Monday, May 20, 2013

Original Six Playoffs

Many of my readers are not hockey fans, I am. My earliest recollection of a game was attending a matinee game with my Dad on Saturday January 6, 1962; Detroit Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins 6-2. I have been a hockey fan ever since. This playoff year in the National Hockey League has some interesting matchups, Original Six matchups. In Round One it was Toronto vs. Boston, Round Two currently in progress has Detroit vs. Chicago and New York vs. Boston.

The Original six is a term for the group of six teams that composed the National Hockey League (NHL) for the 25 seasons between the 1942–43 season and the 1967 NHL Expansion. These six teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. All of the Original Six are still active franchises in the league.

The name is something of a misnomer, since there were other NHL franchises that ceased operations before 1942, including some that were founded before some of the Original Six. The term dates from the 1967 expansion which added six new franchises; hence the six expansion teams and the "Original Six". Only two of these six teams were members of the NHL in the inaugural 1917–18 season, but all six do date from the NHL's first decade, and pre-date the other 24 teams currently in the league by over forty years.

Hockey is a great sport; fast, physical, requiring skill and precision. The current stars; Sydney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Steven Stamkos are down to earth quality people. In the next few weeks as the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs proceed, try taking in a game. Though difficult for some to watch on television, the sport is a great one and there is nothing better than Original Six playoff hockey.

“NEW NORMAL” IN COLLEGE DEBT – We are reaching a crisis point in this country’s higher education system. As college tuitions rise and federal, state and local funding for higher education falls – along with median household incomes – students are taking on staggering levels of debt. And many can’t find jobs that pay well enough to quickly pay off the debt. This has long-term implications for our society and our economy, as that debt begins to affect when and if young people start families or enter the housing market.

The student debt crisis may become a dangerous “new normal”, according to a report this past month by the nonprofit State Higher education Executive Officers Association.

In the new normal; retirement and health care costs simultaneously drive up the cost of higher education, the new normal no longer expects to see a recovery of state support for higher education, the new normal expects students and their families to continue to make increasingly greater financial sacrifices in order to attend college, the new normal expects schools and colleges to find ways of increasing productivity and absorb ever-larger budget cuts, while increasing degree production without, we hope, compromising quality.  Over the past decade average college tuition has increased 55%, while median household incomes fell by nearly 7%. Thus higher borrowing by students, student debt is now the second largest balance after mortgage debt. The relative burden of student loan debt is greatest for households in the bottom fifth of the income spectrum. And many of those graduates can’t find work or are underemployed.

Yet, this country needs a more knowledgeable work force to be competitive. While the number of college graduates in America is increasing, that number is growing even faster in many other countries. Our national educational aspirations and the debt crisis that they’re creating are colliding. We are on an unsustainable track. This will not end well.

GENERAL (GOVERNMENT) MOTORS IS BACK? – General Motor’s Company’s stock closed at $33.42 a share Friday, up 3.8 percent and hitting its highest close in more than two years. Friday’s close also beats the company’s initial public offering price of $33 in November 2010.

The stock has been growing steadily since early last year, as GM’s profitability and sales have been strong in the U.S. and China and it has shown improved financial performance in Europe. GM is looking to get out from government ownership to help the company’s perception among the public and ultimately help boost auto sales and market share. The Treasury Department still owns about 241.7 million shares of stock, the government plans to exit GM completely by the end of March 2014. The U.S. Treasury has recouped about $30.4 billion from its $49.5 billion bailout of the automaker.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Tommy Chong (75), Joe Dumars (50), Mike Myers (50), Stevie Nicks (65), Ron Reagan (55), Molly Sims (40).

COMMENCEMENT 2013 – The 2013 college and university commencement season week number three, here are this weeks’ notable speakers – May 21 – University of Baltimore; Bill Cosby, entertainer: May 25 – Bard College; Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, former Congresswoman and astronaut: Elon University; Brian Williams, news anchor: Hartwick College; Deepak Chopra, author: May 26 – Vassar College; Kristen Gillibrand, U.S. Senator New York State.

MARKET WEEK - Barring a major selloff in the month's final two weeks, investors clearly have not "sold in May and gone away". The major averages are coming off their fourth consecutive week of gains, with the Dow and S&P 500 at record highs once again and the S&P having chalked up 17 gains in 21 sessions.

BORROWING PICKS UP - "America's credit crunch is easing. For the past six years, consumers and businesses have struggled to borrow money, but slowly, things are getting easier. Large U.S. companies are taking advantage of low interest rates to borrow record amounts. ... Banks are opening the spigots for commercial and industrial firms, and loans grew at an 11 percent annualized rate in the first quarter of this year, the sixth double-digit percentage increase in seven quarters, Federal Reserve data show.

"... Residential lending began edging up last year, and even people with bad credit can get a loan to buy a car these days. In all, some $713 billion in credit flowed to U.S. households and nonfinancial businesses last year, double 2011's $336 billion, according to the Fed. That is still a fraction of the $2.2 trillion in credit that lifted American consumers and businesses in 2007."

U.S HITS DEBT LIMIT: EMERGENCY CLOCK STARTS TICKING - Treasury ran out of borrowing authority under the debt limit on Sunday beginning what could be a relatively lengthy period of "extraordinary measures" to avoid default. The debt limit essentially vanished for three months under a deal passed by Congress in February. That period ended May 19th. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew can now deploy the usual arsenal of moves to forestall a default including not issuing certain state and local securities and not investing in federal retirements funds (which would be made whole after the debt limit is hiked). Treasury is also enjoying better tax receipts and expects big checks from Fannie Mae so the U.S. may have until well into the fall to get a deal. But a deal still needs to get done. And there is no path to one yet apparent.

TOP STORY: YEN KEEPS DROPPING - "The Japanese yen has broken through a major psychological barrier against the dollar for the first time in four years, setting the stage for further weakness seen as a boon for the country's exporters and economy. For the past month, the yen had stalled before the 100 threshold and traders said its rise in afternoon trading in New York on Thursday to Y100.79 reflected stop-losses being triggered that sparked selling of the yen. ... The yen has weakened substantially against its major trading rivals since December, when Shinzo Abe was elected prime minister after campaigning to arrest the country's past two decades of falling prices and boost its economy.

"The sharp drop in the currency in recent months has already boosted profits for Japan's exporters and sparked a massive rally in the country's equity market, with the Nikkei 225 index up 36.5 percent this year. The Nikkie rose 1.8 percent in early morning trading in Tokyo on Friday. Further yen weakness is expected to boost inflation and push equity and property prices higher, but may also incur the wrath of Japan's trading partners as the country's exporters become more competitive. ... Analysts predict that if Japan's army of retail investors decides to wade into the short yen trade, the Japanese currency could weaken further."

BRAZIL AUTO CRISIS - The cars roll endlessly off the local assembly lines of the industry's biggest automakers, more than 10,000 a day, into the eager hands of Brazil's new middle class. The shiny new Fords, Fiats, and Chevrolets tell the tale of an economy in full bloom that now boasts the fourth largest auto market in the world.

What happens once those vehicles hit the streets, however, is shaping up as a national tragedy, experts say, with thousands of Brazilians dying every year in auto accidents that in many cases shouldn't have proven fatal. The culprits are the cars themselves, produced with weaker welds, scant safety features and inferior materials compared to similar models manufactured for U.S. and European consumers, say experts and engineers inside the industry. Four of Brazil's five bestselling cars failed their independent crash tests.

Unsafe cars, coupled with the South American nation's often dangerous driving conditions, have resulted in a Brazilian death rate from passenger car accidents that is nearly four times that of the United States, according to an Associated Press analysis of Brazilian Health Ministry data on deaths compared to the size of each country's car fleet. In fact, the two countries are moving in opposite directions on survival rates — the U.S. recorded 40 percent fewer fatalities from car wrecks in 2010 compared with a decade before. In Brazil, the number killed rose 72 percent, according to the latest available data.

WHY GOLD IS OVER - "Gold, down 17 percent since January, is poised to lose 20 percent in a year as inflation fails to accelerate and with the worst risks to the global economy waning, Credit Suisse Group AG said. Gold will trade at $1,100 an ounce in a year and below $1,000 in five years. Investors are losing faith in the world's traditional store of value even as central banks continue to print money on an unprecedented scale."


motza \MOT-ser\, noun: a large amount of money, especially a sum won in gambling.
“Good business to be in. I bet they made a motza out of that.”

pepino, noun: cucumber
Pepino is the Spanish word for cucumber. For example, if you’re shopping at the market, you could say: “Dos pepinos, por favor.” Two cucumbers, please.

WEDDING OF THE WEEK - --N.Y. Times: "Paulette LaRay Aniskoff and Matthew Reid Tinning were married Saturday evening at WeatherLea Farm and Vineyard in Lovettsville, Va. Malcolm Forbes Baldwin, the owner of the farm and a civil celebrant licensed by the County of Loudoun, Va., officiated. The bride, 36, is keeping her name. She works in Washington as a deputy assistant to President Obama. She is the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, which creates opportunities for direct dialogue between the Obama administration and the public. She graduated from the University of Colorado. She is the daughter of Ellen B. O'Connor of Indianapolis and Walter Aniskoff Jr. of Windsor, Conn. Her father is an owner of a construction company in Windsor that bears his name.

"The bridegroom, 37, is the executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, a nonprofit coalition of national fishing, conservation and scientific organizations in Washington that promotes environmentally sustainable fisheries. He graduated from the Australian National University in Canberra, from which he also earned a law degree. He is a son Barbara Joan Tinning and Rodney Warren Tinning of Canberra. His father retired as the director of staffing for the Australian Agency for International Development, a government agency in Canberra that provides financial assistance to developing nations." With pic

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, Second Round – Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers. Season to date (6-4)

DRIVING THE WEEK -  IRS hearings continue including House OGR on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin, IRS Inspector General J. Russell George, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, and Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman ... Senate Finance has an IRS hearing at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday featuring outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, Russell George and Shulman ... Lew testifies before Senate Banking at 10 a.m. on Tuesday on the annual FSOC report, though the IRS scandal is sure to arise. Lew testifies before House Financial Services on Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the FSCO report ...

House Ag has a hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the future of the CFTC ... HFSC subcommittee has a hearing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. on the CFPB and the qualified mortgage rule ... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testifies Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. before he Joint Economic Committee on the economic outlook ... House Financial Services subcommittee has a hearing Wednesday at 2 pm. on whether DoJ views some banks as "too big to jail" ... Existing home sales on Wednesday at 10 a.m. expected to rise to 4.99M from 4.92M in March ...

FOMC minutes at 2 p.m. Wednesday not expected to include new info ... Apple CEO Tim Cook testifies Tuesday before Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the company's tax mitigation activity ... JPMorganChase shareholders vote on Tuesday in Florida on whether to recommend that the bank split the roles of chairman and CEO. If they do it would be a big blow to chairman/CEO Jamie Dimon.

Next week: Top Five and Jack Ass of the Month.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

May 20, 2013
#IV-5, 162

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