Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hat tip to Rolff for our politically correct greeting..

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit my best wishes 
for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, 
non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice 
holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the 
religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice, with 
respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of 
others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all;


A fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically 
uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted 
calendar year, but not without due respect for the calendars of 
choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped 
make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater 
than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western 
hemisphere), and without regard to race, creed, color, age, physical 
ability, religious faith, or choice of computer platform.

(Disclaimer: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these 
terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is 
freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It 
implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the 
wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by 
law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish 
is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of 
good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a 
subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is 
limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the 
sole discretion of the wisher who assumes no responsibility for any 
unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not 
caught up in the holiday spirit.)

To all my other (are there any?) bicycle riding Friends:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bernie Made-off with Christmas

As I sit here listening to CNBC and all of the talk is how "Bernie Made-off with Christmas".. Really?  (can't wait for that SNL skit) At some point, I'm wondering how anyone "in the know" could have allowed this to fraud to continue for so long. The statements to clients mentioned options purchased (calls) and sold (puts) on individual trading days where the total outstanding contracts were less than 20% of the totals that Bernie documented to clients.. Didn't someone check?

Now, it's getting into the real estate market in NY..

Indeed, at an industry fund-raiser at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Manhattan last weekend, much of the chatter over sushi and crudités was about money feared lost with Mr. Madoff, according to people who attended. And a Manhattan psychotherapist who counsels real estate leaders and bankers said most of the patients he has seen this week have close friends and relatives who lost money with Mr. Madoff.

The victims include executives at the global commercial brokerage CB Richard Ellis, most prominently Stephen Siegel, a major Bronx landlord who is chairman of worldwide operations at the brokerage and whose wife, Wendy, helped organize Saturday’s fund-raising dinner.
One of my new favorite blogs is London Banker and from last Friday's entry, Deflation has become Inevitable..

It is now clear to me that policy makers in the West are determined to apply every available resource to underpinning failure, misallocation and executive excess. As this discourages the honest saver from parting with cash, policy makers are ensuring that deflation will wreak its havoc on the financial and real economies of the world. Only when that deflation has played out and rational policies that reward market-based management and returns are restored will it be worthwhile to invest again. In the meanwhile, any wealth saved securely from state seizure will "swell" to buy more assets in future - a key aspect of deflation and a key means of restoring the control of the economy into the hands of more farsighted savers and investors.
The other interesting item from the WSJ - Economy section this morning, is the story about many towns, within an hour drive from where I sit, are going bankrupt..

The city of Vallejo, Calif., gained national attention earlier this year by filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Now, two neighbors are fighting to avoid the same fate, as the state's economic crisis spreads.

Isleton and Rio Vista, small towns roughly 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, say they have begun consulting with bankruptcy lawyers as they draw up plans to deal with their mounting budget crises. The towns' leaders say they hope to avoid bankruptcy, but concede the move may eventually be their only option.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wholesale Inventories Drop most in 7 years

Bloomberg reports that "inventories at U.S. wholesalers fell in October by the most in seven years as the biggest drop in demand ever caused companies to scale back.

The 1.1 percent decline in the value of stockpiles was larger than forecast and followed a revised 0.4 percent decrease in September, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Sales plunged 4.1 percent in October, the most since records began in 1992.

Wholesalers had enough goods on hand to last 1.16 months at the current sales pace, the most since February 2007. Excess stockpiles heading into the holiday shopping signal companies may have to slash prices to trim stocks."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Timeless Management "Laws" came up with a list of 5 timeless management laws (summary below):

  1. Manager assumes all responsibility: Your performance isn't determined by your personal accomplishments, but by those of your entire team.
  2. Manager is confident: It is important to project decisiveness and self-assurance in every situation if you want your employees to trust your leadership abilities.
  3. Manager knows the staff: The same way a sales person needs to be familiar with the product line in order to do the right job, it is crucial to be aware of your employees' respective strengths and weaknessess.
  4. Manager provides regular feedback: Whether things are going well or taking a turn for the worse, keep your employees apprised of their progress within the company.
  5. Manager leads by example: Employee often emulate their superior's behavior because they perceive it as a model of success.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

JP Morgan is playing hardball

From the WSJ report, looks like JP Morgan is playing hardball with its clients (the likes of Ross Perot and the Guggenheims) going into default. 

The woes of Guggenheim, which was founded by the philanthropic New York family best known for the Guggenheim museums, is the latest example of turmoil in the $1 trillion commercial-mortgage market set off by worries over increasing defaults. Late last month, a $1.5 billion real-estate debt fund with investors including the family of onetime presidential candidate H. Ross Perot was forced to liquidate to pay off creditors.

The seizure and sale of collateral by creditors is adding to the downward pressure on prices of debt backed by office buildings, hotels, shopping centers and other commercial property.

In both cases, J.P. Morgan was one of the lenders. It sued the Perot fund last week. In the case of Guggenheim, the fund agreed to turn over the collateral to the bank after it failed to raise additional capital. J.P. Morgan has gained the reputation for playing hardball since it demanded $5 billion in collateral from an ailing Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. just days before Lehman sought bankruptcy protection.