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Thursday, April 29, 2010


Who are these guys?

The same Mets who were panned in this space not long ago - well actually Mets management was panned - just finished a 9-1 homestand to go from last to first. We'll see how things go on the road starting in Philly tomorrow night. It's hard to believe that the players are enjoying playing for Jerry so much that they can overcome his nightly strategic and tactical gaffes, but they are. The aptly named City Field (like playing on an open field, practically) is perfect for this club which has some speed but only warning track power. I expect them to hit a few more dingers on the road, but goodness knows how many they can give up when the other team can reach the fences.

Anyway, it's fun to get a few wins under our belts, even if it means that Jerry's job is now secure through the All Star break. Let's hope for a 500 road trip and then maybe we'll start to believe.

There was more frivolity in D.C. this week, highlighted by Tuesday's 11 hour marathon grilling of Goldman Sachs leaders by Senator Levin's committee of would-be vigilantes. Rumor has it that the US attorney in Manhattan is beginning a criminal investigation of Goldman, notwithstanding that the main product of the hearing seemed to be an undermining of the SEC's civil complaint. Of course, political grandstanding is common to both parties, it's just Dems are so much better at it.

The histrionics surrounding financial regulatory reform served another administration purpose, namely to push the daily revelations about their lies about health insurance reform off the front pages. It now turns out that Treasury actuaries have determined that the new legislation is going to cost, not save, a lot of money, which anyone with an IQ above 75 had already figured out, including those Dems in Congress who swore the opposite. Now states are starting to figure out what the high risk pool is likely to cost, and many are opting out. When you add those to the ones already suing to overturn the law, you get a nation half in rebellion.

It has been the media's assumption that the lawsuits have no chance, but an excellent op ed in today's WSJ made a reasonably strong argument for the constitutional case against ObamaCare. Nevertheless, conservative lobbyists I know continue to espouse the "repeal and replace" strategy, which is really a three year effort. Also not impossible, by the way. In fact, Dems were counting on people to warm up to the health bill the more they learned about it, but the opposite is what is happening. The more they learn, the more they hate it.

On the other hand, the controversy surrounding Arizona's new law concerning suspected illegal aliens is much more nuanced. I perfectly understand why the law was passed and why the border states are concerned. After all, Arizona has been hit by a wave of kidnappings, and amnesty is not the right answer for handling illegals. This country has usually had quotas for immigration, sometimes discriminatory and unfair. An open borders policy is simply not practical.

On the other hand, there are low level jobs that go begging in this country that immigrants want to fill, and the right way to deal with this program, espoused by both Presidents Bush and Obama, is to provide a path to citizenship for Latin American immigrants.

Unfortunately, one of the things our public schools used to do extremely well, but no more, is to help assimilate immigrant populations. Now English is taught as a second language and citizenship and history courses are taught from a revisionist and multicultural perspective, so the assimilation function is not performed so effectively anymore. That will make it harder for immigrants to succeed here, and harder for them to be accepted.

The UK election is next week and the surprise is not that Prime Minister Brown is self destructing but that the Liberal Democrats and their leader Nick Clegg are being taken so seriously. The possibility of a "hung Parliament" is very much alive where none of the three parties has a clear majority. However, I still think the Conservatives will eke out a majority.

Wednesday of last week, I sold 100 shares of Ladish (LDSH) for 25.06. This represented a small gain from the purchase price of 23.94 on 9/10/08. This is not unusual given our first in, first out approach. Later purchases were averaged down. We sold 200 shares of Marine Max (HZO) on Friday for 11.85, from the block we bought on 11/10/08 at 1.54. This was well timed since HZO reported pretty mediocre earnings this week. Also on Friday, we decided to bail out of Transocean (RIG), pending an outcome on the sunken drill rig and the oil slick in the Gulf. Who knows how earnings will be impacted and the litigation costs coming out of the accident? So we sold all our shares, taking what my original stockbroker would call a "cash position." By this we mean, take our profits, move to the sidelines, wait til the dust clears, then decide whether the stock should be restored to the buy/hold list. We sold the taxable account shares - 86 of them - for 89.49, a mere 94 dollar profit for stock we bought in 2008. We did better with the IRA shares, selling all 76 for 89.66. That gave us a profit in excess of 3,000 dollars, though we had acquired a few of the shares way back in 1999 when Schlumberger spun them off.

Wednesday, we finally moved to the buy side, following Tuesday's market rout, buying 200 ENI (the symbol, not the company) at 19.64, a value buy.

Time for our periodic disclaimer - the investment transaction reports listed here are not recommendations, and neither redwavemusings not its author are investment advisors. The securities mentioned here may not be suitable for readers, or for me, for that matter.

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