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Monday, January 18, 2016

 

Bastille Day Edition? oops, make that MLK Day

This was supposed to be the ever popular Bastille Day edition, but somehow six months flew by so we had to re-title the posting.  There was no special reason for this hiatus other than just too much stuff going on in my life, some very good, some pretty awful.  Like everyone else.  I realize certain readers seem to want to be informed about such things, (hence, the surprising demand that we continue the recent activities feature) but I'm afraid that will be dependent on my schedule.  So to summarize the last six months in as few sentences as possible, the Mets won the National League pennant and gave a decent account of themselves in the World Series, though losing in five games.  All in all, an amazing year for the Flushing faithful.  On a much more serious note, after losing one of my closest friends in June, I lost another during the summer, again unexpectedly, and darn near lost a third a few months ago.  Getting older is not without its tribulations.

In better news, I got to play bridge at the Summer Nationals in Chicago and there renewed a friendship with a close business associate from Illinois who has somehow also migrated to the bridge world.  I certainly look forward to sharing cocktails with him at future tournaments.   In addition, there has been the general hilarity around the Presidential race.  Now a number of readers (and one is a number, as is 2, 3, 4, etc.) have asked who I am favoring to be the next leader of the Free World and I have to say that I hope they are not missing the bigger picture which is basically absurd.  But to answer the question, I was initially a Kasich supporter and even sent an early contribution, but I have to admit, John's campaign has not exactly caught fire.  Then I gravitated to Rubio, whom I still like, but I don't really get why Marco is trading bombs with Christie and even with Jeb of all people.  Ain't we all in this together? Lately, I've been warming up to Chris and think he's actually jelling with real Republicans, if you can actually find any.  More on that in a second.  So the short answer is, I'm going to vote for the GOP candidate no matter who it is, even if I have to hold my nose as I insert the ballot, because I would puke on the floor if I had to vote for Hillary or the Socialist from New England, or any other Democrat.  And that's just a fact.

Now, as a Republican, I have to say I am nauseated by this whole campaign, though of course, I understand the frustration of the voters.  But really, how can anyone actually believe that Donald Trump, or Ted Cruz, or Ben Carson, or Senator Paul are Presidential timber?  Paul Ryan?  For sure, but understandably, he avoided this food fight.  And Kasich, Rubio, Jeb, Christie, John Thune, Governor Pence, I can see any of them in the job. But in the aftermath of 8 ugly Obama years where progressives made huge gains in socializing (not to mention castrating) our health system, foisting all kinds of ridiculous environmental regulations on us, and reversing a generation of foreign policy progress, it looks like Republicans want to nominate, and probably elect, the anti-Obama, which means the right's version of the empty suit.  The left's version, as we have seen is an academic, totally divorced from the reality of realpolitik, lecturing the American public instead of leading it.  But the right's version is Donald Trump - completely off-the-cuff, lacking any meaningful governing philosophy, xenophobic, impulsive, and judgmental, but lacking in judgment ( a real bad combination, needless to say).

One of the real scourges for the GOP in the campaign this year has been the influence of talk radio, now personified by the likes of Mark Lavin.  In his search for the ideological pure conservative, he has been trashing all the moderate candidates regularly, and now even Governor Haley of SC, who gave the first competent response to the State of the Union in the eight years of the Obama Presidency.  But not pure enough for Mark.  He has become the leading xenophobe, opposing not only illegal immigration, but also legal immigration.  Basically, he and his ilk which include Limbaugh, et al,would like to ship all the Muslim's out of the country, presumably to Africa which seems to be the chosen repository for everyone these folks don't like. They don't even seem to care that they are destroying the cause, making it more likely that a morally reprehensible Democrat like Clinton, or a true and admitted socialist like Sanders would be elected.  I guess that's supposed to teach us impure conservatives a lesson.  Like I said, I am prepared to vote for Trump if he's the candidate, but I'll be holding my nose.  My fervent wish would be for a brokered convention, where the real party leaders would go into a smoke filled room and emerge with a candidate capable of both winning and doing the job.

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 On to happier stuff.  The New York jazz scene has been as good as ever, and in the last few months, I have enjoyed seeing the Birdland Big Band, Freddy Cole, George Cables, Katherine Russell, John Pizzarelli, Vincent Herring and many others.  Last night, some friends and I went to see the terrific Karrin Allison at Birdland. If you're not seeing any of this talent, you are really missing out. Jazz is such a superior value to the overhyped jukebox musicals and revivals now overrunning Broadway.

Besides that, it is busy as usual for this reporter.  Plenty of business travelling (besides Chicago, we visited San Antonio, National Harbor, MD, and of course Washington recently, and looming on the schedule are New Orleans, Little Rock, and Albany).  And, I've got a ticket to see the very hot ventriloquist/comedian Jeff Dunham in Albany on the 28th.     
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Well, I guess I have to write about the financial markets.  Ugh.  Enough said? Really, the Fed had to begin normalizing, and it's not going to be easy, since all the Keynesian formulas (like the Phillips curve) are not operative in the environment the Fed has created.  My preference would be for the Fed to raise the funds rate by twenty-five basis points every quarter a la Greenspan until it reaches 2.5% which is at least within hailing distance of normal.  If that causes some unemployment, or an over-valued dollar, then so be it.  The dislocation will be less in the long run in a normal economic environment.

I don't expect Janet Yellin to agree with this strategy any more than Bernanke did.  But they will never admit they are wrong either.  So we will do what we always do, follow our investing formula and hope to ride out these miserable corrections.  By the way, we are very closely watching DOL's new Fiduciary Rule.  It may make it too dangerous to expound on financial markets on this blog.  Isn't it a shame that free speech rights are under fire everywhere you look?  But for now we can continue to post our transactions, and we will reassess once the rule is final.  The list below takes us through the third quarter.  We'll catch up on the next two posts.  Remember, neither redwavemusings nor its author are investment advisors, and the securities listed here are not recommendations and may not be suitable for anyone else.

Purchases

Date              Symbol   Shares        Price          Comment
6/9/15         SBRAP    100          24.97    Preferreds have been a home run
6/15/15      GHM        100          20.81
6/17/15       MU          100         24.27   Full service broker reco, can't all be gems
6/18/15      PRH         100          25.00
6/23/15      NR           300           7.40   Falling knife in the oil service
6/24/15     ONCS       300           7.27  Falling knife in Biotech
6/25/15    TIP             20            111.95 Got to hide somewhere
6/26/15     GIFI          200           10.20  Tulane portfolio not immune
6/29/15     MU           200           19.21
6/30/15     PRH         100            24.98
7/2/15       BRS          50             52.82   Another Tulane stock topped out
7/7/15       MU          200             18.13
7/10/15     ONCS     400              6.00
7/10/15     PRH         100             24.91
7/13/15     GNE        300             9.40
7/13/15     PQ          1200           1.69  Another old favorite on sale
7/14/15     GLD          20             111.00
7/21/15   USAK      100             20.15
7/21/15    MU          200             18.84
7/23/15   NEM       200               18.61 Miner performing better than the metal
7/24/15   PQ           1400              1.48
7/27/15    TIP          20               112.37
7/28/15    HZO       200              18.40
7/29/15     GLDD    400               5.18
7/31/15    GLD          20            105.41
8/5/15      NEM       200              16.75
8/5/15      PQ         1600               1.29
8/7/15   NEE.PR.C   100           25.30  Hate to pay more than par but...
8/7/15    PWR          100           23.63
8/10/15   ONCS       500           4.93
8/10/15   TIP            20            111.91
8/19/15   BRS          100           37.08
8/20/15   BDC          50            55.23
8/20/15    GLD        20             109.81
8/21/15    MU         200            14.39  Have to find a bottom somewhere
8/21/15    HSC       200            11.59
8/24/15   AFSD     100             25.01  Another insurer preferred
8/25/15   AWCMY 600           3.75  Alumina anyone?
8/26/15   MMM     15            140   new to the portfolio
8/28/15   PRH        100            25
9/2/15    NVEC       50           51.43
9/2/15    BDC         50            48.24
9/3/15    TIP          20             110.84
9/8/15   AWCMY  600             3.49
9/10/15    MMM   15              141
9/11/15    SBRAP  100            24.98
9/18/15    NR         400             5.78
9/18/15   MMM      15            140.44
9/21/15    AFSD     100           25.10
9/23/15    BRS        100          30.09
9/25/15    GWR        50          61.24
9/29/15    GLD         20         108.24
9/30/15    NR          400           5.16

Sales

Date          Symbol       Shares       Price      Purchase Date   Purchase Price    Comment
6/8/15        BRLI          100           40.75        7/5/13             29.74         takeover by OPK 
6/12/15      SEIC           50            49.22        9/9/11             16.06      a triple
6/12/15      PBCT         200           16.02        5/07                20.15   Taking a loss
6/12 15    MetLife (preferred) 800  25.04    2010-2014       24.39    Called in, damn it
6/30/15    PFG.PR.B    300           25                                                 Another call
7/2/15      CC               70             15.97    Didn't want the Chemours spin off from Dupont
7/21/15    TAI              600          21.89    Various           20.75   Took it off the buy/hold list
 8/19/15   BYD          50            17.60      10/27/08         3.95
8/19/15    BYD         150           17.60      6/10/11           7.87  Casino operator a good gamble
9/3/15     HIG            50             45.67      8/5/11            24.61
9/9/15    EXPD          50            49.21      5/30/07          42.95
9/16/15    TFX           20           137.54     4/26/04       49.84
9/17/15    BYD         150            17.41     6/10/11       7.87
9/17/15    BYD          50             17.41     8/10/11        6.02     
9/28/15   FNFG        200            10.44     5/31/12        8.02  takeover in progress                    

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