Just a few questions. [more]
Just a few headlines that I found in the Nov 27, 2010 issue of Wall Street Journal. [more]
If crisis has one positive thing about it, it's that it makes people smarter. It's not an accident that only now, having lost his oil bubble, Putin has finally shown some rudimentary understanding of basic economics. [more]
If you can't fill a CEO position for months, maybe it's because you didn't want to fill it? Here is one idiot who thinks it's impossible to find a good employee for "just" a 7-digit salary. It bears mentioning that Bove's employment criterion for the successful job applicant is hardly too demanding: you must be able to match the performance of Ken Lewis, i.e. bankrupt BAC but not to the very end, because taxpayers won't allow you to complete that last step even though you've tried. [more]
Brezhnev speaks at the opening of the Olympic games: "O! O! O! O! O!". The speechwriter whispers into his ear: "Comrade Brezhnev, these are not "O"s, but the five Olympic rings. The text is below." [more]
The Economist magazine had an article about various options how to balance the 2014 budget. Normally such articles run like along the lines: "Option 1: tax charity organizations proving free soup to the hungry - Savings: $30M; Option 2: Allow Medicare to pay for involuntary euthanasia of certain groups of patients - savings: 50M". But this article was more reasonable than that, so I tried to find the missing $726 billion using the options available. [more]
Of course, patriotism should take priority over the inconvenient facts - or so some comments on my last posts imply. So, lest I be called a lackey of the American imperialists, I thought I'd do my best to give a balanced picture. I'd still report the nasty events, such as the raider attack on Hermitage Capital Management, but I'd also report any piece of good news that I can find. The problem is that I don't see as many good news as I'd like to - Mr. Putin makes it terribly hard to remain positive on Russia sometimes. But here you go, here's your piece of good news. It looks like downtown St. Petersburg will after all be spared from Gazprom's corn-on-the-cob. It's not official yet, but once the speaker of the parliament has spoken, you can be sure that his statement was agreed upon with His Imperial Majesty. The winners: long-suffering Gazprom shareholders, Russian government's budget, and every Russian and foreigner who thinks St. Petersburg is a beautiful town and would like it to remain that way. The loser: Gazprom's CEO who will not get a chance to buy himself a new multibillion-dollar office at taxpayers' expense. Not that I think this economy of funds will save OGZPY.PK from eventual bankruptcy. But at least the management will now have to look for some other way to siphon off these billions, and the tourists will still keep coming to Petersburg for the time being. http://gallery.hd.org/_tn/std/places-and-sights/_more2006/_more08/Russia-St-Petersburg-canal-brightly-coloured-building-facades-highres-1-CKB.jpg [more]
This thought has occurred to me frequently in the last few months. Right now, I'm not sure what the correct answer is. I can make an argument that S&P will go down but I can just as easily take the opposite side of the argument. One thing I'm sure of: it will have an effect one way or the other. Therefore I expect that volatility won't disappear and the market will remain an exciting place for the next few years. Just how exciting and in what particular way - that is the question. I want to collect OPOs - Other People's Opinions - first, and then maybe I'll give it some more thought and then formulate my conclusions. So here is my question to everyone: Chinese economy will collapse in the next few years. What will then happen to S&P? [more]
So they are now going to pay 25 billion euros for a permanently empty gas pipeline. Why will it be permanently empty? Because transportation costs will be $139 per 1000 cubic meters vs. $42 that they pay now when they transport gas through the Ukraine. Gazprom shareholders must be happy to see 25 billion euros (some $35 billion) buried in the Black Sea by the management, unless of course they happen to own a share in the contractor(s) that was selected by Gazprom to build that pipeline. http://www.vedomosti.ru/newspaper/article/2009/11/18/219142 [more]
Jim O'Neill deserves the "idiot of the day" title for making a prediction that China will overtake the US by 2027. He then further reinforces that title by talking nonsense about time zones and the English language, but that really is an extra: his first prediction is already sufficient. [more]
MOSCOW -- A lawyer for investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, jailed on tax charges related to his work for the fund, has died in custody, Irina Dudukina, spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee of Russia's Interior Ministry said Tuesday. [more]
Seekingalpha has an article on US-China trade that actually makes some sense. I don't think a stronger yuan could change the trade deficit, but at least the author has a sensible approach where the ultimate fate of surpluses is to be exchanged for the goods or investments that you may need. Next to the boneheads who claim that the purpose of selling goods abroad is to accumulate paper that you don't need and have Bernanke devalue this paper so that you can give yourself an excuse to rinse and repeat, this author almost begins to look intelligent. [more]
It is really very singular. We have free information flows here, and still the government obama is heading is about as accountable as Madoff Securities. [more]
It really very singular. We have free information flows here, and still the government obama is heading is about as accountable as Madoff Securities. "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable," Obama told students during his first-ever trip to China. http://www.fool.com/news/associated-press/2009/11/16/obama-to-china-uncensored-society-is-healthy.aspx?source=ihpsitota0000001 [more]
Here is one shockingly high number reported by the Department of Labor: in the last year, 61.8 million Americans worked for free, contributing a median of 52 hours, or something like $900-$1000 per person in dollar terms. Furthermore, this number was essentially unchanged from the prior year, suggesting that the first natural suspect - financial crisis - was most likely uncorrelated with the rate of volunteering. Other interesting facts: most volunteers were employed full or part-time, and the rate of participation increases rapidly with one's education level, reaching 42.2% for those with BS degree of higher. It is ironic that this presumably ultra-capitalist society appears to have a stronger commitment to voluntary work than any of those countries that claimed to be building Communism. [more]
For all the abundance of homegrown idiots, morons, dunderheads, and other simpletons, once again an ambitious foreign fool with initiative grabs the main award. Mr. Medvedev's suggestion that Russian economy could be modernized by reshuffling the time zones is as good as the best bits of wisdom from Baby Bush, only more erratic. Admit it: you have to feel a little sorry for the electric grid operators in Vladivostok who will now face the task of illuminating the city at night because the local clock is showing Moscow time. [more]
The Electoral Asses
(by Heinrich Heine ) [more]
For a few weeks now I've been wondering at the miraculous ability of Tim Geithner to run a huge budget deficit without increasing the govt debt. I even had this discussion with player lquadland10, pointing out how the debt clock numbers seem to grow for a week or so, only to be reset back to their previous readings by next Monday. So in that Sep 28 post I speculated that some stealthy monetization program was under way. [more]
The Fed kept its funds rate unchanged. We are all saved!!!
I'm still supporting the view that there is no essential difference between their economic policies, but there may be a slight difference in style. Here is a good way to think about it (this comes from my comment on DeretothRedux's healthcare blog. A republican will climb up the ladder, pull it up with him so you can't have it, and piss on you from the rooftop. A democrat will climb up the ladder, pull it up with him so you can't have it, give you a friendly smile and prompt you to climb on top after him. While the end result is going to be absolutely the same, your right to choose how that economic meal is to be served will provide for hours, month, and years of heated discussion. Let the debate rage! [more]
Mission completed. Rail giant Burlington Northern (NYSE: BNI) shot and killed a massive, $155 billion elephant with this selloff to Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A). [more]
I sold BRK-B today in response to the news about its BNI acquisition. No longer fits in the portfolio: investment thesis has changed forever.
Am I wrong in saying that the pundits have started talking about the impending commercial RE crash only now that it crashed 40% from the peak levels? Should I then treat these prognostications the same way as we treat those "financial analysts" that upgrade stocks at the peak only to downgrade them at the bottom?