Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nikkei Opens Lower On Thursday

Oil is now back up slightly over $70 per barrel.

There's no secret to the suspense. Investors are waiting for 3rd quarter GDP numbers.

Today's skid was partly resurrected late in the day on positive third quarter possibilities. We are breathlessly waiting for the news and the numbers.

Reuters: Nikkei falls 0.8 percent, exporters sag on yen worries

Diplomacy Toward Iran

Is this a lot of smoke or is it true?

Allegedly Israel is backing away from war talk on Iran and committing to, ahem, diplomacy.

That is a hard word to swallow.

I'm reading this one as plausible but not likely.

Reuters: Israel rethinks anti-Iran warnings
"God forbid -- there's no need to attack anything..."

"The last thing we need to do right now is to distract from the diplomacy with the kind of threats that Iran can point to as 'proof' that they, not us, are the endangered party..."

Scaremongering

Every once in a while you read a headline that completely captures the sensibility of a particular moment.

Politico has done a good job.

What is the deal with this family...

Politico: Generals: Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney are scaremongering
About a dozen retired generals and admirals, trying to add momentum to President Barack Obama’s effort to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, are accusing former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz of scaremongering about the dangers of closing it.

Dropped

I logged on just now expecting to see the DOW up. Instead it is down 90 points.

Reuters is providing the justification - bad business numbers in the Midwest.

Reuters: Wall Street drops on surprise fall in Chicago PMI data
U.S. stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as an unexpected fall in business activity in the U.S. Midwest sparked worries about the pace of economic recovery.

From Middle Class To Homeless

I saw this at Huffpo and it deserves to be reposted on all blogs.

Its the story of a middle class family, moving from both parents employed and some sense of security to losing both jobs, then no money, and finally homelessness.

Its all very disturbing.

Azcentral.com: Arizona family descends into homelessness
At 59, Ed wondered if maybe employers thought he was too old. Bridget, who's 51 and has 20 years of experience in human resources, suspected that she was passed over for some jobs because she was overqualified.

...the Robertsons fell behind on their car payments. First one was repossessed, and then the other. Their landlord, whom they paid $1,000 a month, was kind and understanding but, well, Bridget says, "We couldn't expect them to continue to let us not make the rent."

Friends helped them pack up and move their belongings into a 10- by 25-foot storage unit.

The first time the Robertsons went to the food bank was the hardest.

Rejecting The P.O.

Here we have another reason why the Senate as a political body which conducts America's policy business is outdated.

Once again, we have senators from small less populated areas determining the outcome. Its as outdated as the electoral college.

Okay, Nelson is from Florida. Take Nelson out of the mix and what do you have?

McClatchy: In Obama setback, Senate panel rejects health public option
Three Democrats _Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Kent Conrad of North Dakota — voted against both proposals.

Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Tom Carper, D-Del., backed a public plan that could negotiate rates with doctors, hospitals and other health providers, while opposing an alternative that would've tied the plan's rates to those paid by Medicare for two years

CNN - Michael Moore On Healthcare

The Market On Wednesday

On Wednesday at 7:50 a.m. futures are modestly up and journalists are expecting the market to open higher.

Oil is up heading towards $68 per barrel.

Layoff numbers for September are already on tap with the expectation that less jobs were cut than in August. Finally we might be seeing a slowdown in layoffs.

Investor's eyes are awaiting third quarter GDP numbers. The hope is that the economy grew in the third quarter, officially ending the recession, in technical terms.

Reuters: Stock futures rise as Q3 nears end
With the third quarter drawing to a close, trading is expected to be volatile as traders engage in "window dressing," with fund managers selling laggards in favor of outperformers to spruce up portfolios.

"Got To Give It Up"

Marvin Gaye

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nikkei Opens Flat On Wednesday

Reuters: Nikkei starts flat, yen supports but Toyota slips

Dumb Joke

A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: 'Talking Dog For Sale ' He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.
The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.

'You talk?' he asks.
'Yep,' the Lab replies.
After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says 'So, what's your story?'

The Lab looks up and says, 'Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.'

'I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.'

'I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired.'

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

'Ten dollars,' the guy says.

'Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?'

'Because he's a liar. He never did any of that shit.'

Economic Crisis Q And A

As we weave our way through the near economic collapse and subsequent deep recession, economists will capture some people's imagination with books answering the question, why.

McClatchy has organized a Q and A session with two top economists. Its interesting reading.

McClatchy: Authors: U.S. economic crisis was long time in the making
Q: Should regulatory reform efforts seek to prevent future crises?

A: Rogoff: "You don't want to prevent every financial crisis . . . You don't want to have no creativity, no dynamism in the financial sector. There's a balance. But there's no question things got way out of kilter. And there are hard quantitative measures where you can look at this. I think the official community — the regulators — and even politicians need to look at them and not ignore them as they did."

Simple

Its simple if Polanski had sex with a 13 year old girl, throw him in jail.

Give him his day in court but do not reward him for fleeing, by releasing him.

CNN: Filmmakers demand Polanski's release
Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar and Martin Scorsese have "demanded the immediate release" of fellow filmmaker Roman Polanski, who was arrested in Switzerland on a U.S. arrest warrant related to a 1977 child sex charge.

TPMtv - Crazed Health Care Senate Talks

Housing Prices Up


According to "The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of house prices", housing prices are going up. Its important to remember that they are now at levels seen 6 to 7 years ago.

This is good news for the regular homeowner out there and should add a sense of relief to investors hoping for a stabilizing housing market. A lot of this has to do with the $8,000 credit for new home buyers. Still, its an improvement.

Reuters: U.S. home prices up in July for third straight month
...surpassing forecasts and suggesting that the housing market is stabilizing...

The 10-city index gained 1.7 percent in July after a 1.4 percent rise the previous month.

CNN - European Central Bank's Trichet

The Market On Tuesday

At 7:20 a.m. futures are slightly down.

World stocks are up, the dollar is up, and oil is down. Go figure.

Data on home pricing and consumer confidence will be out this morning.

At first glance, it doesn't appear to be a dramatic type of day. Its another work day...
"So whether we'll have a euphoric run for 10,000, I don't know...I think people are seeing that maybe stocks have run as long as they can until they see some concrete evidence that things are improving." source
Reuters: Stock futures point to softer opening

"Over The Rainbow"

Gene Vincent

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nikkei Opens Higher On Tuesday

Nice three digit bump to the DOW today, while the S&P did a proportionate two digit bump.

Oil is presently moving up in price per barrel. The logic is "flawless." Iran conducts a missile test demonstrating that they can hit Israel and US Middle East bases, and that cause oil prices to rise.

Reuters: Oil rises toward $67, eyes equities, Iran
Support for oil came from Iran test-firing a type of missile on Monday that defense analysts said could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf region, state television reported.
Reuters: Nikkei rises 0.8 percent on exporters after sell-off

Senator Franks - Birther No More

Franks no longer believes Obama is not an American citizen.

Franks believes Obama is hiding something really big though.

Gitmo Slowly Shrinking

The Bush administration opened Gitmo as a way of circumventing the rule of law.

This is how they worked and this is how an authoritarian administration works.

The prison is slowly being phased out by the Obama administration

Reuters: Obama team clears 75 at Guantanamo for release
An Obama administration task force has so far cleared 75 of the remaining 223 Guantanamo prisoners for release as part of its effort to close the detention camp, a military spokesman said on Monday.

CNN - Iran Missile Tests

The Market On Monday

At 7:10 a.m. futures were slightly up - source.

World stocks are down, oil is down almost to $65 per barrel, and the dollar is down. Both Xerox and Abbott Laboratories were involved in multi-billion dollar acquisitions.

Investors are wondering if there is any more headroom for equities.

This Reuters headline is based on 3:00 a.m. futures numbers, they have since risen -

Reuters: Stock futures point to weaker start
Toyota Motor Corp has raised its global sales forecast for the 2009 calendar year by 3 percent to 6.7 million cars...

Goldman Sachs plans to recruit up to 200 people for its asset management business...

"Rubber And Soul"

Ane Brun - **** 4 stars - Sande

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nikkei Opens Lower On Monday

The yen is up and the dollar is down, so this may not reflect Wall Street's prospects. Having said that, it sure feels like a correction is coming.

Reuters: Nikkei hits 2-mth low below 10,000 on strong yen

But check this out -

Reuters: Barron's sees property-and-casualty insurers rising
These stocks (Allstate, Ace, and Chubb) are the safest major part of the financial sector, Barron's said, due to their strong balance sheets and ample earnings.
Imagine that...

Whipped

We saw Drew Barrymore's debut as a director film "Whip It" this weekend.

I have to say I am not of fan of her acting work but this film is very good. Its not heady, its not provocative, its light, its comedic, its feel good, it turn punkism into dandyism, its a fairly good film, realy. Plus Juliette Lewis is in the film and you know how much we love her...

I had no idea that women's roller derby was back in vogue. The local team was in the audience complete with fishnets and schoolgirl plaid mini skirts. Its really back, over 400 teams all over the country, its huge.

We spent the night writing down women's roller derby athletes names. They all have quasi-punk names. I came up with an extensive list. A few are - "Gert Rude", "Paris Killton", "Bitchetta", "Barbrawl." You get the idea.

Employment Prospects Are Very Poor

Tough article in the NY Times...

We've been following the recession and the layoffs and so we know about the numbers. Its when you hear the individual stories about people in their 50s running through their life savings and now forced to live hand to mouth that you get bummed.

In truth, if we were to add up all of the wealth in this country, there is plenty. But we just don't work that way. There is charity, and there is giving, and people try to help out but we don't know how to do it as a group. Its usually done in individual cases. The stories are individual ones, not collective ones, generally speaking.

The other thing is, most people work with some degree of trauma in their lives. I was assaulted by a gang almost two years ago and I have to deal with that. Other people have had illnesses, lost loved ones, lost a lot of retirement money, all kinds of things. So most people experience harsh things and they are traumatic things. Well, imagine that all that happens and then there's no work, no more money at all. Call it financial trauma, call it whatever you want, but its pretty ugly and it is very traumatic.

NY Times: U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio
...employment prospects are still getting worse.

Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one...

“I’ve worked my entire life,” said Ms. Kransky (51), who lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment. “I’ve got October rent. After that, I don’t know. I’ve never lived month to month my entire life. I’m just so scared, I can’t even put it into words.”

Global Devaluation Of The Dollar

As the world emerges from a catastrophic recession, currencies will be rebalanced. Globally the dollar will be less valuable.

One might assume that at least two things will occur as a result. American exports will be more desirable in the world market and equities will be more desirable. I suppose America equities are a type of export product.

That vacation in Europe is going to be a little pricier. The euro is gaining on the dollar.

Reuters: Global rebalancing to weaken dollar, quietly
...as another effort at rebalancing looms, the dollar will again bear the brunt...

...Lawrence Summers has said he wants a U.S. economy that is “more export-oriented and less consumption-oriented”.

SNL

Why is Gadaffi only a colonel? The guys been a dictator for as long as I can remember, can't he bump himself up to general.

CNN - Europe Goes To Mars

Republicans Object - Who Cares

Its simple mathematics, Democrats control the House and Senate. Democrats can pass health care reform with the tiniest support from Republicans.

Republicans want to keep health care just as it is. Unfortunately this is true from moderate Republicans right on down to wingnut central.

People want a public option and we need to get out there, makes calls, do whatever it takes to let elected officials know that.

Its time to redirect the media's attention back to the overwhelming interest in a public option.

The media likes to present conflict and the crazies got a lot of face time over the summer. All that is past. Now there is an opening for a return to saner conversation.

McClatchy: Face it, GOP doesn't really matter when it comes to health care
A Republican or two is insurance against a renegade Democrat, or one who's unable to vote.

"Da Pacem Domine"

Arvo Part

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Night Of Desirable Objects"

Fringe

Obama Confronts Iran

A new Iranian nuclear facility was discovered by intelligence, allegedly several months ago. Iran claims it is for energy, i.e. non military usage.

In the months since he has known about the new facility, Obama has orchestrated a coherent international response. All the major powers are on board. All of this occurred behind the scenes because we, the public, only learned about it on Friday.

We are not reading the conflagrant insistence on war that the Bush neo-con crowd used to maintain the fear level in the country. At least that is good.

However, the prospect for war is mentioned. What a mess that would be.

McClatchy: Obama wins praise for orchestrating response to Iran
How long Obama will keep negotiating, and whether there's some point at which he'd stop talking and take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, however, is unknown.

All along, he appears to have been working to assemble a unified international response to Iran, including not just close allies such as Britain and France but also major powers such as China and Russia that have been reluctant to support tough sanctions against Iran.

"Paranormal Activity"

I love horror movies. I like sitting there and seeing if I can remain attentive and calm.

They say this one might be a once in a decade scare-fest. We can only hope.

Coming Up

Each month investors react to a cycle of data on employment and consumer spending. The recession has made this information profoundly important.

Next Friday is a big data day as the latest employment numbers are released and parsed. We all want to see that number continue to shrink and finally reverse to where we are adding jobs more than losing them. That is not going to happen anytime soon unfortunately.

All indicators point to a continued shrinking in the number of layoffs. Investors will be reacting to how much shrinking, they are looking for the good in the bad.

Any way you cut it, the unemployment rate is officially close to 10%. We suspect the actual numbers are greater when one considers those who are self employed and without work and those who have fallen off the radar.

The saga also includes the ongoing question about the sustainability of the several month long rally in equities. We've had three days in a row of losses. Final numbers on the second quarter GDP also come out next week, but the real meaty number will be the first round of results on the third quarter. That is just around the corner and most expect to see that the GDP is growing, officially ending the recession.

Reuters: Stocks' rally to be tested by jobs data
...9.7 percent U.S. unemployment rate is a major concern for investors because of the impact on the economy and, in particular, consumer spending.

...an increase in overtime hours should also be watched as that could suggest a positive trend.

Final second-quarter GDP data also is on tap for Wednesday...

"Super Bon Bon"

Soul Coughing - live

IMHO - best band of the 90's. Sorry they broke up.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Consistent Obama

Barack Obama's amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

Speechless

When I saw this I nearly busted a gut laughing.

Do I smell an American Idol?

TPMtv - Where Was Obama Born

Coinciding with a new Osama tape from somewhere east of Afghanistan, comes an equally crazed new birther-mercial from America's heartland.

Don't any of these guys know that Friday is a bad news day.

The birther attorney's name is Kreep, seriously.

News From The Bat Cave

Fresh from somewhere in the Northwestern Provinces of Pakistan, maybe, comes a new Osama tape.

A fresh Osama tape is usually a big deal except the former Reagan freedom fighter must not know that Friday is a bad night for news. America is out partying dude, come back on Monday.

Al Jazeera: Bin Laden urges Europe to ditch US
"If today Europe is suffering the travails of the economic crisis, and the heart of Europe is no longer number one in world exports, and America is reeling from the haemorrhage caused by the economic war, then how do think you will fare after America pulls out?" it quoted bin Laden as asking.

Time Versus Life

I am in a time vortex lately.

Time is going by faster than I can do stuff. I can't keep up with the pace of time.

This has had to happen to you. Sometimes time goes by slowly and boringly. I am into the opposite jag, and I want off!

I can't get all my work done. Every time I look at the clock its three hours later than I think it is.

I have to work all weekend to try to catch up.

I know, its a bourgeois irritation.

Stephentown Water

I have friends who travel to various springs in upstate NY to get water. For those folks, keep this article in mind.

Fox 23: Local Spring Makes People Sick
That spring is located on Route 22 in the town of Stephentown.

Consumer Protection Fight

Reform health insurance and you have to deal with big insurance in form of a massive counter media blitz to angry mobs.

Obama also wants to reform banking products like bad mortgages and credit cards. He wants full disclosure, consumer protection measures, and a consumer protection agency. Will Nader blush.

Surprise, banks don't like the idea.

McClatchy: Banks fight to kill proposed consumer protection agency
The Obama administration is asking Congress to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to regulate consumer financial products ranging from credit cards to mortgages, and to simplify disclosure about them all.

CNN - Eco Friendly Fashion

The Market On Friday

At 7:30 a.m. futures are slightly up.

There are however three points that might suggest more interest from investors.

- Oil is slightly up, after hitting a low of $66 per barrel on Thursday. Energy stocks might benefit.

- Goldman Sachs is forecasting increased demand for oil and is confirming that the recession is ending. We know that the center of the economic universe is Goldman so this might be the most salient point.

- G20 countries are expressing the agreement to keep stimulus measures in place until economies are steaming. In other words countries will continue to pump taxpayer money into the markets, especially the USA.

Rally on. However its important to note that as economic data comes through the pipes today, investors may shift their attentions.

Reuters: Oil rises above $66; Goldman ups demand forecast
In a research note published on Friday, Goldman Sachs said range-bound trading reflected "the end of a recession" and maintained its oil price forecasts, but raised its forecast for global oil demand.
Reuters: Stock index futures point to higher open
World leaders pledged to keep emergency economic supports in place until a durable recovery is secured...

"Love My Way"

Psychedelic Furs

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Preggers"

Glee

Knick Fan Relief

I just really like basketball.

I used to play with the noontime crowd at the Y. I left it when I decided that trash talking 40 and 50 something year old guys were not my favorite company.

The Knicks have been hideous. MSG is supposed to be the basketball center of the world but the Knicks have been non contenders ever since the 90s when the Ewing, Starks, Oakley, Houston squad got too old.

Lee is very good. He works hard, he's an excellent rebounder.

Yahoo: Lee, Knicks reach 1-year deal

Nikkei Opens Lower On Friday

The DOW dropped 41 and the S&P lost 10 today.

Existing home sales data was not to anyone's liking.

The good news with the market still seems to be that extreme volatility is not there, at this time, and hopefully not for a long time.

Reuters: Nikkei slips more than 2 percent, eyes on Nomura

Home

At noontime the market is down.

Existing home sales dropped in August, down from July.

Investors are quick to freak.

Reuters: Wall Street drops after August existing homes sales

H1N1 In Upstate NY

Times Union: RPI confirms H1N1 case, braces for more

CNN - "Save The Boobs"

Initially I thought this was an appeal to keep Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck on the air.

The Market On Thursday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are slightly down, oil is down around $68 per barrel, and world stocks are down. Its not looking fluffy.

Investors are now worried that governments are going to start pulling back on their "extraordinary" measures to stimulate economies. I may ease their minds and go down and give them my piggy bank. A G20 meeting begins today in Pittsburgh.

Worry, optimism, fear, worry, optimism, fear, its like a bad love story.

Reuters: Stock futures flat as G20, data on housing and jobs eyed
...investors awaited data on home sales and jobless claims for an indication of the state of the economy following a sharp sell-off in the last session.

...sales of existing homes are expected to have risen...

A meeting of the Group of 20 nations leaders in Pittsburgh starts on Thursday...

"The End"

The Doors

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moon Water

SPACE.com: Tentative Signs of Water Found on Moon

Bullet Shortage


People are buying bullets faster than you can say bang your dead.

This poor country, we are at war internally, externally, emotionally, racially, you name it, we want to shoot it.

There is no shortage of bullets. The demand is far outpacing production. People must be building personal arsenals.

Yahoo: America armed, but guns not necessarily loaded

Nikkei Opens Higher On Thursday


Right now its about "fears of stimulus withdrawal" versus "strengthening recovery."

I don't know about you, but who wouldn't fear the withdrawal of stimulus.

Remain stimulated America.

Reuters: Nikkei climbs after Fed comments spark optimism

AlJazeera - Obama At The U.N.

TPMtv

Fox News - Qaddafi loves Obama.

Fed Said

Bernanke said an economic recovery is under way. Fine.

This did not stop the DOW from dropping 81 and the S&P from dropping 10.

Allegedly investors are now worried that its all going so well that the Fed might sooner rather than later stop pumping cash. Do we sense a new addiction.
Stocks fell on Wednesday as investors worried the Federal Reserve might be closer to reducing vast efforts that have shored up the economy and supported big gains in asset markets. source
Read the following article and you might stumble across one of the biggest components to the stock markets recent rise - government money.

Reuters: Fed says U.S. recovery is underway
The Fed said it would gradually slow the pace of its purchases of mortgage-related debt in order to promote a smooth transition in markets.

But in a slight tweak of language in its statement, the Fed made clear it would purchase $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities.

Gray Matters

Fascinating article from McClatchy on the brain and memory research

The optimistic part of the article involves a new generation of treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

McClatchy: Researchers unravel brain's wiring to understand memory
The human brain contains some 100 billion neurons that are connected by an elaborate network of tiny wires called axons and dendrites. Neurons communicate by passing chemical signals from axons to dendrites at junctions known as synapses. The sender neuron sends a chemical transmitter, called glutamate, across the synaptic gap. The receiver neuron responds by firing a tiny jolt of electricity.

CNN - Red Haze In Sydney

The Market On Wednesday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are slightly up, the dollar is down, and oil is down.

Investors are anticipating a statement from Bernanke this afternoon. Interest rates are expected to remain the same but they want to hear that the recovery is in process. They want positive feedback.

Incidentally did you see that GM is adding 3,000 jobs. source

Reuters: Stock futures flat to up slightly as Fed statement eyed
U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday ahead of a Federal Reserve statement that will be scrutinized for an insight into the central bank's assessment of the U.S. economy.

"Hyper Music"

Muse

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"A New Day In The Old Town"

Fringe - The most sci-fi-ed out series since X-Files is back.

TPMtv



You know, I have to mull this one over. This is just too unusual.

Up

The DOW gained 51 to close at 9,859 and the S&P gained 7 to close at 1,071. 10K is right around the corner, amazing.

It has been pointed out to me that the DOW average is in reality lower, if you consider that a few companies were kicked out this last year for insolvency. Think GM.

Investors expect that interest rates will remain the same after the Fed meeting, which began today, ends Wednesday afternoon.

There will be keen interest to hear what Bernanke says about the recovery and the present state of the economy. One might imagine that the range of news from disastrously bad to amazingly good will dramatically affect the DOW and S&P. This is pretty big.

Reuters: Recovery bets lift Wall Street
With no change expected in interest rates, investors probably will focus on the bank's assessment of the economic outlook, particularly after Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the recession was "technically" over.

Protect Health Insurance Companies

CNN - Greenland Warming

Ten On The Brink


Sprint has been on the ropes or reported to be on the ropes for a while. Press 1 if yes, press 2 if no or wait on the line till a sales representative finishes their seven course dinner.

Macy's, now that's going to pinch. I like Macy's, the one time per year when I do hit the mall, I always stop in and look at the clothes. What's going to happen to the big NYC parade? They can make a float that has no air in it and the nouveau homeless can drag it down 5th Avenue.

Yahoo Finance: Ten Big Companies That Are Veering Toward Bankruptcy
Hertz, Textron, Sprint Nextel, Macys, Mylan, Goodyear, CBS, Advanced Micro Devices, Las Vegas Sands, Interpublic Group.

The Market On Tuesday

At 7:30 a.m. futures are way up, oil is up over $70 per barrel (again), the dollar is down, and European stocks are up.

Based on these four points, one might think that the market will open higher. If it weren't for the fact that key consumer spending data - "Redbook's Retail Sales Index of department and chain store sales for September versus August" - is due out at 8:55 a.m.EDT, I would agree.

The economy might be weaning itself off life support, but its still consumer driven.

Reuters: Stock futures rise as U.S. dollar weakens; oil up
The Federal Reserve starts its two-day monetary policy meeting on Tuesday with a decision on interest rates due at around 2:15 p.m. (1815 GMT) on Wednesday.

"You Win Again"

Gene Vincent

Monday, September 21, 2009

Obama On Letterman


Watch CBS Videos Online

"Acafellas"

Glee

I can't say it enough, Jane Lynch is the funniest thing out there.

Mortgage Delinquencies


The progression is simple: no job -> no money -> payment delinquencies.

I'm surprised to see that the percentage is so low.

Reuters: U.S. mortgage delinquencies set record
Among U.S. homeowners with mortgages, a record 7.58 percent were at least 30 days late on payments in August, up from 7.32 percent in July...

Tom Delay Ultra Conservative Dancer

Benefits Extension


Yahoo: House moves to extend unemployment benefits

CNN - Civility Out The Window

I applaud this discussion panel and CNN for holding it.

The Market On Monday

At 7:45 a.m. futures are moderately down.

Investors are anxious to hear what comes out of the Fed meeting this week. In particular the concern is about interest rates and if they will remain at practically zero.

World stocks are down, and the price of oil per barrel is down.

I was reading an article about how scientists are now able to make mice with spinal cord injuries walk again. They use a combination of specialized drugs and electrical stimulation below the point of injury. Here, the method of walking is called "stepping." It mimics ordinary walking but is not the full weight fluid movement that anyone free of injury enjoys. Still, for someone who is paralyzed it would be a godsend. source

In a similar way, the economy and the markets are not moving fluidly at this point.

Reuters: World stocks, oil fall as G20, Fed loom
While any signal that the Fed might start unwinding its loose monetary policy shows the central bank is acknowledging the recovery, it could be negative for risky assets as it could fan speculation of an interest rate hike.

The Fed has pledged to buy up to $1.45 trillion of mortgage-backed securities and debt issued by government sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by end-2009.

Concerns about weak fuel demand pushed U.S. crude oil down 2.4 percent to $70.25 a barrel after Asia's No.1 refiner Sinopec said that diesel China continued to lag economic recovery with fuel sales so far this year still below the rates seen a year ago.
Reuters: Stock futures cut losses on proposed Dell deal
Dow Jones industrial average futures were off 39 points...

"The Promise Of Living"

Aaron Copeland set to 8mm and 16mm old footage.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nikkei Closed On Monday

The Nikkei will be closed through Wednesday.

CNBC: Nikkei Closed

"Showmance"

Glee

Fans of Jane Lynch will love this show. Jane kills, she is very funny.

Secession Movement

In my opinion, no states will leave the union, not going to happen.

One might suspect that movements of this type have always existed and that the interest in them has ebbed and gained. I suspect we are into a gain era, still, not happening.

Smaller legislation that will challenge the Federal government - yes, will happen.

A lot of this activity is based around firearms and the fear that Obama will pass legislation that will restrict ownership.

It does not appear to be a time a patient attitude and rational behavior.

Star-Telegram: Secession movement spreads well beyond Texas
A campaign called "Bring the Guard Home" is pushing legislation in 23 states that would empower governors to recall state National Guard units from Iraq on the premise that the federal law authorizing such deployments has expired. "It’s gaining momentum, to say the least," said Jim Draeger, program manager for Peace Action Wisconsin. He said the initiative has a respectable chance of passing the Legislature in his state.

Your Weekly Address

On The Other Hand

The Reuters article points out the fear surrounding the amazing gains in the equities market with the DOW rapidly approaching 10,000. Is this thing going to hold or will it fall apart.

The fear is based on several components that we have been looking at for a while now.

Inter bank interest rates are flat, i.e. money is cheap. The problem here is that its not easy to gauge the truth of this rally while money is cheap. Is it real or is it a rally on steroids.

Some banks are now TBTF - too big to fail - and this is a scary prospect. We are at their mercy.

The housing market still has serious problems. There is a glut of vacant units and housing prices have not recovered. Millions of residential and commercial foreclosures are still coming.

The finishing blow is unemployment. We've looked at this from many points of view, the impact is extensive to say the least.

Reuters: Wall Street risks red October as rebound looks frothy
Unusual simultaneous rallies in equities, U.S. government bonds and commodities are linked to one factor: super-cheap monetary policies adopted around the world.

Joseph Stiglitz, a prominent economist and Nobel Laureate from Columbia University in New York, argued last week that the U.S. banking sector is now in worse shape than before the collapse of major investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008, because banks seen as too big to fail before the crisis had grown even larger.

The average time people are left without a job has also grown and is now close to 6 months, the highest on record.

Afghanistan

Within Afghanistan there are three clear positions on the war.

- The Taliban are prepared for a long conflict and refer to Afghanistan's history of defeating larger military powers including the British. It has been pointed out that US involvement in Afghanistan has already lasted longer than WW1 and WW2 combined.

- Karzai is calling for peace. He wants the Taliban to lay down their weapons, and go home. He claims that this will be the focus of his next 5 years in office. 5 years!

- The US is prepard to escalate its involvement in Afghanistan with 21,000 more troops heading in this year, and with General McChrystal wanting more.

AlJazeera.net: Taliban prepared for 'a long war'
(Taliban leader Mullah Omar said) "Today we have strong determination ... we have preparedness for a long war and ... we will continue to wage jihad until we gain independence and force the invaders to pull out."

(Karzai said) "On this auspicious day, once again I ask all those Afghan brothers who are unhappy or are in others' hands to stop fighting, destroying their own land and killing their own people..."

The US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is expected to ask for thousands more troops in coming weeks, even though public support for the war is waning.

Libya's Top Fashion Designer

"Shining Star"

Earth, Wind, and Fire

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Old House

We spent several hours this afternoon, cleaning out the gutters and clearing out more tree and woods debris from the back yard.

The gutters were growing several varieties of little trees. These things had not been cleaned in years.

The backyard is slowly taking shape. Like everything else on this property it has mostly fallen into disrepair with lack of attention. But we will revive it all, slowly and over time.

We experienced an unbelievably excellent late summer day.

Now we are off to a party. Have a great night.

"Season 1 Episode 1"

Glee - Outstanding new show and it features Jane Lynch. Jane is one of the funniest actresses out there. She plays the part of the cheerleader coach.

Terrorism

The weather in upstate NY is perfect. It is clear, sunny, cool, no humidity, and with a hint of fall. This is the weather of special romances, internal and external.

The day is reminiscent of 9-11-01. It was a similar type of beautiful day.

Terrorism is back in the news. Afghanistan is not shaping up and the call for America to leave is growing.

YNET: Germany: Al-Qaeda posts video with new threat

McClatchy: Suicide bomber attacks Italian convoy in Kabul, killing at least 6

CNN: Suspect in terror probe admits ties to al Qaeda, official says

FBI: Most Wanted Terrorists

CNN - Anorexia

This is a disturbing clip. It lightly examines web sites where women can proudly show off their skeleton revealing frames, websites that support and approve of anorexia. It just shows how powerful the web is in the sense that people's connection to it is strong and real. For many, virtual is utterly real. The need for support is strong and in this case the direction is upside down.

On Tap

Amazingly the DOW is headed for 10K and there are some investors who are not denying the possibility.

As the markets rise the L shaped recovery from Wall Street's perspective is not being realized. It a V. On the other hand the L shaped recovery from the ordinary worker's point of view is in full bloom especially if you live in Las Vegas, California, Florida, and Michigan - good luck finding a job.

Each week we are now reading - "key data will show if the recovery is taking hold." This only demonstrates how precarious and iffy the situation really is. Investors are still shell shocked. One positive observation is simply in the fact that bad news has not caused the DOW to drop too far, too fast. Hopefully the days of the 400 and 500 point declines are behind for a while.

This week the Fed will hold a meeting. Investors will be very interested to hear what the word is on the Fed's take on the recovery and how interest rates will play out. Most feel interest rates will hold at next to zero through next year.

Modest optimism for equities is still in play.

Reuters: Stocks' rise hinges on Fed and data
The week's key economic data will include U.S. existing home sales, a report on new orders of durable goods such as washing machines and refrigerators, new home sales and a final reading for September on consumer sentiment -- all likely to put the expectations for recovery to the test.

"Let's be ready for some quarter-end asset allocation moves -- from cash and bonds to equities..."

"Karaim Part 2"

John Zorn

Jamie Saft on the harmonic minor guitar solo

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas"

Horrible movie - good idea though.

Up

Quadruple witching day went by painlessly.

The DOW ended up at 9,820 and the S&P at 1,068. Is this thing really going to hit 10K.

Reuters: Wall Street gains; Procter and other upgrades help
"On a short-term basis, the market is due for a pause, but the underlying tone of the market and the economy is positive at present..."

The Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction index .DJUSHB jumped 1.7 percent.

TPMtv

Pregnancy Pre-Existing Condition

Oh yeah, the health insurance industry is just fine.

Think Progress: Health Insurers Consider A Caesarean-Section Pregnancy A Pre-Existing Condition

SNL - Joe Wilson

Amy Goodman On Afghanistan

Amy Goodman has posted a short and effective summation article on the recent US war in Afghanistan.

She lays out the causes and results in clear form and makes the case for leaving Afghanistan.

ZNET: Let Us Not Become the Evil We Deplore
On Oct. 7, the U.S. enters its ninth year of occupation of Afghanistan—equal to the time the United States was involved in World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined. Obama campaigned on his opposition to the war in Iraq, but pledged at the same time to escalate the war in Afghanistan. On his first Friday in office, Commander in Chief Obama's military fired three Hellfire missiles from an unmanned drone into Pakistan, reportedly killing 22 people, mostly civilians, including women and children. He has increased U.S. troops in Afghanistan by more than 20,000, to a total numbering 61,000. This does not count the private contractors in Afghanistan, who now outnumber the troops. The new U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is expected to ask for even more troops.

CNN - Tea

The Market On Friday - Quadruple Witching

At 7:55 a.m. futures are ever so slightly up.

Today is the day of the quadruple witching hour which occurs only four times a year. It is as a day of extreme volatility, so watch out.

Let's go to the definitions -
This is similar to the triple witching hour, except that the quadruple witching hour sees also the expiry of SSFs.

Quadruple witching days occur on the third Friday of March, June, September and December. source

How It Works/Example:
Although index futures and options generally share simultaneous expirations on the third Friday of every month, quadruple witching days only occur on the third Friday of every March, June, September, and December. The last hour of these trading days, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST, is referred to as the quadruple witching hour.

On quadruple witching days, and especially during quadruple witching hours, many investors attempt to unwind their positions in their futures and options contracts before the contracts expire. This activity frequently includes repurchasing contracts and closing out other positions meant to hedge against these contracts.

Why It Matters:
Quadruple witching days are usually accompanied by considerable volatility in stock and derivative prices, as well as increased trading volume. As a result, investors can anticipate and plan for the potential effects of these relatively turbulent trading days. source
Reuters: Stock futures flat ahead of options expiration
Friday marks the quarterly expiration and settlement of four different types of September equity futures and options contracts -- a convergence known as quadruple witching that can lead to greater volume and volatility as traders unwind positions.

U.S. stocks slipped Thursday after a three-day run-up on concern that recent gains were overextended.

"Down With The Sickness"

Disturbed - We watched "Dawn of the Dead" the other night and the soundtrack included a tune by Disturbed. Very heavy metal is not my genre, but these guys make this amazing sound texture in several sections. If I could imagine a machine that grinds through a city, it might sound like this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Episode 2"

The Circuit

Nikkei Opens Lower On Friday

Reuters: Nikkei dips in cautious trade, Aiful bid lower

Limbaugh Calls For Bus Segregation

I don't like this entire line of non-reasoning that is coming out of the right wing.

Limbaugh is now calling for bus segregation based on a assault of a white youth by a black youth or youths while a crowd of blacks cheered.

The behavior by these particular black youths is criminal and should be treated as such.

As we all know, there is a war going on out there. Violence is common. Inner city violence is very common. Linking Obama to this violence is very bad propaganda on Limbaugh's behalf. This is not helpful.

This war has been going on for as long as we can remember. Anyone who thought that Obama's presence in the White House was going to cause some sort of universal peace was dreaming.

This is most unfortunate. Limbaugh crosses the line regularly, but jumping in with eyes closed, mouth jabbering, and ears shut and unconscious is horrible judgment.

Media Matters: Limbaugh: "[I]n Obama's America, The White Kids Now Get Beat Up With The Black Kids Cheering"
LIMBAUGH: I think the guy's wrong. I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that's the lesson we're being taught here today. Kid shouldn't have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses -- it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama's America.

Re-Aiming

Was there a DoD weapons plan of any sort that Bush, Cheney, and the neo-cons did not like. Not really, they were all great and the thrust of the neo-cons has been to rev up the military budget each and every year.

Obama is not resisting.

CNN: Obama scraps Bush-era missile defense for new plan
The Islamic republic's "short- and medium-range" missiles pose the most current threat, he said, and "this new ballistic missile defense will best address" that threat.

CNN - UK Unemployment

The Market On Thursday

At 8:10 a.m. futures are slightly up. Asian and European markets are up and oil is slightly down.

Key data on employment and housing starts comes out at 8:30 a.m.

The DOW is at its highest level in '09, and modest optimism is all the rage.

Reuters: Stock futures edge up ahead of jobless, housing data
The Labor Department is to release weekly first-time claims for jobless benefits at 8:30 a.m.

The Commerce Department is to detail housing starts and permits for August at 8:30 a.m.

"Ponky Wockett's Revenge"

The Baker Brothers - an old school funk jam band in present form.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Episode 6"

The Circuit - cutting edge technology series

Nikkei Up On Thursday

Reuters: Nikkei rises 1.2 pct, new govt policies eyed

Rise

Another day of gains as the DOW closed at 9,791 and the S&P at 1,068.

Its interesting to note that shares of healthcare companies rose after Baucus said his bill could pass.

What do we make of that. The fear is gone, the bill must have multiple concessions because corporations are not flinching one little bit.

Reuters: Wall Street rises for third day on economic optimism
...following economic data that suggested a stronger-than-anticipated global recovery.

U.S. industrial output advanced for a second consecutive month in August, while a government report showed a bigger-than-expected drop in crude inventories last week, indicating higher demand.

America's Healthy Future Act


You can download a pdf file of the America's Healthy Future Act here. Its 223 pages long and anything but easy reading. God help us...

McClatchy: Baucus releases health care blueprint with no public option
Its highlight is the creation of co-ops. "These plans can operate at the state, regional or national level to serve as nonprofit, member-run health plans to compete in the reformed non-group and small group markets..."

Baucus said he'd pay for his plan primarily by reducing Medicare costs...

TPMtv - Racism

The Center Of The Milky Way


Amazing pictures of the Milky Way at the NASA website

Jimmy Carter - Its Racism

Ya think?

CNN - Global Business Leadership

The Market On Wednesday

At 7:45 a.m. futures are moderately up. Gold is way up, who knew. Oil is slightly down below $71 per barrel.

Right now its clear sailing, investors are moderately happy. It seems too good to be true. The market is making small steady gains and the DOW is unbelievably advancing towards 10k once again, ahem, just like 10 years ago.

Where is the twist in the road.

Reuters: Stock futures higher on commodities, M&A; data on tap
Commodity prices rose, with gold hitting an 18-month high and helping to lift silver and platinum to multi-month peaks.

Asian shares hit their highest levels for 2009 on Wednesday...

"Aerodynamic"

Daft Punk

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Dawn Of The Dead"

2004 remake of Romero's 1978 film.

"Krazytoons"

circa 1935

Nikkei Opens Higher On Wednesday

Strange story out of Ohio where Romell Broom's lethal injection execution was delayed because they couldn't find a decent vein for the I.V. Apparently this is not the first time this has happened. Other prisoners in the execution chamber waited several hours before a decent I.V. vein could be found.

Then there is George Bush recounting that Obama does not have a clue in his new tell all. Projection is an interesting thing. Who on earth would be able to understand the singularly authoritarian and ego centric machinations of Bush. From Bush's perspective every entity does not have a clue.

Finally New York police and the FBI raided a Queens home in the wee hours looking for terrorists. I almost forgot about that stuff.

Reuters: Nikkei rises 0.7 pct on econ hope, eyes on new govt

Getting High

Ka-ching, the DOW gained 56 to close at a new 2009 high of 9683 and the S&P gained 3 to close at 1,032.

Oil is up, retail sales are up, manufacturing is up. Its a trifecta of bull-ness.

In my opinion the big news for the day is the absolutely magical weather we are experiencing in upstate NY. It is a rare day, sunny, not humid, warm, clear as a bell, and with the tiniest hint of crispness. Its a day to start a romance. Its stunning.

Reuters: Wall Street closes at fresh 2009 high
...stronger manufacturing and retail sales data boosted commodity prices and shares of materials companies.
Reuters: Oil jumps 3 percent as U.S. data lifts economic outlook
U.S. retail sales rose at the fastest pace in 3-1/2 years in August and New York State manufacturing activity hit a near two-year high, data showed, more signs that economic activity was improving.

Its Over - Probably - Maybe

Bernanke saying the recession is probably over is like telling someone who just slipped off a cliff, and while that person is still in mid air, that the slipping is over.

Phew, glad that's over.

Reuters: Bernanke says recession "very likely" over
"Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point, it's still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time," Bernanke said...

CNN - Spitzer On Wall Street

The Market On Tuesday

At 8:10 a.m. DOW futures are slightly up and the S&P is slightly down.

Data on retail sales in August is set to come out today. "Good" numbers will indicate that you are back out there lightly spending like there's no tomorrow.

Since I got to bed at 3:30 a.m., really, I am barely conscious. I spent all of last night from 8:00 a.m. Monday to 3:00 a.m. Tuesday in the emergency room. My right leg from the knee down looks like a salami. It sounds tasty but its completely freaking me out. Somehow or other I sprained my knee, in the process its likely I broke a few blood vessels and this is causing amazing discoloration of my leg. They did an ultra sound to see if I had a blood clot and the results were negative. They also did blood work and that too came back fine. This whole thing started over a week ago when my knee was swollen. I finally caved to seek out help and when they said it might be a clot, this was before the final verdict, then I got a little scared. But I'm happy to say I'm fine, I think.

The final advice was to rest the leg and seek out more help if it gets worse. This morning it seemed a little better.

The hospital environment is different as you know. Its not the greatest place to go to, but we are happy and lucky to have it.

This getting old stuff....

Reuters: Stock futures flat ahead of retail sales, PPI data
The U.S. Commerce Department is to release August retail sales, with economists polled by Reuters expecting a 2.0 percent rise compared with a 0.1 percent fall in July.

"Investors are definitely looking for the beginnings of some strength there, given the back to school season and some clues as to what Christmas might be like..."

Shoe Out

CNN: Bush 'shoe thrower' unrepentant after jail release

"Boogie Woogie Blues In G"

Matt Guitar Murphy

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lewis Black On Televangelists

From Universe To Multiverse

Markets Gain Today

The DOW gained 21 and the S&P gained 6 today. Recall that Reuters is suggesting that the markets still have some headroom to move into. We shall see.

I like the excerpt below. Obama gives a speech on reeling in Wall Street and the markets are not phased. What would that indicate?

Reuters: Wall Street gains as merger activity lifts mood
U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in New York one year after Lehman Brothers' collapse sent world markets into a tailspin, called on financial firms not to fight regulatory reform, but there was little market reaction.

Threat From Pakistan

In the recent past Pakistan has been described as the most dangerous country from the USA's point of view.

The McClatchy article identifies an escalation in the terrorist presence in that country.

McClatchy: Terror group builds big base under Pakistani officials' noses
Jaish-e-Mohammad ("Army of Mohammad"), which is linked to a series of atrocities, including an attack on the Indian parliament in Delhi and the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, has walled off a 4.5-acre compound three miles outside the town of Bahawalpur in the far south of the Pakistan's heartland Punjab province.

Bubbles

On the heals of an extremely optimistic article from Reuters on the future of the investment world - Big mood shift seen in year after Lehman - comes a sour article from Yahoo.

The Yahoo article points out 10 areas forming bubbles that are ready to pop. Its interesting to note that the return to college is large. I recall reading several articles advising the undertaking and pushing people in the direction of a new degree in a bad job market. Might as well do something. In my opinion the most practical career advice I've read in recent days suggests learning to become a plumber.

A few are readily understandable. In my mind that would be the price of gold, trash financials like AIG, and commercial real estate. Commercial real estate seems on track for a serious realignment with huge foreclosures in the works.

A green bubble? The term itself seems like an oxymoron. Green is still a pipe dream.

Yahoo: Ten Bubbles in the Making
1. China bubble
2. Green bubble
3. Gold bubble
4. Federal Reserve bubble
5. Trash stock bubble
6. Education bubble
7. Subprime bubble, 2.0
8. Life insurance securitization bubble
9. Commercial real estate bubble
10. Emerging market bubble

The Market On Monday

On Monday morning at 7:20 a.m. stock futures are down and oil is down.

The September 15th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers is the occasion for President Obama to call for new Wall Street regulations.
...calls for far-reaching reforms to rein in the financial industry's excesses remain unanswered -- and may be stymied by increasing signs of a budding economic recovery. source
It sounds like a gesture in the direction of good theater only. I don't think a president can mess with the big boys, but that's just my opinion.

Reuters: Stock futures signal dip; Nextel in focus
Oil fell more than a dollar toward $68 a barrel on Monday as a rebound in the beaten-down U.S. dollar and nagging concerns that prices may have run ahead of market fundamentals extended last week's late sell-off.

"Act Naturally"

Beatles - Ringo sings, okay he's fine, he's in key, and the front line demonstrates how to play country and western like pros. George Harrison was perfectly suited to play this style.