"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The American Brand

Shirley and I caught the full interview on PBR while on the road yesterday.
Excerpt :

YouTube - Barack Obama and the American Global Image - Shashi Tharoor

Greenspan ... "Whoops"

As if bankers operate without constraints will ensure smart decisions, and assuming that competitors will not collude.

Greenspan Concedes Error on Regulation - NYTimes.com:

"A fervent proponent of deregulation during his 18-year tenure at the Fed’s helm, Mr. Greenspan has faced mounting criticism this year for having refused to consider cracking down on credit derivatives, an unchecked market whose excesses partly led to the current financial crisis."

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,” Mr. Greenspan said.

Referring to his free-market ideology, Mr. Greenspan added: “I have found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact.”

Mr. Waxman pressed the former Fed chair to clarify his words. “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working,” Mr. Waxman said.

“Absolutely, precisely,” Mr. Greenspan replied. “You know, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”

Simple Model

This has been around for a while, but still one of the best explanations of how the mess in subprime works... click here

The French are ... different

Clever humor/insight as to approaches to the world.

Shashi was Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, United Nations at the time of the quote.

Heard him on NPR while on road yesterday.

Shashi Tharoor - Is the United Nations Still Relevant?:
"In fact, we used to have a nasty little joke about the agreements of the Security Council on all these matters where it was said there was an argument between an American diplomat and a French diplomat and a particular problem, and the American diplomat said, 'You now how we can solve this? We can do this and this and this and we can solve it', and the French diplomat replied, 'Yes, yes, yes, that will work in practice but will it work in theory?'"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Insight - Growth in the Spring!

Being There (1979) - Memorable quotes:
"President 'Bobby': Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
[Long pause]

Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.

President 'Bobby': In the garden.

Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.

President 'Bobby': Spring and summer.

Chance the Gardener: Yes.

President 'Bobby': Then fall and winter.

Chance the Gardener: Yes.

Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we're upset by the seasons of our economy.

Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!

Benjamin Rand: Hmm!

Chance the Gardener: Hmm!

President 'Bobby': Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I've heard in a very, very long time.

[Benjamin Rand applauds]

President 'Bobby': I admire your good, solid sense. That's precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill."

Nice to have

Nice to have positions like this on one's portfolio when the market has been down.
Small company, exceptional management, headed to new all time high.
NEOG : Neogen, leader in food and animal safety products

image pulled from bigcharts.com

Monday, October 20, 2008

What if

Catching some of Gov Patterson of New York on CNBC this AM

Flash - what if Elliot Spitzer was still Governor - ouch, likely we'd see multiples of the losses we've seen so far and multiple perp-walks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jazz for the eyes

Image cropped from one on William Claxton After Image Gallery

William Claxton, 80, Shot 'Jazz For The Eyes' : NPR Music:
"All Things Considered, October 18, 2008 - California is the land of sunlit beaches, cars and cool jazz. They all play a part in the photography of William J. Claxton, who died in Los Angeles on Oct. 11, one day shy of his 81st birthday.

Claxton was born in Pasadena and made his name with photographs of an Oklahoma trumpet player whose career took off in California: Chet Baker. In fact, Claxton's moody images helped propel Baker to stardom."

"Claxton called his photographs "jazz for the eyes" and likened his camera to the jazz musician's axe. He told music journalist Don Heckman, "It's the tool that you would like to be able to ignore, but you have to have it to convey your thoughts and whatever you want to express through it."

read on

Images and nice soundtrack here:
William Claxton Photography

Peggy Noonan on the debate

I tend to agree...
Race to the bottom.

It'll be an interesting few years coming up.

Declarations - WSJ.com:
"There is now something infantilizing about this election. Mr. Obama continued to claim he will remove wasteful spending by sitting down with the federal budget and going through it 'line by line.' This is absurd, and he must know it. Mr. McCain continued to vow he will 'balance the budget' in the next four years. Who believes that? Does even he?"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Slippery Slope

Looney Dunes: Looney Dunes: Interesting Prediction:

"Will we see it under $100 soon?" (Sept 2, 08)

Guess so:

Longer term

Words of Wisdom

Op-Ed Contributor - Buy American. I Am. - NYTimes.com:

"A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now." ... Warren Buffett

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thougth So

BBC NEWS | Health | Internet use 'good for the brain':

"For middle-aged and older people at least, using the internet helps boost brain power, research suggests.

A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centres in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning."

Tip of the hat to Doc Searls

Sunday, October 12, 2008

F-king Genius's

Brilliant investment technique, concentrate all your holdings in a company you run, then add to risk via margin.

While I use margin, I have a bit of diversification.
Lesson - managers egos can drive them to severe errors in thinking.

Margin Calls Prompt Sales, and Drive Shares Even Lower - NYTimes.com:

"“That suggests that there may be other cases where chief executives who are controlling shareholders or the company’s major shareholder with the same problem,” Mr. Vogel said. “These people present themselves as financially savvy and not subject to great risk associated with debt. But in fact it seems that that is not always the case.”"

Such as :

On Friday, Aubrey K. McClendon, the chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, issued a statement saying he had been forced to sell all of his 33.5 million shares in Chesapeake because of a margin call. And Sumner M. Redstone, the chairman of Viacom and CBS, disclosed that he would sell $400 million in shares in those companies to pay down a loan.

Major Investment no-no

Well, since I didn't go to cash at the top, or anywhere near it, take my advice with a large grain of salt.
But, that said, I agree with the idea of holding positions for the long term.

What this piece also misses is the tax cost of market timing.
I've got a few losses, but very few.
Likely will do some tax trades before the end of the year.

Your Money - Switching to Cash May Feel Safe, but Risks Remain - NYTimes.com:

"By fleeing for the comfort of safe and insured, however, investors with a time horizon beyond a few years may be doing real damage to their long-term finances. If you’re tempted to make a big move to cash right now, you’re doing something called market timing. It’s an implied statement that you’ve figured out the right moment to get out of stocks — and will also know the right time to get back in."

Maybe... just maybe

Those With Sense of History May Find It’s Time to Invest - NYTimes.com:

"The four most dangerous words for investors are: This time is different."

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I recalled the other day, putting together HeathKit radio's with my father

I don't think that the shortwave was this model, but close
Learned a bit about assembly, a little about electronics, circuits, and picked up sputnik signals (late 1957)

Dad : not sure that I ever thanked you for this experience

Great App

Could be truly great app
Filter's your outgoing emails when you might be guilty of EUI
Emailing Under the Influence

Google launches Mail Goggles to save you from yourself | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone - CNET


Good perspective

As Dire as the Times May Seem, History Isn't About to Repeat Itself - WSJ.com: "Remember that we've been through tough times before. The Internet bust was almost as extraordinary as the 1929 crash: Between early 2000 and late 2002, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index fell almost 80%. You may recall the speculative real-estate lending that resulted in almost 2,000 bank failures between 1987 and 1991, and the Dow plunging 22.6% in one day in 1987. While none of those were pleasant, you're still here.

Stay the course. You know this, but it's a time to return to the basics. Live within your means. Reduce your debt. Keep saving -- and investing. When the cycle turns, and it will, you'll be glad you did."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Any Correlation?

Could it be?

Newbie president with a congress that are charter members of the "Don't have a Clue Club" ?

Or has Atlas shrugged?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Skip the Election

Results are foregone conclusion and the Dems are justifying increased deficit.

Condemn the Bush deficit?
Naw, just justify the Obama deficit...

Op-Ed Contributor - Saved by the Deficit? - NYTimes.com: "Both presidential candidates have been criticized for failing — at Tuesday’s debate and previously — to name any promises or plans they’re going to have to scrap because of the bailout and the failing economy. That criticism is unwarranted. The assumption that we are about to have a rerun of 1993 — when Bill Clinton, newly installed as president, was forced to jettison much of his agenda because of a surging budget deficit — may well be mistaken."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Efficent Market ... yeah right

About all the efficient market and random walk theories
Bah Humbug

Note that I did start buying today ... small

Forget Logic; Fear Appears to Have Edge - NYTimes.com:

"Anybody searching for cause-and-effect logic in the daily gyrations of the market will be disappointed — even if the overarching problem of a crisis of confidence in the global economy is now becoming clear.

Instead, the market has become a case study in the psychology of crowds, many experts say. In normal times, it runs on a healthy mix of fear and greed. But fear now seems to rule, with investors often exhibiting a Wall Street version of the fight-or-flight mechanism — they are selling first, and asking questions later."


Doc on the "debate": Post-debate thoughtdown

I turned in after about 20 min.

Personally, I think it's over for McCain, but also that the "new" is wearing off Obama.

Either gets a crappy economy
Not a "Great Depression" but not "Happy Days" either

Add in a dysfunctional Congress and either may well be a one term holder.

Just a marker

Bought some Irwin Financial (IFC)
Started doing business with them this year, and I like them

Near the bottom
Pure speculation

We'll see what happens

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Trust me ...

From a broadcast I caught on NPR this AM
History of distrust in media and government adds to crisis of confidence, as exhibited on Wall St. and in the banking community.

Who dealt this mess?

On The Media: Transcript of "Past is Present" (October 3, 2008):

October 03, 2008

"During The Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt told Americans that their faith and confidence was key to recovery. Is that the case this time around? Columbia University Provost and historian Alan Brinkley discusses some lessons of past crises."

Perceptions on ideas

Excellent post

Conservatism overshoots its limit

By Gideon Rachman

Published: October 6 2008 19:13 | Last updated: October 6 2008 19:13

Pinn illustration

The market for ideas – like the market for shares – always overshoots. Ideas become fashionable and get pushed to their logical conclusion and beyond, as their backers succumb to “irrational exuberance”. Then comes the crash.

What we are experiencing now is the bust that has followed the 30-year bull run in conservative ideas that began with the Thatcher-Reagan revolution of 1979-80.

You can get a sense of how quickly the intellectual atmosphere has changed by picking up a copy of Alan Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence, which was published last year. Mr Greenspan, head of the Federal Reserve from 1987 until 2006, heaped praise on the magic of financial markets and decried the foolishness of those who called for more regulation: “Why do we wish to inhibit the pollinating bees of Wall Street?” he asked rhetorically. Why indeed?

Mr Greenspan was considered such a guru that last year Senator John McCain suggested putting him in charge of a committee on tax reform, adding: “If he’s alive or dead it doesn’t matter. If he’s dead, just prop him up and put some dark glasses on him.” But Mr Greenspan’s reputation is now on the slide and Mr McCain has reinvented himself as a champion of regulation – and is denouncing the “corruption and unbridled greed that has caused a crisis on Wall Street”.

This kind of ideological whiplash is what happens when an intellectual bull market crashes. The current financial crisis can be traced to three of the central ideas of the Reagan-Thatcher era: the promotion of home ownership, financial deregulation and a fervent faith in the market. Each of these ideas did sterling service for 30 years, increasing prosperity and freedom. But pushed too far – and combined – they have created a disaster.

The subprime mortgages that are at the heart of the current financial crisis expanded the dream of home ownership to people who could not afford the financial burdens they were taking on. In April 2005 Mr Greenspan praised subprime mortgages for helping to widen home ownership and hailed them as “representative of the market responses that have driven the financial services industry throughout the history of our country”.

Investment bankers, the shock- troops of the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, were allowed to bet their banks on this new market, because regulators and politicians believed so firmly in the magical and self- regulating qualities of the market.

The same process of intellectual overshoot happened with other signature ideas of the Reagan- Thatcher era: privatisation, scepticism about environmentalism and democracy promotion.

When Thatcherites first mooted privatisation it was derided as an impractical dream. But early triumphs with airlines and telecommunications in Britain created a vogue that spread round the world. That emboldened the privatisers to take on new and harder challenges, such as the UK’s railways. But failure there led to a backlash.

Similarly, when the conservative era started, foreign military engagements were out of fashion in the west. But Britain’s Falklands war and the American invasion of Grenada began to change this. During the 1990s, a series of successful military interventions – the first Gulf war, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone – made Anglo-American political leaders much more relaxed about the use of military force. Too relaxed. The horrors that have followed the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan will mean that the intellectual pendulum will now swing in the opposite direction.

The idea of democracy promotion has gone through a similar boom-and-bust cycle. The collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989 was regarded as the ultimate vindication of the rightwing universalism that argued that all people did indeed desire democratic, free-market systems. Advocates of the globalisation of democracy became much more assertive. A policy of providing moral support to anti-Soviet dissidents in Europe in the 1980s had, by 2003, transmogrified into a policy of exporting democracy by force of arms to the Middle East.

Once again, a successful idea has been pushed to its logical conclusion – and beyond. And once again an intellectual backlash has begun. David Cameron, the leader of Britain’s Conservatives, captured the new conventional wisdom when he said recently: “We should accept that we cannot impose democracy at the barrel of a gun. We cannot drop democracy from 10,000 feet.”

Both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher favoured growth over greenery. Mrs Thatcher hailed “the great car-owning democracy” and Reagan mused that trees were a major source of pollution. But in Britain – and, to a lesser extent, the US – climate change has turned conservatives green with anxiety. Mr Cameron, a reliable intellectual weather-vane, ostentatiously cycles to work and has adopted a tree as the symbol of the new Tory party. Mr McCain takes climate change very seriously.

The ideological roots of the conservative era lay in a reaction to the excesses of the Keynesian consensus. Now that the intellectual cycle has swung so decisively against the rightwing ideas of the Reagan-Thatcher era, it is bound to overshoot in the other direction. The joys of government regulation will quickly pall. In a few years’ time, nostalgia will set in for the go-go years on Wall Street and for the bracing moral certainties of neoconservatism.

Audacious intellectual investors should now be sniffing around. Quite soon ideas such as deregulation and democracy promotion will be a buy.

End of the Euro ?

One currency, with 27 governments
And while the US Congress looks messy ...

As screwed up as things are in the credit markets and with the US in the middle of a rare political season ( no incumbents at the top of the ticket ) markets still prefer the dollar.

note: chart source : http://www.dailyfx.com/charts/Chart.html

Saturday, October 04, 2008


shot about an hour ago, 9:25 to be exact
clear autumn night, quarter moon setting

Handy Dandy

Spent time today helping Shirley with fall garden clean
Grass's and grass type plants get trimmed back
Tried this
Made smaller grasses a breeze
For the big one ( over about 6 ft ) I cinch with tie-down's then use chain saw

Black & Decker Power Tools: "7.2 Volt Cordless Shear / Shrubber

7.2 Volt Cordless Shear / Shrubber
Model # SSC1000
Ergonomic, Well Balanced Design Provides Superior Comfort and Control During Use
Interchangeable Blade System Allows Easy Conversion From Grass Shear to Detail Shrubber for Versatile Trimming
7.2 Volt Rechargeable Battery Delivers More Power and Longer Runtime
Precision Sharpened 4' Shear Blade and 6' Shrubber Blade Deliver Cleaner Faster Cutting

Friday, October 03, 2008


Roger on the Veep "debate"

You didn't ask about the debate, but... - Roger Ebert's Journal: "...some observations about what we observed Thursday night. They are not political. They involve such matters as body language, facial expression and vocal tone. These are legitimate subjects for a film critic. As Patrick Goldstein wrote recently in the Los Angeles Times: 'In some ways film critics are probably better equipped to assess the political theater of today's presidential campaigns, since our campaigns are -- as has surely been obvious for some time -- far more about theater and image creation than politics.' I would like to discuss the vice presidential debate as theater."


Prior post

The one reader that follows my blather caught this
Although it could apply to gnomes, the spellcheck should have given


As for gnomes

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Efficent Markets ... not

Fits my thinking
Markets run on physiology, not always facts.
This is why "rocket science" always fail in the end

Op-Ed Contributor - This Economy Does Not Compute - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com:

"Certainly, markets have internal dynamics. They’re self-propelling systems driven in large part by what investors believe other investors believe; participants trade on rumors and gossip, on fears and expectations, and traders speak for good reason of the market’s optimism or pessimism. It’s these internal dynamics that make it possible for billions to evaporate from portfolios in a few short months just because people suddenly begin remembering that housing values do not always go up.

Really understanding what’s going on means going beyond equilibrium thinking and getting some insight into the underlying ecology of beliefs and expectations, perceptions and misperceptions, that drive market swings.

Surprisingly, very few economists have actually tried to do this, although that’s now changing — if slowly — through the efforts of pioneers who are building computer models able to mimic market dynamics by simulating their workings from the bottom up."


CNBC's Joe Kernen

"You have to be crazy to be a politician, so how can you expect them to do anything productive?"

Op-Ed Columnist - Revolt of the Nihilists - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com:

"House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.

Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality."

Interesting comment from Doc's sister, Jan:
Doc Searls Weblog : The 2012 campaign