Monday, August 27, 2012


We have been dark a couple of weeks. What has happened?

There are some great wineries west of Highway 101 in Paso Robles, CA: Bella Luna (really east of 101), Chateau Margene, Oso Libre, and Adelaida, all worth a visit. Rancho Santa Fe, CA is a nice quiet weekend place, especially when you win the Trifecta in the 6th race at Del Mar. “The Newsroom” has become the best show on television, even though it is a bit over top in its caricature of the Tea Party.

Nothing has changed in the economy, nothing will change for at least six more quarters, the reason; deleveraging. Consumers and companies continue to reduce and manage debt and credit. Until this cycle stabilizes the economy will be hot and cold (mainly cold). 

The Dodgers and Angels continue to spend HUGE amounts of money on recycled ball players. Thank goodness for home grown prospects Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout.

We had sightings of Mr. Thirty Hour Work Week, Silver Tongue Devil, and our favorite Tattoo You. The usual results. 

A word has sprung up in many a conversation these past couple of weeks. I was in a meeting and an individual who I was under the impression did not know of such vocabulary said they had just “vetted” a candidate. I had lunch with an employee search consultant, better known as a “headhunter”, also better known as a waste of money, and this person used the word vetting quite often. Vetted; of or pertaining to an investigation, especially one that has been completed. John McCain’s campaign staff did a very poor job vetting Sarah Palin. Why now the word vetted?

Whatever happened to interview, check, review, search, put an ad in the paper? Now one must be vetted, confirmed, background checked, pass a consultants screening. How about getting to know a candidate, spending more than an hour with them, hiring a fellow employee, a former student, a veteran. Must we vet a job prospect? I know quite a few vetted employees who could not manage a lemonade stand let alone their current responsibilities. Something to think about for Leadership 101.

DULLEST CAMPAIGN EVER (David Brooks) – As we head into the conventions  a few observations on this Presidential campaign to date: “First, intellectual stagnation. ... Our big government/small government debate is back where it was a generation ago. ... Second, lack of any hint of intellectual innovation. Candidates used to start their campaigns by giving serious policy addresses at universities and think tanks to lay out their distinct philosophies. Bill Clinton was a New Democrat. George W. Bush was a Compassionate Conservative. But now candidates know that they'd be punished for saying something unexpected ... Third, increased focus on the uninformed. Four years ago, Barack Obama gave a sophisticated major speech on race. Mitt Romney did one on religion. This year, the ... prevailing view is that anybody who would pay attention to such a speech is already committed to a candidate. ... Fourth, lack of serious policy proposals. Has there ever been a campaign with so few major plans on the table? President Obama's proposals are ... retreads, while Mitt Romney has run the closest thing to a policy-free race as any candidate in my lifetime. ...

"Fifth, negative passion. Both parties are driven more by hatred than by love. ... Many Democratic politicians think Obama looks down on them as a bunch of lowlife hacks. ... The Republican coolness toward Romney is such that he's having trouble recruiting people to work on the campaign. Sixth, no enactment strategy. ... The next president will have to rally bipartisan majorities around a budget deal and many other things. That will require personal and relationship skills neither has demonstrated. ...

"Seventh, ad budget myopia. Both campaigns ... believe that if they can carpet bomb swing voters with enough negative ads, then eventually the sheer weight of the barrage will produce movement in their direction. There's little evidence that these prejudices are true. But the campaigns are like World War I generals. If something isn't working, the answer must be to try more of it. Eighth, technology is making campaigns dumber. ... Campaigns can respond to their opponents minute by minute ... The campaigns get lost in tit-for-tat minutiae ... Finally, dishonesty numbs ... It's impossible to take ads seriously."

National Republican Party – August 27-30, Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida.
National Democratic Party – September 3-6, Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina.

--First presidential debate: Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor of the PBS NewsHour, Wednesday, October 3, University of Denver, Denver, CO
--Vice presidential debate: Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent, ABC News, Thursday, October 11, Centre College, Danville, KY
--Second presidential debate (town meeting): Candy Crowley, Chief Political Correspondent, CNN and Anchor, CNN's State of the Union, Tuesday, October 16, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
--Third presidential debate: Bob Schieffer, Chief Washington Correspondent, CBS News and Moderator, Face the Nation Monday, October 22, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL

APPLE's RECORD, WITH AN ASTERISK: "Apple, a company that nearly filed for bankruptcy just 16 years ago, passed a very different sort of milestone on Monday, when a bump in its share price made it the most highly valued public company ever. Apple already boasted the largest market value of any public company, a title it has held since toppling Exxon Mobil from that spot. But Microsoft still held onto the record for the biggest market capitalization ever, $616.34 billion, which it set at the close of trading on Dec. 27, 1999, according to Howard Silverblatt, an analyst at S.& P. Dow Jones Indexes. Apple blew past that mark when its stock surged 2.6 percent on Monday to close at $665.15, giving it a market value of $623.52 billion." 

PRIVATE EQUITY & UNIVERSITIES: By University of Notre Dame VP and CIO Scott Malpass: in "Pensions & Investments": "The University of Notre Dame's endowment provides nearly $100 million in financial aid annually to help students pay for college. Less than a generation ago, in 1990, the number was around $5 million. We've been able to keep pace with the rapidly growing financial needs of our students, in part, by making smart investments in private equity. Thousands of students at Notre Dame are able to earn a college degree because of the returns that private equity provides our endowment. But this fact is seemingly missing from the current debate about the industry. It shouldn't be. Private equity is instrumental in helping university endowments and other foundations and charitable enterprises carry out their missions. ... No other asset class has benefited the university and its students as much as private equity." 

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Warren Buffett (82), Jimmy Connors (60), Cameron Diaz (40), John McCain (76), LeAnn Rimes (30), Andy Roddick (30), Peter Ueberroth (75).

VIN SCULLY BACK FOR ANOTHER YEAR – “The new ownership of the Dodgers has revitalized the city, the team, the fans and myself, so convinced of their great purpose & leadership that I eagerly look forward to joining them in pursuit of the next Dodgers championship.” Best news I heard this past week.

1).  Oklahoma Sooners          6).  Michigan Wolverines
2).  USC Trojans                      7).  Virginia Tech Hokies
3).  Alabama Crimson Tide    8).  Florida State Seminoles
4).  LSU Tigers                         9).  South Carolina Gamecocks
5).  Oregon Ducks                  10). Texan Longhorns

ACC – Florida State Seminoles     
Big 12 – Oklahoma Sooners
Big East – Pittsburgh Panthers   
Big Ten – Michigan State Spartans
Pac 12 – USC Trojans                   
SEC – LSU Tigers
Independents – Notre Dame        
BCS Champs – USC over Florida State
Ivy – Harvard Crimson                  
SCIAC – Cal Lutheran Kingsman

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/1, 8:00 PM ET, ABC; storied football powers the University of Alabama and the University of Michigan in the Cowboys Stadium Classic in Arlington, Texas. The contest will be the fourth-ever meeting between the two schools, and the first since the 1999 season when Michigan claimed a 35-34 overtime win against Alabama in the Orange Bowl. It also marks the first meeting between the two schools during the regular season after all three previous matchups taking place in bowl games.

Both teams are high in the preseason rankings, Big Blue are 13 point dogs to the Crimson Tide. We like Alabama to win this HUGE early season tilt, Alabama 28 Michigan 17.   Season to date (0-0).

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/1, 1:30 PM ET, HGTV; a HUGE inter-conference matchup, #2 ranked Mt. Union Purple Raiders visit #13 ranked Franklin Grizzlies. It is Ohio vs. Indiana in this matchup. The Purple Raiders have one of,  if not the best D-III program in the country, we like them over the Grizzlies, 35-31.     Season to date (0-0).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Alabama 28 Michigan 17, Mt. Union 35 Franklin 31, Roger Federer (SUI) to win Men’s U.S. Tennis Open, Serena Williams (USA) to win Women’s U.S. Tennis Open.   Season to Date (0-0).

HARD KNOCKS – Next week on HBOs NFL training camp reality show “Hard Knocks”: Dolphins cut Ryan Tannehill, but ask his wife to stick around.

DRIVING THE WEEK - GOP convention and Isaac will dominate headlines ... The only official business on the convention floor today is to gavel the proceedings to order, start the debt clocks and go straight into recess ... Still plenty going on around town today, including the POLITICO Playbook Breakfast with Mike Allen talking to Karl Rove at 8:30 a.m. ... Headliners Tuesday night in network prime-time (10 p.m. to 11 p.m.) are Ann Romney followed by the keynote address from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ... Wednesday features Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and VP nominee Paul Ryan ... The convention concludes Thursday with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introducing Romney for his acceptance speech.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH – “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-the-time thing. Winning is a habit.”  Vince Lombardi

REMEMBERING NEIL ARMSTRONG - "First man on moon ... dead at 82, Armstrong died following complications from heart-bypass surgery he underwent earlier this month.. ... As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. As he stepped on the dusty surface, Armstrong said: 'That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.' Those words endure as one of the best known quotes in the English language. ... Neil Alden Armstrong was 38 years old at the time."

--"Famous lost word in Armstrong's 'mankind' quote": "Armstrong said immediately after the 1969 landing that he had been misquoted. He said he actually said, 'That's one small step for "a" man.' It's just that people just didn't hear it. The astronaut acknowledged ... in 1999 that he didn't hear himself say it either when he listened to the transmission ... 'The "a" was intended,' Armstrong said. 'I thought I said it. I can't hear it when I listen on the radio reception here on Earth, so I'll be happy if you just put it in parentheses.' ... In 2006, a computer analysis found evidence that Armstrong said what he said he said."

Next week, movie of the month, Major League Baseball’s final month and Numbers.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 27, 2012

#III-18, 123

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cartoon Edition

Rink Rats is on a break this week so we thought we would enlighten and entertain you with some of our favorite cartoons.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Anne Archer (65), Sean Connery (82), Elvis Costello (58), Al Roker (58), Mike Shanahan (60), Cindy Williams (65).

Next week, words of the month and vetted.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 20, 2012

#III-17, 122

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Going Dark

There comes a point a few times during the year that this writer needs a break from the social networking world. The time is now – for the next two weeks no text messages, Facebook postings, tweets, no social networking of any kind. Yes, it will be difficult to not do what many people do many times a day - brag about their accomplishments, explain their state of depression, document how much they are in love, or glorify fellow workers who are JUST DOING THEIR JOB!

As you can see I need a break. Not too worry the blog will continue as always 52 weeks a year – but all social technology contact will seize. Time to relax, drink a glass a wine, read a few books, converse face-to-face with people, write some notes and letters – in other words join the human race.

Perhaps I will go for a few walks, catch up on my garden, buy some new clothes (wait a minute; lets’ not get carried away). Time to take an assessment of one’s life. Is my career satisfying? Am I a good friend? Do I have a good soul? Good lord, the Olympics are over lets’ not fall to pieces. I will miss you Bob Costas, stay in touch Michael Phelps, can I get one last hug Tom Hammond. Do all the British have bad teeth?

Okay here goes, going dark … write to you all in a couple of weeks. Next week we have our cartoon edition – prepackaged, already written.  Okay where is my Blackberry, my laptop, my desktop, my iPad, what is happening at CNBC, is Ashley Judd doing okay, oh my God where is David Allen, is Sally dumping Mark, ….help, can I last two weeks!!!!!

THE BIGGEST THREAT TO AMERICA - The No. 1 security risk on Americans' minds is no longer terrorism. In a recent survey by Unisys, hackers and viruses outranked terrorism as the nation's No. 1 security threat. Read on, and I'll explain the growing problem and how you can protect yourself.
The huge rise of cyber-attacks
it’s no surprise Americans are scared. In the past two years, we've seen:
Sony's Playstation Network hacked, with 77 million accounts exposed -- card numbers included.
·         NASDAQ’s computer systems hacked.
·         Hackers from Anonymous cripple the websites of the CIA, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal.
·         The world's first cyber weapons, Stuxnet and Flame.
·         Malware Monday.
·         6.5 million user passwords hacked at LinkedIn, 1 million at Gawker, and 400,000 at Yahoo!
·         600,000 Apple Macs hacked and controlled by the Flashback Trojan.
·         Reuters, Dropbox, and the MLB hacked -- all in the last week.
·         And a Wired magazine writer's digital life got completely destroyed last Friday.

Our infrastructure is also under attack. Earlier this year, America's natural-gas pipelines were attacked by sophisticated spear-phishing attempts. The Head of the NSA said last month there has been a 17-fold increase in the number of computer attacks on the U.S. infrastructure in just the past three years.

Hackers aren't just going after big companies and infrastructure; Verizon's forensic analysis unit reported that 72% of the data breaches worldwide that it analyzed last year were at companies with 100 or fewer employees.

These aren't minor incidents. A separate survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association found that 76% of responding companies had had a cyber-security incident within the past 12 months resulting in the loss of money, data, intellectual property,  or the ability to conduct day-to-day business.

The really scary part, though, is thinking about all the attacks that go unnoticed or unreported. Shawn Henry, a former executive assistant director at the FBI's cyber division, recently said, "What the general public hears about -- stolen credit card numbers, somebody hacked LinkedIn -- that's the tip of the iceberg, the unclassified stuff."

Five simple tips to boost your cyber security
Many of the above hacks could have been prevented by some simple precautions.
1.      Use complicated passwords with numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, and lowercase letters. If it's available, use two-step authentication. It's alarming how many people use simple passwords such as "12345" or "password."
2.      Don't reuse the same password across multiple websites.
3.      Choose obscure answers to your password retrieval questions.
4.      Use antivirus software.
5.      Use BillGuard to monitor your credit card. BillGuard is a free monitor for your credit and debit cards (truly free, unlike, with its annoying commercials).

MEET THE WORLD'S WORST ECONOMIES - "Sudan: Worst Economic Growth ... Gross domestic product growth 2012 reading: -7.3%. The war-torn North African nation of Sudan has endured decades of civil war and social strife -- a cycle that has significantly hindered the country's economy ... Congo: Worst per capita income ... Gross domestic product per capita 2012 reading: $231.51. Despite its rich resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has battled violence, poverty and systemic corruption after gaining its independence from Belgium in 1960... Belarus: Worst inflation. ... Inflation 2012 reading: 65.9% ... Macedonia: Worst unemployment ... Unemployment 2012 reading: 31.2%"

"Last month also was 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th century average for July. Thirty-two states had months that were among their 10 warmest Julys, but only one, Virginia, had the hottest July on record. ... The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record, just beating out the July 2011-June 2012 time period. ... Drought is a major player ... The coolest July on record was in 1915. The coldest month in U.S. history was January 1979 with an average temperature of 22.6 degrees." 

KNOWING RYAN -- "5 keys to understanding Republican Vice President nominee Paul Ryan.”At age 42, he's been trawling these corridors for nearly two decades, starting as a coolly pleasant but hotly ambitious staff member, to nearly 14 years as a fast-rising lawmaker on his own. ... He is an unquestioned ideologue, a committed conservative since his days as an acolyte of tax-cutter Jack Kemp but also a team player - someone capable of rocking the boat in the Republican caucus but never one to tip it over. He is widely perceived, even by Democrats, as a friendly man in an angry age in Washington. But he is also unmistakably a self-contained politician. Here, based on years of observing Ryan in action, are five keys to help understand what makes the GOP's new man of the moment tick:

"1) He's a man in a hurry - and has been for a long time. When Ryan was in his twenties - he began his political career as an intern for Wisconsin GOP Sen. Bob Kasten in 1991 - it was already obvious to anyone who spent time around him that he had his future mapped out with uncommon precision. He told reporters in the Capitol that he was going to run for Congress in his native Wisconsin, and he made it clear he had a clear plan for winning. ... 2) He's a creature of the Capitol. Unlike many of his colleagues, some of whom talk endlessly about short and seemingly inconsequential business careers to establish private-sector bona fides, virtually all of Ryan's professional experience is in Washington. ...

"3) He feels misunderstood. Ryan is nothing if not earnest about his obsessions. He is defined by a belief that he is on a long-term, often solitary quest to save the United States of America from the ills of crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements and a broken Tax Code. He simply doesn't understand why everyone else won't march in lockstep. ... 4) He's an island. ... Ryan can be aloof at times - just like Obama. In interviews, he's engaging, charismatic, a true believer in the principles he espouses. ... 5) He's a loyal soldier - mostly. The continual theme of Ryan's legislative career has been a willingness to accept risks that would make more conventional politicians blanch."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ben Affleck (40), Bobby Clarke (63), President Bill Clinton (66), Tim Geithner (51), Frank Gifford (82), Kathie Lee Gifford (59), Magic Johnson (53), Denis Leary (55), Steve Martin (67), Maureen O’Hara (92), Donna Redman …famous educator, Robert Redford (75), John Slattery (50), Fred Thompson (70).

TECH BLINK: NEW iPHONE DROPS SEPT. 12 - "Apple is preparing to introduce the next version of the iPhone on Sept. 12 in what will be a design overhaul of its top-selling product, according to two people ... The new iPhone will have a larger screen and thinner body, and is expected to work with faster long-term evolution wireless networks being introduced by carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., according to analysts such as Piper Jaffray Cos.' Gene Munster. The design change will be Apple's first for the best- selling smartphone since 2010, when it unveiled the iPhone 4"

THE BIG QUESTION: WHAT SHOULD APPLE DO WITH ITS CASH? - NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin has some interesting ideas: "Question: What would you do if you had $117 billion? That's the challenge facing Tim Cook, Apple's chief, whose company's cash hoard keeps growing - by about $1 billion a week. ...TWITTER AND PATH Consider this a one-two punch. Apple should buy the social media companies Twitter and Path ... It is one of the few, if only, independent social media properties that could allow Apple to build its own social media platform to truly compete against the likes of Facebook and Google...

"RESEARCH IN MOTION Yes, this one may be a head-scratcher, considering that the iPhone seems to have eaten RIM's BlackBerry for breakfast - and lunch. But with a market value of $3.7 billion it is a relative bargain and could be had for four weeks' worth of Apple's spare cash). Such a deal would instantly put Apple into the enterprise market, giving it access to corporate and government customers that require RIM's highly secure servers. Apple could build access into RIM's network directly into future iPhones and maybe even create an iPhone with BlackBerry's famous keyboard, which for many of us would create the ultimate smartphone."

FILLER UP - "Price of gas up 17 cents in July : Jump for the month biggest since 2000,  after dipping to $3.33 a gallon and flirting with $3 in the South, the nation's average gas price climbed 17 cents over 26 consecutive days in July. It was the first monthly gain since March and the biggest July jump since at least 2000, AAA said Tuesday. Nationally, regular gasoline now averages $3.50 a gallon, although it's pricier in 25 states. ... The Midwest is particularly pinched. Refinery woes in Indiana and Illinois have crimped output, propelling prices to as high as $4.29 a gallon in Chicago and to near $4 levels in several regions of the Rust Belt. ...

"Hawaii has the nation's highest average gas price at $4.15 a gallon, followed by Alaska at $4 and Connecticut at $3.82. The three states with the lowest prices are in the South: South Carolina at $3.20, Mississippi at $3.24 and Alabama at $3.25. State taxes, which can tack on up to 42 cents a gallon, explain part of the difference."


Last weeks’ answer: Tug of war

Which of the following countries won the most medals (in order)?
1.      China, United States, Great Britain
2.      United States, China, Great Britain
3.      China, Russia, United States
4.      United States, China, Russia
5.      China, United States, Russia

Answer next week.

RINK RATS OPENING NFL RANKINGS: 1) Green Bay Packers 2) New England Patriots 3) New York Giants 4) San Francisco 49ers 5) Baltimore Ravens 6) Houston Texans 7) Pittsburgh Steelers 8) Philadelphia Eagles 9) New Orleans Saints 10) Denver Broncos 11--tie) Chicago Bears 11-tie) Detroit Lions 13) Atlanta Falcons 14) Cincinnati Bengals 15) Dallas Cowboys 16) San Diego Chargers

17) New York Jets 18) Kansas City Chiefs 19) Buffalo Bills 20) Carolina Panthers 21) Tennessee Titans 22) Seattle Seahawks 23 -- tie) Arizona Cardinals 23 -- tie) Oakland Raiders 25) Washington Redskins 26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27) Miami Dolphins 28) St. Louis Rams 29) Minnesota Vikings 30) Cleveland Browns 31) Jacksonville Jaguars 32) Indianapolis Colts

RINK RATS COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP TEN: 1) Oklahoma 2) USC 3) Alabama 4) LSU 5) Oregon 6) Michigan 7) Virginia Tech 8) Florida State 9) South Carolina 10) Texas

TOP GUN - All three of Tom Cruise's wives were 33 years old when their marriages ended.

CONGRATS – To Rink Rat follower and new Chicago resident Linda P. for her new work at The Field Institute in Chicago. We miss you but well done.

JACKASS OF THE MONTH – James “Jamie” Dimon (56), Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of JP Morgan Chase, one of the Big Four American banks: Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. Despite all the TARP bail outs, all the calls for regulation, all the “too big to fail” quotes – American banking institutions continue to take high risks with their depositors money. Under his watch JP Morgan Chase has lost an estimated $200 billion dollars in investments. But he continues to be treated by the press and more importantly The Congress as a rock star.

Enough is enough, let us start calling Mr. Dimon for what he is, a Jackass, a poor manager of other people’s money.

Next week, our annual cartoon edition (I am on vacation).

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 13, 2012

#III-16, 121

Monday, August 6, 2012


Are you a Birder? Huh? What is a birder?

Birdwatching or birding is the observation of birds as a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds. Birding often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity mainly for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using more formal scientific methods.

I going to admit a very deep dark secret, I am a Birder. Yes, I observe birds. Be it from my dining room window, to walking down the street, or just listening to their sounds from an open window while working. Why admit this, am I opening myself to accusations of being a nerd. Yes, because I look forward to the quiet time of watching hummingbirds, warblers, sparrows, playing golf the other day I saw a red-tailed hawk, or listening in the morning to the mockingbirds.

Daily we are surrounded by magnificent creatures and we should take notice. Your boss driving you nuts, take a break, go for a walk. All will be much better and in perspective.


I email all the time, writing a letter is now a thing of the past. But I feel my email skills are weak. Can you help me.


Poor Communicatior

Dear Poor Communicator:

The top five email pho pahs are: (1). Reply all, (2). use bcc, (3). too many large attachments, (4). spelling & grammar, (5). proper subject line.

Clean these up in your emailing and your communication skills will be much improved.


Rink Rats

POLITICS 101 - "Assets offshore raise Romney wealth questions”: "For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose. Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney's state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning - suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign. The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney's ethics filings ... Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney's wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003, according to Bermuda records ... The Romneys' ownership of the offshore firm did not appear on any state or federal financial reports during Romney's two presidential campaigns. Only the Romneys' 2010 tax records ... confirmed their continuing control of the company. ...

"The use of offshore companies such as Sankaty is allowed under U.S. tax laws. They are typically set up as shell corporations by private equity and hedge funds to route investments from large foreign and institutional investors, such as large pension plans, into corporate takeovers. The money is used to provide equity and buy up debt. In turn, the investors gain U.S. tax advantages by passing their funds through the offshore 'blocker' corporations, avoiding a high 35 percent tax on earnings that the Internal Revenue Service describes as 'unrelated business income.' Set up in Bermuda in 1997, Sankaty served as Romney's partnership stake in Bain's Sankaty group, which invests in bonds, bank loans and corporate debt instruments. That first wave of Sankaty funds managed more than $100 million in investments in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to a corporate analyst familiar with the funds. ...

"Since late 2003, Romney has left his financial decisions to ... a 'blind trust' overseen by lawyer R. Bradford Malt, a longtime Boston legal associate. The trust was set up under Massachusetts law, but it's not a federally qualified blind trust - which Romney plans to use if he wins the presidency. Romney does not oversee his investments under his current trust, but its general composition is made public and Malt invests according to Romney's political positions. ... Several U.S. Securities and Exchange documents from the late 1990s and 2000s depicted Romney as Sankaty's owner at the time, but when he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2001 and 2002, Romney did not list the company on annual disclosure forms required by the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission."

OBAMA "DISDAINS" ROMNEY - POLITICO's Donovan Slack: "Obama has developed a 'genuine disdain' for ... Romney that he never had for previous opponents Hillary Clinton or John McCain, according to an excerpt from 'Obama's Last Stand,' the third in POLITICO's series of ebooks on the 2012 race. 'One factor made the 2012 grind bearable and, at times, even fun for Obama: He began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney, but like the former governor's GOP opponents in 2008 and 2012, he quickly developed a genuine disdain for the man,' reporter Glenn Thrush wrote in the book, which will be released Aug. 20. 'That scorn stoked Obama's competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn't feel motivated to crush the opposition.'"

BUSINESS AND OBAMA: MARS AND VENUS - "Obama has repeatedly embraced three titans of American commerce, General Electric, Boeing and JPMorgan Chase, showering their chief executives with praise and adopting policies that benefit the companies. ... Yet these companies - from the C-suite to the rank and file - have shown little enthusiasm for the president. Top executives have repeatedly criticized his rhetoric and his policies or have declined to support some of his most significant proposals. Employees, in a contrast to 2008, have scaled back financial support for Obama's campaign. The president's relationship with GE, Boeing and JPMorgan offers a window into his sometimes-strained dealings with corporate America. He has for 3 1/2 years tried to nurture better connections to business, inviting top executives into his inner circle, promoting manufacturing and exports, and pumping money into a weak economy. But he hasn't always received a positive reception, with executives complaining about his tone and his policies".

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ian Anderson (65), Sidney Crosby (25), Roger Federer (31), Angie Harmon (40), Dustin Hoffman (75), Garrison Keillor (70), Wayne Knight (57), Pat Methney (58), Pete Sampras (41).

SMALL BANKS STRUGGLE TO REPAY TARP - "Nearly four years after Washington bailed out Wall Street, small banks have yet to repay $11 billion of taxpayer money. Uncle Sam wants out and is threatening to unload its stakes in the banks at big discounts to new investors. ... Some stragglers would become financially unstable if they repaid their part of the $245 billion doled out during the financial crisis ... Critics said the government, having moved so fast to bail out the big banks, should be nurturing the smaller ones. ... [N]early half the 707 banks that received TARP funding have yet to repay their debt, including 164 that at last count had missed one or more dividend payments because regulators have restricted their operations"

WHERE IN THE WORLD - "Clinton on landmark visit to Laos," in Vientiane, the capital of Laos: "Hillary Clinton became the first US secretary of state to visit Laos for 57 years, on a trip focused on the damaging legacy of the Vietnam War ... US forces dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos between 1964 and 1973 in some 580,000 bombing missions to cut off North Vietnam supply lines. Some 30 percent of the ordnance failed to detonate. All 17 of the country's provinces are still contaminated by unexploded ordnance and Laos remains the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history."


Last weeks’ answer: 5). Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei

Which of the following was once an Olympic sport?

1). Tug of war

2). Beer pong

3). Dodge ball

4). Three-legged racing

5). Balloon racing

Answer next week

CORN PRICES EXPLODE AS DROUGHT DEEPENS - "A drought gripping the Corn Belt and more than half the United States has reached proportions not seen in more than 50 years ... jacking up crop prices and threatening to drive up the cost of food. Though agriculture is a small part of the U.S. economy, the shortfall comes as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing. ... About 55 percent of the continental United States is now designated as in moderate drought or worse, the largest percentage since December 1956 ... Corn is among the most valuable of U.S. crops, and its price has multiple economic ripple effects, reaching into food and energy markets ... Over the past two months, the price of a bushel of corn has risen more than 50 percent to $7.72"

ECONOMY DOWNSHIFTING AGAIN - "The U.S. economy is downshifting, even as the housing sector is finally showing signs of life. A report Wednesday showed builders broke ground for more new homes in June than in any month in nearly four years. But the upturn comes as several other pockets of relative strength for the economy have wavered. Consumer spending is sputtering, manufacturing growth has slowed, and businesses have grown cautious ... Most economists now expect second-quarter growth to come in much slower than the first quarter's tepid 1.9% pace, and they say that the outlook is darkening. This picture is putting added pressure on ... Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke .... Asked about the green shoots in housing, the chairman said they were clearly a positive. But he added that the sector still faces huge hurdles, including a backlog of homes likely to come onto the market in coming months, depress[ed] prices, and the difficulty people have getting credit to buy houses when they do come available".

DRIVING THE WEEK - Congress is out for five weeks of desperately needed rest and relaxation after failing to pass drought relief or take any real action on the fiscal cliff. And the economic calendar for the week is fairly light, so most of the action will take place on the campaign trail ... Fed may release its Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey this afternoon at 2:00 p.m.. The data are expected to show a continued expansion of lending and no new tightening of standards. Should they show the opposite direction it would be ... bad. ... Consumer credit at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday expected to show growth of $10 billion ... Jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to remain at around 370K ... President Obama is in Connecticut this evening for a pair of fundraising events including one at Harvey Weinstein's posh Westport manse ... Manchester United prices its IPO on Thursday.

Next week, Jackass of the month and football season preview.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

August 6, 2012

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