Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

The rights of summer are, by definition, fleeting: the summer romance, the summer diet, the summer vacation. Only the books seem to stick. If you are looking for an enduring summer romance, a good book might be your best bet.

Here is a sample of what we will be reading this summer, along with some suggestions to our readers –

“Gettysburg, The Last Invasion” by Allen C. Guelzo – The 150th anniversary this July of the famous battle, and Rink Rats will be visiting the battlefield this summer.

“Ladies Night” by Mary Kay Andrews – This one is for the girls, Mary Kay Andrews is a good writer.

“Counterfeit Kids” by Rod Baird – For our educators, a refreshing look at our educational systems; the good and the bad.

“Home Made Summer” by Yvette van Boven – A great cook book for summer reading and summer fun.

“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart – There is hardly a greater pleasure than a slow evening stroll through a well-tended garden, drink in hand. Any gardener worth their salt, or at least the salt on the rim of a margarita, knows to thank the blue agave for their buzz.

“The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America” by Philip Caputo – From Key West to the Arctic Ocean Caputo rents a vintage Airstream trailer and takes off. He follows America’s back roads in this wonderful travel book.

“The Body in the Plaza” by Katherine Hall Page – A great crime whodunit about a couple observing their wedding anniversary in Italy.

“The Victory Season” by Robert Weintraub – The end of World War II and the birth of baseball’s golden age, Mr. Weintraub recounts the game’s joyous renewal after the war and honors the fine record of service of many of its’ players.

“The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway – The classic story of Santiago and his epic battle with the marlin and the sharks.

“From Russia With Love” by Ian Fleming – The classic and one of the most successful Bond novels.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Kathy Bates (65), Mel Brooks (87), Beth Elmore …she can feel her hair grow, Juli Inkster (53), Tobey Maguire (38), Leon Panetta (75), Carly Simon (68).

THE WORLD AFTER BERNANKE - "The prospect of the post-[Ben] Bernanke era raises a series of thorny questions for global markets and the United States economy as well as political players inside and outside the Beltway. There remains serious doubt that the economy and the stock market can fly on their own without extraordinary Fed assistance [see yesterday's plunge]. If the Fed bungles the transition from its current policies and the country stumbles back toward recession, it could spell big trouble for Democrats like Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to replace Obama in 2016.

"The fact that Bernanke was often the lone operator in Washington capable of administering emergency aid to the economy during a period of Beltway gridlock is another reason market players and economists are so worried about the Fed transition. They fear that Bernanke's successor, partly due to political pressure to back off and partly due to signs the economy is picking up, will move too fast to stop buying assets, possibly tanking the stock market and reversing the recent housing market recovery."

TRYING TO REASSURE INVESTORS - "Bernanke tried to ease some of the market jitters on ... saying the Fed has no immediate plans to curtail its 'quantitative easing' program. ... But Bernanke and the Fed also said risks to the economy have 'diminished' and that the central bank plans to start dialing back the program later this year and conclude it next year as long as the unemployment rate heads down toward 7 percent. ... Bernanke used a driving analogy to explain the Fed's plan, saying it might ease up on the gas but won't hit the brakes. But market players worry whether the next Fed nominee will have the same skill behind the wheel as Bernanke."

OBAMA TRIP WRAP - Obama's Modest Goals Obscured by Conflicts on European Trip : President Obama traveled to Europe with his expectations set low. He met them. Obama and other western leaders were unable to move Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a stronger stand on Syria, and Russian officials scoffed at the U.S. president's aspirational call to cut nuclear weapons arsenals. 

... The centerpiece of Obama's three-day trip was his address at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The setting, where the Berlin Wall once stood, evoked high moments in the trans-Atlantic alliance and historic presidential declarations of U.S. moral purpose in global affairs.

REMEMBERING JAMES GANDOLFI – “A home-grown Jersey guy, Gandolfini, who died [last week] in Italy at age 51, was born in Westwood and grew up in Park Ridge (where his father used to buy tires from John Travolta's dad). ... 

Gandolfini's best moments as an actor were silent ones. Look at him again in 'A Civil Action,' in which he plays the father of a family scarred by industrial pollution. Or the many scenes in 'The Sopranos,' when he was simply staring off into space, or at the TV. ... The year he won best-actor from the Television Critics Association? He sent every voter a hand-written thank-you card. ... 'I got successful at a late age, so I'm under no delusions about what all this is about,' he told me in 2001. ... Besides, he said another time, 'I grew up right where we shot all that stuff (for 'The Sopranos.') ...

"As 'The Sopranos' went on , though, and the fame and the money and the attention only grew, things got more difficult for Gandolfini. He got divorced from his first wife, in 2002. He glared at reporters on the set, and turned down most interviews. ... Clearly, for Gandolfini, 'The Sopranos' and everything that had gone with it - the notoriety, the contract negotiations, the paparazzi - had become a grind. ... Since 'The Sopranos' wrapped in 2007, he appeared in no less than 17 movies (a few of which are still to be released). Some were strong dramas - 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Down the Shore,' 'Killing Them Softly,' 'Not Fade Away' - but many more were quirky comedies. 'In the Loop.' 'Carnage.' 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.' He even did 'Where the Wild Things Are.'

U.S. ECONOMY GRINDS AHEAD - After four bumpy years, the U.S. recovery finally appears to be on a smoother road. Many economists now predict 2014 will be the best year for growth since 2005, while joblessness is expected to click below 7 percent next year ... Houses are selling again, the energy sector is booming and jobs, while not plentiful, are being created at a steady pace.

... It has been a long haul. The recovery that began in June 2009 has been painfully slow. Jobs, median household income, industrial production and home prices still haven't returned to the levels they were at before the recession. But despite the weak pace of overall growth, the recovery has proved surprisingly resilient.

The economy has absorbed a series of shocks, from tax hikes to a tsunami in Japan, without getting knocked off course or falling back into recession. And crucially, inflation remains low. ... It will take a prolonged upturn to make up ground lost during the recession, which stretched from December 2007 through June 2009. Long-term unemployment, a hallmark of the recession's toll, remains at historically high levels. The economy has been expanding, but at a 2.2 percent annual pace, below the average 3.3 percent rate of recent decades. ... Economists in the latest Wall Street Journal monthly survey expect gross domestic product to expand at a 2.3 percent annual pace this year and 2.8 percent next year.

"MAD MEN" SPOILER ALERT -- "A wakeup call heeded as 'Mad Men' season ends: In its penultimate sixth season spanning the turbulent year of 1968, this AMC drama charted [Don] Draper's downward spiral, cheating on his wife with a downstairs neighbor and wreaking havoc at the Manhattan ad agency where he used to be golden. Until now a charismatic master of pretense, Draper by season's end acknowledged what every 'Mad Men' viewer already knew: Don's fabled mojo had failed him. But he seemed prepared to take corrective action. ... 

In a startling scene, Draper (series star Jon Hamm) was summoned to a meeting for some bad news: He was being sidelined at Sterling Cooper & Partners. That is, Draper was ordered to 'take some time off and regroup' ... This expulsion came after a powwow days earlier with the bosses of a possible new client, Hershey's Chocolate, where the silver-tongued Draper did what he does best: infusing the product with his own seductive myths. Don had the Hershey execs spellbound with a heart-tugging recollection of his father rewarding him with a Hershey bar for mowing the lawn. ... But then, as if suffering a crisis of conscience, he pulled a one-eighty. ... Draper revised his pitch from fantasy to truth: He was actually an orphan raised in a whorehouse, he revealed, where, trying to capture the experience of a normal kid, he would eat a Hershey bar he got from one of the girls ...

"Don's eyes moistened , his voice sank to a whisper in a scene that should clinch Hamm his long-withheld Emmy. ... 'If I had my way, you would NEVER advertise,' Draper [said]. 'And you shouldn't have someone like me telling that boy' -- every happy, normal boy with a father who loves him -- 'what a Hershey bar is. He already knows.' It was a startlingly awkward moment for the agency partners, but a galvanizing moment of truth for Don. This step toward redemption ... was likely triggered two episodes ago, when his teenage daughter Sally found him cheating on his wife. ... 

Painful recognition appears to be propelling 'Mad Men' toward its final season, while leaving viewers to ponder how -- or if -- Don will patch up his marriage, his career and his relationship with Sally."

VEEP FINAL A CLASSIC – Meanwhile over at HBO the last episode of VEEP for season 2 concluded also Sunday night. In a set up for a run for the Presidency next season the VEEP and her associates were classic dysfunctional.

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals – Chicago Black Hawks in seven. Season to date (9-7)


flounder \FLOUN-der\, verb:
1. to struggle clumsily or helplessly: He floundered helplessly on the first day of his new job.
2. to struggle with stumbling or plunging movements (usually followed by about, along, on, through, etc.): “He saw the Assistant Vice President floundering at the meeting.”

listo, adjective
smart, bright; ready
Getting to know when to use ser and when estar can take a bit of practice. Listo is a good case of the difference your choice can make.” Es una chica muy lista.” “ She’s a very bright girl.”

MARKET WEEK - U.S. stock index futures signaled a lower open on Monday, as last week's global sell-off, which started when the Federal Reserve signaled it could end its asset purchases this year, continued. Concerns about tightening central bank policy were reignited on Monday when the People's Bank of China refrained from pumping cash in to the economy, despite a liquidity squeeze. The news accelerating losses on the Shanghai Composite (.SSEC), which closed at a fresh 2013 low.

DRIVING THE WEEK – U.S. Treasury markets, which saw yields hit their highest level in almost two years on Friday, face further challenges this week as they prepare to sell an extra $99bn of debt. After last week's global sell-off, markets in the U.S. will also be knocked by traders winding down for the end of the second quarter. 'One cannot reverse the Fed's big bang moment,' said George Goncalves, strategist at Nomura ... adding that the scale of foreign demand for this week's Treasury debt sales would be a crucial test of sentiment.

Next week: American education, a summer time perspective.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

June 24, 2013

#IV-10, 167

Monday, June 17, 2013

Death of a City

What is happening to you America?  Once upon a time, the United States was a place where free enterprise thrived and the greatest cities that the world had ever seen sprouted up from coast to coast.  Good jobs were plentiful and a manufacturing boom helped fuel the rise of the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet.  Cities such as Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Baltimore were all teeming with economic activity and the rest of the globe looked on our economic miracle with a mixture of wonder and envy.  But now look at us.  Our once proud cities are being transformed into poverty-stricken hellholes.  Did you know that the city of Detroit once actually had the highest per-capita income in the United States?  Looking at Detroit today, it is hard to imagine that it was once one of the most prosperous cities in the world.  In fact, tourists now travel to Detroit from all over the globe just to see the ruins of Detroit.  Sadly, the exact same thing that is happening to Detroit is happening to cities all over America.  Detroit is just ahead of the curve.  We are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that is eating away at us like cancer, and things are going to get a lot worse than this.

This past week Detroit stopped making debt payments. Chapter 9 bankruptcy looms, the largest municipality in the nation to file for bankruptcy protection is on the horizon: an ominous portrait of severe cash flow shortages, junk credit ratings and at least $17 billion in long-term obligations that, if left unchecked, will eat up about 65 percent of the city’s total revenue by 2017. A city once home to 1.8 million residents now has a population of 700,000. Roughly one-third of the city is unoccupied.

Since 1954 more than 60 cities, towns, villages or counties have filed for Chapter 9. Of those 29 were dismissed or resolved before reaching a final plan. Large cities in trouble like New York and Cleveland in the 1970s and Philadelphia in the 1990s have found other paths outside of bankruptcy court to ease financial hardship. What will happen when a city the size of Detroit files bankruptcy is uncertain? This is a problem that will not go away; bankruptcy is on the horizon for cities like Newark, New Jersey; Pomona, California; and Gary, Indiana.

BONDS PLUNGE PUTS FED IN SPOTLIGHT - "The bond market's month long plunge has pushed long-term interest rates on mortgages and U.S. Treasurys to their highest levels in more than a year, sparking a debate: Is this a bursting bubble, the aftereffect of clumsy Federal Reserve communication or a welcome sign the U.S. economy is, at last, on the mend. Yields on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note now stand above 2.1 percent - still low by historic standards, but nearly half a percentage point higher than at the start of May. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose a hair above 4 percent this week ... Six months ago, they were below 3.5 percent. With stock prices, movements are easy to read: Up is good. Down is bad. Reading the bond market is trickier.

"One camp sees the recent fall in bond prices ... as confirmation of a bond-market bubble fueled by the Fed and bound to end badly, retarding an economy whose growth is already painfully slow. ... Another camp sees the same trends as a welcome move toward more normal interest rates and a signal of better times ahead. The anomaly isn't the recent rise, but the drop in yields at the end of April to levels lower than those recorded during the Depression. ... If the bond market were signaling panic or loss of confidence in the U.S. economy, proponents of this narrative say, stock prices and the U.S. dollar would be falling, too. But since bonds turned at the start of May, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has climbed 3.6 percent and the WSJ Dollar Index 2.3 percent."

WARREN BUFFETT'S RISING STAR - "When Tracy Britt arrived in Omaha, Neb., in 2009 to meet with Warren Buffett, she brought a Harvard M.B.A., a glittering resume and a boatload of ambition. But she also brought the famed investor a gift to highlight their shared Midwestern roots: a bushel of corn and a batch of tomatoes. The seed Ms. Britt planted that day yielded quick results: a job for Ms. Britt as Mr. Buffett's financial assistant at Berkshire Hathaway Inc ... Almost four years later, it has blossomed further, with Ms. Britt emerging as one of Mr. Buffett's top lieutenants and even serving as chairman of four companies within his $284 billion conglomerate. ...

"Ms. Britt, now 28 years old and more than five decades younger than her boss, occupies a role unlike any other within Berkshire. With an office next to Mr. Buffett's at Berkshire's headquarters, Ms. Britt helps with financial research, accompanies Mr. Buffett to meetings and occasionally drives him around town. The billionaire gradually tacked on additional responsibilities. The firms in which she serves as chairman, including building-products company Johns Manville Corp. and paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore & Co., total more than $4 billion in annual sales."

MORE AMERICANS GET COLLEGE DEGREES - "The number of Americans graduating from college has surged in recent years, sending the share with a college degree to a new high, federal data shows. The surge follows more than two decades of slow growth in college completion, which caused the United States to fall behind other countries and led politicians from both parties, including President Obama, to raise alarms. Last year, 33.5 percent of Americans ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 24.7 percent in 1995, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 1975, the share was 21.9 percent. ... The increases appear to be driven both by a sharp rise in college enrollment and by an improvement among colleges in graduating students. The trends could bring good news in future years, economists say, as more Americans become qualified for higher-paying jobs as the economy recovers."

MANAGEMENT 101 – How is it when a local University employee, whose title is Director of External and Summer Programs, takes a vacation during the middle of summer programs? You would think this position’s duties would require no vacation during the summer months. Another example of Management 101.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Danny Aiello (80), Senator Dianne Feinstein (80), Barry Manilow (70), Meryl Streep (64), Venus Williams (33).

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – There are many candidates for this months’ Jack Ass award but we would like to single out Mr. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News for his Jack Ass actions of the past month. His repeated attempts to undermine and lie about the Obama Administration, his head in the sand view of Republican policies, and his overwhelming hypocrisy has earned him the Jack Ass award for this month. I admit he is entertaining, but not a source for accurate news information.

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals – Chicago Black Hawks in seven; NBA Finals – San Antonio Spurs in seven. Season to date (9-6)

DRIVING THE WEEK – Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee meets this week with a policy announcement and Ben Bernanke news conference on Wednesday. There is little to no chance the central bank will start pulling back on quantitative easing at this meeting. But nervous markets will hang on every syllable about when and under what circumstances the Fed will start slowing its current purchase rate of $85 billion in securities each month. HFE's Jim O'Sullivan: "Mr. Bernanke ... will emphasize that any change in policy will be dependent on the data; that they are not ready to move yet; that tapering is not tightening, just less easing; that the rate of purchases could also be increased; and that actual tightening is still a long way away."

QUOTE OF THE MONTH – “The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” Gloria Steinem

Next week: words of the month and summer reading.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

June 17, 2013

#IV-9, 166

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top Five

Top Five Major Baseball Teams through 60 games –

(1). St. Louis Cardinals     (2). Texas Rangers     (3). Atlanta Braves     (4). Detroit Tigers         (5). Boston Red Sox

Top Five College and University Job Titles –

(1). Vice President     (2). Associate Vice President     (3). Assistant Vice President                   (4). Interim Vice President     (5). Executive Director

Top Five reasons to love Finance –

(1). Balance your checkbook     (2). Understand deficit spending     (3). WACC     (4). FCF       (5). Learn Mandarin

Top Five casinos in Las Vegas –

(1). Bellagio     (2). The Palms     (3). Hard Rock     (4). Mandalay Bay     (5) Red Rock

Top Five reasons to hate Finance –

(1). Ben Bernanke     (2). Tesca     (3). Bernie Madoff     (4). Quantitative Easing     (5). Beta

Top Five worst Major League Baseball Teams through 60 games –

(1). Miami Marlins     (2). Houston Astros     (3). Anaheim Angels     (4). Los Angeles Dodgers     (5). Chicago Cubs

Top Five price of 1 gigabyte of storage over time –

(1). 1981 - $300,000     (2). 1987 - $50,000     (3). 1990 - $10,000     (4). 1997 - $100                  (5). $0.12

Top Five best Chinese restaurants –

(1). Chin Chin; New York, NY     (2). Mr. Chow; Beverly Hills, CA     (3). Yank Sing; San Francisco, CA     (4). Chang’s Garden; Arcadia, CA     (5). China Gate; Upland, CA

Top Five best Dentists –

(1). Steven Szarzynski; Pomona, CA     (2). Susan Hanigan-Gilmour; Los Angeles, CA               (3). Donna Lieu; Mid Wilshire, CA     (4). Richard Bernstein; Farmington Hills, Michigan         (5). Howard Duncan; West Covina, CA

Top Five Dictators –

(1). Bashar al-Assad; Syria     (2). Kim Jong-un; North Korea     (3). Omar al-Bashir; Sudan     (4). Ellen Leggett; USC     (5) Paul Abbondante; ULV

Top Five possible names for the new City of La Verne development on Foothill Blvd. east of White –

(1). How Can We Have The University of La Verne Pay For This Village     (2). Foothill Towers     (3). Tammany North     (4). Over Valued Acres     (5). Knots Landing

Top Five best Universities –

(1). Stanford University     (2). University of Michigan     (3). St. Lawrence University              (4). Harvard University     (5). THE University of La Verne

Top Five Dry Cleaners –

(1). Rocky’s; Claremont, CA     (2). Franklin Cleaners; Franklin, Michigan     (3). French Hand Laundry; Pasadena, CA     (4). Cornell’s Dry Cleaning; Canton, NY     (5). Olmsted Cleaners; Pinehurst, NC

Top Five worst Universities –

(1). THE Ohio State University     (2). University of Phoenix     (3). THE Ohio State University     (4). University of Phoenix     (5). THE Ohio State University

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Marv Albert (72), Jim Belushi (59), Former President George H.W. Bush (89), Vic Damone (85), Erie Heiden (55), Helen Hunt (50), Joe Montana (57), Prince Philip (92), Gene Wilder (80).

SPORTS BLINK - CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS vs. BOSTON BRUINS for Stanley Cup - The 2013 Stanley Cup Final ... begins Wednesday ... in Chicago. Based on their superior regular-season point total, the Western Conference Champion Chicago Blackhawks will host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven Final, as well as Games 5 and 7, if necessary. Games 3 and 4, as well as Game 6, if necessary, will be hosted by the Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins. ... NBC will broadcast Games 1 and 4 of the Final and, if necessary, Games 5-7. NBC Sports Network will telecast Games 2 and 3."

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals – Chicago Black Hawks in seven; NBA Finals – San Antonio Spurs in seven. Season to date (9-6)

TONY AWARDS BLINK - "Kinky Boots" won for best musical and Cicely Tyson won her first Tony for "The Trip to Bountiful"

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CHINA - For decades, China's outlook on how East met West was simple: a proud, ancient civilization was brought to its knees by foreign gunboats, British opium and Japanese wartime oppression.... That sense of historic injustice festered even as China's growing economic power might have been expected to sweep away such insecurities. But the ascension of President Xi-he of the patriotic swagger, political pedigree and photogenic PLA-folksinger wife-heralds a new era of China's interaction with the international community. Instead of simply positioning China as a vanquished, aggrieved inferior, Xi and his China Dream envision a mighty nation reclaiming its rightful place in the world, not just economically but politically and culturally too."

RANCHO MIRAGE SUMMIT - Cover of The Economist is a fake movie poster for a Western in the mold of "Brokeback Mountain": "THE SUMMIT, starring Barack Obama and Xi Jinping: He stole his heart (and then his intellectual property) ... 'Team America' meets 'Kung Fu Panda' ... Barack Obama and Xi Jinping have a chance to recast this century's most important bilateral relationship" : "In 1972 Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger astonished the world by flying to China to hold discussions with Mao Zedong, during which they agreed to overlook their differences in order to further their mutual interests. Although many formal meetings have happened since, leaders of the two countries have rarely set aside such time as this week's summit provides to hold similarly informal discussions. They need to show the farsightedness of Nixon and Mao. ... Mr Xi, whose father was a comrade-in-arms of Mao, enjoys more personal authority than his dull predecessor, Hu Jintao. In office for less than a year, he has quickly consolidated his power. He has launched a crackdown on corruption and official extravagance. He talks of more economic reform. He has burnished his nationalist credentials at home in a spat with Japan over island specks. To show China's new diplomatic confidence, Mr Xi arrives in California via Mexico, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago. The message: just as America claims to be a regional power in East Asia, China can plant its flag in the Caribbean. ...

"Powerful interests, including the People's Liberation Army , brandishing new toys, believe America is committed to containing China and thwarting its rise. Mr Xi's sabre-rattling reflects a much deeper rise in nationalist sentiment in Chinese society. Many Americans fear that China's displacement of America as the world's largest economy will swiftly be followed by its rise to the status of military superpower. Yet for both leaders, there is more to be gained from co-operation than conflict. Mr Obama has a far better chance of making headway on Iran, North Korea and climate change if America and China are working together. And Mr Xi knows that if America feels easier about China's intentions, it is likely to give him more latitude in his region. ... It is extraordinary that the leaders of the world's two great powers meet so rarely in this way. It is equally extraordinary that the current generation of American leaders includes no real heavyweights on matters Chinese: the Beijing leadership is still more inclined to consult Mr Kissinger than any of Mr Obama's close confidants. ...

"There are plenty of good reasons for America to be nervous about the rise of a new economic giant and to be angry about cyber-attacks, obstructionism over Syria or the regime's brutality towards its own citizens. There are also plenty of reasons for China to be annoyed with America: Americans have been too willing to demonise successful Chinese companies such as Huawei or CNOOC. But the lesson of history is that everybody loses if the world allows legitimate worries to get out of hand. More than 2,000 years ago Greece was torn apart by Sparta's failure to manage the rise of Athens. A hundred years ago Europe was torn apart by its failure to manage the rise of Germany. If the 21st century is to be more peaceful than the 20th, America and China must learn to co-operate better."

ADIOS PRESIDENT GEE - The president of Ohio State University said Notre Dame was never invited to join the Big Ten because the university's priests are not good partners, joking that "those damn Catholics" can't be trusted, according to a recording of a meeting he attended late last year.

MARKET WEEK - General Motors (GM) will be added to the S&P 500 after the closing of trading Thursday, replacing H.J. Heinz (HNZ). Heinz is being bought by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A, BRK/B) and 3G Capital.

DRIVING THE WEEK - REP. JOHN DAVID DINGELL JR. (D-Mich.) breaks the record for longest serving member in the history of the U.S. Congress : "From December 13, 1955, to June 7, 2013, a total of 20,997 days (57 years, 5 months, 26 days). The next longest serving Member in either chamber [was the late] Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, who served 20,996 days (57 years, 5 months, 26 days). ... John Dingell, Sr., and John Dingell, Jr., have the longest consecutive service for a single family. The total consecutive service for both father and son from March 4, 1933 to [tomorrow] is 29,317 days (80 years, 3 months, 5 days) ... John Dingell, Jr., has cast more than 25,000 votes in the House Chamber."

Next week: Jack Ass of the Month and time to cut the strings.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

June 11, 2013

#IV-8, 165

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tee It Up For Charity

This week ends a two month run of seven charity golf tournaments for this writer. April through June is the time many organizations raise money via a golf event. I have participated in University, Hospital, American Red Cross, Athletic, and Military fundraising events.

What is a charity golf tournament? Well simply it is fairly wealthy individuals (the average fee to participate is $250) getting together in a “captain and crew” format. Captain and crew format you say. Yes four players hit (usually dressed in loud slacks and shirts), you select the best shot and play out the hole always selecting the best shot. Intriguing don’t you think? The weaker player (yours truly) is usually carried by the better players who hit all the shots.

In addition to all this massive amounts of alcohol, sandwiches, and swear words are dispensed throughout the round. But all this serves an important task. To raise money for organizations in financial need, who provide very important services to our fellow citizens: citizens who may be homeless, poor, in need of an education, hungry, or just in need.

So don’t laugh at my funny looking Bermuda shorts, don’t laugh at my errant tee shot hitting the roof of a house, don’t laugh at my foolish athletic ability – praise me for I am giving back to the community in the best way I know how: humiliation.

BULLETIN - "Garcetti wins race for L.A. mayor; Greuel concedes: Garcetti's victory caps a nearly two-year campaign that saw a record $33 million spent by the candidates and outside groups," by L.A. Times' Seema Mehta and Laura J. Nelson : "Wendy Greuel called Eric Garcetti early Wednesday morning to concede the mayoral election, a Greuel campaign source told the Times, ending a two-year campaign to determine Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's successor and the new political leader of Los Angeles. Garcetti will be the first elected Jewish mayor of the city. At 42, he will also be the youngest in more than a century. He is scheduled to take office July 1.

 ... During early returns Tuesday, Greuel led the mayor's race by a slight margin. But as the night wore on, Garcetti's lead grew. Election tallies from the City Clerk's office posted at 1:38 a.m., with nearly 73% of precincts reporting, showed Greuel had fallen eight points behind Garcetti. After seeing those numbers-Greuel 46%, Garcetti 54%-she called Garcetti at 1:42 a.m. to concede the race."

LATEST COST OF WALL STREET 'BAILOUT': ALMOST NOTHING -The latest Congressional Budget Office report confirms that banks mostly repaid Uncle Sam at a profit for taxpayers. Only AIG along with the much beloved auto industry and even more beloved homeowners still owe taxpayers any money: "By CBO's estimate, $428 billion of the initially authorized $700 billion will be disbursed ... The cost to the federal government of ... TARP's transactions ... including grants for mortgage programs that have not yet been made, will amount to $21 billion ...

"The estimated cost of the TARP stems largely from assistance to American International Group (AIG), aid to the automotive industry, and grant programs aimed at avoiding home mortgage foreclosures. Other transactions with financial institutions will, taken together, yield a net gain to the federal government, in CBO's estimation. CBO's current assessment of the cost of the TARP's transactions is $3 billion lower than the $24 billion estimate shown in the agency's previous report on the TARP.'

PETRAEUS TO KKR - David Petraeus, the former U.S. Army general who resigned last year as Central Intelligence Agency chief, is rebooting his career with KKR ... the giant private-equity firm. KKR, known for large debt-fueled corporate takeovers, hopes Mr. Petraeus's experience and Rolodex will help the firm seek and size up deals, said people familiar with the move. The former general will be chairman of a new internal 'institute' focused on macroeconomic forecasts, communications, public policy and advice on investments in emerging markets, they said.

Mr. Petraeus, 60 years old, instantly becomes one of the most recognizable faces at KKR. A former four-star general who led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Petraeus has traveled the world and knows military, economic and political leaders"

MORNING WARS - "'GMA' Wins First May Sweep in 18 Years: ABC's 'Good Morning America' has hit another milestone, winning the May sweep for the first time in 18 years in total viewers and the first victory in the adults 25-54 demo in 19 years. 'GMA' averaged 5.704 million total viewers and 2.102 million adults 25-54 during the sweep period ... 'Today' drew 4.783 million total viewers and 1.992 million demo viewers ... 'CBS This Morning' averaged a third-place 3.004 million total viewers and 1.058 million adults 25-54. Compared to the year-ago May sweep, when Ann Curry was still in the anchor chair for 'Today,' 'GMA' improved 10% in total viewers and 2% in adults 25-54 while 'Today' declined 8% in total viewers and 11% in the demo. 'CTM' improved the most, up 19% in viewers and 13% amongs adults 25-54. 'GMA' has now won the last three sweeps periods --May, February and November in the key demo."

--"CBS THIS MORNING" - co-hosted by Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell -- posts network's largest morning-news audience in a May sweep since 1994 - CBS release : "CBS THIS MORNING added +476,000 viewers in the May 2013 sweep compared to May 2012, representing the largest May sweep viewer gain for a CBS morning news program in over twenty years. CBS THIS MORNING cut the viewer deficit with NBC by over three-quarters of a million viewers compared to last May, representing the closest competitive position against NBC in viewers in a May sweep in nineteen years. ... Chris Licht is the Vice President of Programming, CBS News, and Executive Producer of CBS THIS MORNING."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Barbara Bush (88), Johnny Depp (50), Rafael Nadal (27), Michelle Phillips (70)

MARKET WEEK – The stock market's best May since 2009 also ended with its biggest losses since April 15, as investors grapple with the potential end QE or at least tapering QE of the Fed's accommodative monetary policy: the major averages sit at 2-week lows as the market enters the month of June, which saw solid gains a year ago.

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, Conference Finals – Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins. Season to date (9-4)

HUNGRY CHINA GOBBLES UP PORK - "China is hungry. The world's most populous country has for years been on an agricultural buying binge, scooping up supplies of soybeans, palm oil, cotton ... Now, with 1.3 billion mouths to feed, the Asian giant is turning its eyes to meat. Last Wednesday, a Chinese meat processor agreed to purchase the world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods Inc., for $4.7 billion. The deal, the largest-ever purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, underscores the rapidly evolving taste of China's growing middle class, which is demanding more high-quality protein in a nation that has been beset by food safety scares. But the deal also speaks to the increasingly dominant role of China in global agriculture."

DRIVING THE WEEK - Congress returns with the IRS scandal back in the spotlight. House Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing today at 3 p.m. EDT featuring IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George ... House Oversight has an IRS hearing on Thursday scheduled to focus on the agency allegedly wasting money on conferences. ... Huge week for economic data highlighted by the May jobs report on Friday at 8:30 a.m. Expectations are for a gain of 165K with the unemployment remaining at 7.5 percent and hourly earnings up 0.2 percent. ... ISM manufacturing this morning at 10 a.m. expected to dip to 50.0 from 50.7 ... ISM non-manufacturing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. expected to dip to 50.0 from 53.1 ... President Obama today delivers remarks at 9:40 a.m. as part of a White House Conference on Mental Health ... Obama travels to California later this week to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday and Saturday.

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

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA
June 3, 2013

#IV-7, 164