Friday, January 30, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
OK, the new year has brought some changes and one is the NEW SITE called Trader's Log devoted to stock and ETF trading, finance and economics. This should clean up the KaPo which will continue as my repository of opinion on culture, politics and sports.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Yesterday, at the advice of Eric and direction of Teresa Lo, I have re-read the seminal tome Nature of Risk by Justin Mamis and his discussion about recognizing market bottoms by looking at the number of new lows. Mamis' thesis is that the market sends messages before any trader or investor can notice, and we only know why the market recovered after the fact.
First, you need a name. Not just any name. A weird name: a Biblical misspelling, maybe, or an invocation of some distant land. No matter what: the name needs an O. The O will come in handy when you need to summon a common sphere, encourage chanting, or design a gentle logo. Never deny the utility of its replication, never avoid its allusion, and never miss a moment for its branding. An O is a space anyone can fill with anything.
You will possess a preternatural ability to give people what they want, to know what they need, to sell what they will buy. Prepare yourself for this. You have to get over any anxieties about your own assimilation, incorporation, and amalgamation. Be the commodity. Put your O everywhere. Your iconography is how you brace against the disappointments of your humanity.
You are, as everyone knows, a Protestant. But you dabble in everything, shying not away from the Koran or kabbalah, Jewish professors or Eastern spiritual advisers. You will entertain anything that might embolden your O. You are the ambiguity of your epoch, the middle that makes the mass, the crossroads of a country that excited your youth, raped your ancestral continent, and claps now for your children. You are a global distribution suffused with spiritual truth. You are motivated with missionary zeal to convert everyone, unrelentingly, to change. You make them believe their best lives are yet to come. You make it impossible to look away, to hate, to dissent, or to change the channel. You make us feel good, finally. You are our redemption. You are our favorite smile. And you are our satisfaction at the possibility of a secular that made it all so.
My take: Any person who attains such high office must have an element of celebrity which smacks of gimick; they've all had it and previously the gimick has been divisive while Obama's has been inclusive. This marketing of sorts has been Obama's advantage so far, but can also become his undoing if he is unable to fulfill the persona that has been created. While I give President Obama high marks for his successful candidacy and the positive atmosphere that has imbued his campaign, at the end of the day the presidency is-- pardon the cliche-- a highly demanding job that will entail certain failures and sometimes success, even with the most well-meaning and capable people in the position.
Granted, the last eight years have been disastrous largely because of the incompetence of the chief executive who inherited every advantage yet squandered them all, but Obama's intelligence and charisma and competence hardly guarantee success. Hope is but a word, and the work ahead looks daunting. If this mess can indeed be fixed, it will take all of us... in addition to great leadership.
And by all appearances, this leadership, nascent as it is, seems the greatest of my lifetime.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Every MLK Day I think of my dad. As a kid in the 1970's I remember the rallies and picnics we attended for civil rights; the outings at the Unitarian Church to bring awareness. I wish I could say that we rallied every weekend, or that we spent time in jail due to protests, which we certainly did not. I remember the violence inflicted on black marchers at the hands of white racists in Marquette Park, the red-lining by realtors, the protests against bussing black kids into our schools. As a family we had little to gain or lose by the immediate cause of civil rights and my personal existence was sheltered from the repercussions of civil rights and its opponents.
But on a grander scale the movement has enriched our nation, and thus our own lives, in immeasureable ways. And my dad knew that. The sin is that it has taken so long and so much pain to achieve this moment.
Both King and Vince are gone. Tomorrow we will be inaugurating Barck Obama, a black man, as the 44th president of the United States of America. Obama is almost exactly the same age as myself and I wish my father were alive to see the continuation of the civil rights movement which he so solemnly supported just as so many of us also wish that Martin Luther King would be alive to celebrate his 80th birthday during this eventful week.
Barack Obama has not become president because he is a black man; he has become the president because he is the best person for the job. Like Jackie Robinson, the barrier has to be broken by an individual who is so starky qualified, so much better than the others, that he is launched into the role by an overwhelming sentiment. That is Barack Obama. Like Robinson, who entered Major League Baseball in 1947 as the first black player, Obama stands above the others who have vied for this position, and he possesses the demeanor to withstand the negativity.
Tomorrow we will go to the local theatre for the "Obama Inauguration Celebration" to watch my next president take the oath of office. An American celebration. And I will think of my dad. And I will think of MLK whose speech from four decades ago rings louder today than ever. Every word is pertinent to this moment.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
“There’s another down leg coming. Normally the market comes down in five legs. We’ve come down in two. I think we’re going to test those lows at the very least, and eventually probably take them out.”--John Murphy, chief technical analyst at StockCharts.com and the author of three books on market analysis.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition.""We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford (at right), in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions byDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.[snip]
"For 160 days his only contact was with the interrogators," said Crawford, who personally reviewed Qahtani's interrogation records and other military documents. "Forty-eight of 54 consecutive days of 18-to-20-hour interrogations. Standing naked in front of a female agent. Subject to strip searches. And insults to his mother and sister."
At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani "was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation" and "was told that his mother and sister were whores." With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room "and forced to perform a series of dog tricks," the report shows.
This detainee, who is an alleged conspirator to murder, will likely go free after years of imprisonment without due process. The Bush administration has condoned activity that achieves no purpose but to undermine our status as the purveyor of any moral authority. We have emboldened the enemy, allowed bin Laden a safe haven, and have helped him to recruit extremists in a holy war. Not only is this illegal, but it is in direct conflict with our national interests.
Where are the indictments?
Friday, January 09, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Small caps began a nice run the last week of the year which continued until today. Is this pullback just the normal profit taking and short selling that comes with any double digit run? Or is it the beginning of the return to November lows. Let's look at the hourly graph:
Friday, January 02, 2009
a. A world financial center is rendered uninhabitable after a "dirty" nuclear bomb is detonated by a terrorist group.b. Labor unrest in Eastern Europe and Asia leads to mass rioting, looting and martial law in several countries.c. President Obama successfully negotiates a Middle East accord that entails making the entire Levant a demilitarized zone which is patrolled by UN peacekeepers indefinitely. The Israeli stock market doubles over the ensuing 6 months.
a. The Detroit city council asks President Obama to place the city under federal conservatorship in order to provide basic services and health care as social crises mount.b. Several prominent Republican leaders form a new party which emphasizes moderate social values and fiscal responsibility.
a. A basic science breakthrough is announced in cancer therapy giving great hope to the treament of various types of malignancies.b. Primary care physicians thoughout the USA protest decreasing reimbursement and many walk off the job leaving patients without care.c. Later in the year, Congress passes a universal health insurance plan devised by Zeke Emanuel.
a. Municipal bonds rise in value as President Obama announces his desire to provide massive funding for urban renewal.b. Gold rises parabolically to $1400 per ounce due to worldwide monetary loosening and geopolitical crises.c. The FTC balks but finally allows the announced merger of Apple and Google which creates an innovation behemoth.
a. Tony Shaloub takes over the Tonight Show Prime Time when Jay Leno abruptly quits.b. The surly comic Kathy Griffin marries a prominent diplomatic leader which raises concerns about her demeanor at official functions.
a. The Chicago White Sox win 110 games on their way to their second World Series win in 4 years as they sweep the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, League MVP and Manager of the Year awards.b. As a number 7 seed in the NCAA March Madness Tournament, University of Illinois Men's Basketball shocks everyone by beating UNC in the final to become National Champion.