Hurricane Coverage

I am a habitual watcher of the news and have seen the media over cover events in the past but the coverage of Hurricane Irene is like 4 cans of Cheese Whiz on a Ritz cracker. I can’t tell you how bad I want to put on my Helly Hansons and find one of these reporters and toss them off the pier. Don’t stand there in your Weather Channel poncho and tell me that going out is akin to crossing 100 meters of enfilade fire, if it’s that dangerous get your crew in the studio and tell us about the storm. I just watched this guy on MSNBC tell me how incredulous he is that people are out risking their lives to save folks who venture out into the maelstrom when the oar flung out of the rowboat by Irene is most likely to hit the cluster of talking heads and camera guys on every street corner from Nags Head to Caribou.
Oh, and when you scare the children with stories of Cat 4 storms coming onto Long Island, and tell us how unbelievable hideous that a Cat 4 would be, then tell me Catagories don’t matter much and it’s the size of the storm, the storm surge, the pants the storm is wearing, that really tells the story, you shoot your own credibility. Of course if your job is to pump the storm like a carnival barker regardless of the actual impact your cred is kinda limp to begin with. And re-emphasizing that if you’re on the tenth floor it’s like one Cat higher just makes me want to go back in time and prevent your grandparents from meeting.

CNBC is interrupting the usual Sunday Pot and Porn Docusnoozefests with the undoubtedly riveting financial impact report on the storm beginning at 0600 tomorrow. Really, 6 a.m.! If the first sentence isn’t the expense of the overreaction due to the media frenzy, I’m throwing a brick thru the TV and switching to Bloomberg on my laptop for life.
I can only imagine the indignation at The Weather Channel when they read comments like this, but these are the same people who’s opinion of our collective IQ’s is reflected by their belief we’ll only get the message about a storm if the reporters hair is wet. All the bombast only assures that when the storm doesn’t live up to their slobbered predictions the numbskulls among us will venture out into the teeth of the next one.

A quick aside. To all media folks, and the public officials who have urged folks off barrier beaches and other high risk locations. Shut up. Anyone requiring your advice to make wise or even sensible decisions is unlikely to be taking a break from finding a cancer cure or advancing the state of the art in physics to be at the end of the dock or on the beach. As I tweeted to Gov. Christie, if these knuckleheads are bucking for a Darwin Award, I say let them have their shot at it.

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Pundits

Back when I was around 17, I heard the word “Pundit” for the first time. It struck me as a funny sounding somewhat foreign word. I asked its meaning and was told ” a wise man”. The dictionary I had at the time (Funk and Wagnalls Unabridged 1959) gave the definition “Learned Hindu, especially one versed in Sanskrit lore”. It comes from the Hindi payndit “a learned man, master, teacher” and further from the Sanskrit payndita “a learned man, scholar”.

That definition is followed in modern dictionaries with the following:
“A person who makes comments or judgments, especially in an authoritative manner, critic or commentator”

And I often now hear the term used to describe the manifold talking heads that appear on television and radio espousing their political opinions. This my friends I find immensely irritating. I am embarrassed for us as a civilization that we have not risen up in a wave of collective nausea at this.

We have taken a word that for hundreds of years described an honorable sage and bastardised it to where it now is attributed to boneheaded political idealogues and hacks, commentators of questionable intellect and motivation, and loudmouth knuckleheads who’s only talent seems to be the ability to obtain the soapbox from which they pontificate to an equally questionable audience.

There was a time when the difference between a knowledgable judge and a bombastic critic was clear. Sadly we have devolved as a culture to the point where we can no longer separate the two and we raise the value of the critic and lower the value of the judge because of it.

If we fail to demand an accounting of these folks we are dooming ourselves to losing the wise men and women who’s efforts and education are in some way wasted when they are so inequitably valued, and gaining only more bombastic commentators who seek the elevation in status but are unwilling or as likely unable to gain the knowledge necessary to fill the original definition of the word Pundit.

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Mo must Go, so let’s get on the Bandwagon

With the dust cloud of Mubarak falling into the distance the next domino to fall to the will of the people appears to be Colonel Gaddafy in Libya. In another display of incredible courage the people of Libya have stood up to the thug and it appears he is on the verge of relegation to the dustbin of history. Good riddance to bad rubbish. The people have shown this tyrant moderatio est figmentum, let the others take notice.
In stark contrast to the bravery of the masses is the feckless politician.
Allow me to say the following:

If you were happy to be doing business with Mr. Gaddafy two weeks ago, you don’t get to act all indignant and call him out for crimes against humanity

Yes, that’s right, you get no credit whatsoever for throwing out your chest and stomping on the guy when he’s apneic and pulseless. The true measure of your character is what you said, in public, when the guy was in full flourish.

To Libyan envoy Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham:
Nice performance at the U.N. buddy, Like the others of that august body I was moved by your words and wished I could have been there to give you a big hug. But then I realized that for the last 27 years Mr. Gaddafy signed the paychecks you happily cashed. Where was this indignation when you excoriated Switzerland in 2008 for imposing a travel ban on Hannibal Gaddafy, yourself, and 186 others of the Gaddafy inner circle? Sure, Hannibal had only beaten his girlfriend in a Swiss hotel, not committed crimes against humanity, but you were happy to stand with him and his father then.

Note to the reader: Shalgham is the same Ambassador who recently disgraced the UN Security Council by spontaneously bringing in a slide show that showed Israeli soldiers purportedly mutilating Palestinian civilians. He runs a mission that last year trivialized the holocaust and created a grotesque blood libel against Israel by comparing Gaza to a concentration camp. He has been the foremost representative of a government that threw a Mardi Gras-style celebration on international TV honoring the cold-blooded Lockerbie bomber, and said in October 2008 that the Palestinians should be given nuclear weapons.

To President Obama and Secretary Clinton:
I find it difficult to offer hearty applause at your statement demanding Mr. Gaddafy leave Libya. Heck I have a hard time using the term “Demanding” as it seemed more like a polite request. I wonder if the letter was delivered with a box of chocolate. I know since Mr. Gaddafy renounced his nuclear ambitions the U.S. has tried to prop him up as undergoing some sort of moral conversion, and I know this occurred under the supervision of your predecessor administration but you were sure ok with the U.S. doing billions of dollars of business with him in 2010. You sadly get no credit for indignation since you waited until now to show it, and additional demerits for the lack of strength in the statement itself.

I’ll not do more than mention the U.K. and the Aussies and their statements, nor the U.N. for that matter as they are as pucillanimous as the others mentioned here. I will shout out to the families of the Pan Am 103 bombing who after being so horribly let down by their government may at last get some retribution.

I do want to offer one more thing as an example of the most egregious example of jumping on the bandwagon I have seen, and while it may seem somewhat minor compared to others it is a holotype of the mentality. Here goes.

To the London School of Economics:
Your “Bold” announcement that the University is seeking “specific information” regarding “direct allegations” of plagiarism and is carrying out its own checks in regards to the PhD you awarded to Saif al-Islam Gaddafy in 2008 (not to mention the subsequent “gift” of 1.5 million pounds you accepted) is utterly and completely laughable.
Here’s a link to the whole story.
LSE embroiled in row over authorship of Gaddafi’s son’s PhD thesis and a £1.5m gift to university’s coffers

Once again our politicians and those of the rest of the world have not just lived down to my expectations, but exceeded my low opinion of them. They have run head long into a bar set so low that brothel owners could pass under it, wearing a top hat.

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Are we really this stupid?

Folks, I am really getting concerned that the American consumer isn’t getting enough oxygen to his or her brain. Why do I say this? Commercials on TV and Radio that’s why. Specifically several that just boggle the mind. Commercials whose products are so absurd that I am astonished that anyone would respond to them. Yet they continue to air and as such I am forced to conclude they are successfully capturing the hard earned dollars of someone.

Let me direct this to those readers who may be potential consumers of these products, and please know that I offer this as a community service. A gentle loving reminder to those folks who may be unable to resist the velvet toned voice of the announcer, the unbridled excitement of the testimonials.

Here goes:

If you believe that a NON MONETARY minting of some rare coin is of some value…
If you think that 14 milligrams of Gold and or Silver is a lot…
If the fact that the original was struck using point nine nine nine NINE percent gold has you somehow convinced is relevant to the thing your drooling over…
If you think Gold Clad Proof means anything other than a worthless zinc slug covered in less gold than can be seen with the unaided eye…

And then there’s this:
If you think a two dollar bill defaced by some national park nonsense will ever return a profit for you…
If you think your friends will be impressed when you roll out a two dollar bill that you paid ten dollars for plus six ninety nine shipping and handling…
If you think that because they double the offer, just pay shipping and handling on the second two dollar bill, you’re just getting an even better bargain…

If any of these things apply to you:
1) Chances are you don’t have a credit card, so cancel all those Master Card or Visa debit cards
2) Find a trusted friend or relative, check their home for any products marked “as seen on TV”. If none are found ask them to hold your check book in a secure location.
3) Turn off the TV and open a window, breathe deep, repeat

Some interesting facts:
Non Monetary means it NOT money
14 milligrams of gold is 1/2000th of an ounce or 68 cents worth at todays price
14 milligrams of silver is worth 1.5 cents at todays price
They are all available on Ebay for less than the price touted on the commercial (maybe wholesalers?)

I hope this has helped someone and prevented a bad decision. And to the National Cretins Mint or whomever else creates these masterpieces thanks for reaffirming my belief in the intelligence of the masses.

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Welcome 2011

Before I get started I’d like to wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
I like to really get away from it all during the holidays and regroup a bit. No place I have found is a better place to do this than Tasmania. The freshest air in the world and long beautiful days are the norm there as it is their beginning of summer. I think having the new year begin at the start of summer is a much better idea than how we do it in the northern hemisphere.

Here’s a picture of a cool little critter from Tasmania called an Echidna

The next few months are my favorite times to be active in the market, especially the Equity and Futures markets. Lot’s of volume, and good but not ridiculous volatility, are typical. Add to this the historical strengths of the equity markets during the third year of a presidency and the outlook for good trading is even better.

So here goes, my outlook for 2011

Continued move to the upside for the indexes, with a target of 12750-13000 in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. While the conditions exist for broad market volatility I do not feel we’ll see the swings we saw in 2010.

The price of Crude entered the year at a relative high compared to it’s 2010 average but well below all time highs and I see it holding to a higher average this year as the economy continues it’s recovery. I will be a buyer of WTI Crude via the CL futures contract below $90/bbl but will keep a manageable position size waiting for prices below $87.50 for larger purchases. On the upside I will reduce above $92.50 in a limited way and more agressively above $100 assuming macro data remains similar to current conditions. My largest equity position remains CVX as it has been for several years and they should benefit from the above assumptions.
Nat Gas remains a difficult play as inventories are still historically very large. I do not hold long term positions in nat gas but do play the NG futures contract as both a straight play and a hedge against CL positions. Current prices seem high for NG and I believe they reflect trader bias and are short term weather related rather than a true reflection of underlying fundamentals. As such I would be short biased in the NG contract but will mitigate this with relatively small position sizes and tight stops.

The USD remains under some pressure from ongoing FOMC activities but with the change in the make up of the congress the Fed will be under much pressure to curtail additional Quantitative Easing. This should be support for the dollar going forward and I remain a buyer of the dollar via the DX futures contract under 80 and my continue to buy up through 82 if conditions merit it.
I do not typically play in the forex market but have positions in CYB (Wisdom Tree’s Chinese Yuan ETF) which we are currently buyers of at $25.35 and sellers of at $25.75. The Chinese government has been recalcitrant in it’s allowing the Yuan to float realistically and this has a negative effect on the CYB but I am confident the position will outperform the 2yr US Treasury and that is my benchmark for the funds I put into CYB.

As always many events can trigger changes in market conditions, as they occur I will re-evaluate my positions and make the changes I feel prudent and let you know here and on the StockTwits and Twitter Streams.
Once again my best to all for 2011

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Goodbye 2010

Well here we are at the end of another year, scary how fast they come and go as I get older. I am off to Tasmania tomorrow so I will not be trading any more this year.

I’d like to thank all of you who read the blog and watched the StockTwits TV show first for simply tuning in and second for the fantastic comments and dialogue. I can’t begin to say how much I appreciated the discourse.

The last couple of months have been difficult due to some health problems so I have not been tweeting at my normal pace. I am now pretty close to fully recovered and expect to go into the new year in full flourish. Some new developments in my professional life will allow me freedom to relax a bit more as I turn the day to day operations of the Trust over to my colleagues and focus on other projects.

A little recap of 2010 as it relates to my predictions and expectations:
I thought we’d see an $85/bbl average price, and a $100/bbl high price for WTI Crude which did not materialize. My guess is we’ll see $100/bbl in 2011 and I am looking for an avg of around $88/bbl.
I thought we’d see a flat to slightly down S&P 500 after the run up in March and April and we got a steep drop and steady rise to around a 10% gain for the year. My guess is 2011 will be similar overall without the amplitude of swings we saw this year.
I thought we’d see a real unpegging of the Chinese Yuan versus the U.S. Dollar and we got a bag of air from the Chinese and our government seems to be satisfied with that. I am long the CYB (Wisdom Tree’s Yuan ETF) although not to the extent I was earlier this year.

When I return in January I’ll have my predictions for the new year.

Have a great holiday season and much good fortune in the new year,

Jim

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Pre-Market Take Special (10/31/10)

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Pre-Market Take (10/08/10)

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Pre-Market Take (10/04/10)

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Pre-Market Take (10/01/10)

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