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Tony Petroski

Tony Petroski
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  • Shanghai falls 3% - its biggest decline in 14 months - following the selloff in the West and tighter policy coming out of its own government as well. Following a State Council meeting headed by Premier Wen, Beijing told authorities to "decisively" curb real estate speculation. FXI -0.9% premarket. [View news story]
    "Following a State Council meeting headed by Premier Wen, Beijing told authorities to 'decisively' curb real estate speculation."

    This ain't Greenspan's irrational exuberance. These folks know how to enforce an edict. Now I know why Krugman loves this style of "capitalism."

    "It takes a few bullets to make the bullet trains run on time."
    -- Yogi Mussolini
    Feb 21 07:37 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • More on Wal-Mart (WMT): The company addresses the issue of February sales, saying that due to the delay in tax refunds normal consumer spending patterns were disrupted. Due to the slow start to FQ1, the company expects comparable store sales to be flat during the period. WMT -0.8% premarket. (previous, PR[View news story]
    You have to love accountants--a 17% decline in sales become "flat" sales in 3 days.
    Feb 21 07:32 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Matt and Melissa Crusan have become at least the second set of passengers from the Carnival Triumph to sue Carnival (CCL) over an engine fire that left the cruise liner stricken in the Gulf of Mexico and needing to be towed to port, which took four days. Seeking class-action status for over 3,000 other passengers, the Crusans argue that Carnival is liable for physical and emotional anguish, and punitive damages. [View news story]
    Civilized people attempt to settle their differences amicably. If that doesn't succeed after many attempts, they involve the public and the legal system--they don't immediately file suit and attempt to seek "class-action" status just after docking.

    On a more positive note, I received notice from California that I am in line for my share of a class-action suit against Toyota--the notice required me to read a 75-page booklet of legalese--like our legislators, I don't have time for that. But the gross is 77 cents a share (before legal fees).

    A license to steal. I only wish I would get a decent share of the loot. Why do Butch and Sundance (the law firm representing me) get to cut themselves in for 95%?
    Feb 21 07:24 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • More on FOMC minutes: Those expressing concern about the costs/risks from further asset purchases are upgraded to "many" from "several." A "number" said a close look at the data might well lead the FOMC to "taper or end" QE before a substantial improvement in the labor market occurred. "Several" argue the risks of ending too soon are also significant. Status quo for now, but the monetary law of the land can clearly no longer be called QE∞. [View news story]
    Macro. School out early?

    I dearly hope for change in the amount of media angst which, before our new-new normal would have kicked in about 1 year into the Age of Obama resulting in blistering criticism for chronic high unemployment. All we get now are promises to raise the minimum wage and Obamaphones--not much hope for the unemployed, especially for youngsters.

    I hate misery and it seems like QE 6.5 is misery without end.

    I hope I'm wrong and the Fed gooses a robust recovery with new jobs for all.
    Feb 20 02:47 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • More on FOMC minutes: Those expressing concern about the costs/risks from further asset purchases are upgraded to "many" from "several." A "number" said a close look at the data might well lead the FOMC to "taper or end" QE before a substantial improvement in the labor market occurred. "Several" argue the risks of ending too soon are also significant. Status quo for now, but the monetary law of the land can clearly no longer be called QE∞. [View news story]
    How about QE 7.5 now that it seems like 6.5 is a number that no longer fits the new new-normals?
    Feb 20 02:27 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Does Warren Buffett Think That The Market Is Expensive? [View article]
    For those of you Buffett lovers who lionize every move that the Oracle of Obama...er...Omaha makes, consider a few of his famous quotes:

    "Be brave when there is blood on the street--unless it's your blood."

    "Here's my check for $40,000,000,000 Mr. Geithner. As I'm undertaxed I only thought it proper to do what I can."

    "If you sniff trouble and need to get defensive, consider ketchup."
    Feb 20 01:49 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Watch out retail: The United States Postal Service announces a licensing deal with Wahnocah Group to allow the company to sell a USPS-branded Rain Heat & Snow line of clothes and accessories for men. Though the agency doesn't have to back the venture financially, it's still a head-scratcher with demand for USPS garb seemingly minimal. [View news story]
    The copywriter doesn't think like a marketer. Consider the possibilities flowing from this link-up:

    A USPS-brand of seat cushion sold at NFL and NCAA games.

    USPS-tested kevlar vests "Just in case your cube-neighbor 'goes postal.'"

    Customer-service seminars given by USPS clerks--"If we can make it there...we'll make it, anywhere..."

    ...,?...that's all I can come up with...oh...alright...... this one's a head-scratcher.
    Feb 20 01:38 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Housing Starts Still Looking Strong [View article]
    Reading the Sunny Beach Pundit over the years, I never can quite figure out the source of his optimism as he seems like a closet supply-sider and we are all New Normal Keynesians Now.

    This from the Sunny Beach Pundit in January of 2011:

    "This recovery has been sluggish compared to others, but the decline in claims is now more impressive than it was 18 months into the recoveries that started after the 1990 and 2001 recessions."

    Two years ago he was hopeful that the "impressive" decline in unemployment claims was the signal for a robust recovery after a very slow start.

    Alas, some rules that I thought were like gravity are really not so concrete. The Sunny Beach Pundit is proving that sometimes stopped clocks are never right.
    Feb 20 11:52 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Confessions of a Stimulator: Which Jobs Don't Count [View article]
    "And like the bridge repair, the recovery of the economy and the reduction of the unemployment rate just pokes along."

    More than two years later and the stimulai just came and went without trace. The bridges are still under repair and all I got for four trillion dollars was this lousy Obamaphone.

    Forward!
    Feb 20 11:01 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Economy Glass Is Getting Half Full [View article]
    With the benefit of hindsight, the religious hope of Mr. Mc Teer never panned out. The hoped-for GDP growth of 4-5% or more never took hold. Two years hence, we still hope for change except now we are taxing millionaires and billionaires and the stock market likes that.

    Go figure.
    Feb 20 10:57 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Too Much Fuel Will Extinguish The Fire [View article]
    "Stocks can't go up in a line forever, can they?

    Actually, they can, but we'll get to that in a minute."

    Are you getting to that in a future article? Even stocks moving up and down in an upward channel don't go up "in a line" forever. I know you didn't mean just that, but the action since November 15th has a weird and phony feel to it going up "in a line." It's almost as if the market is signalling some golden age that we haven't yet strode into.

    Still, even in nominal terms, I'm betting the market doesn't go up in a line forever.

    Things could get ugly now that the stock bubble has been reinflated. At least the real-estate bubble remains popped.
    Feb 20 07:44 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Some 40K people marched on the U.S. capital over the weekend to protest the Keystone XL (TRP) pipeline project, whose rejection could cause a deep and lasting rift with the U.S. But perhaps Canada is not such a benign trading partner, according to Huffington Post's Raymond Learsy, who says Alberta’s government has given "generous donations to Islamists with close connections to Hamas." [View news story]
    So has our new Secretary of Defense. Why hold the deal up over that?
    Feb 19 08:26 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chinese army unit 61398, also known as "Comment Crew," has been identified as most probably responsible for numerous cyberattacks on U.S. targets, security company Mandiant has alleged in a report. While Mandiant didn't name specific targets, victims include Coca Cola (KO) - when it was trying to acquire Chinese company Huiyuan Juice Group for $2.4B - and VMware's (VMW) RSA, as well as a firm with access to over 60% of oil and gas pipelines in North America. [View news story]
    This is very embarrassing for our U.S. security people and our government. It always amazes me that the Chinese communists have no idea of our Western need to save face.
    Feb 19 08:03 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The WSJ takes issue with the assertion by the White House, and echoed by the NYT, that "a range of economic studies" show that increasing the minimum doesn't "measurably" hurt jobs. That "grossly misstates the weight of the evidence," says economist David Neumark, with 85% of studies finding "a negative employment effect on low-skilled workers." Especially hard hit are young black adults, the WSJ argues. [View news story]
    In the global-warming "debate" we are always hit with "all scientists agree that..." and "there is a consensus that ocean levels will..." and that usually ends all debate.

    Well in the economic sphere there is a consensus that raising the price of something lowers the demand for that thing with some rare exceptions. It's as close as the economics profession can get to "settled science."

    To have these "debates" year after year gets tiresome. Young adults would be "especially hard hit" except that none of them have jobs--they've already been hit.
    Feb 18 08:13 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The NYT backs President Obama's call to increase the minimum wage, although it wants the figure raised further than Obama's "low-ball" proposal of $9/hour. "The argument that a higher wage will kill jobs has been debunked by a range of studies," while it also boosts productivity," the NYT writes. Over on Reuters, Reihan Salam calls the minimum wage "a poor solution," saying there are better, more targeted anti-poverty policies, such as tax credits. [View news story]
    I usually disagree with the "news" reported by the Times which is nothing more than extremist left-wing agitprop, but this time they are onto something. I've always thought that the law should require the minimum wage to be the average hourly billing rate of attorneys in a city. Probably in New York that would come to $200 an hour.

    Why should attorneys like our current president and all our lawmakers live high off the hog while others suffer low wages? It's simple social justice.

    If $200 an hour is too big a leap in one year, make it $100 this year and phase in the $200 next year.
    Feb 18 08:07 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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