Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: Predictions

POLITICS – Democratic Ticket: Obama & Biden; Republican Ticket: Romney & Rubio.

SPORTS – Super Bowl Champs: Green Bay Packers, NHL Champs – Detroit Red Wings, NBA Champs – Who Cares, World Series Champs – Anaheim Angels.

EDUCATION – Beginning of the end of for profit colleges, the gravy train will be closed by Congress.

MOVIES – Academy Award for Best Picture: The Descendants

NEW LAWS 2012 - "Abortion, immigration changes among new 2012 laws,": "Girls seeking abortions in New Hampshire must first tell their parents or a judge, some employers in Alabama must verify new workers' U.S. residency, and California students will be the first in the country to receive mandatory lessons about the contributions of gays and lesbians under state laws set to take effect at the start of 2012. Many laws reflect the nation's concerns over immigration, the cost of government and the best way to protect and benefit young people, including regulations on sports concussions. ...

"Among federal laws, a measure Congress passed last week to extend Social Security tax cuts and federal unemployment benefit programs raises insurance fees on new mortgages and refinancings backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration by 0.1 percent beginning Jan. 1. ... Election law changes in Rhode Island and Tennessee will require voters to present photo ID, a measure that supporters say prevents fraud and that opponents say will make it harder for minorities and the elderly to cast ballots."

MEDIAWATCH - N.Y. Times, "To Our Readers" box on A1 (both New York and National editions): "On Jan. 2, the Monday-Saturday newsstand price of The Times will increase from $2.00 to $2.50. The Sunday newsstand price will be unchanged. Home delivery prices will go up by 20 cents to 60 cents per week, depending on location and the days of delivery."

FINANCE WORLD -- "Dow Ends Year of Tumult Up 6%: Top Investors Stumble, but Strong 4th Quarter Pushes Blue Chips Into the Black; S&P Is Flat": "The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the year up nearly 6%-a modest rise that belied the turmoil of the last half of the year, when the blue-chip index averaged a daily intraday swing of 270 points between August and November, more than twice as wide than the same period in 2010. And for all the white-knuckle rides, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index ended almost right back where it started, finishing down 0.003%. On Friday, the Dow fell 69.48 to 12217.56, leaving it up 5.53% for the year."

OBAMA 2012 - "In 2012, Obama to press ahead without Congress,": "Obama and his advisers are beginning 2012 with a renewed sense of confidence, buoyed by a series of polls that show the president's approval rating climbing as Congress becomes increasingly unpopular. They believe his victory over Republicans in the payroll tax debate has boosted his credentials as a fighter for the middle class, a theme he will look to seize on in his Jan. 24 State of the Union address. ...

"Campaign officials say Obama will fully engage in the re-election campaign once the Republicans pick their nominee. He will focus almost exclusively on campaigning after the late summer Democratic National Convention, barring unexpected developments at home or abroad. Among the issues that could disrupt Obama's re-election plans: further economic turmoil in Europe, instability in North Korea following its leadership transition and threats from Iran. ...

"Obama's foreign travel next year will be limited mainly to the summits and international gatherings every U.S. president traditionally attends. He's expected to travel to South Korea in March for a nuclear security summit and to Colombia in April for the Summit of the Americas. He's also likely to visit Mexico in June for the G-20 economic summit. Two other major international gatherings - the NATO summit and the G-8 economic meeting - will be held in Chicago, on home turf."

REAL WORLD - L.A. Times A1, "U.S. Afghan war deaths fall: Pentagon officials say the 2011 decline marks a turning point in the fight. But the Taliban sees it differently," by Laura King in Kabul: "For the first time in years, U.S. military deaths here declined in 2011. ... U.S. officials speak of having turned a corner in 2011. From the Taliban perspective, the Americans took fewer fatalities only because they lost the taste for aggressive combat. Until last year, U.S. fatalities in the decade-long conflict had usually climbed - sometimes sharply - from year to year, peaking in 2010 at 499. That number dropped last year to 417 ...

"U.S. officials say successful tactics and the impact of sheer numbers broke the momentum of the Taliban and other armed militant factions in 2011, when American troop strength topped out at more than 100,000. Since summer, 10,000 U.S. troops have left, and an additional 23,000 are scheduled to depart in 2012. ... Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid attributed the decrease last year in Western military fatalities to a decline in major offensives. 'They have not conducted any huge operations anywhere,' he said. 'This year NATO forces have maintained defensive positions. They are not coming out of their bases.'"

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Katie Couric (55), Robert Duvall (81), Bob Eubanks (74), Doris Kearns Goodwin (69), Bobby Hull (73), Diane Keaton (66), Robby Krieger (66), Howie Long (52), Nancy Lopez (55), Walter Mondale (84).

BCS COLLEGE BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Tuesday 1/3, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN: Michigan Wolverines (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2). The Sugar Bowl will pit No. 13 Michigan and No. 17 Virginia Tech in a match up of marquee programs that received invitations to Tuesday's contest ahead of higher-ranked teams. This match up includes two of the better defensive teams in the country. Virginia Tech ranked 13th nationally in the regular season by allowing 313.9 yards per game while Michigan was 18th at 317.6 after finishing 110th a season ago. Surprise, surprise we like Michigan to win. Season to date (10-8).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/7, 8:05 PM ET, BTN: Number 3 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-6-3) visit number 5 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-6-1). This huge WCHA match up in St. Paul has two teams coming off a disappointing holiday season. Minnesota is too tough in the land of 10,000 lakes, we pick Minnesota. Season to date (0-1).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/7, 8:00 PM ET, NBC has the upset of the season, NFC playoff Detroit Lions (10-6) visit New Orleans Saints (13-3). The Detroit Lions will win at New Orleans in a shootout. Season to date (9-8).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Michigan 32 Virginia Tech 28, Minnesota 4 Notre Dame 2, Detroit Lions 42 New Orleans 35. 2011 Season final (32-18).

SPORTS BLINK - NFL -- ESPN release, "Monday Night Football: Cable's Most-Watched Series for Sixth Straight Year ... drawing 14 of the calendar year's 20 biggest cable household audiences ... ESPN's 17 Monday Night Football telecasts in 2011 averaged a 9.7 rating (8.4 US rating), representing an average of 9,589,000 households (13,252,000 viewers - P2+) ... In six seasons on ESPN, Monday Night Football has registered eight of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history. (Only two 2011 Bowl Championship Series college football games - which also aired on ESPN - rank higher.) ... ESPN's highest-rated MNF game of 2011 was the Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Sep. 26)."

--COLLEGE FOOTBALL --"Pac-12, Big Ten plan to team up: The leagues announce a massive collaboration that will increase athletic competition among all 24 schools": "Plans include a preseason game at the Rose Bowl, possibly as soon as 2013 or 2014, involving schools from each conference. ... The goal by 2017 is for each Pac-12 school to play a Big Ten school on its nonconference football schedule. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany also said he would be interested in a neutral-site game in the Midwest. 'Who knows,' Delany said. 'You could have the Rose Bowl one year and Soldier Field the next.' Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field are other possibilities."

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama is back on the mainland and back on the stump on the economy on Wednesday when he will deliver remarks at around 1:15 p.m. in Shaker Heights (also known as the Greenwich, Conn. of Ohio).

What kind of story will he have to tell Wednesday and the rest of 2012? So far it looks decent, though threats from Europe (debt crisis), the Middle East (Iran, Egypt, Syria), Asia (North Korea) still loom large. ... Economic data over the break was mostly good-to-very good with consumer confidence shooting higher and pending home sales up 7.3 percent. Both these things are critical to 2012 outperforming expectations of slow growth.

Data this week is dominated by Friday's jobs report with payrolls expected to jump by 150K up from a gain of 120K in November. ... The unemployment rate may tick back up to 8.7 percent if people take up the job hunt again, which would be a good thing. ADP report on Thursday also likely to come in about 150K ... ISM manufacturing report, out today 10:00 a.m., expected to rise to 53.4 from 52.7.

Next week, 2012 finance predictions.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

January 3, 2012

#II-36, 89

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