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Joseph L. Shaefer  

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  • QUICK CHAT #44 -Start Tuesday 5/4/10 [View instapost]
    From a faux interview...

    "Hello, I am a typical misunderstood Greek rioter/arsonist/looter, and I thought I'd let you know my concerns so you have empathy for my situation:
    * I have to work as many as 40 hours EVERY WEEK before I get paid overtime. In France, they only have to work 35 hours a week. We're both EU members -- why doesn't Brussels fix this situation?
    * I've been working for the same employer for 10 years and I still only get 25 government-mandated working days of vacation (29 if I start on a Friday and count Sundays.) In France they get 30 (plus Sundays.)
    * A nation with our rich history only has 12 national public holidays. In Spain they have 14. We're all part of the EU -- why don't we get the same number of days off from work? I only want what I'm ENTITLED to..."

    The interview was cut off at this point by a sudden whiff of reality. As my parents used to say when I asked if we could go somewhere or buy something beyond our means, "We can't afford it." Those simple words still carry the same meaning: Get back to work. Save more. Live within your means. Plan for the future. That's "reality."
    May 5, 2010. 01:55 PM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News [View article]
    < "BP still fighting oil spill... The company will begin the process of transporting and lowering the dome today." >

    I am keeping my fingers crossed for them in this endeavor. I have seen too much bashing in writing at SA and elsewhere trying to pin blame, whether on BP, RIG, CAM, HAL or wherever -- and not enough in trying to solve the problem before it gets any worse. Let's hope Nature cooperates with some offshore breezes and light rain, and the technology is sound to halt this disaster. We can worry about finger-pointing later; right now we should all be pulling for BP's plan to work.
    May 4, 2010. 10:40 AM | 13 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
  • Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News [View article]
    {{ Geithner asks small banks to loosen up. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Obama told a gathering of small bank leaders at the White House Tuesday that they'd better start lending more or they would bear responsibility should the recovery falter.}}

    After decreeing small banks “too small to save” and throwing hundreds of billions of dollars to the likes of GS, C, BAC, JPM and WFC – all of whom were encouraged to swoop down upon their smaller banking brethren who didn’t receive a penny of government-diverted largesse – now Secretary Geithner and President Obama want to divert attention from big-bank bonuses by beating up on the struggling smaller banks. Shame on them.

    It didn’t take the new team long to figure out how things work in Washington DC: Launch a search for the guilty, then punish the innocent.
    Dec 23, 2009. 09:29 AM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Debunking the China Growth Myth [View article]
    "What I’m trying to say is that China’s 'boom' has almost entirely been the result of financial speculation."

    Gee, Graham, why so dour? A boom based almost entirely on financial speculation worked out SO well for those of us investing in the US!

    If China is traversing the same path, look out below...
    Aug 26, 2009. 04:01 PM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wells Fargo: Whatever Happened to Bank Bears? [View article]
    It's "Night of the Living Dead," updated for 2009. Banks like Wells Fargo and Capital One are walking upright, bumping into things, and making gutteral sounds every now and again as they try to claw us into their grasp.

    The sad thing is, at least the original zombies knew they were dead. The bankers have deluded themselves into believing they are still viable.
    Aug 13, 2009. 11:56 AM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Five U.S. Banks Are Too Big to Exist [View article]
    If they aren't too big to wail -- and clearly they aren't,

    And they aren't too big to flail -- and clearly they aren't,

    Then they sure as hell aren't too big to fail.

    It's called capitalism. You take risks too big, you go under. If we tried to "protect" seamstresses against the sewing machine because their group was too big to fail, or buggy-whip manufacturers for fear of losing our leather industry, we'd still be dressed in homespun and riding horses to work through acres and acres of road apples.

    I'd rather ride for fun, dress for less, and know that when I INVEST, some stupid arrogant boy-in-search-of-a-bonus isn't going to cluelessly and carelessly destroy my life savings.
    Jul 28, 2009. 06:23 PM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Weekly Preview: Last Week's Rally Should Be Viewed with as Much Suspicion as Relief [View article]
    The question is not, “How did Goldman make a profit so soon after the near-calamity of just a few months ago?” The question is “How could Goldman NOT make a profit?”

    Goldman protégé Tim Geithner works as Secretary of the Corporate Welfare Division, Wall Street Region. Former Treasury boss Hank Paulson was CEO of Goldman and, when HE was Secretary of Corporate Welfare, he hand-picked Ed Liddy , a former Goldman executive that worked for him, to become CEO of AIG. Coincidentally (right), when AIG got taxpayers’ money, the first firm to be paid 100% of their counter-party risk and unwind all those positions was -- Goldman. That $12 billion worth of railroaded taxpayer funds would have paid for 200,000 currently unemployed workers earning $60,000 for an entire year in shovel-ready projects. But those 200,000 people don’t make the political “contributions” in a year that Goldman does in a month.

    As for the other three Too Big to Fail, Not Too Big to Wail (Citi, B of A, and JPM), all three had one-time events as a result of their bailout with taxpayers’ money. Let’s see how they do next quarter, without the freebie of being allowed to reach their hands into our pockets…
    Jul 19, 2009. 04:49 PM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The One Sector You Must Own Today (Part II) [View article]
    Thank you. It is very kind of you to have made the connection between my financial writing here and my other, equally as interesting to me, work in the geopolitical and military arena. I am honored and humbled to have served with some of the finest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in the world. I'm glad you enjoyed my Wall Street Journal article honoring them.
    Nov 16, 2014. 10:44 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Build A 'Whatever Happens' Portfolio... Now [View article]
    @AE_Savant: Hmmm. We determine the appropriate weight of each investment for our clients because we know their individual situation.

    I would not presume to tell strangers, without knowing anything about their temperament, risk tolerance, asset base, income, or time available to watch the portfolio what % to invest in each category. That would be irresponsible in the extreme. This portfolio should be a starting point for each reader's due diligence -- as I say verbatim in our "The Fine Print" conclusion!
    Aug 15, 2014. 09:08 PM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is It Time To Take Some Chips Off The Table? [View article]
    I marvel at your certitude, Petrarch. There was a time I might have enjoyed the same either on the up- or downside. But after being in this business 40 years, and having watched countless times as Blue Chips, Dividend Aristocrats, "safe" bonds, and can't-miss-sure-things all tumbled just as much as the weakest story stock when the panic hit investors, I'll stair-step out and miss a bit of the final blow-off. I make up for it by having saved the nest egg, so we
    can then stair-step back in when the value is there but while most are too paralyzed (or broke) to notice or care. Sooner or later, we all do what has consistently worked for us. My "Fjord Investing" works for me so I'll cheerily wish well all those who "know" the future much success. We'll take ours in slow, steady doses...
    Jul 11, 2013. 01:45 PM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Forget The CPI: Use This Index And Profit From This Sector [View article]
    I see this is your first comment, JMeeker. Welcome to Seeking Alpha!

    One of the things I like and respect about the readership here is that a bit of political whimsy may float into an article without approbation, but fiddling with the facts is absolutely not tolerated, nor should it be.

    Others have already replied to your comments, so if I may I'll only remark on two that no one else has yet mentioned. If you Google "where u.s. imported oil comes from" the first hit will be the Department of Energy site I use as my fact-checker for imported crude as well as total petroleum imports (which includes some refined products and pre-cursor petroleum-based chemicals, etc.) In both cases you will find that Saudi Arabia trails only Canada in both categories of US imports and is nearly double Venezuela. So to say that "Unrest in the gulf would actually do little to affect our oil supply here in the US" is inaccurate. (And even if the US imported NO oil from that region, any disruption of supply would leave whatever supply there is going to the nations or regions willing to pay the highest price.)

    Second, regarding Keystone XL, to say "not a single drop of oil from the proposed pipeline would have gone to the US" doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of the marketplace. Since there would be trans-shipment costs to get the oil out of the US and to some other world destination, it is logical to suggest that US companies would likely be the premium buyer of Canadian product.

    Finally, I and most responsible authors don't typically respond to ad hominem attacks. Calling into question one's facts is one thing; accusing the author of "blatant lies" just because the facts lead them to one conclusion and one's opinion leads one to a different conclusion goes beyond the pale. Stick to an argument based on facts and you will clearly be a welcome addition to the SA community wherein we all learn from each other. Again, welcome!
    Mar 7, 2012. 02:12 PM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Market Profile: Schizophrenic or Merely Manic-Depressive (And What's an Investor to Do?) [View article]
    No, I don't believe any humor was intended. As optionsgirl points out, medical and other terms like "schizophrenic," "cancer," "flood," "desire," "weed," "bird," "metastasize" and thousands more have meanings in common usage that are recognized as extensions of the original meaning in dictionaries and usage, and the language is richer for it. As in, "This bird hopes the recent flood of political correctness will not metastasize like a cancer."

    When I choose to offend someone, it is intentional and obvious. No offense was intended to those suffering from mental illness, or their caregivers, or other maladies like Alzheimer's, as the caregivers in our family are. (Though among ourselves, we may make a heavy situation light with humor. Sometimes gallows humor provides our only respite.)
    Jul 14, 2011. 01:58 PM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will a Budget Freeze Power Markets Higher? [View article]
    You are referring to what the feds euphemistically call "fallout dollars" as if their largess simply rained down from heaven every September -- rather than being extracted from taxpayers.

    All the years I spent in DC I never could get across to the professional bureaucrats that this was just STUPID: they buy something, ANY thing, so they use their whole budget because if they don't Congress will cut their budget the following year. The twisted logic being, "If you didn't spend everything we gave you, you must not have needed it." This process, anathema to any real business person, is responsible for more waste and abuse than most taxpayers can imagine: hundreds of computers gathering dust until they are obsolete, for instance -- unopened because they weren't really needed or because there is no money to train people to use them. Large organizations combined with this fantasy accounting harm all of us beyond all comprehension.
    Jan 25, 2011. 08:21 PM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • OG's Quick Chat # 103 - 9/23/2010 [View instapost]
    (The following data comes from Sy Harding's streetsmartpost.com premium edition. While I have Sy's permission to quote him, commentators of Sy's stature clearly give such permission only occasionally and then to attract more eyeballs and more subscribers. I recommend you take a look at his free daily blog at that url and see if you find it of value!)

    "AAII Investor Sentiment.

    "The latest weekly AAII poll was released last night and showed bullishness dropped from last week’s 50.9% bullish reading to 45% this week, and bearishness rose slightly from 24.3% to 25.4%.

    "That does not change the implications of last week’s reading above 50%. The high readings in either direction, (bullishness at tops, or bearishness at bottoms), are usually only hit for one week, sometimes two, and then begin to move in the other direction.

    "The implications of last week’s reading above 50% are as follows in this excerpt from the investor sentiment section of last evening’s Market’s Signals and Recommendations report:

    “As you know we have two methods of measuring investor sentiment that have done a good job for us for years. Our favorite is the weekly poll of its members by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). It has been in an area close to a market top when bullishness rises to between 50% and 55%.

    "It has now (as of last week’s poll) risen to 50.9% bullish, while bearishness fell to 24.3%. That’s a spread of 26.6.

    "There have been two other times in recent years when bullishness exceeded 50% and the spread was similar:

    "1. The last time was on May 1 and May 8, 2008. On May 1, 2008 the readings were 53.3% bullish, 26.3% bearish, the spread 27. And on May 8, the readings were 52.8% bullish, 24.7% bearish, with the spread 28.1.

    "The market topped out 7 trading days later, on May 19, ending a nice bear market rally, and the vicious 2nd leg down in the 2007-2008 bear market began. The S&P 500 was 47% lower on Nov. 21.

    "2. And the time before that was in October, 2007. On October 4, 2007, the readings reached 51.8% bullish and 25.3% bearish, for a spread of 26.5. And a week later, on October 11, 2007, the readings were 54.6% bullish, and 19.6% bearish, for a spread of 35.

    "The market topped out in the week between the two readings, on October 9, and that was the end of the entire 2003-2007 bull market, and the beginning of the severe 2007-2009 bear."

    If history should repeat, or even rhyme...
    Sep 24, 2010. 08:13 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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