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  • Wall Street's curmudgeon-in-chief, Third Point's Dan Loeb, pens a letter critical of the President. A former Obama supporter, Loeb is turned off by the President's "smack downs" on successful Americans, otherwise "known as the 2%." His holiday gift for Obama's true believers: "He's Just Not That Into You."  [View news story]
    No economy actually has captialism deployed to its core. America is not a capitalistic country, nor is Great Britain, Japan, Germany etc. They have various forms of socialism.

    Government and special interest groups on all sides constantly interfer and the consequences of such interference causes the biggest problems. Just like in sports, the government should enforce fair and blind rules, not interfere in the game when their team is losing and they want to change the outcome.

    Take for example the free trade agreements with South Korea. I was watching the CEO of Ford Motor Company on television the other night and he stated that Hyundai had sold over 1 million vehicles in North America while American manufacturers had sold only 10,000 vehicles (don't know year he was refering to but it is not important). He implied that the free trade agreement was unfair in that it opened up the market for the Koreans but still protected South Korea from imports. Now, I believe in Free trade - a tenat of capitalism, but obviously, this trade agreement is a farce that was designed to protect various interests and parties to the agreement. It is not that there is something inherently wrong with free trade, it is that this agreement is terrible to the core and is not in-line with true free trade principles.
    Dec 12, 2010. 05:19 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wall Street's curmudgeon-in-chief, Third Point's Dan Loeb, pens a letter critical of the President. A former Obama supporter, Loeb is turned off by the President's "smack downs" on successful Americans, otherwise "known as the 2%." His holiday gift for Obama's true believers: "He's Just Not That Into You."  [View news story]
    This guy's criticism is hallow to its core. Obama hasn't changed since he first starting campaigning, to his election, to the present period now two years into office. So, anyone who claims that they supported him before but now no longer do because of a supposed shift in policy is either stupid or disingenuos.

    Obama said he wanted to redistribute the wealth, he said he wanted to end 'tax cuts for the wealthy', he said he believed in social justice etc., so it's not as if people who supported him or voted for him didn't know what they were getting.
    Dec 12, 2010. 05:06 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Canadian bank executives join the BoC in raising alarm about high levels of consumer debt. TD Bank (TD) has taken steps to slow lending, claims CEO Ed Clark, but it's up to the government to set tighter mortgage rules like reducing allowable amortizations from 35 to 25 years and/or slicing loan-to-value ratios.  [View news story]
    Why don't the banks take the initiative and reduce their exposure to more risky customers instead of getting into bed with the government everytime conditions get choppy. They want to own their profits but not their risks.
    Dec 10, 2010. 02:48 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • S&P shuffles the 500 - promoting Netflix (NFLX), F5 Networks (FFIV) and Newfield Exploration (NFX) from the MidCap 400 into SPX, and pulling New York Times Co. (NYT), Office Depot (ODP) and Eastman Kodak (EK) to make room. Cablevision Systems (CVC) also joins the S&P 500 to replace King Pharmaceuticals (KG), which is being acquired by Pfizer (PFE). After hours: NFLX +5.3%, FFIV +5.2%, NFX +3.9%, CVC +5.3%.  [View news story]
    NYT should be moved to the NEX.

    "NEX is a new and separate board of TSX Venture Exchange. It provides a new trading forum for listed companies that have fallen below TSX Venture's ongoing listing standards."


    "Going forward, companies that have low levels of business activity or have ceased to carry on active business will trade on the NEX board, while companies that are actively carrying on business and pursuing growth and shareholder value will remain with the main stock list of TSX Venture Exchange."
    Dec 9, 2010. 10:50 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Iceland and Ireland followed different paths since the financial crisis. Iceland refused to guarantee bank obligations, defaulted on its debt, and devalued. Ireland did the opposite. Both entered severe recessions in 2008, but Iceland has returned to growth, while Ireland's pain is set to get even worse. Which was the better way?  [View news story]
    I didn't read the article and was under the assumption that it was the Icelandic government that was defaulting. Anyways, I am sure almost every Icelandic citizen has some form of lending from the country's banks - home loan, car loan, business loan, personal line of credit etc., so essentially, if the bank defaulted on the borrowed money and the loans were cleared, they essentially did it as an extension of the citizenry that took out the loans in the first place. Everyone in Iceland gets away with murder and anyone who loaned money - probably many international lenders - were left out in the cold.
    Dec 8, 2010. 09:04 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Iceland and Ireland followed different paths since the financial crisis. Iceland refused to guarantee bank obligations, defaulted on its debt, and devalued. Ireland did the opposite. Both entered severe recessions in 2008, but Iceland has returned to growth, while Ireland's pain is set to get even worse. Which was the better way?  [View news story]
    In a perfect world, Icelanders would be shut out from all future borrowing opportunities by lenders with long memories and as a result, suffer the consequences of their irresponsible behaviour. This would serve as a lesson to those countries that run deficits forever and a day and consider default as a potential solution.

    However, as we all know, nothing makes sense anymore and there is so many covered, shady deals - i.e. U.S. bailout out banks in Europe with American tax-payer dollars, that what should happen and even what we think has happened is often not the case and as a result, bad behaviour will persist.
    Dec 7, 2010. 09:16 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • As the SEC charges a former IT manager with insider trading, the feds still have not brought one criminal case against a big-time corporate official in the two years since the peak of the financial crisis. David Einhorn believes the government deliberately fails to pursue big cases, an approach that enables shareholders to look the other way instead of raising red flags themselves.  [View news story]
    Smoke and mirrors for the benefit of appearances? Who would of thunk it?
    Dec 7, 2010. 09:04 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President Obama makes it official, announcing a "framework" for extensions of tax cuts, unemployment benefits and estate taxes, plus a one-year payroll tax reduction. But there's a downside: no relief for the ballooning deficit - estimated $830B for extending the tax cuts, $56B for more unemployment benefits.  [View news story]
    Anytime the government is destined to get less, it is a good day for the private citizen.
    Dec 6, 2010. 08:47 PM | 11 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • John Taylor, who runs the world's largest currency hedge fund, thinks the U.S. is headed back into recession. The dollar will benefit, confirming the "perverse" reality that "when the U.S. economy is doing badly, the dollar goes up, and when the economy is doing well, the dollar goes down." His date for the end of the rally in European currencies: tomorrow, the day of the Irish budget decision.  [View news story]
    I don't believe it came out of recession in order to be able to go back into it.
    Dec 6, 2010. 02:59 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Communist Party leader was unusually candid in his assessment of local Chinese economic data, according to a confidential memo published by WikiLeaks. Aside from three valuable data points - electricity consumption, rail cargo volume and bank lending - "all other figures, especially GDP statistics, are 'for reference only,'" one cable said.  [View news story]
    My country of Canada is even worse than the U.S. In Canada, you are not legally allowed to seek healthcare on your own accord in a private system even if the public system refuses to treat you adequately.

    In Canada, we have a quasi-dictatorship in the sense that we have so many parties that share power - Conservatives, Liberals, New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party that no one party receives the majority of votes to govern. Even more important, the leader of the party which holds the non-majority power, forces every member of his party to vote with him/her. So, in essence, you have one person at the top of the party which doesn't even hold a majority deciding policy for everyone.

    But having said all that, in China, if I wrote this on an on-line forum, I would be arrested and put in jail. My family could be broken up and sent to labour camp. So, although I know many other systems are not good, I can still comment that China sucks!!!
    Dec 6, 2010. 12:57 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Communist Party leader was unusually candid in his assessment of local Chinese economic data, according to a confidential memo published by WikiLeaks. Aside from three valuable data points - electricity consumption, rail cargo volume and bank lending - "all other figures, especially GDP statistics, are 'for reference only,'" one cable said.  [View news story]
    Most things in China are not to be trusted - baby formula, construction projects, government officials, economic numbers etc. I don't think visiting incarcerated officials will be much of a deterrent because once embezzled money is transerred overseas, it usually is much harder to recoup. A convicted official that is in jail but has provided a lifestyle and opportunity for his family that is 10,000 times better than he/she could of provided with only honesty and a good work ethic, will view the trade-off as worthwhile. Secondly, I suspect that almost everyone in Chinese government is on the take, so to try and move up and be successful in that environment, money and power would have to be exchanged. If an honest politician refuses and therefore doesn't have the 'currency' to move up, how is he/she every going to be in a position to change things. And if you have to embezzle/cheat to move up, what are the chances that you will turn noble once near the top.

    Lastly, considering the people can only vote for one party and that party's leadership is selected, what true incentive is there for change. Anyone who protests too much - i.e. the recent Nobel prize winner from China, is jailed indefinitely.

    This just goes to show that an unarmed society is the most obedient.
    Dec 6, 2010. 09:49 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Hotel values are down 50% since 2007, but investments by Blackstone (BX) and Richard Branson may presage a flood of deals in the lodging industry. “I have never ... seen so much equity on the sidelines ready to pounce,” says an industry source. Half off is nice, but the early 90's recession brought even cheaper prices, such as the 1993 sale of the Hyatt Waikoloa for 12 cents on the dollar.  [View news story]
    Hotel industry as I see it:

    Margins very low
    Asset value of properties not increasing as CRE market bad
    Carry tremendous debt burden against assets in tight lending market
    World economy not strong exept emerging markets
    Economic moat very limited as offerings easily copied by competitors, even smaller ones.
    Economies of scale not as great an advantage as in other industries.
    Labour is major expense for operators and it isn't going to get cheaper anytime soon.
    Dec 5, 2010. 07:15 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 11 Dividend Stocks Offering 5+ Years of Dividend Growth and 5%+ Yields [View article]
    I will take a stab at this...but please be forewarned that I could be totally wrong as accounting is not my strongsuit.

    They can pay more in dividends than earnings for any given year if they use free cash flow to effectively pay out a portion of the current equity per share on the company's balance sheet. Eventually though, I would think a company couldn't do this forever as equity per share would eventually go down to zero.
    Dec 3, 2010. 05:32 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Aggressive Chinese gold buying is "a big secular trend that's not going to end in 2010," Jim Cramer says, adding that with gold in short supply it could rise to $2,000/ounce. His favorite stocks to play the metal are NovaGold (NG) and Agnico-Eagle (AEM). Chinese demand also is lifting copper prices, he says, which would benefit Freeport-McMoRan (FCP).  [View news story]
    The higher gold goes, the more my lady friend thinks of me. I bought her jewellery last year for Christmas and she has asked me numerous times how much I think the gift is now worth. As gold goes up, I keep raising my estimate of the piece's value. It brings a smile to her face and keeps me in her good books.
    Dec 3, 2010. 05:09 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Obama administration's new lending fund aimed at helping small businesses may not be enough to overcome banks' reluctance to make loans. Community bankers cite an "unprecedented" level of toughness from regulators, rendering them unwilling to underwrite loans they would normally make since they "could cost [the bank] dearly" in setting aside extra capital.  [View news story]
    Thanks.

    People think that just because I am an adorable cat who was born in Japan and idolized by every female in South East Asia that I don't have anything important to say, but they underestimate me tremendously.
    Dec 3, 2010. 05:06 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
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