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  • Dubious Investment Strategy: When the Train Leaves the Station You Have to Be on Board [View article]
    When a market goes up because it it going up and managers jump on board because the others are jumping on board, I would think that would bring about a point of much greater volatility when they all jump off together. When there is no conviction in the first place.
    Nov 29, 2009. 06:08 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Natural Gas: Powering the Dubai Overshoot [View article]
    The state you refer to was, for well over a century, where seekers of the fruits of "manifest destiny" of the US could still escape to, to find freedom, expression, prosperity and excellent services, such as education.
    That state overshot while handicapping the use of it's own, mostly plentiful resources. It abuses those resources, through overuse of autos and water. While imposing a stifling, extravagant and overpaid bureaucracy to administer their mistake-laden mandates and to screw up former success, notably education.
    Dubai is more of a one-trick pony. The US and California have messed up in countless ways by never phasing out a failing bureaucracy, law or mandate and by constantly adding countless others. Not yet held back by reality, bailouts and public debts are increasing exponentially, one of the few ways the US and California still lead the world.
    Nov 28, 2009. 02:28 PM | 41 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The American Dream [View instapost]
    Just imagine, compared with the fraud milked from real estate recently, how many multiples of it were done by Wall St. and Washington.

    The whole scene was basically a setting for satiation of greed and fraud, with many who had incestuous proximity to it, drawn in.

    The unimaginable size of the pot, leveraged several zeros beyond precedent, grown by leverage and deceit, involved unprecedented fraud. I think it is usually obvious enough but usually denied, like certain Presidential acts in the oval office.
    Nov 28, 2009. 09:00 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Dubai's Disabused Creditors [View article]
    This crisis highlights the fact that there has been no change, no reform, all too little consequence for the most culpable. Therefore, a pinprick can all too easily implode the present taxpayer underwritten bubbles, the means of which our leaders, in their wisdom, have bestowed upon the usual suspects to inflate.
    For a few years we were treated to the spectacle of MSM and comedic government spokespersons telling us that subprime was a small part of the housing industry, which really didn't loom so large anyway, in our post-reality goldilocks economy. Just as skyrocketing oil presumably was an irrelevant sideshow to the real economy: Trading paper and shopping.
    The liars continue to lie, the situation is more frail than ever, the unrepentant are in control. Dubai, maybe my aunt foreclosing, it may not take much to start another avalanche.
    Nov 28, 2009. 08:44 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Death of the U.S. Consumer [View article]
    As the article points out, the consequences of downsizing and outsourcing is a vicious circle of lost purchasing power by the consumer and another round of downsizing and outsourcing. Those lucky enough to be employed are likely taking pay cuts (even if they retained their same job).
    I notice cashiers and fast-food workers are very often older people who look as if they once held very good jobs. Now they work where once, only 16-year-olds and later, retirees, were found. We've outsourced the blue collar jobs, now it's white collar and soon, the company headquarters of the multinationals.
    Who is supposed to pay for all that government overhead we couldn't afford during "prosperity?" Seriously, folks, this is a death spiral, and we need leaders who don't simply serve up more of the same.
    Nov 26, 2009. 06:45 AM | 17 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • We’ve Survived Worse Markets (and Economies) Before – the 1970s [View article]
    Agreed with Davewmart. Oil, interest rates will spike with any recovery. Either way, the dollar may collapse.
    Also, the financial system bailouts, deficits and imbalances are unprecedented. The 70's were a picnic by comparison despite their dreariness. We were the world's largest creditor nation.
    I would rather see better prospects. But, this is a depression and, our leaders are throwing good $trillions after bad, maxing out our national credit for good and maintaining the basic policies that got us here.
    Nov 26, 2009. 06:15 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Truth Behind the U.S Government's Stealth Stimulus Plan [View article]
    Just so you know, tenant protection laws have long given tenants the opportunity to skip many months of payments, then go elsewhere and do it again. Probably the ranks of "tenants with mortgages" includes many with just such skills and experiences.
    Interesting article. Imagine the stimulus if everyone just stopped paying all their bills! And taxes!
    Nov 26, 2009. 05:58 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • David Rosenberg: The U.S. Is in a Form of Depression [View article]
    With all the pumping, soon, dumping, going on, the vested interests by the usual suspects who issue comedic statistics and every conceivable piece of happy news via MSM, we're looking at the best face that could possibly be painted on this corpse.
    Perhaps if they had used a few $trillion they took from the taxpayers, effectively. Perhaps if they hadn't blown $trillions via insane debts and deficits during "prosperity" their insane policies have already brought us before the meltdown. But now, what we have is a sick, sick patient pronounced healthy by the quacks who brought it here who happen to be the biggest con artists and swindlers of all time.
    Nov 26, 2009. 05:50 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How's the Economy Doing? November's 'Look Under the Hood' [View article]
    It seems to me Ebay has become oxymoronic. It isn't quite an auction site, it isn't quite an Amazon. It has "best match" default search which confuses anyone new to the site, meant to drive people to favored, usually fixed-price mass-merchandiser over small sellers even if their auctions are about to end. It really is meant to put money into management's pocket by reducing the work force. It certainly isn't about fixing the obsolete, clunky site. Nor are help options management isn't eager to show you easy to find. Or, the anonymous bidder policy, which really allows for deception. Safer for buyers?
    Management could have saved the best of it's unique platform if it was willing to spend on a buyer protection insurance policy and more focused, effective policing on the site. Might have cost more at first, but their site wouldn't be as confused and Ebay would have been ideally and uniquely placed to bring unique buyers and sellers together for everyone's greater profit during these tough times.
    Apple didn't gain it's unique reputation and position by caving to the temptation of short-term gains by imitating Microsoft, but rather, by delivering a long history of focused, creative, problem-solving products. Ebay is blowing that chance.
    Nov 25, 2009. 10:47 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How's the Economy Doing? November's 'Look Under the Hood' [View article]
    When you visit an SA site, all anti-Ebay comments pick up a negative while yours receives an instant positive. You're giving that to yourself, right?

    No one is forcing sellers to sell on Ebay and taking their money. But, Ebay goes back to '96 or so and a lot of small sellers built businesses around Ebay. Ebay had an important place as perhaps the premier example of increased new opportunities IT and the internet could bring to ordinary people in an exciting new way. A culture, a lore, an industry developed around this new possibility. So did lots of lives and livelihoods.

    It is extremely insensitive and cruel of this management to throw an extensive gauntlet of new rules and requirements that target small sellers, putting them completely at the mercy of a tiny minority of disgruntled buyers. All while raising fees repeatedly and subsidizing deep discount listings for large mass-merchandisers, all of which has clearly driven traffic away for the unique items.

    Not only do most small sellers fail to appreciate the "benefits" of such changes but their livelihoods are damaged through no fault of their own, in the case of the vast majority who are decent, hard-working and conscientious. They must find other venues to at least substitute for the reduced business even if they continue on Ebay, and watch a unique worldwide platform they may have added much to, turned into an inept clone of Amazon. (The listings are at record highs because large vendors get discounts and favorable placement, but a vastly lower rate of sales).

    Encouraged to make an Ebay business, now shown the door or at least a well-placed foot or two, small sellers are not fans of changes that have greatly impaired the site in this bad economy where it could have been a lifeline to strapped buyers and sellers alike. This management clearly hasn't, and we think, won't improve Ebay's business. Many of us who have the most exposure to the senseless, short-sighted changes are confident they will be revealed as a colossal mistake that, the sooner corrected with decent, competent management, the better.

    Nov 25, 2009. 07:00 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • How's the Economy Doing? November's 'Look Under the Hood' [View article]
    Hi, Jeff Walkenhorst,

    Ebay appears to be a good value investment on the surface. Like many, it's lower PE and other seemingly undervalued metrics reflect underlying problems.

    What a shame their management has tried to ape fixed-price sites selling the same imported products rather than build on their core distinction of providing a global platform for small sellers of unique items selling at auction to cash-strapped buyers and bargain hunters. The present global economy would have presented a perfect time and place for them to shine.

    The site is a mess, help is confusing, policies are variable and unhelpful etc. etc. Clearly they are reducing expenses not to improve anything but to line their pockets short-term. They seem bent on becoming Paypal, with an Ebay adjunct. That this still hugely cash-generating company is screwing so many hard-working small sellers in such a misguided and counterproductive way deserves mention, regardless that they are still financially healthy during this unnecessary decline in sales. A management this poor is capable of anything. Buyer beware.
    Nov 25, 2009. 01:25 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Of Creditor Haircuts, Precedent and Sheila Bair [View article]
    That smoke and mirrors is getting even worse.
    Our government, the one that tells you what color to paint your house or what trees to plant, that jails Martha Stewart for insider trading, can't be trusted to regulate themselves or their TBTF friends farther than you can throw them. Not far.
    Like a consumer with bad credit, your proposal for secured credit to Wall St. TBTF;s is like a secured credit card to ensure sound banking. Or, we can continue to rely on Washington's and Wall St.'s words and figures.
    Nov 25, 2009. 11:44 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Examining the Debt Data [View article]
    I think the models here are off. If all foreign governments stopped purchasing US debt there would probably be some associated shock with it, like a world dollar revulsion. Interest rates wouldn't go up only 1.3%, not in this world. Unless one thinks we're in a stable environment.
    The article mentions our deficits are "mainly due to the financial crisis and recession, not by some kind of runaway spending by the Obama administration." Okay, let's ignore Washingon's unprecedented runaway spending. The private economy is crippled by the insane systems gone wrong everywhere. Complex, ever-changing rules and laws, and unaffordable government by any measure. Financial engineering, smoke and mirrors and exponentially skyrocketing debt issuance is a burden that cannot be ignored any longer nor carried by the diminished productive sector.
    Wall St. and Washington need a sucker at the table to justify their 40x leverage and general smoke and mirrors-based programs. Homeowners were the basis of the last bubble. Unqualified borrowers galore were used as "foundation" upfront commissions, bonuses and 40x leveraged financial products that brought the world economy to meltdown. Now, the system remains in place enough for our governments to issue unpayable debt in unprecedented quantities for a time. World governments have their own constituencies who need to play along for awhile. The end will be the same as the tulip bulb mania. In many cases, though, bulbs held more intrinsic value. And this time the results will be far worse.
    Nov 25, 2009. 10:45 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How's the Economy Doing? November's 'Look Under the Hood' [View article]
    Thanks for the hard data that unfortunately shows real declines that cannot be perfumed like the usual phony government statistics. Tax collection revenues are likely even worse than these.
    Your idea of holding companies that are in a good cash and debt position deserves one caveat: As with most Wall St. pictures, the one here of Ebay doesn't do justice to the turmoil and change of it's business model inflicted by CEO John Donohoe.
    It is going from a primarily small sellers auction site towards a fixed-price venue for me-to mass merchandisers of me-too Chinese products. This is to reduce their workforce and put short-term savings into management's pockets. There is no evidence that they can succeed in this direct competition against world-class talent such as Amazon and Wallmart.
    Their site is a mess, the result of years of such penny pinching. The cash flow generated by their unique free market platform for small sellers (who were major buyers too) has thus far covered a multitude of sins, but buyers should beware. Torrid growth, then, mere double-digit growth has given way to declines during an economy that would have fueled real growth by bargain seekers and distressed sellers had short-sited management not overreached in it's perpetual grab for every nickel it can shake loose for itself.
    Nov 25, 2009. 08:50 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Case for Depression, Part 4: Dollar Collapse [View article]
    What could they be thinking? Washington's priority is to add enormous new burdens to the economy. The opportunity to speak with Churchillian directness to the American people about our crisis was frittered away by the new Administration on a mind-boggling course of business as usual.
    Perhaps Washington is betting it is enough of an 800-pound gorilla, internationally as it is domestically, that it can impose a continuation of the current unreality that benefits now only the winners in the present status quo because change will be wrenching and difficult.
    Perhaps their idea is that if we fake it until we make it with mark to magic accounting, this entitled insider's system will somehow pan out, for at least some years.
    Since it has brought record indebtedness during the last "recovery" and each depends more on suspension of disbelief, for the rest of us, another "recovery" of the system with present insiders in place will not even look like a recovery. The entitled, the rent-seekers who benefit, are betting they can impose their whims on us and the world, no matter how far-fetched and utterly corrupt they've become. Clearly, interest rates will rise, and this unreformed, unrepentant house of cards of the entitled cannot withstand that shock.
    Nov 25, 2009. 08:24 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment