What a mess...

The CIA is well versed in such matters. A simple trip to their website will give you lengthy data on the economies of all the countries.

McClatchy: CIA begins briefing Obama on global economic crisis
...growing concern that the global financial meltdown could topple governments or lead to sharp swerves in the foreign policies of hard-hit nations.

CNN - GM's Mounting Losses

You know, its not like the writing was not on the wall. It was the disdain of the Bush administration for anything involving vision, intellect, and progress, coupled with alternative energy that maintained the dinosaur that is GM. They are now imploding from their own internal lack of vision. If they are bailed out further, and its likely they will be, the primary clause needs to be - fire the management and bring in a new team with fresh ideas and determination that does not work hand in hand with big oil to no longer produce a line of distressingly poor cars and begin producing the type of cars that we need at this point in time.

The Market On Friday

In good times, the release of important economic data and company results bolsters the markets. This is the Bull Market.

Today there will be another round of harsh information for Wall Street to manage. The only good news seems to be that investors get it. They now know what to expect. The most important information right now, from Wall Street's point of view, seems to be the fluidity or lack of fluidity within the banking system.

There are signs that inter bank lending is ever so slightly easing. This is because the Fed which has taken over as the primary lender of paper currency is lending slightly less of it each successive week for the last few weeks.

Reuters: Index futures point to mixed Wall St open
Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 5.4 percent annualized pace of contraction (GDP) compared with a 3.8 percent contraction rate in the advance (first) estimate.

"Bossa Nova Guitar"

Romero Lubambo - guitarist

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nikkei Opens Flat On Friday

We know the story, jobless claims at a record high, poor housing market, businesses are "contracting" with orders for goods diminishing, and credit is stuck but possibly ever so mildly and lightly improving. The pharmaceutical industry is also starting to show its fierce and vicious claws, Obama is on its do not call list.

We are keeping our eyes wide open and as soon as we have a tiny break, it will be in the headlines.

Reuters: Nikkei flat as profit worry hit drugmakers, yen helps

No Health Care For You

Wall Street is fuming over Obama's plans to make health care more affordable. This includes stopping drug companies from keeping you away from generic, less expensive drugs. Obama wants you to be able to afford the cost of beneficial medicines.

In short: Obama - bad, Drug company profits - good.

Consequently Wall St took a dip today as everybody was feverishly working to dump their pharmaceutical portfolios or at least some of it.

The DOW lost 88, the S&P lost 12 but if you were invested in energy, you got a little boost. The price of oil took a tiny jump up.

Reuters: Health sector losses take Wall Street lower
The Obama plan to expand healthcare coverage and curb costs calls for cutting Medicare payments to private insurers, allowing consumers to buy cheaper medicines and preventing drug companies from making deals that block generic competition.

Clean Coal

Stimulus Is Up And Running

I like the part about the money that is going out to make government buildings more energy efficient, this includes public housing.

McClatchy: February 25, 2009 - Stimulus cash going out; heavy web traffic watching
Over the next couple weeks, you will also see money becoming available in food stamps, unemployment insurance, low-income housing tax credits, law enforcement grants, transportation funding and a variety of other areas..."

Hated

This is amusing.

After Limbaugh convenes this summit, he might move onto other subjects. For example, a summit on why he is a complete and utter idiot.

The Republican Party - when they need answers, they go get them...

Think Progress: Limbaugh To Convene A ‘Female Summit’ To Figure Out Why Women Hate Him

CNN - What Recession

The Market On Thursday

There will be a wave of new economic indicators and data coming out today along with Obama's first budget proposal - this is for 2010.

There isn't much in this information that speaks of improvement. The economy is shrinking and the worst aspect of this entire mess, unemployment, is not slowing.

In spite of all this, I personally think Obama is doing a good job of instilling a positive tone. I think the message to hang in there and stay tuned, alert, and positive is mixing with the texture of the country.

Reuters: Stock index futures point to higher Wall Street open
Weekly jobless data.... is expected to stay flat at 625,000 new claims.

Live In Murcia 2008

Yoshida Brothers

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nikkei Opens Higher On Thursday

After Obama's "State Of The Union" last night, there is a sense or perhaps its a feeling that efforts are being made to satiate the recession. We are just beginning to open our eyes to its dimensions.

Obama gets high marks simply for maintaining a determined and optimistic tone within his rhetoric. The country is starved for positive rhetoric. Recall how Bush spent 8 years pushing fear.

Reuters: Nikkei rises 1.3 pct as yen helps, Nissan jumps

Comparing Homosexuality To Murder

We have all types of people in our world, to say the least. This is hardly anything new or unusual.

I find it interesting to listen to the Christian fundamentalists because their decision making processes are based on the literal reading of the Bible, or at least sections of the Bible. In this context, the Bible does not have anything that is symbolic, it is a verbatim transcription of god's words to humanity. To the fundamentalist Christian this is not questioned but simply forms the underpinning of all following logical constructs.

Here Scott Renfroe of Colorado, lays out a similarly constructed logic which equates homosexuality to murder.

There is a question that I have been pondering lately. It has to do with what circumstances need to arise for a person to change in the direction of being unconditionally compassionate. Each person has a particular key, I suspect, unfortunately it comes from tragedy. This gains them access into a different frame of mind.

This is an old idea but as we grow older its meaning becomes more and more ripe and fuller.

The Monster Re-Awakens


The DOW dropped 80 and the S&P 8. The DOW at one point was even up a tad, we couldn't levitate it over and no body English would do the trick to keep it up.

Nobody is buying the supply of houses. This is of course a state by state, area by area problem. Averaging the whole deal out, the numbers look anemic. Las Vegas has taken the lead over Detroit as the country's most empty, as in empty buildings, city. Think about that, Detroit, its a ghost town.

One little complaint - we are sick of this headline ending tag - "falls on economic woes"

Reuters: Wall Street falls on economic woes
Sales of previously owned U.S. homes plunged much more than expected January...

Texas Sex Ed - The Horror Continues

Keeping the neurosis growing and growing...

McClatchy: Report critical of sex education in Texas schools
The overwhelming majority of Texas schools use scare tactics and spread myths in place of teaching basic sex and health information that students can use to protect themselves and others, according to a report released Wednesday by watchdog group Texas Freedom Network.

David Brooks On Bobby Jindal

Amazing!

Road Bump Energy

I love this. Its about energy right under our noses that we have ignored.

This is truly smart.

GreenEnergyTV: MIT Students harness energy from Bumps in the Road
...the students invented a shock absorber that harnesses energy from small bumps in the road, generating electricity while it smoothes the ride more effectively than conventional shocks. The students hope to initially find customers among companies that operate large fleets of heavy vehicles.

CNN - Earmarks Are Back

The Market On Wednesday

How about that Bobby Jindal infomercial. The guy took an interesting tack, I have nothing to complain about right now because Republicans are responsible for the mess we are in so I'm going to tell the world about me me me and what a great all-American guy I am. His delivery was a little, crappy. He needs to rehearse with his handlers better because right now he sounds very phony.

Obama is trying. His message sounds the same from his basic stump speech during the nomination process. He's trying to engage everyone and he is doing a reasonable job as chief cheerleader.

Solar panels, wind energy, and alternative fuels here we come, but not quite yet. People will need to actually have some money before investing in such highly costly things.

We got the message, no bank nationalization act, for better or for worse.

Reuters: Stock futures point to mixed open for Wall Street
First Solar shares slid after the closing bell on Tuesday after the designer and manufacturer of solar modules said the short-term outlook for the solar industry has never looked more difficult.

"Jai Ete Au Bal"

Dewey Balfa

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nikkei Opens Higher On Wednesday

No surprise here with a strong day of gains on Wall St. The Nikkei usually falls in line on the grander days.

But tomorrow is another day.

Reuters: Nikkei rises 1.6 percent on yen, government stock buy hopes

Obama Nails It

Three major points:

- Energy

- Health Care

- Education

It sounded good. Obama is easy on the ears, nary a discordant pronunciation.

The man is a breath taking leader. It was enjoyable to get the tone of conciliation and unity. He really tries to promote harmony.

Its hard to imagine Wall Street liking what he said tonight. But tomorrow its time to really look at energy consumption, solar, and all that.

I will listen to the Republican rebuttal. This should be interesting. That's one hard act to follow.

Stall Foreclosure

I like this.

It occurred to somebody that in order for the "bank" to foreclose they need to produce a note saying who owns the mortgage.

Most mortgages were bundled up and sold and resold as securities all over the world. Good luck trying to find that note and who actually owns the house.

**** - four stars - Sande

Gitmo Acquittal

Close Gitmo.

Have the trials in American courts. America can withstand it.

Eliminate the Bush-neocon "enemy combatant" category.

Gulf News: Paris court acquits 5 former Guantanamo detainees
A Paris appeals court has acquitted five former inmates of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, earlier convicted in France on terrorism-related charges

Respite Tuesday

The monster decided to sleep today. After devouring securities like they were rice cakes, he was satiated and slept. We can safely unlock our doors till Wednesday morning.

Wall Street had a itty bitty run today with the DOW gaining 236 points and the S&P gaining almost 30 points. When investors see incredibly sturdy and well established companies with stocks at below bargain basement prices, they go shopping.

They say its all because of Bernacke's 10 a.m. speech in which he spoke of non nationalization and a potentially long recovery.

Reuters: Wall Street rises as Bernanke eases bank fears

Week To Weak

Bernacke has spoken.

The answer to the question is maybe yes and maybe no.

He sees a way out of the recession sooner but it might be later and longer. In a nutshell his words were sober, hopeful, and pot shot accurate.

Reuters: Bernanke fears recession could extend to 2010
"If actions taken by the administration, the Congress, and the Federal Reserve are successful in restoring some measure of financial stability -- and only if that is the case, in my view -- there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession will end in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year of recovery," he said.

CNN - Clooney On Darfur

The Market On Tuesday

The patient has severe chicken pox and the little boils are beginning to erupt.

We are part way through this miserable economic fragmentation, I think we are right in the middle of it, right in the middle of the severe storm.

Obama will try to calm the country's frayed nerves tonight in a 9 p.m. speech. People will be listening intently.

But Bernacke will be talking about remedies at 10 a.m. and investors will be listening for details.

Its a tough time and I wish everyone calm, patience, and a larger sense of contentment. I've spoken with people who are severely depressed about this economy so don't forget to value your families, friends, own lives, all of the most important things.

Reuters: Stock futures point to mixed Wall Street open
President Barack Obama will deliver his first address to Congress at 9 p.m. EST, when he will try to reassure Americans about what he's doing, and what else he plans to do to rescue the financial system and pull the country out of recession.

"Heard It Through The Grapevine"

Creedence Clearwater Revival - excellent groove.

Monday, February 23, 2009

No Anger For You

Temper, temper.

Its almost impossible to get through a day without getting anger - check that, an hour - check that, a minute.

Well it turns out that for certain individuals, anger can be lethal.

Reuters: Anger really can kill you: study
"It says yes, anger really does impact the heart's electrical system in very specific ways that can lead to sudden death," she said.

But she cautioned against extrapolating the results to people with normal hearts. "How anger and stress may impact people whose hearts are normal is likely very different from how it may impact the heart which has structural abnormalities," she said.

Nikkei Opens Lower On Tuesday

Help! Help!

Its like we are on the Titanic, we know its going down, and we can't get out.

All bets are off, retirements are off, money is not what it used to be.

We need to remain in the present, focused and content, yet our money and finances need to warp ahead 2 or 3 years. We need an economic Time Machine.

Reuters: Nikkei falls 1.5 pct after banking woes hit Wall St
The broader Topix shed 1.3 percent to 725.46. It posted a 25-year closing low for the second day in a row on Monday.

Abysmal Market

After another day like today, the DOW will be in the 6000s.

At 3:30 we are down about 200 points and no stimulus or bank bailout plan is having any traction. We are in a tight spot, but its important to not get completely caught up in day to day results.

Bloomberg: U.S. Stocks Fall, Sending Market Below Lowest Close Since 1997
The S&P 500 has fallen almost 17 percent in 2009, the worst start to a year on record...

Forecasters Economic Prediction Poll

Among the deluge of bad economic news, its nice to highlight one report that predicts positive changes occurring in the second half of 09.

At this point, its worth taking everything we read with a grain of salt. Tragedy sells, but it could be that with so much tragedy, positive future forecasting sells better.

Reuters: U.S. economy seen starting recovery in second half of '09: poll
"The good news is that economic activity is expected to turn up in the second half of the year and 2010 is expected to see modestly above-trend growth of 3.1 percent," Varvares said.

CNN - Spain's Solar Cemetery

Slumdog Millionaire - Trailer

The Market On Monday

The big news appears to be a planned change in the stake the US government has in Citibank. Its bank bailout 2, not nationalized but something.
The New York Times reported on its website that the plan being contemplated at Citi could pave the way for similar moves at other big banks. source
The plan involves changing the governments preferred Citi stock into common stock. So even though the government AKA U.S. taxpayer, will own a substantial part of the bank, it is not being viewed as nationalizing the bank, and therefor investors are pleased. Citi stock will be diluted but not wiped out and futures are up on the news.

Reuters: Stock futures point to rebound on Citi relief
The Wall Street Journal said the government, by converting a big chunk of the $45 billion of preferred shares it bought last year in an attempt to stabilize Citigroup, could end up owning as much as 40 percent of the bank's common equity.

"Whippin' Post"

Frank Zappa

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Child Abuse And Stress

Fascinating article on a link between child abuse and the way those that have suffered abuse react to stress as adults.

BBC: Child abuse 'alters stress gene'
Abuse in early childhood permanently alters how the brain reacts to stress, a Canadian study suggests.

"The exciting thing about epigenetic alterations is that they are potentially reversible, and thus perhaps a future target for therapeutic intervention.

Nikkei Opens Lower On Monday

So exactly why do investors fear nationalizing banks:
Investors are concerned that if the government takes control of troubled banks, shares in these companies will become worthless.

"Well if you're an investor -- with all this talk of nationalizing banks -- if you're a shareholder in xyz bank, the fear is if it gets nationalized your stock goes to zero," said Art Cashin Jr., managing director at UBS Financial Services. source
They are afraid their stock will be worthless.

Allow me to say something incredibly stupid right. Investors are worried that the government will nationalize banks and so this is reflected in the market indexes going down. The result of market indexes going down is that right now stock prices for several of the world's largest banks are practically worthless.

In other words, investors' fear of nationalizing banks is causing the market to fall and banks stocks are now practically worthless. Yet if banks are nationalized, these same investors are afraid that the stocks will be worthless.

OK is it just me but this makes no sense. They are getting the same result either way i.e. the stocks are worthless. Now one might think that you would want a rise in stock value to offset a fear of nationalizing banks.

Reuters: Nikkei falls 1.4 pct after Wall St hit by bank fears

CNN - Schwarzenegger Backs Stimulus

Economic Cavalry

One might suspect given the content of this article, that mortgage rates might be comng down a bit more in the near future.

That's the good news.

Other than that, these guys have laid out all kinds of plans over the past few months that have gotten practically no traction, or the slide is so severe that the fed has slowed it to slightly less than severe.

So, all ears will be on Geithner and Bernacke this week to listen to what the next trick is in the proverbial economic fix tool kit.

I think we are in for a long week. At least there is an emotional tone of concern in the media.

Reuters: Bernanke to reassure help is coming for economy
Even so, the Fed remains busy behind the scenes and is counting on two massive programs to help spur consumer lending and stir some revival in the depressed housing market.

In one of these, the central bank has begun buying up to $600 billion worth of debt and mortgage securities backed by government-related mortgage finance providers, a program that has helped drive down mortgage costs.

In the other, the Fed is poised to throw a life-line to consumers with an initiative aimed at making it easier to get loans for homes, cars and on credit cards that could be up and running within a couple weeks.

CNN - Could Nationalization Help?

Bank of Stress


The government will be putting large banks under a "stress" test to see if they can withstand the severe economic climate.

On Friday Obama stated that there will be no nationalization of banks that are close to failing although we suspect many have failed and are not reporting the damage accurately.

The thought is that in spite of Obama's statement, there may very well be some banks that are brought under national control perhaps just temporarily.

There are no details given here about what the "stress" test is.

This particular angle of the recession, banking, is the most salient point regarding the direction of the market in the upcoming week. If investors like the plan that Geithner provides, then we could see a small rally. Right now particularly after last week where we quickly plummeted through the 7000s in the DOW and we are on the verge of the 6000s, my own personal optimism is heavily dampened.

The magnitude of the recession is emerging in its horrid totality and we must remember that this recession is experienced even more aggressively in other parts of the world.

Reuters: U.S. bank stress tests to show capital needs: source
The lack of detail in Geithner's bank plan, particularly about a $500 billion to $1 trillion public-private fund to soak up toxic assets, has fueled investor concerns that bank takeovers could become an option.

Rameau - "Platée, La Folie !"

There is an exceptional series of video recordings of Rameau's work on youtube.

I will post all of them in time.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hitchcock - "Invitation To An Accident"

Are Generals Disputing Iraq Pullout?

A clip from McClatchy on the state of Iraq as viewed by the military generals and Obama. We have war managers with conflicting ideas.

McClatchy: Are generals disputing Iraq pullout?

Banked

Investors are interested in one thing, OK maybe two things, but right now, one thing.

They want to know specific details about how the government is going to bail out failing banks. According to the finance articles, this is the key.

How these details come forward or do not come forward next week, will probably determine the direction of the market.

Reuters: Bank rescue details key to stave off bears
We don't care about anything but bank details at this point," said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital hedge fund in San Francisco. "It's all about bank details and a bank rescue."

Classic Conan

Obama - Weekly Address

Tax Cuts

Allegedly 95% of Americans will have a reduction in their taxes. and this going to happen relatively soon.

We'll take it.

The main problem is that so many have lost their jobs and will lose their jobs. Its still about job creation.

Reuters: Obama tells Treasury to begin cutting taxes
"I'm pleased to announce that this morning the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks, meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

"Reise Reise from Volkerball"

Rammstein - These guys are big in Germany. Remind me of Marilyn Manson in that the music is horrible but the spectacle is amazing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bottomless

Both Soros and Volcker are publicly talking about the depth of the recession.

The tone of MSM economic articles are far more severe lately. The predictions are about the most bleak that I've seen.

Reuters: Soros sees no bottom for world financial "collapse"
"We witnessed the collapse of the financial system," Soros said at a Columbia University dinner. "It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."

"I don't remember any time, maybe even in the Great Depression, when things went down quite so fast, quite so uniformly around the world," Volcker said.

About What Time

We are starting to breakdown the stimulus bill because there are two questions we are all asking - how does this affect me, and how does this affect me.

And oh yeah, when does the great recession start to recede.

So the breakdowns are coming through. Most of the money will come into the economy in a year or even later. Some tax breaks kick in relatively soon.

Like it or not, its on the way.

McClatchy: Stimulus will flow rapidly to some projects, trickle to others
Spending on contracts takes more time, however. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 23 percent of the stimulus will be spent before Sept. 30, and that a total of 74 percent of the $787 billion will be out a year later.

The (Neighborhood Stabilization Program) gives state and local governments funds to buy and redevelop foreclosed properties to stem neighborhood abandonment and blight.

The stimulus bill includes provisions that will send the money out quickly, and a Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, a seven-member panel appointed by Obama, will oversee federal agencies' use of the funds. Its findings will be posted at the official government recovery Web site.

Pining Away

The numbers are gaudy. Its just a short trip to the DOW in the 6000 range.

Obama's financial plans are not getting any traction on Wall St.

Obama has also announced - White House says supports private banking system.

So, contrary to what we have been reading about and what many have suggested, there will be no nationalization of banks.

Reuters: Wall St slides as bank uncertainty lingers
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 100.28 points, or 1.34 percent, to 7,365.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 8.89 points, or 1.14 percent, to 770.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 1.59 points, or 0.11 percent, at 1,441.23.
GM is clearly facing an identity crisis.

The company's stock is about as flat as a pancake. We suspect the Hummer sales might be a tad off...

Yahoo: GM shares hit 74-year low
...$1.82...

Recession and Divorce

CNN - U.S. Hands Over Base To Iraqis

Reuters News Clips

The Market On Friday

If you thought a 60% unrealized gain was hard to look at, get ready for 70%.

A longtime devotee of Wall St explained to me on Thursday that Wall St and the stock market will in fact improve. So as we go through this recession day by day and comment on the vast array of problems, we have to keep in mind that at some point there will positive news.

Think of it as a very long and protracted head cold remembering that it will get better.

Reuters: Futures point to lower Wall Street opening
At 8:30 a.m. EST, the Labor Department releases the January Consumer Price Index (CPI). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a median 0.5 percent drop compared with a 0.8 percent fall in December.

"You Are My Sunshine"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

21 Grams

Nikkei Opens Lower On Friday

Right now neither the Nikkei nor Wall Street futures have any relevance in understanding the market's daily potential.

At present we are sinking and the DOW in the 6000s is just around the corner. Hopefully we won't go there, but who knows. The talking heads and news article interviewees for the most part have been completely wrong.

Nobody on Wall St. liked anything that Obama offered and signed into law, so there we have it. Let them eat moldy bread...

Reuters: Nikkei down as techs, banks, Bridgestone drag

Recession Repercussions

We saw this coming.

As the economy tightens, as money dries up in poor and middle class families, some people will be resorting to crime. Robbery is on the rise.

Keep your head up and eyes open.

The other half of the equation is that as city and state governments go belly up, crime stopping infrastructure will get cut as well.

So the equation looks like this - more crime, less crime prevention, and less justice.

I have to admit that when I first saw this headline, I assumed they were talking about corporate crime which as we know is way beyond what any petty thief can possibly do.

McClatchy: Rising crime could be the recession's next effect
Forty percent said that thefts had increased in recent months, 39 percent reported that robberies were up and 32 percent said burglaries had surged 20 percent.

- City officials in St. Paul, Minn., are considering turning off half the city's streetlights — every other one — to save $700,000 in electricity over two years.

6000 Here We Come

Another day, another few dollars poorer.

The DOW is heading for the 6000s. Hard to believe but the operative word seems to be "is", Bill Clinton's favorite word.

I wish I knew how to console anyone including myself on this information. Its a new world out there.

Reuters: Wall Street slides as Dow marks 6-year low
The Dow Jones industrial average slid 89.68 points, or 1.19 percent, to 7,465.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 9.48 points, or 1.20 percent, to 778.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 25.15 points, or 1.71 percent, to 1,442.82.

Another New Health Care Proposal

My own personal weird health care story -

In December I had to have a tooth extracted. The tooth was fractured probably from my assault.

Anyhow, I am referred to an oral surgeon by my regular dentist. I'm in the oral surgeon's chair and he examines the tooth. He says yes we have to extract it.

While I'm in the chair and right after the exam, a secretary comes in with a bill for the exam and the extraction which is to follow.

The bill is over $400, and yes, I do have dental insurance.

I write the check, we move on to the extraction.

I get about $100 reimbursed by the insurance company.

I'm assuming this scenario is common.

Reuters: New U.S. health insurance program envisioned
The Commonwealth Fund, a leading private health policy research group, unveiled a comprehensive plan for changing a U.S. health care system that is the world's most expensive yet lags many other nations in important measures of quality.

U.S. Census Bureau figures show 15 percent of Americans had no health insurance in 2007, a total of 45.7 million people.

CNN - Dolphin Stuck In Ice

Reuters News Clips

The Market On Thursday

All three scenarios for the DOW and S&P represent different degrees of bad.

Perhaps the DOW can rise but it will take time for it to even hit 8000, and we used to think 8000 was unbelievably bad. Scenario two is that it hovers in the 7000 range where only the very strongest of companies are maintaining their heads above water. Scenario three has the DOW plumbing the next lower realm of Dante's Inferno.

What do we make of UBS hiding account info for US taxpayers. Is this more fueled by the recession or just your average scam.

Reuters: Stock index futures rise; eyes on UBS fallout
Eyes will be on the fallout of UBS's $780 million settlement under which the Swiss bank admitted to helping U.S. taxpayers hide accounts from the IRS.

Rameau - "Rondeau des Indes Galante"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tweety - Cheney vs Bush

Nikkei Opens Higher On Thursday

Watching the DOW lately is like watching a real life version of Dante's Inferno. We are exploring different levels of hell.

With the DOW at 7555 we are in recent record low territory.

All MSM articles report the same few lines over and over - investor concerns about a deepening financial crisis. When we stop reading that, we're home free.

Reuters: Nikkei edges higher
But investors remained wary due to deepening recession worries in the United States and Japan...

"Horse Feathers"

The Marx Brothers

A Shoe Or Two

Muntathar al Zaidi has become a legend in the Moslem world.

He faces 15 years in prison for throwing shoes a George Bush.

I was impressed with Bush's reflexes. He almost seemed to relish the challenge. It was one of the brief moments were I liked Bush from the point of view of a political persona.

Regardless, if he had thrown the shoes and made contact, the result could have been bad for Bush, and we do not condone violence.

Should he get 15 years - not in my book.

McClatchy: After praise, poetry, Iraqi shoe thrower faces trial
On Thursday, the 30-year-old is scheduled to go to trial in the Central Criminal Court on charges of assaulting a foreign head of state. Conviction could lead to as many as 15 years in prison.

In the Arab world, showing the bottom of one's shoe is an insult; throwing shoes is an expression of grave disdain.

Finally

I find this to be a compelling story, primarily because it gives you some clear insight into the world of the corporate CEO.

At that level, the money is amazingly fluid.

Immelt has declined a multimillion dollar performance award. GE stock is simultaneously sinking lower and lower. In fact its possible that it may soon sink below $10 per share when less than a year ago it was valued at over $35 per share.

Do we applaud Immelt's decision to refrain from the award - on the surface, it looks like a concerned decision, straying from the expected greed of others in a similar position.

As we have mentioned before, many people rely on dividends for income. At this point I am not aware of GE cutting dividends but it would not be a surprising move if it did happen. Immelt is demonstrating responsibility in an economic crisis.

Yahoo: General Electric CEO declines bonus for 2008
General Electric Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt declined a 2008 bonus and millions of dollars in performance awards, saying Wednesday that the company's falling profits and plummeting share price prompted him to forgo the payments.

Differences

According to Meyers, introverts actually require a certain amount of alone time in order to go about their normal day. Its a need to reflect, perhaps contemplate.

Extraverts on the other hand often gain energy by being in the company of others. Often times they find alone time to be hard.

Yahoo: Brains of Lonely People Work Differently
The ventral striatum - a region of the brain known from other research to light up in association with rewards such as food and money - was much less activated in the lonely group.

By 2010, 31 million Americans - roughly 10 percent of the population - will live alone...

...those who scored highest on measures of loneliness also had higher blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

About Face

This is good.

CNN: Facebook backs down, reverses on user information policy

CNN - Taleban Speaks Out

The Market On Wednesday

The market is like a horrible relationship lately.

One day its nice nice, the next its gut wrenching fighting with no resolution or rationality or kindness. Then its back to good but hours later its back to hatred. This goes on for years and in the end, she's been sleeping with eight other guys and you are broke. You spend 3 years in therapy trying to reassemble the cracked pot and finally you emerge as a completely new and unknown person. God I hate that.

So for at least a few moments today, the market's gonna love you long time.

Here's what I can't figure out, not that there is actually anything that I can figure out lately. How does a $50 billion mortgage aid packege take care of a multi-trillion dollar mortgage fiasco? Is this a pennies for twenties Ponzi.

Reuters: Stock futures point to higher open for Wall Street
President Barack Obama, having just signed into law a $787 billion stimulus package, is scheduled to detail a program that will use $50 billion to help prevent foreclosures.

"Wake Up"

Arcade Fire - excellent band, we would call this tune the b side..

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nikkei Opens Lower On Wednesday


It looks like its going to be a long week.

Obama is not getting much traction from Wall St.

How long can this go on. Eventually somebody has to yield.

Reuters: Nikkei down, credit worries weigh
"But ever since the market was disappointed by the U.S. bank plan, which seemed just to be putting things off, sentiment has become weak and the market has become sensitive to bad news."

Face The Music

It seems that there is a new user clause in Facebook that allows the company to use "you" in any way they want even if you delete your account.

How about that...

My initial reaction is not positive.

Yahoo: Facebook Privacy Change Sparks Federal Complaint
The section in question explains how Facebook has an "irrevocable, perpetual" license to use your "name, likeness, and image" in essentially any way, including within promotions or external advertising.

Israel vs Iran

Obama is attempting to harmonize the world through diplomacy, or so we believe.

In that vein he has spoken of diplomatic efforts with Iran. Consequently Israel is now using covert actions to disrupt Iranian nuclear efforts. They do not believe Obama would sanction Israeli strikes on Iran.

Gulf News: Israel wages secret war against Iran's N-plan
The country is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime's weapons project through the 'decapitation' programme, say the experts. Israeli officials are aware of the change in mood in Washington and privately acknowledge the new US administration is unlikely to sanction a raid on Iran's nuclear installations.

Signed, Sealed, and Devalued

There we have it. Obama has now signed the stimulus package. Republicans are praying to God that this stimulus will fail. Republicans like failure, makes them happy.

Reuters: Obama signs stimulus into law, housing moves coming

Investors on the other hand believe there is no hope. The articles indicate that the sense is way too little way too late. Consequently, the DOW is just about at its lowest point in a gold fish's age. My gold fish is now 19 years old.

We need some magic wands folks. We need some inspiration. We really need a miracle. And above all we need solid management. Now ask yourself, Obama or GW Bush.

Reuters: Bank worries and energy stocks yank Wall St. lower

9:50 AM Sampling

The DOW is now down 256 points as I write this.

There is literally nothing but harsh economic news with California going belly up and with New York manufacturing close to nada.

This could be a long damn day. We need a little sobriety right now.

Reuters: Stocks tumble on economic gloom

CNN - Improve Flexibility

The Market On Tuesday

The news indicates that GM will receive $4 billion in bailout money ahead of schedule.

This is nothing more than an attempt to generate a market rally as the news indicated that investors were "eying" GM. Well, now they know whats going to happen.

This doesn't change anything other than put the ultimate failure, i.e. the announced bankruptcy, of the company a little further into the future. With the recession deepening, what other scenario is possible. Its not like everyone is running out there to buy a Chevy Impala and a Hummer.

GM is part victim, part accomplice of the Bush administration. Bush being the great energy crisis denying president and the hands off de-regulator, energy policy actually went backwards perhaps a few decades.

So, its real simple. We need a rally this week on news of the bank bailout and stimulus plan or we hang up the keys and go ice skating till December 2011.

Right now futures are down, so we are off to a rocky but not impossible start. I will play the role of the optimist and predict a rally. Why not...

Reuters: Stock futures signal drop; eyes on Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, is expected to report a rare decline in profit....and it takes a charge for settling 63 class action wage and hour lawsuits.

Data showed on Monday Japan sank deeper into recession with its worst quarterly contraction since the oil crisis in the 1970s...

"Planet Claire"

B-52's

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Scent Of Things To Come

We know that dividends are getting cut from many corporations.

Look at this, Kansas is suspending tax refunds. Think about this a second. People have already paid into the Kansas state tax fund and all they want now is a refund for overpaying. Well - not so fast.

Kansas is broke. One might suspect that we will be seeing a whole boatload of I.O.U.s coming out soon.

Now how about the people of Kansas who need that money to live on and buy basic items, do they get to buy on an I.O.U as well?

No. Perhaps they should try borrowing money from the bank to tide them over except the banks are broke too.

The Wichita Eagle: Kansas suspends income tax refunds, may miss payroll
The state doesn't have enough money in its main bank account to pay its bills, prompting Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to suggest transferring $225 million from other accounts throughout state government. But the move required approval from legislative leaders, and the GOP refused Monday.

Nikkei Opens Lower On Tuesday


After a three day hiatus, the markets will reopen on Tuesday.

Is it apparent but the markets are one of my top most favorite things, go figure. It could be some regressive gambling gene that rears its miserable head in one's later years.

Right off the bat and SHA BAM, the Nikkei drops.

This sucks.

Look if there is no mini-bounce to the markets this week, it may be time to go back to graduate school or something, because you can kiss 2009 goodbye.

Reuters: Nikkei slips as tech, exporters sold; eyes on GM
Market attention was turned to the United States, with automakers General Motors Corp and Chrysler required to submit new turnaround plans by Tuesday showing how they can be made viable after receiving $13.4 billion in emergency aid.

Pakistan Violence 2-16-09

This thing is shaping up to be the same sinkhole as Iraq.

Gulf News: Suspected US missile strike kills 26 in tribal region
This was the fourth attack since US President Barack Obama took office last month, showing there was no change in policy since the last year of the Bush administration, when drone attacks against militant targets on Pakistani soil multiplied...

Presidents and You


Greetings on this most chaste of holidays, which we pretty much forgot about until last Friday.

We bought a very old farmhouse and today we had some maintenance done which required the power to be off for a bit. So without power, I am also sans the internet.

It doesn't look like I missed much in the news. Unfortunately the recession did not go away since this morning, that's a bummer. Obama has his hands full with bank debt and with GM and Chrysler about to tank, not to mention an absurd reaction from the ever present wing nuts. Also a few states are in fiscal calamity mode.

One thing I can definitely comment on is the spam, crap, there's tons of it lately. I am getting spam for colon cleansing, penis enlargement, and healthful dieting. Apparently this is where the big money is these days.

Bush policy seems to have left us with a massive country colon cleansing. Bush gave the country "C diff." C diff is a brutal infection that hits older people in hospitals. Basically you can "evacuate yourself" literally to death. Try to keep out of hospitals, especially when you are in advanced years.

This recession is fierce and tenacious. Try not to let it get you down, we're all in this thing together.

CNN - New Tech

Obama - Stem Cell Research

The Bush administration maintained a ban on stem cell research.

There is quite a bit of misinformation out there about stem cells and hopefully Obama's actions will correct that.

Reuters: Obama to lift ban on stem cell research soon: aide
Stem cells are the body's master cells, giving rise to all the tissues, organs and blood. Embryonic stem cells are considered the most powerful kinds of stem cells, as they have the potential to give rise to any type of tissue.

"First Date"

Blink 182

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Axelrod on Cheney

2008 Darwin Awards


A deep operative pointed me in the direction of the Darwin Awards.

Essentially its a grouping of stories about people overwhelmed with emotion and or ignorance with a tragic result. The emphasis here is on the extreme.

From a Buddhist point of view one might call it prime examples of the nature of samsara.
A 50-year-old man was bird hunting in Upstate New York with his buddies and his faithful canine companion. They stopped for a smoke, and his dog found a deer leg bone!

The man tried to take the bone away, but like any right thinking dog, the animal would not relinquish its treasure. He stayed just out of reach. Frustrated with this blatant show of disobedience, the man grabbed his loaded shotgun by the muzzle and began wielding it like a club. Each time he swung it, the dog dodged.

Suddenly the "club" struck the ground and fired, shooting the man in the abdomen. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died from his injuries. He did remain conscious long enough to confirm this account to police; otherwise, his poor friends might now be under suspicion!

Obama's Policy Development Method

I found this article to be a good read on how Obama goes about the business of crafting policy.

He has a very open process where he listens to various proposals and criticisms and then adjusts as necessary. He makes a very good case and I relate to the method. Its inclusive, it invites the opposition into the process, and above all it is highly democratic. We do not get the sense its all top down hard fist do as I say.

In the end its about benefiting the people in need within the confines of opposing views.

National Journal Magazine: An Eternal Optimist -- But Not A Sap
In that spirit, Obama refused to close the door on a broad range of possibilities. One of his interviewers asked him to compare his approach to the responses to earlier banking crises in Japan -- which faced an economic "lost decade" after failing to intervene forcefully enough -- and Sweden, which temporarily nationalized its failed banks before selling them off. Obama said the administration was trying to find the "sweet spot" between those alternatives. Japan offered no model, he said, because "they sort of papered things over and never really bit the bullet." And while many on the left are urging Obama to follow Sweden's example, he thinks the scale of the U.S. problem argues against that course. "You can make a good argument for the Swedish model except for this fact: They only had a handful of banks; we've got thousands of banks," he said. "The scale, the magnitude, of what we're dealing with is much bigger."

Sarah's Greatest Hits

Blast from the recent past, its still amazing.

I'm sorry to belabor the point but this is all connected to those who would lift us out of the great recession. We need to remember this in light of all the Republican attacks on Obama. Its fine to be critical but come forward with a solution. And so we must assume that this was going to be the solution? Please.

Long Slow Haul


Take it or leave it but more and more financiers and economic managers are talking a 2, 3, or 4 year recession. We see a repeating wave of news that is harsh and steady including layoffs, very weak corporate profit and viability, and foreclosures. We are learning that banks have a solid foundation in a pool of quicksand.

General Motors is re-approaching a point of whether or not to go into bankruptcy and re-organization. The repercussions from this in terms of layoffs and loss of work or reduction in work is massive, thousands and thousands are affected.

The stimulus package is a done deal. Tuesday Obama signs it into law and eventually it will hit the streets.

Reuters: White House dampens stimulus expectations
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs used similar language on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I don't think there's any doubt that we've seen this economy has gotten worse just in the last few months. The acceleration in job loss probably means that this economy is going to get worse before it gets better," he said.

SNL - Republican and The Stimulus

"Fidelity", Ken Starr, Prop 8, You

From a deep operative...


"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Market Volatility

Mercifully Wall Street is closed on Monday for the holiday.

The Obama administration's announcement of a plan to halt foreclosures and to assist banks with bad debt did not have an impact with the investor class. Consequently the markets sank and specifically the DOW is very close to the low point of November 20, 2008. The thought now is that if specific details of the plan are released this week then there might be a small rally away from the November 20 abyss. We shall see indeed.

Companies are really struggling. Its looking like GM could be facing bankruptcy and re-organizing. This will of course add to the swelling unemployment rolls, and unemployment is by far the worst aspect of this major recession.

One thing that retirees and investors are noticing is that dividends are starting to be pinched and squeezed. We understand that there are many out there literally millions who are without work, we need to also remember that there is a huge group of people living on retirement investments and such and many of these people are getting squeezed as well.

Reuters: Investors anxious for clarity on bank plan
"My expectations are for continued extreme volatility -- I would call it manic depressive mood swings..."

"...I think the market could blow through 7,000 on the Dow and go as low as 6,000 -- and I think that could occur in the next 30 days..."

"Hey Joe"

The Leaves

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stimulus, Stimula, Stimulorum


Like it or not, here comes the stimulus bill.

There are some interesting provisions and my first reaction is - time to get new windows or at least some new windows.

We put a few double insulated argon filled windows in our last house and it made a big difference. So its time to do it again.

Yahoo: How will the government stimulus plan affect you?
Homeowners who add energy-efficient windows, furnaces and air conditioners can get a tax credit to cover 30 percent of the costs, up to a total of $1,500

There's a 30 percent tax credit of up to $1,500 for the purchase of a highly efficient residential air conditioners, heat pumps or furnaces. The credit also can be used by homeowners to replace leaky windows or put more insulation into the attic. About $300 million would go for rebates to get people to buy efficient appliances.

Obama's Weekly Address

Pakistan Violence 2-14-09

NY Times: U.S. Drones Kill up to 32 in Pakistan

CNN - Planned Parenthood vs Palin

RNC Chair - No Reason To Trust Republicans

Rather than come up with any kind of viable plan to re-establish a crumbling economy, other than to drill more holes into the sinking ship via maintaining the failed policies of George Bush, Republicans have decided to label Obama's efforts as "socialism."

This is a new talking point and this is their new strategy? Thanks for nothing.

Republicans have yet to assimilate the totality of Bush's massive failures. They act as if they actually have good answers. Its a stunning thing to witness. Republicans are pointing to a mound of garbage and doing their damnedest to convince people that its a mound of gold.

All the while we have to endure their ever present talking heads on the MSM. We have to witness Republican senators making childish displays in the hallowed chambers of our government, literally peeing and pooping on the stimulus bill. Now that's trickle down.

This exchange is fascinating because if one carefully listens and evaluates the conversation, it makes virtually no sense. There isn't even a logical thread to it.

CNN - Tracking Stimulus Money

Foreclosure Plan

Next Wednesday Obama will unveil a foreclosure plan.

At this point some of the large mortgage lenders have suspended foreclosures. This is a good thing.

There have been leaks about the workings of the plan but allegedly it is not even completely worked out yet, so the details are fuzzy right now.

This is a huge problem and millions face foreclosure. Essentially all those facing foreclosure are left without resources so the implications for their futures are perilous.

Reuters: Obama to unveil foreclosure plan, big lenders wait
A total of 8.1 million homes, or 16 percent of all households with mortgages, could fall into foreclosure by 2012...

"Geechee Joe"

James Blood Ulmer

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kiss Kiss


Happy Valentine's Day in advance.

Kissing is good for your health. Imagine that...

Yahoo: Kisses unleash chemicals that ease stress levels
In an experiment, Hill explained, pairs of heterosexual college students who kissed for 15 minutes while listening to music experienced significant changes in their levels of the chemicals oxytocin, which affects pair bonding, and cortisol, which is associated with stress. Their blood and saliva levels of the chemicals were compared before and after the kiss.

Both men and women had a decline in cortisol after smooching, an indication their stress levels declined.

Down


The DOW closed down 82 points.

My prediction that we would see a gain over the course of the week fell flat on its face.

The big new news is the idea of "mopping" up bad bank debt.

Hey, its only newly printed money.

Reuters: Wall St. slides as banks offset housing optimism
Even though investors were initially enthused by the news on the housing front, the boost proved short-lived as doubts lingered about how banks will be relieved of their toxic assets.

Buffalo Plane Crash

Deep condolences to the families of those killed in the Buffalo commuter plane crash.

Iraq Violence 2-11-03

CNN: Suicide bomber kills 35, wounds 45
A female suicide bomber detonated in a crowd of primarily women and children on their way to a religious festival Friday, killing at least 35 people and wounding 45 others, an Interior Ministry official said.

The Market On Friday

On Thursday, the DOW was headed for another day of losses when all of a sudden someone up high put on the brakes and did an about face. Its very strange and makes one wonder how controlled markets may very well be.

Futures are up, and this is now a meaningless indicator for the direction of the day. Lately the inverse has occurred. When futures are up, the market closes lower etc.

MSM articles are proving to be very thin on information of value regarding the markets. One day its - the stimulus is too little too late and investors are selling. The next day its - futures are up on hopes that the government will improve credit markets and investors are buying up cheap securities. Its like the writers see the direction of futures and then find investor x who will explain why. Its starting to creep me out.

It is tumultuous times, but the big guys still say that it will turn around and that well chosen bargain priced securities will pay off handsomely in a few years.

Reuters: Index futures point to higher Wall St open
The stimulus package is split 36 percent for tax cuts and 64 percent in spending and other provisions, just below the 40/60 split Obama called for in his effort to begin pulling the economy out of the recession that started in December 2007.

"The Great Pretender"

The Platters

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Confederacy of Dunces

thinkprogress.org: On Darwin’s 200th birthday, only 39 percent of Americans believe in evolution

TPMtv

Economic Insecurity

The "Great Recession" encompasses the entire world. Economic instability can be the cause for changes in countries that are seriously and adversely affected by the recession. We are talking about an uprising that leads to a change in government for example.

Various government agencies view this economic adversity as a serious threat to US interests. If there are pipelines or various mining industries or military bases and such, all of that is potentially threatened by a collapsed government. Essentially it has to do with a dissolution of the law and order fabric to a situation where terrorism is fostered.

Reuters: World economic crisis is top security threat: U.S.
"Time is our greatest threat. The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests," the report said.