Last Build Date: Wed, 08 Jul 2009 09:23:35 -0700Copyright: Copyright 2009
Wed, 08 Jul 2009 09:23:35 -0700there weren't enough to do already, Yes, I spent the day listening to the Fiscal Stability Commission, and what a swell surprise it was. More on that later.
Fri, 19 Jun 2009 08:48:58 -0700
My friend, Ana Sami, wrote a piece for Al Arabiyah prior to the Iranian elections, discussing the role of the youth there. Given that university students have been both the focus of government attacks, and the main, on-the-street, Twitter-assisted organizers of the stree protests, I thought it was worth highlighting this paragraph:
A noteworthy implication of Iran's youthful population includes timing. Currently, Iran's population while now old enough to understand and participate in politics, cannot be held accountable or claim loyalty to a government they never chose. While their parents' generation cannot be held fully responsible for what was to become of the revolution, they can at a minimum claim political participation and activism to change a way of life they knew and rebelled against.
The bold reactions and content of criticism surrounding the candidates from within Iran's youthful population is striking considering previous protests and the consequences that followed.
Read the whole thing here.
Thu, 18 Jun 2009 16:57:49 -0700That Heritage Foundation chart, with the CBO's preliminary scoring of the Senate's health care bill. (Hat Tip: Keith Hennessey)
Sun, 14 Jun 2009 15:32:28 -0700My house is about 100 yards from the local tornado siren. It's gone off three times in the last half-hour, and it's totally inaudible from most of the house (except perhaps to the dogs. More than that, no funnel clouds.
Thu, 11 Jun 2009 22:07:22 -0700Of all the calumnies hurled against Israel, perhaps the most damaging is the claim that its self-defense measures showhow equate with its being an apartheid state.
Tue, 09 Jun 2009 18:00:26 -0700Mostly because they're off-year elections, I still slightly follow politics from my former home state of Virginia. This year, the Democrats had a contested gubernatorial primary, and come-from-behind (literally) candidate Creigh Deeds seems to have run away with the nomination. Deeds will try to beat Republican Bob McDonnell, who's the odds-on favorite in the general election.
Tue, 09 Jun 2009 14:18:21 -0700Worth keeping in mind as Denver tries to tell us to coexist with the Coyotes. We've seen this movie before with other animals.
Scientists and outdoorsmen began to warn of danger, but they were ignored by both the
public -- which was sentimentally attached to the idea of free-roaming wildlife -- and state wildlife-protection bureaucrats, who downplayed first the presence, and then the danger, posed by the cougars. Dogs and cats started being eaten, cougars started threatening people, and yet meetings on the subject were dominated by people who "came to speak for the cougars." Boulder
Mon, 08 Jun 2009 22:06:24 -0700Saturday was gorgeous. So naturally, I assumed that Sunday would be the same, and that I'd be spending a perfectly beautiful Colorado day inside taking a test. I needn't have worried.
Tue, 02 Jun 2009 19:10:30 -0700This evening, we'll be interviewing Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, Republican candidate for governor here in Colorado in 2010, and businessman Cleve Tidwell, who's facing a three-way primary (so far) on the Republican side in the race to take on interim Senator Michael Bennett.
Wed, 27 May 2009 21:27:53 -0700
A couple of things. First, we've been in a declining long-term interest rate environment for a long time. This is a huge plus for the economy is a number of ways, large and small. Second, that time is probably over. It doesn't necessarily mean we're headed for a period like the mid-50s to the mid-70s, but there just isn't much room for rate to decline, even if they wanted to.
Third, rates are still at historic lows, and we've seen quick increases even during the last 20 years when the trend was down, so there's not necessarily reason to panic just yet.
Fourth, the middle part of that graph should remind us all just how quickly things can get out of control.
Wed, 27 May 2009 21:16:05 -0700The CFA unfortunately doesn't have much helpful to say about evaluating hedge fund performance. You'd like to see if there's any alpha there, but the best they can offer is a series of variations on the CAPM theme, where alpha's what's left over after you've subtracted out the Betas for whatever you want to qualify as a risk factor.
Wed, 27 May 2009 20:45:52 -0700The Chinese, the major purchasers of our debt, have been getting increasingly antsy about the possibility that we might monetize our debt, or start playing Weimar Germany to their France & England. Those nerves have been blamed for the recently rising spot yield for 30-year Treasuries, and the increasing doubt attending to recent Treasury auctions.
The report "has some substantial findings," said Xianfang Ren, an analyst with IHS Global Insight. She said the issues it raised -- funding delays and not enough stimulus for small- and medium-size enterprises -- are big problems that have long been suspected. The report also raised the matter of speculative bill financing, which occurs when borrowers use loans not for working capital but to buy stocks or speculate in other assets.China has begun issuing rules to try to prevent this, but Fitch has begun sounding warnings about Chinese banks' balance sheets:
This, even as HSBC and Citigroup scale back their lending in China.
In a report on China's banks published Thursday, Fitch said it is seeing warning signals from the Chinese banking system. Chinese lenders have been downgrading more "special mention" loans, those that are considered about to default, to nonperforming status, marking them as bad debt, said Charlene Chu, a senior director at Fitch Ratings China and an author of the report.
Chinese banks also have been increasing provisions for losses on unimpaired loans, indicating that "the banks themselves see greater losses down the line in loans that are currently performing," Ms. Chu said.
The report added to earlier warnings from the credit rater that lending quality in China is weakening.
Tue, 26 May 2009 12:45:06 -0700Douglas Ross over at Red Alert took a first pass through the political contributions of the Chrysler dealers who are losing their franchises, and noticed that virtually none of them contributed to Obama; that those who did contribute heavily favored Republicans, and that the ones who contributed to Dems at the Presidential level like Hillary. So he asked if this might constitute some political juice in deciding whom to shut down.
Tue, 26 May 2009 12:00:00 -0700A roundup of some early reaction to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court:
Mon, 25 May 2009 19:29:28 -0700Markets are only efficient when there's a free flow of information. One of the channels of that information are the sell-side analysts. I was one for a little over a year, and I can tell you that small-to-medium sized companies, even ones with significant coverage, were almost always happy to hear from us. We were their means of getting their stories out to the market at large. While we were always honest, and always discussed the company's warts, we also wouldn't have been covering them if we didn't think they were a good investment.Now, with the financial industry in flux, adn Wall Street hurting, there are fewer analysts around to cover stocks, and information flow may be suffering:Lost coverage can be meaningful not just to smaller companies but to their investors. Analysts link corporate management with both institutional and, to a lesser degree, retail investors. Though they are faulted at times for being too cozy with companies and too bullish on their stocks, analysts build a mosaic of information and analysis that can help drive interest in a particular company. The good ones do an even better job of understanding when corporate operations are struggling and thus warn investors away.... Scholastic Inc., a publisher of children's books including the U.S. editions of the Harry Potter series, has lost coverage from Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Citigroup, among others, leaving only three analysts still tracking the company. One result: company executives now spend more time on the road, meeting with potential institutional investors, since Scholastic has fewer Wall Street analysts to pitch their story."It has changed how we communicate with investors," says Jeffrey Mathews, Scholastic's vice president of corporate strategy and investor relations. "We spend much more time with institutional investors than we did five years ago." Goldman said the Scholastic analyst left the firm and coverage was dropped. Citigroup declined to say why it stopped following the company and J.P. Morgan declined to comment.Directly targeting institutional investors would tend to reduce the information available to smaller investors, and narrow the decision-making base. Information flow is slower, and fewer people are making informed decisions; both these effects tend to degrade market efficiency.This effect may be reversible, but another will be harder to undo. In the past, analysts could content themselves with analyzing market forces, the actions of thousands or millions of actors. The government is taking a much more direct role not only in regulation, but in credit decisions and the actual running of banks, credit companies, auto companies, and soon, the insurance industry. More and more, the fate of companies will ride not only on management's ability to respond to its consumers' needs, but also on decisions made in Washington. Not only will the analyst have to read tea leaves to guess the direction those decisions will take, but he will also have to judge management's ability to do so. This is going to make political analysis as important as economic and financial analysis, and it's going to make guessing the moods of a couple of dozen lawmakers as important as understanding a company's supply chain.And you thought it was only the technical analysts who practiced black magic. [...]