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Mark Bern, CFA
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Mark Bern (formerly K202) intends to continue writing solo and has shed other work-related relationships that required anonymity. CPA since 1990 a CFA charter holder since 2000. He has a bachelors degree in Business Admin. with a concentration in Economics. His experience includes both private... More
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  • Housing Starts Lowest in Six Months
    By Ellis Mnyandu Ellis Mnyandu – 16 mins ago

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were set to open lower on Wednesday after data showed U.S. housing starts fell unexpectedly in October, offsetting strength in the natural resources sectors amid U.S. dollar weakness.

    Housing starts dropped to their lowest level in six months, weighed down by a sharp decline in construction activity for both single-family and multi-family dwellings, the government reported.

    The data was the latest setback for investors eager for definitive signs that a recovery was gaining strength to justify loftier stock valuations, with indexes at 13-month highs.

    "The housing starts look bad, and it's going to put quite a bit of pressure on the market, especially after the run-up we've had. This is going to be a good time for investors to take profits," said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago.

    S&P 500 futures fell 1.50 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures slipped 13 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were off 4.25 points.

    Technology shares could be among the top drags after software maker Autodesk Inc (ADSK.O) forecast fourth-quarter earnings below expectations, and business software maker Inc (CRM.N) reported a slowdown in new business.

    Autodesk shares were off 7.5 percent at $24.98 before the bell, while Salesforce shares lost 4 percent to $62.98.

    But shares of gold miner Newmont Mining Corp (NEM.N) jumped 1.1 percent to $53.38, and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc (FCX.N) climbed 1 percent to $86.25 as spot gold prices hit a fresh record high near $1,150 an ounce.

    The dollar index (.DXY) declined 0.3 percent.

    (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

    Nov 18 9:28 AM | Link | 6 Comments
  • Is Buffett in bed with Obama?

    I worry when someone I admire for their investing acumen seems to have become a shill for our President.  Maybe I'm just too pessimistic about our economy.  But, it the US dollar continues its fall, investing overseas where growth is stronger, government deficits are smaller, and currencies are strengthening against the US$ would seem to provide a better expected yield.  It seems as though Mr. Buffett is trying to talk the market higher and dispel concerns over the economy.  If he can convince other major investors to invest capital in the US he may make his prophecy come true.  Only time will tell just how much clout the oracle from Omaha still wields.

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Warren Buffett, perhaps the world's most admired investor, said on Thursday the financial panic that gripped the globe last year is a thing of the past, even as the U.S. economy's struggles persist.

    "The financial panic is behind us," the world's second-richest person said at Columbia University's business school. "Our economy was sputtering, still is sputtering some."

    Buffett, 79, nevertheless said there is greater opportunity for investments inside the United States than outside, noting that the U.S. economy is far larger than any other.

    Last month, preliminary government data showed the U.S. economy expanded in the third quarter, the first three-month period of growth since the second quarter of 2008.

    Nonetheless, the U.S. unemployment rate last month reached 10.2 percent, the first double-digit reading in 26 years.

    Buffett last week made a big bet on the economy when his Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) (BRKb.N) agreed to pay about $26.4 billion for the 77 percent of railroad company Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp (BNI.N) that it did not already own.

    Separately, Buffett advised the government not to coddle companies that need federal bailouts to survive or to preserve sufficient capital. "More sticks are called for," he said.

    (Reporting by Clare Baldwin and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

    Tags: BRK.A, BRK.B, BNI, SPY
    Nov 12 4:01 PM | Link | 4 Comments
  • Renegade Photo & Video Collection
    I am trying the instablog thing for the first time soo please bear with me.   I liked User's idea about a repository of sounds that I had the thought that a place for photos & videos might also be helpful.  This is a test for now.  I'll expand it later if I get everything to work.

    I'm thinking of visuals that might help describe where we think the economy is going or maybe a response to a comment.  Let your imagination run.  As an example, this is sort of a visual interpretation of where I think our economy is at.

    New visual of how orderly our recovery is going.

    Everything is fine!  We just need to fine tune the plan a little.

    Oh good, a nice soft landing!

    Well, we got everything on the boat.  What more could you ask for?

    Hold your fire!

    Don't worry!  This is just a minor setback.

    Our leaders are driving the economy out of the recession.

    Another fine example of our leaders at work.

    The last picture on the camera!

    Lunch for the taxpayers!

    Isn't this a nice smooth ride?

    These next two are great examples of our government's current fiscal policy.

    Is there really plenty more room to run?

    Don't get in the way of Air Force 1!

    The next two exemplify results of leaning too far to one political pole.

    The next six photos depict the expected outcomes of operator errors.  They kinda remind me of how our government is managing our debt.

    Everything is fine since he hasn't been caught yet.  I can't help but suspect that this guy is an elected official.

    So far, so good!

    This is what happens when we follow ou elected officials blindly!

    There are some things you just know are going to end badly. 

    This is where we were at the end of 2008. 

    Where I believe the economy stands today!

    And then there is administration's answer to requests for more transparency below.

    This one is from Maya.  I think it depicts the problem very acurately.

    And I think we have to be careful in all situations.  You can't take anything for granted anymore.

    And when what seems like a safe path suddenly changes in perspective, we end up with something like this.  Not a great feeling, is it?

    When you have to make choices, it is always good to consider the important factors on both sides of each issue.

    If you really want to show someone that you're unhappy with them use the one below.

    Or if you are caught in a market freefall this next photo may capture your emotions.

    And then, for those of us who just knew that the market was ready to tumble and subsequently felt like we were being trampled by the bulls.

    I have been saying that this would be an early and cold winter.  I had to add these pics to better describe what I mean.

    And then there was the one that sort of explains a self inflicted wound.

    I liked this next one because it sort of explains visually how our government pictures as "everything is fine."

    Of course, our leaders have mapped everything out with great care.

    She must have used water colors.

    Your tax dollars hard at work.

    This next collection represents the housing market and its shaky foundations.

    Oct 30 10:50 PM | Link | 54 Comments
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