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Showing posts from July, 2010

Whither Housing?

Doug Kass of Seabreeze Investment Management said on Kudlow (CNBC) a few nights ago that his pick for a surprise was a rebound in housing starting this fall. Generally, I've found that Kass is a pretty good trend reader.
But Gene Epstein, also very good, has a long piece in the latest Barron's which basically says that demography is against a housing rebound for the next five years....
While this kind of conflict makes it tough for regular investors to take a position, the worst is that they could both be wrong...
Related articles by ZemantaDoug Kass: Market Has Made Low For Year, This is The Bottom (wallstreetpit.com)

Shirley Sherrod

This sad episode was reprised on all the Sunday current event talk shows. I thought we had moved passed all this kind of nonsense. But it is still possible to call someone racist and trigger both predictable and surprising responses.
Just one thing I would recommend to the news organizations: when you are looking for someone to comment, don't dust off Jesse Jackson. If you are looking for a minister, let me give you another choice: T.D. Jakes.Related articles by ZemantaHeartwarming Racist Sherrie Sherrod: Andrew Breitbart Would Like To Put All Blacks Back Into Slavery (minx.cc)

JP Morgan Chase

My little falling-out with JP Morgan Chase continues. In the last segment, I had put my Chase credit card away, because, I was put on credit hold/fraud alert because of a $7 charge I made. Details: the card is a United Airlines affinity card - e.g. the user gets United Airline mile credit, and the charge was for one of those little box lunches on a United Airlines flight.
Seemed like a little much to me. Since I'm a JPM shareholder, and I think Jamie Dimon, JPM CEO, has done a great job, I dropped a note saying that it would seem to me that their fraud procedures ought to undergo a review; it doesn't seem too logical to me to put an alert on a frequent flyer using his frequent flyer credit card on a flight.
Anyway, I just received a customer service scorecard, asking if my problem had been satisfactorily resolved, signed by Chip somebody or other.
Well, no Chip: no one did anything; I never heard from anyone until I got your survery...

Why we can't have a new stimulus plan

Double dip recessions are rare things. Even a slowdown immediately after a recession is unusual. But job creation coming out of this one is painfully slow. While there are lots of reasons, here is a key one.
Historically, housing got creamed in a recession. Interest rates rose going in, choking off housing activity. Then interest rates were cut, housing gradually recovered and helped employment. A lot.
Think of how many skilled trades are involved in building a house. Plumbers. Electricians. Carpenters. Cabinet installers. Roofers. Landscapers. Wallboard hangers. Carpet layers. Tile layers. Bricklayers. Concrete finishers.
Then there are the manufacturers and suppliers of pipe, kitchen and bath faucets, lighting fixtures, roofing shingles, lumber, toilets, sinks carpet, concrete, bricks,conduit, circuit boxes, windows, doors, insulation, air conditioners, water heaters and so on.
Well, in this recession there is no housing rebound, so the millions of local trade workers and manufacturing …

More cigars

Thanks to Don Mills, I'm trying some new smokes, and so far they are all fabulous. Just finished a Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary in the Champagne wrapper. While I enjoy an occasional powerhouse like the Fuente Opus, generally my tastes run to the milder end of the spectrum.
This new Perdomo Champagne absolutely fills the bill. When I finished smoking it, I immediately went online to check the box price. If you are in Memphis/Germantown, check out the Tobacco Superstore and tell Don I sent you for a little extra special deal.