Monday, June 30, 2008

Iraq to Bring 6 New Oil Fields Online

It seems that things are really starting to go decently in Iraq since they are now bidding out 6 of their oil fields to foreign companies. I have a feeling that a US firm will not win outright (they might win 1 or 2 for appearance sake) since the US would be accused of trying to "steal Iraq's oil wealth" or other nonsense. However I would bet on TotalFinaElf (TOT) winning a big chunk since the Iraqis turned to the French in the 70s to help them with their oil industry. This development should change the supply/demand picture going forward.

All the oil fields on the list are producing oil, Shahristani said, noting that the new contracts would raise the country's oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day.

Iraq's current daily oil production is around 2.5 million barrels.

So here we should have 1.5 million barrels of oil that will have added to total world supply by 2009 (bids are due by next March and contracts will be handed out in June) and this should push prices lower. It probably won't burst the oil bubble since good news about Iraq usually isn't very popular with the main stream media.

In any case we have lowered demand, everyone jawboning the market downward, and the potential for increased supply (Iraq and Brazil) going forward. I still think we will have $100 or less (Maybe even $80?) oil by this time next year.

Bottled Water a Huge Oil Drain?

I did not know this about bottled water:

The Pacific Institute, a California think thank on sustainability issues, contends that producing bottles for US water consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil in 2006, not including the energy for transportation.

Assuming these numbers are correct then that is quite a bit of oil that is being wasted so that someone can drink something that already comes out of a tap. I already drink tap water in a recycled bottle that I keep in my refrigerator. All you need to do if you are worried about your tap water is buy a Brita water filter. I guess bottled water would be good to store for a natural disaster but any other time it seems like a rip off.

Left Blowing it By Going After McCain's POW record

The Far Left has made a serious error in going after him on Vietnam. They can win against McCain if they went after him on the economy or the same-as-Bush rhetoric but they can only lose going after him like this.

But farther to the left — and among some of McCain's conservative enemies as well — harsher attacks are circulating. Critics have accused McCain of war crimes for bombing targets in Hanoi in the 1960s. A widely read liberal blog on Sunday accused McCain of "disloyalty" during his captivity in Vietnam for his coerced participation in propaganda films and interviews after he’d been tortured.

I thought the Dems wanted to not look unpatriotic and to make sure the election isn't won or lost of Flag Pins or Obama not saying the pledge of allegiance. In fact Obama is pulling out the stops to make sure he is viewed as patriotic.

Every time the Left bring up McCain's war record they make it about what happened in Vietnam and not about the issues. If the election is a referendum on Vietnam (where Obama has the advantage of being a teen during most of it) they will lose handily.

I think the Obama campaign should seriously take these Far Left bloggers aside and tell them to increase pressure on the bad economy and not mention McCain's war record again for the duration. If the Dems make this election about Bush's screwups and the economy they will win. If it is about what happened in Vietnam they will lose. It is just that simple.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Evergreen Solar's Financing Plan: Seems Smart

I think it may be time to go long the thin-film solar company ESLR again. They issued $325 million in notes in order to finance a new thin-film solar plant in Devens, Mass. The stock got punished on fears of what might go down in the future. This is what they did:

The incentive for potential buyers is that, assuming the stock price rises by 2013, shareholders can get their convert their notes into cash and stock, said Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Al Kaschalk.

The solar company said each $1,000 note was valued at 82.6 shares, at an initial conversion price of $12.11. Notes can be converted into cash up to $1,000, and if the stock trades above $12.11, any additional value would be paid in shares.

But this would have a dilutive impact on the company's existing shareholders by increasing the number of Evergreen shares outstanding, explained Signal Hill Group analyst Michael Carboy.

So this would be bad if their stock went above $12.11 (it is trading at $9.72) since they might be on the hook and would have to issue new stock above that price. So what they did to increase the price it would take to trigger the excess stock they:

To get around this point, Evergreen entered into a capped call transaction with an affiliate of Lehman Brothers, the lead underwriter, that will raise the effective conversion price to the company to $19.00 per share. Lehman will provide the extra stock Evergreen would have to issue should its shares trade above $12.11 and below $19.00.

So they put the dilution risk on Lehman instead of them from $12.11 to $19.00. So if this plant does turn out to be a big success then ESLR might be able to buyback some stock in order to counter possible dilution if the stock does go above $19. I think it might have been an overreaction for the stock to drop 10% like it did since dilution would be a full 10 points away and not just 3 points without this capped call.

North Korea Comes In From the Cold

I think Kim Jong Il is tired of being under the gun and decided to get some of what China is getting. There is no sense having your people starve while you pursue nuclear ambitions that are pretty much a waste of time. I think China may have threatened him with assassination if he didn't toe the line. I love how AP tries to rain on the parade as best they could.

Past experience suggests North Korea will seek more rewards before it moves further to disarm. If Pyongyang actually hands over the nuclear bombs believed to be in its arsenal — the country's most valuable bargaining chips — the communist leadership would only do so after a long wish list of demands is granted.

That is just common sense. Anyone in North Korea's place would game the 6 nations into some pretty sweet deals. The US can't really block your way because Bush is trying to put together some kind of legacy. So they would get security guarantees, 2 state of the art nuclear reactors, food help, or almost anything they want. It's the Libya Principle. When dictators play ball they get hooked up with the goodies. I hope Iran is watching these developments closely.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Newsweek Anti-Supreme Court Rant Funny

I have to hand it to this biased rag that they are really employing some interesting folks down there. This anti-Supreme Court rant would be so funny if it was not written for a major news periodical.

Anybody who believes the current Supreme Court looks like America needs to take a few more trips on a Greyhound bus. All the judges are white and/or old; most are both. Justice John Paul Stevens is 88 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75. David Souter is 68, and it's widely rumored in legal circles that he wants out.

Um, Mrs. Lithwick (the author) needs to find some non-Wikipedia sources in which to base her arguments. The last I checked Clarence Thomas is black and Samuel Alito and John Roberts are 58 and 53 respectively and Thomas is 60. They aren't spring chickens but who in their right mind wants a Justice in his 30-40s? They need to be seasoned judges and lawyers and have the experience that comes with being older.

Also the idea that they don't look like America is bunk as well. America is about 70% white and about 12% black and the Court is 80% white and 11% black. If the next Justice is a Latino then it will fit the racial demographics nearly perfectly.

This part takes the cake though:

As you contemplate what you want the next Supreme Court to look like, ask yourself what happens when judges are sidelined—or when they're chosen for their inclination to sideline themselves. If we really want to restore the rule of law in America, then we'd better vote for a president who believes that we call it the Supreme Court for a reason.

If judges are sidelined then people that we get to elect, and that can be held accountable for their screwups, get to make our laws. The Supreme Court's job is to interpret these laws and strike them down if they are against the Constitution. The Court isn't supposed to make these laws or create sweeping changes in American life even though it still sometimes happens.

These so-called sidelined judges understand that they need to use this power to change the very fabric of American life very rarely. They have not been elected by the people and cannot be fired from their post so they have to be know what they are doing when they rule on something.

I'm pretty sure Ms. Lithwick would be be 100% against an all-Conservative Supreme Court that used their potential for Judicial Activism like a big hammer to criminalize abortion, limit the power of the press, and do anything they wanted with no threat of impeachment or reprimand. Newsweek would be first in line to condemn that Court I can assure you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why RIMM guided lower: Blackberry Bold Delay

It seems to be party because of the delay of the Blackberry Bold until August.

Meanwhile, RBC Capital’s Mike Abramsky asserts in a research note this morning that AT&T (T) appears likely to launch the new 3G Blackberry Bold in mid-August, two or three weeks later than expected, “as it continues to stabilize the device” on its 3G HSPA network. He reports that the launch with Rogers in Canada is on track for July, with other carriers expected to offer the phone later in August.
Here is a review from PC Magazine on the Blackberry Bold. It does look pretty impressive and may be gracing the hip holsters of lots of corporate types as well as regular consumers come fall.

RIMM Falls on Margin Shrinkage and Rising Costs

It seems like the kind of time that the stock will get beaten down short term so you can go long at a discount. I love getting some free margin of safety on short-term fears. I'm hoping it drops under $100 or hits near term lows in the $90 range so I can load up. I think the future of mobile phones will be in the smart phones arena in the next few years.

But it was the spike in expenses and a decline in gross margins that had analysts on the company's conference call worried.

Gross margin for the quarter fell to 50.7% from 51.8%, the same quarter a year ago.

The company's selling, general and administrative expenses grew 22%, compared to expectations that pegged the rise at around 17% to 18%. That means the company spent about $10 million more than it had expected, pointed out Citigroup analyst Jim Suva.

RIM tried to allay concerns and suggested the increased spending is on marketing in anticipation of new product launches later this year.

George Carlin Summed Up

He was a really funny guy and I have always enjoyed his HBO specials. Even though he was quite a bit left of center I still enjoyed his comedy. This clip sums up exactly why I have always thought he was funny.

Virginia Family Goes Solar and saves some bucks

I think everyone should take the lead from this family. Their electricity bill went from $28.61 last month compared to $150 a month last year. That is quite a decent savings. I wonder if they put double the amount of panels (if it is possible) or got more efficient thin film solar cells they could actually sell power to the electric company?

That would be a great incentive to get people to adopt solar. Lets say you sign up for this so-called solar sales program the Electric Company would pay you for every watt that you deliver into the grid. Then you would get that tax credit and be able to sell your excess power for some extra bucks every month. This is the system they have:

The system, which still allows the family to use energy from the traditional power grid when the sun is not shining, uses what is known as net-metering. No electricity is stored in the house. Energy produced in excess of what is needed is fed back to the power grid, effectively making the Redmonds' electric meter run backward.

Twelve panels on the roof feed power to a device in the basement called an inverter.

The solar power system cost $23,000 after a $2,000 tax credit. Redmond estimates that the system will pay for itself in 10 to 15 years.

Is Evan Bayh Obama's Vice Presidential Choice?

At least Wonkette seems to think so.

Some guy wrote in to let us know that redirects to BARACK OBAMA’S VERY OWN WEB SITE so obviously Evan Bayh, the senator from Indiana, has gotten the nod.

I followed the link and sure enough it does link to Obama's site. You would think that the Obama campaign would have to nab that domain name before any official word is given to the press. It does seem strange that that domain name is already linked to the Obama site.

Could it be a case of an Obama web staffer jumping the gun on the official word and linking the sites early? Tech people are notorious for finishing their work before the official word is given. If Bayh is Obama's guy then the Blogosphere has just scooped Old Media yet again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bush Getting Plaudits from the New York Times Op-Ed?

It seems the Surge that Bush supported and a huge chunk of help from Iraqi citizens that don't want their heads cut off by Al-Quida scumbags are finally winning the war in Iraq. Even the New York Times Op-Ed is showing Bush a little love.

The additional fact is that Bush, who made such bad calls early in the war, made a courageous and astute decision in 2006. More than a year on, the surge has produced large, if tenuous, gains. Violence is down sharply. Daily life has improved. Iraqi security forces have been given time to become a more effective fighting force. The Iraqi government is showing signs of strength and even glimmers of impartiality. Iraq has moved from being a failed state to, as Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations has put it, merely a fragile one.

Too bad the Dems are so blind in their Bush-hatred that they may actually pass up a chance to march out of a prosperous and secure Iraq. If more Democrats had the clear ability to say "lets march out winners and not run away at the worst possible moment" then I would have more respect for their party.

I would think JFK would have stayed in as long as it would have taken to get Iraq back on its feet again. But compassion for Iraqis being murdered by Al-Quida may be the territory of an older Cold War-era Democratic Party that actually wanted to help the world and not just shrink away from it.

CSX Pressured By Hedge Funds

They seem to think there is quite a bit of unlockable potential in railroad company CSX. I have seen more and more analysts start to push railroads recently.

TCI Fund Management LLP and 3G Capital Partners Ltd. say CSX, the third-largest U.S. railroad, can double earnings before interest and taxes in five years if it boosts prices further and reduces spending. Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX has already pushed up rates and added $3.4 billion to a share-repurchase program since TCI began its campaign in May 2007.

So we have two hedge funds trying to do a proxy fight to add 5 board members while these other hedge funds are waiting to profit from the move.

Tiger was the biggest CSX buyer in the first quarter, amassing a 2.1 percent stake. It was followed by TPG-Axon, which more than doubled holdings to 2.4 percent, and Chase Investment Counsel, a firm overseeing about $7 billion that bought 3.47 million shares, or almost 1 percent. Tiger founder Chase Coleman and TPG-Axon Chief Executive Officer Dinakar Singh didn't return calls seeking comment.

If there was a better credit situation I would bet one of these funds would probably try to take a company like CSX private. Now they engage in proxy fights so that they can unlock the supposed value. Hmm, I think CSX may be an interesting opportunity going forward. I just don't like how these hedge funds want CSX to load up on debt in order to do stock buybacks. It just doesn't seem like a good idea when we know that the economy is slowing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kim Jong Il's says "Make Mine Obama?"

The crazy dictators seem to be lining up for Obama.

We will see a better relationship between the U.S. and the Korean Peninsula with Obama, who sternly criticizes Bush and who would meet the leader of Chosun without pre-conditions, than with the “Bush clone” and scarecrow of the neocons McCain.

Wow it seems the North Koreans and the Obama message are actually kind of gelling. The Obama campaign keeps talking ad nauseum about a 3rd Bush term and other nonsense when they talk about McCain. The North Koreans must be subscribed to the Obama campaign talking-points mailing list or something.

Assoicated Press: Gloom at 6; Doom at 11

If you have any doubt that the main stream media is trying to stoke the so-called economic crisis and some natural disasters into an Obama Presidency then read this article.

Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.

Horatio Alger, twist in your grave.

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

This whole article is just one long gloom and doom tract after another all told in the same hyperbolic language with this little nugget near the end.

American University historian Allan J. Lichtman notes that the U.S. has endured comparable periods and worse, including the economic stagflation (stagnant growth combined with inflation) and Iran hostage crisis of 1980; the dawn of the Cold War, the Korean War and the hysterical hunts for domestic Communists in the late 1940s and early 1950s; and the Depression of the 1930s.

"All those periods were followed by much more optimistic periods in which the American people had their confidence restored," he said. "Of course, that doesn't mean it will happen again."

Each period also was followed by a change in the party controlling the White House.

Ah, the meat of this entire gloom and doom screed all summed up in one short biased little sentence. Yup, all this so-called destruction, bloodshed, and economic ruin is so Obama can slide right into the White House. It must suck to be on the side that cheers every natural disaster and economic downturn because it gives your man some political capital. I thought the GOP was supposed to be the fear party.

Also I love how this Lichtman character throws in that "might not happen again" line. That is such a load of bull coming from an actual historian. I mean Americans got through 25% unemployment, the Dust Bowl, 9000 banks failing, the biggest war in the history of mankind (WW 2,) the threat of nuclear annihilation of the entire planet at almost any second, race riots in every major city, the assassination of a popular President, and the Carter years and we were still able to be optimistic every single time.

Hell, problems with drifting polar bears, lower housing prices, $4 gas, and not being able to take a vacation abroad are small potatoes compared to almost any other crisis period in the past 100 or maybe even 200 years. Compare the Iowa Floods to The Influenza Epidemic that wiped out over 50 million people worldwide. You do the math. I think they should make reporters put D or R after their names like politicians so you could easily tell their biases before you read the article. The Associated Press (D,) Fox News (R.)

Obama In the Pocket of Big Ethanol?

At least this article seems to think so.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama has not explained his opposition to imported sugar cane ethanol. But in remarks last year, made as President Bush was about to sign an ethanol cooperation agreement with his Brazilian counterpart, Mr. Obama argued that “our country’s drive toward energy independence” could suffer if Mr. Bush relaxed restrictions, as Mr. McCain now proposes.

“It does not serve our national and economic security to replace imported oil with Brazilian ethanol,” he argued.

This is another statement that shows that Obama is wet behind the ears. Brazil is not Iran by any stretch of the imagination. It seems much better to fill our tanks with Ethanol from a fairly stable allied country like Brazil rather than oil from a country like Iran who is our sworn enemy. Moral relativism is strong in Obama?

Also increasing the ethanol imports from Brazil helps their economy so that more Brazilians could afford to get out of poverty. I thought the Dems were all about increasing the lot in life of downtrodden foreign peoples. At least the JFK Dems seemed to be into that. I guess flying around in Archer Daniels Midland's private jets is just too good for Obama to pass up.

Finally, sugar-cane ethanol is just better stuff then corn ethanol. It gives us 8 to 1 energy output/input ratio rather then the 2 to 1 energy that corn does. Plus, people don't rely on sugar as a staple as much as they do corn. So we could use our own US grown corn to make ethanol plus add the Brazilian sugar ethanol to the mix and reduce the amount of foreign oil by that much more. Protectionism like Obama advocates will make it even harder for us to ween ourselves off of foreign oil. I guess his pals in Big Ethanol will thank him even more.

Miss Tennessee is Packing Heat!

I think Ellen Carrington needs to get her gown hemmed in order to fit an ankle holster.

"I have a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber," Carrington told reporters on Sunday, "(with a) silver top and black body."

A Jackson native and senior at Union University, Carrington decided to get the permit because she was spending a lot of time traveling to and from Nashville at night. She said spending time at shooting ranges with her father, Pat, helped create an even deeper bond between the two.

Now that is one tough young lady. When she is faced with scary Nashville streets (which seems to have a rising rate of muggings) she got a concealed carry license and a .40 caliber pistol and exercised her right to bear arms. This is case in point why Southern Girls are hot. Miss Carrington is pretty cute too:

McCains $300 Million Dollar Battery Prize

Well, get to work all of you backyard engineers you too could win $300 million.

John McCain is hoping to solve the country's energy crisis with cold hard cash. The presumed Republican nominee on Monday proposed a $300 million government prize to whoever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology. The bounty would equate to $1 for every man, woman and child in the country, "a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency," McCain said at Fresno State University.

That sounds like a workable plan. Hell, I would pesonally give $100 to a person who developed this superbattery so we can have a 100% oil-free car. So I would rather see them bump the prize to a billion dollars but I guess $300 million is good start. It is just that the Billion Dollar Clean Car Challenge sounds cooler for some reason.

McCain is also proposing a $5000 credit for buying a zero emission vehicle. I guess that means a plug in battery powered Ed Begley Jr-mobile will net you a free $5000 plus all of the gas savings. I think the car company making this car should get some sort of tax incentive as well. Maybe a credit for every car sold or a tax-break on R&D or something.

More Support For Lower Oil Prices

Ah it seems Americans are finally hitting the wall when it comes to gas prices.

The lower gasoline consumption is probably due largely to less driving. According to Department of Transportation statistics released last week, from November through April, Americans drove 30 billion fewer miles than the same period the prior year. "That's the sharpest drop in recorded history, some 66 years of collecting data," says Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, adding that "the drop took place before the price hit $4 a gallon."

So less demand should lead to lower prices now that more supply is coming online. It is interesting to see what event is going to pop the bubble.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What the Hell is Solar Thermal Electricity Generation (STEG)?

This is a great article about this new form of electricity generation called Solar Thermal Electricity Generation (STEG for short.)

Solar Thermal Electrical Generation (STEG) devices concentrate the sun’s thermal energy by mirrors or lenses to create intense heat, driving a steam-driven generator. The machines shave storage capacity to deliver steady round-the-clock electricity like conventional power plants.

You have to love these growth numbers as well:

Some 2.6 gigawatts of new photovoltaic capacity was installed in 2007 — a 40 percent jump from 2006 — fueled by $7.1 billion in investment ($2.8 billion from VC and private equity; the balance from quoted companies). Growth has averaged 40 percent a year since 2000.

I mean there are vast deserts in this country that could be used to house these STEG plants. Currently you have millions of gigawatts of energy simply being absorbed into sands of Death Valley and those sorts of places. That energy should be harnessed so we can run our homes without a need for coal, or oil. If you couple this with nuclear power plants then we could have 100% of our electricity from low polluting or renewable sources.

The best thing about this technology is there would be no expensive drilling, mining of coal, or environmental BS required. If it is daytime then you will get power. Then we would be able to use our coal to create oil to power our cars. This STEG looks like a great space to be long in for the next several years.

Israel Shows its Airpower to Iran

It seems the Israelis will not take an Iranian nuke as calmly as the Obama administration would. We may be seeing an Iran/Israel hot war in the next few years so we need to tread lightly in that area.

The New York Times quoted officials Friday as saying that more than 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged the maneuver, flying more than 900 miles, roughly the distance from Israel to Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, and that the exercise included refueling tankers and helicopters capable of rescuing downed pilots.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fuel Efficient SUVs on the Horizon

It seems the days of the gas guzzling SUV are officially dead but car makers are still using the concept but in more gas efficient ways according to Popular Mechanics. The Mini Crossman looks especially cool.

Sorry, folks, but the SUV is dead ... as we know it. But all is not lost for lovers of these big, honkin', truck-bodied sport utility vehicles. What? You say the SUV can actually make a comeback? I think so, as long as they're not actually big, honkin' or truck-bodied. No, the keys to the next generation of American SUVs will be advancements in powertrains and severe weight trimming that could actually save fuel and boost economy.

Iraqi Security Forces Find Weapons Caches

It seems that there is more cooperation between the people of Iraq and their armed forces. It has led to finding all sorts of weapons caches that can't be used by the insurgents.

One recent tip led U.S. soldiers to a bakery in a Shiite militia stronghold in eastern Baghdad. The troops had to fight their way into the storefront, where they found what the military called an "EFP-making factory."

In a feed warehouse in another Shiite area of Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers found 90 122 mm rockets, EFP components, mortar shells and an American unmanned drone that apparently had been downed by mechanical failure.

And in a mainly Sunni area about 20 miles southwest of the capital, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers pulled six 120 mm mortar rounds from the murky waters of a fish farm.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

7 Ways McCain Can Win With Energy: Point-by-point

This is an interesting article on ways McCain can beat Obama on Energy:

1) Stop talking about global warming. I agree with this 100%. Energy needs to be a security issue with a side benefit of stopping global warming. Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil needs to be synonymous with repressive regimes and terrorist funding. So anything that replaces oil that we can make in our own country makes us safer. We should never be in the position to have our country crippled by a Gulf of Hormuz blockade.

2) Ban the color green. I'm not sure about this one. After all McCain is Irish IIRC.

3) Propose drilling in ANWR while standing in ANWR. I think drilling in ANWR is a dead issue frankly. The idea of standing in front of pristine wilderness and proposing oil wells to be drilled there just doesn't look good. I think pushing offshore oilfields in certain parts of the country is a much smarter short term solution.

4) Accuse Obama of wanting to launch a pre-emptive war on the American economy. This is another thing that could easily backfire. I think a narrative where Obama waging war against average Americans who are hurting would have more traction. The "cling to the religion" gaff won Hillary Ohio. Portraying Obama as out of touch with the common man and wants to steal his money to give to Hollywood fatcats sounds pretty good.

5) Stop blaming Big Oil. I agree with this 100%. Shift the blame for high oil prices to greedy speculators and foreign oil-rich dictators. They are also making billions from keeping oil expensive and keeping supply down.

6) Go with a populist "cost of living" argument. This dovetails nicely with with number 4 above. If Obama is made to look like he is giving the carbon credit billions to granola eating treehuggers that want to stop growth then he is vulnerable. So if McCain says that we will have a carbon tax but it is to benefit middle class Americans since it will reduce their taxes then it will be easy to sell. Financial incentive is a strong motivator.

7) Advocate a cheap Manhattan Project. This is a bad idea from a future competition standpoint. If we aren't the leader in the world for "green tech" then the Europeans will be happy to take that title. The Europeans will have lots of incentive to capture that market and it should be the US that leads the world in this. Any idea that creates jobs and insure our security in years to come. If we can spend billions on national defence we can spend billions to not have oil be such a critical choke point.

Tiger Woods is a Golf Playing Cyborg

I think he is part man and part machine after hearing this:

Woods revealed Wednesday he has been playing for at least 10 months with a torn ligament in his left knee, and that he suffered a double stress fracture in his left leg two weeks before the U.S. Open. He said he will have season-ending surgery, knocking him out of the final two majors and the Ryder Cup.

So he won the U.S. Open with a torn ligament and 2 fractures in his left leg? The man is not from this planet and was actually made by golf playing aliens from the future.

Fifth Third Goes Back to the Well

And their stock got punished for it.

Fifth Third is planning a $1 billion offering of convertible preferred shares. It also plans to raise $1 billion by selling unspecified operations, expecting those sales will be completed over the next several quarters.

The company is cutting its quarterly dividend by nearly two-thirds to 15 cents from 44 cents. The smaller dividend will be paid on July 22, when the company will report second-quarter earnings, to shareholders of record on June 30.

This was one of the stocks I looked at for potential short candidates along with Suntrust, Regions Financial, and Keycorp. The problem I had was that they were still making decent money and in some cases about the same as they did in previous quarters. In other words they seemed to have righted the ship. I guess if they keep getting cash infusions and cut their dividends then they are spooking investors into dumping them. In any case when the smoke clears there are some real bargins in this space.

Huckabee Gives Advice to Republicans

Again I agree with the Big Huck on this key point:

``The Republicans will make a fundamental, if not fatal mistake, if they seek to win the election by demonizing Barrack Obama,'' Huckabee told reporters in Tokyo. ``Don't underestimate the extraordinary, substantive moment that Barack Obama's nomination represents in our country.''

If the Republicans go after Obama personally I think they will fall flat. They need to attack the nievette of his policies and show how they are bad for America. If it goes racial or gets personal then they will lose it big. I think the weight of history may be too great for McCain to overcome.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bushies Are Pushing Offshore Drilling At Long Last

At last Bush is going to hold the Dems feet to the fire on high oil prices.

The president believes Congress shouldn't waste any more time," White House press secretary Dana Perino told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"He will explicitly call on Congress to ... pass legislation lifting the congressional ban on safe, environmentally friendly offshore oil drilling," Perino said. "He wants to work with states to determine where offshore drilling should occur."

I like how he adds environmentally friendly to the mix. Let the Dems stand up and be counted with the crazy environmental movement that wants $6-$10 gas. The people that are hurting are the Dems prime constituency. They are teamsters, the working poor, and pro-Hillary Soccer moms who all are getting blasted by high gas prices.

Even Ahmadinejoke is Skeptical about Oil Prices

Now the Iranians are saying that oil prices cannot be sustained.

"It is very clear that visible and invisible hands are controlling prices in a fake way with political and economic aims," he said when opening a meeting of the OPEC Fund for International Development in the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

Of course he chalks it up to shady "invisible hands." I'm sure the Little Madman of Tehran thought "high oil prices? Ah ha, Invisible Jewish Bankers!" I'm sure Ahmadinejoke is talking about Sue Stormstein the famous Invisibile Yenta! The funny thing is that Obama wants to sit down with this crazy person and engage him like he was the Prime Minister of Sweden or something.

Obama Says GOPs Fault that Bin Laden is Free

Now this is just a laughable statement from the Obama camp.

He said they "helped to engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9-11." He said Osama bin Laden is still at large in part because of their failed strategies.

Bin Laden is free because he is in the tribal areas of a country that is armed with nukes. He escaped there because we did not want to drop 100,000 troops into Afghanistan because we were working with the Northern Alliance. In other words we trusted the Afghanistani fighters and our Air Power could get Osama at Tora Bora and we simply dropped the ball.

We currently can't get him because he is in Pakistan and we refuse to violate their sovereignty and invade the western part of their country without their permission. Even if we had every troop in Iraq in Afghanistan we still couldn't get him without the backing of Pakistan. The GOP has nothing to do with the generals in charge of military operations. Is Obama saying that they failed in their duty? I would like to see him say that to the face of General Tommy Franks who was in charge at the battle of Tora Bora. Generals plan wars but only politicians have the ability to lose them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Techcrunch Bans the AP

Wow, now this is a very interesting fight brewing. It pits the No.2 Blog on the Internet (one that I read fairly regularly for tech scoops) versus the Associated Press.

The A.P. doesn’t get to make it’s own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it’s clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don’t exist today and that they are not legally entitled to. And like the RIAA and MPAA, this is done to protect a dying business model - paid content.

So here’s our new policy on A.P. stories: they don’t exist. We don’t see them, we don’t quote them, we don’t link to them. They’re banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.

Good for Techcrunch. Someone needs to show the AP that they can't push bloggers around and not face some sort of repercussions. I hope there is an avalanche of protests against the AP and it eventually damages their reputation. You can't stomp on the little guy without the world watching.

The GOP Energy Plan: Make it About Patriotism

I think the GOP is missing a huge opportunity when it comes to high oil prices. They should push through a "raise the domestic oil supply bill" that the Democrats will predictably vote down. Then paint the Democrats as the party that supports the money supply of "Death to America" Mullahs and Socialist Dictators. When Americans sees $4.20 gas they need to think it is the Democratic Congress' fault for propping up anti-American foreign powers.

The current narrative is Americans versus fat-cat Big Oil. It needs to be Americans versus Foreign Oil Sheiks, Iranian Mullahs, and Socialist Dictators. Play the nationalist card. The GOP needs to say that oil that we pump isn't the same oil that buys bomb belts, represses Venezuelans, or funds anti-American Madrasas. Make pumping domestic oil into a patriotic issue and not a economic one. Opening ANWAR and increasing offshore drilling would be the same as not using Mullah-oil or Chavez-oil.

Obama still Wet Behind the Ears on Energy

We again have economic naivete coming from the Obama Campaign spokespeople.

Democrat Barack Obama's campaign and environmental groups said McCain's proposal threatens U.S. coastlines and does little to reduce American dependence on foreign oil. Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said McCain's hope to "simply drill our way out of our energy crisis" mimics the approach of the Bush administration.

Drilling oil in our own waters will reduce dependence on foreign oil whether Obama likes it or not. A barrel of oil that comes out of a deep water rig off California will not come out of the Ghawar oilfield in Saudi Arabia. Increasing supply or even threatening to increase domestic supply will drop the price of oil in a heartbeat.

You couple this with dropping demand (increase biofuels, build nuclear plants raise CAFE standards etc.; which are things I actually agree with Obama on) and oil prices will go down no matter what. It is just Econ 101. Increase supply and demand and prices come down.

Buy RIMM Even When it is Nearing the 52 week High?

I saw that RIMM is up 8 points today. It is interesting that Jim Cramer and the Fast Money guy Najarian are both talking about the stock on the same day.

On Research In Motion , Cramer predicted shares top the current 52-week high and hit $150. RIM is one of the very few tech stocks the Mad Money host likes as more than just a trade. Even though it has 40 times the market share of the BlackBerry maker, Nokia suffers from a lack of momentum in a market that is entirely momentum-driven, Cramer said. RIM is simply “the one.”

The interesting thing about the smart phone industry is that there seems to be only 3 main players in the US. They are RIMM, Apple's IPhone and the Palm Treo. According to this article RIMM has 42% market share, Palm has 16% and IPhone has 9%. I would bet that the $299 3G IPhone will have Apple easily passing Palm by the end of the year.

I think within a few years we might just see IPhones vs. Blackberries as the only choices when it comes to smart phones. So you can see that in this space we have 2 very strong companies competing over a fast growing industry with a wide moat. Unless Nokia comes out with a real game changing phone then this will probably be the scenario for years to come.

Also I would argue that both companies are fairly recession proof unless there is a massive downturn. Apple makes a coveted good that people love to use and people actually strive to own. You can never underestimate the power of selling something that people wait in line to buy even when they already own one. I mean the IPhone is only a year old and people are already going to go back to the store to buy a new one. While RIMM has deep penetration into the corporate world and has transitioned seamlessly into the consumer space.

It is interesting that both companies will now be competing for each others base customers. Apple has added features like the Exchange E-mail push and the Developer Suite that should appeal to corporations. While RIMM has added a camera and changed the from factor of their newest Blackberries to appeal to consumers.

With smartphone growth in the 29.3% range you can't go wrong in this space. Both companies have strong bases to call on and make products that people actually love. I guess the best way to play it is just buy RIMM and AAPL and sit back.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What the Hell is the S&P Proprietary Oscillator?

I hate when Jim Cramer busts out some obscure indicator and then doesn't tell you where you can check it. It does seem to have quite a rep according to him:

Historically, over a 20-year period, Cramer said the oscillator has never let him down. It has certain periods when its readings are really high. That is when market players should sell, he explained. Then there are certain periods when the oscillator is really low, very negative, and that's when people have to buy.

Upon researching it I come to the conclusion that it is like the Colonel's Seven Herbs and Spices or the Secret formula for Coke or something. In fact it sounds like the kind of thing that is locked in a vault somewhere in New York behind dobermans and stone-faced guards carrying AR-15s.
I scoured the S&P site and it doesn't say anything about it in their products section.

I also read rumors that the thing costs like $1000 a year to check. Maybe you need to be a Bilderberg as well? However this site claims to have a formula for it but I'm not sure if this is the same thing as what the S&P uses.

((High - Open) + (Close - Low)) / (2 * (High - Low))

In any case the thing is at -6 according to Cramer this past Friday (6/13.) That means there should be a snap back in stocks next week as it goes back to normal. Hmm, it should be interesting to see if there is a big rally next week and what event sets it off. My guess is on a quick drop in oil prices to the $120 level. But that is just a feeling I get from all the jawboning going on by OPEC, IEA, Paulson, whomever. There are just too many big players that want to see it drop for it to go to $150 before going back to $120.

Tim Russert Passes Away: Marketwatch Looks Crass

One of the best interviewers out there has died of a heart attack and he was only 58 years old.

Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” broadcast when he collapsed. He was rushed to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, where resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

I knew he was an unabashed liberal but he was of the old school where you respected the guy on the other side of the aisle even though you didn't agree with him. He usually seemed like a pretty fair interviewer from what I have seen of Meet the Press. He didn't do puff pieces and he really seemed to know his stuff when he went into the interview. You couldn't game him.

Also you could tell that he was head and shoulders above the talk-over-each other journalists at Fox News or the extremely biased reporting of people like Katie Couric or the rest of NBC news. He never seemed to ask questions like "the Iraq war is the worst failure in human history, people are dying by the hundreds of millions from Global Warming, and we are now considered by every man woman and child as the most evil empire that has ever lived. How do you feel about that?"

So it is sad to see Marketwatch run a who is the successor to Russert piece just a few hours after he died.

With Tim Russert's death on Friday, NBC (GE: General Electric Company; 29.15, +0.10, +0.3%) will need someone who is steady, reassuring, calm and analytical. David Gregory, familiar to NBC viewers for his White House coverage, should get the job. Chris Matthews should definitely not be under consideration.

I mean mourn the guys passing, talk about his legacy, and wait an appropriate period of time before you go into a "Meet the Press" hosting horse race. I think it is the height of crassness to rush out an article like this without the appropriate looking-back and reflecting period.

Marketwatch seems so caught up in the 24 hour news cycle that the guy barely hits the floor and they are already making predictions about who will replace him. Marketwatch seems to think of respected journalists like Russert as British rank-and-file troops in line formation. When one dies the other troops step to their left or right and fill in the gap.

OPEC Cuts Oil Demand: Cart Pulls Horse again

It seems that even OPEC is starting to feel the heat of high oil prices and are jawboning the price down a bit.

OPEC lowered its 2008 global demand forecast, saying it now expects demand to increase by 1.28% to an average of 86.9 million barrels per day, down from a previous forecast of 1.35%. That decision follows similar moves by the U.S. Energy Department and the International Energy Agency earlier in the week.

I love how changing a forecast that really could be numbers plucked out of thin air and the threat that the Saudis might pump more oil sometime in the future caused oil prices to drop. Whoever said that speculation was not the reason behind much of the oil price spike the past few weeks has an agenda.

Obama Payroll Tax Plan: the Middle Class Donut

It seems that we are getting the sense of what middle class means to Obama:

The 6.2 percent payroll tax is now applied to all income up to $102,000 a year, which covers the entire amount for most Americans. Under Obama's plan, the tax would not apply to incomes between that amount and $250,000. But all annual income above the quarter-million-dollar amount would be taxed under his plan.

It seems like a fairly populist plan. Of course that rips me off since I don't fall into that Obama Magic Donut Amount. This however got me to laugh out loud:

Obama also criticized McCain for being open to letting taxpayers invest part of their Social Security payments in private investment accounts.

"Imagine if your security now was tied up with the Dow Jones," he said, alluding to the recent slide in stock prices. "You wouldn't feel very confident about the security of your nest egg."

Yes, if your security was tied up in the Dow Jones which I assume means the Dow Jones Industrial Average then you would have bought when Social Security was created in 1935. That means you bought on Aug 1935 when Social Security was enacted at $127.35. Currently the "Dow Jones" is at $12,248. Currently the Social Security Trust Fund actually earns about the same as a regular government bond which is currently 4.68% for a 30 year.

I'm not sure about Obama but I would have gladly taken on the added risk in order to have pocketed a 95 bagger (plus compounding) in that time period. Again Obama has no grasp of economic specifics and history and blindly flails his populist message of Wall Street = risky, shady money men while big government = benevolent force for good. It's my money Senator let me decide my own risk metrics on it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Terms of the Yahoo/Google Deal Released

It seems like it is a 10 year non-exclusive tie up. I hope that $800 million revenue bump figure isn't just wishful thinking. The more I look at it the more it looks like they did this Google deal just so they could avoid being acquired by Microsoft.

The plan: Yahoo will be able to run Google ads on its U.S. and Canadian search results -- where and when it wants to -- and will continue to sell its own ads via Panama. Yahoo estimates the deal could generate $800 million in annual revenue and $250-450 million in incremental operating cash flow -- but little to no cost savings.

This Merrill guy hit what I am thinking right on the head:

Merrill: GOOG has market share leadership. Will advertisers still want to buy YHOO when they can buy GOOG and potentially get on YHOO? Any interest in your part on serving content ads on GOOG pages?

Sue: YHOO monetizes competitively with query ads, but not in the tail, because of GOOG's scale. Flexibility of deal lets us get the best of both worlds. Can optimize every single day. Will keep marketplace alive and vibrant. Components of this deal where we'll be working on other elements of value, and one might be helping Google with display ads.

What keeps a Yahoo advertiser from just switching to Google and having their ads show up in Yahoo's search queries without having to pay for both Yahoo and Google? A company could game the system by buying long-tail type words from Google and benefit from having them show up on both Google and Yahoo. They would essentially pay for Google and get Yahoo for free. It seems to me that this optimization strategy is now the linchpin of Yahoo's entire search business model going forward.

One issue that could come up is that they seem to be losing their top talent little by little. This is a really bad deal because the people with the right talent mix, who may be key to this optimization thing being a success, may take off just when Yahoo needs them the most. This Google deal may save the company from being bought out but I would be willing to bet that they won't see the $33 stock price that Microsoft was willing to pay them for years to come.

But Wait There's More: Google and Yahoo may Reach Deal

Ah so it looks like Microsoft got the shaft yet again. It seems Google is going to strike up an ad deal with Yahoo after all.

Yahoo and Google will make a joint announcement at 1:30 California time this afternoon, we’ve heard from a reliable source close to one of the companies. What is the announcement? The very likely answer is, a search partnership between the two companies that outsources all or part of Yahoo search marketing, and possibly search itself, to Google.

Microsoft Walks Away from Yahoo Deal

Look for Yahoo stock to fall off a cliff. They better iron out that Google Ad deal or we might see Yahoo back in the low teens again. If I was Carl Ichan I would be spitting mad about now.

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - News), a leading global Internet company, today announced that discussions with Microsoft regarding a potential transaction -- whether for an acquisition of all of Yahoo! or a partial acquisition -- have concluded. The conclusion of discussions follows numerous meetings and conversations with Microsoft regarding a number of transaction alternatives, including a meeting between Yahoo! and Microsoft on June 8th in which Chairman Roy Bostock and other independent Board members from Yahoo! participated. At that meeting, Microsoft representatives stated unequivocally that Microsoft is not interested in pursuing an acquisition of all of Yahoo!, even at the price range it had previously suggested.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pluto Gets Some Cache Back

It seems they are naming dwarf planets after Pluto by calling them "plutoids."

"Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbit."

You figure there would be quite a few plutoids out there in the The Kuiper belt and the Oort Cloud. I think Oort Cloud would be a great name for a cat as well. Here, oort come have dinner!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Now the Saudis are Surprised by Oil Rise

It seems even the Saudi's were thrown off by that record 2 day oil rally.

The kingdom will work to ensure there will be no "unwarranted and unnatural oil price hikes that could affect international economies, especially those of developing countries," said Madani.

"There is no justification for the current rise in prices," he said.

They are deathly afraid that high oil prices will throw the world economy into a recession and people stop buying their product. The Saudis can make a ton of money in the near term but the tap stops once people stop driving to save the gas that they can barely afford.

Obama is Backing the Idiodic Windfall Tax

The more I hear from Obama the more it sounds like he just doesn't understand economic matters at all.

"I'll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we'll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills," the Illinois senator said.

Will he make oil companies like Shell Oil, TotalFinaElf, BP pay this tax as well? I mean they are reaping windfall profits as well but they aren't based in the US. Also what prevents the oil companies from simply passing on the tax to the consumers thus making $4.00 gas into $5.00 gas? Of course like his all-troops out in 16 months Iraq policy he doesn't have any sort of plan for the "what-ifs."

Reading his plan further makes things even worse.

The plan would target profit from the biggest oil companies by taxing each barrel of oil costing more than $80, according to a fact sheet on the proposal. The tax would help pay for a $1,000 tax cut for working families, an expansion of the earned- income tax credit and assistance for people who can't afford their energy bills.

So Obama wants oil companies taxed based on oil prices? He does know that the oil companies barely affect prices since they only pull about 17% of the oil out of the ground? This tax makes no sense at all. I think Obama needs to realize that oil prices are globally set and these are domestic companies he is robbing. OPEC, Russia and China have way more clout in setting prices then Exxon will ever have.

Finally what keeps the oil companies from simply pumping less domestic oil or shuttering refineries when oil goes to $81? That seems to be what happened when Carter tried this same scheme in 1980.

We've been down this road before. Under a windfall tax signed into law by Jimmy Carter, domestic oil production plummeted by an estimated 795 million barrels, while imports of foreign oil surged. Congress had anticipated windfall tax revenues of $393 billion. The actual take: just $80 billion. Like so much else associated with the Carter era, the windfall-profits tax was a counterproductive flop. Do Democrats really believe a new dose of Carternomics is going to make today's economy stronger?

So Obama's plan will be to penalize US oil companies in order to increase the wealth of foreign exporters? Way to score an own goal Obama. The funny thing is the Dems actually think this will lower gas prices? I think Obama needs to go back and retake Economics 101 since he seems to have flunked it at Columbia.

Friday, June 06, 2008

"Hysterical" Trading in Last Hour in the Oil Pits?

Now this is a very interesting data point on oil's insane rise these past two days:

Crude's late-day launch occurred out of nowhere, with no new data release or news headlines for an impetus. The last hour of trading can only be described as hysterical, with oil traders calling financial reporters, desperately trying to find out what vital information they were missing that the rest of the market had apparently discovered.

It seems that even oil traders were thrown off by the rally. It just feels to me like the price went over a certain point then gapped even higher due to automatic trading programs or something like that. I should think the CBOE or NYMEX should look at the trading to see if there wasn't something strange going on or not.

May Unemployment Rate due to Teens

Again the press has read unemployment numbers incorrectly citing the biggest gain since 1986 even though it was not because of job losses but a quirky calendar and unemployed teens swelling the workforce.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. economists estimated the unemployment rate may drop back by 0.1 or 0.2 percentage point in June because of the seasonal-adjustment effect. David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities International in New York, said the May rate was as much as 0.3 percentage point higher because of the school-year impact.

It's hard for students to find summer work because ``no one is looking for someone to stay until mid-August,'' Jackie Brooks, 19, of Mishawaka, Indiana, said in a phone interview. She recently finished her first year at Indiana University in Bloomington and was looking for work at a bookstore or a café. ``If I tell them I have to leave in mid-August, they say they can't take me.''

Also you might blame high gas prices on why some teens aren't looking for work. I mean they can't afford to drive as much as they could last year so they just aren't looking for work in such large numbers as they did before. Why work for a company that pays you a wage that barely pays for the trip to your workplace? I mean gas costs $4.00 a gallon and minimum wage is only $7.00 so if a teen so they are barely breaking even if they have to drive any distance to their workplace.

Also if this Jackie Brooks is indicative of the attitude of many teens then the people are looking to work in industries that just aren't hiring. I mean both bookstores and cafes probably don't hire workers for 3 months since Borders is laying off workers and many casual dining restaurants are cutting back on staff due to high food costs and slowing disposable incomes.

Morgan Stanley Oil Prediction: Tail Wags Dog

I'm getting fed up with these crazy oil predictions that actually end up causing oil prices to rise.

Prices pushed sharply higher Friday after Morgan Stanley analyst Ole Slorer predicted strong demand in Asia could drive prices to $150 by Independence Day, when millions of Americans are expected to take to the roads. Slorer said shipments from the Middle East are mimicking patterns seen in the third quarter last year, when Morgan Stanley based an oil price spike prediction on falling supplies in the Atlantic.

What demand are they talking about? From what I have read Indian Oil Demand is murky and hard to pin down. This fact if very interesting however:

First, and most unusually, the price of diesel in India is considerably below (25% less) the price of petrol; the world prices diesel at 20 per cent above the price of petrol. Second, the consumer price of petrol in India is more than that in the US (at $4.40 a gallon), and among the highest in the developing world. In China, petrol is priced at only 74 cents a litre, compared to the average Indian price of $1.17 a litre.

So we have growing demand from a country whose per capita income is $774? I mean their income is growing fast but can Indians actually afford to drive that many miles on gas prices at $4.40 a gallon? We can barely afford gas that expensive with our per capita income of $34,000? It is just common sense that Indians are cutting back on their gas use as prices go up.

Also Chinese demand for actual crude oil is only 2.5% higher then last year with most of the demand growth coming from diesel fuel and other oil products. I would bet that most of that diesel growth was because of Olympics prep work and stockpiling so their won't be a shortage come August.

Another thing is I'm pretty sure Americans will not be "hitting the roads" by the millions if gas is $4.50 or $5.00 a gallon. They will probably have vacations close to home if they even travel to their vacations at all. So this millions of phantom Americans hitting the roads is a strait-up myth that has already been disproved by the massive slowdown in driving this past Memorial Day Holiday.

Finally, the Dollar only dropped against the Euro by $0.10 cents this week from $0.645 to $0.635 in total and was actually much weaker at $0.625 in April. There is no way a $.10 move lower in dollar can justify a +11% move in 2 days. I think it is pure bubble speculation and the price is not reflected in the supply/demand fundamentals at all. I think this Ole Slorer is just pulling prices out of a hat and the speculators are following it in lock-step driving things higher.

Ugly Rug Sells for $4.45 million

I think the person that paid for this rug got gypped. The rug is in pretty poor condition if you asked me. Maybe the Newport Restoration Foundation who paid the big bucks for the thing will fix it up and make it look decent. I am all for antiques but I think condition is as important as well as age and provenance. I guess this is more from a comic collectors point of view since you actually pay less for damaged copies.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Japanese Turn to Hedge Funds

And it seems that the Man Group PLC is reaping the benefit.

Hedge funds are set to benefit as Japanese individuals, who sit on almost $15 trillion of personal savings, shift investments away from equities after the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 11 percent last year. Japan accounts for about a fifth of Man Group's total $78.5 billion assets, up from some 5 percent in 2003, when Hayashi took over at the local unit.

I didn't know that the Man group actually started in 1783 as a sugar trader. Also it seems about time that the Japanese are getting tired of that .05 percent saving rate and losing money in their own stock market. Plus this Man Group is starting a seven different environment related hedge funds as well. Seems like a decent way to make a few extra bucks if you are a Japanese investor.

The firm in April said it set up Man Environmental Capital Opportunities to invest in environmental issues. China Methane Recovery Fund, its first project, raised 400 million euros ($617 million) to finance extraction of greenhouse gas from coal mines in Shanxi province. The methane can be burned to generate electric power while the project is expected to earn UN emission credits.

Great Cover of Viva La Vida from Coldplay

I really enjoyed this cover of the Coldplay song Viva La Vida from a very cute girl who is possibly Spanish. Youtube lists the user as Svetlailieva which sounds Russian for some reason. In any case this is a great song and I will probably be buying this album just to get an MP3 of this song.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

McCain to Hillary Lovers: Come on Down!

Wow, McCain is even heaping a little praise on her:

McCain followed suit, complimenting her on Tuesday night even as he ripped into his new Democratic opponent.

"She deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received," McCain said of Clinton.

"As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach."

The strategy could pay off. Some women supporters have said they will back McCain over Obama -- despite the former first lady's entreaties on the campaign trail not to do so.

Too bad he didn't say "she deserves a lot more appreciation then the media actually gave her." He should push the narrative that the media turned on Hillary because they are sexist and gave Obama the kid-gloves treatment because they wanted to see the first black candidate. That should appeal to the women that feel like victims of the system since they went full-tilt after the female candidate while they gave the black male candidate a pass.

I mean the Dems pulled every stunt including counting the residents of two very large states as half-persons just to push her out of the way. They also went after her for crying and not dropping out on their timetable.

McCain needs a fairly young female running mate so badly he should scour the country for one. Too bad Condi Rice doesn't want in.

He should think about the following Republican women governors or Senators: Jo Ann Emerson who is 57 and from the swing state of Missouri (too bad she voted to pull troops out of Iraq but she is pro stem cell,) Sarah Palin Governor of Alaska who is only 42 (too bad her children all have goofy Hollywood-sounding names; Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig,) or our governor Linda Lingle who is 55 and could outright win the Jewish vote. In any case I would much rather see almost any female or minority VP like Bobby Jindal then some forgettable white dude from a swing state or some freak like Romney.

25 Year Old Towel Found inside Japanese Man

This one statement is case-in-point of the difference between the US and Japan.

Asahi hospital officials visited the man and apologised, he said.

The former patient has no plans to sue the hospital, which is in talks with him over compensation or other measures, the official said.

Japanese media reports said the man, who was not identified, still had his spleen removed.

So the hospital that left the towel in for 25 years apologized to him, the man won't sue, but he will probably get his medical bills paid for or some other small settlement. There wasn't 25 trial lawyers parachuted in from a C130, they didn't hang the doctor from a meat hook, and the Asahi hospital won't have to go bankrupt from the multi-million dollar lawsuit it will be hit with. No unmitigated greed but just a civil apology and some sane financial compensation.

India Raises Gas Prices

I guess Indian Consumers will soon feel the pinch of higher gas prices. I wonder how this info will affect the demand picture going forward.

India's government raised retail prices of gasoline, diesel and cooking gas, Oil Minister Murli Deora told reporters today in New Delhi. Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Thailand have also cut subsidies and raised fuel costs, which is likely to curb demand.

Time to Buy Refiners?

Things are certainly looking better for refiners as oil prices come down and their businesses become more profitable.

Refineries operated at 89.7 percent of their capacity last week, up 1.8 percentage points from the week before and the highest since the week ended Jan. 4, the department said. The profit margin, or crack spread, for making three barrels of crude oil into one of heating oil and two of gasoline jumped 46 percent in May.

I was recently looking into Sunoco and found an interesting tidbit as I read their last 10Q. It seems they are expanding cokemaking facilities through their subsidiary SunCoke Energy (that company sounds like a new energy drink from Coca-Cola) to various steel companies including AK Steel and Mittal.

It seems like an interesting side business since a steel mill with a coke plant next door can seriously cut their costs. Also the steam generated from making coke can also be sold to the steel company for their own power needs or put directly onto the power market if the steel company doesn't want it. Also these mills are under pretty long term contracts as well so it should create a solid revenue stream for Sunoco.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Obama Got the Nomination

The long national nightmare (if you are a Democrat) is now over.

A surge of support from uncommitted delegates gave Obama the 2,118 votes he needed to clinch the nomination and defeat rival Hillary Clinton, a former first lady who entered the race as a heavy favorite.

And now Hillary is angling for the VP spot. If I was Obama I would totally spurn Hillary for a more centrist Democratic woman from a Red State like Claire McCaskill from Missouri. I think Hillary is far too divisive and Obama shouldn't have someone who hates him as VP. I mean he might just get an RFK-like sendoff like Hillary day dreamed about.

Monday, June 02, 2008

DVD Mounted on Phoenix Mars Lander

Now this is pretty interesting. I wonder what sort of reader device "future Martian explorers" will have on their 3000 Terahertz Quantum PCs and whether it could read this thing? They would have to get a computer historian to decipher the start up mechanism of a museum piece computer and actually boot the thing into the ancient dead OS called Vista.

The mini-DVD from the Planetary Society contains a message to future Martian explorers, science fiction stories and art inspired by the Red Planet, and the names of more than a quarter million earthlings.

Ali Larijani Elected Speaker; Ahmadinejoke's Days Numbered

Hmm this turn of events really bodes nicely for people that are opposed to Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Larijani's stunning return to center stage in Iranian politics makes two things clear: President Ahmadinejad's hold on power is slipping badly, and next year's Iranian presidential election race is now wide open. Winning 232 votes after persuading an Ahmadinejad ally, former Speaker Gholamali Haddad-Adel, to step aside, Larijani is poised to make the position a dynamic power center in Iranian politics, and perhaps even a personal launch pad for challenging Ahmadinejad's bid for a second term of office.

I think Iran might be able to pull off nuclear technology but not get the bomb if this guy comes into power. If the Iranians actually dealt with the West instead of repeatedly threatening Israel they could probably cut a nice deal. I could see Russia or China rushing to help them build reactors that can't create weapons grade plutonium.

They may even give them the means of creating the bomb to counter American designs in the area. I could see the Obama administration not keeping their eye on the prize and Iran gets the nukes they are after. Crazy Mullahs with nukes get bombed. Canny Mullahs that work with the naivete of Obama get their nukes and their hegemony over the Middle East as a package deal.

Brits Whipping Taliban Ass

It seems that a corner may be turning in Afghanistan according to Brig Mark Carleton-Smith. His name really sounds like a Victorian-era general in charge of Pashtun Irregulars or something. In any case it seems that drones and "decapitation strikes" is decimated the Taliban.

In the past two years an estimated 7,000 Taliban have been killed, the majority in southern and eastern Afghanistan. But it is the "very effective targeted decapitation operations" that have removed "several echelons of commanders".

This in turn has left the insurgents on the brink of defeat, the head of Task Force Helmand said.

"The Taliban are much weaker," he said from 16 Air Assault Brigade headquarters in Lashkar Gah.

"The tide is clearly ebbing not flowing for them. Their chain of command is disrupted and they are short of weapons and ammunition."