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  • The Debt Limit Will Be Raised [View article]
    ´´A quick glance at the bond market, where 10-yr Treasuries are trading at 3%, is enough to know that the market is not at all concerned about the possibility that the US might actually default on its debt obligations.´´

    However, the market could just be dead wrong, although perhaps the author is suggesting that behind the scenes in-the-know politicians are telling bankers that the anarchists are all a charade. Let´s hope that is the case.
    Jul 25 06:58 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Nokia: The Story's Not Written Yet [View article]
    I did very well with BP and had the good luck to pick the bottom. I think there is a good chance that Nokia may provide outsize returns over the next couple of years, but I would not bet the farm on it.

    The dividend is only paid annually, and cannot be considered to be safe at this point, but if the Windows phone takes off in the fall, then one assumes the dividend will be paid and the stock will go up to, providing a nice reward in the future.
    Jul 25 11:23 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Positioning Investments for a Debt Ceiling Decision [View article]
    I don´t want to exaggerate, and in some ways the Dominican Republic is a better place to live than the US and in certain respects there is more freedom for individuals, though possibly not if the individual is a corporation.

    On the Happy Planet Index the Dominican Republic ranks ·14 in the world and the USA number 150 in spite of the USA being number one in consumption of antidepressants.

    However, what I am saying is that if the population of the US really wants a radically different kind of society, it needs to know what it is getting into and what the dichotomies might be.

    For example, is it better to have guys selling bootleg Viagra or other prescription drugs on the street corners than to have food stamps? Do you mind if people convert their automobile, in which they sleep, into a mobile shoe store in the parking lot of the mall or in front of the court house rather than have unemployment benefit?

    You could well argue that at least they are supporting themselves and not bothering the government, and if that is the greater good, then so be it.

    Would it be OK for people to get private health and dental insurance in other countries that border on the US, and would employers facilitate this?
    Jul 24 10:45 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President Obama says House Speaker Boehner has decided to walk away from debt limit negotiations. Earlier today, Boehner had suggested talks would continue.  [View news story]
    ´´Do you seriously believe Al Gore has all those SS withholdings in a lock box buried somewhere on the grounds of his Tennessee estate?´´

    I never understood the lockbox thing. Down here in Florida a lockbox is a thing that real estate sales people attach to the front door of a house that is like a kind of padlock with a little box that contains the key that gives access to the house. I think Gore just meant that SS funds should be maintained in a different bank account with a different accounting system and should not be fungible with general funds.

    He might just have lost that election here in Florida, because no one knew what he was talking about.

    I´m not sure that anyone younger than baby boomers is guaranteed a loss of capital on SS contributions. As far as I know the equation to calculate SS returns has not yet been changed, and depends on factors like how much you were earning and, of course, how long you live.

    One calculator I looked at suggested that someone born around 1980 and earning about $40000 per year would get a return equivalent to about 2% or a shade more.
    Jul 24 04:40 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President Obama says House Speaker Boehner has decided to walk away from debt limit negotiations. Earlier today, Boehner had suggested talks would continue.  [View news story]
    Yeah, well, when I was 30, I didn´t think I would live to see 60, but here I am still alive and kicking.

    I don´t know why Obama is talking about Social Security now, as it is not the real issue. I think it is just a scare tactic to moblilize senior voters against the Republicans.

    There will still be a government pension when your reach 60 or 70, I am sure, but at the same time you do need more than Social Security if you want a prosperous retirement.

    I have pensions from jobs in three countries, plus deferred compensation which I saved voluntarily in addition to my job´s pension, plus the expectation of some Social Security in a couple of years time. You need at least three legs for your retirement stool, if not four, but for an awful lot of people Social Security is an important factor.

    It doesn´t exist in many third world countries, and the alternative is that older people become the dependents of their own children, or become beggars and soon die. Maybe that is what we want in the United States, but programs like Social Security and Medicare were originally set up earlier in the 20th century so as to get away from that.
    Jul 23 08:46 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President Obama says House Speaker Boehner has decided to walk away from debt limit negotiations. Earlier today, Boehner had suggested talks would continue.  [View news story]
    ¨In addition, more employees would be likely to contribute themselves since they had more of their own money suddenly not heisted from them by a WDC do-gooder, cold hearted bureaucrat. And their return would be MASSIVELY higher over the years.´´

    In your case, yes, or maybe, since if you fit the typical SeekingAlpha demographic, you are probably white, professional or business owner, college educated, etc.

    However, don´t you think it is possible that many people would be swindled out of their life savings by Wall St. hucksters, etc. or would put their money in get rich quick unsuitable investments?

    For a start it is clear that anyone who spends their spare money on lottery tickets is not playing with a full deck, and that is a lot of people just to start with.

    And if everyone could beat the return on investment of Social Security, then surely the Government could invest the money and get an even better return. Why not put every citizen in the same retirement pension plan as the members of Congress? And give them the same health insurance? The answer, of course, is that it would never work, because these boondoggles are subsidized.

    How much experience do you, Wyatt, actually have with living and working with ordinary working people who are not college educated or financially literate? Did you know that about 80% of the people in this country believe that most of the details of their lives, especially their sex lives, are governed and supervised by an all seeing, all knowing sky god, a completely irrational belief that runs contrary to all known experience?

    What examples of other countries can you show us where the population as a whole benefits from the lack of a goverment retirement pension?

    Would you like to explain to us exactly what your personal professional experience is or was in the financing of health care?

    In particular, can you explain how insurance companies can make large profits for shareholders and still deliver better more cost effective health care to an elderly populations than Medicare, which is not for profit?

    If this is the case, could we not just have the Government employ insurance companies to administer Medicare funds, and let the taxpayer keep the difference of the money saved?

    Even in countries that have comprehensive health care like the UK, private enterprise is not completely excluded from the health system, and there are many levels of private contracting to provide the different kinds of services needed by a large population.

    However it seems evident that efficiencies must be achievecd by a measure of centralized planning. For example, if a given territory has double the number of maternity beds and obstetricians that it effectively needs for the number of births expected, then this cannot be cost effective. On the other hand if there are not enough, then that won´t work either. And don`t just tell me that market forces will take care of everthing. In the long run we are all dead, as Keynes said, but we can do better than that while we wait for the inevitable.
    Jul 23 07:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Whitney Tilson Smarter Than These Great Investors? [View article]
    Does Tilson have a questionable reputation? Have you been to Papua New Guinea? Is there a world shortage of LNG? Can this product, assuming the reserves are as great as is claimed, be brought to market profitably by this company?

    Seeing is believing, and I will believe when I see. Anyhow, if I assume a short position on Interoil and lose all my money, you should be very happy.
    Jul 23 01:51 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Nokia: This Stock May Surprise You. Here's Why [View article]
    Well, my long and option position in Nokia is already showing a ROI of 10% so far in less than a week. A bit more upside and we will be talking some real money.

    If that is insanity, then you can keep any lost marbles.
    Jul 21 02:46 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Whitney Tilson Smarter Than These Great Investors? [View article]
    Don´t be so sure about that. I looked into this issue in some detail last year, read many articles, annual reports, etc., had some private correspondence with an accountant in Australia and came to the conclusion that Tilson is probably right. It is also reasonable to assume that he may have some information that he has not published.

    I would be extremely wary of taking a long position in Interoil, or if I did, I would want it very well hedged, but I think there are better investment opportunities elsewhere.
    Jul 21 08:02 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Nokia: This Stock May Surprise You. Here's Why [View article]
    Not exactly, because the devil is always in the details, and with the options trade the stock could be down, but you would still be in profit. However, selling puts IS a long position,and the supposition is that there is an excellent chance that Nokia stock may recover from its current swoon if the Windows phone catches on.

    With the Facebook-Skype-Nokia hookup, you could see a worldwide epidemic of phone sex that would make billions. (I know, I know, but one has to look at potential real life applications!)
    Jul 20 04:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 6 Stocks that Make Good Bear Call Spread Writing Candidates [View article]
    SInce in bear call spreads what you want to do is sell premium and then let the theta decay, you don´t necessarily have to locate stocks that you think are overvalued, as stocks that are unlikely to move sharply upwards are just as good if you don´t mind waiting for your money.

    In a recent comment on these boards a gentleman who has recently quit working for a hedge fund and who has an interest in natural resources suggested that BHP Billiton stock could not be expected to make much headway due to the already very large size of the conglomerate and the vast number of shares outstanding.

    This seems like a rational thesis for selling bear call spreads. Find companies that are too big to grow explosively, pay dividends, and yet have sufficient volatility to make premium harvesting profitable. Bought on upward volatility spikes and rallies such companies should yield up some of their wealth to the investor.
    Jul 13 09:00 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sirius's Shares Heading for a Major Slump [View article]
    The author has written a number of articles on SeekingAlpha mostly indicating companies that he believes may be overvalued or whose stocks could be vulnerable should the market tank. Phil´s Stock World is also an excellent source of information and discussion on longs, shorts, covered calls, hedging, and other topics of interest. Just write Philip Davis in the search box.
    Jul 12 01:55 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • America the Jobless Ghost Ship Sails Onward [View article]
    As I recall, after the assassination of President Garfield in 1870, competitive exams were introducedfor post office jobs, a kind of IQ test. This means that the post office is full of brilliant test takers who couldn´t get jobs elsewhere for one reason or another.

    Still, great literacy skills come in handy reading addresses.

    What you say about college may be true of many degree subjects, although there is a certain irony that nursing courses are in short supply and are always 100% subscribed, but that the US cannot educate enough doctors to meet the demand and imports many medical graduates from overseas. In one hospital I worked at almost none of the physicians were US born,the largest number being from Vietnam and from an assortment of South and Central American countries.

    So interesting that we may have lost the war in Vietnam, but we got most of their doctors!
    Jul 10 08:14 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Not a Short Covering Rally [View article]
    First generation American versus heritage Americans is not really a matter of race as there may be many races in both categories. It is just that once people start to buy into the profit at any cost mentality that is so predominant in the US business world, then their value to customers diminishes.

    For example, the first generation business person might be proud to make the best hamburgers in town, but the second generation entrepreneur looks to make hamburgers as cheaply as possible and sell them as high as posssible, thus adding less value from the consumer point of view.

    I only comment on my car repair guy being Muslim, because he has a newpaper article about pork on the wall of his reception area and because in many circles in the US Muslims are looked down upon due to association with terrorism, etc. whereas actually their religious principles may guide their business practices .

    Islam, as a matter of principle, prohibits all activities which may cause harm either to the traders or the consumers in the market.
    Jul 9 09:26 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • What the VIX Is Telling Investors [View article]
    One of the best recent articles on SA.

    @Convo. Making money is definitely good, and there are almost inumerable strategies available. Right now I am short OTM AAPL put spreads in the expectation that the stock will continue to run up into earnings for the next few days, intending to close position before earnings and possibly sell OTM call spreads after earnings.

    By selling call spreads on VXX you are essentially short VIX or long the market. By setting a baited line and selling onto spikes, you are juicing the potential of the transaction, but the biggest danger is that sudden negative news (say a political assassination) drives the VIX quickly upwards outside the limits of your spread.

    The question is really whether the risk to reward of this particular trade offers gains greater than can be had elsehwhere for less or the same risk. Why not sell bull put spreads too at times of antispikes and make it into an iron condor? I t seems to me that the VIX can only revert to a level when fear subsides, and has little potential to spike sharply downwards.

    Or when volatility spikes does this have an inverse effect on the price of VXX puts so that more expensive SP500 puts cause cheaper VXX puts?
    Jul 9 10:50 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment