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Thursday, January 13, 2011

 

Combining Business and Touring

Back today from my visit to the D.C. area for our leaders meeting. Though a bit hackneyed, these meetings can be some fun, particularly when, as in our case, there are co-workers from parts far away, like the UK, Australia, Spain, etc. We had some very good outside speakers too, headlined by former Comptroller of the Currency (during the Clinton years) Eugene Ludwig. He and his brother, playwright Ken Ludwig, are fellow college alumni, and Ken is a classmate, so we had something to talk about after the session.

We also got a chance to go into town for some semi-organized sightseeing. Believe me, when you are staying at one of these mammoth Gaylords, you don't pass up any reasonable chance to escape the grounds, though the hotel is quite nice. This was my third or fourth stay there. Anyway, on Tuesday afternoon, we had our business session at the Newseum, and then had several hours to review the exhibits. This is one I would recommend, as there are quite a few entertaining things to read, watch, and listen to. The most compelling exhibit is the 9/11 area but there was quite a lot more that was also of great interest. One I did not understand was the disproportionate space allotted to an Elvis Presley exhibit. But there's news and there's news.

Yesterday, my museum of choice was the Spy Museum, and this is also quite a bit of fun as well as being educational. I think I covered it pretty well in about 2 and a half hours. A lot of very interesting World War II and Cold War stuff.

Congress pretty much took the week off in recognition of the bedlam that took place in Tucson last weekend. It is amazing that liberals and academics reflexively blame conservative talk radio whenever there is a tragedy of this kind. The fact is that there are plenty of disturbed people around, we see them every day, and the wonder is that we have so few of these mishaps, not so many.

I do think there is a legitimate concern about how easily schizophrenics and other dangerous characters can obtain weapons and ammunition. I don't pretend to know the answer, only that it's a fair question. The tension between society's right to be armed and its right to be protected is one that requires a constitutional resolution, but clearly we are not there yet.
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All this followed a very exciting weekend of pro football. When the Colts kicked a 50 yard field goal to take the lead with a minute to go (it would have been good from 65 by the way), there was deep depression in our basement, but I did reassure my daughter that 53 seconds was plenty of time for the Jets to get in field goal range. Sure enough it happened, the kick was good, we scoured the field for penalty flags, but somehow, the Jets' curse was not operating that day. Chalk up another winning two (er, one) minute drill for Sanchez, and now comes a rematch in Foxboro.

After only going 2-2 last week, but making the call that only one home team would win (who could have imagined it would be the Seahawks?), I am not really sure the world is anxiously awaiting my picks this week. But here goes anyway, keeping in mind that the second playoff week is traditionally when favorites, particularly after a week off, tend to do well.

In the AFC, my heart says Jets but my brain says Pats. They have been hitting on all cylinders and are at home after a week off. The Jets are coming off a difficult emotional win, and will be missing a player or two. I think an upset is possible and will be rooting for one, but it would be an upset if the Jets move on. I do expect a much better effort than the last time in Foxboro.

Ravens v Steelers is another intra divisional rivalry, and we all know how hard it is to beat the Steelers at home. Still I like the Ravens in this game.

In the NFC, the Seahawks played their best game of the year last week, but I also think it's fair to say that the Saints' defense just did not show up. That won't be the case in Chicago, you can take that to the bank. So I like the Bears. The Packers are really on a roll, you just have to wonder how many weeks they can keep going. I think their win streak ends here, since the Falcons have so much speed and are coming off a bye.
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We are still waiting on a couple of year end statements so we can give you all a final number for the gains in 2010 for the redwavemusings portfolio, but it was clearly a very good year. It's not unusual for the stock market to have its rally before the economy does, since what the market does is discount the future. I think the market is telling us that 2011 is going to be pretty good for the economy, though there will be inflation (and, in fact, if you ignore the indexes the Fed seems to be obsessed with and just look at prices, we had some meaningful inflation in 2010). In fact, the big concern that could short circuit the economy is that the Fed has assured too much inflation. The other concern will be the fiscal health of states and localities, with a real chance that there will be defaults in the tax free sector of the bond market.

Our job is to go on our merry way, following our investment formula, considering tweaks to it when necessary. No tweaks for now. On 1/5, we sold 100 shares of Devon Energy (DVN) at 77.64. This was a gain from the 65.61 our IRA paid for it on October 25. On 1/7, we bought 20 more shares of TIP, our Treasury inflation protector at 107.42, for the IRA. On Monday, we put in two transactions knowing I was going to be away from my computer for a few days. First, we bought 100 shares of Schulman (SHLM) at 20.39. Then we sold 100 shares of CRDN from the IRA at
34.54. These were purchased for 27.89 on St. Patrick's Day, 2008.

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