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Mark Bern, CFA  

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  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    I didn't get into the Shanghai market like I wanted to going up and glad I didn't. The index didn't get anywhere near as high as I had expected (Jinping had let it be known that he wanted it to go back to 4500 early last week) so I also didn't get in on the short side. It has held above the previous low so far, but if US equities were to fall by more than 200 today I think the support level in China will be breached also.

    Why does that matter to us? My feeling is that if the Shanghai plunges to its next support level (3100) there could be a little panic around the globe.

    The Chinese gov't will surely support the Shanghai at that level since it has nearly $1 trillion available to invest via the CFS fund it created. The Shanghai has already lost nearly $2.4 trillion in value from the top, though, so I am not sure that the CFS will have enough to support the market forever. But It will try and I think will win temporarily.

    But then, look at what is happening in European equities. This does have me a little concerned that CBs may have lost their touch!
    Jul 27, 2015. 11:16 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Swine Flu, MERS, Ebola And Medical News Concentrator May 23, 2015 To ?? [View instapost]
    DG - Yes, I did. I actually won two all expense paid southeast jungle vacations of a lifetime. The acquisition came of the first such adventure. They didn't give me quinine until the 7th time (only aspirin the first 6) At the end of my second "vacation" they let me manage an officers' club on the beach. So, I guess they figured we were all even.
    Jul 27, 2015. 11:07 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    I'm thinking that 5% would be better. If one sold a $45 strike Sept put option they would collect about $53 (after commissions). It would require $4500 in cash to secure the put. The annualized return if O does not drop and the put expires worthless is 8%. If O does drop and the stock is put to the option seller, then the cost basis is $44.40 ($45 - $0.60 premium before commission) and yields 5.1%. Just a thought of how I might play O. I like a yield of 5% that will hold long term. I also don't mind earning 8% on my cash while I wait for the price to fall.
    Jul 26, 2015. 01:46 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    I wonder if there are any alliance rumors between Luminex and Theranos. I haven't run across any but that doesn't mean one doesn't exist or be in the works. I haven't looked. Might be worth a few moments to explore. If true, Luminex might give us a back door to invest in Theranos. Kind of like buying the components maker of the genius designed product. (or maybe the other way around?) I'm so confused!
    Jul 26, 2015. 01:36 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stability Of The European Union June 1, 2015 To ??? [View instapost]
    Watch for Merkel to retire! LOL

    Then the blame can land on somebody else. She'll claim after the fact that she never would have let something this happen.
    Jul 26, 2015. 01:30 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stability Of The European Union June 1, 2015 To ??? [View instapost]
    Another piece of the puzzle: Greek covert plans to start printing drachma:
    Jul 26, 2015. 01:29 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Swine Flu, MERS, Ebola And Medical News Concentrator May 23, 2015 To ?? [View instapost]
    Yeah, I must have been in the 61% or 73% group. Hospitalized 7 times for malaria back in the day.
    Jul 25, 2015. 04:59 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stability Of The European Union June 1, 2015 To ??? [View instapost]
    FPA - I think that it is more a matter of the German politicians (Merkel) could not afford to let them split off for fear of what it might do to the German economy. From that point of view it would seem to give the Greeks leverage.

    But then, after what the Greeks went through without help from the ECB the last 3 weeks, Tsipras has to be worried about a revolt if it got worse. He knew that if Greek exited the banks would fail, Greeks would lose a lot of their savings, and Greek companies would no longer have the ability to import from Germany (or probably anyone) for some time. Greek society may have crumbled, not just the economy. It could have been much, much worse than those 3 weeks were. From this point of view, the Greek leader may have felt like he had to submit in order to protect the people (and himself) from something far worse than they had imagined. So, that may have given the Germans an edge.

    It all comes down to a game of chicken where both parties would lose immediately but if one swerved they could both preserve the status quo. Merkel apparently convinced Tsipras that Germany could withstand the "small inconvenience" of a Greek exit far better than Greece could withstand being cut off from the rest of the world. It's all a matter of who could bluff and who got sweaty palms at the last minute. Perception and lies. No real winners, just a matter of trying to put off the worst until someone else is in charge, imho.

    Tsipras blinked first.

    In the end, if Greece plays this next hand better, it could pretend to pass laws and begin to implement enough to get some more money. If it can get the money instead of having the IMF and ECB snatch it first, then Greece could have a cushion to ease the final blow. Then would be the best time to default. It had a better position 6 months or more ago, but now it must find a way to put itself in a better financial position (even just a few billion euros) to cushion the initial blow of an exit. I don't think Tsipras has the anatomy to pull it off, but he'll be out of office if he does nothing.
    Jul 25, 2015. 12:48 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    The Japanese always seem to come with some of the grossest contests. But I have another one for you (sorry no YouTube video so you'll have to use imagination).

    In northern Minnesota at a resort I was visited the owners had a family night with lots of games that included both parents and kids. My favorite (I was a spectator only) was the relay race: each team got one straw and two buckets. One bucket was filled with leeches from the lake (some 6 inches long) and some water. The other just had water in it. Suck up a leech with the straw and run to the other bucket (about 15 feet away) and drop the leech into the bucket. Then return to the back of line after giving the straw to the next team member. Five minute limit and the team that moved the most leeches won.
    Jul 24, 2015. 09:16 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    shb - I mentioned this one at least 6 months ago here, but since I have seen no signs of an IPO I haven't added anything new. Thanks for the reminder. I totally agree that this one could be a big fish some day. I just hope it does an IPO before it gets too big.

    My impression thus far is that the CEO, a very bright young female Stanford drop out, isn't too interested in cashing out anytime soon. It seems like she might keep running the biz on venture capital as long as she can. She really wants to solve a number of health issues and is probably smart enough to do so. I get the feeling that this is just her first of many big improvements in healthcare. She wants to bring down the cost by doing things differently and making huge leaps in efficiencies by thinking outside of the currently accepted process. Loads of potential. I just hope she does an IPO while we can all still profit.
    Jul 24, 2015. 09:10 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    And more to come, I suspect. Let's just hope it doesn't come down too hard all at once!
    Jul 24, 2015. 09:02 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stability Of The European Union June 1, 2015 To ??? [View instapost]
    From what I could find the Greek debt to Germany is $90 Billion (not including the bank debt discussed above), and about $250 billion more to the rest of the EZ gov'ts.

    Then there are the loans from the ECB to Greek banks to keep them from running out of cash; I think I read that it was running about $900 million a week.

    Then there is the big one: the Target2 loans: another $100 billion that Greece owes Germany (this may actually be confused with what shb was mentioning). Target2 loans are actually IOUs that are created thus: Germany exports to Greece corporations; Greek corporations remit what they owe to Greek central bank; Greek CB gets behind in paying the German CB; German CB extends credit to Greek CB. Apparently Greece is about 8 months behind in Target2 loans from the German CB.

    If Greece exited the Euro, all of that debt would have to be written off (nearly $200 billion for Germany alone). The rest of the PIIGS are behind, too. To the tune of $709 billion, and I understand that $580 billion is owed to Germany. Germany can't afford to let the first domino tumble!

    Also, if Germany stops extending credit a huge share of its export business would dry up overnight and crash the German economy. Rock and a hard place!
    Jul 24, 2015. 08:29 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    "The strongest El Niño on record occurred in 1997-98, and brought devastating flooding and mudslides to southern California, droughts and wildfire to Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil, and widespread coral bleaching from high water temperatures off the coast of Africa, Central America and in Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef."

    Droughts and wildfire to Mexico and Brazil could have ag impact, also. Another interesting article comparing 1997 El Nino to the one developing.
    Jul 24, 2015. 04:38 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Swine Flu, MERS, Ebola And Medical News Concentrator May 23, 2015 To ?? [View instapost]
    Will the Gates Foundation pay for vaccinations? Who pays? This is great news if someone with deep pockets steps up to the table. Many of the countries with the worst malaria problems are poor, if I am not mistaken. Will those gov'ts prioritize and protect the people? Lots of potential if the money becomes available.
    Jul 24, 2015. 04:29 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Quick Chat #281 June 1 2015 [View instapost]
    El Nino usually brings slightly cooler temps and 20% - 50% more rain to parts of TX. West TX could see rainfall double. The aquifers need a wet winter and this could be good for ag. Will need to look for more regional data. This one on TX is interesting.
    Jul 24, 2015. 04:26 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment