What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Or so the adage goes, though it certainly looks like it may hold a kernel of truth when applied to the stock market. The DJIA crashes 400 and change today, the largest loss since the day markets opened after 9/11. The Chinese market took a dump over night and that cascaded through the intestines of the world economy like so much undercooked chicken. What does it all mean? Hell if I know but here’s some thoughts.

Lots of people currently in the market have never seen a day like this, one where seemingly small events have a huge impact on the market. We probably saw a ton of panic all day and may continue to see some. Is this the trigger that starts a correction? I think it might. We’ve been flying high for a long time in the face of cascading bad news and maybe Mr. Market is finally paying attention. I think another 7% loss over the next 6-12 months wouldn’t be a bad thing at all, returning the market to a semblance of balance and making a lot of stocks look much more attractive.

I think building a decent sized chunk of cash over that time frame would be a good idea, one I’ve already started. If the panic continues, stocks have a lot of room to fall before they become super attractive. If it doesn’t, I see the market pretty much moving in a narrow range over that time frame until the housing market and the debt market hit the wall.

Some interesting news from today: US Consumer Confidence hit a 5 year high. That’s probably a great reason to sell all the stock you own. Wanna bet it goes down a tad next month?

Existing home sales rose to a 7 month high with the chief economist from the National Association of Realtors predicting a small bump in the road from February storms but “that will be followed by a continuing recovery in home sales”. Always be nervous when it seems like there might be a conflict of interest like the chief economist of a Realtor’s association predicting every things is fine.

The subprime mortgage market continues to get killed though this should hardly be a surprise to anyone (surprisingly, it was a surprise to lots of people). Subprime lenders write mortgages to people to have bad credit. They have been able to do this in the past because home prices have been increasing at an ungodly rate of 14% and change year over year. Turns out, when you loan money to people who can’t possibly pay it back without their house going up 14% in value every 12 months, you happen to have a bad business model. The ARMs and the no-interest loans we saw everywhere in the past will be gone soon and they may take the American economy with them.

Jim Jubak writes a mostly good article on what happened in China today though I do have a nit to pick. About halfway through, he throws this interesting bone out there:

    The stock market has become a prime tool for passing a big hunk of the country’s growing wealth to the elites whose support the Communist Party needs to maintain its hold on power. (You’ll be excused if you think this is strikingly like how capitalism works in overtly capitalist countries.)

Now I’m pretty sure Jim leans to the left when he farts but to me, that seems like a stretch. In one country (China), the government basically controls the stock market as he explains. In another (America, sure one of the overtly capitalist countries he disparages), the government doesn’t. The elites do tend to make more money in the market in capitalist countries but not because of the government. The US Govt. doesn’t hold 2/3rds of most of the public companies here. The US Govt. doesn’t have a single party that needs to bribe the elites. C’mon Jim, that’s just a pretty ridiculous thing to say unless I completely misunderstand the point.

All this and more makes me worry about the economy and the market over the short run (12 months). I’m happy to have a big position in cash, waiting to see what happens next. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Al Gore Responds (and Misses the Point)

Gore has responded and completely misses the point, of course. First, the response:

1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.

There are so many things wrong with that response, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, the point of almost all of Gore’s moralising is to reduce usage. Yet, he has 3 mansions, including the 20,000 SQ FT one that sucks down more electricity in a month than most of us do in a year. He flies private jets, one of the biggest polluters on the planet, to almost all his functions. Once again, this is an example of the rich, who can afford things like purchasing carbon offsets to reduce their guilt footprint, moralising to the rest of us about reduction of use. Give me a freaking break.

On top of that, Gore has the gall to suggest people do the same and spend money on carbon offsets. Is he certifiable? Most people don’t have that kind of money. If it comes down to something the family needs versus a carbon offset, what do you think gets chosen?

Finally, the ungodly excess the Gores seem to find completely acceptable is disgusting. I can’t even find words to express how appalling I find it that Gore preaches about the “crisis” we’re facing but lives the life of a excessive millionaire. Contrast that with President Bush’s ranch in Crawford and you begin to understand why I find Bush so much more appealing. He’s geniune and straightforward where Gore is hypocritical and false. The left continues to not understand the Southern characteristic of practicing what you preach. No wonder they can’t win much in the South

For much, much more including what Bush actually does for the economy that strangely never makes it onto the front page, read Wizbang


In the dictionary (or Wikipedia), under hypocrisy, there should be a picture of Al Gore.  I love it when rich liberals preach to me about how I should live my measly life when they are burning through more electricity in a month than I use in a year.  That’s just awesome stuff there.

Lots of people will say it’s not important what Gore does personally, that he is changing the world through his message.  I find that ignorant.  If a preacher says “Don’t commit adultery” but then sleeps with the choir director’s wife, it’s important in the same way.  But beyond that, people like Gore greatly (I’d say overly) influence public opinion and policy.  The fact that he preaches for change while largely ignoring his own advice doesn’t lend any weight to his message.  Of all people, he has the means to make sure he lives his message.  And unfortunately, he doesn’t bother with it.


Once upon a time, I think this blog was sorta, kinda interesting at least to me.  Now, it’s just boring.  To everyone.  Writing is like a muscle, if you use it, it gets stronger.  If you don’t, it wastes away into the oblivion of things I seem incapable of expressing because I don’t do it enough.

It’s hard to bench press 200 pounds if you never work out.

Thoughts on Investing

On my current reading list is The Intelligent Investor and so far, I’m pretty pleased with it.  I’ve read the first two chapters and am already rethinking how I evaluate stocks, bonds and investments.  The difference between investing and speculating alone is worth the price of the book.  In our current state of information overload, most investing information forgets about evaluating the actual value of the company you are buying a piece of.  It’s important to always evaluate any possible purchase or sale of stock based on the value of the company.

I’ll write more as I continue to read.

Excellent Customer Service

Lots of times on the internet, the negativity is overwhelming so I view it as my duty to negate that a little every time I find something positive that is positively shocking. 🙂 I just got off the phone with Citibank. I called to opt-out of the balance transfer checks that they send at least twice a week because we’ve been having some mail stolen in the neighborhood. I was expecting a fight or at least a hard sell on something else.

Instead, as an Appreciation Plus member (whatever the hell that is though I figure it’s related to being a Citi cardholder for 13 years), I was forwarded straight to a customer service rep who immediately canceled the checks with no fuss.

This is so rare these days that it warrants mentioning. Something as simple as that can cause me to recommend Citi credit cards to people I know.

For related thoughts, read Joel.  Of course, you should read Joel anyway, especially if you have anything to do with software.