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  • Recession Ends for Summers: Anyone Else?  [View article]
    Summers is staying on message ... he is going to sound optimistic as that is what people want to hear ... we do have a 2nd order of growth - getting less worse - but there will be a lag and the growth will be slow. I just don't see how we are going to get back to 5% unemployment - read Mauldin's piece from this weekend. The net jobs added that we need in the next 10 years seems like a pipe dream. The job creation engine has to go beyond taxpayer $ (govt spending) - I think the administration is starting to thinking about small business owners who create the majority of the jobs, but the language is often incongruent - tax here but incent there. The program and package for small business needs to be more internally consistent and long-term.
    Dec 14, 2009. 09:04 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Matt Taibbi: Obama's Big Sellout  [View article]
    This all reminds me of the classic quote by Peter Lynch:

    Go for a business that any idiot can run - because sooner or later, any idiot probably is going to run it.

    I don't think Obama is an idiot - from any cognitive functioning sense - but I just don't think he can really control this trillion dollar economy. It seems that his answer is to throw money at the problem and hope for the best. It's no secret that we live in a plutocracy - money talks and every lobbyist knows it - but when it's writ large for all to see (e.g., the Citi bailout and backstop), it's not pretty. I think Matt T. is more right than not and helps to put a mirror on the whole situation - what is looking back at us is grotesque, bloated, and distorted. I don't have a simple answer here ... as they say, who is watching those who are watching - it can become never ending.
    Dec 13, 2009. 05:32 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Google Phone, Unlocked (Confirmed and More Details)  [View article]
    You can already jailbreak or crack the iPhone + others (at least for TDMA/GSM variant vs. CDMA) ... at least it's available to do for a reasonable price ... I agree that it's better to be the "arms dealer" here vs. alienating the channel ... we'll see.
    Dec 13, 2009. 04:22 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Salesforce.com: The Double-Edged Sword of Iterative Marketing  [View article]
    Benioff is basically a marketing genius ... he really has been out-spoken and on-message long before it was a "cool" thing to do ... his guerrilla marketing has been impressive ... however, they have confused a few people and sometimes seem to be trying too hard to look innovative and cutting edge ... there are basic functions that are left wanting, with more time spent for Twitter, which is 90% Chatter - no pun intended.
    Nov 30, 2009. 02:36 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Thinking About the Cloud, Oracle and Salesforce.com  [View article]
    The Oracle move would be interesting ... or there is consolidation in the SaaS industry w/ SFDC leading the charge ... it could hurt parts of their ecosystem, but think of Siebel grabbing a number of complementary horizontals in Scopus, etc. They must spread the considerable SG&A over more of a footprint ... SFDC is already going for lock-in via intra/ternet, KM, social, etc. They will become harder to extract out. The platform is also a considerable force - no pun intended - and the idea of co-existing w/ on-prem makes sense on the enterprise side - for now. The SMB world could go mostly cloud - look at Appirio w/ the serverless enterprise - but that is their world. Practice what you preach.
    Nov 30, 2009. 02:24 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Trying to Understand Airline Executive Compensation  [View article]
    CLH - are you serious ... is that the same comp that retained all the talent in financial services ... most of the top execs make the most in margin-rich industries ... software, pharma, IB, etc. As a whole, the airline industry has a challenging business model - esp hub and spoke. Expensive hard and soft assets. There are just too many exceptions to your if-then statement. Based on the pay for performance (explicit or implied) contract and empirical research over the last five years, please expand on the "how private enterprise works." I have worked with many Fortune 500 firms.
    Nov 24, 2009. 07:29 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ritholtz, Ratigan Take on the 'Giant Vampire Squid'  [View article]
    The GS/Govt relationship is clear for all to see ... per Barry, GS has a nice quid pro quo going ... they are getting exactly what they paid for. The size of their latest bonuses is basically ridiculous, given the taxpayer backstops and the way the bankruptcy rules are applied differently for GS.

    The real shame would be if no one speaks up ... I have written my senators and congressman - I may be delusional, but if enough people speak up, it could become politically unfavorable for GS to pay out what they are looking to ... think John Thain and his 10m payout ...
    Jul 19, 2009. 03:42 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Serious Problems with the BLS Unemployment Numbers  [View article]
    These are the type of pieces I love to see on SA because they educate and elucidate. The B/D adjustment is suspect right now as historicals are not that as relevant - frankly, BLS could do some sort of exponential smoothing to re-weight more recent numbers ... if you look at overall forecasting in the corporate sector, exponential smoothing has been found to be fairly accurate - more so than more complex models. I'm glad someone is unpacking to assumptions to see how tenuous they really are ... the true unemployment picture is a significant anchor to growing our GDP and improving consumer spending ... the new normal is still pruning.
    Jul 5, 2009. 10:05 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Dow Is Headed to 6000  [View article]
    I would tend to agree w/ this piece ... the savings rate is only going up, esp. w/ the unemployment picture and threat of downsizing ... the top-line picture does not look good for many firms ... you can only slim-fast your way to EPS growth for so long. I'm not sure on the 6000, but the market is over-extended and was clearly looking for anything to rally on ... the additional regs and tax hits will only slow hiring in my mind ... EMEA is clearly not well - the global picture is not great - UK, Germany, Spain, etc. have more to de-leverage and soak up - the over-capacity story is strong across the globe.
    Jul 2, 2009. 02:32 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Restaurant Profits Eaten Up by Recession  [View article]
    I'm amazed at all the restaurant coupons I've been getting lately - BOGO's, 1/2 off, $5 off, etc. It's clearly a lagging indicator, but is telling in terms of how much they are hurting. I'm also seeing a lot more early-bird specials. At the end of the day, restaurant food is often overpriced and the food at the top restaurants is just not that much better than the value-priced restaurants - I know - I've done the "experiment" many times. I'm often dissappointed in the better restaurants - they rarely live up to the billing - tangible and intangible.
    Jun 16, 2009. 09:30 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Cramer's Mad Money - Obama's Revenge (3/5/09)  [View article]
    Cramer is like anyone who talks a lot (forecasts, asserts, etc.) - he will be right some of the time and wrong on others. The hit rate and materiality are important. My big issue w/ the administration is that they are trying to do too much at the same time ... health care, taxes, capital injections, etc. When the world is unpredictable and in a state of change, capital sits on the sidelines. In this environment, predictability is often more important that the perfect policy, which doesn't exist anyway. Today's problems were yesterday's solutions.
    Mar 7, 2009. 11:46 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • With a King's Ransom in Cash, Why Still No Buying Spree in the Tech Space?  [View article]
    Most of the companies mentioned have traditionally sat on a lot of cash. Given the current economy, they may be able to get some incredible deals on the auction block or some sort of asset sale. The more margin of safety - the better. Also, as others have pointed out, why buy now when the price is likely to go down. I could also see some of the firms buying some net operating losses (NOLs) to springboard their future profits. Software is a tough game - fast moving and first copy costs are significant.
    Feb 18, 2009. 12:35 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Lack of Accord on Stimulus Obscure Economic Lessons?  [View article]
    This all or nothing talk makes for great commentary and differentiation. The "once in a liftetime bet", etc. It's nice prose, but a little dramatic.

    The bottom line on POTUS is that 4.6 out of 10 did not vote for Obama. If we round up, well ... and if disaggregate by race, SES, location, etc. we get even more profound differences. To say that the majority of the american public believe X or Y is somewhat misleading ... I don't consider 5.1 (or similar range) out of 10 people to be a tsunami of support.

    As I've written elsewhere, we all know this will happen again. The moral hazard castle that has been erected with surely create the next crisis. There is too much $ to be made in problem deferral and in literally and figuratively mortgaging one's future. We are all paying for malfeasance and vegas-style bets. The partisan glasses on both sides will only strengthen their respective positions ... I don't have a lot of hope that a political/economic epiphany will happen. It is often the brightest that have a strong hardening of the attitudes.
    Feb 16, 2009. 03:24 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Economy: How to Tell When It's Improving  [View article]
    Let's remember what Obama is saying - it's "save or create" up to 4m jobs ... frankly, that's a metric that has some loose ends - some would say "weasel words" - how do you feasibly show that you've "saved" a certain number of jobs. Very difficult given the multiple factors that are occuring at the same time - hard to isolate.

    Nevertheless, the index of leading indicators had more than a few false positives in predicting recessions. Reasonable people will continue to disagree about the timing and trajectory of a recovery - L, W, V, U, etc. Given the massive leveraging that has taken place and the coincident negatives savings rates, I think it will take at least a year to see some robust and consistent economic sunshine.

    The 10 components of the Index (leading indicators) include:

    Average number of initial applications for unemployment insurance
    Number of manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials
    Speed of delivery of new merchandise to vendors from suppliers
    Amount of new orders for capital goods unrelated to defense
    Amount of new building permits for residential buildings
    The S&P 500 stock index
    Inflation-adjusted money supply (M2)
    Spread between long and short interest rates (the yield curve)
    Consumer sentiment
    Average weekly hours worked by manufacturing workers

    While this index correctly forecast each of the 7 recessions during the 1959-2001 period it also has forecast 5 recessions that did not occur.
    Feb 14, 2009. 09:01 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Nationalizing the U.S. Banking Sector: There's No Choice  [View article]
    The real issue here, as others have pointed out, is that we really don't want to feel the pain if market forces prevail. The banks made some highly risky decisions and are now paying the price. With reward comes risk - look at the bonuses the executives made from 2004-2007. Tens of millions for making risky, correlated bets on opaque debt instruments and "insurance" products.

    Look at the GDP with and without Mortgage Equity Withdrawls from 2004-2007. If we didn't have MEW's, we were growing at 1%. We were living an inflated lie that was a concoction of low rates, negative savings, and materialism. There's only so much you can do about a bad hangover.
    Feb 14, 2009. 02:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment