Thursday, July 31, 2008

Boston Does Not Deserve Manny Ramirez - It Never Did

"The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me," ... "I've seen how they have mistreated other great players when they didn't want them, to try to turn the fans against them."

Now I could care less about professional baseball...

But the Red Sox and their self-important fans are ungrateful idiots for trading Manny Ramirez.

Point of fact, I stopped following them completely when they got rid of my all-time favorite baseball player in Pedro Martinez.

Show me one athlete in the history of sports like Pedro or Manny who's signed a ginormous, multi-year contract (Pedro got the richest contract ever for a pitcher - 6 years and $75 million and Manny got a 8 year contract worth $160 million!) and then gone out and earned every penny of it. They made the team competitive, exciting, and victorious.

Of course, management thinks THEY are the ones responsible for breaking the Curse of the Bambino...

I don't really hate the Red Sox; I just loathe their fans. This pagan religion really gets under my skin.

If you haven't already, read my prior post - Marginalizing Red Sox Fans.

(In it, see if you can find one of my most *asinine* predictions ever.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

See This Movie

I watched Mel Gibson's Apocalypto last night.

It was a tremendous movie - probably as good as Braveheart.

But don't make the mistake that I made. Don't watch it late at night and expect to go right to sleep when this heart-pounding thriller is over.

July Trading Update

It's been a busy month trading. I guess I better publish my "July" update before August.

First, familiarize yourself with my last update.

I sold (short) July 7.5 puts for .60 in FirstFed Financial - FED. This was to spread some premium against my October 22.5 and January 15 puts. First Federal Corp was trading around $9 per share when I made this ill-timed trade. Ill-timed because FED dropped as low as $2.91 before July expiry - well past my breakeven price of $7.00. Sure I want FED to dump all the way to zero, BUT not right after I sell some puts! The stock had dropped precipitously, the puts were "fat", and I thought the financial sector was ripe for a bounce....all of which was absolutely correct, but, again, I was too early.

Fortunately, the stock did bounce and I covered these July 7.5s at $1.20. I even went long these particular puts at .50 with two days before expiration. I bought stock against them at $7.02 so the purchase became a wash (I was unable to flip the shares).

According to Yahoo Finance, a whopping 81% of FED's available float is sold short!

What does that mean? Well, it effectively means the stock is heading to zero. Wall Street has bet against survivorship.

Now, moving on to Wells Fargo. As you can see above, my holdover short positions did well on this slow drift down from $32 to near $20 a share. I was also shorting the bounces for small scalps:

I shorted more WFC 24.72 and 24.14.....covered at 22.90.

And I also shorted WFC at 22.12, buying it back at 21.55.

Then disaster struck. I added to my core short position at $24.31 and the watched the stock plummet to multi-year low of 20.46. All along, my long term target for Wells was around $20 a share. I've never really adjusted that goal. Note also that just about every financial company I have shorted this spring has gone WAAAAAAAYYYY lower after I have covered (FNM, COF, BAC, C,...). So covering my core WFC short position (short shares and Oct 30 puts) wasn't really on my mind. For an instant, I did consider taking some off the table. But, really, with everything going on (California real estate collapse and $135 oil especially), the future outlook for Wells Fargo is less than sanguine. Sure, there may be a rally if oil dips to $100, but how long would any such bounce last? Mostly, I've been thinking more along the lines of "Why aren't I shorter?" than "Where should I cover?".

Nonetheless, obviously in hindsight I should have covered some. Wells reported earnings and a dividend raise last Wednesday while I was out playing Long Island National. I came back, saw WFC up $3 and shorted more. Then I shorted more with it up $5 on the day. Unfortunately it finished up a whopping $7 - nearly a 35% jump. All this was on *fraudulent* earnings, a subject for another post. Are things, despite all other evidence, really going well enough for Wells Fargo to raise their dividend? I think not.

Now, keep in mind that Lehman Brothers Holdings raised their dividend in January with their stock trading $62 per share (Ah, the good ole days). Today it languishes at $17.65!

On the subject of Lehman. Some guy that I played golf with at Montauk Downs told me his buddy "was a big Lehman guy", that "he worked there for years", and had amassed "over $5 million worth of stock" that is now worth relatively nothing (merely $1 million). These are the chums faced with the torturous dilemma - "Do I sell here and lock in my remaining $1 million or do I ride out the storm and pray?"

Regardless, with WFC at 27.93, I still have three losing trades in my account - shorts at 24.31, 23.95, and 26.45 - that I am going to have to deal with one way or another.

I have put a toe into the palladium market - buying Stillwater Mining January 2010 15-strike calls for $2.40 apiece.

I also bought a little North American Palladium at 5.09.

Running down my account activity I see that I got in QQQQ at 44.46 out at 44.88. Who knows why? I must have had a mediocre reason for that trade.

There was an earlier big *short squeeze* day - July 8th I believe. All I did then was short a little more Simon Property Group Inc. (the mall REIT) and AvalonBay Communities, Inc.

I shorted SPG at 90.75....and covered the next day at 88.10.

I shorted AVB at 91.48....and covered the next day at 89.73.

I cashed out my UltraShort MSCI Emerging Markets ProShares - ticker EEV at 84.70. I bought it at 63.16 on May 22nd this year. Yeah baby, a winner!

I added to my losing CDE position at 2.44. Then the other day I dumped it at 2.45 so I could do other things.

Likewise, I covered HRB, one financial short that just didn't work. I covered it at 24.16; my original cost basis was 19.70. Glad to be done with that one. Now it will tank, just you watch.

Here's another winner. Just before the big financial *short squeeze*, I sold my July 80 puts in HBC for 7.20. Those, I had bought back in June for a mere 1.30 apiece.

I am also re-establishing my short US Treasury position. Yeah, that's the trade that killed me in the beginning of this year. However, I am doing it via puts for now to give myself some more of a timing cushion. Ideally, these trades should be done with futures options but most of my free capital is in my brokerage account.

I bought December 89 puts on iShares Lehman 20+ Year Treasury Bond (ETF) at 2.50.

And I bought January 83 puts on iShares Lehman 7-10 Yr Treasury Bond (ETF) at 1.45.

Lastly, into this massive short squeeze in the financials (and REITs) I added to my core UltraShort Real Estate ProShares position at 98.29.

And I initiated a UltraShort Financials ProShares position - buying SKF at 140.03, 133.25, and 132.79 on the way down and a day or two too early from perfection.

Almost forgot, I shorted Bank Of America Corp at 30.55.

Shoot, can y'all believe the summer's already over?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Buy A Little Palladium

It might very well be time to get long some palladium - read the basics on Wikipedia.

Though I've been trading gold and silver I haven't ever done much trading of palladium - or any of the other so-called PGM - Platium Group Metals: platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium.

Jim Rogers is bullish on it. AND, it's got a healthy chart:

If you read this blog post, there's a 73% chance you'll get all bulled up as well.

On the commodities exchanges, the minimum increment is 100 ounces. In other words, one futures contract gets you that much of the metal. With palladium trading around $400, that makes the smallest possible investment about a $40,000 commitment. (Though, margin for that is just less than $4,000).

One could play Stillwater Mining Company or North American Palladium Ltd as equity plays on a palladium run. I bought a little of both - stock in PAL and Jan 2010 15-strike calls in SWC.

Now that I am long some palladium (bought December delivery at $394) I can daydream about it doing what rhodium has done over the past few years.

Yeah, you're reading that correctly. Today, rhodium trades for 30 times what it did 5 years ago!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Real Estate "Investor"...

From the Palm Beach Post,

Real estate mogul Donald Trump closed the sale of a Palm Beach mansion to a Russian billionaire Tuesday for the blockbuster price of $95 million.

Now attention turns to the new owner, Rybolovlev, said to be one of Russia's wealthiest businessmen. The Forbes list of the world's billionaires places him at No. 59, with an estimated net worth of $12.8 billion.

In a statement released to The Wall Street Journal in June, Rybolovlev confirmed he was the buyer but characterized the purchase as an investment.

Sources say Rybolovlev is considering tearing down the house and building a new mansion - a move that could make the deal the most expensive teardown.

By the way, that ain't a lot of money for this buyer. He only shelled out ($100 million / $12.8 billon) or 1/128th of his net worth for this palace.

Most of the regular folk are technically bankrupt when they subtract their mortgage debt from their net worth. Or, even without a mortgage, most people have far more substantial percentage of their wealth tied up in shelter.

$95 million, $125 million, or even $200 million...what's the difference to a buyer like this?

There are always fortunes being made somewhere, somehow. Guys like Trump are certainly savvy to speculate in the high end of the real estate spectrum. Who better to cater to than those who, well let's just say, are impervious to the mortgage market?

Vent, Breathe, And Repeat

In the old days, I used to pen rambling, *angry-man* posts covering a potpourri of subjects. Right now I am feeling nostalgic.

As a most Captious dude, every little thing that is wrong, illogical, or annoying pops to the fore of my attention. I have notebooks and scraps of paper where I jot all these realizations down. It's not uncommon for me to get up in the middle of the night and scribble one down. From 12:30 am last night:

- Why does my father, when you ask him if he's hungry, JUST HAVE TO LOOK AT HIS WATCH? What exactly is the correlation between the pangs of hunger and Eastern Standard Time?

What I really should do is, while he's nodding off in his armchair, I should stealthily put a piece of tape or something on his watch. Then, I will rouse him with my hunger question. How funny would it be to see him peeling off the tape before he answers? What a YouTubable event!

As pubescents, my brother and I used to put potato chips in our father's wide-open mouth while he dozed off. It really pissed him off.

Honor thy parents?

Well, the Commandments weren't posted anywhere in the house...

Last week, 53 year-old Greg Norman was leading the British Open by two strokes entering the final round. He didn't pull off what would have been one of the most amazing 'old coot' victories in sports history but he nonetheless played some amazing golf.

How infuriating must the media coverage have been for his ex-wife to bear? All they talked about was the "positive influence" of Greg's new wife - Chris Evert Lloyd Mills Norman.

I guess, more aptly, we should call Greg "her new husband".

With his old wife (a "negative influence"?) he only managed to win two majors and became the top ranked player in the world for quite some time.

Above is a pic of the two marriages that were destroyed. They were good friends and neighbors for years beforehand.

The wedding must have been weird for the kids:

Greg Norman and Chris Evert wed in the Bahamas on June 28, 2008. There were all 140 guests attended a sunset wedding ceremony. Evert's youngest son Colton Jack, 12, served as ring bearer, and sons Nicholas Joseph, 14, and Alexander James, 16, walked her down the aisle. The three boys were from a marriage of Chris Evert and Andy Mill. Also present were Norman's daughter Morgan, 23, and son Gregory Jr., 21, who served as best man.

For more on Greg Norman, see my prior post.

The problem with a rising oil price is that, well, it affects almost everything. For instance, high oil drives up the price of natural gas and coal - two other substitute sources of energy. Electricity rates nationwide are about to get raised drastically. Take California for example:

The rising price of natural gas is one of the reasons why Southern California Edison, the largest utility in California, recently warned customers it would be requesting a sharp increase in rates. Mid to high use residential customers can expect a rate hike in excess of 30 percent. For their overall system of 4.8 million customers, the average rate increase will be 25 percent.

I assume we're going to get slammed pretty badly up here in New England as well. Maybe those 'old coots' were on to something running around turning of lights in unoccupied rooms after all?

My wife took my 3.5 year-old son to see this new Pixar animated film Wall-E.

I believe the essence of the film is that humans destroyed the earth and everyone had to move to outer space. Somehow this "Wall E" robot was able to revive life on Earth. I didn't see the movie but my wife was disgusted by the eco-pagan propaganda. Read the reviews and form your own conclusions.

In my opinion, here's the problem with our current political *system*.

On one hand you have the party of Big Government, the outright socialists, i.e. the Democrats. And on the other hand you have the party of Slightly Less Big Government, the bull-market-capitalists and bear-market-socialists. Clearly, the latter is better than recreating the USSR as the Big Morons would have us do.

The failing of the GOP however is that it's decided to play "match play" against its fumbling opponent. The game of government, the appropriate and efficient administration of taxpayer monies should be stroke play. Republicans should be shooting for par, NOT trying to beat the socialists' quadruple bogey by one shot.

We need a new political party, an un-party with no *management* and no organized fundraising. We need just a collection of people to associate and work against our country's greatest *systematic risk* - the entrenched party duopoly.

As a nation we could fix just about any problem and any threat be it financial, military, or whatnot....but not if our tools are broken.

In the flat-Earth, internet age of today my prescription is more possible than ever - though it could still take many years to actualize.

Can someone please stand up and propose a plan to eliminate mail once and for all?

There's nothing that the mailman drops in my box that I have ever *needed*; nothing that couldn't have been sent electronically.

One side benefit of having had five different addresses over the past 7 years is that our junk mail is minimal. The longer you stay somewhere, the more you get bombarded with it.

Where are my good friends, the eco-pagan environmentalists when I need them? Think of all the dead trees!

If I were dictator, the US Postal Service would be near first on the chopping block.

Really, why the heck do we have one arm of the government disseminating needless trash to every house in America - trash that then must be picked up by another inefficient government entity?

The Boston Globe recently profiled this family and their struggles to keep up with college tuition payments. Of course, tuitions have been rising, the student loan market shut down, and HELOCs (home equity lines of credit) have become much more difficult to acquire thanks to the housing bust.

The Ferragutos are applying to borrow money through the loan program at Holy Cross, but do not yet know how much they will receive. Even with grants from the school and a work-study program, they will still be responsible for a $24,000 bill. Like many Americans, the family has tapped every available source to fund their sons' educations, including home equity loans, and borrowing against their 401(k) retirement plan. One year, Michael took out a student loan in his own name.

"It's always just a little more than we say we can afford," Maria said.

Especially since Michael, 20, a music and French major, is not getting the $6,000 music scholarship he was awarded last year. The school said the funds came from a limited endowment and were not available this year. In light of that, Maria has sent a letter of appeal asking Holy Cross to consider providing more assistance. The school reviews such appeals after the Aug. 1 tuition due date.

Meantime, everyone in the Ferraguto family is helping out. Michael works as a cashier at a restaurant, and he's selling subscriptions for Boston Baroque, an orchestra and choral group. His father, a salesman for a concrete company, drives a limousine on weekends to earn extra money.

So everyone is bending over backwards annually for $47,500 so this *kid* can study Music and French?

Couldn't he do that on his own, perhaps utilizing a free library, and spending a whole lot less than $200,000???

By the way, this type of all-out self-sacrifice is exactly how my parents were when sending their four kids to college. We had no restrictions on what we could or couldn't study. Of course, tuitions were at about half of today's nosebleed levels AND we got considerable grant money. Parents in the upper middle class are the ones who bear the biggest financial burden; these are the people who need to opt for state schools or even vocational schools to send the colleges the message that a degree today simply isn't worth what they are charging for it.

The richest line in the article quoted above is:

One year, Michael took out a student loan in his own name.

Egad! A twenty year-old collides with personal responsibility? What a *progressive* society we have today!

Why build up home equity? Why save for retirement at all if you are just going to flush it down the toilet for your children's *higher education*?

Alright, now I am sufficiently worked up for a Friday morning, it's time for my yoga.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How Do You Say "Moron" In French?

This is an actual conversation I had with a random, ugly, foreign woman today while out with my kids:

[after five minutes of small talk...]

CaptiousNut - (jokingly) What's that, a Boston accent you have?

ForeignMom - No, I'mmmmm from Frahhhnce (France).

CaptiousNut - You married an American guy?

ForeignMom - Yeah.

CaptiousNut - I thought you guys hated Americans???

ForeignMom - (irate) Dat iz a bery prejewdissed ding to say.

CaptiousNut - Gee, all this time I thought 'hating Americans' was prejudicial...


CaptiousNut - Here's a prejudice for you. Up until now, I mistakenly thought that all French chicks were attractive!

Okay, that last line was muttered, inaudibly under my breath. Believe it or not, I am really quite the social diplomat out in public!

Now clearly, living in America, marrying an American, and reproducing with one ought to give her quite the buffer against any sort of "anti-American" accusation, should it not? It's just like the impunity I hold for Italian mockery. I was being ironical; it was a jest for crying out loud. But she was incredibly pissed. At least a pissed off French(wo)man is hardly at all scary.

So I wonder - what fool would marry a humorless, hideous French woman?

She must have some dowry. Or some hope chest.

Perhaps he's no prize either.

These are small towns. We'll clash again and, of course, I'll blog it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cheapness And Its Ramifications

So get this, my buddy bet on the Celtics to win the NBA Title this year. Obviously, that was the correct outcome to wager on. Even better, he placed the bet BEFORE the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett.

The odds he got.....(drum roll)......

275 to 1!!!

This friend of mine emptied his wallet for this dreamy speculation (he's a diehard, born-and-raised, Celts fan).

Too bad he only had a fin left.

$5 times 275 is still $1,375.

AND, he got to enjoy the his team's victorious season.

But still, another two bucks or so would have paid off handsomely.....didn't he have any loose change?

This story reminds me of what another one of my buddies did at a golf tournament in Wildwood, New Jersey.

This was a four day event. But each day they had "closest to the pin" on the short par 3s. For five bucks you could choose to enter. I would venture to guess that at least half of the 256 guys anted up every time they reached these holes - probably more than half. So there's $600 or more up for grabs. This buddy of mine, a 7 or 8 handicap, contemplated his chances of stiffing the pin and decided to save his precious $5.

Sure enough, he knocked it 10 inches and would have won the pot.

The next day, faced with the same decision, "To ante or not to ante", NumbNuts figured there was no way he could out-play all 255 golfers on this same particular shot - EVEN though he had just done it the prior round. So he went "short-armed" again and left the same $5 bill in his pocket.

He hit it 10 inches from the hole, yet again!

He's not just a Moron; he's a Butthole.

His theoretical/potential loss of at least $1,200 is realy quite beside the point.

The consequence of his Moronic actions is that the rest of us shmucks, with his tale indelibly etched in our psyches, will forever keep anteing up for these $5 donations!

Think the guy pictured below would ever pass up a $5 bet?

He'd be on the tee asking the 70 year-old women collecting the dough if he could put down $50 and get odds on his tee shot!

By the way, how funny is it that in searching for images of the Caesar's Palace SportsBook, that pic of the unrepentant Pete Rose came right up?

Another Reason To Stop Yapping On Your Cell Phone

Yeah, you can pop kernels with them!

No joke!

(It may be a "fraud" though. Turns out you have to use microwave popcorn and you may have to pre-heat the kernels.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Multicultural Mariah Carey

Pop star Mariah Carey, if you didn't know, is Irish, black, and Venezuelan. Heretofore, all she was missing was a little Asian mojo (with apologies to the Arabs).

Her latest song release is titled "I'll Be Lovin' You Long Time." You can watch/listen to it here.

By deftly omitting the "A" between "You" and "Long" she successfully channeled the stereotypical, male fetish - the Asian prostitute/concubine.

Way to fill that gap on your resume Mariah!

Watch this clip from Full Metal Jacket to see the stereotype illustrated:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Marginalizing A Speculator

Remember this *distressed* oceanfront home that I blogged about?

Well, someone scooped it up. Here's the email I received from the selling broker:

Hi C-Nut,
I just wanted you to know that 550A Jerusalem Rd was recently sold to an investor who is currently fixing the property up and it will back on the market in about a week. The property will be back on the market at, or close to the assessed value (890k). Please let me know if there is any interest in viewing the property once its completed.

Is this guy serious? $890,000?

The house was sitting there at $750,000 and it only needed, by my rough calculation, about 50 grand worth of work. Furthermore, much of that was cosmetic. The house was quite livable as it stood. Improvements could be made over time.

I had to ask (and feign interest):

yeah thanks for the update. i did see some worker types milling about on the property. my wife was intrigued by the house. in fact i took her up there for a walk around the grounds.

can you tell me what the buyer paid for the house? and roughly what he plans to fix? thanks.

Here's his response:

Hi C-Nut,
The buyer closed yesterday, he paid 675k and it was a cash deal. As far as improvements he plans on putting in about 75k. The wall and the driveway( which was completed yesterday cost him about 35k), also the entire house inside/outside is being painted, the front door and back door are being replaced, there were new gutters put on the house, the floors are going to be re-sanded, most of the light fixtures are going to be replaced, there is a full sheet of granite going over the dated fireplace, new railings are being put on the front stairwell, and lastly, with a full price offer of 899k the entire front yard will have new sod( 5200sf) an irrigation system installed, and another circular driveway put in which can be accessed from the hillside of Jerusalem Rd. Please let me know if you want to see it before I put it on the market.


A flipper!

A new railing, sanding floors, new light fixtures, and wall paint....those were not reasons for this house languishing 100k+ below where this intrepid speculator aspires to sell this *falling knife*. (Yes, the eroded driveway was a little complicated. But surely I could have found someone myself to fix it for the bargain price of $35,000.) I think this buyer was watching too many HGTV reruns from 2005!

$675,000 was a good price to buy this house, BUT not for a flip, not in this market.

With a $50,000 real estate commission looming plus the 75k of improvements, $800,000 is this flipper's breakeven point. I predict he owns it for quite a while.

Too bad....who wants an extra beach house with the summer nearly over?

UPDATE - It's official, house just hit the market at $899,000 on July 24th.

UPDATE - July 30th, price dropped down to $875,000. The seller didn't even give it a week. The open house on Sunday must have been an *empty house*.

UPDATE - August 7th, price reduced to $849,900. Hah, it's only been two weeks!

UPDATE - August 21st, price reduced to $829,900. So as of right now, this *speculator* risked 750k to make 30k. Doesn't sound like any odds I would enjoy playing.

UPDATE - September 30th. Boy, this didn't take long - price just dropped to $809,000. Guy must be watching the stock market (-777 pts yesterday).

UPDATE - October 7th. Down to $799,900. We're at breakeven, officially.

UPDATE - October 24th. Down to $779,000. Now a loser. Great investment pal! link

Mixing It Up

I snapped that pic yesterday morning - click to enlarge. I skipped Montauk Downs and tried a new golf course - Long Island National.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dago Talk

As a pubescent, I disliked Italians. Perhaps my antipathy came from watching Tony Danza. Or from my soporific Chemistry teacher who had as many vowels in his name as consonants. Or maybe it sprung from that one particular Italian classmate of mine? Who knows?

But then I moved to Philadelphia and spent a good part of my nine years there hanging out and working in South Philly. As such, I became immersed and nominally accepted into the South Philly Italian culture. The inhabitants south of Washington Ave don't consider their hood part of America, part of Pennsylvania, or even part of Philadelphia for that matter. They passionately believe that South Philly is its very own country. It suffices to say, that despite my prejudice, I currently have my share of greaseball friends.

Furthermore, my wife is 100% Italian!!! Though she's from the Brooklyn tribe and it needs to be mentioned that she is *once removed* from the borough.

Devil's Advocate - Once removed?

That means she didn't grow up in Brooklyn. Her Dad did but he graduated to Long Island where he raised his famiglia. It's just like all those social climbing 8th Streeters in SoPhilly who aspire to move to "Jerzee"!

So now my friends are Italian, my wife is Italian, of course my in-laws, and my kids are half-Italian to boot. They've bloody well got me surrounded!

Aside from access to *better food*, one side benefit, I guess, is that I can now utter "dago" with impunity - "guido" and "wop" too. (Though, empirically, I've discovered that wop is the most derogatory. Who knew?)

Enjoy the video.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Amnesty For Placeholders

So I played Montauk Downs yesterday.

I set my alarm for 3 AM. After a bowl of oatmeal and a "GI shower" I tip-toed out the door at 3:40 AM. By quarter to five, I was standing in line at the pro shop. A handful of people had beaten me there. (Montauk Downs is a first-come-first-serve golf track. Read my prior post.)

One of the gentleman in front of me was a dapper Mexican. His hair was slicked back and he looked more like a butler than a day-laborer. I figured he wasn't waiting for a tee time because, well, I have never seen a Mexican playing golf AND because he was wearing jeans. Yet he was first in line.

When we got into the shop, while the rest of us were intent on the earliest tee times, he asked for a 10 AM start - which for some odd reason wasn't available.

Do y'all realize what was transpiring here?

Some rich dude ("el jefe"?) in the Hamptons made his undocumented worker get up well before the crack of dawn to secure his desired tee time. While he slept!

I could be wrong, but I believe they use wristbands at Bethpage to preclude this type of subterfuge. Prior to that, local guys would get to the course early, and then peddle their tee times to flush in-sleepers in the parking lot.

Anyway, this placeholder at Montauk jarred the faint memory of my *education*.

Didn't rich bastards used to send their slaves and minions to fight wars in their stead?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Parade Of Morons

So last week, after golf, I took my family to the much-hyped Hingham 4th of July Parade.

It flat out sucked.

Yeah there were the obligatory youth sports teams, antique cars, and rifle toting veterans. Hooray!

But then I had to witness:

  • "Our Elected Officials" - I booed.
  • Some carpenters' union.
  • Four silver Prius's. (Why?)
  • A stupid eco-pagan windmill display.

It was more like a "Parade of Morons" - as far as I am concerned. It was hardly worth my time or effort. There wasn't even any food there for crying out loud, seriously. Nothing. No popcorn. No hot dogs. No funnel cakes.

The pathetic windmill display reminded me of that farcical Hull windmill nearby.

Point of fact, we were up in Hull a couple of weeks ago and the wind was howling. It had to be at least 25 mph. I looked up and noticed the windmill wasn't twirling. Then, twenty minutes later, I noticed that it was *working* - rather rapidly at that.

I said to my wife, "They must have plugged it back in!"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Don Luskin - "Buy With Both Hands" - July 2007

It's sort of funny (perhaps unless you're long) to take a gander at the ticker scrolling on the above video from last year. Here are a few notables:

Dow at 13,531

Fannie Mae at 65.33

Wachovia at 51.25

Citigroup 51.39

As I type this,

The Dow is 11,100.

FNM is $9.93 per share.

WB is trading $11.82.

And a share of C only costs $16.36!

On that video, Jim Awad asserted:

The gradually declining dollar, that actually is in our's the way that we solve our imbalances...

Well, Jim, if a declining dollar is so great, when is that *good news* going to show up in stock prices? When is it going to show up in food or energy prices? In home prices? In employment numbers? In anything?

Clearly, Peter Schiff was prescient in his analysis - in fact he was almost perfectly clairvoyant. If you have the time, go read all his opinions on his website. I really wish I had discovered and heeded his advice five years ago!

The market did take a dump last August so in the short run Don "Buy with both hands" Luskin gave some pitiful advice. In his defense, it rallied strongly from that to new highs in October. I don't watch him closely enough to know whether he ever said to bail out of stocks at those higher prices. But my sense is that he's become sort of a *perma-bull* - and an ornery one at that!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

On The Mental Competence of Mrs. C-Nut

Last week, when discussing our upcoming 11 day vacation in Southampton, NY, she inquired,

"You're not going to bring your golf clubs, are you?"

We are leaving tomorrow. The clubs were the first thing put in the trunk of my Chevy Suburban. I hope to play Montauk Downs at least twice this year - but at a minimum, I will hone my masterful swing on the driving range at night.

I play golf every week even when I AM NOT ON VACATION. What the heck is she thinking?

My laptop is also coming. While C-Nut may be on vacation, there will be no vacation from C-Nut.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On Bank Of America's Ken Lewis - No, He Hasn't Been Fired, Yet

Bank Of America Corp's CEO Ken Lewis said something last month that might render insight into his derangement. Via the Bank's spokesperson Robert Stickler:

"Mr. Lewis went through a number of scenarios and indicated that we feel the most likely scenario is one in which the economy does not deteriorate significantly," said Stickler, who attended the meeting with Whitney. "In that scenario, we wouldn't have to cut the dividend."

There you have it!

With oil up 100% year-over-year, food prices screaming, real estate prices devastated in much of the country, and unemployment rising, Ken Lewis doesn't think the economy will "deteriorate significantly". He's a perma-bull!

Even if this ridiculous bottom-call is correct, I submit that it's irresponsible for a CEO to manage a company with such an optimistic bias. He ought to prepare the Bank for *rainy days* as well - of course it's up to the board to keep him in line. This egomaniac can't even run his own bank yet has arrogance enough to make macroeconomic forecasts - and not to mention weather forecasts.

BAC closed yesterday at $21.53 - which is essentially a 12 year low (ignoring a brief blip on 9/11).

How many of y'all shorted it with me when I gave you the look?

Kenny, the market has spoken, and it's branded you a Moron!

(By the way, there's some weird thing going on where Ken might be trying to replicate with Countrywide what his predecessor Hugh McColl Jr. did in with First Republic Bank in Texas back during the 1988 real estate plunge. Read it here and form your own hypotheses.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Pork For Inverts

Did you know that although airline passengers can't tote more than 3 ounces of shaving cream or toothpaste in their carry-on bags, their *personal lubricant* is exempt from this restriction?

In other words, you can carry on as much KY Jelly as you wish!

(I have also heard that *personal lubricant* is restricted to "4 ounces". Could that be because Johnson & Johnson sells a 4-ounce tube?)

Hmmm. I wonder which demo Congress was thinking about when they inserted this exemption...

Devil's Advocate - But maybe *lubricant* has been proven harmless?

Is it more harmless than toothpaste, dumb *ss?

For a related post, click here.