Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Back next week.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


"Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker said the rise of China and other emerging economies has underscored a decline in the comparative economic and intellectual leadership of the U.S.

“I don’t know how we accommodate ourselves to it,” Volcker, an economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said in an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose taped yesterday in New York. “You cannot be dependent upon these countries for three to four trillion dollars of your debt and think that they’re going to be passive observers of whatever you do.” "

From Bloomberg. This is a very difficult issue and one that I haven't touched on since it is obvious to me that I have no edge here. Give China a big hug if you get a chance.

Heading into NY soon. Later.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mid Day Update

At 12:30 the averages are up 1.5 - 2.5%. Quite a day for one that was supposed to be quiet.

There is some speculation that this is end of the quarter mark-up time, which is possible. More probable in my opinion is that there are people who still need to get long, and show that they are long at the end of the quarter. The S&P 500 is up over 15% quarter to date. If you are a client of a pro who missed that, you will be pretty unhappy when you get your quarterly letter next month.

My new investing rules for 2009:
  1. anything can happen
  2. nothing will surprise me
  3. I will stay flexible
  4. I will not get greedy

Like a Library

Very quiet Monday today as some of us observe Yom Kippur.

Xerox announces that it is acquiring services and outsourcing player Affiliated Computer Systems. That's a pic of a Xerox buggy whip to the right.

Futures are up a little; oil is down a little. The tech data point of the week should be Micron's earnings reports tomorrow. Folks are uniformly positive on memory and Micron never reports exactly what is expected so there should be fireworks.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Good News. Bad News.

Good news: I'm playing Liberty National today, the new track near the Statue of Liberty that just hosted the Barclays.

Bad news: It's raining.

Good news: The rain might stop by then.

Good news: Other than the really troubling stuff in Iran, no new bad news this weekend. So far.

Bad news: Tomorrow is a holiday for some so trading volume will be light and inconclusive.


I have mixed feelings abot HBO's Bill Maher but I like where he's going with this OpEd piece.

"why has America become a nation that can't make anything bad end, like wars, farm subsidies, our oil addiction, the drug war, useless weapons programs - oh, and there's still 60,000 troops in Germany - and can't make anything good start, like health care reform, immigration reform [or] rebuilding infrastructure."

Leaving each of the above examples aside, the truth of that idea is depressing. We need some radical change, not incremental populist politics.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

No Way of Knowing

Whether this is a clean data point or not. h/t to Carpe Diem.

"MP: The 16.2 point increase in Consumer Sentiment from 57.3 in March to 73.5 in September of this year is the largest six-month gain in consumer confidence in 15 years, going all the way back to January of 1994.."

This one is a head scratcher for me, since the economic data has been getting softer for the last couple of weeks. Best to keep on moving.

Branford Marsalis Has An Opinion


Friday, September 25, 2009

Oil - One Foot on a Banana Peel

The technicians are having a field day with oil this week. That chart comes courtesy of Daily Oil Prices. I'm not a technician so I'm not sure whether that is important support but it looks scary. I'm glad that chart is not a stock I own.

There is no shortage of opinion on the causal relationship between and among commodities, currencies and stocks. Leaving the dollar aside, I am very interested to see whether stocks can hang in if oil craters.


Can I go to the G20 meeting and protest something? That Corzine is the Governor? My property taxes? The amount of rain we got this summer? That my car is dirty?

It's 6:00 am

Do you know where your tech stocks are?

They're all over the place.

  • RIMM's number's were just plain not good enough. Time to regroup.

  • HP issued guidance that was lukewarm. They're too big ($27 billion/q in revenue) to grow much without the economy.

  • Chinese online gaming company Shanda Interactive priced its IPO last night at the high end of the range after having upsized the deal a couple of weeks ago. This makes it the biggest U.S. IPO this year.

  • Morgan Stanley cuts numbers on Microsoft ahead of the quarter for no particular reason
  • Citi and Stifel both raised numbers or price targets on Google yesterday.
  • VZ officially (I think), for now, rejects the PALM Pre. My buddy Ski desperately wants to love either MOT or PALM. I've seen plenty of people play the value tech game; not many of them well. Godspeed to him.

Another laptop problem today - grrr. I think this one is going to laptop heaven soon. It has been a trooper.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Twitter = $ 1 billion?

If you don't think Twitter is worth $1 billion, you have company. I don't either.

The WSJ reports:

"Twitter, the messaging web site that has become an Internet sensation, is nearing a deal to close as much as $100 million of new funding from as many as seven investors, according to people familiar with the deal.

The investors are valuing Twitter, which has yet to generate revenue or finalize its plans for making money, at about $1 billion."

That being said, Twitter might be worth a billion. There are many market participants who can't afford to miss the next big thing, pre orpost IPO, whether it's Google or or anything else.

The fact that that they haven't figured out a business or revenue model yet is daunting to a rational investor. The fact that they have zillions of users and still have a clean slate to decide on a monetization direction is exhilarating.

It feels like the late 90s again.

Research in Motion in Motion

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIMM) reports tonight and it better be good. YTD chart on the left.

I'm not sure where real expectations are for the quarter but the stock has more than doubled since March and consensus estimates are slightly above the midpoint of guidance that RIMM gave when they last reported.

I have written in the past that while RIMM has done a good job closing the gap with iPhone, they haven't leapfrogged them so it's still a tough battle. In a tape that is sudden acting softer the risk is tilted to the downside.

edit @ 3:54 - the stock is down 3% into the number which is a better setup if you're long

edit @ 4:08 - look out below unless the guidance is great


At least we get to put the health care debate on hold for 48 hours while the big guys (not Bush) tackle the world's problems.


The accounting change (which determines when Apple can recognize revenue on iPhones and Apple TV) that I wrote about on Sept. 17 was approved last night.

According to Morgan Stanley, Apple's CY2010 revenue and earnings estimates go up by 11% and 21% respectively. As I wrote in the earlier post, in an efficient market this would not move the stock. I might be giving the market too much credit.



That was ugly (S&P 1 day chart).

That wasn't a reaction to the Fed; it was a non-reaction that led to a pile-on. The sellers were ready to roll.

The way is now paved for a sharp move down from here. I wouldn't expect more than 5 - 10% though.


Microsoft officially denies that it is interested in buying EA. Methinks they doth protest too much. I wouldn't either if I were Microsoft but it feels like they are going to do something.


It looks like the Nintendo Wii price cuts (to $199) are official.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lending - Is This Bullish?

Thinking about the implications of this chart is giving me a headache. It was part of a chart book that someone sent me this morning. I'm not sure who the outfit Economic Data is but h/t to them.

It would be easy to jump on the negatives that the economy can't grow without credit, the government can't sustain these leverage levels, the dollar is going to continue to be weak...

Consider the positives:

  • Commercial bank and shadow banking leverage was way too high. That is being corrected.
  • Commercial bank lending will improve at some point
  • Said lending will lead to economic growth. It always does.

The downdraft in commercial lending as depicted and extrapolated through year end has been a long three years. Going in the opposite direction for the next three would be a nice tailwind.

Yahoo Quote of the Day

Interesting article yesterday by Michael Arrington at TechCruch on how by Yahoo hiring veteran operator Carol Bartz to run the company rather than a visionary, they have basically given up despite vocal protestations to the contrary;

"Bartz says not to worry, that middle America still loves them: “When you get outside New York and Silicon Valley, everyone loves Yahoo.” You know who else used to say that as they began their long, slow decline? MySpace."

Fed Decision

The Fed rate decision is expected at 2:15 today. Fed officials are in a 2-day meeting to discuss their outlook and plans.

I managed to sneak into the meeting yesterday and overheard the following:

Fed Guy 1: What are we going to do?
Fed Guy 2: (quietly) Nothing.
Fed Guy 1: What are we going to say?
Fed Guy 2 (a little louder) Nothing.
Fed Guy 1: Nothing? Why?
Fed Guy 2: It's working, stupid.



I was in NY Penn Station yesterday, walking toward the men's room past a food court.

A (homeless?) man standing in front of the restaurants put out his hand and said very quietly, "Can you help me out with some food?"

I kept moving and just shook my head no. He immediately shouted out, "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaa. You're going to pay for that."

I'm not really sure what that meant but it can't be good.


Oil is down but U.S. equity futures are up. That hasn't been the case very often of late. Early though.


The WSJ is reporting that South Korea will begin allowing sales of the iPhone. We are going to see how well the device sells purely as a fashion item - it's definitely cool but is that enough?. Korea is way ahead of the U.S. in terms of personal technology deployment and adoption, so the iPhone probably doesn't have much of a functionality edge.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hardware Primer - For Investors Only

If you are an engineer or the least bit tech savvy, please disregard the following. If you want to invest in tech hardware stocks but don't know any of the terminology, this might be helpful.

A bit is a 1 or a 0. the numbers 1 and 0 compromise the entire alphabet in the digital world.

A byte is a group of 8 bits. They are always in groups of 8.

A megabyte is 1,000,000 bytes. 8,000,000 bits.

A hard disk drive (pictured) is the magnetic storage device in your computer that is capable of storing your programs and files in your computer, whether the power is on or off. I can remember when a 20 gigabyte drive was a very big one.

A terabyte is 1,000,000,000 bytes. A billion. That's a lot of bytes.

Drive maker Seagate today announced its fastest, biggest drive to date, spinning at 7200 rpm and storing 2 terabytes. $299.

Storage is almost free. You can store a lot of anything in there.

The lesson? You should probably only buy drive stocks when they are very very cheap.

edit Wednesday @ 6:22 am. STX preannouced positive last night and caught 2 upgrades today. My point was that the stock is no longer dirt cheap, not that it can't go higher. Business is good.


Boring news day today. Commodities up again. Futures too. Stocks? Probably.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Deep Thoughts

That is Paul Graham - programmer, entrepreneur and essayist.

He does a wonderful job over here questioning a fundamental pillar of modern media - the idea of whether people actually pay for content.

"...consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren't really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn't better content cost more?

Almost every form of publishing has been organized as if the medium was what they were selling, and the content was irrelevant. Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics."

The logic isn't flawless. The Wall Street Journal is still charging for online news; most other outlets aren't.

Some content is worth next to nothing, some is very valuable. Smart media players are going to figure ths out. You could argue that the internet helped consumers get there ahead of them

Nintendo - Can You Hear Me Now?

That is a 3-year chart for video game powerhouse Nintendo.

I'm not sure whether the stock is forming a magnificent base or is dead.

Morgan Stanley is commenting this morning that the company has confirmed that the Wii console price will be cut to $199 this month. This should help the market overall, but I know a lot of dads who were going to buy one this Christmas anyway. I might want to buy Nintendo on this news (edit: probably not).

Activision was talking late last week about possibly bypassing to consoles all together. I'm still negative on the high end of the market.


Dell buys IT Services company Perot Systems. Ironic that Dell wants to be IBM.

G20 etc.

Futures were flat when I went to bed last night, but have since weakened significantly on no new news. Have you ever noticed that the financial media blames stretched valuation every time stocks inexplicably decline, but never mention it otherwise?


There is lots of anticipation around the G20 Finance meeting this week. I'm not sure what silver bullets they have that they didn't use during last years's crisis.

Sven: "Hey Mario, did you hear that Lehman failed last night?"
Mario: "Yes. It's bad."
Sven: "Our banks have a lot of exposure."
Mario: "Ours too."
Sven: "I have a plan to save our banks and restart our economy while creating jobs at the same time."
Mario: "Shhhhh. Are you crazy? You should keep that under your hat until the G20 Meeting."


Alcatel Lucent (ALU) is in the WSJ denying that it is looking at bids from a Chinese suitor, likely ZTE or Huawei.

Oh really?

On the plus side, ALU has been losing money since 2005. I'm sure they'd like an out.

On the negative side, ALU owns a ton of technology and patents that are very important in defense applications, thanks to its legacy position in Bell Labs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Health Care

Words don't do justice when attempting to convey how much I dislike this health care reform debate.
  1. I'm not sure if you noticed, but it's not really much of a debate.
  2. This is exactly the wrong time to try to get this done (economically), especially since there are tax increases involved.
  3. Every plan that I've seen has at least a wrinkle that will materially change the current coverage of Americans who like their health insurance the way it is.

All that being said, I believe that all citizens should have access to affordable coverage.

Bloomberg combed to globe this week for studies (none totally impartial I'm sure) attempting to measure whether the current U.S. systems is any good. Since I've been bitching about health care reform, I wanted to put it out there that there's a lot of bad in what we currently have. Of note:

"While delays do occur [in Canada] for non-emergency procedures, data indicate that Canada’s system of universal health coverage provides care as good as in the U.S., at a cost 47 percent less for each person...

Deaths considered preventable through health care are less frequent in Canada than in the U.S.,

Private-insurance administrative costs in the U.S. are 12.7 cents of a dollar, and as high as 18 cents for some companies, said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund. Government plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, spend 5.8 cents excluding costs of private drug plans, she said. In Canada 4.2 cents is spent on administration."

I still think this argument should be shelved for a while and not rushed through, especially in the awful iterations currently out there.

Me vs. Microsoft

This laptop is about 21 months old so my expectations are declining accordingly.

There is one annoying virus in here that cripples Internet Explorer 8 about once a day. It locks up Explorer entirely then after I reboot, has erased all my cookies and left a big red mark on my forehead. Well not really the last part.

My gripe is that when I restart IE, it takes forever to load because it is running an annoying utility called dumprep.exe. I disabled that utility today. Here is how:

Not Funny Ha Ha

The NY Times is reporting this morning that the Obama administration and friends are suggesting that NY Governor Paterson insert himself directly under the bus.

"But Mr. Obama’s political team and other party leaders have grown increasingly worried that the governor’s unpopularity could drag down Democratic members of Congress in New York, as well as the Democratic-controlled Legislature, in next fall’s election."

Dear President Obama,

We have a huge problem here in New Jersey. Please see us next.


ps: I would have searched for another picture rather than using that ^ one again but does it really matter?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Feel His Pain

Flash memory maker Sandisk is a "hard" stock.

Very volatile stock, very cyclical business, tons of unit growth, massively deflationary pricing.

The BofA ML analyst on the stock today upgraded it two levels, from underperform to buy, and made a tiny bump in his price target - from $9 and change to $30. The stock is at $22.89 as I write this.

It's tough admitting that you are wrong and there's often no good way to get out of the way.


Another good day if you're long equities.

Hong Kong Real Estate

According to this article in, Hong Kong residential real estate prices have recovered well ahead of those in the U.S.

The Chinese economic recovery is undeniably real and is rubbing off on those regions around it.

On a related note, I feel sorry for the editor who rubber stamped that very poorly-written article. It may be that HK real estate prices have risen 26% since the recent low, or it may be that prices are 26% higher than pre-Lehman. (I doubt that).


The futures are flattish. Nothing to see here. Feel free to take the day off.


I'm not sure whether Palm is the #3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 smart phone maker, but they reported earnings last night. It speaks to the strength of the smart phone market that a smaller player can put up better than expected numbers and have the temerity to announce a 16 million share secondary. That's a good sign for the equity markets as well, if they get it done cleanly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Jersey - You Can Do This

I am not a fan of that gentleman - NJ Governor Jon Corzine.

major Talk Radio station, 101.5 FM, was informed by Corzine's staff this morning that he is refusing to participate in a debate ahead of the election in November. According to the station, he is the first pol running for Statewide office to refuse such an invitation in almost twenty years. has the chances of him or any other Democratic candidate of winning down to 35% bid. Bring it.

Apple - Not This Basket

I wouldn't bet on that Apple right there -->.

I also wouldn't bet on Apple's stock getting a material boost from an accounting change in the works.

According to many, Apple's as-reported quarterly earnings per share will show a material pop if said accounting change is enacted. Apple currently books iPhone revenue over the life of the subscriber contract, not as a one-time sale. Since the phone buyer is a customer of the carrier and not Apple, that seems wrong from the get go. In any case, changing the accounting would pull forward earnings as reported, not change them over the life of the phone.

I'd like to think that the market has figured out what the real returns available to common shareholders are. Maybe not.

Apple's stock has gone up almost every day for the last seven months. Even though I still like it, don't put all your eggs in the wrong basket.

Pig Farmers Getting Involved

Chinese demand for copper is through the roof.

Real industrial demand, government stockpiling and pig farmer speculation are all behind the surge. Yes. pig farmers. You read that correctly. From Bloomberg:

"Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) --

Private investors in China, the world’s largest metals user, have stockpiled “substantial” quantities of
copper as the government ramps up stimulus spending to spur the economy, according to Sucden Financial Ltd.

Pig farmers and other speculators may have amassed more than 50,000 metric tons,
Jeremy Goldwyn, who oversees business development in Asia for London-based Sucden, wrote in an e- mailed report after a visit to China. That’s about half the level of inventories tallied by the Shanghai Futures Exchange, which stood last week at a two-year high of 97,396 tons."

It's ironic that the media are willing to take a shot at estimating the extent of retail speculation in the copper market, but even a rough estimate of the effect of speculation on oil prices is hard to come by.

I wish the above farmers would devote time and money to creating and exporting more bacon. Lower prices would be good.


Futures up again ahead of the inconclusive economic data in a couple of hours. Having fun yet?


Oracle missed last night. I still like it. Cash flow machine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yankees Fans

I think the following is great. You might not.

And I am a Jeter fan.

Ha Ha 50 Cent

I love being surprised by people. 50 Cent comes off as very knowledgeable and practical in this CNBC video. I wish that crew of jokers would have let him talk more.

Mr. Market - The Punisher

Futures are up. Again.

If you thought the market had come too far, too fast and reduced equity exposure accordingly, you are losing.

If you have been getting more constructive and waiting for a pullback to get in, you are losing.

If you think this market is expensive, it looks very much like you are answering the wrong question.

If you are positioned for the economy to double dip, you won't know whether you're right until after it has happened.


BAS ML just upgraded Amazon. The name has been stalled out in the $80s so I haven't been wrong yet, but being negative on this one has been unpopular.


Return of the day traders?

Yo Mr. Market, I'm very happy for you and Imma let you finish, but 1999 was the best upside rip of our generation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Help Me Out Here

That's a not-so-good side by side pair of pictures of Kanye West and Serena Williams.

I want to know how Kanye's misdeed is more newsworthy and/or shocking than that of Serena Williams, aside from the fact that the President apparently called Kanye a jackass.

Kanye acted like a drunk fool. I'm not sure if he was drunk or if he is a fool but he certainly acted like one at that show.

Serena delivered a threat which, if delivered in front of most cops in America, would land her in a lot of trouble. And it was mean.

PC Sales

That PC was once cool. It isn't any more.

According to Morgan Stanley, August PC sales data as reported by NPD were very cool.

U.S. PC units grew 22% y/y in August vs. a 15% rise in July. ASP declines moderated as expected.

Are replacement PC sales a leading indicator? I hope so.

Still Inconclusive

That is a year-to-date chart for General Electric. Would the crafty bastard who bought shares in this powerhouse below $6 please raise your hand?

Despite that positive-looking chart, GE has underperformed this year. The stock is down 5% vs. the S&P 500's 16% gain. It probably has to do with the inscrutable financial exposure on their balance sheet, which is may not be fully resolved.

Lots of people - me included - are worried about a trade war with China. GE is a big exporter. GE's stock isn't acting like it's worried, it's up 10% over the last 5 trading days. The market continues to punish the bears and remind all players that the playbook doesn't always work.

Interesting Twitter development from yesterday:

ABC's Terry Moran set the Twitter-sphere all aflutter when he wrote:

“Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a ‘jackass’ for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won.”

According to a statement from ABC, the president’s remark was supposed to be off the record.

As reported, it wasn't even Moran's interview. There might be more than one jackass out there.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Too Late

From Twitter @ 12:15 today:


I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsterst, USTA & mostly tennis fans everywhere. Thank you all for your support

from web

And her web site today:


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Please Fasten Your Seat Belts

"Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- China announced a probe into the alleged dumping of American auto and chicken products, two days after U.S. President Barack Obama imposed tariffs on imports of tires from the Asian nation."

If there's a worse way to go about this short of military action, I'm not sure what it is.

The U.S. and China can take swings at each other on the fair trade front for decades and the only thing that is going to be hurt is trade. I hope some cooler minds than the ones ginning up these decisions get involved soon.

Obama will be on 60 minutes tonight. I'm sure he's straighten it all out.

I actually hope he does.


I was watching college football last night but switched to tennis when my wife and her friend got home from a movie because I'm a great guy like that.

What a crock.

I'm glad my kids weren't watching with me. Serena, between her frequent outbursts, breaking her racket at the end of a much-deserved first set loss and the ending threat/tirade, acted like a spoiled brat throughout.

For the most part she has been a good champion. I guess she can be added to the list of world class athletes whose behavior sinks to a woefully lower level when things aren't going as well as she "deserves".

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What Has Changed?

CNBC has been annoyingly touting their one year anniversary special on the collapse of Lehman et al for weeks and the end of Wall Street as we knew it.

The NY Times takes the other side this morning with their excellent article "A Year After a Cataclysm, Little Change on Wall St."

The question should be whether things are going to change. The article correctly points out that while many of the players have changed, the motivations are the same and the rules have not yet changed much. There is still money to be made.

Google Economist

Google Chief Economist Hal Varian was in Washington this week telling the good folks there that the recession is over, according the the Post.

Actually, he was there telling them that they should use the internet more to predict economic activity.

"In March, the number of Google users searching for information about unemployment benefits or employment centers began to drop, Varian said. Overall unemployment has continued to climb, of course, but new jobless claims have declined since peaking earlier this year."

The possibilities are endless.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yup. Still Broken

NPD result for US video game sales came out yesterday. Not so hot.

Hardware sales were down 25% y/y. Software sales were down 15%, which was better than July if you're a second derivative geek but worse than expectations.

Microsoft should go ahead and buy Electronic Arts just to confuse/diffuse the dismal news flow.

edit: BofA Merrill just downgraded ERTS to sell.


We live in a short term world. That being said, the following is stupid:

Steve Pearlstein at the Washington Post writes today about the Aspen Institute's blue ribbon committee recommendations on combating short termism. Mouth full.

The gist is that the quest for short term profits hurts American business. Is it bad if some bank does something stupid at the end of the quarter in order to meet Wall Street expectations? Yes. The blue ribbon panel's solution? Raise taxes on short term traders. Not short term execs and managers. Short term traders and investors.

Come on.

Yoo Hoo

I wasn't a fan of newish Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz when she was at Autodesk. Nothing specific, just not a fan.

She is growing on me after her comments on Squawk yesterday. From the San Jose Mercury News:

"Would Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz have accepted Microsoft's $40 billion-plus takeover offer last year if she had been in charge of the company then?

"Sure, do you think I'm stupid?" Bartz replied in an interview this morning on CNBC, the business-news cable channel."

Is she responsible for the huge change that just went down in the tech media? Two months ago, Yahoo was an also ran search player. Suddenly, they are on online media powerhouse with a quaint little search business and a partnership with Microsoft. Quite a move.


This market refuses to correct. I has got to be pissing a lot of pros off and restoring the confidence of a lot of amateurs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wounded Animal

Motorola's stock has been acting better of late, and has more than doubled since the market low in March.

Much of the better action can be attributed to that <--- phone, which rolled out today. Motorola hasn't had a hit in a while. That particular model's claim to fame is that it is supposed to maximize the social networking experience via a software/service called MOTOBLUR.

There is a risk that Motorola screws up the whole smart phone market if this and their next couple of products are almost good enough. Like most markets in tech, most of the profits happen at the high end. If Moto comes in just below there and has to/chooses to price aggressively, look out.

Push That Rock, Microsoft

I guess that Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, may have gained some share from Google and Yahoo.

I find it interesting that Microsoft is advertising within Google search results. Tough to win that one.


There was an interesting article at about Obama's new FCC commissioner, Julius Genachowski .

"“We needed an upgrade,” said Genachowski, 47, who has been hailed as the agency’s most tech-savvy chairman in decades. But his interest in the high-tech arena goes well beyond gadgets and has some industry giants eying his moves nervously, wondering what’s next on his upgrading list."

It's nice to see that we have a good candidate in a very important position.

"Genachowski has made a point to emphasize the importance of being a “data-driven” agency that makes “fact-based” decisions."

That is a strange quote coming out of government.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama on Health Care

I give up.

One Bad Deed Deserves Another

The aftermath of the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch deal has gotten very little press since Ken Lewis' Washington hearings. The travesty continues today, as chronicled in the Financial Times.

The short story goes like this: as the deal was about to close, not-so-careful inspection of the books by BofA execs revealed that Merrill's balance sheet was unraveling quickly. BofA considered backing out of the deal, may or may not have been coerced by Uncle Sam to go ahead with it, but in any case didn't tell shareholders what a mess they were overpaying for.

Very poor performance by BofA execs. The result? The SEC required BofA shareholders, not execs, to pay $33 million in damages. Now NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is considering taking more money from BofA shareholders in exchange for the misdeeds of Ken Lewis et al.

Bad stuff.


Underwriters Morgan and Goldman announced the IPO for A123 Systems, Inc. today. Does this mean we have officially run out of decent company names?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School

Back to normal for the markets. Kind of chaotic out there.

  • Gold is above $1,000
  • Futures are moving higher
  • Oil is participating to the upside
  • The dollar continues to be weak
  • Morgan Stanley either upgraded or downgraded everything in tech
  • It's the one day yearly on which my kids are excited about going to school


The average iPhone user has spent more than $80 on apps according to a recent survey by AppsFire. I guess that also means that the average iPhone user has spent more on apps than the average person spent on their non-iPhone phone.

Monday, September 7, 2009

This is What They Were Worried About

If you've checked in here even semi-regularly, you probably know that I'm not a fan of the policies or strategies of the President, even though I understand that he might be a great guy. That being said, those that were worried about the implications of him addressing American students tomorrow were way off base. The White House released the text today:

"Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer [the diffficult] questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down."

I read the whole thing, I didn't just cherry pick a quote. He will not talk about any issues whosoever that are worrying some of his right wing opponents, so unless you are against your kids getting an education or working hard, calm down.

I don't mind my kids listening at all. Quite the opposite.

Happy Labor Day

Or Labour Day to you non-Americans.

The S&P 500 is up 12.5% year to date and I am confident that for a significant majority of investors out there, it hasn't felt like a better than average year. After getting pounded in 2008, the first 2 1/2 months of this year were relentlessly down. Unless you ignored the whole thing and hung in there, or made some good moves around the March bottom, you are probably up less than the 12% that the averages show.

Even though the summer is over, there is lots of time between now and Christmas for the market move a lot in either direction, or both. Stay flexible.


It is curious that Cadbury turned down big premium from Kraft to be taken out today. Cadbury's stock is acting like their board may be right that the price is too low. Kraft's offer was at a 31% premium to Friday's close. The stock is trading up 41% as I write this.

By the way, I thought the dollar was too weak for deals like this to happen.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


From DailyKosTV.

NBC/CNBC/MSNBC White House correspondent John Harwood on how ridiculous not allowing Obama to speak to students would be:

"MONICA NOVOTNY: John, what about this controversy over opposition to Obama’s speech to school children?

JOHN HARWOOD: I gotta’ tell you Monica, I’ve been watching politics for a long time, and this one is really over-the-top. What is shows you is there are a lot of cynical people who try to fan controversy, and let’s face it, in a country of 300 million people, there are a lot of stupid people too, because if you believe that it’s somehow unhealthy for kids, for the president to say "work hard and stay in school," you’re stupid. In fact, I’m worried for some of those kids of those parents who are upset — I’m not sure they are smart enough to raise those kids."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Not OK

Glenn Beck has been trashing this guy - Van Jones - for weeks. I'm not a Beck fan and I wish we could raise the public/media debate to a higher level.

The Washington Post today has some words on the topic:

"White House officials offered tepid support Friday for Van Jones, the administration's embattled energy efficiency guru, who has issued two public apologies this week, one for signing a petition that questioned whether Bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."

Earlier, Jones said he was "clearly inappropriate" in using a crude term to describe Republicans in a speech he gave before joining the administration."


edit: He just resigned.

Friday, September 4, 2009


The jobs number just came out and it is worse than expected. The unemployment rate is now 9.7%.

Futures were up nicely and are struggling to stay positive.

Since it's the Friday before the last long weekend of the summer, I'm guessing that everyone is going to head to the beach early.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jobs Thought of the Day

"Due to the 20% adjusted (his estimate of the real unemployent rate) unemployment rate(vs the 9.5% stated) as well as the off the charts debt [to]disposable personal income levels, this economy cannot enjoy a self-sustaining recovery without significant jobs growth."

Robert Marcin writing at

The jobless claims number this morning was a disappointment and the unemployment data tomorrow, expected at 9.5%, are what everybody is waiting for.

My view is that things getting better slowly on the job front is the best we can hope for.