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Thursday, October 20, 2011

 

A Smattering of Gibberish

Here's financial journalist Charles Gasparino in the New York Post on the Occupy Wall Street wackos: "Rather than heading uptown to the homes of people like Jamie Dimon, the protesters should be marching south - way south - to protest the Washington lawmakers who gave us the jobs-killing Dodd-Frank financial reform."

Another interesting view came from David Moore, CEO of Moore Holdings, and a trustee for several NYC charities, in a WSJ op ed: "Walking down New York's 55th Street near Park Ave., our group of 7 men in suits and ties was approached by a panhandler asking for money. 'Here are a bunch of Wall Street guys,' he said straight out. 'Give me some money.' All except one kept walking, ignoring the panhandler as we typically do, as instructed by "experts." Yet over the last 30 years of living in the city, I often have disregarded this advice , and so once more, I gave instinctively. I pulled out a dollar, handed it to the man, smiled and resumed walking. But next came a revelation. 'A dollar?' the man shouted. 'You Wall Street fat cats! This is what the problem is with this country. Take your damn dollar.' With that, he threw it on the sidewalk.

"Apparently, street charity now has a minimum. Where did this script - and its concomitant anger - come from? Like most people I know, I think President Obama's tax increases on the wealthy would make sense if we believed he was sincere about - and could be successful at - reforming Washington's spending...Instead, his attacks on Wall Street bankers, oil companies, jet manufacturers, and millionaires and billionaires are inflaming both sides and placating no one...The president's incendiary message has now reached the streets...His complaints that rich people must pay their fair share have now goaded some of our society's most unfortunate, including one who felt compelled to refuse money because it was not enough. President Obama has become the 'Great Divider" instead of the 'Great Uniter' we all hoped he would be..."

But the beat goes on. Senate Democrats proposed this week a bill to send $35 billion to state and local governments to retain and rehire teachers and other public sector workers. I guess this would be Stimulus 3 or 4. But the usual approach - money to the public union friends of Dems to be recycled in the form of campaign contributions to Dem candidates - would do nothing to actually help the economy. That would just be another $35 billion we don't have poured down the rathole. Luckily, the GOP is now in charge at the House, and the bill will never be taken up there.

And in case you have any doubt that this administration is really different in its reckless spending approach, consider the following statistics. Over the last 5 fiscal years, federal revenues have been reasonably stable, varying from a high of $2.6 trillion in 2007 to a low of $2.1 trillion in 2009. But look at spending - $2.6 trillion in 2007 ( a nearly balanced budget), $3.0 trillion in 2008 (bailout year), $3.5 trillion in both 2009 and 2010, and $3.6 trillion in 2011. That increased the deficit from 0.2 in 2007, 0.5 in 2008, 1.4 in 2009, and 1.3 in 2010 and 2011. That has taken the deficit from 1.2% of GDP in 2007 to 10% of GDP in 2009, and 8.6% in 2011.

Now, President Bush was infamous for never vetoing a spending bill, so he was hardly a fiscal tightwad. But he looks like Scrooge compared with Obama, who has added over $4 trillion to the national debt in only three years. So if it looks like Republicans won't compromise on these matters, consider who they are dealing with. We don't want compromise, we want to stop spending money we don't have. And that's a perfectly reasonable position.
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At Birdland last night, young clarinetist Pete Martinez (from Brooklyn, NY) sat next to me between sets and we talked about how it was I discovered jazz and became a fan. And we both agreed that the jazz scene, perhaps unlike anywhere else, is so alive and vibrant in NYC, and how all the clubs are doing pretty well. Later in the evening, I learned that drummer and bandleader Tommy Igoe, who leads the Birdland big band on Friday evenings, has had to relocate to San Francisco (for his wife's job) but does return to lead the band two Fridays out of each month. Whether he is in town or not, the show goes on each Friday, still drawing full houses. And Tommy will be there to lead the band New Year's Eve, and in fact will be the headline act at Birdland all that week. It's such a rare moment when you can see a great house band in its home club at peak form, and we should never be surprised when such nirvana ends prematurely. All the more reason to make plans to see the big band, preferably with Tommy some Friday evening soon.

After Birdland, I strolled over to the Satie hotel on 5th and 36th, which has a beautiful bar, perhaps as nice as the one at the Royalton (called '44'). What Satie also has is jazz, virtually every night of the week starting at 8 PM most nights. Often, the music is solo piano, but last night I heard quite a good trio. Really a pleasant new find for even casual jazz fans.
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And in sports, the world series is on, with National League wild card St Louis hitting stride with perfect timing, playing the Texas Rangers, who make a return trip to the Fall Classic. I wonder if now, we can finally dump this idea that the All Star Game should be played for the World Series home field advantage. This year, we have the distasteful result that a wild card team has the odd home game in the Series. I find that offensive, and believe that we should go back to alternating home field advantage between the leagues or giving home field to the team with the better record.

I'm sure many haven't noticed, what with basebnll and football dominating the scene, but the NHL has started its regular season. And lo and behold, my Islanders are winning (albeit, at home). Of course goaltender Rick DePietro continues history's longest vacation, but no matter, we are scoring plenty of goals during his injury absence. Maybe hockey can be fun again. As they say, lots of good seats are available. And with our millionaire and billionaire basketball players on strike, locked out, or whatever, we might actually be interested in what's happening on the ice.
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We used the rally to do some selling. First, we sold 100 shares of Newmont Gold (NEM) at 64.81. We had paid 46.15. for 50 on 11/6/06 and 45.29 for 50 on 11/22/06. On 10/14, we sold 100 shares of Standex (SXI) at 36, for which we paid 28.125 way back on 3/10/97 when stock prices were still quoted in eighths. Then on 10/17, we sold 100 shares of NVE Corp (NVEC) from the IRA for 68.11, purchased for 38.53 on 11/16/09. Today, the Street did not like NVEC's earnings report and took the stock down a bunch; the psychic pleasure of selling before that happened is tempered by the fact that I still own 200 shares. But this was a classic overreaction by the Street - the earnings were really not bad. Yesterday, we returned to the buy side, with the IRA picking up 100 shares of Hartford Preferred (HIG.PR.A) at 21.83.

We have quite a few new readers, so here comes the obligatory disclaimer. Neither redwavemusings nor its author are investment advisors, the transactions recorded here are not recommendations, and the securities mentioned here may not be suitable for anyone, and that includes me!

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