Friday, November 29, 2013

Ha ha Black Friday Shoppers: Those Deep Discounts and Door Busters Might Not Be As Good As You Think

It seems that retailers are full of dirty tricks when it comes to Black Friday.

Here's how it works, according to one industry consultant describing an actual sweater sold at a major retailer. A supplier sells the sweater to a retailer for roughly $14.50. The suggested retail price is $50, which gives the retailer a roughly 70% markup. A few sweaters sell at that price, but more sell at the first markdown of $44.99, and the bulk sell at the final discount price of $21.99. That produces an average unit retail price of $28 and gives the store about a 45% gross margin on the product. 

So with a 70% markup you can't help but make money on the sweater. It might be a "door buster" that would be advertised as "more than 50% off!" even though the company still makes a 45% margin on the thing. This trick is especially insidious:

Another tactic involves raising selling prices ahead of the holidays before the discounts kick in. In an analysis for The Wall Street Journal, price-tracking firm Market Track LLC looked at the online price fluctuations of 1,743 products in November 2012. Prices climbed an average of 8% in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving for 366, or about a fifth, of the products; the items were then discounted on Black Friday. Toys and tools had the biggest pre-Black Friday price increases—about 23%.  

So the 20% off sale is actually minus a 23% price hike in the months before the toy or tool was sold? You add to this all of the other tricks retailers use like:

1. Making roadblocks out of merchandise so you grab some when you dodge out of the way.

2. Putting one item for like $250 next to the similar item that costs $450. The person picks the $250 item because they think they are getting a "deal" when compared to the $450 item. Imagine if the $250 item was marked down even further. What a deal you are getting when compared to the $450 item.

3. Selling a super cheap TV and then marking up the price of HDMI cables that you need to watch the TV in HD. There always seem to be lots of Monster cables (the most expensive brand) around but not a lot of generic cables when I went I bought my TV.

4. Putting impulse buy items near the checkout stand so exhausted shoppers put "stocking stuffers" in their carts in place of better judgement. I noticed a DVD bin full of $5 DVDs right next to the express checkout line in Wal-mart the other day. I could see more than a few people just grabbing a title that they probably won't watch and adding it to the few items that they were buying.

5. Putting the higher margin stuff to the persons right as they enter the store. I notice this in the Wal-mart next to my workplace. You are generally moved to your right when you enter the store. In front of you as you enter is clothing but there are racks of discount T-shirts kind of forming a road block so you actively need to go to go to your right where the jewelry department and the coats and such are located.

In Costco you have to travel through the electronics section before you can get to the rest of the store. In fact you have to travel nearly the entire length of the store before you get the to the cheap vat of pretzels or the 4 pack of Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream.

The Conservative Case for a Minimum Wage Hike: Hmm It Is Compelling

Well this might be a great reason for hiking the minimum wage.

One aspect of the minimum wage rise, which I think is underappreciated, is [that] it would function as a massive stimulus package, a government stimulus package. If the minimum wage nationwide were raised to $12 an hour, probably between $150 billion and $175 billion a year would go into the pockets of the lower-wage families that spend every dollar they earn. It would cause a tremendous boost in economic demand. 

Another important factor: One of the strange things in our society right now is that we have all these low-wage workers who are getting $7.50, $8 or $9 an hour, and because they earn such small wages, the government subsidizes them with billions or tens of billions of dollars of social welfare spending that comes from the taxpayer. 

It's a classic example of businesses' privatizing the benefits of their workers while socializing the costs. Forcing the taxpayers to supplement the salary of their own employees. 

That $150 billion would come off of the balance sheets of minimum wage dominated businesses like Wal-Mart and McDonalds and go right into the economy at large. I love the idea of stimulus that costs the government nothing. Also this hike would only affect certain companies who pay their employee's less than $12 an hour. The vast majority of businesses would be unaffected by this change. 

Hell, a $4 an hour hike to the pay of all lower income workers is like $320 extra a month. That could be a car payment or allow someone to build up a reserve fund so they don't have to live paycheck to paycheck. You could even afford some night school classes so a person can get a degree and make far more than $12 an hour.

The second argument falls right into the conservative wheelhouse. If you pay people crap they end up making up the difference through government payouts. If you force the companies to pay them more in wages you hopefully get the government to shell out less in social welfare. If that $4 extra that McDonalds shells out in wages constitutes $4 less that the government has to pay in welfare or food stamps then it is mission accomplished. 

I would love to see the CBO look over these numbers and see how much economic growth (if any) and government savings (if any) a minimum wage hike to $12 would put into the economy.

China Sends Warplanes to Check out Planes Headed through their "Air Defence Zone" I Think We Should Step it Up

I think the US, Japan, and China needs to keep sending these planes through this stupid Chinese Air Defense Zone to show that they aren't afraid of the Red Chinese.

"Several combat aircraft were scrambled to verify the identities" of US and Japanese aircraft entering the air defence zone, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting air force spokesman Shen Jinke.

The Chinese aircraft, which included at least two fighter jets, identified two US surveillance aircraft and 10 Japanese aircraft including an F-15 warplane, Shen said.

The Pentagon said Friday that American forces would continue normal operations, despite China's latest move.

"We'll continue to partner with our allies in the region and operate as normal," Lieutenant-Colonel Erik Brine, a Pentagon spokesman, told AFP without elaborating.

I think we should send whole wings of aircraft through the zone and have the Red Chinese scramble their jets every few hours. Run their pilots ragged.

Big Banks Might Charge you to Hold You Money? Time to Head to the Credit Union

If my bank did this I would move every dollar to a credit union or an online bank or something.

After the release, The Financial Times said the Fed policy and its "cheap loans" and subsequent low profit margins, has led to banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America looking to "compensate" for those lower revenues. 

One idea reportedly brewing among big bank executive suites is to charge a premium to "hold money" for bank customers, a centuries-long practice by banks that rarely, if ever, resulted in charges for holding those deposits. 

The Times says decision-makers at two of Americas largest banks said they would start charging customers a fee for checking and savings account deposits unless the Fed backed off on its low rate policy and began hiking interest rates.

I hate the idea of them charging a fee to do their very basic job in holding onto your money. I would even back a Treasury rule that forbids them from charging a fee simply to hold your money in a savings or checking account.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Is the Container Store (TCS) a Buy? Credit Suisse Says Yes

I have never heard of this company but it seems to be getting positive buzz.

The Container Store is poised for incredible growth. 

According to a recent report by Credit Suisse, the retailer, which went public earlier this year, could more than double in worth to $4 billion. 

The specialty home organization store currently has 63 locations, but will soon expand to 300. 

Credit Suisse analysts Gary Balter, Simeon Gutman, and Andrew Kinder cite a few reasons why The Container Store is killing it.

The reasons are:

1. Great customer service
2. Cannot replicate the "experience"
3. 50% of merchandise is exclusive
4. Associates love to work there and turnover is low
5. Celebrities like it.

The first 3 are there to differentiate it from Wal-mart and Amazon. You need great customer service, the "treasure hunt" effect (that Costco has) that keeps you returning, and stuff you can't buy for cheaper on Amazon to succeed in retail. If you have those things you can compete effectively with the Amazon and Wal-mart on something other than price.

The fourth thing is like Home Depot, lulumon and Costco. If you treat your employees right you get the great customer service from number one. If you treat your employees like trash you end up having to deep discount to get any business at all. Finally, number 5 is fickle so it shouldn't factor into the stock price too much. 

The stock looks pretty pricy at $40.06 which is 97x forward PE. It also has a large debt load at $392 million with only $12 million in the bank. I assume that cash got topped off by the IPO so hopefully that won't be an issue. I also question whether it can go from 63 locations to 300 quickly. I would need to look at some quarterly numbers and see those expansion plans before I would pull the trigger.

Upon looking at the website it gives me a pseudo-Ikea vibe. Most of the items look like they are a step up from Target and worlds ahead of Wal-mart or K-mart. Actually the assortment of different goods are similar to Ross's Depressed for Less. Lots of jars and wrapping paper and kitschy little items for the Kitchen or Dorm room. I have a feeling they aren't all piled on the floor like Ross's and are instead displayed nicely. 

They also have elfa which is a modular storage solution that looks very high margin. For instance a woman's heels closet (Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City just passed out in joy) costs $2621.94. It pretty much looks like a bunch of wooden shelves and metal backing pieces covered in white rubber. That cannot have cost too much to make so the margin must be very nice.

In any case I can see me going into one of these stores when the come to Hawaii. This kind of store would thrive over here judging by how many people are in Bed, Bath, and Beyond on any given day. This place seems very similar but you can get a larger mixture of things from a look around the website.

MSNBC Doesn't Even Slap the Wrist of Martin Bashir after He Advocates Pooping in Sarah Palins Mouth

Of all the things to get suspended for I think this one really needs to get some kind of punishment.

Bashir's comments about Palin came on the same day MSNBC suspended actor Alec Baldwin from his weekly show for two episodes for his part in an off-the-air episode. Baldwin used an anti-gay slur in a confrontation with a photographer on a New York City street. 

Bashir used his weekday afternoon program on Nov. 15 to criticize Palin for her remarks comparing U.S. indebtedness to China to slavery. Bashir cited the diaries of a former plantation overseer who punished slaves by having someone defecate in their mouth or urinate on their face. He suggested the former Alaska governor deserved the same treatment. 

Yup there is a double standard at MSNBC if you were living in a cave or something. Anti-gay slur said in heat of the moment 2 week suspension. Advocating copraphillia on a former governor of Alaska and an "I'm sorry" and business as usual. Bashir's apology was pretty heart-felt and wasn't of the "I'm sorry people were outraged" variety but he still needs to face some kind of punishment.

Pope Issues Marching Orders for the Catholic Church: Less Moral Doctrines More Helping Poor People

It seems the Pope is getting the Catholic Church to be the global force for good that it was once was.

In the 85-page document, Francis pulled together the priorities he has laid out in eight months of homilies, speeches and interviews and put them in the broader context of how to reinvigorate the church's evangelical zeal in a world marked by indifference, secularization and vast income inequalities.

He explained his most controversial remarks criticizing the church's "obsession" with transmitting a disjointed set of moral doctrines, saying that in the church's "hierarchy of truths," mercy is paramount, proportion is necessary, and that what counts is inviting the faithful in.

He went even further Tuesday, saying some of the church's historical customs can even be cast aside if they no longer serve to communicate the faith. Citing St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Francis stressed the need for moderation in norms "so as to not burden the lives of the faithful."

If the Catholic Church went out of its way to help the poor I think it would be a massive help to the world. I would love to see more soup kitchens and food pantries popping up for time being. Then maybe provide vocational training and such at the same time. Fill the gap in helping the needy between governments and the people.

The Catholic Church has the potential to out-Goodwill Goodwill and gather 10x more food than any food pantry could provide. It seems that Francis is going with the idea of less gays and abortion and more sandwiches and hot soup. The poor of the world will thank him. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Katy Perry Puts on the White-face for AMAs: Yeah I Admit it is Racist

At least she didn't put on the buck teeth and the thick glasses a la Micky Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Yeah that picture came from a movie that was critically acclaimed and an Oscar winner.

Perry puts on the white-face then makes her eyes kind of slanted and for some reason wears a Chinese style high necked gown. I guess they got some white makeup on the kimono that she would have worn. In any case if you change your skin color for a costume chances are that you might be doing something racist.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Press Strikes Back: Dismisses "White House Propaganda" Photos

I guess Obama is finally losing the press in his drive to be just like Lenin.

Dozens of leading news organizations are protesting to the White House against restrictions that sometimes keep journalists from taking pictures and video of President Barack Obama performing official duties. At the same time, two press groups urged their members to stop using official photos and video handed out by the White House, dismissing them as little more than "government propaganda."

The news organizations' letter to White House press secretary Jay Carney detailed a number of recent examples in which photographers weren't allowed to cover presidential events that were deemed "private" by administration officials — even though the White House indicated their newsworthiness by releasing its own photos of the same events.

Its called myth-making by a very vain Obama. The last thing he wants is to look like a dolt or shown up by some photographer exercising his First Amendment rights at a "private event" like meeting human rights activist Malala Yousafzai. So he has the White House photographer snap a bunch of pics and his propaganda commissar okays which one the proletariat gets to see. I'm sure Brezhnev and Andropov nod solemnly from beyond the grave.

Siats meekerorum Names Greatest Land Predator Ever

This dinosaur makes even the T-Rex's of his era seem like a hyena to a lion.

Palaeontologists on Friday announced they had uncovered the remains of one of the greatest land predators ever -- a nine-metre (30-foot) four-tonne dinosaur that stalked the planet 100 million years ago.

The newly-discovered species has been called Siats meekerorum, whose first name honours a cannibalistic monster in the mythology of the Native American Ute people.

That is kind of a goofy name for such a massive predator that lived 30 million years before the largest T-rex's came onto the scene. The time periods that these animals lived were just mind boggling. It would be very interesting to see how humans would be doing in 100 million years.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A 5% to 7% Correction Leads to a Santa Claus Rally? Sounds Good to Me

I love the idea of the pause that refreshes.

In a note to clients this morning, Saut writes that his market timing models "continue to counsel for caution in the short-term." If he's right, as he explains in the attached video, it could be just the thing investors need to finish an otherwise awesome 2013 on a high note.

"I think (a 5-7% correction) sets up the fabled Santa Claus Rally," Saut says, adding that he thinks the ensuing rally will likely carry on past Christmas.

"I think we're going to do pretty well in the new year," he predicts, noting the seasonal statistics that have made December a very hard time of year to be short stocks.

I think tapering will torpedo the markets for the short term but will be a great time to get in there and buy. Some companies are doing really well without the need for the FED's funny money. Other companies seem to be hoarding cash and are not sure what to do with it.

Then we have energy independence with some wind at our back which could make for a new renaissance in manufacturing in the US. However, higher interest rates which will come out of tapering might be bad for housing but I think America as a net exporter of energy will be a game changer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obama Healthcare Disapproval Hits New Low in the Eyes of the Public

I guess a broken webpage and 4 million insurance cancellations will do that to you.

Opposition to the new health-care law also hit a record high in the survey, with 57 percent saying they oppose the president’s most significant domestic initiative. Forty-six percent say they are strongly against it. Just a month ago, as the enrollment period was beginning, the public was almost evenly divided in its assessments of the law.

Disapproval of Obama’s handling of the health-care law’s rollout stands at 63 percent, with a majority saying they strongly disapprove. Last month, 53 percent disapproved.

I was watching Colbert Report the other day and they said "Obama is bad at technology that will keep you alive." then they show a 404 Error screen on the site "but he is very, very good at technology that will keep you dead." and they show a predator drone. Yeah, pretty much.

It Seems Stores Will be Open Thanksgiving Because they Need Every Penny of Sales

That doesn't mean that I would actually be caught dead anywhere near any of these stores during the whole black weekend of Thanksgiving.

Many of the chains opening on Thanksgiving Day, by contrast, have endured negative EPS growth during the past year. And three of those have gone from a negative EPS number last year (indicating a loss) to an even worse EPS number this year. (In the table, those companies have a † in the EPS column.) 

Traditionalists, predictably, have been venting about retailers “ruining” Thanksgiving, while praising stores that honor the holiday by staying closed. P.C. Richard has taken advantage of the humbuggery by running ads showing a gloomy family trying to eat a turkey dinner on a blanket, in the cold, while waiting in line for a store to open. “We believe Thanksgiving should be spent at home,” the narrator intones.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Cuban Connection in the Kennedy Assassination in the New Book "Castro's Secrets"

I always thought the Cubans could be one of the people behind the Kennedy Assassination conspiracy and there looks to be some grains of truth to that theory.

In November 1963, Cuban intelligence officer Florentino Aspillaga was posted in a little hut near a Cuban beach where he operated listening equipment trained on Miami and CIA headquarters in Virginia. On the morning of Nov. 22, Mr. Aspillaga—who would defect to the U.S. in 1987—said that he was ordered "to stop all your CIA work, all your CIA work." He was instructed to "put all of my equipment to listen to any small detail from Texas. They told me Texas."

Did Castro know that Lee Harvey Oswald was about to assassinate President Kennedy? Brian Latell, a veteran CIA Cuba analyst who spent 15 hours interviewing Mr. Aspillaga for his newly revised "Castro's Secrets," (Palgrave MacMillan), makes a strong case that he did. 

This book Castro's Secrets might be an interesting look at the history of the Cuban Intelligence apparatus. That cold war period with the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis has always been a very interesting time in history.

White House Prepares to Throw in the Proverbial Towel on

It seems that the broken website is going to be bypassed if the White House gets its way.

The Obama administration said Monday it is weighing whether to grant a key concession on the health-care law to big insurers under which they could directly sign up for coverage millions of Americans who qualify for tax credits.

If completed, the plan could help some people bypass troubled health-insurance websites including

People can now go straight to an insurer to buy coverage that meets the same standards as policies sold on health-insurance exchanges such as But if customers are eligible for subsidies toward the cost of their premiums, they can get those subsidies only by purchasing their coverage on the exchanges, where plans can be compared side by side.

I'm pretty sure that the insurers websites will be working pretty well. The problem is that you cannot shop around and compare prices between the various insurance companies. That pretty much kills the idea of "bending the cost curve" that Obama was pounding the table about.

It Seems that Consumers Couldn't Care Less About Calorie Counts

It certainly hasn't changed my mind when it comes to buying fast food.

The research team collected customer receipts at McDonald's and Burger King restaurants and surveyed customers about how often they ate at fast food restaurants and whether or not they glanced at calorie information. Researchers surveyed customers both before and after February 2010, when the Philadelphia calorie-count label mandate went into effect.

The researchers also conducted a telephone survey of the city's residents, to gauge how much people paid attention to calorie counts on restaurant menus.

Findings showed no difference in how often people ate at fast food restaurants or the amount of calories they consumed before and after the policy went into effect in Philadelphia, HealthDay reports. 

Yeah they just take up space and make the menu look cluttered. I usually eat the same thing from McDonalds anyway. I get a 10 piece chicken nuggets with red hot sauce value meal. Sometimes I get a Big Mac or a Quarterpounder meal if I'm especially hungry. Other than that I usually don't get anything else at McDonalds now that the Strawberry Lemonade has been discontinued.

Friday, November 15, 2013

House Offers Plan to Let Insurers Sell Individual Insurance Regardless of Obamacare Mandates

It seems like the GOP and some Democrats are trying to get Obama to keep his word.

Brushing aside a White House veto threat, the Republican-controlled House voted Friday to let insurance companies sell individual health coverage to all comers, even if it falls short of the required standards in "Obamacare."

In all, 39 Democrats broke ranks and supported the legislation, a total that underscored the political importance of a controversial issue likely to be front and center in next year's elections for control of Congress.

The overall vote was 261-157 on a measure that supporters said would ease the plight of millions of consumers reeling from cancellation notices. Those cancellations have been arriving from companies despite President Barack Obama's oft-made promise that anyone who liked his plan could keep it. The bill now goes to an uncertain fate in the Senate.

The real question is if insurance companies have to honor that coverage come 2015 or later. Also they better have good backups of those risk pools and pricing on their old plans because they might need them. Their actuarial people must be scrambling to have to honor their old plans and account for Obamacare plans at the same time. Depending on what oozing mess comes out of Congress it might be a good idea to go short health insurance companies because big losses might be popping up in 2014.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It Seems Like Everyone Turned on Obamacare at the Same Time

I guess there is now bipartisan support behind the idea that Obamacare is a dismal failure.

If the latest poll numbers and enrollment figures are to be believed, we could be witnessing a political achievement unequaled in modern political history: the complete demolition of one party’s long-term dominance on an issue area – the Democrats’ ownership of the health care issue – in the space of a few months. Quinnipiac finds that young people trust Republicans in Congress more on health policy than the president; that a plurality of Hispanics, long the most pro-Obamacare faction, are now opposed to the law; and that overwhelming majorities (70+ percent) of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are in favor of delaying the law.

It is a pretty easy sell when the President repeats the line "If you like your doctor you can keep him period. If you like your insurance you can keep it period." 100s of times and 4 million Americans have their policies cancelled.

I can understand why they unilaterally postponed the employer mandate because that would have been a disaster of biblical proportions. Imagine if you add to that 4 million 10,000s of small businesses canceling their policies and putting people onto the broken exchanges all at the same time? The fear and loathing in America would have been unimaginable.

Obama's "You Can Keep Your Doctor" Big Lie Hurting Him Badly

It seems that Obama is finally going to way of GW Bush as a hated president.

Since September, Mr. Obama's approval on health care in the Pew Research Center poll declined four percentage points, to 37%. His overall job approval dropped to 41% from 44%. Worse are the hits to his credibility. In the Quinnipiac poll, 46% of registered voters and 51% of independents believe Mr. Obama "knowingly deceived" Americans when he promised they could keep their health plan if they liked it.

Until now, many people who disagreed with Mr. Obama's agenda still liked him. But a late October Fox poll found his personal favorability at 45% and his unfavorability at 50%. Duplicity will do that. And while the president may think everything about ObamaCare will be OK soon, fear is growing among Democrats who see little time and few ways to avoid a 2014 slaughter.

Even though most Americans haven't lost their health insurance yet the fear that they will seems to be gripping the US. Just from my anecdotal evidence there have been several conversations at work about Obamacare. This is the kind of problem that will eventually affect every American and not in a good way.

Cisco Gets Hammered; Is Software Defined Networking to Blame?

It seems that Cisco laid and egg and the market is punishing it.

Chastising tech giant Cisco for not pre-announcing its disappointing quarterly earnings and for its global losses, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Thursday that "open rebellion" was brewing among its investors. 

"This was the worst quarter for any Dow stock this year," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street,"
Cramer added: "Go to the conference call—open rebellion is beginning."

What was interesting is that Cisco recently lost a big contract with Amazon that was supposedly worth $1 billion.

The first was a deal with Amazon. Cisco thought it was going to sign $1 billion deal for network gear for Amazon, one of the largest network deals ever, the source said.

Instead, Amazon shocked Cisco by buying only about $11 million, using cheaper hardware and SDN for the rest of its needs, the source said.

The second was that Chambers asked his top executives to do an analysis on what would happen if Cisco plunged into the SDN market. They concluded it would turn Cisco's "$43 billion business into a $22 billion business," our source said.

So instead of shelling out $1 billion for hardware Amazon just bought some cheap switches and had the rest of the network upgraded with this SDN solution. Some of the sales woes for Cisco might have come out of different companies and countries saying "instead of paying Cisco $1 billion for hardware why don't we just buy $11 million in hardware and pay whomever for a SDN solution." I'm pretty sure that Amazon's SDN solution didn't cost like $900 million but a fraction of that amount. It also seems like every networking and software company like VMware, Brocade, Juniper, etc. are all racing into the SDN space. In fact VMware is putting millions into a so-called software defined datacenter which turns all of the networking hardware that you needed before into software that can be run on any box. They are seeing a new frontier that takes the networking away from some $100,000 metal box sold by Cisco and turning it into a bunch of virtual machines running on some generic off the rack server.

Cisco is trying to close the gap on SDN but as they say above it will cannibalize their own expensive router and switching business. They can sell you the cheap SDN but you will probably not buy any of their expensive metal boxes to run your network. Also there is nothing that keeps you from buying Ciscos SDN solution rather than Brocade's or VMware's. In fact you might want to go with VMware if you already have a virtual setup for your servers if you can install their SDN solution seamlessly.

From what I see Cisco is in for much more pain going forward. There is a newer, cheaper, technology that does exactly what they are doing and companies are catching on to that fact. Amazon seemed to be the first but if another big networking hardware buyer like the US Government or Twitter or someone decides to go with an SDN solution instead of a whole bunch of expensive metal boxes Cisco is cooked.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Here Comes the Santa Claus Rally?: Money Managers Scramble for Performance

This seems like a logical reason why the market will move upwards before December 31.

"If you're behind the market this time of year, you're staring down December 31, every single day of the week," That is, pros know they have a limited amount of time generate enough profit to make up lost ground."

Therefore, Cramer says, it's likely that these pros will choose to be 100% invested, and he believes they will put a disproportionate amount of money in just a few momentum stocks, hoping for outperformance.

What could rally into end of year?.

"There's a whole host of anointed names that fit this bill, including Google,, Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks. On the trading desk, those would be my go-to names to buy on weakness, betting that they could give me the outperformance I need."

I guess if the stock is up big for the year the money manager will buy it to say I am in Google now that it is $1028 a share. They didn't buy it when it was $800 but that doesn't show up in the investment materials. If the Fed doesn't taper in November or December and Christmas sales aren't disappointing you might see a nice bit of change in your 401Ks.

Big Buisiness Turns on the Tea Party

I hope the Koch brothers have deeper pockets than normal in 2014 because it seems big business is backing away from the Tea Party.

"If the tea party wants to be part of winning in 2016, they're going to need to be inclusive, they're going to need to stop challenging Republican incumbents in primaries," said Bobbie Kilberg, a longtime Republican operative and donor who is also president and chief executive officer of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. 

"They can spend all the time they want in making their points based on principle, but if you cannot win an election and you cannot govern, what is the point?" 

Kilberg has supported many Republicans in the past but refused to back Cuccinelli, who was outspent $32 million to $19 million by McAluliffe, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Kilberg said she was turned off by Cuccinelli's focus on social issues like gay marriage and abortion and the tea party-fueled government shutdown.

Yup social issues don't matter very much if we are defaulting on our debt and slowing down trade deals so Obama "can't get a win." Economic growth and prosperity is much preferable to ideological purity in my book. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Next Financial Crisis will "Come From France?" (Said in a Conehead voice)

It seems that big time money managers are seeing trouble brewing in France.

Fink joined Dalio in pointing to France as a potential trigger for problems in the euro region. Fink, who called France “structurally uncompetitive” last year, said today that country may be the cause for an eventual failure of the euro currency. 

Dalio said today the next major financial crisis will come from France because of a rise in debt-service payments that will have a “constrictive nature” on the economy. He said France’s debt will be difficult to roll over, resulting in funding gaps and wider credit spreads that will make the debt-service payments more difficult. 

Fink runs $4.1 trillion in assets and Dalio $150 billion so they probably have access to information that is pretty far over most investors heads. I know that some European economies will start getting hurt if interest rates rise since they have so much debt they have to roll over. The French are already trying to tax rich people with that 75% tax on earnings over $1 million Euros which caused Gerard Depardieu to flee to Russia.

GOP Goes Back on the Offensive on Obamacare

Well it seems that they just got a gift from on-high.

In the 2014 elections, "this is going to be a big issue, and it's not going away," said Daniel Scarpinato of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Democrats who voted for Obamacare," he said, "are pretty desperately running around with their hair on fire, trying to distance themselves, which they're not going to be able to do." 

The White House says canceled policies can be replaced with better coverage, sometimes at lower prices. What the administration doesn't emphasize is that better coverage often costs more, and those looking for new policies may not qualify for the tax subsidies available under the new law. 

Sometimes the coverage is actually worse than what some people have before. In other words they will be paying more for less and the Dems are at fault. Too bad the GOP didn't just sit on their hands and wait for this thing to become a disaster. They could have rode in on a white horse to fix things instead of shutting down the government for no reason.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch Goes From Cool to Creepy

Oh what a change just a few years makes.

In the age of social networking, aloof isn't cool. It's just boring. Selfies and social networking are all about sharing and being inclusive and being part of a bigger community. There's nothing welcoming about a store that's roped off and seemingly guarded by a buff wall of "ab-tastic" teenagers. Abercrombie's sepia-toned ad campaigns with scantily clad teens romping around on beaches or in locker rooms aren't hip and inviting. They're just... creepy. "It's uncomfortable to shop (there)" as Sozzi puts it, "You don't want to go in there and talk to a (clerk) with your mom or your dad." Rest assured dads don't want their daughters talking to those guys either.

Yeah I never liked the dim lights and dudes with their shirts off cruising around. It had such a shady vibe that I only went to A&F a few times and bought like one pair of shorts there. There was always blaring rock music and everyone there kind of stood around preening but not doing anything to help you. I mostly went as research when I owned the stock years ago.

When American Eagle and Aeropostale came over here I went there exclusively instead of A&F. Those stores just seem cheerful and inviting with bright colors, happy pop music, and helpful staff. I ended up buying quite a few pairs of pants and shirts from those stores and haven't bought anything from A&F since. 

Tea Party Shows Internal Fractures: Rand Paul and Crazy Cruz chuck Insults at One Another

Well it seems that the long knives are coming out early.

As the New York Times detailed over the weekend, and as The Week's Matt Lewis predicted in July, a rivalry is brewing between Tea Party favorites Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Each side is badmouthing the other, saying its rival is unelectable in the 2016 presidential race. Cruz reportedly trashed Paul as fatally linked to his extremist father, while Paul's aides call Cruz "the chief of the wacko birds."

Talk about the pot calling the kettle unelectable. Both guys would get romped by Hillary in 2016 no matter what they did. America just doesn't want a Tea Party President no matter how much Rush Limbaugh wants it to happen.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Obama Sorry He Mislead Americans on Keeping Health Insurance

I can see many Americans saying he can stick his sorries in a sack.

Obama's expression of regret, in an interview with NBC News, was aimed at placating thousands of Americans whose insurance plans are being canceled in spite of his oft-repeated pledge that if people liked their health plans, they would be able to keep them under Obamacare.

"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in a situation based on assurance they got from me," Obama said.

"We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this," he said.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Well Obamacare just Proclaimed a Proverbial Death Sentence for this Cancer Patient

We are going to get far more of these stories going forward.

My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.

My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits. 

She liked her doctors and wanted to keep them period. She liked her insurance and she wanted to keep it period. I guess Obama lying bold faced to the American people is going to end this persons fight against cancer. You can blame the evil insurance company but they are being forced by Obamacare to cancel their "substandard" policy that is keeping this woman alive. Hopefully Congress can change the grandfather clause on Obamacare in time before this woman loses her insurance and replaces it with something she cannot afford.

The Clash at Chennai!: 22 Year Old Mozart of Chess vs Reigning World Chess Master this Saturday

It's going to be huge!

Reigning champion Viswanathan Anand, age 43, faces off against 22-year-old upstart Magnus Carlsen of Norway-nicknamed the "Mozart of Chess" because of his meteoric rise at such a young age. 

"Many people regard the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen as the greatest chess talent to come along since perhaps Bobby Fischer," Rogoff told CNBC.

According to British betting house Ladbrokes, Carlsen is the odds-on heavy favorite. Hirsch is in that camp-he has a bet on the Norwegian winning the title. Hirsch knows Carlsen personally and traveled to see him play last month in St Louis at the Sinquefield Cup. 

You can watch all the massive chess action live! My bet is that Magnus will bring out his queen first to intimidate Anand. That is what Mozart would have done!

Netflix Wins! Dish to Shutter last of its 300 Blockbuster Stores

Well the rental era has come to an ignominious end.

The final curtain is falling on the Blockbuster video-rental stores that Dish Network Corp. owns in the U.S. 

The closures announced Wednesday will affect about 300 Blockbuster locations scattered across the country. Dish Network expects the stores to be closed by early January. Dish Network says about 2,800 people will lose their jobs. 

The Englewood, Colo. satellite-TV provider also is shutting down Blockbuster's DVD-by-mail service next month. 

Blockbuster used to be a big deal when I was in high school and college. I remember renting Super Nintendo games from there while seeing couples renting movies for date night. They just couldn't compete with being able to see those same movies and 100s more by clicking on an app on your TV or your game console from the comfort of your couch. Now movie rentals will go the way of the buggy whip and the milk man. This digital age we live in.  

What Happened to Florida?! More Scare Tactics from Global Warmists Disguised as Thought Experiment

I believe that man made global warming might be possible (despite all the cooling in the last decade) but I don't support anti-growth measures that keep poor people in Brazil, China, etc. in poverty. The latest from National Geographic shows a map of the "thought experiment" if all the worlds ice melted at the same time.

As a result of the drastic rise in sea levels, the average temperature around the Earth would rise from 58 degrees to 80 degrees.

In North America, the entire Atlantic seaboard would vanish beneath the waves, including Florida and the Gulf Coast. Much of California would be underwater. Millions of Americans would be permanently dislocated from their homes to say nothing of the potentially insurmountable impact on natural wildlife.

And again, this scenario is only based on current population figures. Who knows what the Earth will look like in 5,000 years and how many people will be living here?

Try, "and again, this scenario is based on pure fiction made up by a bunch of alarmists."

Pro-Business Candidate Wins in Alabama and Fairly Convincingly

It seems that the Tea Party is down at least one of its members from the reddest of the red states.

Republican Bradley Byrne defeated his insurgent conservative opponent in an Alabama House race Tuesday, notching a hard-fought victory for the business wing of the GOP.

With more than 90 percent of votes tallied, the Associated Press called the race for Byrne over Dean Young, a Christian conservative aligned with the tea party. Byrne led Young 53 percent to 47 percent.

I hope this emboldens the Chamber of Commerce and other business aligned groups to start throwing money at moderates. I mean the Tea Party is actively against their pro-growth agenda so they might as well start backing candidates that won't torpedo the world market.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Alabama GOP Stronghold pits Tea Partier vs Business Backed Moderate

I guess this is the first test of the over-reach that the Tea Party has brought about.

A tight primary election in an Alabama Republican stronghold has pitted a business-backed former state senator against a Tea Party movement favorite in a race highlighting tensions between the party's pragmatic and ideological wings over the recent government shutdown.

Major businesses including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Home Depot Inc are backing the campaign of former lawmaker Bradley Byrne, saying the 58-year-old attorney better represents their interests than Dean Young, a wealthy real estate developer running a grass-roots campaign.

It probably won't show much of anything because it is a small race that probably won't get much of a turn out. I hope Byrne wins though. A pro-business/pro-growth Republican is always preferable to slash-and-burn/hurt-my-portfolio Tea Partier any day.

Pope Offers 39 Questions for Bishops

It seems like Pope Francis is trying to get some polling data on the Catholic family of 2013.

A questionnaire has been sent to bishops around the world asking them for detailed information about the "many new situations requiring the Church's attention and pastoral care".

"Concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation... to same-sex unions," it said.

Religious watchers said the 39 questions were unusual because of their non-judgemental, practical nature in what could be a signal of greater openness and increased pastoral care regardless of a believer's background.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Twitter IPO This Thursday (11/7/13) Stock Oversubscribed at $25

It seems that Twitter might be one of the better IPOs of the year.

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) announced today that it would price its initial public offering at $23-$25 per share, up from its first estimate of $17-$20. Additionally, later in the day it was reported that the stock was oversubscribed by several times at the $25 price, indicating that the IPO could price well above the proposed range. The books close tomorrow and the stock will be available for trading on Thursday morning.

My prediction is that it goes to about $35 before it spins while waiting for earnings. If mobile earnings are blow-out then you will see the stock go up above $40. I have a prediction that this will be the stock on everyone's lips for the next few weeks at least. Hopefully, we don't have that disaster roll-out that Facebook had.

Chris Christie to GOP: Win Elections not Arguments

Well the Tea Parties might not like it because Christie isn't "conservative enough" but this rings true of the GOP wants to run anything ever again.

The Washington Post reported on comments Christie made on his campaign bus last week. Christie said he told the Republican National Committee: “I’m in this to win, because if you don’t win, you can’t govern. If you can’t govern, you can’t move the country, the state, the city — whatever you’re running for — in the direction it needs to be moved in.” Christie went on to say that he thinks too many Republicans have “become less interested in winning an election and more interested in winning an argument.”

Yup conservative purity is trumping simple electability for some reason. It almost seems like a false flag attack from the Tea Party sometimes. Let's get rid of the electable guy and put in some firebrand that makes money for Heritage Action or whatever but has no chance against the Democrat. That just means that you go from a so-called RINO to definitely anti-GOP. That just doesn't make sense.

Marty the Marmot Roughed Up By Insane Fan

Wow, they don't like mascots north of the border. I hope this guy is charged with assault because this attack was pretty egregious:

Obama Spikes the Football: Says He is "Really Good at Killing People" I have No Problem with That

It isn't too hard to highlight some people on a printout and then have a drone kill them off.

A quote from a new book on the 2012 presidential campaign, “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” will surely stoke that interest. As first reported in a book review by the Washington Post’s Peter Hamby, Obama told aides in connection with the CIA's drone program that he is “really good at killing people.” 

It’s the kind of quote likely to make Obama supporters cringe or scramble for justifying explanations, perhaps by rationalizing the quote as either false or out of context, or critiquing the information-gathering methods of authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The writers spent two years interviewing dozens of people connected with both the Obama and Romney campaigns.

I have no trouble with the drone program or even Obama being a bit bloodthirsty because it has struck terror into Al-Quida and the Taliban. Al-Quida leaders are used to getting a bunch of teenagers to wear bomb belts or go out on suicide raids while they are safe in their enclaves.

The drone strike evens the score and makes them think they should try a different line of work rather than directing a terror network. I have no beef at all with the White House when it comes to drone strikes. Just keep the collateral damage to a acceptable minimum and keep on killing those Al-Quida scumbags.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Send in the Cheap-assed Tablets: 7" Tablet for $100?

It seems we will be getting an avalanche of really cheap tablets just in time for Christmas.

Tablets priced at $79 from Asian manufacturers such as Kobii, Ematic, and Le Pan have been on sale for more than a year, but sales have been slow. More people will buy from a brand they recognize, says IDC’s Mainelli. Jeff Meredith, Lenovo vice president for marketing, says that by Christmas his company will be selling a tablet with a 7-inch screen for less than $100. “This market is about to emerge from Apple’s reality-distortion field,” says Stephen Dukker, the former chief executive officer of 1990s cheap-PC bellwether eMachines. His new company, Ooio, plans to introduce a 4G-equipped 7-inch model in January for $139, roughly $100 cheaper than most 4G models.

Yeah I can't wait to get my hands on a Kobii, Ematic, or a Le Pan. I will probably end up buying a Nexus 7" because I want a pure Google experience on a tablet. Hopefully, the price will come down below $200 to entice my to buy it before Christmas. I'm not in a rush so I don't mind waiting until price drops are coming.

Comic Book Collections: Depreciating Fast

Well, it seems that the great comic book collecting craze of the 90s has hit an iceberg.

On the other end of the spectrum, almost any comic book store owner can supply eye-opening tales of depreciation. Walter Durajlija, an adviser for Overstreet and owner of Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ont., sold a copy of Uncanny X-Men No. 94 in 2010 for a record $26,500. Last year, that same comic sold in his store for only $12,000. “[My] last two sales [of X-Men No. 94] were $9,501 in February of 2013 and $8,089 three short days later,” he says. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “Incredible Hulk No. 181 was getting $20,000; they now trade for $8,000.”

Unless you are buying the best of the best books like Action Comics #1, Spider-man #1, or Detective Comics #27 most comics are dropping fast. That Incredible Hulk #181 (first appearance of Wolverine) can be had on Ebay for $4950 right now. So even that $8000 that was mentioned in the article is now unattainable. Some of the reasons seem very plausible.

There are many theories for why comic collectibles have stopped being valuable. Some blame readily available reprints. “What drove the collectibility of the old comics was that they were once genuinely rare,” says Salkowitz. Others point to the grading system, which now requires that comics be encased in plastic polymer. “It really is a shady process that’s completely changed the marketplace,” says Santoro. And there’s reason to suspect that the Internet era has yet again worked its magic on prices: “In the ’60s, the only way to read these stories was to own the original issues,” says Salkowitz. “Now you can go on Pirate Bay and download a torrent of anything you want for free.”

The plastic polymer grading system is a big reason why I would not want to be involved in collecting in a big way. You pay $5k for a comic and you cannot even touch it or smell that old comic smell? You just file it away like a gold (I guess silver now) brick and forget about it. You can't read the thing or even just hold it in your hands without breaking open the polymer. That is so different then another antique you pay $5k for. If you buy an old chair you can at least sit in it.