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Losing other people’s money isn’t as much fun as it sounds. We either bought, or gave directions to buy shares of CSCO on December 3rd, 2010 at $19.09 to folks who trust us enough to let us make some investing decisions for them; they’ve now lost 1.89% on their investment in just about two months. We have no intentions of selling; on Monday we'll be buying for their accounts.
Up until last Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 these folks were making about 15% on the same investment, since it had only been about two months, as we just pointed out, we were feeling pretty smart, and getting ready to do some bragging about our track record, when Thursday rolled around. Let’s just say it was “a day that will live in infamy” (hopefully nobody has used that line already).
Since we do a great deal of explaining how we make money for others, we thought this would be a good chance, actually the first, to explain how we also lose it.
The recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court helped focus a few important questions on the foreclosure crisis in America, but it is also being used as a Red Herring, amongst other things, by the American Securitization Forum and their Bank owners. The Massachusetts land court decision, which was affirmed by the Supreme Judicial Court were correct, but only addressed a narrow specter of the foreclosure crisis in our country and the underlying violations of long standing property law. The case does point however to much more fundamental issues.
Our modern marketplace for investment in the formation and growth of public enterprises is imperfect, but it still works. It is a mechanism to transfer the wealth of the public to the companies we formulate to produce things; they are a reflection of our country and our people as a whole. The market can go mildly wrong or it can go terribly wrong. When it is mildly wrong, it present buying opportunities to shrewd investors, when it goes terribly wrong, it can become a machine of economic injustice.
SKX fell almost 8 percent on Tuesday after an analyst said it may have overestimated demand for its toning shoes. He downgraded the stock to "Sell." From Bloomberg:
“Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser said Skechers has more toning shoes inventory than it can sell as sales of the specialty shoes slow. Poser said he has seen the shoes at discounters Ross Stores Inc., TJX stores, which include T.J. Maxx and Marshall's, and Costco, selling for $39 to $52.99. That puts pressure on Skechers partners like Famous Footwear, where the shoes sell for $59.99, Poser said.”
It has been said that there are only two directions in life “the right way and the wrong way”. This is a simple and true statement. However, human nature being what it is, we perfect techniques of taking the simple and making it complicated. If this statement is true, and there are really only two roads, or perhaps it could be said two different directions on the same road, and we discover that we have gone down the wrong one, and that indeed no “fork in the road” lies ahead that will ultimately bring us back to the path we desired, then we come to the realization that we must retrace our steps and begin (seemingly painfully) at the beginning of the journey – it is all the more difficult when we have invited followers.
Much fuss was made this week over China’s proposed tariffs on American Chicken. At first glance, the situation is grave; 50-100% premium on imports of chicken from the US. However, upon closer examination there are two other important data points to consider:a) the Chinese have a particular interest in parts of the chicken that we typically discard (namely the feet and the wings) and are virtually worthless in the US market and b) Russia announced that they would be allowing exports of chicken from the United States into Russia after a nearly one year ban.
Recently the hard drive crashed on one of our home computers, suddenly and without cause. When we took it apart to replace the hard drive, we discovered it was a Seagate SATA 500GB / 7200 RPM. It was a good opportunity to upgrade the operating system, and install a larger drive… perhaps 1TB. About a year ago when the machine was purchased, 500GB still seemed large, now it seemed small and inadequate, particularly for storing our large and growing collection of home videos. Cost to replace (without price shopping): $49.00.
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I had just started writing a blog entry on the state of the union address (which deals mostly with the widespread discomfort, or suffering – if I can use that word, of the American people), when I came across news of a new biography written about Pope John Paul II. After reading the news article, I tried to go back to writing about politics and the economy, but just couldn’t avoid giving a short commentary instead on the new book "Why he is a Saint: The True story of John Paul II"
It is not my intention to cause controversy, I am not particularly interested in politics per sae, and I know this blog does not have a focus on religion as such, but since I could not avoid either politics or religion in today’s news, I thought this would be a nice break from the “hyper” coverage of the Apple iPad – although I respectfully tip my hat to Mr. Jobs for being a visionary product engineer, and PR genius – I have to confess I want an iPad.
I tried not to write about Haiti this week, but doing anything else seemed profane. I have seen that our response to Haiti is intense and obvious, perhaps more so than the Tsunami in 2004. It has been suggested by some, that this may be because Haiti is at our door step. Generally, the message is one of us Americans, a great philanthropic country, leading the humanitarian effort - and we are, as we always have.
Four year olds like to make play houses from just about anything, If it looks like a “hut” or “hideout”, even better. My son is no exception. Last night we conducted our nightly routine of building a house on the bed constructed of pillows. The procedure then involved (as usual) camping-out in the “hut”, for story time.
Current “Clean-Tech” enterprises present few “break-through” technologies. Rather there seems to be an improvement in overall efficiency of existing technologies, many of which (e.g. windmills, solar power) are quite old.