Monday, April 30, 2012

Just Stay Calm

As Rink Rats begin year number three of our weekly blog and we head into the month of May, we stress the need for all to “just stay calm”.

The summer months are around the corner.  May is a transition month to the summer: college graduates begin to head out into the world of employment and debt, families plan their summer vacations, the Triple Crown, hockey and basketball playoffs highlight the sports world, and the winter clothes can now finally be put away.

But with the bills of Christmas for some of us still outstanding, the pessimism of our economy and political issues in this election year high, along with the Housewives of Orange County coming to another season end, many of us are uneasy and frazzled.

Yoga, a nice glass of wine, and even an evening of American Idol are of little help to ease this stressful state. Some of us try to comment on Twitter or Facebook our frustrations and ill feelings. But all we get in return is even more idiotic observations and suggestions.

May is a good time to take a morning walk before work when the air is cool and clean before the heat of the summer. Visit your library and find a good book to read, take a friend to lunch, tell your parents you love them, buy some flowers or plant a garden – all these are excellent methods for us to stay calm and relaxed as we head into the heat of the summer.

STAY CALM RECIPE: “Lemon Poppy-Seed Pancakes with Greek Yogurt and Jam”

Time: 20 minutes
1 1/3 cups Greek yogurt, more for serving
2/3 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, more for frying
2 tablespoons honey
260 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
12 grams baking soda (about 2 teaspoons)
12 grams kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon)
2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Jam, for serving.
1. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, eggs, butter and honey. In a separate larger bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and fold in the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a pat of butter to the skillet and swirl to coat. Working in batches, drop 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes, 2 to 3 minutes; flip and continue cooking until golden and firm, 1 to 2 minutes more. To serve, slather each pancake with a dollop of yogurt and a spoonful of jam.
Yield: 6 servings.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Martin Brodeur (40), Mike Dirnt (40), Chris Krich …famous football coach, Tim McGraw (45), Johnny Miller (65), Pete Seeger (93), Bob Seger (67).

LAW SCHOOLS FLUNK ECON 101 - "U.S. law school deans could do with a little Econ 101. Tuition at the likes of Yale and Stanford keeps rising faster than inflation, despite a dwindling supply of aspiring lawyers. And job prospects for graduates are getting worse. For all their sophisticated skills, legal educators still haven't mastered the law of supply and demand. ... While MBA and other graduate programs show signs of renewed popularity, law schools are still suffering. Applicant numbers have tumbled to about 67,000 for the fall 2012 class, the lowest since 1987. ... Part of the problem is the high price of legal education. Tuition has quintupled at private law schools since 1985, averaging nearly $40,000 last year ... Including living expenses, it costs over $230,000 for the three years required to earn a JD from Chicago's Northwestern, the school's website says."

WALL STREET WEEK - US stock index futures pointed to a mixed open on Wall Street on Monday after weaker than expected first-quarter gross domestic product figures left investors little idea which direction the US economy was headed in on Friday. Data on Friday showed U.S. economic growth cooled in the first quarter to 2.2 percent versus expectations of 2.5 percent, partly as businesses cut back on investment, bolstering the Federal Reserve's case that interest rates should be kept near zero at least though late 2014.

WAL-MART STOCK CRUSHED - "Wal-Mart's stock fell almost 5 percent ... accounting for about one-fifth of the losses in the Dow Jones industrial average, as investors reacted to a bribery scandal at the retailer's Mexican subsidiary and a report that an internal investigation was quashed at corporate headquarters in Arkansas. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Wal-Mart investigators had found credible evidence that the subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, had paid millions of dollars in bribes to support expansion in Mexico, where the retailer has one in five of its stores. Told of this evidence in 2005, top executives in Bentonville, Ark., shut down the investigation, The Times reported ... The fallout for Wal-Mart could be significant. A settlement of any sort would very likely include large fines by both the Justice Department and the [SEC]"

TICK-TOCK: SOCIAL SECURITY: BROKE BY 2033 - "Social Security is rushing even faster toward insolvency, driven by retiring baby boomers, a weak economy and politicians' reluctance to take painful action ... The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 - three years earlier than previously projected ... There was no change in the year that Medicare's hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money. It's still 2024. The program's trustees, however, said the pace of Medicare spending continues to accelerate. Congress enacted a 2 percent cut for Medicare last year, and that is the main reason the trust fund exhaustion date did not advance."

"The trustees who oversee both programs say high energy prices are suppressing workers' wages, a trend they see continuing. They also expect people to work fewer hours than previously projected, even after the economy recovers. Both trends would lead to lower payroll tax receipts, which support both programs ... Unless Congress acts - and forcefully - payments to millions of Americans could be cut."

SPORT BLAST: LONDON OLYMPICS LOOKING STRONG - "This past Wednesday, 100 days before the July 27 opening ceremony, the countdown begins in earnest for the world's biggest sporting event ... So far, except for a few glitches, the Olympic rollout has gone fairly smoothly, a showcase of British know-how and efficiency, officials say. Construction on several new stadiums is finished or nearly there, an extensive transportation plan is being refined, a massive security operation is underway and tickets have sold like hot cakes. But there's little room to take anything for granted here in one of the world's most densely packed and gridlocked cities, a magnet for tourists and terrorists ... And London's status as an expensive destination has been amply borne out by the Games' price tag, which started at less than $4 billion but has been marked up several times to the latest figure, a whopping $15 billion."

ANNIVERSARY – Twenty years ago this past week one evening I was driving home from teaching a class at 10:00 PM and noticed the streets were strangely empty of traffic, the air smelled of smoke. The Los Angeles riots were beginning, a strange and scary time to live in metro Los Angeles.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – we begin our third year of weekly blogs. Any suggestions?

NEW SIGTARP REPORT: NO PROFIT? - Out overnight from newly installed Special Inspector General Christy Romero. Top findings: "It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion. TARP's costs and legacies involve far more than just dollars and cents, and an analysis should not be focused alone on money in and money out. ... TARP legacies: Moral hazard and 'too big to fail'... TARP continues to be subject to criticism that TARP helped large banks but not homeowners. In addition, after 3½ years, community banks have an uphill battle to exit TARP because they cannot find new capital to replace TARP funds"

APPLE SCORES ANOTHER BLOWOUT - "Apple has brushed aside concerns that it could soon reach the limits of its soaring growth, with news ... that huge international sales of the iPhone enabled its latest financial results to once again top even the most optimistic Wall Street forecasts. The news gave an immediate lift of more than 7 per cent to Apple's shares in after-market trading, adding more than $35bn to the company's market value and reversing a two-week correction that had wiped 13 per cent from the price. ... Behind the latest surge in Apple's results was news that it had sold 35m iPhones during the quarter, ahead of most estimates. The 11.8m iPads also sold during the period were also at the top end of most estimates and 150 per cent ahead of the year before. .. Overall, the US computing and consumer electronics company said it had seen a 59 per cent jump in revenue to $39.2bn, with net income rising 94 per cent $11.6bn, or $12.30 a share. Wall Street had been expecting earnings of about $9.94 a share on revenues of $36.5bn."

DRIVING THE WEEK - Japanese Prime Minister Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visits the White House today to discuss expanding Japan's role in regional security ... Obama and Noda hold a joint presser at 2:00 p.m. ... Mitt Romney campaigns in New Hampshire this morning and raises money in Boston this evening ... OWS plans protests in NYC and around the country on Tuesday ... Tons of critical economic data this week including ISM Manufacturing, construction and North American auto sales on Tuesday; ADP private payrolls on Wednesday; ECB rates meeting and initial jobless claims on Thursday; and the big BLS jobs report on Friday ...

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton head to China for key economic meetings Thursday and Friday amid rising tensions (more below) ... French runoff between Sarkozy and Hollande, which could be big for the austerity (Sarkozy) vs. growth (Hollande) debate in Europe, takes place Sunday along with big Greek parliamentary elections ... Per WSJ, CEOs of big banks meet with Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo on Wednesday to discuss exposure limits and other elements of Dodd-Frank ... Carlyle Group expected to price its IPO on Wednesday.

Next week, finally that restaurant review and our Jackass of the month.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 30, 2012

#III-1, 106

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