Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The turn in real estate

How about residential:

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Borrowers who caught up on overdue mortgages outnumbered people who became newly delinquent on insured home loans for the first time in almost four years. PMI Group Inc. led mortgage insurers higher in New York trading.

In February, 68,675 homeowners with privately insured mortgages fell into default, compared with 80,758 who got back on track, a report today from the Washington-based Mortgage Insurance Companies of America said. In January, MICA reported 52,528 new defaults and 31,616 cures. The trade group last reported that recoveries exceeded defaults in March 2006.

“The significance is substantial, it’s enormous,” said Matthew Howlett, an analyst with Macquarie Group Ltd. Recoveries outpacing new defaults “signals a turning point” for mortgage insurers, he said.

How about commercial:

Teen shopping is back, Best Buy is back, and consumers are spending.

Oh My! Would someone get Meredith Whitney on the wire, and ask her what happened?

What happened to the credit card implosion that was supposed to hit?

The CRE implosion and leg down, that was supposed to hit?

How about the other 25% drop in home prices that was supposed to hit?

Where's Waldo?

Where's Meredith!

And now you have mobs at courthouses trying to buy foreclosed properties.

Oh My!!!

Deutsche Bank's take on the employment numbers

The ADP National Employment report measures private sector employment across a wide swath of industries and in the process attempts to proxy the non farm payroll numbers, which are typically released the first Friday of every month. Even though the stock market is closed this Friday inobservance of Good Friday, and the fixed income markets are open only half day, the March employment report will still be released. Over the last three months, ADP has been a phenomenal predictor of non farm payrolls. In December 2009, ADP came out at -84k and non farm payrolls came out at -85k. In January 2010, ADP was reported at -22k and non farm payrolls were reported at -20k. Then in February ADP printed -20k and non farm payrolls printed -36k. Over these months, the average absolute forecast error between the initial ADP figure and the initial non farm payroll reading has been only 6k. This is incredible considering the monthly standard deviation on non farm payrolls since July 2006—this is when ADP was unveiled—has been 244k.

Of course, the Govvie census workers aren't counted with today's ADP report.

Goldman's option plays on early earnings--BAC, JPM, GE and GOOG

GS main 0331

Jesse James enters rehab

You knew that was coming.

And his mistress number 4 with this Tramp Stamp?

Someone really has a problem!

Pension liabilities

California, New York and other states are showing many of the same signs of debt overload that recently took Greece to the brink — budgets that will not balance, accounting that masks debt, the use of derivatives to plug holes, and armies of retired public workers who are counting on benefits that are proving harder and harder to pay.

And states are responding in sometimes desperate ways, raising concerns that they, too, could face a debt crisis.

New Hampshire was recently ordered by its State Supreme Court to put back $110 million that it took from a medical malpractice insurance pool to balance its budget. Colorado tried, so far unsuccessfully, to grab a $500 million surplus from Pinnacol Assurance, a state workers’ compensation insurer that was privatized in 2002. It wanted the money for its university system and seems likely to get a lesser amount, perhaps $200 million.

Connecticut has tried to issue its own accounting rules. Hawaii has inaugurated a four-day school week. California accelerated its corporate income tax this year, making companies pay 70 percent of their 2010 taxes by June 15. And many states have balanced their budgets with federal health care dollars that Congress has not yet appropriated.

Mish said, "Most states have pension plan assumptions that assume a 7% rate of return or higher. Such returns simply will not happen."

7% returns are unachievable? You can now do that in your sleep!

Even Dr. Doom, Nouriel Roubini is now out touting India:

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- India has a “massive” need for capital to catch China’s growth rate and fully benefit from a global shift in economic power to emerging markets, said Nouriel Roubini, the economist who predicted the financial crisis.

“China has been a hare and India a tortoise but growth is accelerating in India,” Roubini said yesterday. “There is a massive need for both human and physical capital.”

Pimco's El-Erian, new "new normal" sugar high, and brick wall, all fell 300, 200, or 130 S&P points ago, so now he is left touting is slowing growth in the second half of this year and his J-E-T-S.

Look for growth rates to be an annualized 4 percent to 5 percent in the first half of the year. Growth will likely slow in the second half to an annualized 2 percent. Unfortunately, we will also have persistently high unemployment.

Being a Jets fan for over 40 years, I have learned not to expect too much in return for my steadfast loyalty. I combine continuous hope with timid expectations given the years of disappointments. Having said all that, I am excited about the Jets 2010 team!

Proving once again, the bears were the market's black swans!

So much so, now they are no longer pretending they were!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tim Geithner at the Women's Finance Symposium

In opening a Women in Finance Symposium that brought together top female government figures such as Sheila Bair and Mary Schapiro, Geithner said he recently read an article asking what it would be like if women ran the hyper-competitive money hub of the United States.

“It’s an excellent question. But kind of a low bar,” Geithner joked, eliciting laughs from the gathering in the historic Treasury Cash Room. “How, you might ask, could women not have done better?”

But did anyone see how Geithner looked after he left this estrogen packed crew?

It looked like he wanted to take a shower!

And you had more at this lovefest.

White House economic adviser Christina Romer said she still has "pinch me" moments walking into the West Wing of her office building.

She said her husband recently gave her a reality check after she vented about a marathon meeting with President Barack Obama.

"My husband said, 'Listen to what you said,'" Romer said

Obama's Seder

So far, Obama's version is working!

Scientists say biblical plagues really happened

The naturalistic explanation:

Researchers believe they have found evidence of real natural disasters on which the ten plagues of Egypt, which led to Moses freeing the Israelites from slavery in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, were based.

The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues.

The rising temperatures could have caused the river Nile to dry up, turning the fast flowing river that was Egypt's lifeline into a slow moving and muddy watercourse.

These conditions would have been perfect for the arrival of the first plague, which in the Bible is described as the Nile turning to blood.

Dr Stephan Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, believes this description could have been the result of a toxic fresh water algae.

He said the bacterium, known as Burgundy Blood algae or Oscillatoria rubescens, is known to have existed 3,000 years ago and still causes similar effects today.

He said: "It multiplies massively in slow-moving warm waters with high levels of nutrition. And as it dies, it stains the water red."

The scientists also claim the arrival of this algae set in motion the events that led to the second, third and forth plagues – frogs, lice and flies.

Frogs development from tadpoles into fully formed adults is governed by hormones that can speed up their development in times of stress.

The arrival of the toxic algae would have triggered such a transformation and forced the frogs to leave the water where they lived.

But as the frogs died, it would have meant that mosquitoes, flies and other insects would have flourished without the predators to keep their numbers under control.

This, according to the scientists, could have led in turn to the fifth and sixth plagues – diseased livestock and boils

Professor Werner Kloas, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute, said: "We know insects often carry diseases like malaria, so the next step in the chain reaction is the outbreak of epidemics, causing the human population to fall ill."

Another major natural disaster more than 400 miles away is now also thought to be responsible for triggering the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues that bring hail, locusts and darkness to Egypt.

One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history occurred when Thera, a volcano that was part of the Mediterranean islands of Santorini, just north of Crete, exploded around 3,500 year ago, spewing billions of tons of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.

Nadine von Blohm, from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Germany, has been conducting experiments on how hailstorms form and believes that the volcanic ash could have clashed with thunderstorms above Egypt to produce dramatic hail storms.

Dr Siro Trevisanato, a Canadian biologist who has written a book about the plagues, said the locusts could also be explained by the volcanic fall out from the ash.

He said: "The ash fall out caused weather anomalies, which translates into higher precipitations, higher humidity. And that's exactly what fosters the presence of the locusts."

The volcanic ash could also have blocked out the sunlight causing the stories of a plague of darkness.

Scientists have found pumice, stone made from cooled volcanic lava, during excavations of Egyptian ruins despite there not being any volcanoes in Egypt.

Analysis of the rock shows that it came from the Santorini volcano, providing physical evidence that the ash fallout from the eruption at Santorini reached Egyptian shores.

The cause of the final plague, the death of the first borns of Egypt, has been suggested as being caused by a fungus that may have poisoned the grain supplies, of which male first born would have had first pickings and so been first to fall victim.

That's the National Geographic version or you can read Exodus 7-11.

Asia and the world have increasing demand for steel

March 30 (Bloomberg) -- Vale SA, the world’s largest iron ore producer, and BHP Billiton Ltd. ended a 40-year system of setting annual prices by signing short-term contracts with Asian mills, with the Brazilian company winning a 90 percent increase.

Sumitomo Metal Industries Co., Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker, agreed to pay Vale $100 to $110 a metric ton for the quarter starting April 1, spokesman Toshifumi Matsui said. BHP, the largest mining company, today said it will sell the majority of its production to Asian steel mills on shorter-term contracts without giving pricing.

A Shanghai judge yesterday blamed the collapse of annual price talks last year on Rio Tinto Group executive Stern Hu and three colleagues for obtaining commercial secrets, sentencing them to between 7 years and 14 years in prison for that charge and bribery. Moving to quarterly pricing will help producers benefit from surging spot prices for iron ore, which are trading at more than double the annual-contract price.
And the demand for iron ore is not just relegated to Asia.

The commercial shipping season is under way early on the Great Lakes, a sign that the economy is improving.

Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Soo Locks, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Superior, four days early because of favorable ice conditions and growing demand for iron ore and coal.

"Things are moving quicker, sooner than a year ago. And it seems like more ships are involved," said Eric Reinelt, Port of Milwaukee executive director.

Of five ships that spent the winter docked in Milwaukee, three have already left. One huge freighter, the Stewart J. Cort, is scheduled to leave soon after having been docked here since November 2008.

"It has orders to move iron ore from Duluth to Chicago. That's a pretty good sign," Reinelt said.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Reuters vs reality

(Reuters) - If you think now is a good time to try your hand as a U.S. truck driver with steady pay and a life on the open road, think again.


The U.S. recession has turned a serious shortage of drivers into a surplus virtually overnight. Disappearing credit has hurt production and shipments of goods of all kinds all at once, idling thousands of trucks.

"When I began trucking two years ago you couldn't throw a dime up in the air without hitting a trucking job," said Brian Short, 26. "Those days are gone."
That's Reuters take.

Reality is that good drivers are hard to find. Who wants to work for the low ball wages of 35-40K that some of these corporations are offering drivers?

No thank you. They'll just sit back and collect their unemployment check instead.

Good truck drivers are hard to find.

You want good drivers? Pay more!

The Reuters story?

It will soon be hopelessly dated.

How China treats gamers that cheat

This incident took place in China’s northern province of Jilin. Gamers had gathered together in a local NetCafe to play CounterStrike, and one of them (a 17 year old) was subsequently accused of cheating. The dirty handed gaming infuriated the others in the Cafe and they attacked the offender violently. Did I say violently, because I meant ultra-violently on A Clockwork Orange scale.

You can tell from the guy's x-ray, they jammed an 11 in. knife into the cheater's skull almost to the hilt. The youth was rushed to hospital shortly after where Doctors spent nearly 10 hours in surgery to safely remove the blade (which they said was only stopped by the other side of his skull!). Apparently the gamer was using a common "Wallhack" that allowed him to see through walls, but even so jamming a knife into someone's head isn't the best way to deal with it.

(no link because the site will attempt to attack your computer)

Your honor!

What would Ricky Martin say?

Wrong way bears keep pimping their case

Oh wait--I forgot. You can't use the word "pimping" or Demi Moore will freak out!

Kim Kardashian twitted this picture, and Demi Moore tweeted this vacuous nonsense back.

Now how is it, that everyone can recognize nonsense in the gossip pages, but you can't recognize nonsense and vacousness or vapidity on Wall Street?

Maybe because the NY Times can't either! They had a story out this morning questioning why the markets are rallying.

David Rosenberg had this to say in the NY Times:

“The market is as overvalued now as it was undervalued a year ago,” said David A. Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist for Gluskin Sheff, an investment firm.

So why then, didn't he get bullish??

Because stocks are still undervalued, and he can't see it. And when we get to 1440 on the S&P he'll say the same thing!

I've never met a group of bigger crybabies, than these wrong way, ne'er do well bears.

And if these folks are so smart, why is it that they can't follow the most simplistic truism that any rookie follows? 

Don't fight the tape!

Because they still suffer from hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia!

And at least it was diagnosed here, and diagnosed early!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia strikes!

The fear of 666!

The S&P hit it's low at 666.

The inflation-adjusted return of the S&P from the 1982 bottom, to the 2000 top was 666%.

The return from the Dow's low of the 1987 crash, to the 2000 high was 666%.

And now, 666 strikes again.Don't fight the tape!

But instead, they want to fight last year's war!

Trump SoHo still a flop

The Trump SoHo hotel and condominium has too many vacancies.

The 46-story building is scheduled to open April 9 in Manhattan. Sales were initially brisk, but only about a third of the 391 units are now in contract. What's more, it isn't clear how many of those will actually close, because that process won't begin until the hotel opens.

The hotel, which was announced on a episode of Donald Trump's hit television show, "The Apprentice," is another of the boom-time projects that looked easy to finance until the recession hit. Recently, Bank of America dumped a mezzanine loan on the project for a fraction of its $75 million face value, according to people familiar with the matter. Now, the developer is in restructuring talks with lenders who hold some $350 million in debt.

Other condo-hotel projects under the Trump brand have run into trouble.  The Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., faces foreclosure after developers defaulted on a $139 million loan, though the Trump Organization had only a licensing agreement that has since been terminated.

The issues facing the building also provide the latest glimpse into how Mr. Trump has managed to navigate the economic downturn largely intact. As was the case with many of his projects over the past 15 years, he has invested none of his own money in the Trump SoHo. His deal with the developers, a venture of Sapir Organization and Bayrock Group, is primarily a hotel-management and licensing arrangement.

What did you expect the Donald to do with his spare time? Work on his tan?

Unemployment line or Condo buyers in Canada?

You make the call!

And the idea that the typical family in the US will be content to rent, won't last either.

They're just not buying condos from Trump!

The pre-existing condition insurance loophole

William G. Schiffbauer, a lawyer whose clients include employers and insurance companies, said: “The fine print differs from the larger political message. If a company sells insurance, it will have to cover pre-existing conditions for children covered by the policy. But it does not have to sell to somebody with a pre-existing condition. And the insurer could increase premiums to cover the additional cost.”

..Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the Senate commerce committee, said: “The ink has not yet dried on the health care reform bill, and already some deplorable health insurance companies are trying to duck away from covering children with pre-existing conditions. This is outrageous.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fatty foods are addictive as cocaine

Scientists have finally confirmed what the rest of us have suspected for years: Bacon, cheesecake, and other delicious yet fattening foods may be addictive.

A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin...

The ingredients in purified modern food cause people to "eat unconsciously and unnecessarily," and will also prompt an animal to "eat like a drug abuser [uses drugs]," says Wang.

The neurotransmitter dopamine appears to be responsible for the behavior of the overeating rats, according to the study. Dopamine is involved in the brain's pleasure (or reward) centers, and it also plays a role in reinforcing behavior. "It tells the brain something has happened and you should learn from what just happened," says Kenny.

Overeating caused the levels of a certain dopamine receptor in the brains of the obese rats to drop, the study found. In humans, low levels of the same receptors have been associated with drug addiction and obesity, and may be genetic, Kenny says.

Christa and Volker Kraft's Easter Tree

What's up with Bud?

AB InBev owns Budweiser, (where would Budweiser's stock price be now?) and they put Madonna in the the Brahma Box?

Madonna selling beer?


Who is running the ad budget for AB?

Where the bears on Wall Street end up--Siberia!

In the Kemerovo Region bears really do wander the streets and drink vodka, and even munch on the odd cigarette – if offered.

Shocking to most, bear owner Viktor Kirpichnikov, says he acts only out of love.

“These bears are my life. And it’s for their own good I don’t set them free as they wouldn’t know how to cope in the wild. Their mother was killed by hunters when they were just a few months old. We rescued them,” he explained.

Armored car spills out money

How to propose with Google earth

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fight breaks out among "girlie men" at Chicago welfare office

Watch how well security handled this--and then, watch as the victor struts his stuff as though he's on the Birdcage!

The ending is too funny. He's doing an En Vogue victory dance!

What would Precious say?

We can do better?

The Masculine Mystique

The WSJ has an article about the Masculine Mystique that showed that

"They could predict how masculine a woman likes her men based on her nation's World Health Organization statistics for mortality rates, life expectancy and the impact of communicable disease."

Since the United States has a lower mortality rate and higher life expectancy and some testosterone laced men have a higher incidence of infidelity ----"But if health comes at the expense of fidelity and good parenting, how much does masculinity really matter?"

Thus women in the United States are safe to choose the antitheses of the Jesse James type, and choose, as Schwarzenegger would say, "girlie men."

Because, as the WSJ intones, "In the Face Lab study, women with the weakest masculinity preferences tended to live in some of the healthiest countries."

So who needs the testosterone laced male? So who did Murdoch, of the WSJ put a face on the "girlie man" that a weak women would choose? (Check out the three grid jaw above in the WSJ grid at the bottom of that picture with that of the man below it. Evidently Murdoch decided to show his jaw in black and white, because he wanted this to be an arm's length story. Fair and balanced. The B&W picture doesn't show Arthur's pancake makeup!!)

None other than Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the NY Times.

You can find his picture here, on the NY Times website, where he is known as its publisher.

Henceforth known as "girlie-man" by Rubert Murdoch of the WSJ!

Magazine covers tell the story

Wait--wouldn't it of been nice to have someone tell you that the pundits at the Economist were wrong, when it happened, when the dreaded anglerfish graced it's cover? The cover that the bears said would be a classic?

Let's re-visit April 24 last year when the dreaded Anglerfish made itself known.....

And it gets worse. When an angler fish mates, the male bites into her back, his body dies, and he shrinks down into just a couple of gonads, the size of a parasite. The media used to be the parasites living off of the bears ideas. Now we have another "fluff" piece, but this time the bears are the parasite as they've been neutered by the market.

As advertised!!!!!

Humpback Whale in Biscayne Beach off Miami