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  • Point on Inflation vs. Deflation Debate [View article]
    According to the CIA World Fact Book, the unemployment rate in Japan in 2009 was only 5.1%.

    This "begs the question":
    In what ways, exactly, are the average Japanese people actually suffering as a consequence of their deflation?

    www.cia.gov/library/pu...
    Nov 19 09:13 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Watch the Utilities for Clues About the Future Direction of the Market [View article]
    Thanks! This sounds like a very useful forecasting tool. Your logic makes a persuasive argument.

    (I had bought some "SO" shares many months ago for similar reasons.)
    Sep 30 08:43 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Wall Street Manipulates the News...And Investors [View article]
    Just a few more items...

    www.zerohedge.com/arti...

    www.newyorkfed.org/abo...

    www.newyorkfed.org/abo...

    www.zerohedge.com/arti...

    The general theme of these links is that (1) the FOMC is inflating the various markets by buying Treasuries and (2) the Bureau of Labor Statistics is deliberately being overly optimistic with its data reporting.
    Sep 20 10:00 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Wall Street Manipulates the News...And Investors [View article]
    Those of you who have been followers of Seeking Alpha for a couple of years might remember the former contributor "Tyler Durden" (a pseudonym inspired by the movie "Fight Club").

    His (or perhaps "their") website, www.zerohedge.com is filled with various data-supported blog entries which describe various indicators of apparent market manipulation as well as the the activities of the Plunge Protection Team (led by Brian Sack).

    www.zerohedge.com/arti...

    www.zerohedge.com/arti...

    www.zerohedge.com/arti...

    www.zerohedge.com/arti...

    That site covers other economic topics also.
    Sep 20 09:13 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Spending vs. Saving: Good or Bad? [View article]
    Raising the ceiling on the income range of the 10% tax bracket might be one way to achieve the scenario described in your first paragraph.
    Sep 1 10:15 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Weis Markets: An Attractive Stock for an Uncertain Environment [View article]
    As someone who lives in an area with several Weis stores, I can offer the following observation (as a customer):
    - For purchasing groceries, the shopping experience at Weis is much more comfortable than it is at the local Walmarts.

    To a few readers, this "shopping experience" factor may seem like a trivial point for the financial analysis of a stock's intrinsic value. However, I see it as a loose indicator of "price elasticity of demand".

    - The "value proposition" at our local Walmarts is limited to (a) pricing and (b) the ability to simultaneously purchase a bucket of paint or a lawnmower, etc. (In other words, its just pricing.)

    - The check-out lines at the local Walmart's are notoriously under-staffed, and, consequently, the waiting times are always annoyingly long.

    - In contrast, the check-out lines at Weis are faster, and their prices are rather reasonable. In particular, their meat prices are very competitive with Walmart, and the meat at Weis has a good reputation.

    Also note the following 2 news reports where a study in Virginia revealed that Walmart has recently raised prices on a variety of its products. This should be somewhat beneficial to Weis (if customers begin to notice the change).

    www.reuters.com/articl...

    www.nypost.com/p/news/...


    Other grocery chains also exist in our area. However, they have slightly different target markets. One competitor, the "Giant" grocery chain, had made an attempt a few years ago (2007 to 2008) to target more upscale shoppers. However, when the recession hit, they had to retreat from that marketing strategy. Thus, "Giant" still has a reputation of being more expensive than Weis (but I do sometimes see exceptions to that).

    These are merely my personal observations. My main point is that, as a grocery customer (and not as a financial analyst), I see no negative "red flags" with Weis.

    I thank the author for his analysis.

    I do not have an investment position with any of the companies named here.

    Happy shopping everyone!
    Aug 24 09:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • What the 2-10 Treasury Yield Spread Indicator Is Telling Us [View article]
    For what it's worth, you can actually give your opinion to the Fed via this link...

    www.federalreserve.gov...

    I did once (in 2008). Based on the response they sent me, it sounded as if a real human being had actually read my comments. Unfortunately, in spite of my "advice", they still made one last stupid reduction in interest rates. (Whereupon, various commodity prices shot up immediately.)
    Aug 23 08:16 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should the Bush Tax Cuts Be Extended? [View article]
    Regarding the matter of how the wealthy applied their tax cuts (mentioned by ctjaeger), I would like to offer a few hypotheses.

    I have no data to support the following hypotheses, and I would welcome any data that could support or refute them. They are merely hypotheses:

    The wealthy may have applied most of their tax benefit in one or more of the following ways:
    1) Invested in hedge funds, which, in turn, invested in various commodities, which in turn, exacerbated inflation in so-called "crude materials".
    2) Invested (perhaps indirectly through hedge funds) in Collaterallized Mortgage Obligations (CMO's) and other types of Collaterallized Debt Obligations (CDO's), which, in turn, added to the economy's "easy credit" and thus contributed to the housing bubble and inflation.
    3) Invested directly in housing speculation, condominium speculation, and other property speculation, which, in turn, contributed to various property bubbles.
    Aug 19 08:36 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Shilling: We're in a World of 'Chronic Deflation' [View article]
    Everyone has to eat (on a semi-daily basis), but not everyone has to sell a house (within the next few years).

    www.reuters.com/articl...
    Aug 13 09:25 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Great ‘Deflation Lie’ [View article]
    I was just reading another article on this website from David I. Templeton entitled: "Wholesale Inventory to Sales Ratio Nears All Time Low."
    seekingalpha.com/artic...

    Within that article, the author links to the following article, from Aug 10, which is entitled:
    "Walmart Quietly RAISES Prices".
    www.dailyfinance.com/s.../

    Apparently, over the last six weeks, Walmart has raised their prices, on average by 6%.

    Here's a similar report from 2 other news outlets.

    www.reuters.com/articl...

    www.nypost.com/p/news/...=


    But Wait !!! - I just remembered that we shouldn't be counting food (or energy) prices. Just housing prices, right? My Bad. Sorry. I feel so ashamed.
    Aug 12 07:38 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The End of the Expense Cutting Rope [View article]
    You are correct, "DigDeep".

    To elaborate, within North America, the paper industry has been reducing capacity since the early 1990's. These capacity reductions have tended to occur in "clusters" - often as a reaction to either (1) a spike in the price of key raw materials or (2) a reduction in product prices due to capacity expansions occurring in Asia or South America.

    Presently, our segment of the industry is in a slow-motion "dead-cat" bounce. In the past 2 years, some mill and/or machine closures have occurred as a reaction to the reduction in demand caused by the recession. Now, however, we are seeing enough uptick in demand to see an increase in the utilization of that (now smaller) capacity.

    Certainly, digital data storage has reduced or eliminated certain key end uses for paper. Newsprint is a prime example where that has occurred.

    However, for other segments of the paper industry (especially the bleached segment), it has been a little easier to adapt to a trend of that nature than it has been to adapt to the other factors I mentioned above (which typically are more abrupt). An individual paper machine can often make multiple products for multiple markets (without retooling).

    I hope this is helpful insight.
    Aug 12 01:47 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Great ‘Deflation Lie’ [View article]
    Amen.

    It's sounds like you actually live in the real world.
    Aug 12 12:47 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The End of the Expense Cutting Rope [View article]
    It's Paper Manufacturing (the bleached segment).
    Aug 11 08:39 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The End of the Expense Cutting Rope [View article]
    There is a converse situation which is also true. I work at a capital-intensive manufacturing facility. In our industry, an individual facility will usually have multiple production units with different manufacturing capacities. In a healthy economy, each of these production units will often operate 7 days / week and 24 hours / day.

    However, the smaller capacity units need almost as much labor to operate as the larger capacity units. (Usually the larger units are the newer ones.) Consequently, the larger units are generally more efficient with respect to labor utilization.

    During an economic downturn,...
    ...the smaller production units (which are less efficient in labor utilization) will get "turned off" for weekends (or longer periods), while, at the same time, the larger production units will continue to operate 7 days/week and 24 hours/day. Thus, within our facility, our labor productivity is slightly higher at those times.

    During a recovery (at least with respect to our industry)...,
    we reverse the situation and allow those smaller, less labor-efficient production units to run additional days. {This is the situation we have right now.}

    Thus, the labor efficiency within our facility will rise as we reduce our output and fall as we increase our output again - because of how frequently we operate our less labor-efficient production units.

    Right now, capacity utilization in our industry is rising.
    Aug 11 06:53 PM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Are Corporate Margins About to Go Kaput? [View article]
    Within capital-intensive manufacturing facilites, there is a slightly different dynamic regarding labor productivity.

    First some background:
    In the particular manufacturing industry where I work, an individual manufacturing facility will have multiple production units with different manufacturing capacities. In a healthy economy, each of these production units will often operate 7 days / week and 24 hours / day.

    However, the smaller capacity units need almost as much labor to operate as the larger capacity units. (Usually the larger units are the newer ones.) Consequently, the larger units are generally more efficient with respect to labor utilization.

    During an economic downturn,...
    ...the smaller production units (which are less efficient in labor utilization) will get "turned off" for weekends (or longer periods), while, at the same time, the larger production units will continue to operate 7 days/week and 24 hours/day. Thus, within our facility, our labor productivity is slightly higher at those times.

    During a recovery (at least with respect to our industry)...,
    we reverse the situation and allow those smaller, less labor-efficient production units to run additional days. {This is the situation we have now.}

    Thus, the labor efficiency within our facility will rise as we reduce our output and fall as we increase our output again - because of how frequently we operate our less labor-efficient production units.

    We are not actually "beating up" our workers to produce more "widgets". In fact, their pace of work actually stays the same. Rather, we are changing the operating days of our smaller (and less labor-efficient) production units.

    I hope this provides some helpful insight.
    Aug 11 06:23 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
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