My entire childhood was spent with my two little brothers, and a series of mutts that we treated like brothers as well. I am head over heels with the news that the Westminster Kennel Club will finally allow mutts into the show. The mutts will not be allowed to compete for "Best in Show" and other titles, but they will get a chance on the first day to show the purebreds a thing or two about agility. This is part of a greater movement to save dogs from euthanasia, and to slow down puppy mills.
In addition to the inclusion of mutts, three additional breeds will compete:
- Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
- Rat Terrier
These new breeds will follow the legacy of the first Westminster show that only featured Setters and Pointers, held on May 8, 1877, (Kentucky Derby, 1875- the oldest American sporting event).
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a rabbit hunter and the Rat Terrier speaks for itself. Then there's the Chinook... like most purebreds, the dog is an amalgamation of other dogs.
Arthur Treadwell Walden began the mating from one male ancestor born in 1917 in New Hampshire, and named the breed "Chinook". The lead sled dog and stud was of impressive parentage. Chinook was a crossbreed of a female husky, used on the Admiral Peary North Pole Expedition, and a male mastiff. Chinook was then bred to an assortment of breeds, which included Belgian Sheepdogs and German Shepherds. The resulting breeds helped to grow dog sledding in New England, which focused on work and success.
These new breeds and mutts underscore why America has been so successful.
We're a nation of mutts, and celebrate our melting pot as a source of strength and pride. In fact, the notion mutts could attain things in a life reserved for aristocrats, and their minions in European nations set America apart, and unleashed excellence inherent in all people. The secret has been to reward that excellence, to reward effort; and to have the kind of system that encourages hard work, sacrifice, and determination. I think this America still exists.
Failed fiscal policy that has resulted in a lackluster recovery is being ignored and instead, powerful forces in America see a chance to argue for a new type of discrimination, a new type of aristocracy, that's raking in all the riches and limiting opportunities. For them, it would be better if we had something akin to socialism or communism. In such a system, excellence would be held in check in an effort to make everyone feel like a winner. In other words, it would be the antithesis of what drives all the dogs at the Westminster Dog Show- a desire to be the best.
Ironically, USSR has the most famous mutt in history, the Laika (photo -the dog orbited the earth as a lone passenger on Sputnik 2, which wasn't designed for the dog to return alive.) The USSR's failure as a nation should have put to rest any ideas, that no other system, other than capitalism, works best for the masses. Moreover, its inability to respect different cultures, hastened its break -up once the dominos began to fall.
So, congratulations to Westminster and congratulations to America; in both cases, the winner best exemplifies certain traits:
- Hard work
While the Natives Slept
The latest book from the so-called Tiger Mom continues to rub a lot of people the wrong way, and I continue to say: take your head out of the sand. Her point about culture is spot on, and defusing it with claims of racism only means people are sticking their heads even farther into the earth. America continues to be the land of milk and honey, but too many people born in this country are sleeping through the opportunities.
It's a combination of a lot of factors that keeps the natives from actually taking advantage of being born in the greatest nation in the world. For some, it's the idea that milk and honey should be a birthright while others are told they will never get a piece of the action so why bother trying. For people that don't think upward mobility in America still exists, and that includes a lot of people including the President of the United States, I present the latest example- Satya Nadella.
"Knowledge is Light"
Satya Nadella proves there are no limits for those in America that are prepared and determined, at the same time underscoring points made by Amy Chua in her book, "The Triple Package."
Born in India, Nadella went to public grade school and then attended Mangalore University, a public university founded in 1980, whose motto is "Knowledge is Light". Later, Nadella got his Masters in computer science at University of Wisconsin and in business at the University of Chicago, and then headed for Silicon Valley. After a stint with Sun Micro, he began his career at Microsoft in 1992. Working through the ranks, he became EVP in charge of Cloud computing in 2011 and took division revenues from $16.6 billion to $20.3 billion.
Satya Nadella will be the next CEO of Microsoft.
Knowledge is light and it's the only way to compete in the next century, and it's why the ridiculous focus on minimum wage, income inequality and punishing the rich is so misguided. People that arrive on our shores without the burden of being fat and poor and critical of America can hit the ground running and reaching.
Markets Selling Off
This morning, our market will be lower in part to continued news from around the world. We began the week under the dark cloud of an emerging market currency meltdown and this morning it's hints of disinflation or deflation in Europe. I understand money moves at the speed of light and there is natural angst built into a market, even one as up as much as the American market was over the last few years. Europe has serious issues with an aging population and socialist tendencies. More than likely the continent will become like Japan, where it finds a bottom and settles in for the long haul.
But anyone that thinks the emerging market miracle has been about easy money hasn't had lunch with someone from Malaysia or Chile lately. Capital inflows expedite growth, but long term success can only be driven by the kind of desire that come from knowing that knowledge is light. These nations will endure growing pains and it will impact markets, but the next century will see them make amazing gains against the West while the United States and Germany (and a few other northern European nations) are the only countries that might stand strong.
The wildcard for America is to groom homegrown Satya Nadella.
In an interview published this past December, the head of the Bundesbank said there is "no deflation" in sight for Germany. At the time, the inflation rate of 1.6% gave him a sense of confidence and a little cushion. Well, things are changing very quickly. Germany saw its rate of inflation decline at its fastest pace in four years at 0.7% landing it at 1.2%. Coming into the year there were already concerns about deflation in Europe and now that Eurozone inflation rating has dipped back to 0.7% there is a sense of panic.
Earlier in the month, ECB banker Mario Draghi seemed okay with letting inflation rates drift until March, now it's likely he will take emergency actions much sooner.
I would rather have the problems of emerging markets than Europe, but right now the market is dealing with both. If this lingers for months, it would alter our fundamental modeling for open positions and those on our wish list. But I think this is a temp issue with respect to emerging markets, and there will be actions to stem from freefalling prices in Europe.
It's a mixed bag once again, but Google will open at an all-time high and people are still eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill. I think the message of the markets this earning season has been the idea that there are winners and losers in a competitive nation. Misses by Master Card and warnings from Wal-Mart aren't indictments on the economy, even if management at those companies tries to throw the economy under a bus in an attempt to save face.
People are spending money even as their incomes remain stagnant. That means spending coming at the expense of less savings, but that's the goal of the Federal Reserve. Still, the next step is for consumers to spend money they don't have which they continue to eschew for several reasons including lower incomes.
We still think the best course of action is not to panic and to have funds ready to buy this dip at some point. Considering the pace of the pullback, that buying period could happen sooner rather than later, but it will not be today for the buy-and-hold investor.