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Joseph L. Shaefer  

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  • Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News [View article]
    { “Midwest mfg. strikes three-year high... All index components are now in expansion, except for inventories… The sizable increase seems to signal a broad-based surge in demand for labor, which, coupled with a large increase in production, could point to a bottom in the manufacturing labor contraction cycle.” }

    All well-selected news items, as always, Eli, but I can’t get overly rattled about what my cable provider is doing when I see a heartening piece of news like the one quoted here.

    How we think of ourselves as Americans is roll-up-our-sleeves, pass-me-the-BIG-hammer people who get the job done. Rosie the Riveter is, well, <riveted> in our national consciousness. Yet, of late, we seem more a nation of consultants, Wall Street traders, and outsourcers – all people whose job it is to move pieces of paper, or their electronic equivalent, from one place to another.

    We don’t know if it will last, but I’ll take it for what it is: a piece of great news to start the New Year. The Heartland of America is still filled with hard-working people / who use big machines / to make important things / the world needs. At the end of this holiday season, Tiny Tim and I agree this is a good thing: God bless us, every one!
    Dec 31, 2009. 10:45 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall – Now [View article]
    Au contraire, realold!!!

    **I** didn't vote him in. I was not living here then and have voted against him each opportunity since! As for comparing Vegas to Tahoe politically, geographically, or socially, why, that would be like comparing East Germany to West Germany or North Korea to South Korea.

    Please come visit the REAL Nevada. Outside of Vegas, we like our rodeos rough, our weapons clean, and our water pure. This is the Real West! //grins//

    Best regards,
    A Nevadan, not a "Nevada resident"...

    On Dec 30 11:50 PM realold wrote:

    > Good article until you got to the part where you admit voting IN
    > Harry Reid. I believe that your state is also the home of Lost
    > Wages (and real estate equity). You seem like a reasonable guy,
    > but your state is just another version of the state to your west.
    Dec 31, 2009. 12:19 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ten Best ETFs for 2010 [View article]
    A fine, well-written article with a somewhat eclectic group of recommendations. Our clients for whom these are appropriate have owned GXF since its inception and CEW since shortly thereafter (I have written about CEW on SA, as well.)

    JSC is interesting -- unlike the US, where small cap too often means junk, in Japan some of these offer the best value of all. PSP is a great way to buy the Blackstones of the world, who, in any decent market, will be IPOing some of their LBOs.

    Finally, VXX is going to pop. (That's like saying "the market will fluctuate.") We may not know when, but periods as range-bound as the one we've been in since mid-November NEVER last...
    Dec 30, 2009. 02:41 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News [View article]
    { "Suit alleges Morgan sold garbage as gold." }

    No! Say it ain't so. A <stockbroker> lying about the quality of their offerings? Why, next you'll be telling us that used car salesmen sometimes stretch the truth a bit, that lawyers never charge you for staring-out-the-window time, and that some Congressmen are more interested in re-election than in their constituents' concerns. Please -- leave us a few of our precious fantasies!
    Dec 30, 2009. 11:21 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News [View article]
    {{ "Japan lays out 10-year plan." }}

    Well, I guess if you don't know what the dickens to do TODAY, you can always promise pie-in-the-sky 10 years down the road.

    It worked for Stalin. And Mao. Come to think of it, I might have heard the term in this country, "Times have been challenging. But in my NEXT term as your President..."
    Dec 30, 2009. 11:16 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Positioning for 2010: 10 Seeking Alpha Contributors Ready Their Portfolios [View article]
    Moon, your comment is the most appropriate / helpful post. The closest an investor can come is an analyst who maintains a "model portfolio" and publishes it regularly, along with buy and sell advice clearly stated and duly entered as buys and sells in the written portfolio. "Revolving doors", "group managers" at mutual funds, selective retention, and "My Top 3 Picks Would Have Made You 1000%"-style advertising (what? 3 out of 1000 tossed out there?) all conspire to keep you from knowing the real results.

    I felt your same frustration 11 years ago when we started our model portfolios. Results? The first 10 years (including the bears of 2001 and 2008) Compound Annual Growth Rate 12.26% in our Growth and Value Portfolio. This year? Dreadful. We are still positive, of course, but became concerned about the "thin-ness" of a market with no effective corrections in 9 months, so we stepped aside and bought inverse ETFs. We may look bad, but at least it's an <<honest>> bad! We show our gains and losses every month. In writing. Once it's out there, there's no "fudging" it.

    I agree with you -- all should do so.
    Dec 29, 2009. 06:47 PM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall – Now [View article]
    Bob Adamson --

    A fine riposte. I am both chagrined -- that I didn't offer more detail -- and inspired -- to consider some of your excellent points.

    My intent was to voice a call to action and, if it gets one or two or one or two thousand investors to demand reform, it has succeeded. But you have succeeded where I did not tread, by advancing new ideas for an economy and a world which has, of course, changed drastically since the original Glass-Steagall, or even that which accompanied its demise, the "Financial Services Modernization Act" was signed.

    I agree -- we don't need Glass-Steagall, we need Glass-Steagall II. We need genuine reform that prevents future bouts of greed and stupidity from destroying our nation's people and economy. Your suggestions are worthy of any Senate staffer worth their salt taking to their boss...
    Dec 29, 2009. 12:29 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • VIX Below 20 for Three Days, First Time Since May 2008 [View article]
    when everyone believes the same, an event is unlikely to occur according to script -- the boat is simply too overloaded on one side to continue on course.

    Maybe this would be a time to hedge with some really cheap VIX options...
    Dec 28, 2009. 12:51 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News [View article]
    { "Wave goodbye to record low mortgage rates." }

    We warned of a real estate bubble, and shorted real estate via inverse ETF SRS, back in a summer 2006 issue of our newsletter. Then, in an SA article on December 9, I wrote that NOW is a great time to refi. The former was met with widespread derision (wrong!), the latter with a resounding ho-hum.

    Why is that? Why is it that some investors will scratch and bite to get the latest “hot tip” that may lose them 100% or gain them 50% on $10,000 but when it comes to a Big Decision like when to get out of real estate that could have saved them $300,000 and months of pain or to refi to save themselves 10s of $1000s of dollars or more in interest, they don’t act?

    The question is not rhetorical. I’m curious about readers’ theories. My own is that the Big Decisions are just < too > big and the consequences for a poor decision too scary, so many hide their head in the sand. I have known people who will drive across town to save a nickel a gallon on gasoline (using up nearly all the savings in drive time and fuel to get there) but, when it came time to negotiate the purchase of a new car, went meekly to the salesman with that “Please don’t hurt me” look on their faces and spent $7000 or $80000 more than they should have. (Car salesmen are predators, you are prey. They < live > to see that look!)
    Dec 28, 2009. 11:41 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • More People Worldwide Get Their News Online from Google News than NYT or CNN [View article]
    Why would this not be the case?

    When I want a quick review of news items from a number of sources in order to balance the biases, I can scan and quickly link to numerous other opinions with a single click or two on Google News.

    When I want in depth reporting, investigative reporting, or opinion stated as opinion I can visit the NYT or some other site, the editorial biases of which I know in advance.

    In either case, I don't have to watch sound-bite TV news or gossip presented as news, nor do I have to watch some overpaid teleprompter-reading "on-air personality" preen at his or her reflection in the camera...
    Dec 23, 2009. 12:12 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Geithner: There Will Be No Double-Dip [View article]
    I wasn't really worried about a double-dip recession...

    ...until now. With Geithner's record, his guarantee that all is clear sailing is the worst news I could have read.
    Dec 23, 2009. 11:58 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • New Zealand: Emerging from Recession [View article]
    I think NZs prospects, particularly as an exporter to China, are actually good to excellent. As a way to play its recovery, I've been playing it conservatively, buying NZ Telecom and Aus-NZ Bank (the latter of which I wrote a few words about in a recent article on "Un-Dollar" investments...) I think both are undervalued, good-dividend-paying ways to profit from NZ's recovery.
    Dec 23, 2009. 11:06 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The VIX Breaks Below 20 Support, Gold Pulls Back [View article]
    Periods of low volatility such as we have seen from mid-November (Nov 17: Dow 10,437 / today Dow 10,452 / total variation less than 130 points from these two closes) are extremely rare. Whether up or down, this channel is likely to be broken with a thunderclap, not a whimper...
    Dec 23, 2009. 10:44 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • S&P Downgrades Five Mortgage Insurers [View article]
    Dear S&P and Moody’s: Are you really this stupid?

    Hello, McFly!! You just NOW noticed that housing-related firms might not do as well as expected? You actually held them at investment-grade through the entire fiasco where their stocks plunged to single digits and their ability to raise money fell even further? What, they were late paying you their rating fees...?
    Dec 23, 2009. 09:53 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News [View article]
    PS – Before TARP, the top 4 banks in the country accounted for 27% of all banking business. Now that government “leaders” have decided they need a well-feathered nest to return to when they are fired or voted out, the Big Four account for 34% of all banking business.

    So much for all the alleged concern over banks getting too big. Watch what people DO, not what they say…
    Dec 23, 2009. 09:33 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment