1) So The Korean Development Bank is buying half of Lehman Brothers (LEH)? Puleese. That is like a former billionaire applying to the Welfare Dept. for food stamps. Are they now dependent of the third world to bail them out? Who are they going to tap next? Bangladesh? Zimbabwe? If you net out everything Lehman has now at current market prices it is probably a large negative number a la Barings in 1995. In that case they should get Barings' price of £1 sterling, which it was sold for to Dutch bank ING Group. Or maybe $1?
2) Your long awaited opportunity to buy Napoleon’s penis is finally here. The relic was part of a massive collection of quirky and macabre historical items assembled by famed Columbia University urologist John Lattimer. It will be offered for sale along with Hermann Göring’s monogrammed boxer shorts, the shirt Abraham Lincoln wore when he was shot, and W.C. Field’s top hat.
3) The last thing consumers cut back on in a recession is their sinful habits. That makes the Vice Fund (MUTF:VICEX) a great bear market defensive play. Its top five holdings are cancer stick sellers Phillip Morris International (NYSE:PM), Lorillard (NYSE:LO) and British American Tobacco (NYSEMKT:BTI), wine and spirits conglomerate Diageo (NYSE:DEO) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) for travel to those illicit weekends in Las Vegas. VICEX also offers an interesting emerging market play because these companies are catering to the third world desire to trade up to more prestigious Western brands.
4) The one energy source that was ignored in this year’s boom is uranium and its refined product “yellow cake”. Since there has not been a reactor melt down since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 the radioactive fuel is due for a resurgence. China and a number of other third world countries have massive nuclear programs under construction. Nuclear is set to take off in the US too, with McCain a solid supporter and even Obama making some positive murmurings. Good equity plays in the field are Canadian miner Cameco Corp. (NYSE:CCJ), and Australia based Paladin Energy (NYSEARCA:PDN) and Rio Tinto Australia (RTP).
5) The market for commercial real estate securitized debt is now truly dysfunctional, with the Moodys Real Commercial Property Price Index for collateral underlying this paper declining -9.6% YOY. Triple “A” paper is yielding 18-20%, “AA” 25% “A” 28% and “BBB” up to 35%. These yields give you an implied default rate of up to 80% where strong cash flows will probably produce actual defaults of less than 1%. The traditional buyers of these securities are hiding out in a jungle in Brazil under an assumed name wearing fake eyeglasses with an attached large nose and mustache. The downside is that you may have to read 750,000 pages of documentation per issue to ascertain which are triple “A” and triple “B”. This is only for sophisticated long term money because who knows how long the secondary market will remain closed.
Full disclosure: no long or short positions in any stocks mentioned.