A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm tired

I haven't been under a lot of pressure at work the last couple weeks, my bosses have been distracted by other priorities. So I've had time to do the things I need to do instead of answering questions and providing analyses. I feel good about that, because the undone things would have caught up with me sooner rather than later.

I've got some tax returns to finish, but no real problems in that area.

I drove Kim and Ross to the airport at noon. They were leaving on their honeymoon after spending the last week getting their new house all comfy and neat. I'm sure they'll have a wonderful time.

Then Janett and I went grocery shopping with Steffo and Malachy. That was fun, but Malachy likes to continue the monster and alien role play on our outings. So we were walking weird up and down the aisles, Malachy making strange noises and I was responding in a growling voice. He called me his monster buddy and I called him my little alien friend. Well you know in Elgin there's a whole lot of Mezo-Americans, and they shop where I shop. I just had to hope they'd know Mally was portraying the other kind of alien with his eccentric behavior.

My little alien friend

We got home and I fell asleep on the couch. Steffy called to say Kim had emailed that they'd made it to Phoenix and would make their connecting flight to Cabo San Lucas. We'd been a little concerned over whether the flight would be uncomfortable for Kim who'd been struggling with an undiagnosed ailment this week. She had a doctor's appointment this morning at which time the doctor was going to tell her it was or was not OK to fly. Kim called the doctor's office on the way to the airport to say she was sorry she'd missed her appointment, but she was feeling fine and would call when she got back. So here's hoping it all goes well.

Then Janett's friend Missy called inviting us to out for a spaghetti dinner tomorrow afternoon. Janett was prepared to decline the invitation, knowing I had work on my desk, but I told her we could go, saying she should get out more. Maybe I'm secretly craving the Chianti. Today at lunch, I asked the waitress if they could make a bleu cheeseburger, and this week I had a persistent thirst for a double scotch on the rocks, as yet unsatisfied. It's like, when you're dragging a little bit, you try a few uncommon treats in the hope of a boost.

That's kind of a chatty post, and I know many of you connect to get insights on what's happening in the world, so here's a link where there's some background and informed speculation on Maliki's attack on the Sadrists this week. Was it just coincidence that it came a week after Cheney's "surprise" visit to Baghdad?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

OK, heres one from the wedding.

Isn't she beautiful?

Here's a picture,

but it's not from the wedding. It's from Halloween. I like it because Kim looks so grown up, and because Ross is making her laugh, not uncommon.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Here and there

Kim's wedding was a wonderful event. I think everyone's enjoyment was heightened by their happiness for Ross and Kim, who were themselves gleeful. I'll go to the girls sites and steal a couple pictures. In the mean time, here's somw market wisdom from Bozo

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Timely Article from Market Watch.com

The Fed cost me money again today, offering banks the opportunity to borrow 200 billion using the junk bonds the banks are gagging on as collateral. When those bonds become non-performing as well as unsellable, will the Fed issue margin calls?
Probably not, since the Fed's intention (hope)is to keep major banks from going bankrupt. Then, sinde the Fed is a private corporation, will it go bankrupt when it writes down all these mortgage backed securities on it's books and can't recover the loans from the banks? Probably not. They've probably got a deal with the Treasury to indemnify them against losses. And who authorized the Treasury to make this deal with the Fed? I didn't read of any cogressional action to authorize a deal like that.

As annoying as the Fed's manipulations on behalf of the big banks are, I have to smile at the mental image of Bernanke as the little Dutch boy trying to plug leaks in the dike, and quickly running out of fingers and reach).

If you believe the Fed is doing this to promote lower mortgage rates so folks caan buy homes, or keep the ones they've got, you haven't been paying attebtion. Giving away hundreds of billions each month is very - what do you call it?..Oh yeah, inflationary. And now class, what does inflation do to long term interest rates?
That's right - it makes them go up.

Oh and don't worry about my losses on the puts today, I made it back on my Gold Corp warrants - but I like it better when they both go up.

What will Fed try next to slay credit-crunch dragon?

Holding mortgage-backed securities on its balance sheet seen possible
By Greg Robb, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The Federal Reserve's battle with the credit-crunch dragon has been fierce and could go on for a while.

The Federal Reserve's principal weapon, cutting overnight interest rates, takes months to work. In order to buy time until the rate cuts and fiscal stimulus package can boost economic activity, the Fed has been creatively trying to use other alternative policy weapons to relieve strains in financing markets that have led to a virtual paralysis of lending.
Fed watchers believe the central bank still has other options up its sleeve.
The goal is not to avoid a recession. Rather, it is to keep the financial turmoil from creating a vicious downward spiral where a cutback in lending pushes down growth, which in turn leads to further lending cutbacks.
After Fed chief Ben Bernanke promised more "vigorous" efforts to combat the risk of a credit crunch, the Fed has announced a series of actions to inject cash into money markets.
At the same time, the Fed is constrained by the size of its balance sheet, the need to keep some of it in reserve, and the legal authorities it has.
The Fed still has plenty of room to operate. And already it's promised to provide up to $400 billion in short-term loans to a crippled system in a series of moves dating back to August.
The Fed has several programs to provide short-term funds and liquidity to its main clients: the big money-center banks and the primary dealers in the bond market. Typically, the Fed lends cash or high-quality Treasurys to the private sector, either overnight or for short periods of up to 28 days. The banks or dealers pay interest on the loans and they must provide high-quality collateral to the Fed. Repurchase agreements work in a similar way, with the Fed buying and selling securities, which are then repurchased by the borrower after a short period.
The Fed has added to its arsenal in recent months, expanding current programs to provide greater sums for longer periods in an effort to shake up the market's psychology. Most recently, last Friday, the central bank increased the size of its auctions to banks to $100 billion. It also said it would start $100 billion in term repurchase agreements with the Fed's primary bond dealers and accept agency mortgage-backed securities as collateral. See full story.
Finally, on Tuesday morning, the Fed announced a new lending program to allow participants in the bond markets to swap the private-label mortgage-backed securities that they can't currently sell for highly liquid Treasurys that they can. The new plan injects another $200 billion into the system and allows the central bank to lend Treasurys for 28 days instead of the previous overnight period. See full story.
Using its full authority
Fed watchers, worried about the central bank's stamina in the battle, believe the Fed has other options up its sleeve.
Several believe the next step could be for the Fed to purchase mortgage-backed assets and permanently hold them on its balance sheet.
Congress has already given the Fed the authority to buy securities issued by Fannie. But the power has not been used for anything other than short-term repurchase operations - like the program announced Tuesday -- in which the borrower eventually buys back the securities.
"The Fed has authority to buy high-quality mortgage-backed securities," said Lou Crandall, economist at Wrightson ICAP, in an interview. "That would be a huge step for them in terms of the institutional culture."
He noted that in the past when the Fed agreed to take mortgage-backed securities for repurchase agreements, the central bank only approved it on a temporary basis and that it took another three years to approve it on a permanent basis.
"I hope it doesn't come to that (purchasing mortgage-back securities) because circumstances would have to be more dire than they are today," Crandall said.
David Greenlaw, economist at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note to clients, that the proposal to add mortgage-backed securities to the Fed's balance sheet "could receive serious consideration" at next week's FOMC meeting on March 18.
Crandall said a lesser step for the Fed would be to lengthen the maturity of its repurchase agreements with the primary dealers to an even longer period -- to three months from 28-days. Firms are still facing considerable difficulty in financing beyond 28 days.
"Twenty-eight day credit is nice, but three-month money would be better," Crandall said.
Other ideas that are floating around Wall Street include the Fed making direct loans to non-bank firms.
But Crandall downplayed this possibility, noting that the power hasn't been used since the 1930s.
"The perception issues would outweigh the modest benefit of direct funding," Crandall said.

Greg Robb is a senior reporter for MarketWatch in Washington.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


But Janett can do this:


Watch for Notre Dame in the Big East Tourney. I think it starts the 12th.

Sporatic posting

I'm OK.

Posting is becoming a week-end thing, and here it is 10PM Sunday. I'd better get busy

Major item is KIm;s wedding is now less than a week away. So far the closest we've come to a meltdown was Friday when Kim and Ross visited the place where the wedding and the dinner party are to be held. Kim had reserved the place for the whole day even though her wedding is at 5PM. She didn't want the hassle of pushing people from a prior event out the door while her wedding was setting up. But the lady says thru some kind of misunderstanding the facility was rented for a "morning" event. She promises to have the place ready for Kim's set up by 3PM. Kim was a little upset, but from her retail experience knows little would be accomplished by screaming and throwing things (My specialties)

Noah and Lauren were in town today, but hung out in Beverly for the South Side Irish St Patricks Day Parade. Lauren's uncle throws a great party every year. I got to go to one several years ago. I'm pretty sure I could still finagle an invitation, but taking Janett to a St Paddies day bash makes about as much sense as taking her to a Blackhawk's game.

Maybe I'm being a little parochial now, but I remember as a boy going to the South Side Parade when it really was on the South Side. That would have been in the mid fifties ant I think the location was around 79th and Commercial. That's when there was still an Irish working class. Thinking about it brings back memories of my Chicago Cardinals jacket. In those days the Cardinals played at Comiskey making them the Sout Side team, while the Bears were at Wrigley on the Nort Side.

In Beverly the Irish are all cops, firemen, lawyers, judges, and executives. They're still Catholics, and they're still Democrats, but a lot of them send their kids off to Boston College and their devotion to ND is more of a middle-class affectation than a true commitment.. Well as long as they still get liquored up once a year, sing, and fight with the guy who insulted their brother's wife ten years ago, there's still some hope.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Choose Your News

Choice for today

New Link

I've dropped my John Edwards link. Sorry, John.

But the good new is I've provded a new link - to Tim Knight's options trading blog site, The Slope of Hope. Guaranteed, gold plated, lead pipe cinch strategies to make you rich, or at least less poor.

I was all over gold a couple years ago, but it's approaching 1000 now. Gold will still go up, but will be sensitive to fluctuations in the commodities markets, as people alternatively worry about inflation and deflation. That kind of volatility makes futures trading difficult.

Look at Tim's blog. Maybe I'll write a little intro to the options markets.

Fed Chairman Bernanke

is coming around to my point of view:

I think Sen Obama ought to be thinking about his appointee as Attorney General. Normally, political loyalty is the key qualifier for that office. I think he'll want a kick ass prosecutor, maybe FitzGerald or Cuomo Jr. The president is going to need a series of show trials, maybe a major indictment every couple of months to protect himself from blame as the economy hits rock bottom.

One market note, the Europeans are beginning to disinvest in the US. Not only did they get burned on junk mortgages, they're losing money on equity investments, and they're losing money holding anything denominated in dollars while the dollar falls in value vs. the Euro.

That's alright, Americans will invest more of their savings in the markets as prices fall to "bargain basement" levels. What? They have no savings? and they're pulling money out of their 401K's to pay their credit cards? The credit card bills they're running up on gas and groceries? - Never mind.