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George Acs

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  • Finding Someone To Blame [View article]

    It is a little hard to believe how poorly orchestrated this project was, but it was likely hampered by continually changing specifications despite the hard deadline. It was also a little laughable listening to congressional questioners using Amazon as a comparison.

    I wonder how many web sites through the history of the web have received as many visitors the first day and were tied to so many different databases, including the need for valifdation. I have a feeling that on day one Amazon was not quite as busy as the ACA web site and certainly nowhere near as complex.

    It probably also didn't help that the complexity was increased by so many states selecting not to create their own sites and instead relying on the Federal site.

    What struck me the most during the congressional testimony was hearing consultants say that it wasn't their role or responsibility to tell the government that the product was not ready for prime time. If not them, then who? How in the world can any consultant turn over a job to a client with knowledge or significant suspicion that it will not stand up to real stresses?

    If my consultant believed that it wasn't his responsibility to act as a consultant I would have some serious concern about their understanding of their role.
    Oct 27 11:26 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Season's Misgivings [View article]
    You're projecting far too much.

    There was no statement that gerrymandering was the root cause of the GOP majority nor that Republicans are "any less representative." In fact, the statement was completely without prejudice to party. Gerrymandering, whether to the benefit of Republicans or Democrats is an inherently anti-democratic practice.

    Further, gerrymandering creates districts that are relatively homogeneous in opinion. As a result, a congressional representative only gets reinforced on particular opinions, rather than receiving a range of opinions from the electorate. Doing so is far more likely to make someone intransigent on an issue when their belief is that everyone feels the same way.
    Oct 6 10:36 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • I Bought Apple [View article]
    Someone on air, can't remember where, made similar comment yesterday.

    On a positive note, as long as the cash comes in and Apple can maintain a respectable market share and keep its mounting competition at length, they will have the time to get the next blockbuster product, without the pressure to rush it to the market.

    Besides, that has always been it's strategy. Let others do the early lifting and then introduce elegance and function to the product.

    Let people laugh at Samsung's watch. If there's a market for the product Apple will bring one when it is ready to carry the Apple stamp of approval
    Sep 11 02:10 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • I Bought Apple [View article]
    Thank you. Aren't you glad I omitted all of the financial, sales and product details?
    Sep 11 02:06 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Carl Icahn Spells The End Of An Era At Apple [View article]
    It is, as I said, a trade. Not an investment. Apple has been a trade for the past 6 months and this adds to its suitability as an in and out kind of position.
    Aug 13 09:55 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Carl Icahn Spells The End Of An Era At Apple [View article]
    Thank you.

    I usually deal in weekly and monthly time frames since I tend to sell covered options, so I rarely think 6 months ahead.

    Additionally, I also tend to think in comparative terms, wanting my positions to at least do as well as the S&P 500.

    With those caveats, I think that Apple will out-perform the S&P 500, but it will need more than a Carl Icahn catalyst to get to $600 in your time frame, especially if you believe that there is an overdue market correction in the future, so I'd be really reluctant to make that prediction.

    Please be prudent with buying options. Although it can offer incredible leverage, that works in both directions and can decimate an account's value. I'm not certain you can describe buying options as a "sit back and relax" kind of venture. A 2015 option will have lots of time value and won't be quite as responsive to price movements so far ahead of its expiration date. In addition each passing day is a loss of some option value.

    On the other hand, I love selling long term options to people, especially if there is a healthy dividend. That way I get to pocket the option premium and usually keep the dividend, as well, all while the stock's price is drawn further from the strike, as a result.

    In Apple's case, remember that by January 2015 there will also be at least $15 in dividend payments that will bring shares further from your strike price. All of those things conspire against you.
    Aug 13 09:53 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    It helps that the Soviets had a series of horrible harvests,an economy that couldn't afford their global ambitions, a series of aged and dying leaders and a bold Polish Pope who had a somewhat supportive admirer in the Kremlin.

    And then there was Reagan whose one-liners were perfectly orchestrated and timed.

    Like most everything, good or bad, it takes a constellation.
    Jun 29 03:00 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Beating A Dead Horse To Life [View article]
    Ah, a discussion of freshman Ethics 101

    I believe that what you are suggesting is a case of "situational ethics." However, if that is indeed what you are suggesting the dynamics of open market stock trades do not support that contention.

    Well, if you would like me to explain, it does require a knowledge of how stocks transactions actually work.

    Are you ready?

    When you buy or sell shares you are generally not buying them from the company. Did you know that? In fact, unless it is through an IPO or a secondary offering, there is no direct benefit accrued to the company itself.

    In the event that the company is engaged in a stock buyback that very process deprives them of capital for further expansion of their offensive mission. I would happily accept them as a buyer of my shares.

    Can you make a case for indirect benefit? Yes, of course you can, such as the increased value of retained shares allowing the company the ability to enter the credit markets more readily and at more favorable rates.

    However, such indirect benefit may just as easily come from voting for a municipal bond offering that creates a water purification system that local farmers may be able to use in irrigating their crops. Their tobacco crops, wouldn't you know?

    Is there an ethical dilemma with that consequence of greater good?

    Anyway, you are generally transacting with an individual or an investment firm. The benefit or detriment accrues to the individual or firm. The offensive company has already received its money at the time of the IPO or secondary offering.

    While I have no problem transacting in the stock market, I would not be part of an infusion of cash into a company through an IPO nor secondary, unless the entire proceeds were going to principals (in which case it would likely be a bad investment).

    So no, it's not about convenience or situational ethics. It's about a reasoned approach to investing. If I wanted to display my displeasure with the company I would simply boycott their products and perhaps use any vehicle available to me to spread news of that displeasure.

    In that regard, I don't use or purchase tobacco products, don't allow their use in my home and have mentioned my distaste for those products several times in Seeking Alpha and other venues.

    So yes, I can still be of the belief that I have principles and apply them in a thoughtful fashion.
    Jun 28 08:02 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Raising The Retirement Age Is A Bad Idea [View article]
    You know, it's like they say. If you can't figure out who it is, then it must be you.

    In this case that saying may not be true, because it's clear that if you can't see the wisdom in the comments, it's certainly not because their coming from you.

    And thanks, I'm fully familiar with the history of the social security act. It is not entirely life expectancy that is creating a strain on the fund. Raising the retirement age for full benefits was the easiest of decisions as compared to other potential solutions that would have had greater political backlash.

    But that's just the way it always seems to be.
    Jun 27 11:20 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wintel For The Win [View article]
    Thank you.

    There's no doubt that from the outside it's appeared as Wintel has been somnolent for quite a while, but anyone who believed that they would go quietly and cede supremacy must be drawing upon some historical precedent that has limited application.

    While Microsoft and Intel may not go quite hand in hand as in the past, their future and their impact on personal computing and communication in the future will be increasingly significant.
    Jun 25 11:00 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • That Was The Crash, Dummy [View article]
    The only part of your comment that caught my attention was the reference to popcorn and I think it underlines some of the fallacies or biases inherent in your outlook.

    Besides, citing Doug Kass isn't much different from citing Peter Schiff on gold, except that Schiff is more likely to lapse into something beyond ludicrous and suggest that gold is now edible and supplies both shelter and warmth.

    Kass isn't too far behind in having a fairly narrow outlook and is, reportedly not beneath attempting to advance "news" that would support his prevailing thesis.

    But why is popcorn $8 for a bucket? Is it related to economic forces that are either in the control or out of the control of bankers, central bankers, manufacturers or consumers?

    While the price of gas may just as easily be down by 10 cents by the time I type this comment, I suggest that the price of popcorn in a movie theater has as much relevance to any of those factors as the metrics or opinions you've gathered have toward predicting behavior or economic outcomes.

    The popcorn certainly is a discretionary purchase, yet is exhibits inelasticity to a degree. That degree is part of the art and science of selecting a price point that won't cause someone out to impress a date or take their children out during a visitation week, to demur.

    Despite purchase alternatives, the popcorn has a traditional allure and there is a prohibition from supplying your personal supplies.

    The problem of cost is solely due to consumer behavior. Don't blame Bernanke or a cabal of bankers seeking to protect their hold on the "truth."
    May 25 03:14 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • That Was The Crash, Dummy [View article]
    The use of protective puts was the topic in my Daily Market Update for subscribers today.

    In general, I'm not a fan of their use. Although you cite a low cost, that cost may be quite high relative to its utility in offsetting portfolio losses.

    The individual investor who chooses to use protective puts has to then decide whether to use short term expirations versus longer term and whether to select near the money or out of the money strikes.

    Those decisions can have significant differences in effective cost as well as the degree of protection offered.

    The specific example used in your Instablog looks at a deep out of the money put with a long time frame. In that case it was for a strike price 20% out of the money and 6 months from now.

    Yes, in that scenario the premium is low, however, the protection offered may be equally low for anything less than a catastrophic collapse happening at an opportune time such that time value is also maintained.

    For those investors who have patience and are not prone to panic, the knowledge that corrections tend to be short lived and recoveries tend to be certain, the protective put often represents a superfluous expense that reduces ROI over the long term.
    May 24 11:17 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • That Was The Crash, Dummy [View article]
    I don't know whether or not I agree with your assessment. Obviously time will tell, but I think of QE as the spark that's necessary to begin a process that can be self-sustaining once the initial energy has started a cascade of events.

    We all know that economic cycles exist and are for varying periods of time. What we don't know is whether such central bank intervention can reliably flatten out the cycles, easing the downturns, while awaiting the natural consequence of the cyclical process.

    Even if ameliorating the downturn ends up also flattening the upturn, the result may end up leaving us with far less tumultuous rides up and down.

    If that is the case, I think the central bank interventions are just what is needed by economies that have either been in hibernation or in a deep slide.
    May 24 10:46 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • James Altucher: Why The Stock Market Is A Sucker's Game Right Now (And What Stocks I Own) [View article]
    Thanks, my mentor once called me "slippery and manipulative" which I suppose is a positive thing when going through dental school, although his praise did fall short of the beatification I was seeking.

    If only there was a way I could put those skills to use that didn't involve faxing you unsolicited stock offerings and then writing articles about them
    Apr 30 01:24 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Shares Are A Screaming 'Bye' [View article]
    No, I don't believe in reading, nor editing.

    If you look at price reactions to earnings, it is clear that earnings play a role, but increasingly it is the expectation of a certain level of earnings that plays an even important factor. Anyone can play a staid P/E ratio. What matters in a dynamic sense is the elation or disappointment with regard to earnings and the anticipation of future earnings as laid out in guidance.

    So, yes. It is part of the equation. Never remove the human element or minimize its role. It is what ends up being responsible for the seismic moves.
    Dec 13 06:32 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment