Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Time to Cut Back on Social Media

As I constantly deal with business associates and students looking down at a cellular phone instead of concentrating on the tasks at hand, it has become obvious to me that social media needs to be cut back. One consultant friend recently chided me for not being on Pinterest or Instagram – and like her, many worry they’ll fall behind if they’re not hard-core super users of social media.

But as I advise my clients to do, I believe everyone needs to think about which platforms best speak to your strengths. We are now reaching a point where having a scattered focus could truly be deleterious to your goals, because you’re only able to half-engage or create mediocre content or performance.

It is become increasingly clear that with the proliferation of new platforms, no person or company can become the master of them all. Nor should they. The harder decision is figuring out which ones you should prioritize – or jettison. To use a business term, establishing ROI (return on investment) should be your goal in social media. We may still have a ways to go before we can quantify its objective, dollars-and-cents impact. Bet there are some good operating theories out there. If you target women, Pinterest is a great bet, if it’s males, Google+ is currently the stomping ground.

The “best” platforms will be different for every person or brand. But in 2013, think hard about how you can cut back, so you can focus on what matters.

JPM CUTS DIMON'S PAY - JPMorgan Chase directors cut Chief Executive James Dimon's pay by 50 percent for 2013, as the board took management to task for a trading debacle that cost the nation's largest bank more than $6 billion. The move came as the New York company posted record 2012 net income of $21.3 billion. The pay cut ends Mr. Dimon's reign as king of Wall Street CEO compensation. Mr. Dimon's pay was set at $11.5 million, down from $23.1 million the year before. ...

"'I respect their decision,' Mr. Dimon told reporters Wednesday. When asked for his gut reaction to the pay cut, he said, 'Nope, you're not going to get it.' ... Regulators this week issued enforcement orders citing lax risk management at the bank, and at least half a dozen other regulatory or law-enforcement agencies are conducting inquiries into the trades, internal accounting and risk controls at the bank and the adequacy of its public disclosures."

FORMER TREASURY SEC’Y GEITHNER, BY THE NUMBERS : "made 99 official trips ... 62 to domestic destinations and 37 internationally ... 45 cities in the United States and 38 cities abroad ... logged more than 600,000 miles on international trips, taking him from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Sylt, German ... spent more than 167 hours testifying before Congress, appearing at 67 hearings ... made 24 appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, including one 'full Ginsburg,' when he represented the Administration on all five Sunday programs during December's fiscal talks ... the only Treasury Secretary who previously served Treasury as a career civil service employee. He has served more than 17 years at the Treasury Department."

BREAKING - "Sports are a civil right for disabled, US says,  the U.S. Education Department is telling schools they must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options. The directive, reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for women, could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms ... Schools would be required to make 'reasonable modifications' for students with disabilities or create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing as mainstream programs. ... 'This guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court,' Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement announcing the new guidance on Friday. ... Education Department officials emphasized they did not intend to change sports' traditions dramatically or guarantee students with disabilities a spot on competitive teams. Instead, they insisted schools cannot exclude students based on their disabilities if they can keep up with their classmates."

BUSINESS WATCH: "Losing the Crown: Apple was unseated Friday by Exxon Mobil as the world's largest company after losing $245 billion in market value since September."

SMALL INVESTORS PROPEL MARKETS: S.&P. PASSES MILESTONE - Money Floods Back Into Mutual Funds, but Rally May Fade: Americans seem to be falling in love with stocks again. ... People who got out as stocks plummeted in 2008 and early 2009 have already missed a remarkable rally. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has soared 120 percent since March 2009, passing the 1,500 milestone. This year alone, the main indexes are up 5 percent."

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – Gary Bettman, National Hockey League Commissioner. A position Mr. Bettman has held since February 1, 1993. Mr. Bettman is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University School of Law. Under Gary Bettman, the NHL has grown from $400 million to $3.0 billion annual revenues, with six new teams added to bring the NHL to 30.

However, Mr. Bettman’s tenure has had three labor stoppages, including one full season cancelled. He has often been criticized as attempting to Americanize the game and being anti-Canadian. Like many University development officers, it is time for Mr. Bettman to just go away. The NHL needs new leadership. Mr. Bettman, a former general counsel to the National Basketball Association. The NHL needs a “hockey man” to now run the league.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Barbi Benton (63), Christie Brinkley (59), Edward Burns (45), Sarah McLachlan (45), Rosamund Pike (34), Lisa Marie Presley (45), Katharine Ross (73).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday February 1, 7:00 PM ET, OWN – St. Lawrence Women Saints (14-10-2) vs. #7 ranked Clarkson Women Golden Knights (20-6-0). It is a battle of #4 in the east vs. #2. Chris Wells will have his Lady Saints up for this one. St. Lawrence 4 Clarkson 3.  (Season to date (4-1)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday February 3, 6:30 PM ET, CBS – Baltimore Ravens (13-6-0) vs. San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1) in this years’ Super Bowl in New Orleans. Vegas says the point spread is four for SF, we agree – San Francisco 28 Baltimore 24. Season to date (13-7)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – St. Lawrence Women 4 Clarkson Women 3, St. Lawrence Men 5 Cornell Men 3, San Francisco 28 Baltimore 24.  Season to date (51-26)


intrapreneur \in-truh-pruh-NUR\, noun:
An employee of a large corporation who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, systems, etc., and does not have to follow the corporation's usual routines or protocols.
“Furthermore, the distinction between entrepreneur and intrapreneur reflects a difference in both attitude of mind, and ability between individuals.”

caro, adjective, adverb
expensive - Caro is the basic word to describe something which costs a lot of money
“un coche carĂ­simo”
a very expensive automobile

DRIVING THE WEEK - Huge week for economic data. Case-Shiller home prices at 9 a.m. on Tuesday expected to grow 0.7 percent. Consumer confidence at 10 a.m. on Tuesday expected to dip to 64.0 from 65.1 ... ADP private employment at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday expected to show gain of 165,000 ... First look at fourth-quarter GDP at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday expected to show a gain of just 1.2 percent ... FOMC announcement at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday expected to reaffirm the central bank has no end in mind for QE3 ... January BLS jobs report on Friday at 8:30 a.m. expected to show a gain of 160,000 with no change to 7.8 percent jobless rate ... Automakers report January sales on Friday.

Next week; Mid winter movie and restaurant reviews.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

January 28, 2013
#III-41, 146

Monday, January 21, 2013

Office Politics


I am in the middle of an office politics mess. As a group, everybody is contributing, and there is good team spirit. But then you might be traveling with one of them, and he might start criticizing a new colleague in subtle ways to indirectly build himself up.

Afraid To Travel


That is politics right there. When they do it I’ll say: “No, no, stop right there. He is new, he is still learning, you have to spend time with him.” As the leader, you can either encourage politics or stop it. If you show you have no tolerance for it, and encourage people to work together, they start to figure out that you do not have time for politics.

A big matrix organization has plenty of room for politics because matrix means you might have two or more bosses. If there is a problem, a conflict, I’ll often go to the source. I don’t talk over the phone. And maybe over a meal I’ll do some coaching, talk straight, give them some advice on how to work well with the other individual, and encourage them to talk to each other. Also, do not try to solve difficult issues over e-mail, because e-mails can cause serious misunderstandings. Politics means human, and human means politics. My hope is politics can be contained by communication, straight one-on-one communication.

Rink Rats

BOYS ONLY? -- "Obama's Remade Inner Circle Has an All-Male Look, So Far. About 43 percent of Mr. Obama's appointees have been women, about the same proportion as in the Clinton administration, but up from the roughly one-third appointed by George W. Bush. ... The White House itself employs almost exactly the same number of men and women ... But Mr. Obama's recent nominations raised concern that women were being underrepresented at the highest level of government and would be passed over for top positions."

INAUGURAL NUMBERS, from Presidential Inaugural Committee:: "1,500: Number of portable toilets on the National Mall for Monday's ceremonial swearing-in ... 54: Number of inauguration ceremonies, including this year's, held in Washington [First George Washington was on balcony of Federal Hall, N.Y.C.; second Washington and John Adams were in Congress Hall, Philadelphia; has been at various locations at U.S. Capitol starting with Jefferson] ... 21: Height, in feet, of each of the five jumbotrons on the National Mall ... 7: Number of times the official Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday, including this year ... 2: Number of times the public Inauguration date has fallen on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, including this year."

BIDENWATCH - "Latinos take on bigger role in Obama inauguration, Eva Longoria, a co-chairwoman for Obama's campaign, hosted 'Latino Inaugural 2013: In Performance at the Kennedy Center' as a salute to the president Sunday evening ahead of his public swearing-in Monday. Jose Feliciano, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno and Latin pop star Prince Royce all performed. The lineup also included Mario Lopez and Wilmer Valderrama. Vice President Joe Biden and his family appeared onstage, drawing big cheers, to help open the show. He said he wanted to thank Latinos for their support in last year's election. Biden said something profound happened with the enormous Latino support for Obama, and he said the Latino community underestimates its power. 'One thing that happened in this election, you spoke. You spoke in a way that the world, and I mean the world, as well as the United States, could not fail to hear,' Biden said, calling the Latino vote decisive. 'This is your moment. America owes you."

SECOND-TERM AGENDA - Top agenda items for Obama II will include immigration reform and gun control. On the economic front, the main battle will remain over deficit reduction. Even if the fiscal brinksmanship eases (see below), there is limited reason to hope for a great deal of progress on the deficit front with both parties firmly dug in on how to move forward. Democrats want more revenue through tax reform and rates, and Republicans only want big spending cuts, including to entitlements. ...

Maybe a new era of good feeling will dawn. But don't bet on it. Seems more reasonable to hope that Washington mostly gets out of the economy's way by avoiding scary crises. Corporate tax reform, including a lower rate and broader base, is not impossible but still seems fairly unlikely given the differing views on increasing revenue.

And there is little time for a president to make big moves in a second term before lame-duck status sets in around the midterms. Big pushes on immigration and guns won't leave much room. And who knows what horrors a deeply uncertain world will throw at Obama and the U.S. over the next four years, upending carefully laid plans.

OBAMA 2.0 - "Three Chances for a Second-Term Legacy: The president is stuck in a 'Groundhog Day' loop of fiscal crisis, followed by rancorous partisan debate, followed by half-solution, before repeating. ... Beyond that, Iran's nuclear program also hangs ominously over the second term. But conversations with those in the Obama world suggest that if the president can shake those problems, he has three big chances for crafting a broader legacy: energy independence, an immigration overhaul and a new assault on income inequality. ...

"The combination of a shale-oil boom and the proliferation of natural-gas production makes possible something that seemed unachievable a decade ago: for the U.S. to achieve something close to energy self-sufficiency while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Already the U.S. is on its way to replacing Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2020 ... So the emerging picture is of an energy future in which higher oil production and improved auto-fuel efficiency greatly reduce dependence on Middle East oil, while broader use of natural gas, other alternative energy sources and energy efficiency also reduce the carbon footprint. Critics say these options are opening up despite Obama energy policies so far, not because of them. Still, the potential for an entirely different approach to energy lies ahead. 'Of all the things that will happen, it will be the biggest game-changer, domestically and internationally,' says Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and Mr. Obama's first White House chief of staff. ...

"Income inequality. ... Policy prescriptions are few. But one would be a broad overhaul of the American tax code to make it more efficient and more progressive at the same time, through a combination of flatter tax rates for all and fewer exemptions and loopholes at the top."

"As President Obama focused on his second inaugural, experts outside the White House who had been solicited for advice reported that he was more buoyant than they had seen before. In one session with presidential historians, he kicked off his shoes - not exactly a wild and crazy guy, but at least relaxed. In looking for presidential analogies, he turned to two of his predecessors for sustenance: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He found some similarities between where the nation is today and where it was when FDR delivered his second inaugural address in 1937, with the nation working its way out of economic distress and a president proclaiming his concern that backward forces would stifle that progress. With Eisenhower, he found some commonalities between the situations he faces now as commander in chief and what Ike dealt with in his first term, both men bringing the country at long last out of unpopular wars - Korea for Ike; Iraq and Afghanistan for Obama - and then trying to reconfigure and downsize the military."

THE LEGACY OF TIM GEITHNER – A Timothy Geithner prepares to leave the Treasury Department, most assessments focus on how his policies affected the economy. But his lasting legacy may be more political, contributing to the creation of an issue that can now be seized either by the right or the left. What should be done about the too-big-to-fail category of financial institutions?

The Obama Administration has failed to rein in the megabanks and allowed them to become larger and arguable more powerful. This has created a political issue going forward into 2016 – what do to about Big Banks. A smart candidate could even mobilize plenty of financial-sector support in favor of breaking up or otherwise restricting the too-big-to-fail financial entities. The megabanks have very few genuine friends these days.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Eddie Van Halen (58), Jack Nicklaus (73), Mary Lou Retton (45), Chief Justice John Roberts (58), Bob Uecker (78), Tony Villar (60), Robin Zander (60).

CHINA BETS HUGE ON COLLEGE - "China is making a $250 billion-a-year investment in what economists call human capital. Just as the United States helped build a white-collar middle class in the late 1940s and early 1950s by using the GI Bill to help educate millions of World War II veterans, the Chinese government is using large subsidies to educate tens of millions of young people. ... China wants to move up the development curve by fostering a much more broadly educated public, one that more closely resembles the multifaceted labor forces of the United States and Europe. ....

"While potentially enhancing China's future as a global industrial power, an increasingly educated population poses daunting challenges for its leaders. With the Chinese economy downshifting in the past year to a slower growth rate, the country faces a glut of college graduates with high expectations and limited opportunities. ... China also faces formidable difficulties in dealing with widespread corruption, a sclerotic political system, severe environmental damage, inefficient state-owned monopolies and other problems."

SPORTS BLINK - SUPER BOWL XLVII (47), in New Orleans on Feb. 3 - "It's a family affair ... Ravens-49ers Super Bowl rich with ... Harbaughs, :  Somewhere between Jim Harbaugh's little-brother temper tantrum and John Harbaugh's cool big-brother congrats via CBS's cameras, this Super Bowl became a Christmas card certainty. The Harbowl. The family week in New Orleans. The Harbaugh parents' dream-slash-nightmare: The NFL's only brother head coaches facing each other in something much bigger than a backyard brawl. It started when Jim Harbaugh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, led his team back from a three-score hole on the road Sunday, earning a 28-24 win in Atlanta. It completed when John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, led his team through three lead changes on the road three hours later, notching a 28-13 victory in New England.

"John, the elder by exactly 15 months , had been asked about just this possibility last week, if the brothers Harbaugh, sons of a football coach, had ever talked about meeting in a Super Bowl. 'Not that I'd admit to,' he'd said, with an impish grin. ... Ray Lewis is going to the Super Bowl. So is Joe Flacco, who had the audacity to call himself elite before this season started. And Colin Kaepernick, too, a tattooed quarterback who, for 15 of his 25 years, has had a pet turtle named Sammy. ... Staid and safe is out, new and bold is in. That was Kaepernick and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, winning not on the young quarterback's sprinter legs -- as they did last week -- but on his exquisite execution of the read-option offense."

--N.Y. Post wood, "BRO BOWL: Coach sibs in historic Super showdown" ... N.Y. Post sports back, "TOM WHO? Flacco outduels Brady, leads Ravens into Super showdown with Niners" ... N.Y. Daily News Sports back, "TOM HOFFIFIC! Brady, Pats again fail on big stage to set up Har-Bowl in New Orleans."

SPORTS BLINK II - "Fiery Orioles manager Earl Weaver dead at 82, Earl Weaver, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who won 1,480 games with the Baltimore Orioles seemingly was engaged in nearly as many arguments with umpires, has died. He was 82. Dick Gordon, Weaver's marketing agent, said Saturday that Weaver died while on a Caribbean cruise sponsored by the Orioles. Gordon said Weaver's wife told him that Weaver went back to his cabin after dinner and began choking between 10:30 and 11 Friday night. Gordon said a cause of death has not been determined. The Duke of Earl, as he was affectionately known in Baltimore, took the Orioles into the World Series four times over 17 seasons but won only one title, in 1970. His .583 winning percentage ranks fifth among managers who served 10 or more seasons in the 20th century."

NHL POWER RANKINGS – Our first of the new NHL season power rankings, the best of the best heading into Week 1: 1). Pittsburgh Penguins – better “D” this year, 2). New York Rangers – a team on the rise? 3). Boston Bruins – too many St. Lawrence graduates to not be good, 4). St. Louis Blues – our preseason pick for The Stanley Cup, 5). Vancouver Canucks – can they stay healthy?

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday January 25, 8:35 PM ET, FCS; #19 ranked St. Cloud State Huskies (14-10-0) visit #6 ranked University of North Dakota (13-7-4). 11,000 strong will be in Grand Forks to view this key WCHA tilt, ND 6 St. Cloud 3.  (Season to date (4-0)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK –   Season to date (13-7)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – North Dakota 6 St. Cloud 3, NFC 50 AFC 35.   Season to date (50-25)

DRIVING THE WEEK -  Obama sets the tone for his second term with his second inaugural address today, a speech expected to be long on soaring rhetoric and broad themes rather than specific agenda items. Those tend to wait for the State of the Union address. And with signs of a reduction in fiscal brinksmanship (including the House moving toward support for at least a temporary debt limit increase), Obama will not have to resort to the kind of clear partisanship the White House threatened last year.

House GOP leaders indicated Friday they would push for a three-month debt limit increase that would cut off pay to members of Congress if both chambers don't pass budget resolutions, something the Senate has not done in three years. Unclear how Democrats will react to the short-term hike proposal, but its existence suggests House Republicans are aware that they are entirely isolated in the belief that using the debt limit as a weapon to win spending cuts is a good idea, either politically or economically. ...

House Ways and Means has a debt limit hearing set for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday ... U.S. markets are closed today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday ... Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner steps down on Friday ... World Economic Forum annual meeting begins in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Next week; Jack Ass of the month plus Words of the month.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

January 21, 2013
#III-40, 145

Monday, January 14, 2013

Investments 2013

What experts expect for stocks, bonds and real estate this year.

Bill Miller, Legg Mason Capital Management – The great bond bear market has begun, starting with Treasuries, which should see years of losses as interest rates begin to normalize. Equities, which outperformed bonds in 2012, will continue to do well, driven by rising earnings, strong free cash flow, solid profit margins, low inflation and attractive valuation relative to bonds.

Bryon Wien, vice chairman Blackstone – Prospects in Washington are gloomy, we cannot solve our problems simply by getting the rich to pay more. We have to broaden the tax base, revise the tax code and deal with entitlements. S & P 500 will decline 10 percent before ending the year about where it is now.

Bill Gross, founder of investment firm Pimco – little risk in bonds because the Federal Reserve is buying and there is no real risk until the war is over at 6.5% unemployment which he believes is two-three years away. Mr. Gross likes bonds from Italy and Spain, also Brazil. Brazil has much better growth prospects with bonds yielding 8.5 percent.

Karl Case, an emeritus professor at Wellesley College, who helped create the widely cited S & P Case-Shiller Index of housing prices. He says a year ago was a terrific time to buy a house. A 20-city composite index showed a 4.5 percent gain. Prices in hard-hit Phoenix have now gained 13 consecutive months. And even in Chicago and New York City where average prices dropped in 2012, prices should be improving in 2013. California is gaining strength but a long way from pre-recession process. California makes up one-fourth of the housing value in the United States. Real Estate tends to move in longer cycles, and Mr. Case is still saying now is a good time to buy.

REMEMBERING HUELL HOWSER - "Folksy television host: Known for his gee-whiz enthusiasm, he highlighted the familiar and the obscure all around the state,: Huell Howser seemed an unlikely candidate to become a television star - a big, grinning ex-Marine with a ... Tennessee drawl and an eye for stories that others would pass by, such as the Bunny Museum in Pasadena and the rendering of artwork out of dryer lint. ... Howser, 67, [was] an iconic figure in public television ... A former local television news reporter, Howser struck out on his own in the 1980s - producing 'Videolog,' a series of human interest stories, for public television station KCET-TV. In 1990, he launched his 'California's Gold' series that aired on public TV stations throughout the state."

DISNEY EYES LAYOFFS - "Walt Disney Co. started an internal cost-cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, three people with knowledge of the effort told Reuters, in an early sign that big companies may not be finished tightening their belts. Disney ... is exploring cutbacks in jobs it no longer needs because of improvements in technology, one of the people said. It is also looking at redundant operations that could be eliminated following a string of major acquisitions. ...
"After years of repeated and sometimes severe cost cutting in the wake of the financial crisis, by last summer it looked as though Corporate America had trimmed all the fat and was back on the path of profits through operating growth. But news Disney is weighing cuts - on the heels of Eli Lilly and Co.'s warning last week that cost controls would drive earnings this year - could herald yet another wave of retrenchment."

CLIMATE BLINK: HOTTEST YEAR EVER - "Temperatures in the contiguous United States last year were the hottest in more than a century of record-keeping, shattering the mark set in 1998 by a wide margin. ... The average temperature in 2012 was 55.3 degrees, one degree above the previous record and 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th-century average, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. They described the data as part of a longer-term trend of hotter, drier and potentially more extreme weather. ... [T]he data provided further compelling evidence that human activity - especially the burning of fossil fuels, which produces greenhouse gases - is contributing to changes in the U.S. climate."

ECONOMIC TREND: AMERICANS AGAIN ON THE MOVE -  "Americans began striking out for greener pastures at a pace not seen since before the recession crippled job prospects, hobbled home sales and kept many stuck in place. About 3.9 percent of the population, or 11.8 million people, moved to a different county in 2011, new Census figures show. That was the highest level since before the recession, and up from 3.5 percent in 2010 and 2009 - the lowest level since the government began the tally in 1948. Movement between counties largely reflects people moving because of jobs. ... Overall, the increase signals both a healthier economy and future growth because it means more workers are being matched with jobs that suit their skills. However, the 3.9 percent rate remains low historically, fueling debate about the implications for the economy. The census data don't indicate whether it rose again in 2012."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (83), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (59), Steven Soderbergh (50), Mick Taylor (65).

RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON was born 100 years ago this past week in Yorba Linda, Calif. -- "Bob Woodward believes now that the Watergate scandal was much worse than he realized as a young Washington Post reporter ... 'Those tapes are a tire iron wrapped around the Nixon legacy that no one's going to ever get off,' he said in an interview. 'You listen to those tapes, and he literally is using the presidency as an instrument of personal revenge and reward.' ... Many of Nixon's marquee accomplishments would make today's Republican rank and file apoplectic. He signed a bill creating the Environmental Protection Agency, proposed universal health care and supported an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. He even imposed wage and price controls. ...

"Nixon died nearly two decades ago , at 81, but those tapes he secretly recorded of his Oval Office conversations continue to trickle out. Fresh batches have revealed disparaging comments about blacks, gays, Jews and ethnic groups ... More are being processed. 'You've got a self-portrait by him - he installed the tape system, he knew it was functioning,' said Woodward. 'It's the perfect irony that he thought he was so powerful that no one would ever find out about the tapes or ever get them.' ... Gerald Ford would have turned 100 this July, and he seems likely to get even less fanfare than Nixon for his centenary. But the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy's assassination, Nov. 22, will most likely spark a spike in Kennedy nostalgia."

HARD TO BELIEVE FILE: CALIFORNIA BALANCES ITS BOOKS! - "After five years of crippling deficits, Gov. Jerry Brown announced ... that the state is in the black as he proposed a $97.7-billion budget that would increase funds for education and health care while still leaving money on the table. The governor's optimism followed an unanticipated leap in revenue that helped cancel the $1.9-billion deficit estimated only months ago. ...

"And the state this year will begin to reap the benefits of tax increases he championed last year. Brown would increase overall spending by 5 percent, buoyed by forecasts of an improving economy and higher tax receipts. His plan includes few of the spending cuts that have characterized recent state budgets."

L.A.'S RACE FOR MAYOR ... Greuel and Garcetti hope for support from [Bill] Clinton or Obama,": "The two leading contenders for mayor - City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti - have each told confidants they hope one of those marquee names will be in their corner. ... Garcetti's connections to Obama could be trumped by the clout of some of Greuel's most prominent, moneyed backers. Two of the founders of the DreamWorks studio -- Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg -- ... have made clear that Greuel, their onetime employee, is their choice for mayor. ... Bill Clinton might be among those to remind analysts that presidential endorsements don't necessarily carry the day. Just a few months into his first term in 1993, he endorsed City Councilman Michael Woo for mayor of L.A. and even traveled to Van Nuys to pitch for the candidate. Businessman Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican, beat Woo soundly."

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The number of NYSE market makers and traders working on the floor has fallen from 3,000 in 2007 to 300 today, per today's N.Y. Post.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – RR ended the season 13 – 7, not a bad season. Congrats to the National Champions in all four NCAA football divisions: Alabama Crimson Tide, North Dakota State Bisons, Valdosta State Blazers, and Mount Union Purple Raiders.

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday January 18, 7:00 PM ET, TWCS; #15 ranked Cornell University Big Red (7-6-2) vs. #16 ranked Union College Dutchmen (10-7-4). A big capital district game, we like Cornell to pull the upset over The Dutchmen, Cornell 4 Union 1.  (Season to date (3-0)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday January 19, 3:00 PM ET, Fox; San Francisco 49ers (12-4-1) vs. Atlanta Falcons (14-3), the NFC Championship game; the 49ers in a breeze over Atlanta, San Francisco 32 Atlanta 21.   Season to date (12-7)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – 49ers 32 Falcons 21, New England Patriots 28 Baltimore Ravens 17, Cornell 4 Union 1.   Season to date (48-24)

DRIVING THE WEEK -  With the $1 trillion coin idea (fun while it lasted but never plausible) now formally off the table, we get back to regularly scheduled programming of trying to figure out if and when the debt ceiling will be raised. Still too soon for much serious movement off initial hard line positions. Presumably the picture will become clearer after the House GOP retreat late in the week, when members receive presentations on just how devastating a default would be to a fragile U.S. economy. Such a default would, in fact, make a prime GOP goal, reducing the debt, a great deal harder by crushing economic growth and possibly sending borrowing rates higher should the US lose some of its safe haven status. ... But GOP frustration at a lack of cuts in the fiscal cliff deal is very understandable. Trick will be to slake partisan thirst for big confrontation and dramatic results without tanking the global economy.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks today at 4 p.m. at the University of Michigan on monetary policy and the U.S. economy ... Huge week for bank earnings with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bancorp on Wednesday; Bank of America, BlackRock and Citigroup on Thursday; and Morgan Stanley on Friday.

Next week; Office politics how to stop it.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA
January 14, 2013

#III-39, 144

Monday, January 7, 2013

The College Application

At the University of Michigan, one application essay talked about how local education cutbacks forced high school students to pay money to play team sports. At Pitzer College, a student used the example of the Ponzi schemer Bernard L. Madoff to take a philosophical look at how much money people truly need to be happy.

As the economy has suffered in recent years and college costs have risen, high school seniors have grappled with the fallout in their own families and channeled their feelings into an increasing number of memorable college application essays about sacrifice, social policy and affluence or its opposite.

In the past students wrote about summer adventures, internships, and the like. Times have changed. The college essay like everything else in our economy is affected by the changes going on in higher education and the economy.

Will the colleges of the future be either the rich, highly endowed research institutions or the for-profit, online juggernauts. Time will tell, but it is on the way.

THE WAY TO WIN - FORTUNE cover, "2012 Businessperson of the Year: Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO ... The Ultimate Disrupter. At meetings of his 'S-team' of senior executives, ... before any discussion begins, members of the team ... consume six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes. ... They scribble notes in the margins while the authors of the memos wait for Bezos and his minions to finish reading. Amazon executives call these documents 'narratives' ... Bezos says the act of communal reading guarantees the group's undivided attention. ... 'Full sentences are harder to write [than PowerPoint bullets] ... They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.' ... 'Jeff is a manic competitor, a delightful human being, and a trusted supplier,' says Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, ... enduring a full-frontal assault from Amazon's instant-view movie-streaming service. ...

"'With Steve [Jobs]'s passing , Bezos is the epitome of the venture-backed CEO,' says Bill Gurley, [venture capitalist] and longtime Amazon watcher ... 'If you were to ask 100 startup entrepreneurs who the CEO is they admire most, he would show up on 95 of the ballots.' ... Bezos, like [Jobs], has a shrewd and even ruthless side. Executives with, now owned by drug retailer Walgreen, still recall that a decade ago Amazon started a health-and-beauty category aimed squarely at the smaller company. Never mind that Amazon owned a significant stake in at the time and that Bezos sat on its board. Years later, in 2010, Amazon launched a full-throttle push to market baby products to moms at the precise moment it was negotiating to purchase the parent of, an act that could only drive down an acquisition price by striking terror in the hearts of other buyers."

THE TAX BITE -- AP, using Tax Policy Center data: "The ... package ... will prevent one set of tax increases from hitting the vast majority of Americans, but it won't stop them all. A temporary Social Security payroll tax reduction is expiring, hitting nearly every wage earner, and income taxes on the wealthy are going up too. How the tax increases will affect households ... Annual income: $20,000 to $30,000 -- Average tax increase: $297 ... Annual income: $30,000 to $40,000 -- Average tax increase: $445 ... Annual income: $40,000 to $50,000 -- Average tax increase: $579 ... Annual income: $50,000 to $75,000 -- Average tax increase: $822 ... Annual income: $75,000 to $100,000 -- Average tax increase: $1,206 ... Annual income: $100,000 to $200,000 -- Average tax increase: $1,784 ... Annual income: $200,000 to $500,000 -- Average tax increase: $2,711 ... Annual income: $500,000 to $1 million -- Average tax increase: $14,812 ... Annual income: More than $1 million -- Average tax increase: $170,341."

FINE PRINT: WHAT THE CLIFF BILL DOES - "Extends decade-old tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6 percent, up from the current 35 percent. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000. ... Estate tax: Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40 percent, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35 percent.

"Capital gains, dividends : Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent. ... Alternative minimum tax: Permanently addresses the alternative minimum tax and indexes it for inflation to prevent nearly 30 million middle- and upper-middle-income taxpayers from being hit with higher tax bills averaging almost $3,000. ... Other tax changes: Extends for five years Obama-sought expansions of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and an up-to-$2,500 tax credit for college tuition. Also extends for one year accelerated 'bonus' depreciation of business investments in new property and equipment, a tax credit for research and development costs and a tax credit for renewable energy such as wind-generated electricity.

"Unemployment benefits: Extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year. ... Cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors: Blocks a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year. The cut is the product of an obsolete 1997 budget formula. ... Social Security payroll tax cut: Allows a 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax first enacted two years ago to lapse, which restores the payroll tax to 6.2 percent. ... Across-the-board cuts [sequester]: Delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts set to start striking the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week. Cost of $24 billion is divided between spending cuts and new revenues from rule changes on converting traditional individual retirement accounts into Roth IRAs."

WHAT'S NEXT: FISCAL TRIPLE PLAY - Last week's vote did nothing to hike the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, which the nation hit on Dec. 31. Treasury has begun employing its "extraordinary measures" to delay a default that should buy about two months. This will coincide very closely with the end of the sequester delay. Add to that the expiration of the continuing resolution funding the government in March and you have a fiscal triple-header coming up that could make the cliff fight look like a feeble undercard bout. The White House says it won't negotiate over the debt ceiling. Republicans in the 113th Congress will presumably demand big spending cuts since they did not get any this time. Something will have to give. And markets are not likely to be as patient this time.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Pat Benatar (60), Katie Couric (56), Bob Eubanks (75), Kenny Loggins (65), Charles Osgood (80), J.K. Simmons (58).

113th CONGRESS - "Congress ushering in new members, with old divide. The 113th Congress will convened last week at the constitutionally required time of noon Thursday January 3... There are 12 newly elected senators - eight Democrats, three Republicans and one independent, former Maine Gov. Angus King, who will caucus with the Democrats. They will be joined by Rep. Tim Scott, the first black Republican in decades, who was tapped by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the remaining term of Sen. Jim DeMint. ...

"The Senate will have three Hispanics -- Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and one of the new members, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. There will be 20 women in the 100-member chamber, the highest number yet. ... Eighty-two freshmen join the House -- 47 Democrats and 35 Republicans. Women will total 81 in the 435-member body -- 62 Democrats and 19 Republicans."

SPORTS BLINK - NFL's Black Monday - "Reid among 7 NFL coaches sacked in firing frenzy" - AP: "Andy Reid is the winningest coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. Lovie Smith led the Chicago Bears to the 2007 Super Bowl. Now they're looking for work. Seven coaches and five general managers were fired Monday in a flurry of pink slips that were delivered the day after the regular-season ended. Ken Whisenhunt is out after helping Arizona reach the Super Bowl following the 2008 season. Also gone: Norv Turner in San Diego, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Chan Gailey in Buffalo.

"Three teams made it a clean sweep, saying goodbye to the GM along with the coach - San Diego, Cleveland, Arizona. General managers also were fired in Jacksonville and New York, where Rex Ryan held onto his coaching job with the Jets despite a losing record.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Monday January 7; 8:00 PM ET, ESPN: BCS National Championship Game. #1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) vs. #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1). Lou Saban too much for the Irish, the luck runs out tonight – Bama 32 Notre Dame 17.  Season to date (12-7)

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday January 11, 7:00 PM ET, NESN: #4 ranked New Hamsphire Wildcats (13-3-2) visit #2 ranked Boston College Eagles (12-3-2). Jerry York has another contender, UNH will give them a test in Chestnut Hill – BC 4 UNH 3.  (Season to date (2-0)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday January 12, 8:00 PM ET, Fox: Green Bay Packers (12-5) visit San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1). Another NFC shoot out, sorry Beth E. 49ers 38 The Pack 35.   Season to date (11-7)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Bama 32 Irish 17, BC 4 UNH 3, S.F. 38 GB 35, Kim Caldwell 3 Euro boyfriends on her trip.   Season to date (47-24)

DRIVING THE WEEK -  Posturing over the debt ceiling/sequester/government funding fiscal fiasco will continue, but drama over former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel's reportedly imminent nomination to become Defense secretary will suck up much of the D.C. political oxygen ... NFIB small business survey at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday expected to dip slightly to 87.2 from 87.5 ... Initial jobless claims on Thursday expected to dip to 360,000 from 362,000 ... Fourth-quarter earnings season kicks into gear with Alcoa reporting on Tuesday and Wells Fargo on Friday, among others ... Consumer Electronics Show begins Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Next week; back to the grind.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

January 7, 2013
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