Monday, July 30, 2012

Bad Teeth

If there is anyone who knows about bad teeth it is a hockey player, name me a hockey player who has never been hit in the mouth and I will tell you about ocean front property in Tucson. This writer played hockey for forty years, so I consider myself an expert on teeth.

One of the hazards of summer travel is to experience bad teeth. Be it traveling to certain parts of our glorious country, or visiting Europe, the far east, and the middle east – bad teeth are everywhere. Be it health related, climate related, diet related, economic related or plain stupidity, bad teeth and travel go hand in hand. 

What do you notice first about a person: their footwear, their eyebrows, their make-up, their lips, whatever – I notice their teeth. While you watch the Olympics the next two weeks, scout out the bad teeth. In your next meeting in the office, who has bad teeth? Think about getting serious with someone? Check out their dental records.

But especially as you travel these final weeks of summer, who has good teeth or bad? Does it tell you anything about that particular society or culture? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that you will never, ever see this globe trekker kissing any Siberian Russian women.

SANDY WEILL SHOCKS THE WORLD - Former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill's comments on CNBC that he would support breaking up the biggest banks shocked Wall Street and Washington. Some big-time bankers M.M. spoke to on Wednesday seemed genuinely shaken by the comments, which come at time when the bigger-is-better model is under assault from both left and right. Weill, 79, almost single-handedly created the giant bank model by smashing Glass-Steagall and turning buttoned down Citibank into sprawling one-stop-shop Citigroup, a colossus selling everything from checking accounts to credit default swaps.

THE SENTENCE THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING - Weill on CNBC's Squawk Box in a remark that instantly blew up Twitter and dominated conversations all day up and down the Acela corridor: "I think what we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real-estate loans, have banks do something that's not going to risk the tax-payers dollars, that's not going to be too-big-to-fail." 

FOOD PRICES TO SOAR - "Food prices will race ahead faster than prices of other goods in the United States this year and next, due to the worst drought in more than a half a century ... Food prices rose 3.7 percent in 2011, and American consumers may pay 3.5 percent more at the grocery store this year, with higher prices for meat, poultry and fruit, as the drought gripping the U.S. farm belt drives up crop prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast that food prices would jump between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent in 2012 and then rise 3-4 percent in 2013 ... Food prices will rise far more rapidly than the overall U.S. inflation rate, according to USDA, a turnabout from the usual pattern".

APPLE POSTS RARE MISS - "Apple, the most valuable public company, missed Wall Street forecasts with its third-quarter revenues and earnings as fans held out for the next iPhone. The California-based company sold 26m iPhones in the three months to June 30, up 28 per cent on the same period a year ago and topping the company's own guidance. But the figures marked a slowdown in the rate of growth over recent quarters, sending its shares below $600 in after-hours trading ...

"Gossip about the next generation of iPhone, expected to be a more significant upgrade than the iPhone 4S was over its predecessor, has already begun to dissuade buyers ... Apple's revenues of $35bn compared with analysts' estimates of around $37.2bn, while earnings of $9.32 per share were also below forecasts of about $10.32. The company's cash pile grew by $7bn in March to $117.2bn by the end of June"

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Tony Bennett (86), Tom Brady (35), Roger Clemens (50), Issam Ghazzawi …outstanding teacher, Paul Laxalt (90), Ted Lindsay (87), President Barack Obama (51), Peter O’Toole (80), Arnold Schwarzenegger (65).

EVERY LEADER AND ASPIRING LEADER SHOULD READ THIS - Vanity Fair's August issue, "MICROSOFT'S LOST DECADE : Once upon a time, Microsoft dominated the tech industry: indeed, it was the wealthiest corporation in the world. But since 2000, as Apple, Google, and Facebook whizzed by, it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc. etc. Talking to former and current Microsoft executives, KURT EICHENWALD finds the fingers pointing at Steve Ballmer (Detroit Country Day ’73), Bill Gates's successor, as the man who led them astray": "[W]hat began as a lean competition machine led by young visionaries of unparalleled talent has mutated into something bloated and bureaucracy-laden, with an internal culture that unintentionally rewards managers who strangle innovative ideas that might threaten the established order of things. ... [The cash-cow] Windows and Office divisions [were allowed to dictate] the direction of product development [derailing e-books, mobile and tablets] ... Many of the longtime executives let new employees handle the work while they themselves lolled around, waiting for the next vesting period when they could exercise more options - a behavior known derisively by the younger hires as 'rest and vest.' ...

"Microsoft ... lost more than half its value ... The stock options - once the golden key to untold wealth -- were underwater. ... Where once creating innovations was both the thrill of the job and the path to riches through stock options, guaranteed financial success could be achieved only the way it was at stodgy old General Motors or IBM - through promotions. 'People realized they weren't going to get wealthy,' one former senior executive said. 'They turned into people trying to move up the ladder, rather than people trying to make a big contribution to the firm.'

"More employees seeking management slots led to more managers, more managers led to more meetings, more meetings led to more memos, and more red tape led to less innovation. ... [B]ecause reviews came every six months, employees and their supervisors ... focused on their short-term performance, rather than on longer efforts to innovate. ... [Because of Microsoft's perverse 'stack ranking' evaluation system,] every employee has to impress not only his or her boss but bosses from other teams as well. And that means schmoozing and brown-nosing as many supervisors as possible." 

For the first time in Olympics history, every participating country will have a female athlete. What three countries that have previously sent only male competitors will also be sending women this summer Olympics?

1.      Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Brunei
2.      Samoa, Sudan and Cuba
3.      Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan
4.      Iraq, Sudan and Albania
5.      Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei

Answer next week

MONDAY OLYMPIC UPDATE - In good news, Team USA crushed France in basketball. In less good news, France beat Team USA in swimming relay. In outrageous news, Jordyn Wieber got shut out of the women's all-around individual gymnastics finals due to ridiculous qualifying rules. Overall, Team USA now trails Team China by one medal, 12-11. If Team USA ultimately wins, China has agreed to forgive all our debt. 

DRIVING THE WEEK - Huge, massive, critical (and whatever other superlative you want to use) week for economic data and events. FOMC meets Tuesday and Wednesday with the announcement Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. Consensus is no new easing but perhaps an extension of low rate guidance well into 2015 ... Other critical numbers is the July jobs report out on Friday. Will it be another disappointment and blow to the Obama campaign? Few signals that it will be a blockbuster. But a dip in jobless claims suggests it could be slightly better than last month's 80K. Consensus is 100K and no change in the 8.2% unemployment rate. Philly Fed predicted a negative number but other data do not confirm that gloomy signal ...

President Obama campaigns in Ohio on Wednesday and Florida and Virginia on Thursday ... Obama is in NYC for a fundraiser this evening at the NoMad hotel ... Congress enters its final week before the August summer recess. Republicans in the House expected to pass their bill to extend all the Bush tax cuts to counter Democrats in the Senate who passed the Obama-favored extension only for those earnings under $250K ... Neither proposal is going anywhere ... Both chambers could approve a six-month CR to fund the government through next year and take the possibility of a government shut-down on Oct. 1, which neither party wants, off the table ...

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner meets with German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble today on the German island of Sylt ... Senate Agriculture Committee has a hearing Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. on the futures market looking at the failures of MF Global and Peregrine Financial. CFTC Chair Gary Gensler is the lead witness ... Senate Commerce has a hearing on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. on the question of online retailers' exemption from collecting state sales tax ... Both ECB and Bank of England on Thursday will issue interest rate decisions.

Next week, Jackass of the month and Dear Rink Rats.

Until Next Monday, Hasta La Vista.

Claremont, CA
July 30, 2012

#III-14, 119

Monday, July 23, 2012


There is much to fret over these days. Erin Andrews has dumped ESPN. Katie has dumped Tom. Ann Curry is out. Jeff Daniels, with almost no anchor experience, is suddenly in. Instead of hiring student service (support) staff Universities and Colleges hire sales men and women. U.S. Olympic uniforms are made in China by thirteen year olds.

Despite all our best efforts, the world remains a shifty place.

The word seamless has come up in many a conversation this summer by this writer.
seamless - perfectly consistent and coherent; "the novel's seamless plot"; coherent, consistent, logical, ordered - marked by an orderly, logical, and aesthetically consistent relation of parts; "a coherent argument".

When one’s life is seamless all is consistent and logical. When I travel a “seamless” vacation is a vacation of order, quiet, and no worries. Too bad our lives cannot be such. In today’s world nothing is seamless. We work in professional environments far from seamless; employees who should be fired continue their jobs (and salary) in relocated offices with little value to the organization. Our personal lives are driven by the next text or twitter message, while we constantly look over our shoulder in the shopping mall or restaurant for people acting strange.

Can we ever have a seamless life? Probably never, this is the challenge and yes struggle of today’s society. So I say no worries about being seamless, do not worry about those managers who keep poor performing employees on the payroll, do not worry about answering that text, do not worry about a vacation that goes wrong – worry about helping at the very least one person every day, making their day in a small way seamless.

CHAPTER 11 – The approval of Tribune’s restructuring under Chapter 11 this past week will represent the beginning of the end of a case that has left the company in limbo since December 2008. Owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, KTLA and numerous other media outlets around the U.S. – the plan has been endorsed by several of the company’s largest creditors, which include JP Morgan Chase.

GEEK SQUAD – MyTracks for Android is one of Google’s lesser known mobile apps, but it’s actually a pretty useful tool for those who would like to keep a record of their bike rides, runs, hikes and other outdoor activities. Users can export their data as standard GPX, KML, CSV and TCX files and also their data in Google Maps, Google Fusion Tables and Google Docs. Users can also share their routes via Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

MICROSOFT POSTS FIRST LOSS - "Microsoft reported its first loss since becoming a public company in 1986 as it wrote down the value of its online business and deferred revenues expected when users upgrade to its forthcoming Windows 8 .. The quarterly net loss of $492m, or 6 cents per share, compared with net income of $5.9bn, or 69 cents per share, in the same period last year. Apart from these exceptional items, the world's largest software maker reported record fourth-quarter sales, sending its shares up 2.5 per cent to $31.44 in after-hours trading ... During its new fiscal year starting this month, Microsoft plans to release Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows Server 2012 and its Office 2013 productivity suite".

STUDENT LOAN BUBBLE - "Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education released a report that describes the risky practices and debt that stemmed from the boom and bust of the private student loan market in the past ten years. According to the CFPB's estimates, outstanding student loan debt in the United States topped $1 trillion in 2011 -- $864 billion of federal student debt and approximately $150 billion of private student loan debt."

Here is a neat student loan infographic from

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Bill Bigglestone …famous family researcher, Hugo Chavez (58*), Dick Ebersol (65), Peggy Fleming (64*), Tim Gunn (59), Don Imus (72), Alison Krause (41), Norman Lear (90*), Terri McCormack … famous party hostess, Elisabeth Moss (30), Alex Rodriguez (37), Alessandro Suffredini …famous nephew.

RICKSHAW REPORT – This writer’s 2011 Ford Fusion clipped 27,000 miles (18 months) this past week. Here is a shout out to the fine team at Colley Ford (Glendora, CA): a great car, never a problem, outstanding service. A note to Carl (General Manager) and wife Barb Colley, you have a very beautiful daughter (Blair) but enough with the head band in every picture. You are turning your daughter into LeBron James.

RICKSHAW REPORT PART DEUX - Detroit News p. 1A, "Auto sales on track to be best since 2007: Lower gas prices, pent-up demand help sell vehicles: U.S. car and truck sales could surpass 14 million for the first time in five years, with every major automaker reporting a strong midyear performance. Strong June sales announced Tuesday [prompted] analysts to revise their consensus forecast of 13.9 million upward, to 14.2 million. That would be the industry's best U.S. sales year since 2007, when 16.1 million ... were sold. Last year's American sales totaled 12.8 million, as the industry continued to claw its way back ...”

"A flagging ... housing market and consumer confidence index could dampen the auto industry's comeback ... Some of the gains ... are due to fleet and rental sales, which don't portend the market for consumer vehicles."

OLYMPICS RATED "NC-17" - "Will you still medal in the morning? The real games in the Olympic Village will not be televised: Popping up once every two years, the Olympic Village is a boisterous city within a city: chock-full of condos, midrises and houses as well as cafés, barbershops, arcades, discos and TV lounges. ... At the 2000 Sydney Games, 70,000 condoms wasn't enough, prompting a second order of 20,000 and a new standing order of 100,000 condoms per Olympics. ... Olympians are young, supremely healthy people who've been training with the intensity of combat troops for years. Suddenly they're released into a cocoon where prying reporters and overprotective parents aren't allowed. Pre-competition testosterone is running high. Many Olympians are in tapering mode, full of excess energy because they're maintaining a training diet of up to 9,000 calories per day while not actually training as hard. ...”

"The soccer girls? 'All hot, and they dress like rock stars,' one male swimmer says. ... Some swear off sex until their events are done; others make it part of their pre-event routine. ... Many on-the-prowl athletes maintain that they're driven by a simple human need: intimacy, if only for a moment or three. For most Olympians, the ramp-up to the Games is lonely. Not unlike movie stars on a far-flung movie shoot, the Olympics present the perfect opportunity to find a partner who understands where they're coming from. ... The athlete compound soon becomes the site of an uneasy dance between jocks on a post-competition bender and those who have yet to compete." I cannot wait for the tweets.

JULY/AUGUST SPECIAL – If it is summer it is Peach Cobbler time at the Parkway Grill; 510 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA (626-795-1001). Every summer this Pasadena institution serves the best Peach Cobbler. This year they were kind enough to share their recipe with Rink Rats:

• 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
• 2 cups sugar, divided
• 1/2 cup water
• 8 tablespoons butter
• 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• Ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for an extra treat pour a little Italian liqueur Amaretto Disaronno over the cobbler. Eat your heart out David Allen.

WORDS OF THE MONTHmumpsimus \MUHMP-suh-muhs\, noun:
1.Adherence to or persistence in an erroneous use of language, memorization, practice, belief, etc., out of habit or obstinacy.
2. A person who persists in a mistaken expression or practice

“Mr. Thirty Hour Work Week, who sticks (I fancy) to his old mumpsimus, thought that the other gentleman might have given up his Monday to work for him.”

cibernauta, noun internet user
Both Spanish and English share many words derived from Greek or Latin. In the case of el cibernauta, however, while the word cybernaut exists in English, it is not very common, and has a slightly different meaning from the Spanish. Cibernauta is the basic word for anybody who is an internet user, whether proficient or otherwise:

“los cibernautas de todo el mundo”.
Internet users all round the world.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Biggest data point comes Friday with the first estimate on second quarter GDP. Analysts expect a decline to 1.5% growth from an already anemic 1.9% in the first quarter. It will be a very bad headline for the Obama campaign even if the number comes in at or slightly above expectations ... But if it comes in significantly below 1.5% it will be disastrous. The U.S. appears headed back toward recession rather than moving towards stronger growth. This is not the kind of trend that tends to re-elect a sitting president. Data on Friday also include GDP revisions going back to 2009. Mitt Romney is California this morning where he will host a small business roundtable at Endural LLC in Costa Mesa 10:30 a.m. PDT ...

On Thursday, Romney begins a two-week trip abroad beginning in London for the Olympics and meetings with UK leadership including current Prime Minister David Cameron and Former Prime Minister Tony Blair followed by stops in Israel and Poland. Seems like a smart move for Romney to get out from under the day-to-day pressure and small balls stories that dominate the campaign in the U.S. and elevate his game on the world stage ... President Obama is in San Francisco this morning before leaving for Reno, Nevada to deliver remarks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention and for campaign events. ...

Obama is in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington for campaign events on Tuesday and travels to New Orleans on Wednesday for campaign events and to deliver remarks at the National Urban League conference... House Financial Services has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday on the CFPB's impact on consumer access to credit ... Treasury Secretary Geithner testifies before House Financial Services on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the annual FSOC report ... House Financial Services has a hearing Thursday at 9:30 a.m. on the 10th anniversary of Sarb-Ox ... Senate Banking has a hearing Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the private market for student loans ... Geithner testifies before Senate Banking on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the FSOC report

Next week, a summer travel hazard – bad teeth.

Until Next Monday, Hasta La Vista.

Claremont, CA
July 23, 2012

#III-13, 118

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Movies

Rink Rats picks for the movies to see this summer:

Moonrise Kingdom – a pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them. This movie seems like it will turn out to be the Midnight in Paris of the year (an opening night Cannes comedy romance that’s made by a famous director, has a great cast, makes some money, and then ends up maybe even getting a few Oscar nominations and one win). Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray.

Savages - This movie stars Benicio Del Toro, Taylor Kitsch (who described the movie as Pulp Fiction meets Goodfellas), Blake Lively,  Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Aaron Johnson, Demian Bramchir, Emie Hirsh, and Salma Hayek. It’s a drama thriller directed by two time Academy Award winner Oliver Stone. I also think that it’s the most Oscar friendly movie of the Summer. 

To Rome With Love - Woody Allen’s best reviewed movie of the 2000′s.  His latest movie is about people in Italy and the adventures and romances that they have. The cast isn’t as star studded as Midnight in Paris‘ but the movie still stars Woody Allen, Jesse Eisinberg, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Judy Davis, Roberto Beginini, and Alec Baldwin.

THE ONE ARTICLE TO READ ABOUT THE MEXICAN ELECTION  - The Wilson Center's Andrew Selee, on PRI's win and the U.S.-Mexico relationship: "Mexico's elections have brought back the PRI, an authoritarian party that ruled Mexico for seven decades. This possibility had worried many observers and politicians in the United States, and yet ... it will make little difference for the U.S.-Mexico relationship. This is largely a tribute to how deeply interdependent the two countries are ... The PRI has been known in the past for its anti-American rhetoric and distrust of the United States. However, circumstances over the past 20 years have completely changed the relationship ... Mexico has developed a vibrant export-oriented economy that is growing at a respectable 3-4% a year. Its major destination for exports is ... the United States. 

"States ranging from Texas to Nebraska, Michigan, Tennessee and New Hampshire depend heavily on the trading relationship with Mexico. Indeed, the growing Mexican economy is helping to fuel the expansion of jobs in these states ... Policymakers in both countries have a vested interest in managing these economic ties ... The new government will almost certainly want to deepen cooperation against drug traffickers."

"Mexico's president-election to shift drugs war focus with 40,000-strong force, Enrique Peña Nieto, the 45-year-old candidate of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), who won the election, said it was essential to put Mexicans' concerns before anything else. '[Violence] is the most sensitive issue for Mexicans,' he told the Financial Times in his first interview with an international newspaper. 'Mexico cannot put up with this scenario of death and kidnapping. ... There will be no pact or truce with organised crime.

"Peña Nieto beat his closest rival by just over 5 percentage points ... More than 55,000 people have died in during the past five years, and the murder rate in Latin America's second-largest economy has almost tripled from eight per 100,000 inhabitants to more than 22 today."

CALIFORNIA DREAMING -  "Now San Bernardino bankrupt: The city, facing the possibility of missing payroll, becomes California's third in weeks to authorize a Chapter 9 filing,"  : "The city's fiscal crisis has been ... exacerbated by escalating pension costs, lucrative labor agreements, Sacramento's raid on redevelopment funds and a city reserve that is tapped out ... City Hall was packed for Tuesday's emergency council meeting, which had been called to discuss San Bernardino's bleak finances. Bankruptcy was expected to be discussed as one option but an actual vote to file was not anticipated. ... San Bernardino's tax revenues have declined by as much as $16 million annually over the last few years, primarily because of drops in sales and property taxes.

"The city joins ... Stockton and Mammoth Lakes ... Stockton, a Central Valley agricultural hub, ... tried to remake itself during the last decade as a refuge for former San Francisco Bay Area residents. It spent money on a marina, a high-rise hotel and a promenade. They flopped. Residents also got swept up in the boom years, snapping up new tract homes on the city's outskirts. Soon, many of them were empty, victims of the nationwide foreclosure crisis.. ... Days later, the High Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes ... filed for bankruptcy [because] the town could not afford to pay a $43-million breach-of-contract judgment in a lawsuit brought by a developer .... nearly three times ... Mammoth Lakes' annual operating budget." The cities of Pomona, Vernon, and Compton could be next.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Spencer Davis (70), Bob Dole (89), Will Ferrell (45), Don Henley (65), Nelson Mandela (94), Brian May (65), Angela Merkel (58), Patrick Pugliese …famous roller hockey goalie, Carlos Santana (65), Robin Williams (61).

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – This month’s Jack Ass is not a particular person but a type of person. You all know the person or persons: a boss who does not accept responsibility for his or her actions, the boss who passes the buck, the leader who does not lead but follows, the leader who takes short cuts and the easy way out,  and finally the supervisor who has no clue what their subordinates do for him or her.

Yes there are plenty of these types to go around. Why they are in a position of leadership? The simple answer is their supervisors have no clue. But the realistic answer is that in many professions, industries, vocations – why rock the boat? I am sure there are people reading this blog who know of these Jack Asses, in fact some people reading this blog are those Jack Asses but can’t figure it out.

Figure it out people, for everybody’s benefit.

NBC Sports, "Facts about the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London": "The official dates of the Games of the XXX Olympiad are Friday, July 27, through Sunday, August 12, 2012. The Games will last 17 days, including one day for the Opening Ceremony, and span three weekends with the soccer preliminaries, there are 19 days of competition. ... London will be the first city to host the Olympic Games three times (it previously hosted in 1908 and 1948). ... The 2012 Olympics will welcome approximately 10,500 athletes and 204 countries. ... There will be 302 official events on the 2012 Olympic program, 259 more than were on the 1896 program 116 years ago. ... The London Games will take place across 34 competition venues. 

"Four sports - fencing, gymnastics, swimming and track & field - have appeared in every modern Olympics. ... The United States has won a medal in every sport on the 2012 Olympic program except for badminton, table tennis and team handball. (Rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline, disciplines in which the U.S. has never won an Olympic medal, are both under the sport heading of gymnastics.)... There will be 8.8 million ticketholders at the London Games. ... It took three years to construct the Olympic Stadium, which is 53 meters high and contains 10 tons of steel." 

LOW TAX RATES - "Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday. ... [A]t the very moment anti-tax protesters were emerging as the most powerful force in American politics, handing Republicans landslide control of the U.S. House, the data show that people were sending the smallest portion of their income to the federal government since 1979."

CHINA's BLUES - China's GDP growth slowed to its slowest rate in 3 years, the country's National Bureau of Statistics has reported, adding to a growing list of signs that the world economic recovery is slowing. Decelerating trade and manufacturing slowed the country's growth to 7.6 percent in the most recent quarter, a development that could push Premier Wen Jiabao to step up the central government's stimulus efforts as it prepares for a perilous political transition.

WALL STREET WEEK - Wall Street comes off one of its strangest positive weeks in quite a while: both the Dow and the S&P 500 finished with slight gains for the week, despite the fact that Friday saw the first gains for both averages in seven sessions. The stock market’s resilience faces a handful of tests in the week ahead, including Fed chief Bernanke’s Congressional testimony, a handful of economic reports, and the acceleration of earnings season.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama is in Cincinnati today for an economy-themed event. He visits Texas on Tuesday for fund-raisers and campaigns in Florida on Thursday and Friday ... VP Joe Biden is in NYC on Tuesday for a DCCC event ... Mitt Romney is in Pennsylvania on Tuesday where he will step up efforts to brand Obama a "crony capitalist" who rewards top donors with political goodies. ... Romney is in Ohio for an event on Wednesday ...

... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is on the Hill on Tuesday (Senate Banking) and Wednesday (House Financial Services) for his semi-annual testimony on the economy and monetary policy. Lawmakers will have plenty of questions about whether the Fed will take any more steps to boost growth. Republicans will suggest the central bank risks inflation if it does more and Dems will say it risks long-term, above 8% unemployment if it doesn't. Bernanke is also likely to face Libor and Dodd-Frank implementation questions, especially on the Volcker Rule ...

House Financial Services has a hearing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. on the impact of Dodd-Frank on "families, communities and small businesses." ... House Financial Services has more Dodd-Frank hearings Thursday afternoon and Friday ... Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein speaks on the U.S. and global economies on Wednesday before the Economic Club of Washington, DC in conversation with Carlyle's David Rubenstein (open press) ... CFPB has a field hearing in Detroit today on the credit reporting industry.

Top economic data include industrial production on Tuesday (expected to rise 0.3%); Housing starts Wednesday (expected to rise to 745K annual pace from 708K); Philly Fed on Thursday (expected to improve to -8.0 from the recessionary -16.6 last month) ... Goldman Sachs reports earnings on Tuesday, Bank of America on Wednesday and Morgan Stanley on Thursday, among other second quarter results.

Next week, words of the month and restaurant review.

Until Next Monday, Tchau.

Claremont, CA
July 16, 2012

#III-12, 117

Monday, July 9, 2012

Seriously? Seriously.

Sam’s Club, seriously?
Seriously, Costco.

Debits-Credits, seriously? 
Seriously, finance.

Richard Nixon, seriously? 
Seriously, Theodore Roosevelt. 

Foothill Boulevard, seriously? 
Seriously, Sunset Boulevard. 

Zach Parise, seriously? 
Seriously, Dustin Brown. 

Toto, seriously? 
Seriously, Led Zeppelin. 

Euro, seriously?
Seriously, Dollar. 

Tea Party, seriously? 
Seriously, Beach Party. 

Interim Director, seriously? 
Seriously, a crock. 

Dancing With the Stars, seriously? 
Seriously, Boardwalk Empire. 

Boca Burger, seriously? 
Seriously, In N’ Out Burger. 

Los Angeles Dodgers, seriously? 
Seriously, Los Angeles Angels. 

Tom Collins, seriously? 
Seriously, Ketel One Dirty Martini. 

La Verne Experience, seriously? 
Seriously, Jimi Hendrix Experience. 

Clarkson College, seriously? 
Seriously, St. Lawrence University. 

Venice Beach, seriously? 
Seriously, Black’s Beach. 

Fox News, seriously? 
Seriously, CNBC. 

Panera Bread, seriously?
Seriously, Some Crust Bakery. 

A fade, seriously? 
Seriously, a draw. 

Pabst Blue Ribbon, seriously? 
Seriously, Molson Export Ale. 

Morongo casino, seriously? 
Seriously, Mandalay Bay casino., seriously? 

Firestone Winery, seriously? 
Seriously, Oso Libre Winery. 

Tim Tebow, seriously? 
Seriously, Aaron Rodgers. 

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Chris Cooper (61), Bill Cosby (75), Harrison Ford (70), Rosey Grier (80), Arlo Guthrie (65), Tom Hanks (56), Cheryl Ladd (61), OJ Simpson (65), Donald Rumsfield (80), Sela Ward (56). 

ROCK & ROLL, The Rolling Stones: "Most London shoppers rush by 165 Oxford Street without a second glance -- but it was there 50 years ago that The Rolling Stones played their first gig and changed the landscape of pop music forever. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones played The Marquee Club on July 12, 1962 with three others, the first time they performed under the band name which would become synomymous worldwide with excess and musical flair. Childhood friends Jagger and Richards were aged just 18 at the time and Jones -- who drowned in the swimming pool at his home in 1969 -- was 20 years old.

"But it was at the club -- now a branch of Santander bank -- that the seeds were sown of worldwide success which, half a century on, has seen the British band notch up over 200 million album sales globally. ... The band's longevity can partly be attributed to their ability to absorb the evolving sounds of recent decades, with disco, reggae and punk influences all revealing themselves in later releases." 

WALL STREET WEEK - Earnings season and the Fed’s next moves are in focus as Wall Street opens a new trading week. The Dow and the S&P 500 are coming off their second losing weeks in three, but the NASDAQ is currently riding a five week winning streak. 

ALL STAR BREAK - Welcome to the All Star break! In baseball, not politics. For those keeping score at home, Yankees have the best record in the game at the break, 52-33. Baseball’s power rankings at the break: (1). NY Yankees, (2). Texas Rangers, (3). Los Angeles Angels, (4). Washington Senators, (5). Los Angeles Dodgers.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Congress is back in D.C. this week, not to actually do much of anything except take a bunch of politically provocative votes (more below). Obama will greet them with his Rose Garden event calling for a (not going to happen) one-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for those earning under $250,000 ... After the event, Obama heads out to campaign on the tax gambit in Iowa on Tuesday ... 
Consumer credit out at 3:00 p.m. today expected to rise $8 billion ... Fed minutes out Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. could give some color on how close the FOMC is to more quantitative easing ...

Initial jobless claims on Thursday expected to dip to 370K from 374K ... Consumer sentiment on Friday at 9:55 a.m. expected to rise slightly to 73.5 form 73.2 ... House Financial Services subcommittee and House Judiciary both have Dodd-Frank anniversary seasons hearings on Tuesday. ... House OGR has an auto-bailout hearing Tuesday ... Alcoa kicks off second quarter earnings season this morning. It's not expected to be very good (more below) ... JPMorganChase reports second quarter earnings on Friday and will be under heavy pressure to give specific detail on the maximum possible loss from the failed London whale trades.

Next week, Jack Ass of the Month and summer movies. 

Until Next Monday, Tchau. 

Claremont, CA
July 9, 2012 

 #III-11, 116

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Holiday Week Notes

Good morning, and welcome to July. 1 YEAR IN THE PENTAGON : A year ago today, Leon Panetta walked up the river steps of the Pentagon and was sworn in as the 23rd Secretary of Defense. His year of leading the 3.2 million men and women of the Defense Department: "maintaining pressure on al Qaeda leadership disrupting plots and removing key leaders from the battlefield, ending the Iraq war and safely bringing home the troops, beginning a drawdown in Afghanistan and transition to Afghan security lead, concluding the NATO mission in Libya with fall of Qadhafi, developing a new defense strategy focused on new capabilities and a rebalance towards Asia-Pacific and Middle East, putting forward a budget to implement that strategy and achieve Congress-mandated savings of $487 billion over 10 years, implementing the repeal of [Don't Ask Don't Tell], opening 14,000 positions in the military to women, and taking new measures to prevent and prosecute sexual assault."

OLYMPICS COUNTDOWN – Rafael Nadal will carry the Spanish flag at the London Olympics.

TV NEWSER - "Savannah Guthrie has been named co-anchor of NBC News' 'Today'" - NBC release: "The announcement was made ... by NBC News President Steve Capus and is effective immediately. The new 'Today' anchor team of Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales officially debuts Monday, July 9. Statement from ... Capus ... : 'In just a few short years Savannah, has become a standout member of the news division as well as the ultimate team player. She's anchored for Brian on "NBC Nightly News," moderated for David on "Meet the Press," co-hosted the 9 a.m. hour of "Today," reported for "Rock Center" and "Dateline," and provided legal insights in our Supreme Court Special Reports - and that was all within the last week! She's got an undeniable range, and she's earned the trust of the news community, her colleagues and our viewers alike.'.

WHITE HOUSE salary list released. It would be nice if some of our public and private educational institutions did this announcement also.

SPORTS BLINK - NFL Network plans live 6-10 a.m. "NFL AM" - NFL release : "Debuting Monday, July 30 just as training camps open, the new four-hour 'NFL AM' kicks off at 6 a.m. ET every Monday through Friday. ... The show's discussion will cover a wide-range of NFL-related topics including the cultural convergence of sports, entertainment and music. Each morning, 'NFL AM' will collaborate with to take a look at the latest in fantasy football news and information. The show's talent roster features Mark Kriegel from, former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl-winning cornerback Eric Davis, Brian Webber from FOX Sports Digital, Nicole Zaloumis from Comcast Sports Net-New England and Steve Wyche from NFL Media. The show will be based at NFL Network's Culver City, Calif., studios. No other sport is the sole focus of a show of this length each and every weekday morning."

SECRETARY CLINTON last week was in Finland, her 99th country as SecState.  She also visited Latvia, #100. The previous record, held by Madeleine Albright, was 96 -- and Secretary Clinton still has (at least) six months to go. (If Obama is reelected, look for him to ask her to stay on for a few months as a transition.) Her first country was Japan (along with China, Korea, Indonesia). She "went West," signaling her emphasis on Asia.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: George W. Bush (66), Tom Cruise (50), Larry David (65), Julie Nixon Eisenhower (64), Luci Baines Johnson (65), Jack Lambert (60), Richard Petty (75), Nancy Reagan (91), Doc Severinsen (85), Pam Shriver (50), Neil Simon (85), Ringo Starr (72), United States of America (236), Jerry Vale (80).

PAUL McCARTNEY - "His ballad 'Yesterday' is one of the most covered songs in history -- but as he turned 70 last week, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney shows no signs of settling back to reflect on his extraordinary past. Fresh from wowing huge crowds at Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee concert and with another headline gig -- the London Olympics opening ceremony -- booked for next month, retirement looks a way off for the British legend. ... Between his years with the Fab Four, his work with Wings and his solo career, McCartney has written or co-written more than 50 top 10 singles. Macca, as he is affectionately known, released his latest album 'Kisses on the Bottom' in February, and is just finishing a world tour. And as he bounced onto the stage and belted out a string of hits in the shadow of Buckingham Palace this month, he did not look like a man with eight grandchildren. It may be the singer's third marriage, to US heiress Nancy Shevell in October, that has put the spring back in his step.

"Born to working-class parents in [Liverpool,] the port city in northwest England, McCartney met John Lennon at the age of 15 and the pair formed the Quarrymen, the skiffle band that eventually metamorphosed into the Beatles. ... Lennon and McCartney formed one of the most celebrated songwriting partnerships of the 20th century, but their creative differences ultimately helped bring about the Beatles' break-up in 1970. ... Of the four Beatles, two have since died: Lennon when he was shot dead in New York in 1980 and Harrison from cancer in 2001. McCartney is often mistakenly described as 'the last remaining Beatle' -- something that the oft-overlooked drummer Ringo Starr, who is also still recording, bears with good-natured amusement."

THE ROMNEY OLYMPICS -- "This weekend, Mitt Romney is starting his annual summer vacation on [Lake Winnipesaukee]... The Romneys, 30 in all these days, [follow] a ... regimen of sports and games known as the 'Romney Olympics.' The Romney Olympics have long included a mini-triathlon of biking, swimming and running that pits Mitt and his five sons and their wives against one another. But after Mitt once nearly finished last, behind a daughter-in-law who had given birth to her second child a couple of months earlier, the ultra-competitive and self-described unathletic patriarch expanded the games to give himself a better shot. Now they also compete to see who can hang onto a pole the longest, who can throw a football the farthest and who can hammer the most nails into a board in two minutes - not exactly the kind of events they'll be giving out gold medals for in London this month.

"By day, the Romneys kayak and water ski - one sport at which Mitt excels - play tennis and basketball, stage a 'home-run derby' and horse around on a slip-and-slide. Most of the grandchildren (there are now 18) put on a talent show on a stage that Papa, as they call Mitt, constructed in the backyard. And he helps them roast s'mores over a campfire and leads them on treasure hunts. He grills chicken and salmon and teaches the kids how to drive his lawn tractor. At night, the adults gather for family meetings, with each evening focused on a frank and full discussion of a different son's career moves and parenting worries. Each member of the family picks a daily chore from a 'chore wheel,' so as to share cleaning tasks evenly.

"And ... everyone poses on the lawn for a portrait for that year's Romney family Christmas card. The grandchildren coordinate outfits; last summer, the girls wore matching orange and yellow polka-dotted dresses and the boys, blue checkered shirts. ... Romney's 13-acre estate features a six-bedroom house, a horse stable with guest apartments above it, a $630,000 boat house, tennis and volleyball courts and a shoreline stretching 768 feet ... Romney and his wife, Ann, purchased the home in 1997 for $2.5 million and later bought adjoining land. This year, records show, the estate was assessed at $8 million." Family photo

DRIVING THE WEEK - Congress is gone, Mitt Romney is off the trail for his highly competitive extended family vacation in Wolfboro, N.H. and Wednesday is the July 4th holiday. So it's going to be a weird and mostly likely quiet week. But the June jobs report at 8:30 a.m. Friday will close things off with a significant bang. Consensus is for a gain of 90K and no change to the 8.2% jobless rate.
On Tuesday, Fed and FDIC plan to release portions of living wills submitted by nine big banks. Analysts say it is unlikely any of the submissions will be rejected as insufficient. If they are, it would be a very bad headline for the bank or banks rejected ... ISM manufacturing out at 10 a.m. today expected to drop to 52.0 from 53.5 ... Construction spending, also at 10:00 a.m., expected to rise 0.2% ... ISM services on Thursday expected to be little changed from May's 53.7.
Next week, Jack Ass of the Month and summer movies.
Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
July 2, 2012

#III-10, 115