Okay, time to roll the promoted stocks scoreboard:

TickerDate of ArticlePrice @ ArticlePrice @ 12/30/13DeclineAnnualizedSplits
GTXO

5/27/2008

2.45

0.009

-99.6%

-63.2%

BONZ

10/22/2009

0.35

0.001

-99.7%

-74.2%

BONU

10/22/2009

0.89

0.001

-99.8%

-78.6%

UTOG

3/30/2011

1.55

0.002

-99.9%

-91.1%

OBJE

4/29/2011

116.00

0.230

-99.8%

-90.3%

1:40

LSTG

10/5/2011

1.12

0.012

-98.9%

-86.9%

AERN

10/5/2011

0.0770

0.0001

-99.9%

-94.9%

IRYS

3/15/2012

0.261

0.000

-100.0%

-100.0%

Dead
RCGP

3/22/2012

1.47

0.140

-90.5%

-73.4%

STVF

3/28/2012

3.24

0.430

-86.7%

-68.3%

CRCL

5/1/2012

2.22

0.024

-98.9%

-93.5%

ORYN

5/30/2012

0.93

0.030

-96.8%

-88.5%

BRFH

5/30/2012

1.16

0.610

-47.4%

-33.3%

LUXR

6/12/2012

1.59

0.012

-99.2%

-95.7%

IMSC

7/9/2012

1.5

0.850

-43.3%

-31.9%

DIDG

7/18/2012

0.65

0.053

-91.8%

-82.2%

GRPH

11/30/2012

0.8715

0.024

-97.3%

-96.4%

IMNG

12/4/2012

0.76

0.050

-93.4%

-92.1%

ECAU

1/24/2013

1.42

0.248

-82.5%

-84.7%

DPHS

6/3/2013

0.59

0.006

-99.0%

-100.0%

POLR

6/10/2013

5.75

0.050

-99.1%

-100.0%

NORX

6/11/2013

0.91

0.096

-89.5%

-98.3%

ARTH

7/11/2013

1.24

0.290

-76.6%

-95.4%

NAMG

7/25/2013

0.85

0.290

-65.9%

-91.7%

MDDD

12/9/2013

0.79

0.480

-39.2%

-100.0%

12/30/2013

Median

-97.3%

-91.1%

Before I talk about tonight’s loser-in-waiting, let me tell you what happened to Makism3D, the last company I reviewed.  Four days after I reviewed it, the SEC suspended trading, and it reopened on 12/30, falling 49% on the day.  Dig the price graph:

MDDD

The SEC is getting more aggressive about suspending trading in companies that are being promoted.  Some suggest that publishing pieces like this, or others at Seeking Alpha, is encouraging the SEC to be more bold.  If true, that is good.

Now for our loser-in-waiting — Tiger Oil & Gas [TGRO].  I ran into TGRO via an ad on Bloomberg.com.  It led me to this spammy article, which led me to this even more spammy article.  If I were invests.com, I would be more protective of my reputation.  I get all sorts of requests to publish low quality articles at Aleph Blog, maybe 50 per month.  You can make money doing that in the short run, but I never want to treat my readers in such a bad way.

And if I were Bloomberg.com, I would not let them advertise.  Because I write these articles, sadly, I get ads for them, but if I see those ads, I tell my ad network to stop running them.

TGRO is another company that has no revenues, negative income, and negative net worth.  Sound familiar?  Maybe Congress should ban “development stage companies.”  I’ve never seen one that was worth anything.

Here is the beginning of the disclaimer:

This report is for informational purposes only, and does not represent a solicitation to buy or sell the profiled company’s securities, which trade under the symbol TGRO, nor any other securities. StockTips.com is operated by Amerada Corp. (AC). Neither AC nor its employees are certified financial analysts or licensed in the securities industry in any manner. The information in this marketing piece and any accompanying information is subjective opinion and may not be complete, accurate or current and was paid for directly or indirectly by shareholders of the profiled company who may or will profit as a result of the preparation, publication and distribution of this marketing piece and accompanying information. AC expects to receive $2,500,000.00 (TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS) as a marketing budget for production and distribution of TGRO marketing material from an unaffiliated 3rd party, Laluna Services, Inc.

And that is what paid Bloomberg.com to give them the top link on a box to the side.  The amount paid is 5% of the present market cap, but 30% of the market cap prior to the promotion.  Look at the price graph:

I should add that this was a operating chemicals company 2007-2010, and another development stage company prior to that.  Such behavior where a company is in the development stage indicates that there is little if any underlying business, and that it is merely a machine to suck money out of the pockets of naive investors, and into the pockets of promoters and insiders.

As I often say, “Don’t buy what someone wants to sell you.  Buy what you have researched and think is valuable.”  Particularly with intangible items like stocks, those who are directly paid to promote stocks are almost always scammers.

Avoid promoted stocks.

I sometimes answer questions for those at Klout.com that ask basic investing questions.  Usually I point to old articles of mine, but this time someone asked a question that I have not answered before, and here it is:

What’s a convertible note? I’ve Googled for the answer but can’t find a simple answer. Why would one take a note when investing rather than equity?

Some people want the best of both worlds.  I want upside potential, but I want a guaranteed downside where I still make money.  That’s a convertible bond (or note, same thing).  The convertible bond promises to pay you income though interest payments, but allows for the possibility that you will want to exchange the bond for a fixed number of shares in the company.  When would you want to do such an exchange?  You would exchange when the stock price rises to the point where the bond is worth more converted into stock.

Let’s look at this question from the other side for a moment.  Why would a company issue a convertible bond?  There are several reasons:

  • Typically, companies that issue convertible bonds have credit ratings that are junk or low investment grade.  They want a low interest payment for a company of their credit quality, and so they trade potential issuance of more stock at a time where it would hurt, for lower current interest payments.
  • Often, the companies that offer convertible bonds are growth companies that need capital, but they might have a hard time doing an ordinary junk bond.  Convertible bonds have a ready buyer base.
  • Convertible bonds can be the “financing of last resort” for companies that are in financial trouble.  (Article one, article two)

Now, many convertible bonds are issued by companies that subsequently don’t do well, and the bonds get bought by junk bond managers who buy them as junk bonds — they are called “busted converts.”  They trade as if there is no conversion option, and some clever junk bond managers buy them, knowing that if a few of them have stocks that rally significantly, they will make enough extra money to aid their performance.

For what it is worth, the same ideas apply to convertible preferred stock, except that is bought primarily by individuals, while the bonds are bought by institutional investors.  Also note that preferred stock has weaker credit quality than bonds.  In liquidation, bonds get paid before preferred stock.

Final Notes

Convertible bonds changed when hedge funds emerged to invest in cheap convertible bonds, because the conversion option was frequently undervalued.  As they became a larger force in the market convertible bonds rose in value, until they were largely not attractively priced.

Prior to that era convertible bond funds regularly outpaced other bond funds.  They behaved kind of like a funny type of balanced fund.

As an investment grade corporate bond manager, I bought a convertible bond once, where it was “busted,” and was attractive just for the income alone.  As it was, after I left the firm, the stock rallied to the point where converting to stock made sense.

This is tough: convertible bonds make sense for those that want the possibility of extra income if the stock price rises, but are willing to take a lower income on the convertible bond versus straight debt.

Oh, one more thing, again, generally only lower rated companies issue convertible debt, so you have to live with a higher level of default risk.  Yes, convertible bonds offer the best of both worlds… so long as the issuer doesn’t default.

Here is a letter from a reader:

Hi David,

 Long-time reader of yours.  You put out some of the best blog content on the web and I am grateful for that.

I’ve got a question I’d hope you consider answering in the blog.  I’m almost embarrassed to ask it, for fear of appearing facile, but here goes:

Our economy is struggling with a lack of aggregate demand, low monetary velocity, and a whiff of deflation.  QE does not seem to be transmitting its monetary effects to the real economy, just helping to inflate asset prices instead.  So why wouldn’t we consider sending direct stimulus to households, similar to what we did in 2008-09, only on a much bigger scale?  Say there are 120MM households.  Send each one a $5k check, and if I’ve got the zeroes right, that’s a “mere” $600B we’re borrowing to disburse – about 60% of what the Fed is doing annually with QE.  Most of the money would recycle and multiply quickly to the economy (net of what gets allocated to debt paydown, and what gets banked by the well-off).  And due to some current one-times in the Federal budget, we’ve actually got a better balance sheet in the moment to do something with added borrowing/spending. 

Crazy thought, but these are uncommon times.  Curious what you think. 

Dear friend, I think about this in two ways: ethics and metaphysics.  The metaphysics are easy — yeah, let the Fed remit all of its seigniorage to the people rather than to the Treasury.  Far better than letting the government spend it.

But the ethics are touchy.  How do we define ethical taxation systems?  My view is that people should be taxed according to their increase in net worth, and at a flat rate, but with no ability to defer income from taxation.  Most wealthy people don’t care about tax rates because they can find ways to defer/reduce taxable income.  This is a major reason why you should distrust the Democrats, because their desire to raise tax rates would do little.  This is also a reason to distrust the GOP, because there is no decent reason to decrease tax rates.

We need to tighten up the definition of income in the US, and no longer allow citizens and businesses to defer income.  If we taxed all economic activity as it occurred we would have balanced budgets.

The rich aren’t paying enough in the US, not because of tax rates, but because they can hide their income.  That is the way that policy should proceed, to make the wealthy pay according to their increase in net worth.

I’ll write about this more later, but the main idea is to tax people proportionate to their increase in wealth.  That is the Bible’s solution for how people should give.

 

 

Japan

 

  • Japan World-Beating Stocks Seen Repeating Gains in 2014 http://t.co/v5QR4nVKd3 Analysts follow trends; they r wrong at turning points $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Abenomics Drives Japan Hedge Funds to World’s Top Performers http://t.co/fDmMBWIxgL Let’s c if Japan can survive the increase in debts $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Asia: From baby boom to bust http://t.co/eaDLDS3oAL Watch Japan 4a preview of what will happen across all of Asia; it won’t b pretty $$ Dec 28, 2013

 

China

 

  • China Confronts Workforce Drop With Retirement-Age Delay http://t.co/TdsDKG1p5u China gets to the problem very late & way too small $$ $FXI Dec 26, 2013
  • China is so worried about its cash crunch that it banned the term http://t.co/y0eN3A58iB Worry when central bankers care about language $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • China Credit Squeeze Eases as Central Bank Resumes Using Regular Cash-Injection Tool http://t.co/D5UNiQuQSv Papers over solvency issues $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • China’s Pain Points http://t.co/Ry2XaZHYT8 underfunded health&pension systems; environment probs; water shortages; corruption; rigged courts Dec 26, 2013
  • China Promise Clashes With Clampdown on Foreign Business http://t.co/ycKPAWqGa2 They want the best of both worlds, and can’t get both $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • PBOC’s Opacity Leaves Markets Guessing Amid Cash Crunch http://t.co/TsgynBHdo6 No guess what PBOC policy will b, makin’ it up as they go $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • China Cash Crunch Pushes Up Short-Term Rates http://t.co/MgWmHwdQuC The fragility of the Chinese financial system comes into view $$ $FXI Dec 23, 2013
  • Was 2013 the Year We Lost China? http://t.co/Fmz3RixLW7 It’s difficult 2 say whether we ever “had” China, it pursues its own goals $$ $FXI Dec 23, 2013

 

PPACA / Obamacare

 

  • Obamacare Hits Snag in States as US Site Finds Footing http://t.co/3q1SnLxu59 Surprised that some of the states would do worse than Feds $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Obamacare’s Web site Exchange Woes Trace to Cato’s Michael Cannon http://t.co/SDhb9sdATZ One Q is whether the natl exchange can subsidize $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • What to Do When ObamaCare Unravels http://t.co/w2iNS1HhWd Cute alternative 2 PPACA, but I think it could b even more expensive than PPACA $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Rule Change on Health Insurance Rattles Industry http://t.co/Fyntbs0rjS The lowball estimate of what Obamacare would cost comes back2bite $$ Dec 23, 2013
  • Obama Repeals ObamaCare http://t.co/0RerlzDqA2 It was bad enough under Bush, y does Congress tolerate a president behaving like a king? $$ Dec 23, 2013

 

Rest of the World

 

  • Thai General Refuses to Rule Out Coup as Unrest Drags On http://t.co/PfqhKwIpSD A Thai friend of mine said military is needed in politics $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • BlackRock Buys Turkey Shares After Turmoil Spooks Markets http://t.co/bbcxmWIXHM $TUR down >26% in 2013 http://t.co/cHkL6E2TUd; $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Iranians Pile Into Stocks as Nuclear Deal Spurs 133% Gain http://t.co/mZ7J47vnPp Wall Street getting slow; no $IRAN ETF available yet $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Even in Straitened Times, Portugal Loves Its Bimby Cooking Robots http://t.co/j8a732IuKA Y isn’t this sold in the US? It does it all $$ $SPY Dec 26, 2013
  • Jihadists in Syria Draw Children of Muslims Who Settled in Europe http://t.co/r5suj7cZ6l Romantic youths want their lives 2b more than $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • UN to nearly double peace-keepers in South Sudan as violence explodes http://t.co/X9Z94O0mXF UN always increases malfeasance, bad 4 all $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Ukraine Upheaval Spurred by 28% Rates Limiting Buyers http://t.co/5VFiYvnpRk Capital flees when civil disturbances arise, thus high rates $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • US Plans to Ask UN for More Troops in Turbulent South Sudan http://t.co/I60iRC1Nmb UN is not a lot of help in situations like this $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Swiss Banks Employ Army of Advisers for US Amnesty Plan http://t.co/qRLXTt1JS7 Differing strategies as US exposure & reporting varies $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • South Sudan Refugees Swell As Americans Are Evacuated http://t.co/Iq2VxuFYNz Throw a bunch of warlords together, call it a govt & u get? $$ Dec 23, 2013
  • Russia Crisis Haunts Deutsche Bank’s Smith Seeing China Bust http://t.co/nRm4PPTlvA Suspect a China debt crisis would not affect US $$ Dec 23, 2013
  • Venezuela Devalues Bolivar for Tourist Dollars by 44% http://t.co/rOdpVu4xRd Almost 2 the point where the dollar will replace the bolivar $$ Dec 23, 2013

 

NSA

 

  • Report on NSA ‘secret’ payments to RSA fuels encryption controversy http://t.co/1YTaHu4mfK Put in a backdoor so that NSA could access $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished http://t.co/MdMFbSKaYK His life’s work is complete @ 29 $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • The One Big Question About RSA and Its Relationship With the NSA http://t.co/vR7GCsCa38 RSA builds “backdoor” 4 NSA 2 use, gets secret $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • NSA Struggles to Make Sense of Flood of Surveillance Data http://t.co/0gjztWYMSM Inside look at how data surveillance got out of control $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Finnish Security Researcher Cancels RSA Talk in Protest http://t.co/v0hsM2y548 RSA deliberately built faulty random number generator 4NSA $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Snowden Criticizes US Panel Overseeing Surveillance http://t.co/kLI7XmeKlN Panel exists 2whitewash bad behavior of intelgnc establishment $$ Dec 23, 2013

 

Market Impact

 

  • A Fund That Invests Like Buffett http://t.co/u9duSaR9oA I’m impressed; I’m putting their firm on my 13F list to track them quarterly $$ $SPY Dec 28, 2013
  • Our Outlook for the Stock Market http://t.co/N1IV6w32dj Morningstar gives their relatively bullish view of what 2014 will hold 4 stocks $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Muniland’s ‘Best of 2013’ http://t.co/KhaiAVmjzg @catelong is one of the best on municipal bonds & here is her summary of 2013 $$ $MUB Dec 28, 2013
  • 40% of fund managers surveyed r overweight euro-area equities http://t.co/vPYGQFvagC Bull Calls United in Europe, Strategists C 12% Gain $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • So, I’m skeptical of the article in the last tweet, unless the managers r long term investors & value players b/c flexible $$ runs in crises Dec 26, 2013
  • Half & Half: Why Rowing Works http://t.co/h46bRNMLAR A 50-50 mix of stocks & bonds w/rebalancing outperforms 100% stocks in choppy mkts $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • You Too Can Invest Like Warren Buffett…Maybe http://t.co/FU6MZzsmyj U would have to able to predict moats & not lever up too much $$ #tricky Dec 26, 2013
  • Investment Strategy Rises From Obscurity http://t.co/O8yIIqjTpZ US Govt loses $7B/yr on MLPs; Article features $IEP $CVR $CVRR $KMP $ETP $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Wall Street Landlord Loses Round 1 in Ohio School Tax Fight http://t.co/FgKOrnq283 Maybe school district should pass landlord profits tax $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Companies Binge on Share Buybacks http://t.co/JyW5QaRRP4 2% divs +3% buybacks ~5% shareholder yield. Is that enough reward 4 equity risk? $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • The TSC Streetside Chat: Robert Wilson, Part 2 http://t.co/IzzNlzE776 13 years old but prescient; he died in a suicide yesterday $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Financial Scammers Increasingly Target Elderly Americans http://t.co/raIvTr0B9a Tonight’s topic @ Aleph Blog – watch out 4 older friends $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • How Investigators Untangled the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Scandal http://t.co/AJwcx4XONC Penny stocks, overtrading, market manipulation $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • The Buyback Rally http://t.co/ZkBJsWBpe4 From @eddyelfenbein : 2% dividend yield + 3% buyback yield = 5% total yield on the market $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Hunt for Returns Prompts IPO Renaissance as US Leads Way http://t.co/dVURwoYGkn Capital will b deployed unproductively as the rally ends $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Secret Handshakes Greet Frat Brothers on Wall Street http://t.co/0t2zWLzL1A Part of what led to the crisis- connections&no smarts $$ $MS $GS Dec 23, 2013
  • Junk Loans Top ’08 Record as Safeguards Stripped http://t.co/9uZAwYeEaN Amazing how much biz u can do if u just leave aside risk control $$ Dec 23, 2013
  • The lavish lifestyles of placement agents http://t.co/0NU8cD5yl0 With pension monies, there is almost never a reason to pay commissions $$ Dec 22, 2013

 

Companies & Industries

 

  • Twitter Posts Biggest-Ever Decline After Macquarie Downgrade http://t.co/zopyq0AKeb $TWTR needs 2show real income to validate valuation $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Twitter’s Ballooning Market Cap http://t.co/vm1xl8MRwb Every sell is a good sell. At worst, wait for relative strength to shift $TWTR $$ Dec 27, 2013
  • GM Robo-Glove to Meat Hook Smooth Human-Machine Teamwork http://t.co/G0dbUgbXIc The future of manufacturing: human-robot teams $$ $SPY $TLT Dec 26, 2013
  • $AMZN Makes Up to Customers After Backup Hits $UPS http://t.co/UUNGKJVJvI It is possible to overload the shipping system; $20 giftcards $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Panasonic Debt Goes to First From Worst on Revamp http://t.co/MsBhqKmMee Amazing what can happen when a mgmt team rationalizes businesses $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Bug Bites Cut Florida Orange Crop to Lowest in 2 Decades http://t.co/0muOIlUFmI Fortunately Brazil is having a good crop; citrus greening $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Reactors on Slow Road to Demolition http://t.co/jd3sbJiMHk Much hangs on creating a long-term site for storing nuclear waste $$ $D $EXC $ETR Dec 26, 2013
  • Twitter’s Ballooning Market Cap http://t.co/mhik2Xp8Nn The price discounts more than the future, it discounts the hereafter $$ $TWTR $SPY Dec 26, 2013
  • If Cadillac Keeps Growing Like This, It’ll Be America’s Bestselling Luxury Car http://t.co/YnijUf5SiC We r talking $GM; they will fail $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Wind Farms in Maine Stir a Power Struggle http://t.co/lhpmyeD75l I’m sorry, most people know that they don’t own their view, give it up $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • V.F. Corporation Common Stock Stock Chart http://t.co/5zEipUBEWf; Interesting 2c @Bloomberg & @yahoofinance mess up on $VFC ‘s 4 for 1 split $$ Dec 23, 2013

 

Financial Sector

 

  • Banking Needs a New Regulatory Structure http://t.co/tgx7X4lSrq Rather, end interstate branching, & hand bank regulation back2 the states $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Will the Regulatory Screws Loosen in 2014? http://t.co/vxkuqAUCe9 Both sides r dreaming. Neither the regulators or banks r giving up $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • FDIC Recommendations to Curb Interest Rate Risk http://t.co/uRJw5tTcNS But will they bifurcate repo 2reveal the interest rate risk inside $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Examiners-in-Residence Should Be Pulled Out of Megabanks http://t.co/UcrvNoAmzu They will resist pressure better if they work together $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • How Thomas Curry Is Trying to Redeem the OCC http://t.co/iIbFR7Lqqv U can get a lot done in DC if u don’t care who gets the credit $$ $TLT Dec 26, 2013
  • Target’s Redcard Proves Less Vulnerable to Data Breach Than Bank Cards http://t.co/GDBN5KHvsK Added security makes the card harder2hack $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Angry Bart Takes His Parting Shot http://t.co/Wi5YChLExh How Wall St fights regulation: Direct kill; defund; exemptions; litigate $$ $GS $MS Dec 26, 2013
  • Why the US Leaves Its Credit-Card System Vulnerable to Fraud http://t.co/QN4egphZ8c Expensive to add more security & change hardware $$ Dec 23, 2013

 

Politics & Policy

 

  • Deaton on US inequality and the Pareto criterion http://t.co/pdhMXzehju Hard to equalize; rich families have more resources 4 their kids $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Moguls Rent South Dakota Addresses to Dodge Taxes Forever http://t.co/4IYvqqrr66 Our own tax haven in Black Hills; set up a trust in SD $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Government Pulls in Reins On Disability Judges http://t.co/psmXNK7fXZ Disability Trust fund goes bust in 2016, judges urged 2b stricter $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Five Lessons of 2013, Guaranteed to Be Forgotten http://t.co/dCXEniOv8U I like # 3. The law of the land is subject to executive action. $$ Dec 26, 2013

 

Other

  • The marriage gap: Think again, men http://t.co/T45sDRYDFC People who r single rely on government more, v. married who rely on each other $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Two trends I’m watching next year http://t.co/Cx1gKdLaSR Cultural changes may limit HH formation & much capital formation is intangible $$ Dec 28, 2013
  • Detroit Wins $55M in Concessions From 2 Banks http://t.co/wOEsceACAR Derivatives around munis usually have something crooked w/them $$ $MUB Dec 26, 2013
  • The LEET Pure PC – A PS4 And Xbox One Killer For Your Entertainment Room http://t.co/3mDBrtTHb0 Pretty cool. Powerful, flexible & stylish $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • White Chocolate, a Blank Slate for Flavor, Wins Converts http://t.co/WflwRKYYJg A platform to allow other flavors to show their stuff $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Colleges Trim Staffing Bloat http://t.co/bRtEMsnfqG Finally the bloat of making college into “country clubs” starts to decline $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Most Twitter User Have Few Followers – Study http://t.co/ghZfDqVjUJ U have 2get2 over 2000 followers b4u can b certain that any1 listens $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • A Pill to Cure Addiction? http://t.co/ORYsOeoNXN “huge amount of progress understanding what drives alcoholism & makes it difficult2stop” $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Are Cranberries a Better Way to Long Life? http://t.co/o0YJDa0Uhy The antioxidants in cranberries may prolong your life $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Fake Knee Surgery as Good as Real Procedure Study Finds http://t.co/Ucvi50nsqW Result Likely2Fuel Debate Over Common Orthopedic Operation $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Study: Eating Nuts in Pregnancy May Lower Child’s Allergy Risk http://t.co/X2IQwj1QfN Something new 4 children 2 blame their mothers over $$ Dec 24, 2013
  • Almond Spike Hits Germany’s Markets http://t.co/DpEJXxwWir Bad weather in California & Spain & demand in China push prices 2 record highs $$ Dec 23, 2013
  • Unwanted Memories Erased in Electroconvulsive Therapy Experiment http://t.co/nfo3lDmHDH Great. Another way to remove humanity from people $$ Dec 23, 2013

 

Wrong, Etc.

 

  • Wrong: The Air of Unreality in NSA Reform http://t.co/8psN0iSI1r Being a free country means we have 2 allow 4 possibility of bad events $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Disagree:Snowden Says Surveillance Is Worse Than Orwell Envisioned http://t.co/2AEb3tNk0G It may b more pervasive but it is low intensity $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • Central Error: that inflation & real growth are positively correlated [1970s] http://t.co/yLXk2UnQWu Dec 23, 2013
  • Wrong: GOP lawmaker: NSA spying in US could have prevented 9/11 http://t.co/cHAnKSOsqY At best, fighting the last war; live free or die $$ Dec 23, 2013

 

 

Comments, Retweets & Replies

 

  • Commented on The Economist | The 2016 election: Flight of the Huckabees http://t.co/Yh3tym96OO Dec 27, 2013
  • ‘ @SonofGodMovie The 2nd Commandment says it’s wrong to portray God. Your movie makes Jesus a mere man; you can’t portray his divinity $$ Dec 26, 2013
  • @ReformedBroker Nailed it. Dec 25, 2013
  • RT @minefornothing: The economy of Cyprus is now also experiencing a major credit crunch http://t.co/uRMUjaUCyf Dec 24, 2013
  • http://t.co/60MjQwGbNz “It’s the thought that counts, which is worth more than money.” — David_Merkel http://t.co/Ij9Ttfesye $$ Dec 24, 2013
  • RT @michaelsantoli: Trust me, in Dec ’87 no one said “Only 1/3 done” RT @CiovaccoCapital: Bull Markets can last a long time – see 82-’00 h… Dec 24, 2013

 

When I was young, my paternal grandfather retired, and made my Dad and my Uncle, who worked for him,  buy him out of his firm.  They did so, and laid out a lot of cash to do it, which my grandfather invested in certificates of deposit at various banks.  In the ’70s, he looked like a genius, while my mother, who was beating the market with her half Growth At a Reasonable Price, half utilities strategy, still lagged behind CD returns.

But when the ’80s came, there was no contest.  CD yields fell, fell, and fell.  Stocks gave high returns, and the returns more than outpaced CDs over the two decades combined.

So what are safe assets?  Part of it depends on time horizons.  If you have a short time horizon for when you will need to use the money, then you have to only look at money market funds, and high-quality short-term debt.

If the time horizon is long, it becomes a question of margin of safety.  What is the worst outcome reasonably possible?  Assets that are risky are at their safest point at the bottom of a bear market, and their riskiest point at the top of a bull market.  The difference is margin of safety.  But it doesn’t feel that way.

For those with a long time horizon, the safest assets are those that are misunderstood and hated, with low prices relative to intrinsic value.  The downside is clipped, and the upside could be considerable, with decent probability.

That is one reason why I think that for those with long time horizons risk and return are negatively correlated.  Take less risk, get more return, within reason.  There are times when the market is irrationally bearish.  That is the best time to invest, but wait until things stop getting worse before investing.

Moderate risk-taking tends to win in the long run. If markets mean-revert, a 50-50 mix of stocks and bonds will beat a 100% stock portfolio.

Beyond that, in an environment like this, where there is more capital than there are good places to deploy it, we should see a lot of IPOs to absorb excess capital into mostly unprofitable ideas.  Much as I like Twitter as a service, I don’t see how it grows into its current valuation.  This feels a little like 1998-2000, but only a little.  We need more of a frenzy of IPOs offering dubious value to suck up the capital of those who are foolish.

What does make this situation more like 1998-2000 is the Q-ratio, which is at its highest point since 1998-2000.  This is the second-highest peak for the Q-ratio, which measures the value of stocks versus their replacement cost.  This means that equity returns are likely to be negative/low for the next 5-10 years.

So at a time like this, where can your assets be safe?  Bond interest rates are low, and don’t reflect the risks.  Stocks have high valuations, and I invest in the few stocks with low valuations.  The alternative is to earn nothing in cash.  At present, that is the safest option, and may return the best over the next year.

I know, no one can do market timing well, but at present, the odds are tilted against risk.  I’m thinking of buying a hedge against my taxable brokerage account.

Safe assets are those that avoid loss, and behold, safe assets often offer better returns as well, if purchased during a time of fear.

This article was spurred by this article in the Wall Street Journal: Financial Scammers Increasingly Target Elderly Americans.  The elderly are indeed a target because of three reasons:

Seniors are targets, and not just by those who are regarded as fraudsters.  I had an older friend who was approached by the sales professionals of a major bank to manage her $3 million portfolio, which was already well-managed.  They made all manner of promises of what they would do for her, in exchange for a fee on assets — 3%/year.

At that level of expense, there are a lot of things that could benefit the Senior in question, but the nice-looking, unctuous people from the bank sell an expensive mirage.  I’ve never seen a bank that was genuinely good at asset management, and certainly not to the degree of charging a 3% fee.

Every elderly person needs a younger skeptical friend who is sharp enough to be able sense when a deal is sketchy, and the elderly person needs to have the discipline to run things by their younger friend.

As I so often say, “Don’t buy what someone wants to sell you.  Buy what you have researched for yourself.”  The elderly should develop a hatred of marketers.  Hang up on anyone who is offering something that is “too good to be true” because it almost always is too good to be true.

To those who Lead Churches

I am an elder in my Reformed Presbyterian congregation.  I have served my denomination on the boards of its college, denominational trustees, finance committee, and pension board.  In my congregation, we watch out for our elderly members.  We make their requests a priority.  If they need financial advice, I give it to them for free.  God rewards those who aid widows.

I encourage Church leaders who have enough financial sense to be able to know when something financial “feels funny” to gather their elderly congregants, and tell them to call you if they are tempted by slick-talking salesmen to make them part with money.

To those who Love Elderly Family or Friends

Take the time to tell them to be careful, and that you are available to help them whenever someone calls them out of the blue, where that party will benefit from money from the senior, no matter what it is.  This isn’t as tough as telling them to give up the car keys (been through that once).  But they do need to be sensitized to two things:

  • There are people out there who want to cheat them, and
  • You love them, and will help them in any situation like that.

We’re supposed to take care of and honor elderly people anyway.  Societies that don’t do that tend to fail.  So look out for your elderly friends to the degree consonant with your relationship to them.

Maybe I’ve just had a couple of unusual random draws from the information urn, but it seems to me that unconstrained mandates are getting more favorable investment attention from investment consultants than they used to.  The “style box” is breaking down a little, and I think that is a good thing.

My view of the investing world starts with industries, not market cap size, and not even growth/value.  Much as I end up on the value side, I am flexible on what constitutes value in different industries.  I range from growth at a reasonable price to deep value.  It depends on the state of the industry.

All that said, let me talk a little about what it takes to be a good unconstrained manager.  Organizationally, you have to understand a lot of things better than the rest of the world.  Do you understand the market, factor, and industry cycles, as well as asset level misvaluations? Investors have the choice of the informationless index, which typically does well versus the average active manager.

As consultants analyze unconstrained managers, their models will get stretched.  The more degrees of freedom a manager has, the tougher it is to evaluate them.  If an unconstrained manager made a brilliant tactical move once, can he do it twice?  Three times?  More?

Think of the few market players that got short prior to the 1987 crash.  Aside from Elaine Garzarelli, none were heard from again, and Garzarelli never had a second episode like that in 1987.

It is really tough to come up with significant ideas that will make a huge difference in security returns.  Home run hitters usually do not hit for average.

What I suspect will happen is this: the initial unconstrained managers will do well, but they will reach capacity limits, and lesser managers will put out “me too” products.  Consultants will buy into those products to some degree, and a decent number of them will fail to meet expectations.  The investors hiring the consultants will wonder why they hired them.  If there is no skill to picking unconstrained managers, then why not pick them directly themselves, or just go back to indexes?

I write this as one that mostly manages equities, long-only.  I like having no constraint on market cap, value factors, industry, and country selection.  I like to roam the world in search of value.  I like to concentrate on industries when I have a good thesis.  Why should I have non-economic criteria limiting my choices, if I reason well?

That’s why I like unconstrained mandates.  I run one for upper-middle class individuals, and small institutions.  But every manager will not do well with it, because most investment organizations are not designed to think that broadly.

Thus I expect that investment consultants will revert to the “style box” (or something new like it) once they realize that few managers can consistently generate alpha over a full market cycle whether unconstrained of constrained.  At least with constrained, the variation when they do badly is more limited, which protects the consultant, who also does not want to end up in the fourth quartile, where business is lost.

Every 100 posts or so, I take a moment to think about the broader aspects of what I do.  As a blogger, my goal is to educate, and I think I have covered many issues well here.

As an asset manager, my goal is to serve existing clients well.  Most of my assets under management stem from value investing, and 2013 has certainly been good to my clients and me.  2013 has made up for 2011-12, and then some.

What has surprised me is how existing clients have added to their assets with me.  I expected growth to mainly come through new clients, but at present, most is coming from existing clients.

Another thing that surprised me is that a number of my clients said have said something like this to me, “I really appreciate that you don’t press us to give all of our assets to you.  But you help us as if you have all our assets.”

I know that I have to do marketing, but I don’t like it, and so I do as little of it as possible.  Part of it is the unpredictability of investing.  I have a good track record, but does that really mean I will do better than the index in the future?  Markets are fickle, and much more is due to favorable providence than most of us imagine.

All of us say, “Past performance is not indicative of future returns,” but few of us truly act as if we believe it.  How many consultants  will bring forth managers that are underperforming but have good prospects?  Isn’t the proof in the pudding?  Past may not be prologue, but it is incredibly difficult to get in the door with those who advise individual and institutional investors if you don’t have a winning track record.

Why is that?  Secretly, everyone believes that “Past performance IS indicative of future returns.”  Success breeds success, right?  The man with the hot hand will remain hot, no?

Sadly, no.  Though momentum effects sometimes work in the stock market, there is no evidence for manager outperformance persistence, outside of Graham-and-Doddsville.  But you can’t get naive buyers to think otherwise.  Almost all individual and institutional investors choose managers at least partially on past performance.  That’s the sad truth, and all the disclaimers in the world can’t change that.

I am grateful for the trust my readers place in me.  I am grateful for the trust my investors place in me.  And I hope that I never disappoint you badly.

Sincerely,

David

The following was published at RealMoney in March 2006:

When you are a corporate bond manager, one of the lessons that you learn early is that financial companies (or, financials) are different from industrials or utilities.  Why?  First, the novice manager wants to buy a lot of financials, because they yield more at equivalent ratings.  Second, you have a staff of analysts, and you realize that only a few of them can do financials, whereas almost all of them can do industrials or utilities.  Again, why?  Here are a number of related reasons:

  • Tangible assets play only a small role in a financial company.  What constrains the growth of an industrial company?  The fixed assets (plant and equipment) limit the technical amount of product that can be delivered in a year.  With services, workers… Finally, demand is the ultimate limiting factor, but this affects financial, industrial, and services businesses alike.  With a financial company, sometimes the limits are akin to a service business (“If only we had more trained sales reps!”), but more often, capital limits growth.
  • The cash flow statement plays a big role with industrials and utilities, but almost no role with financials.  One of the great values of the cash flow statement is the ability to attempt to derive estimates of free cash flow.  Free cash flow is the amount of cash that the business generates in a year that could be removed, and the business is as capable of functioning as it was at the start of the fiscal year.  Deducting maintenance capital expenditure from EBITDA often approximates free cash flow.  Cash flow statements for financials cannot in general be used to derive estimates of free cash flow because when new business is written, it requires capital to be set aside against the risks.  Capital is released as business matures.  In order to derive a free cash flow number for a financial company, operating earnings would have to be adjusted by the change in required capital.
  • Sadly, the change in required capital is not disclosed anywhere in a typical 10K.  Depending on the market environment, even the concept of required capital can change, depending on what entity most closely controls the amount of operating and financial leverage that a financial institution can take on.  Sometimes the federal or state regulators provide the most constraint; this is particularly true for institutions that interact closely with the public, i.e., depositary institutions, life and personal lines insurers.  For entities that raise their capital in the debt markets, or do business that requires a strong claims paying ability rating, the ratings agencies could be the tightest constraint.  Finally, and this is rare, the probability of blowing up the company could be the tightest constraint, which implies loose regulatory structures.  Again, this is rare; many companies do estimates of the economic capital required for business, but usually regulatory or rating agency capital is tighter.
  • Financial institutions are generally more highly regulated than non-financial institutions.  There are several reasons for this: the government does not want the public exposed to financial risk, systemic risk, guarantee funds are typically implicitly backstopped by the government (think FDIC, FSLIC, state insurance guaranty funds, etc.), and defaults are costly in ways that defaults of non-financials are not.  The last point deserves amplification; in a credit-based economy, confidence in the financial sector is critical to the continued growth and health of the economy.  Confidence can not be allowed to fail.  Also, since many financial institutions pursue similar strategies, or invest in one another, the failure of one institution makes the regulators touchy about everyone else.
  • Rapid growth is typically a negative; financial businesses are mature, and there is a trade-off between three business factors: price, quantity and quality.  In normal situations, a financial institution can get only two out of three.  In bad times, it would be only one out of three.
  • Because of the different regulatory regimes, financial institutions tend to form holding companies that own the businesses operating in various jurisdictions.  Typically, borrowing occurs at the holding company; the regulators frown at borrowing at the operating companies, unless the borrowers are clearly subordinate to the public served by the operating company.  This makes the common stock more volatile.  In a crisis, the regulators only want to assure the safety of the operating company; they don’t care if the holding company goes bust, and the common goes to zero.  They just want to make sure that the guaranty funds don’t take a hit, and that confidence is maintained among consumers.

All of these factors together lead to the following conclusion: financials are more complex than other types of companies, and are not correctly analyzed in the same way as non-financials.  Earnings quality is hard to discern, and growth is not always a positive thing.  Bankruptcies are rare, but when they happen, recoveries are poor for common stockholders and holding company debtholders.  Finally, management conservatism and competence are paramount, given the less certain nature of accrual accounting at financial companies, and the inability to calculate free cash flow with any precision.

In part 2 of this two-part series, I will give my approach to analyzing a sector of the insurance space in order to demonstrate some of these ideas.

Monetary Policy

 

  • The theory of money entanglement (Part 1) http://t.co/zfCM2rPxBx The effects of monetary policy vary w/finl institutions need for credit $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Repo market as a form of free banking http://t.co/4m3PSuFViG? @isakaminska describes a hybrid credit system where central banks r weak $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Why Do So Many People Hate QE? http://t.co/ZpcQhSrSpH Basic reason is fairness. Y can the Fed create credit out of thin air, & we can’t? $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Visualizing the Fed | The Big Picture http://t.co/J7K15MIDdZ @ritholtz shares a cool interactive graphic on the Fed’s Balance Sheet $$ $TLT Dec 19, 2013
  • ‘Was The Fed A Good Idea?’ How Cato Cleans Keynesian Clock http://t.co/qaalFGBvML Economies grow faster when currency stores real value $$ Dec 17, 2013

·  TIPS Wipeout Signals Fed Losing Fight Against Disinflation http://t.co/3GeeSDpZAv Implied inflation rising across TIPS curve $$ $TIP $TLT Dec 17, 2013

 

FOMC & Data

 

  • Fed Seen Tapering QE in $10B Steps in Next Seven Meetings http://t.co/gvmopTBufm Y do economists assume that things follow a simple path? $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Fascinating Bernanke can call Fiscal policy restrictive when deficit huge & shrinking a little, doesn’t apply same logic 2 LSAP shrinking $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • FOMC Central Tendency for Fed funds rate 2013-6 &long-run 0.25%, 0.34%, 1.06%, 2.18%, 3.88% Change 0.00%, -0.06%, -0.19%, -0.09%, -0.04% $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • FOMC Central Tendency for Fed Tightening — January 2016, 25 months away vs 27 last September, one month further out $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • FOMC Central Tendency for PCE Inflation 2013-6 & long-run 0.99%,1.52%, 1.79%, 1.87%, 2.00% Change -0.21%, -0.01%, -0.10%, 0.00%, 0.00% $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • FOMC Central Tendency for Unemployment 2013-6 & long-run 7.05%, 6.45%, 5.91%, 5.53%, 5.54% Change -0.11%, -0.13%, -0.12%, -0.10%, 0.04% $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • FOMC Central Tendency for real GDP 2013-6 & long-run 2.27%, 2.91%, 3.09%, 2.83%, 2.25% Change 0.14%, 0.00%, -0.07%, -0.05%, -0.09% $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Someone ask Ben Bernanke if they would issue fed funds at longer terms/tenors Dec 18, 2013
  • @AlephBlog wrong again, David — decrease of $10B, $5B each of Treasuries and MBS Dec 18, 2013
  • @AlephBlog sorry — $5b/month change Dec 18, 2013
  • RT @NickTimiraos: MBS issuance has plunged since Sept, so a $5 billion taper of MBS doesn’t mean the Fed will decrease its *share* of MBS p… Dec 18, 2013
  • Statement Regarding Purchases of Treasury Securities &Agency Mortgage-Backed Securities http://t.co/97DNRGXJFQ Pares MBS buys by $10B/mo $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • An Opiate for Underachievement: Bernanke Says Fed in ‘Finest Hours’ Stood Up to Pressure http://t.co/soQDjBHZea Rather, they caved & hid $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • The One Thing Bernanke Must Not Do Tomorrow http://t.co/AvDcElOHTY Saying & not doing loses credibility 4the Fed. Don’t say wut u wont do $$ Dec 17, 2013

 

Companies & Industries

 

  • The Buffett difference, derivatives edition http://t.co/5VUI7WxOUB Soft collateral reqs, tolerated earnings vol, bot in size w/variety $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Target Data Breach Has Become a Card Data Fire Sale http://t.co/jUxgOpv7SP B especially wary here because it can b used as a debit card $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Buffett’s massive wind-power order shows wind energy becoming cheaper http://t.co/0lOSGp3NQi Wind power becomes economical, end subsidies $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Facebook Is Selling Stock For Some Reason http://t.co/x9LsnLUMNb $FB makes it easier 4 index buyers to get shares as it enters the S&P500 $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Facebook, Zuckerberg to Sell Stock Worth Nearly $4 Billion http://t.co/B4joZJZYR9 Note $FB compny selling shares; not usually a good sign $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Regional Shippers Pose New Threat to UPS, FedEx http://t.co/RNUpcBrL3Y And USPS too. Regionals can get it there the next day $$ $FDX $UPS Dec 19, 2013
  • AT&T Sells Wireline Assets To Frontier Communications http://t.co/or1n1lWqbD Interesting 2c $T sell off rural wireline customers 2 $FTR $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Gold Town Turns to Dust as Metal Decline Shutters Mines http://t.co/unN2Mi97A3 Life at high-cost mines is very cyclical. Boom-bust $$ $GLD Dec 18, 2013
  • Dodge CVT Animation http://t.co/cfEWG0Y9jQ Cool 82-second video of how a continuously variable transmission works $$ $GM $F $TM $HMC Dec 18, 2013
  • How Good Old Car Engines Got So Efficient http://t.co/hM5ZmjdXpK Most progress w/energy has come by using hydrocarbons more efficiently $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Delta Battles Tiny Upstart Airport http://t.co/HbalfXKYc3 B careful of small airports near big cities, u don’t want 2create the next $LUV $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Poor Americans Lead Movement to Abandon Landlines http://t.co/MmUfqiljPa Landlines r dying; I’m thinking of getting rid of mine $$ $SPY $VZ Dec 18, 2013
  • Pizzerias Try to Apply Chipotle Formula http://t.co/afyCN5xi2u Creating Fast, Custom & Inexpensive 4 pizza; many r trying, who will win? $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Campbell Seen as Next Buffett Target Post-Heinz http://t.co/zryODDWpRs Likely wishful thinking; soup shrinking; PE high, no growth $$ $CPB Dec 17, 2013
  • Wind Power Rivals Coal With $1B Order From Buffett http://t.co/WXJfEAHmrn Wind power gets competitive on price; can we end the subsidies? $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • Google Just Bought a Mechinized Cheetah and Other Military Robots http://t.co/5ZO3XXzcNF 1st internet search now robotic world domination $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • Google, Facebook Push to Control Web’s Pipes http://t.co/nmDzeospON Content companies want more control over their delivery over the web $$ Dec 17, 2013

 

Market Impact

 

  • Three things long/short hedge funds cannot do (well) http://t.co/zyiE65FcAZ Manage risk, Short stocks on a systematic basis &stop trading $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Investors should abandon long-term commodity bets http://t.co/5rGgYXj5fy End of supercycle, no income, correlated w/equity returns $$ $GLD Dec 20, 2013
  • DJIA Rises to Inflation-Adjusted Record High http://t.co/nseI2H9eF4 Closes at 16,221. Guess I have 2 eat my words: http://t.co/A6kJoniqG5 $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • The FOMC- SCR Factors- Bullish SP500? http://t.co/pI3A04XM71 The TINA effect: TINA stands 4 There Is No Alternative.(to Stock investing) $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Investor Hunger 4US Corporate Bonds Signals Confidence http://t.co/PsCIMa25A9 Retweet after me:Credit spreads r free $$, credit spreads r… Dec 17, 2013
  • Want to invest like Buffett? Here’s how http://t.co/3CIqNByFVU Focus on cheap, high-quality stocks w/moats, lever using ins float $$ $BRK-B Dec 17, 2013
  • Corn Plummeting Spurs Talk of ’80s US Farmland Bust http://t.co/QoO5lVTXSx Will b interesting 2c how many recent buyers get inverted $$ $SPY Dec 17, 2013

 

Financial Sector

 

  • US Credit Markets: US Lite Covenant: Freshness without Protection ? http://t.co/F2HguklHFM Credit protections getting worse 4 bank debt $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • OCC believes banks might be gambling again http://t.co/lMG9YG24dj The OCC is seeing looser underwriting, reminds them of 2007 $$ #toosevere Dec 20, 2013
  • Man Who Said No to Soros Builds BlueCrest Into Empire http://t.co/UNksM1mSvl Borrowed $750M to hire 25 equity mgrs 4 his hedge funds $$ $SPY Dec 20, 2013
  • Secret Currency Traders’ Club Devised Biggest Market’s Rates http://t.co/dtBfuqR48w There is no human system that cannot b gamed $$ $SPY Dec 19, 2013
  • New Mortgages to Get Pricier Next Year http://t.co/oNfGLJeZCC About time F&F raised fees; dodgy mtges have much higher loss rates $$ $FNMA Dec 18, 2013
  • Volcker Rule Shows Its Wide Reach http://t.co/MOZMjUFoj8 Securitized assets, when they default, most frequently default w/zero recovery $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • First Volcker Victim? Zions Dumping Its Hedge Funds http://t.co/Kj8uYfltTn $ZION cleans up the trash w/now-sufficient capital $$ Dec 17, 2013

 

PPACA / Obamacare

 

  • Obamacare Initiates Self-Destruction Sequence http://t.co/VkbqqPzMYb @asymmeticinfo asks what will Obama do next year on indiv mandate? $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Obama Lifts Health Mandate for Those With Canceled Plans http://t.co/aCYJLzaOZz Must b nice 2b able 2alter laws by presidential fiat $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • More Obamacare Delays. Surprised? http://t.co/keWUsmLvay @asymmetricinfo thinks the law will survive b/c insurers benefit in long-run $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • A Medicaid Bet in Wisconsin http://t.co/Ejgbmbd61B Scott Walker Says He Wants to Protect the Poorest; Critics Assail 4Not Taking US Funds $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • National Lampoon’s ObamaCare Vacation http://t.co/Vzp636uMCW Interesting to hear how poorly Maryland is doing w/its healthcare website $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Half of Uninsured Say Health Law Is Bad Idea http://t.co/BEWOeZg1gK When those that u r trying 2 benefit don’t like it, u know it is bad $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Is Obamacare Really an Improvement on the Status Quo? http://t.co/Zc1umGhp1l More people lose insurance than gain it; status quo better $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Insurers Fight Hospitals’ Paying Premiums for Poor http://t.co/WnuoAo481T Hospitals pay to get sick people insured, so they can make $$ $SPY Dec 17, 2013
  • Errors Continue 2Plague Government Health Site http://t.co/5j6OZRqkqZ Flaws Include Missing Customers & Erring Eligibility Determinations $$ Dec 14, 2013

 

Rest of the World

 

  • Putin Bets $15B to Capture Junk-Rated Ukraine Vassal http://t.co/vjxhVcT8gv Rebuilding the USSR is tough work for a tough man to do $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • South Sudan Rebels Take Key Town of Bor http://t.co/MMQumSSIHZ It’s in the center of the country, kind of a crossroads 4 commerce/travel $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Vatican Hires Global Firms to Modernize Communications, Accounting http://t.co/1CRwzMDbs8 Humility arrives at the Vatican, expertise 2 $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Russian Amnesty Includes Greenpeace as Well as Pussy Riot http://t.co/b8FNVgaQx6 Is Russia getting soft? 😉 Courting international favor $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Mom Can’t Visit Daughter as Airlines Shun Venezuela Cash http://t.co/1uds13LW3t Such is life 4those under currency controls; freedom goes $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • North America to Drown in Oil as Mexico Ends Monopoly http://t.co/5bV35xIc7o Oil is no good to Mexico if can’t get it out of ground $$ #tech Dec 18, 2013
  • South Sudan Puts Down ‘Attempted Coup’ http://t.co/19KfhoRdVJ A young nation, very experienced in corruption; attempted coup unsurprising $$ Dec 17, 2013

 

China

 

  • China s Stealth Tightening? http://t.co/tuW7JvVhFI A new squeeze hits the China Interbank market & the authorities aren’t doing much $$ $FXI Dec 20, 2013
  • Why Are the Chinese Scared of American Corn?  http://t.co/lEGbWgh2r4 Probably some Party bigwig who sells domestic corn complaining $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Can China Teach North Korea to Grow Up? http://t.co/J6Ba2jpzVz If N Koreans had as much freedom as the Chinese do, Kim would b overthrown $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • China’s Cities Chop Down Hills for Industrial Land http://t.co/KTpYOwgXNK Wonder what the secondary effect will b from this terraforming? $$ Dec 17, 2013

 

US Politics & Policy

 

  • The Trouble With Populism? It Isn’t That Popular http://t.co/RXSmHLDWTu All sorts of extreme positions, mine included, r never popular $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Republicans Block Symbolic Step to Extend Tax Breaks http://t.co/mxUZ31R7GZ Rationality. Maybe temporary tax breaks will b temporary? $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Obama’s own panel rips NSA spying on phone calls of Americans http://t.co/QYx1lJXLfc The consensus is that the NSA has gone too far $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • John Podesta eats crow: ‘I apologize to Speaker Boehner’ http://t.co/XyCLBNrjWs Don’t blame Podesta, he just drank his own Kool-aid $$ 😉 Dec 19, 2013
  • At 61 She Lives in Basement While 87-Year-Old Dad Travels http://t.co/KTF0YCOpWx Each generation does successively less well on average $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • That’s the nature of all of the fixed payment plans devised by the “Greatest Generation.” They borrowed from children & grandchildren $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans http://t.co/wnNGQmJwys Interesting 2c varying opinions in both parties $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Unmasking the Mortgage Interest Deduction: Who Benefits and by How Much? http://t.co/4PzAbpa7rs Benefits the well-off; end & balance bdgt $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Hidden Danger in Public Pension Funds http://t.co/lBgACsI12P Low Funded status, high amounts in risky assets, bonds offer little yield $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Disarming Surveillance http://t.co/70nAEtNTJA The opposite danger is that by snooping on others intensively they grow to resent the US $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • NSA Phone Spying ‘Almost Certainly’ Unconstitutional, Judge Says http://t.co/cnqxDbGXrW Probably won’t b upheld, good 2try overturning $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • The truth about the NSA’s bogus malware apocalypse http://t.co/nJ3hMCrcwq Most mass attacks r hard 2pull off w/any significant force $$ $TLT Dec 17, 2013
  • In Bankrupt Detroit, the Bills Are Piling Up http://t.co/eJrX6tgIgO One tough part of a muni b/k – who gets paid & what r reasonable fees $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • Accidental Tax Break Saves Wealthiest Americans $100B http://t.co/RU6y8vCNZc “I’ve done a lot4 Democratic contributors,” he sez w/a smile $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • Look How Easy It Is 2 Game Estate Taxes http://t.co/u3YGvZ491l Y the estate tax needs 2b replaced & income taxes disallow income deferral $$ Dec 17, 2013

 

US Economics

 

  • GDP Grows 4.1% in Third Quarter, Biggest Gain Since 2011 http://t.co/tUCz0bQViw Guess I have to eat more of my words, US looks good 4 now $$ Dec 20, 2013
  • Boomers as Retail Clerks Shows Y Greenspan Saw Low Growth Era http://t.co/phoiELeks2 Long good article how aging populace changes economy $$ Dec 19, 2013

 

Other

 

  • Finished the #GoogleCrossword http://t.co/VtaoYkaQdt Haven’t done a crossword in years $GOOG #fun Dec 21, 2013
  • Why Successful CEOs Get Fired http://t.co/KehYfcljKv Founding CEOs get fired when tasks get larger than them, &the board loses confidence $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • Doctors Eye Cancer Risk in Uterine Procedure http://t.co/CD5OKwWs2I Grinding up fibroid in the uterus may increase the risk of cancer $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Top Products in Two Decades of Tech Reviews http://t.co/GQjGsMR1Xz Walter Mossberg’s last column @ WSJ; a joy 2 read, will still b on web $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Youthful Migrants Lured by Perks to Shrinking US Areas http://t.co/jxFNa41ftZ Promising idea to create urban jobs in rural areas $$ #winwin Dec 18, 2013
  • How Dogs Might Protect Kids Against Asthma: Gut Bacteria http://t.co/HaWa0goqdn Fascinating that dogs may aid kids w/immunity to asthma $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • Multivitamins Found to Have Little Benefit http://t.co/5o8jUZGkYc The controversy will continue; nothing this profitable ever dies $$ $SPY Dec 17, 2013
  • Vonn Rivals Schuss From Slope to Boardroom for Funding http://t.co/GaJHLVAyob Olympians r little corporations seeking sponsors, donations $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • Stocks That Still Have Perks http://t.co/k93IaeQlgl From discounts on cars&computers 2cruise bounty, here’s where 2find shareholder perks $$ Dec 14, 2013
  • The Tsarnaevs and the Boston Bombing http://t.co/Pz8MxYQXEf A decade ago, WSJ reporter happened to befriend the Tsarnaevs- an inside view $$ Dec 14, 2013
  • Mike Tyson Explores Kierkegaard http://t.co/n2mrAx1KuW Philosophy is a dead end; no truth to their views of existence, knowledge &ethics $$ Dec 14, 2013

 

Wrong

 

comment from a guy who doesn’t understand how banks work $$ Dec 19, 2013

  • What Bible is Pope Francis reading? http://t.co/EvnvIDNZlo Jesus never questioned property rights in his teaching, w/charity voluntary $$ Dec 19, 2013
  • How Pope Francis Misunderstands the Free Market http://t.co/Ksmn5DzS0O Simpler than that; he is unstudied, engages in wishful thinking $$ Dec 18, 2013
  • Wrong: Technology Adoption Discrepancy Btw Individuals & Institutions http://t.co/YkLJscgP7S Tries 2 connect falling ROA & Social Media $$ Dec 14, 2013

Comments

  • “Artificially forcing down Treasury yields via QE has 4 major bad effects…” — David_Merkel http://t.co/z9nLhQSknr $$ $TLT $IEF $SHY Dec 19, 2013
  • Commented on StockTwits: but the company is selling; it needs cash more than shares — good companies typically s… http://t.co/AkpvtYiijw Dec 19, 2013
  • Commented on The Economist | Daily chart: Doomsdays http://t.co/21NoGGuzuD Dec 18, 2013
  • “I analyzed TRUP CDOs 4a bank in 2008 and 2009 — built a special model that could dig into the…” — David_Merkel http://t.co/tRm5NtJ0mk $$ Dec 17, 2013
  • Commented on StockTwits: ‘ @MMula534 A lot. Most of the best investors r lifelong learners, & they c patterns whe… http://t.co/5pQzWca6Nm Dec 17, 2013