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  • Why the Eurozone Is Doomed [View article]
    I think the larger problem is philosophical -- first world nations feel entitled to luxury without effort. The populace needs to be shocked into remembering that wealth must be "made" -- a parasite can rob its host of only so much before the host dies.
    May 10 07:23 PM | 16 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Andrew Grove: How to Create Jobs [View article]
    The final sentence states the issue, but neither Grove nor the author solve the problem. It is a societal issue. The problem is *not* the education system. It is the entertainment and expectation system -- most Americans are not willing to work in the manufacturing sector (and do a high-quality job) because they expect to become rich through some means other than work & education.

    America's top levels are still cream-of-the-crop. Our bottom half has marginalized itself -- I would say by a failure of prior generations to successfully transfer valuable and productive ethical values regarding education and work. (Exodus: "...visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation...") It is not entirely the system's fault; success must still be seized.

    Grove is naive to expect a slush fund from offshore labor. Does he realistically expect the US congress to invest available money in something useful rather than use it to legislatively buy votes?

    "... all of us in business have a responsibility to maintain the industrial base on which we depend and the society whose adaptability—and stability—we may have taken for granted."

    The responsibility is not just with "business."

    Lounsbury: "We have an educational system that is not preparing our students to compete in the modern world."

    Systemic solutions to societal ills rarely succeed unless the society is ready and willing. We need a cultural return to being proud to produce quality products.
    Jul 8 10:18 AM | 12 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why We Aren't Headed for a Decade of 1970s-Style 'Stagflation' [View article]
    Stagflation involves both stagnation and inflation. True, the next years will not repeat the 70s, but:
    1. Demographics means that there will not be the same economic boost from boomer household creation -- stagnatory impact. Boomer kids may or may not follow the same pattern.
    2. Free trade will counter inflationary impacts while increasing economic competition. May the best producers win! If the US is not competitive, the impact tends to stagnation. (I favor free trade regardless.)
    3. While the US uses oil more efficiently for output, it is a global market for oil and emerging economies will stoke demand. Oil prices are up despite the US recession. I'm a modifed peak oil person -- plenty of oil for the mid-term, but harder to find and refine and transport, so costs will go up. Stagnation and inflation could result at some point.
    4. High debt during difficult times may push the feds to monetize the debt -- inflation and some stagnation. I am seldom a monocausationist and will not say that inflation results from any single cause -- economic demand; commodities; printing dollars all play a part. I tend to fear the money supply, though the lack of velocity has kept things in check so far There is no playbook for the recent situation combined with recent governmetnal actions.
    Whatever we get, it probably won't be 70s-style, but it could rhyme.
    Apr 7 12:40 PM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • You're Retiring: Where Is Your Income Going to Come From? [View article]
    As a former attorney estate planner, while clients' desires varied, I thought the 3 main goals were (in order): ensure retirement assets; get possessions to heirs as desired; avoid taxes. While some clients weighted the goals differently and there were always trade-offs, that worked for everyone as overriding principles.
    Getting enough income from dividend growth on day one and security selection seem to be the possible variables, but dividend growth can be a cornerstone of retirement investing.
    Mar 9 10:48 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The First Stage of Inflation Has Already Hit, Next Up Is the Currency Collapse [View article]
    I prefer Homer's definition: It is the height of folly to be wise too late.
    That's the problem with learning by experience -- the lesson comes after the fallout.
    Dec 17 01:43 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Dollar: Every Man for Himself [View article]
    I appreciate the political insights in a currency article. The problem with US politicians is that they are focused on re-election rather than on problem-solving. This problem is terrible in Congress (and in the public), where legislation is now subject to a veto by the US Supreme Court, which wants a uniform nation rather than allowing 50 states to govern. Government agencies write "regulations" that effectively become the governing law. Now we add the Fed as another legislative body in the US.
    Nov 11 07:24 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 11 Reasons Why the Gold Bubble Will Burst [View article]
    Stocks are a good hedge sometimes. Today's market: dollar down, stocks up.
    The article made some good points (if one-sided). However, it seemed to assume that only the US economy, US investors, and the US dollar is involved in gold prices.
    Asia loves gold. It holds a few dollars.
    While I would not bet the farm on gold, it is a prudent investment in the current monetary milieu.
    Oct 25 11:33 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The First Stage of Inflation Has Already Hit, Next Up Is the Currency Collapse [View article]
    Bernanke said QE2 was supposed to decrease long-term interest rates. It appears that interest rates have gone up. Markets have more control of interest rates, not the Fed.
    Dec 17 01:18 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Estimating the Breakeven Costs of Shale Gas [View article]
    Thanks for a helpful explanation (to the uninitiated, at least) of some gas market dynamics.
    Markets do adjust. While oil & gas are not interchangeable by-and-large, at what point does switching make sense and for what applications? At low prices, what happens to demand? Will the slow conversion from coal to gas be accelerated at some point due to this low-cost phenomenon? Why have Exxon and Chevron bought big in gas recently -- just a hedge or a long-term play? Or a misplay based on “perception” that the oil/gas price ratio will revert to the mean? What magnitude of impact do storage limitations impose on the gas market? If we accept that all the easy oil-to-gas conversions have been already accomplished, at what oil/gas ratio does this “likely further off from being a factor” conversion take place?
    Articles that make me ask questions are usually the most useful.
    Nov 30 10:22 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Think Your Dividend Yield Is High? A Warning for Income Investors [View article]
    Era-wise, it's a good question whether to include pre-1950s in comparisons. The Greenspan-put, government stimulus, tax code changes, etc. all influence investors' appetties for risk and reward. The post-WW 2 US economy grew, making the dividends less important (nifty 50 notwithstanding).
    We now have a lot of Baby Boomers approaching retirement. They should have an increased appetite for income and less of an appetite for risk. We may not see a reversion to the 200-year mean on dividends, but there may very well be some pressure moving that way.
    Oct 5 10:44 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Jim Rogers: Commodities Like Oil Win in Every Scenario [View article]
    I believe Rogers' point was that commodities are finite on this planet and global economic growth will use them up. While a US recession would slow this process down, the returns would just come later.
    I am long oil because I do not expect any of the alternatives to surplant oil as an energy source in the short or mid-term and most other hard commodities also have limited alternatives. High pirces do lead to substitution, but Star Trek-style "replicators are not on the horizon.
    Jul 12 11:23 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • People of the Earth: Prepare for Economic Disaster [View article]
    Agree with the author or not, the trends he mentions are in place. The world is not in a vacuum and many things can alter the "trend," but the Pentagon also identifies similar trends and increased resource demand (JOE 2010 is a great read!).
    Humans can adapt. When and how are questions for a great investment discussion.
    Mar 7 10:55 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Dividends: A Macro Look at Yields, Past and Future [View article]
    I think this data shows that indexing is not wise at this point due to generally overvalued stocks. There are good companies with strong balance sheets with good dividends and reasonable payout ratios.
    It's a time to be careful.
    Feb 14 01:12 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Expect Impending Gas Correction to Hit Refining Stocks [View article]
    $100/barrel oil prices is not a psychological threshold for affecting consumer behavior.
    Jan 17 10:55 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Four Top Areas for Dividend Stocks in 2011 [View article]
    While the investment portfolio does matter, the concern about holding treasuries and bonds may be overstated. Insurance companies are supposedly experts in managing this risk -- but they may fail at it, of course. They do have the capability to hold bonds to maturity, obviating the concern about near-term valuation of the bond portfolio. They maintian liquidity in a General Account, which is basically cash that pays higher interest. Long-term valuation of an insurance company should not be tied too tightly to perfromance of long-term treasury holdings. Most insurance companies seem to blow up from bad underwriting.
    Jan 7 09:28 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment