Monday, March 26, 2012

Final Four

Final Four NCAA basketball: The Ohio State University Buckeyes, Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, Louisville Cardinals – RR likes Kentucky.

Final Four NCAA hockey: Boston College Eagles, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Union Dutchmen, Ferris State Bulldogs – RR likes Boston College.

Final Four Masters Golf  Tournament : Tiger Woods, Rory McElroy, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson – RR likes Tiger Woods.

Final Four Kraft Nabisco Championship: Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Brittany Linicome, Sun Young Yoo – RR likes Yani Tseng.

Final Four 2012 Major League Baseball Season: Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds – RR likes Detroit Tigers.

Final Four reasons for a new direction: $36.6 M, ACTING, Ethics, Mr. 30 hour work week – RR likes Mr. 30 hour work week.

Final Four 2012 Presidential Candidates: President Obama, Governor Romney, Representative Paul, R.J. Harris – RR likes President Obama.

Final Four Spring Garden Vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans – RR likes peppers.

Final Four places to retire: La Quinta, CA, Harbor Springs, MI, Maui, HI, Tucson, AZ. – RR likes (tie) La Quinta, CA & Harbor Springs, MI.

Final Four Second Quarter stock picks: Apple Computer, Consol Energy, Inc., McDonalds Corporation, FuelCell Energy Inc. – RR likes Consol Energy.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Herb Albert (77), Warren Beatty (75), James Caan (72), Earl Campbell (57), Eric Clapton (67), David Eisenhower (65), Gordie Howe (84), Reba McEntire (57), Nancy Pelosi (72), Debbie Reynolds (80).

SECRET SERVICE CODE NAMES: "Romney elected to call himself 'Javelin.' And Rick Santorum chose 'Petrus.' ... 'Petrus,' is a biblical allusion, Latin for 'Rock'-and 'Peter'-as in St. Peter, the first pope. Perhaps 'Javelin' is a reference to the '60s muscle car made by American Motors Corporation, the company once run by [Mitt's dad,] George Romney."

APPLE CALLS FOR REPATRIATION HOLIDAY: "Apple outlined plans ... to pay its first dividend in 17 years as the US technology group, sitting on a cash pile estimated to exceed $100bn, conceded it could not return cash to shareholders as quickly as it was generating it. [Apple] promised to return about $45bn to shareholders over the next three years, including $10bn to be spent buying back shares. But the payments are unlikely to prevent the further rapid escalation of its cash mountain, which grew $38bn last year alone.

"Apple executives indicated that they had limited the scale of the shareholder payout because the company would have faced an extra US tax liability if it had dug into the $65bn of cash and investments held outside the country. They also added their voices to recent calls from wealthy technology companies for a tax holiday to bring more money home, though the US Treasury has stood firm against the idea ... Apple's shares, which had already gained 45 per cent since the start of 2012 on the back of a fresh surge in sales and the launch of the new iPad, rose 2.7 per cent on Monday.

AP DELEGATE TRACKER -- Romney: 563 ... Santorum: 263 ... Gingrich: 135 ... Ron Paul: 50 ... Huntsman: 2.

STUDENT DEBT BOMB: $1 TRILLION: "Recently, we undertook what we understand is the first major effort to understand the size of the private student loan market. ... Our initial findings on the size of the private student loan market are sobering. When we add in the outstanding debt in the federal student loan program, it appears that outstanding student loan debt hit the trillion dollar mark several months ago - much larger than estimates from other recent reports. It seems that this market is too big to fail. ... Excessive student debt can slow the recovery of the housing market. Student loan borrowers are sending big payments every month to their loan servicers, rather than becoming first-time homebuyers. This debt can also put added stress on the borrowing capacity of the household and government sector."

STUDENT LOAN BUBBLE – We have been saying it for over a year, I believe that the student loan bubble will be the next to burst, and it will affect more people than the housing crisis. Unfortunately, Congress chooses only to address the symptoms of the problem (for example, Senator Durbin's bill that would allow individuals to discharge their student loans in bankruptcy) instead of attacking the root."

HILLARY:,"What Hillary did next: Since failing to win the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton has loyally served Barack Obama as secretary of state. We assess her record and ponder her plans": "Not once in three years has she quarrelled in public with Mr Obama ... Not until the archives are opened will historians know reliably what big issues, if any, she and Mr Obama fought over. But on most big decisions there has been little cause to fight. She and the president had a shared view of America's global predicament after George W. Bush left office. ... Barring some mishap, she looks set to leave with her reputation enhanced."

BIDEN BUZZ REVISITED (JILL BIDEN ON BOARD?) – it had been reported a couple weeks back that many Beltway insiders were buzzing about Joe Biden's hires of Clinton era political hands (led by Steve Ricchetti) as an indication that the Vice President might run for the top job in 2016, defying conventional wisdom that his political career would end after an Obama II administration. POLITICO's Glenn Thrush went deep with it: "For the past couple of years ... Biden has quietly assembled an A-team of advisers who would, without doubt, be considered the nucleus of a presidential campaign - if only he wouldn't be 73 in 2016 ... But the old fire crackles yet." A person close to Biden-land said Thrush nailed it but added another interesting tidbit: "Jill Biden has learned to really enjoy public life and would be enthusiastic if he were to run....  And one should NEVER underestimate how important spousal-support is to a POTUS run.

THE MARKETS - The final week of the month and the first quarter is upon us, with the Dow and S&P 500 limping to the finish line after a mostly upbeat first three months of 2012.  Last week saw the biggest losses of 2012 for both, but the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq are all finishing Q1 on the plus side, with the Nasdaq poised for its biggest quarterly percentage gain since the second quarter of 2009.
CHENEY AMONG OLDEST TO GET HEART TRANSPLANT: "After being on a waiting list for almost two years, ... the 71-year-old Mr. Cheney on Saturday underwent heart-transplant surgery and was recovering Sunday in the intensive-care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church."

ONLY $12.7 MILLION??? - "Athletic-gear maker Nike Inc. Inc. posted a 10% increase in revenue and a 12% rise in net income in the fiscal year ended May 31, 2011. But the company missed three-year targets for revenue and per-share earnings that had been set in 2008, so CEO Mark Parker received a smaller bonus, driving his total compensation down 5.8%, to $12.7 million."

DRIVING THE WEEK - Super Court begins its review of Obama's Affordable Care Act today by hearing arguments on whether the issue is even ripe or whether it needs to wait until the individual mandate goes into effect in 2014 ... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke speaks today at the National Association for Business Economics in Arlington, Va. ... House Energy subcommittee has a gas price hearing Wednesday and a House Financial Services subcommittee has an MF Global hearing ... House Financial services has a CFPB hearing on Thursday ... Euro finance ministers meet in Copenhagen on Friday and Saturday where the enhanced firewall could be laid out ... Romney heads to California this week to raise money ... Key data include pending home sales today at 10:00 a.m. (1 percent rise excepted) and S&P/Case-Shiller home prices on Tuesday (0.3 percent declined expected) ... Consumer confidence, also on Tuesday, expected to dip to 70.0 from 70.8

Next week, Jackass of the Month, words of the month, and a restaurant review.
Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 26, 2012

#II-48, 101

Monday, March 19, 2012


When I started this blog on May 3, 2010 it was designed as a vehicle for sharing opinions, information, and an intellectual pursuit to become a better writer.

After 100 blogs, I can honestly say I am not a better writer but I have learned from this pursuit. I have learned to become a more disciplined writer, which is a plus. I have learned through my research for weekly blogs 90% of all people are good, but that other 10% you better watch out for. The Darth Vaders in this world are out there, the evil ones are those you do not see coming, who hide behind fancy words and spins.

It has become one of my positions of this blog to point out these Darth Vaders and expose them for what they truly are – we shall see how this works out.

Thank you for following along on this pursuit, hopefully it will get better.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Matthew Broderick (50), Glenn Close (65), Bob Costas (60), Aretha Franklin (70), Elton John (65), Peyton Manning (36), Danica Patrick (30), Tara Pugliese …the little colonel, Bobby Orr (64), Carl Reiner (90), Bruce Willis (57).

BP reaches $7.8 billion deal over Gulf of Mexico spill" - Does not include claims by Justice Department, or state and local governments -- "BP Plc has reached an estimated $7.8 billion deal with businesses suing over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill ... BP said the cost of the proposed settlement [includes] a commitment of $2.3 billion to help resolve loss claims related to the Gulf seafood industry. It said the proposed settlement was not an admission of liability ... The oil giant still faces claims by the U.S. government, which is pursuing violations of the Clean Water Act and other laws, which could result in fines totaling billions of dollars. ... David Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor and former chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes section, said the settlement ... 'paves the way for BP to negotiate agreements with the federal and state governments and begin the process of moving beyond the Gulf oil spill.'"

GOOLSBEE NOT CERTAIN ON RECOVERY – We asked Austan Goolsbee, now back at the University of Chicago after serving as a top White House economic advisor, how confident he is that the 2012 recovery has legs even though data keeps coming in mixed: 'No really knows the answer to that question. I'm inclined to feel a little hesitant against the idea that we are fully out of the woods because we have done this twice before, in 2011 and also the end of 2009. ... It's kind of hard to see how you unleash a growth rate in the short run that's well in advance of 3 percent. You look at the last GDP report and the private sector is growing 5 percent but the government sector is shrinking five percent so you wind up with a net 2.8. And we have 5 million vacant homes. One-third of a normal recovery comes from construction and we are not likely to get that. ...

'Unlike in other V-shaped recoveries from recessions, we cannot go back to what we were doing before ... We have to shift away from housing and consumption to exporting and investing and that's a very slow process ... And the world has not been tremendously friendly to enabling us to do that. Europeans have fumbled and fumbled their way to negative growth ... And China is slowing while the price of gas is going up. There are definitely some clouds. I'm not pessimistic. I'm just guardedly optimistic. ... Productivity grows 2 percent a year. So if the growth rate slows to around 2 percent then the job market will stop improving and the unemployment rate will start going back up again. ...

"What worries Republicans is that the cost of the extended primary season isn't just financial, but also ... in the impact of the beating Romney is taking ... plunging poll numbers with independent voters and a focus on issues that won't help the party recapture the White House. ... Santorum strategist John Brabender, talking to reporters Tuesday, suggested that they'd be hard-pressed to catch Romney if Gingrich doesn't drop out. 'I think the real key right now is: Can we get an opportunity to get a one-on-one shot with Mitt Romney?'"

YOUNG WORKERS FACE PRESSURE ON WAGES - "Young people entering the job market are taking the brunt of the downward pressure on wages caused by high unemployment, according to a new analysis of pay trends. In data compiled for a coming report, the Economic Policy Institute ... found that the average inflation-adjusted hourly wage for male college graduates aged 23 to 29 dropped 11% over the past decade to $21.68 in 2011. For female college graduates of the same age, the average wage is down 7.6% to $18.80. ...

"The drop in average wages for young adults is in contrast to U.S. government figures showing that average inflation-adjusted hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers of all ages and education levels are up 3% from a decade ago. The EPI data are another sobering sign for college students and have implications for the economy. With wages falling for many young people and about flat for the nation as a whole, consumers have limited ability to pay down debts and revive the economy with more spending."

THE TOP 3 CONTENDERS to succeed Secretary of State Clinton, who has said she would step down if President Obama were reelected: Sen. John Kerry ... national security adviser Tom Donilon ... Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

THE REASON TO BUY IT: "There's a new microphone icon on the iPad's virtual keyboard that can be pressed to dictate emails or other notes on the device. Just say a few sentences and the new iPad is supposed to automatically type up everything you said."

"The new iPad screen was billed as the best display ever on a mobile device. The tablet also features a five-megapixel camera and high-definition video recording. Apple said the latest model has the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessor, with the span cut by about an hour with constant use of high-performing 4G telecom networks.

"The third-generation iPad weighs 1.4 pounds and is 9.4 mm thick, slightly heavier and slightly thicker ... A new iPhoto application turns the iPad into a slick tool for editing pictures with simple touches ... [Apple] also released an updated Apple TV box used to stream movies, television shows and other content from the Internet to high-definition TV sets. The new box features a streamlined new user interface and will sell for the same $99 price."

TOP TALKER - "Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100," a one-hour National Geographic Special on PBS - Mon., March 26 (10 p.m.) and Tue., March 27 (8 p.m.): "features interviews with columnist Mike Barnicle, author Glenn Stout, commentator Dick Flavin, and ESPN Senior Writer, Howard Bryant, along with archival footage and photos interwoven with a Yankees-Red Sox matchup. ... 'I think I do know about the ball park and why it has such a hold on people,' says Mike Barnicle . 'If you think about it and the times that we live in, many people don't even know their next door neighbor. People have several different jobs during the course of their working lifetimes. The bricks outside the ballpark along Yawkey Way - they've been there for a hundred years. It's still the same. So you have a feeling of permanence here that you might not have elsewhere in your life.' ... Working with unprecedented access to the ballpark, the workers, and players, the cameras bring Fenway Park alive."
BULLETIN -- 'Apple to Pay Dividend, Plans $10 Billion Buyback,' by WSJ's Jessica E. Vascellaro: 'Apple Inc. said Monday that it plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program starting later this year. The ... company expects to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share sometime in the fourth quarter ... Its board also has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program starting in fiscal 2013 to be executed over three years.'
WORLD'S BIGGEST BANK? IT'S WELLS FARGO - "If you want to do business with the biggest bank in the Western world, don't get on a plane to New York or London. The new place to go is sunny California. Wells Fargo & Co., with its headquarters in downtown San Francisco, has shot ahead of the East Coast institutions that have long been the behemoths of the financial industry, including JPMorgan Chase ... and Citigroup Although Wells Fargo still has fewer bank deposits than its closest competitor, its total stock market value is now about $178 billion - that's about $70 billion more than Citigroup and about $9 billion more than JPMorgan.
"It has even overtaken the largest bank in Europe, London's HSBC. This newly assumed title is not just a quirk of the stock markets. ... The new favorites in the banking industry are institutions that focus on the more straightforward business of taking in deposits and doling out loans. Wells Fargo is the only one of the four U.S. banks with more than a trillion dollars in assets that does not have a major Wall Street operation."
Next week, Jackass of the Month.
Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 19, 2012

#II-47, 100

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Training

Be it Lakeland, Clearwater, Orlando Florida, Tempe, Scottsdale or Goodyear, Arizona, Cabo San Lucas, Pinehurst, N.C., La Quinta, CA – it is that time of the year for Spring Training. Now Spring Training could be major league baseball preseason camps, it also could be spring break college students partying, or, in my case, a nice break from the rigors of winter work, time to recharge the batteries.

As middle age now becomes a definite fact of life and no longer an elephant in the room possibility, I find Spring Training to be a welcome and necessary part of my “life” routine. I need a break, without one I become a moron with bags under my eyes. Too be wise is a wonderful gift, too be wise and middle age is a blessing. I am truly living the way I wish. I enjoy my work, my family, my lifestyle. I have my health, yes I know, I could shed a few pounds but I feel good and the mind is sharper than ever (in my opinion).

It is a true pleasure to get up in the morning and know I do not have to work with ego driven bureaucrats. My work is what I make it, rewarding, simple and satisfying. How many people can truly say this? So as I head off into Spring Training week my major worries are an ugly golf swing, can the Red Wings win the Cup, and please let me continue to have such fun in life.


I am heading off into a spring break week and need a good (old school) cocktail for the pool. Can you suggest a recipe?


DEAR Parched:

Yes, I have an old school recipe for those spring break lazy days around the pool, on the golf course, or watching March Madness. I give credit to the Hoot Owl in Canton, New York for this recipe. I guarantee spring break bliss.



Planter's Punch is a classic rum drink that first appeared in print in a 1908 edition of the New York Times. Like other drinks, this has a disputed origin: one claim refers to the Planter's Hotel in St. Louis and another tells of a Jamaican planter's wife who concocted it to cool down the workers.
This recipe is just one version, others include combinations of curacao, bitters or other juices such as pineapple and orange. At some bars a bar punch mix is used to fill. Also, you can easily increase the recipe's volume and serve it as a party punch or you can go with the non-alcoholic Planter's Punch.

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 Drink

• 2 oz dark rum
• 1/4 oz grenadine
• equal parts sour mix and either pineapple or orange juice to fill
• club soda (optional)
• maraschino cherry for garnish
• lemon or orange slice for garnish

1. Pour the rum, grenadine and juice mix into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes.
2. Shake well.
3. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes.
4. Top with club soda if you want.
5. Garnish with the lemon slice and cherry.


SPRING TRAINING READING: Alex Berenson’s “The Shadow Patrol”. A great read: John Wells returns to Afghanistan to hunt a possible leak in the agency’s station in Kabul, but finds himself facing deadly drug smuggling ring of US soldiers working with the Taliban.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Last week marked the 3rd anniversary of the stock market’s post-financial crisis lows, popularly referred to in these parts as the “Haines Bottom” in tribute to the late Mark Haines’ amazingly accurate call on March 9, 2009.

The Dow and S&P 500 have doubled since then: the best Dow performer over that time is American Express, up nearly 400%, while Hewlett-Packard has the unfortunate distinction of being the only Dow stock down over that period (-3.5%).

YAHOO’S TROUBLES - Yahoo (YHOO) may be a stock to watch today, as Comscore reports the company lost web search market share for a 6 straight month in February. Its share is now at 13.8%, compared to 66.4% for Google (GOOG) and 15.3% for Microsoft (15.3%).

GOOD MONDAY MORNING - Want to get really angry before breakfast? WSJ reports that several MF Global executives who were in their jobs as the firm collapsed could get bonuses of several hundred thousand dollars under a bankruptcy court deal being worked out by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

BUSINESS BURST - "GE's Immelt sees long period of unstable economies , General Electric Co. will keep its focus on boosting its dividend and improving margins as it faces what Chief Executive Jeff Immelt expects to be an extended period of economic instability. 'We live in what most business commentators call a volatile world. I would argue that when the environment is continuously unstable, it is no longer volatile. Rather, we have entered a new economic era,' the head of the largest U.S. conglomerate said in his annual letter to shareholders. 'It could remain this way for a long time.' ... In the face of that uncertainty, the world's largest maker of jet engines and electric turbines aims to cut its costs and to reverse a trend of outsourcing manufacturing operations in order to run its factories more efficiently."

SAD ANNVERSARY: On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the coast of Japan, causing a tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis. One year later, Japan is still reeling. As the overview on the New York Times Topics page sums it up, “The earthquake and tsunami led to soul searching in a nation already worn down by two lost decades of economic growth, a rapidly aging and now shrinking population, political paralysis and the rapid rise of its longtime rival, China.” Are prayers continue to be with our friends and neighbors in Japan.

5 SUPER TUESDAY TAKEAWAYS: "1. Win, no bounce, repeat ... Romney ... is likely heading into another bounce-free news cycle. [His] campaign and its backers had hoped to use a strong night to start making the case that it's time to wind this down, and his election night speech, delivered from Boston, was supposed to convey the aura of a nominee-in-waiting. But in the end, he underperformed. ... 2. It's time for Santorum to throw elbows at Newt Gingrich ... 3. Newt doesn't seem ready to leave ... 4. Ron Paul's time on stage is running short ... 5. Everyone now benefits equally from super PACs."

CURRENT DELEGATE COUNT - Romney: 424; Santorum: 212; Gingrich: 103; Paul: 45

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Alexandria Barbara Ball …our prayers have been said for graduation, Billy Crystal (64), Lesley-Anne Down (58), Mia Hamm (40), Mike Love (71), Mitt Romney (65), Darryl Strawberry (50), James Taylor (64), Andrew Young (80).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday 3/16, 7:00 PM ET ESPNU, in the first of two ECAC semi-finals the Harvard Crimson (12-9-11) vs. #13 ranked Cornell University Big Red (17-7-7). The Ithaca, New York club has been playing inspired hockey of late, we like Cornell to advance. Season to date (5-6).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Cornell 4 Harvard 2, Michigan 5 Bowling Green 4, Boston University 6 Maine 3. Season to date (18-10).

THE FINAL FOUR: Our Final Four NCAA basketball picks – East: Ohio State, Midwest: Temple, South: Kentucky, West: Michigan State – NCAA Champs: Michigan State.

TWITTER PREPARES FOR IPO - "In just six years Twitter Inc. has become the world's digital soapbox, amassing more than 100 million monthly users ... Yet despite the service's growing influence on society and culture, the business behind it still has a ways to go until it's ready for an initial public offering. ... The company, whose members broadcast 140-character messages called tweets, spent most of its early life as a service that generated buzz but little revenue. Now Twitter is striving to mature its business to be fit for an IPO-and finding it has a long way to go. Twitter's ad revenue reached $139.5 million last year, eMarketer Inc. estimates, while ad revenue at Facebook-which is two years older than Twitter-was 22 times larger at $3.15 billion."

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama today will offer a "One-Year Progress Report" on the effort to gain energy independence ... Treasury budget out at 2:00 p.m. expected to show a $229 billion deficit for February up from $223 billion last year ... FOMC issues a statement on interest rates on Tuesday that is not expected to include any significant changes but may feature a more upbeat tone on the economy, making another round of asset purchases less likely ... Fed will also release results of its latest bank stress tests with the findings expected to open the door to bigger dividend payments and share buybacks (more below) ... Other significant data include Philly Fed and initial jobless claims Thursday. Be good to see claims continue to drop rather that stick around close to 400K. Consensus for this week is 355K down from 362K ...

Univ. of Michigan/Reuters consumer sentiment, out on Friday, not expected to change from last reading of 75 ... Primary calendar turns south on Tuesday with contests in Alabama and Mississippi that would seem to favor Rick Santorum. Romney, however, has shown strength in polls in both states as his two opponents divide the evangelical vote. ... Should Romney win one or both it would go a very long way to easing doubts about the strength of his candidacy ... Gingrich may have a hard time arguing that he should remain in the race if he can't win one of the two states in his home region.

Next week, 100th Rink Rats Blog!!! Oh my.

Until Next Monday, Slán agat.

Claremont, CA
March 12, 2012

#II-46, 99

Monday, March 5, 2012

The State of My State

You have the State of the Union, the State of the State, the State of the City, and the State of the University, with all the State of Anything speeches going on you would think we would all be in good hands. Are we?

Well it is time for the State of My State: ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, democrats and republicans, full time and ACTING, fellow citizens, the State of my State stinks.

My fellow citizens continue to not use their turn signals, Grumpy’s food and menu in Victorville has deteriorated to Chili’s like status, I continue to snap hook the golf ball, MBA students continue to have a difficult time grasping the concept of discounted cash flow, if my hair gets any greyer you can begin to call me Newt. “Squawk on the Street” is not the same show as it used to be without Mark Haynes and Erin Burnett, Mr. Bates is stuck in jail with very little hope of getting out, and my season tickets to the Dodgers this year just arrived including a flak jacket and pepper spray. Not a pretty picture my State. But there is nothing wrong with that, I can deal with it.

I find it refreshing in a State of the Any State address you can announce all is not well. Why must we sugar coat the truth? Our country is a great country but we have many problems to solve, California is driving away business and borrowing record amounts of money, the City of Los Angeles has a mayor who would rather be in Washington than Los Angeles, and what has happened to UCLA basketball?

It is okay to have problems and issues that cannot be easily solved by overpaid consultants who are friends of friends, or problems that require compromise and common sense to solve. Why is it today our leaders feel to lead they must say all is well when it is not? Lead by example, lead by grasping the real problems, lead by listening to your citizens, your employees, your equals. Lead to not keep your job, lead by accountability.

I lead my family, my business associates and my students by not passing the buck, by not trying to always look good, I lead through the experience of  life’s failures, as well as life’s successes, I lead by admitting my faults and sharing my decisions equally with those influenced by them. This is the State of My State.

I guess I will go and deal with my problems now (should I hire a consultant?), where is that hair color?

KKR EXECS EARNED NEARLY $100M LAST YEAR - "Henry Kravis and George Roberts (Claremont McKenna College Alumni)  each took home a pay-out of around $94m last year from KKR, the private equity group they helped to found, the latest sign of the riches available to industry executives at a sensitive time in the US presidential election. ... Mr. Kravis and Mr. Roberts together own 25 per cent of KKR, and each received $64.2m in cash dividend payments last year ... The group, which has been listed in New York since 2010, paid a dividend of $0.74 per share in 2011. The two cousins were also paid around $30m each, mostly from the share of investment profits from private equity funds managed by KKR. So-called carried interest is usually taxed as a capital gain, which is levied at a 15 per cent rate, rather than the 35 per cent paid on ordinary income."

PITY THE POOR BANKERS - Bloomberg's Max Abelson has a must on how much suffering is going on in the wake of smaller Wall Street bonuses: "Andrew Schiff ... director of marketing for broker-dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc. ... is facing another kind of jam this year: Paid a lower bonus, he said the $350,000 he earns, enough to put him in the country's top 1 percent by income, doesn't cover his family's private-school tuition, a ... Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex. 'I feel stuck,' Schiff said. 'The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.' The smaller bonus checks that hit accounts across the financial-services industry this month are making it difficult to maintain the lifestyles that Wall Street workers expect, according to interviews with bankers and their accountants, therapists, advisers and headhunters ...

'People who don't have money don't understand the stress,' said Alan Dlugash, a partner at accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLP in New York who specializes in financial planning for the wealthy. 'Could you imagine what it's like to say I got three kids in private school, I have to think about pulling them out? How do you do that?”

R.R. NOTE - Families "who don't have money" know a lot more serious stress than how many private school tuitions they can afford. If you want to know why America hates Wall Street, the above stories go a long way to explaining it.

A NEW MONTH - opens on Wall Street with some negative momentum following Wednesday’s losses, but nonetheless, February was a successful one for the bulls.  The S&P 500 turned in its best February gains since 1998, the Nasdaq since 2000 as it briefly topped the 3,000 mark for the first time in more than 10 years.
ROMNEY TAKES MICHIGAN/ARIZONA - Michigan results with 99.9 percent of precincts reporting: Mitt Romney 409,719 (41%); Rick Santorum: 377,507 (38%); Ron Paul: 115,689 (12%); Newt Gingrich: 64,999 (7%)
ARIZONA - Romney: 215,119 (47%); Santorum: 120,678 (27); Gingrich: 73,478 (16%); Paul: 38,453 (8%)

CURRENT DELEGATE COUNT - Per @cbsnews: Romney 157, Santorum 52, Gingrich 30, Paul 15

TECH BLINK: iPAD THREE THIS  WEEK - "Apple Inc. is hosting a media event this Wednesday, where it is expected to unveil a faster, better-equipped version of its popular iPad tablet to thwart increasing competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Inc. The invitation-only event will be held at 1 p.m. EST on March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where the company also introduced the last two generations of iPads. ... The invitation featured a partial picture of the touchscreen of a device resembling an iPad. Apple launches are some of the hottest events on the tech calendar, scrutinized by fans, investors, the media and industry insiders alike. The iPad has dominated the nascent tablet computer market, but Amazon's Kindle Fire, which sells at half the cost, has chipped away at the lower end of the market."

TECHWATCH - "Microsoft unveils Windows 8 for public test ," "Microsoft Corp unveils the first widely available test version of Windows 8 on Wednesday, giving the public the first chance to try out the slick, new-look operating system it hopes will restore the company's fading tech supremacy. ... Windows 8 ... features blocks or 'tiles' that can be moved around the screen or tapped to go straight into an application. The tiles update in real time, so you can see if you have emails, voice messages or Facebook notifications at a glance. ... Microsoft has not put a timetable on the final release, but Windows ... has said new versions ... should be ... three years apart, which would put a ... debut around October ... The public will get its first good look at Windows 8 on Wednesday ... at an event in Barcelona."

TOP STORY -- "ANALYSIS-Price of victory may be too high for Putin, Vladimir Putin's emphatic win in Sunday's presidential election has come at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in spending promises that could sow the seeds of an economic crisis in Russia before his six-year term is out. Putin, who received 64 percent of the vote with nearly all ballots counted, shored up his base by throwing money at everything from nuclear missiles to kindergartens, making the overburdened budget more dependent than ever on oil prices. The 59-year-old premier [is] returning to the Kremlin for a third term."

YOU'RE INVITED: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a rising Democratic star, headlines Playbook Breakfast on Wed., March 7, to talk about policy, politics and what's in store for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Breakfast is downtown: Doors open at 8 a.m.; program starts shortly after. While in D.C., the mayor will push a jobs-creating transportation bill that includes America Fast Forward, which would allow localities to accelerate the construction of road and rail. Hey Mr. Mayor how about running the City of Los Angeles!

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Michael Eisner (70), Alan Greenspan (86), Lester Holt (53), Antonin Scalia (76), Sharon Stone (54), Lynn Swann (60), Shannon Tweed (55), Carrie Underwood (29).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 3/10, 7:35 ET, FSN a first round CCHA series game at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan has #18 ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (19-16-3) vs. #6 ranked Michigan Wolverines (21-11-4). Red Berenson’s Michigan men are ready for another NCAA title run, they will get a good start by upending The Irish in Ann Arbor.  Season to date (4-6).
THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Cornell 6 Dartmouth 2, Michigan 5 Notre Dame 1, Boston University 4 New Hampshire 3. Season to date (15-10).

DRIVING THE WEEK - GOP race once again seems back on track to wind up where it was always going to wind up, with Mitt Romney as the nominee. Romney picked up big establishment endorsements on Sunday as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn backed him heading into Super Tuesday. ... If Romney wins Ohio, which should favor Rick Santorum given its big blue collar vote, it should pretty well seal it. However, given super PACS and the number of proportional-delegate states, a desultory contest could roll on until April or even later. Polls show a statistical dead-heat in Ohio but the trend is in Romney's direction and barring late shifts it looks like the former Massachusetts governor will probably lock it down which will in turn free up more big GOP names to start calling on Santorum, Ron Paul and Gingrich to drop out or at least stop any slashing attacks on the party's presumptive standard bearer ...

ISM non-manufacturing out at 10:00 a.m. EST this morning. Consensus is a dip to 56.6 from 56.8 ... Senate Banking has a hearing on job creation and capital formation on Tuesday ... Senate Finance has a tax reform hearing on Tuesday and a hearing on President Obama's trade agenda on Wednesday ... Apple is expected to unveil the iPad 3 on Wednesday ... House Energy has a hearing on rising gas prices on Wednesday morning ... Thursday is the deadline for holders to agree to the proposed Greek debt swap (more below) ... ADP employment on Wednesday morning and initial jobless claims on Thursday will help provide color for Friday's BLS jobs report

NICE WALK – If you are looking for a nice place for a peaceful, relaxing walk try the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. This is a great time of year to take in the serenity of the walking paths and now especially “The Bugs”. Local Rink Rats readers should check it out.

Next week, March Madness and Dear Rink Rats.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 5, 2012

#II-45, 98