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  • Investor's Remorse [View article]
    Wow -- pretty touchy! I personally got a good chuckle out of reading George's wry witticism. If anyone in the world is fair game for a little ribbing, or better yet, drubbing, it would be Dick Cheney. He certainly never refrained from dishing it out, as I think I recall that "Nasty" was his middle name. Anyway, anyone who chooses to manipulate public service to his own special interests the way Cheney did (and he certainly was competent about it) should have a pretty tough hide by this point, so I wouldn't waste too much energy worrying about upsetting his delicate constitution.
    Aug 9, 2014. 06:47 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • ChannelAdvisor's (ECOM) CEO Scot Wingo on Q2 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript [View article]
    That was the worst transcription of a conference call I've ever read, with much of it entirely incomprehensible. While many of the earnings call transcripts include minor typos and misspelled words, this one sounds as though it was written by someone with little working knowledge of the English language. Is there anything Seeking Alpha can do to improve the quality control, at least to the point of making a document like this somewhat useful?
    Aug 5, 2014. 01:40 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Amazon Vs. Alibaba: Game On [View article]
    I had the opposite reaction to you, peregrine -- I got a big chuckle out of the (obviously bantering) "hello dear cherubs" greeting. In fact, this entire article was a real joy to read. Arne is clearly a gifted writer who enjoys subtle word plays and imbues his elucidating analyses with a gentle sense of humor. And this on a website where the ability to write coherently is all too scarce.

    Reading this article has prompted me to go back and read Arne's other offerings, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what he comes up with in the future. To Mr. Alsin: thanks!
    Dec 27, 2013. 02:23 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why, Abe? [View article]
    Marc, please do us a favor and engage the services of an editor for your articles. You have a lot of interesting insights to offer -- I think, but sometimes it sure is tough to figure out what you're trying to say. At the very least, the effort of negotiating your grammatical and lexical hurdles detracts from focusing on your message.

    In any case, thank you for sharing your knowledge of the investing world with us readers.
    Dec 27, 2013. 01:30 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Business and union leaders have reached an agreement on pay levels for a guest worker program for low-skilled temporary jobs, thereby clearing the way for a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation that would allow 11M illegal immigrants to eventually gain citizenship. "This issue has always been the deal breaker on immigration reform, but not this time," said Senator Charles Schumer. [View news story]
    Or better yet, move the border a little further north and give that land we stole from the Mexicans nearly 200 years ago, Texas, back to Mexico! In fact, why not accede to the wishes of the Confederacy and let the South go -- let's sell all of Dixieland to Mexico. The remaining US would be a lot less reactionary and less schizophrenic! Besides, it would be fun, and we could the proceeds to retire some of the US debt!
    Apr 1, 2013. 02:33 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Don't Fight The Fed: Investment Strategy For The Coming 'Unwind' [View article]
    Well, according to the IMF World Economic Outlook Database of October 2012, the U.S. stood at 107.18% government debt compared with GDP. In contrast, Norway was at 49.61%, Luxembourg at 21.71%, Estonia at 8.17%, Thailand at 44.17%, Taiwan at 41.73%, Chile was at 11.42%, Australia at 27.07%, Ecuador at 18.77%, Paraguay at 12.94%, China at 22.16%, Russia at 11.03%, UAE at 16.47%, Kuwait at 7.24%, Saudi Arabia at 5.50%, and so on. There really aren't many countries in the world where the debt to GDP ratio exceed that of the U.S, except Japan and the GIIPS (and even Spain is lower).

    The point is not that all those countries are without problems and prime targets for our investments, but that over the years to come many of those currencies are likely to outperform the overextended currencies of many of the most developed economies of the world. I like my chances in some of the best emerging markets of the world, as the US, Japan and the EU continue to devalue its currencies in search of a soft landing for its debt problems.
    Apr 1, 2013. 02:00 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Don't Fight The Fed: Investment Strategy For The Coming 'Unwind' [View article]
    Very interesting discussion of the various scenarios that could play out over the coming years. I find the argument that the Fed can't afford to unwind compelling, and I understand how inflation can't very well take root while unemployment is so high. But I don't see anyone mentioning the other way eventually to pay off our enormous debt: the dropping dollar.

    Inflation may not afflict us at home due to increased demand, but still we must compete against a global market for any commodities (to say nothing of many manufactured goods) in which we as a nation aren't self-sufficient. Our recent progress in energy production (both fracking for gas and oil and in renewable energies) is allowing us some significant relief, and we're still net exporters of food. Nevertheless, I suspect the value of the dollar is bound for long-term free-fall against countries that have better managed their balance sheets. The average American citizen will become poorer and poorer, the average American multinational CEO will do just fine, and the divide between the rich and poor in this country will make us resemble more and more the classic Latin American dictatorships. I don't see how these trends are going to be good for our democracy and way of life.
    Mar 31, 2013. 11:32 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Monsanto's Recent Indiscretions: Add Them to the List [View article]
    The truth is that Monsanto has developed some amazing technological advances in the form of both selective breeding and genetically modified seeds, greatly expanding agricultural production. The problem is that these technological marvels are very likely leading us toward an eventual ecological disaster, with the introduction of organisms that are not part of the existing ecosystem (think about how invasive species introduced from other parts of the world often run amok and wreak havoc in regions where they are not native). Worse, we already have seen that human engineered genetic combinations have become incorporated into wild plants through interbreeding and risk running completely out of human control with unforeseeable consequences.

    Despite the praise of many farmers along the lines of Q98 above for Monsanto's advances, over the decades the company has promoted an industrial agriculture dependent on vast amounts of oil, pesticides and fertilizers, and even their genetically modified seeds will inevitably result in further ecological crises as we interfere with the complex interactions of natural ecosystems that have evolved in tandem over the millennia. If we want to survive over the long haul, our economic system needs a paradigm shift toward decentralized, locally sustainable economic, energy and agricultural systems that are in balance with nature, not in its face.

    The fundamental problem is that Monsanto (like most all large publicly traded corporations) will invariably put quarterly profits before long-term consequences. You can't even really blame the individuals running these operations, because if they act according to some higher conscience, they will get tossed out on their butts in favor of a management more adept at jacking up the bottom line for the next quarterly report. It's the same issue we are facing with the big Wall Street banks, the health insurance companies, the oil companies, and so on. Our economy and our society have become enslaved to a political system dominated by huge corporations that act in their own short-term interest even when obviously against the public interest. Adam Smith's invisible hand of free enterprise, envisioned to act as a natural balancing force to keep our system in equilibrium without misguided interference by corrupt or even well-meaning politicians, has become a mutant monster sweeping all resistance out of its path.

    The solution has to be to cut off corporate power at its source: reverse the legal treatment of corporations as persons, limit campaign financing to individual donations, turn back the recent dismantling of regulations originally put in place decades ago to curb corporate excesses, and raise consciousness among voters about what gives rise to these deformities in our society. It's a big task, but we can start right here.
    Jul 12, 2010. 03:32 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Today in Commodities: Bloodbath [View article]
    The bailed out investment banks have been using their taxpayer-funded cash to invest in commodities and stocks and replenish their balance sheets (certainly not to lend to small business!). This has been part of a tacit agreement with the Administration (both this one and the last) to re-instill consumer confidence by reflating the stock market and other asset prices, as deflation has been the Fed's biggest boogeyman.

    All was going along remarkably well, with Obama keeping his fingers crossed that the foxes he'd hired to reform the henhouse would simultaneously bail him out politically via this sweetheart deal. But he kept reminding the banks over the months that they really had to behave themselves, at least for public perception. Well the banks have gotten so cocky, knowing they've had every recent president kowtowing to their every wish by financing their campaigns, that they just couldn't restrain themselves from distributing the biggest bonuses in history even while the masses were staring at empty cupboards. Understandably enough, this pissed off a lot of voters and made Obama pretty mad too, as he probably had naively thought he could trust the banks, who were now in their boundless greed making him look bad. So he finally decided to get tough with his proposal for taxes on the bonuses, saying, "I warned you guys to play it cool and you didn't listen to me, so here goes."

    Were the banks going to let themselves be pushed around by a mere president who had been their stool pigeon thus far? Heck no! They said, "We'll teach you a lesson here and show you who's really in charge! We're putting the big hurt on you until you step back in line."

    Didn't everybody notice how the financial media drumbeat, so glibly positive for so many months in the face of grim financial data, suddenly started warning that the sky was about to fall from the day of Obama's proposal to levy the tax? All of a sudden the new drumbeat was about inflated multiples, worries about the deficit, commercial real estate defaults and on and on, all issues they'd been so studiously ignoring the previous few months. Good news such as beating earnings suddenly didn't count for much in the news. The WSJ knows to whom it is indebted for its privileged existence.

    So I agree that there's a manipulated shake-out, all right, but one with dire political overtones. No telling how far the market will go down, too, since the banks are not going to relent until Obama backs off or is rendered politically impotent by the damage to his recovery strategy. No doubt the investment banks are making lots of profits on the way down too: they could see this coming because they are the ones who decided it was time to flip the switch.

    What it appears we are witnessing here is a fierce battle for the real control of this government, precipitated by an pliable figurehead beginning to realize he'd been duped and used and then trying to reassert his supposed power. I don't know whether he recognizes how outgunned he is by the Wall Street syndicate. His only hope is to multiply his power by enlisting the angry masses in this battle, but he's kept secret the dark side of his little pact with the devil and now can't very well publicly reveal that he sold his soul and now regrets it.

    Depending on how far Obama wants to push it, this could turn out to be the mother of all battles for control of the soul of this nation. The big corporations are as fully ensconced in the seat of power in this nation as the drug cartels are in Mexico or the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, and to stand up to them on is just as difficult and dangerous. Corporate power has grown so dramatically over the past few years since the collapse of Communism across the globe that it is no longer wielded subtly.

    If the Administration loses this current battle to rein in the banks, despite the massive popular anger toward Wall Street in the wake of the derivatives meltdown and resultant economic meltdown, this nation may never have another chance to root out the corruption. Soon our maladaptive economic system will have driven us irreversibly onto the shoals of economic collapse, or else the rocks of fascism, whereby the state becomes an oligarchy of corporate interests and crushes individual rights in the pursuit of economic control. Maybe we're already aground there and just haven't fully realized it yet, but just wait till you see the effects of the latest Supreme Court Decision removing all pretext of limits to the political power of corporations.
    Feb 5, 2010. 02:11 AM | 15 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Energy Will Lead the Next Commodity Shortage [View article]
    This author's general thesis of upcoming shortages in fossil fuels is quite plausible. Too bad he let's his reactionary political ideology get in the way of a dispassionate evaluation of our predicament. To rail ad nauseum against the environmental extremists is to completely miss the point of why we're in our present day fix. We could only wish that greenies had anything like that much power in our large-corporation dominated political system (almost as true with the Democrats as with the Republicans). If we'd only taken Jimmy Carter's environmental foresight seriously instead of tossing him out of office in favor of Reagan's deregulation of big business and decoupling of federal spending from any semblance of control, we'd be most of the way off foreign oil dependence and onto a variety of renewable energy sources at this juncture -- and probably without the Iraq & Afganistan foreign entanglements as well as the wrenching collapse of the house-of-cards American banking system selling ponzi scheme worthless paper to the rest of the world.

    Anyway, all political biases aside, the US might as well bite the bullet now in our time of distress and upheaval and get onto a sustainable energy track. Anything less is just delaying the inevitable day of paying the piper. There's nothing radical about investing in an infrastructure based on technologies and systems that are sustainable, local and independent for the foreseeable future. Natural gas certainly fills some of the bill, but we're likely to discover very shortly that global climate change is not a shrill alarmist cry but an enormous issue that will dominate our struggle to survive as a species. Virtually every scientist in the world who isn't beholden to corporate entrenched interests via having their research funded by an energy company has come to that hair-raising conclusion. I'm always bemused that so many Americans are repeatedly brainwashed so easily by corporate special interest marketing. You'd think that in light of the widespread anger these days toward the big banks and the Fed in collusion with the politicians for ripping the rest of us off to line their own wallets, most Americans would be suspicious of other similarly powerful big industry groups. But no, we continue to buy into their self-serving disseminations as they paint their enemies (ie those who want to free the people from their choke holds) as extremists or worse. Wake up and start to think for yourselves, people!

    Various sources of renewable energy are currently extremely cost competitive with new developments of non-renewables, whether we're talking oil, natural gas, coal or nuclear. And that's without even considering the enormous subsidies these entrenched industries are enjoying, from infrastructure buildouts to taxation policies, and from taxpayer funded liability insurance to our fighting foreign wars. The challenge with renewables is they require a mental shift: they have to be site specific -- what works in the Southwest sunbelt is different than what works on the windy great plains or the geothermally active mountains of Alaska. Once the initial capital outlay is made (and for example, wind energy is cheaper than even coal in this regard), the fuel is free and it's difficult for the existing big energy companies to rake in the same profits. So of course they're doing their level best to discredit this whole trend with massive disinformation. Remind anyone of the tobacco companies?
    Oct 6, 2009. 07:20 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Stuck Between Gold's Rise and Market's Decline [View article]
    Good point on the evils of rewarding those who have failed. But why such an outcry regarding families victimized by the excesses of the banking system and the failures of the government? Where is the outrage about the people in charge who should have seen this coming but were blinded by their greed for profits and their self-serving deregulation ideology? Most of these families who are now in trouble were led like sheep to the slaughter.
    Feb 23, 2009. 05:39 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wuxi Pharma: Too Much of a Good Thing [View article]
    The more relevant question at this point is, what is likely to happen to the stock price when the current bout of insider trading has run its course and we have come out the other side of the perfect storm, humbled but still kicking? With a growing business and very low stock valuation, are we looking a perfect conditions for a dramatic rebound? Or do you see continued pressures keeping the stock price depressed for the foreseeable future?
    Jun 19, 2008. 07:49 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Drilling in ANWR: What's Not to Like? [View article]
    What's not to like is:

    a) The enormous expense and energy of developing ANWR is diverting us from the vital task of getting off our oil addiction and developing our renewable energy resources. Until we move in this direction, we will continue to be at the mercy of middle eastern oil producers and get sucked into more bankrupting overseas military fiascos.

    b) Even in the best-case scenario, ANWR oil won't get to the consumer for more than a decade from now; other energy sources can be tapped much more quickly.

    c) While it is not yet perfectly clear what the effect on our global climate and local weather patterns will be, and while there are of course natural cycles of climate change, it makes no sense to imagine that humans injecting massive greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by burning oil and coal aren't having a significant impact on the global atmospheric and ecological systems. In fact, if natural cycles are warming the earth now anyway, it is even MORE urgent for us not to exacerbate the problem by burning more oil.

    d) Quite possibly even more alarming than climate change is the acidification of the world's oceans, as a direct result of the rapid rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. The impact on the oceans' primary productivity is drastic and may result in a collapse of that vital food resource around the world.

    e) it is insane to be using up our precious remaining oil reserves (that are relatively easy to get at and affordable to extract) by burning them, both in the internal combustion engine and for heating. Other sources of energy -- generated from renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and wave -- can serve those purposes admirably. We should be saving our oil for uses for which there aren't easy substitutes, such as petrochemicals, plastics, and the myriad other products that have become essential in our modern technological economy.

    f) A national crash program to develop our vast domestic renewable energy resources would be a terrific stimulus to the US economy. We could put to beneficial use America's legendary abilities to innovate and adapt to change, become a world leader in an industry with huge export potential, win back much of the admiration of the rest of the world that we have squandered under the current administration, and more or less save the world to boot. Only our flat-earth mindset is standing in the way.
    Jun 13, 2008. 08:59 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Oil a Bubble? Part 3 [View article]
    The author writes "I am not one to completely ignore the environment either. However, I have read that Louisiana, where many of our drilling and refineries are located, is one of the top areas for fisheries, and that the fish have thrived amid the drilling infrastructure."

    Jordan: Good article, but you're radically off base here. Fish in the Gulf may be thriving, but any human concerned about health shouldn't be eating them. Gulf fish and seafood are loaded with toxic chemicals and heavy metals, thanks largely to the oil development in the area.

    In contrast, the waters of Alaska are still pristine (save where residual oil sludge from the Exxon Valdez still permeates the beaches of Prince William Sound), and the salmon produced here are some of the healthiest food produced on this planet. Out salmon runs are thriving, too -- unlike the salmon of the West Coast and most of the rest of the world, which have been annihilated by industrial development. Drilling for oil in ANWR or Bristol Bay would most certainly be the first phase of the destruction of Alaska's healthy wild ecosystems.

    I want to profit from my energy stocks as much as anyone, and besides I benefit from Alaska's annual oil permanent fund dividend -- to say nothing of the absence of a state income or sales tax -- but I live here because the air is clean, the wild food is pure, the wilderness is close at hand and the quality of life is so high most of the rest of the world can't even conceive of it. I don't want our addiction to an obsolete, environmentally destructive and politically suicidal oil industry to continue devastating my home or the rest of the planet. It's time to start thinking outside the box and develop our vast renewable energy resources. They can be the foundation of an economy much stronger and more stable than our current oil-dependent house of cards.

    Jun 10, 2008. 10:48 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's iChat and China: The Perfect Marriage [View article]
    <if you are obsessed with grammer over content, don't read blogs. Go read some journals by Harvard professors.>

    Hey, User 163362 -- grammar (and spelling for that matter, where you obviously face some challenges of your own!) really have only one purpose: to facilitate communication. Incorrect grammar and spelling make it tough to read and comprehend any sort of writing. It makes no difference whether the text is published in a scholarly journal or posted on a blog.

    In both cases cited here -- the incorrect use of apostrophes for plurals and your misspelling -- it's pretty simple to figure out what the authors intended. But even these mistakes do distract from the content, diverting the reader's attention when noticing the gap in the grammatical logic of the passage, often causing him to go back to re-read the passage and double-check whether some aspect of the message was missed in the first reading, and generally interrupting the flow of thought that the author was trying to convey. Good writing paints a vivid mental picture; lousy writing interferes with that flow.

    While these are hardly the most egregious examples of spelling and grammar errors, I support Grammar Nazi in trying to elevate the level of writing (and thereby communication) here and everywhere else words are put to virtual paper. Too many people in our blogging/text-messagin... society don't have a clue how to get their ideas across effectively.

    Jun 6, 2008. 06:53 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
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