Monday, November 25, 2013

Captain Obvious

Captain Obvious is back for his semiannual visit to state the obvious and plain truth about a wide variety of issues of interest to Rink Rats.

Captain Obvious says ….

Labor Unions and education are a bad fit; example, the state of our public education system.

City of La Verne (Tammany Hall) still does not get it.

To bring food as a host gift to a dinner party is a no, no.

Sandra Lee can cook my Thanksgiving dinner any year.

Big Ten football is overrated.

Barack Obama is not Jack Kennedy.

The Iranians are playing the United States for suckers.

Companies who demand their employees to work on Thanksgiving are clueless.

Consumers who shop on Thanksgiving are clueless.

Devorah Lieberman is the hottest SCIAC President.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.

The worst person to be around is someone who complains about everything, and appreciates nothing.

The best kiss is the last kiss.

The Capital Structure is 50% Debt, 50% Equity when the Debt to Equity ratio is 1:1

The Detroit Red Wings era of being an NHL elite team is over.

CSPAN is the best television and no one knows it.

JPM (FINALLY) REACHES $13B SETTLEMENT - The Justice Department announced last week that it has reached a roughly $13 billion deal with JPMorgan Chase to settle civil investigations into faulty mortgage bonds sold in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis ... It would be the largest settlement ever between Justice and a single company.

LADWP TROUBLES - The last few weeks have been rough ones for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, even by their standards. Controversies over how $40 million in ratepayer funds was spent by two DWP affiliated nonprofits over the last decade, and major glitches in the $150-million-plus new meter-reading and billing system have echoed the problem-plagued startup of the "Obamacare" health insurance system, and have further eroded consumer confidence in the municipal utility. The DWP is giving the IRS, DMV, and even Congress a real run for their money in a race to the bottom in public popularity.

BARTRIOMO TO FOX - Fox Business News has hired Maria Bartiromo away from CNBC - a big get for Roger Ailes and a major loss for NBC Universal. Bartiromo, who worked under Ailes in her early days at CNBC, will bring much-needed life to Fox Business, which has languished in the ratings race and failed to make a name for itself on Wall Street. She may also have a role on Fox News ...

After 20 years of groundbreaking work at CNBC, Maria Bartiromo will be leaving the company as her contract expires on November 24,' a CNBC spokesperson said in a statement. Her contributions to CNBC are too numerous to list but we thank her for all of her hard work over the years and wish her the best.' ... In a statement Bartiromo said she was 'incredibly proud' of what the CNBC had accomplished over the last two decades. “I want to thank all the people at CNBC who have been with me on this journey, and of course the viewers and investors everywhere for making me love every minute of it,' she said."

KELLY EVANS ON THE RISE – Rink Rats is going ahead and declare Kelly Evans the winner in the whole Maria Bartiromo leaving CNBC thing. Evans is the most obvious choice at the financial news network to replace Bartiromo. ... She's insanely knowledgeable about markets and economics, putting her a cut above a lot of the talent that appears on TV. According to a network statement, Evans will be the host on an 'interim basis' with Bill Griffeth of 'Closing Bell' at 3 p.m. ET.

LIVING HISTORY - Chicago Tribune splash, "Signed and sealed: [Gov. Pat] Quinn makes Illinois the 16th state to legalize gay marriage. The re-election-seeking Democratic governor slowly signed the bill with 100 pens that quickly became souvenirs. He did so at a desk shipped from Springfield that ... Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address in 1861 ... Attendees shared celebratory kisses and waved miniature rainbow flags featuring the outline of Illinois. ... The bill-signing illustrated the rapidly changing views ... on gay rights. Supporters first introduced an anti-discrimination bill in the legislature in 1974. It didn't became law until 2005. It took an additional six years for civil unions to be approved, but only about half that time for the gay marriage measure."

DO NOTHING CONGRESS - The 113th Congress is on track to go down as the least productive in history - a legacy that may be cemented after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gutted the filibuster on presidential nominees by deploying the 'nuclear option.' Republicans say the unprecedented move will make them even less likely to cooperate with Democrats ... So far, this Congress has only enacted 49 laws, the fewest since at least 1947, when the Congressional Record began tallying legislative activity on a yearly basis. In fact, the 80th Congress - famously dubbed the 'do nothing' Congress by President Harry Truman - enacted 388 public laws by July 1947. In the last 66 years, there are just four occasions in which fewer than 100 laws were enacted by a similar point in the legislative calendar. And two of those instances were in the last two Congresses, with the previous Congress making just 62 laws through November 2011.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Woody Allen (78), Joel Coen (59), Jay Jones …famous for making Biology sexy, Randy Newman (70), Mike Scioscia (55), Vin Scully (86), Lawrence Summers (59).

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – Sarah Palin, a regular Jack Ass to this forum, made it again when she called Rush Limbaugh one of her “heroes.”  Seriously.  Rush Limbaugh, a hero?  A drug addicted, sexist, womanizing, racist, bigoted adulterer—is apparently a “hero” to Sarah Palin. Congrats Sarah you again are a Jack Ass of the Month.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/30, 8:00 PM ET, ABC: #22 UCLA Bruins (8-3) visit #23 USC Trojans (9-3). A HUGE game for both teams, UCLA wants it more – Bruins 38 Trojans 30.  Season to date (8-5)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/30, 12:00 PM ET, BRAVO: Round Two begins of the D-III Playoffs - #24 Ithaca College Bombers (9-2) visit #15 Wesley Wolverines (9-2). The Bombers pull an upset in Dover – Ithaca 24 Wesley 21. Season to date (9-2)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 11/28, 12:30 PM ET, Fox: The annual Turkey Day game in Motown and a game to decide the Norris Division leader – Lions 24 The Pack 20.   Season to date (9-2)


(NCAA, Nov. 30)  Arizona Wildcats (7-4) 21 at #12 Arizona State Sun Devils (9-2) 32
(NCAA Hockey, Nov. 30) Merrimack Warriors (3-8-1)  2 at Defending National Champions Yale Bulldogs (5-2-2)  5
(NHL, Nov. 30) Anaheim Ducks (17-6-3) 4 at San Jose Sharks (15-3-5) 3
(NFL Upset of the Week, Dec. 1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) 24 at Carolina Panthers (8-3) 21
Season to date (44-37)

CONGRATS CFL CHAMPS – The 101st Grey Cup Game (Canadian Football Championship) was held yesterday and the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45 to 23. Congrats to the Roughriders for winning their fourth Grey Cup.

MARKET WEEK - The Dow and S&P 500 come off record Friday closes, featuring the S&P's first-ever close above the 1,800 mark. With seven straight weeks of gains behind them, the Dow is on track for its biggest yearly gain since 1993, while the S&P would chalk up its biggest annual advance since 1998.  The final trading week of November is a shortened one, with U.S. markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday and open for a half day of trading on Friday.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama, fresh off the Iran nuclear deal, is on the west coast where he will deliver remarks on immigration reform this morning in San Francisco before heading to Los Angeles for a pair of fund-raisers (one featuring Magic Johnson) ... Pending home sales this morning at 10 a.m. expected to rise 1.5 percent ... Case-Shiller home prices at 9 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.9 percent ... Consumer confidence at 10 a.m. Tuesday expected to show a post-shutdown bounce to 72.4 from 71.2 ... Univ. of Michigan consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise to 73.0 from preliminary 72.0 ...

Index of leading indicators at 10 a.m. Wednesday expected to be flat ... Holiday shopping season kicks off in earnest on Friday. Expectations are for a fairly good year for retailers ... is supposed to be working fine as of this Sunday but the White House has already lowered expectations for the deeply troubled Obamacare Web site.

THIS WEEK’S POLL – Will you be shopping on Black Friday?
-          Yes
-          No
-          Are you kidding!!

Next week: Quote of the month, holiday dining, and four days in the desert.

Happy Hanukkah on November 27!

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving on November 28!

Until Next Monday, “Adios.”

Claremont, CA

November 25, 2013
#IV-32, 189

Monday, November 18, 2013

Look For the Union Label

As American manufacturing departs to lower cost foreign lands, as conservative government policies reduce the union membership in government, the labor movement in America is seeking a new membership: Not For Profits.

Two different labor management stories in two different parts of the U.S. illustrate the continuing common labor difficulties faced by America’s nonprofits.

In a city known more for its country music than the classics, musicians with the Nashville Symphony agreed to 15 percent pay cuts as part of a one-year deal with the Nashville Symphony Association. The Tennessean newspaper reported a deal that takes effect immediately, adding that the musicians’ pay cuts are in line with recent cuts taken by the orchestra’s top leadership, including its managing and music directors.

The salary concessions are part of a comprehensive financial restructuring that the Symphony has undertaken in response to difficult economic conditions, cutting nearly 30 percent of this year’s operating budget. In this labor management case unions were discouraged by the musicians to represent their interests.

Adjunct faculty members at Tufts University have voted to unionize with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), marking the national union's first victory in a campaign to organize adjuncts across the Boston area and push institutions to improve their working conditions.

The 128-to-57 vote at Tufts, announced after ballots were tallied precedes an October 4 ballot count for adjuncts at Bentley University, who are also voting on whether to unionize with the SEIU as part of the Adjunct Action campaign. The campaign's strategy is to organize adjuncts across a metropolitan area and put colleges in that region under competitive pressure to improve both pay and working conditions for their own adjuncts. About two-thirds of faculty employees in the Boston region are not on the tenure track, according to data released by the SEIU.

The union has pursued the same strategy in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. After adjuncts at Georgetown University voted to unionize with the SEIU last May, the union now represents part-time professors at four institutions in that area: Georgetown, George Washington, and American Universities, and Montgomery College.

Other regional campaigns are under way in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and California, where the Adjunct Action project had previously announced a Los Angeles campaign.

These two Labor stories demonstrate that nonprofits are not immune from the same labor-management pressures facing for-profit companies in an economy emerging from a recession and a labor market confronting major structural changes. As in the for-profit sector, the majority of nonprofit employees are not unionized, and the dynamics of labor-management relations is as varied as the sector, often reflecting regional and industry-specific differences, as well as the personalities of the organizations’ leadership.

It’s a continuation of the long-standing debate over the true societal cost of achieving program efficiencies, and yet another example of how organizations pledged to improve the lives of people in our society often find themselves at odds over the means to that worthy end.

Where does this writer fit into this discussion? Stay tuned.


November 19, 1863: 150 years ago, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address as he dedicated a national cemetery at the site of the Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania.
November 22, 1963: 50 years ago,  President Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. Texas Gov. John B. Connally was seriously wounded. A suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson became the 36th president of the United States.
November 24, 1963: 50 years ago, Jack Ruby shot and mortally wounded Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President Kennedy.

HISTORY PART DEUX - Caroline Kennedy sworn in as ambassador to Japan. Caroline Kennedy, the new U.S. ambassador to Japan and daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, leaves for Japan on last Thursday ... 'We just had a tea ceremony which was a wonderful introduction to the Japanese culture,' Kennedy said Tuesday night at a reception at the Japanese ambassador's residence. 'My husband and I and my children are so excited to be going to Japan ... We look forward to meeting as many people as we can, to making new friends, visiting and studying the history and culture of this beautiful country that is such a strong partner to the United States' ... Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a swearing-in ceremony for Kennedy on Tuesday afternoon at the State Department. At the reception later, Kerry noted that Kennedy's father battled Japanese forces as a Navy officer in World War II.

BIG NEWS FROM THE CAPE -- Boston Globe lead story, "Tribe says it will open small casino on Vineyard: Cites a federal opinion on legality; state insists Aquinnah gave up right," by Mark Arsenault: "The Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah announced Tuesday that it intends within months to open the state's first casino, on tribal land on Martha's Vineyard, delivering another shock to an emerging Massachusetts casino industry that has become wildly unpredictable of late. Governor Deval Patrick signaled ... he would try to block the tribe's gambling plans, holding to a longstanding position by state officials that the island tribe lacks the right to build a casino on the island ...

"But in a new legal analysis, ... federal officials said ... the tribe did not give up rights to develop a casino on its ... land, as the state has long contended. ... The tribe tried to dispel fears of Caesars Palace cropping up on Gay Head cliffs, promising a modest development off Black Brook Road, on the western end of an island known for nature, a relaxed summer vibe, and presidential vacations, most recently by the Clintons and the Obamas."

NEW YORK TIMES EXITS - The New York Times is suffering a brain drain. In the last nine months, at least a dozen top reporters and editors have made for the exits. Among them are ... Nate Silver, who sprinted to ESPN; David Pogue, who decamped to Yahoo News; Jeff Zeleny, who left for ABC News; and Rick Berke, who is en route to POLITICO. That's not counting the many editors and reporters who took buyouts ... The departures have brought the Times face-to-face with a harsh reality: In the new media landscape, some journalists have become their own brands with followings and reputations that are not dependent on the 'aura' of the paper of record. Some built their brands at the paper, but it does not necessarily have the resources or flexibility to keep them. Meanwhile, deep-pocketed competitors are willing to pay top dollar for top-flight talent."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Jamie Lee Curtis (55), Billie Jean King (70), Larry King (80), Jack Meek …he knew Joe Paterno, Ted Turner (75).


phantasmagoric \fan-tax-muh-GAWR-ik, -GOR-\, adjective:
1. having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination.
2. having the appearance of an optical illusion, especially one produced by a magic lantern.
3. changing or shifting, as a scene made up of many elements.
“The phantasmagoric effect was vastly heightened by the artificial introduction of a strong continual current of wind behind the draperies—giving a hideous and uneasy animation to the whole.”
-- Edgar Allan Poe, "Ligeia," 1838

celos, plural noun
Some words are singular in English and plural in Spanish, such as las noticias, the news, and los celos, jealousy.
“Coquetea con otros sólo para darle celos a su esposo.”
“She flirts with other men just to make her husband jealous.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/23, 8:00 PM ET, ABC: #4 Baylor Bears (9-0) visit #10 Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-1). The Big 12 game of the year to date, Baylor has too much offense for OSU, Baylor 45 The Cowboys 32 Season to date (8-4)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/23, 12:00 PM ET, BRAVO: The D-III Playoffs begin with a first round tilt - #22 Lebanon Valley (8-2) vs. #12 Wittenberg Tigers (9-1). The Springfield Ohio boys will be too much for the Dutchmen; Wittenberg 40 Lebanon Valley 20. Season to date (8-2)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/24, 4:25 PM ET, Fox: Dallas Cowboys (5-5) at New York Football Giants (4-6). Giants have won four in a row, make that five – Giants 24 Cowboys 21.   Season to date (9-1)


(NCAA, Nov. 23)  #17 Arizona State Sun Devils (8-2) 30 at #14 UCLA Bruins (8-2) 40
(SCIAC Game of the Week, Nov. 23) Redlands Bulldogs (7-2) 24 at #3 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (10-0) 45
(NHL, Nov. 23) Colorado Avalanche (14-5-0) 3 at Los Angeles Kings (14-6-1) 4
(NFL Upset of the Week, Nov. 24) San Diego Chargers (4-6) 21 at Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) 17
Season to date (42-35)

NHL POWER RANKINGS – Through one quarter of the season, one thing to note the total lack of Eastern teams in our rankings:

1.      Chicago Black Hawks (14-3-4)
2.      San Jose Sharks (13-3-5)
3.      Anaheim Ducks (15-5-2)
4.      St. Louis Blues (13-3-3)
5.      Los Angeles Kings (14-6-1)

MARKET WEEK - With mostly modest daily gains, the major averages keep setting records, with both the Dow and the S&P 500 closing at all-time highs Friday and also eclipsing their intraday record highs as well. The Dow Transports also set an all-time closing high, and the Nasdaq finished at its best level since September 2000.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Fed Chair Ben Bernanke speaks Tuesday at the 7pm at the Nat'l Economics Club in Washington and the central bank on Wednesday releases minutes of last meeting as investors seek clues for when the crucially important taper will begin ... Retail sales at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise 0.1% ... Consumer prices at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday expected to be flat with core up 0.1% ... Existing home sales at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday expected to drop to 5.2M from 5.28M ...

Philadelphia Fed at 10:00 a.m Thursday expected to dip to 15 from 19.8 ... Big week for retail earnings featuring Home Depot, Target Gap and J.C. Penney ... The Clearing House holds in annual conference in NYC Thursday and Friday. M.M. conducts a conversation Friday morning at 9:00 with former House Financial Services Chair Barney Frank.

Next week: Jack Ass of the Month and Captain Obvious.

Until Next Monday, “Adios.”

Claremont, CA
November 18, 2013

#IV-31, 188

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Serve

We are a day late this week, 95 grades to get in by yesterday threw a kink into our schedule.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. November 11 we honor those who serve and have served for their country.

I have a 25 year old nephew who attended a college prep high school, attended Occidental College and graduated from George Washington University. He could work in Wall Street or Main Street but he chose to serve in the Marine Corps. I have a good friend, the smartest man I know (and I know a few), a lawyer by trade, he could manage any major corporation instead he chose to serve a Catholic Charity. I know a woman, the most caring person I know, and who could manage any University or College instead she chooses to serve her community food banks, homeless, and children.

To serve, what does that mean? Yes we do and should recognized any man or woman who is or has been a member of our armed forces. Not on this day only but every day of the year.  I believe we should also recognize and encourage every citizen to serve their county, not only in uniform but as a citizen. There are countless ways of doing this – hire a veteran, teach a veteran, say thank you to a fireman, pick up trash, recycle, mentor an international student, volunteer at a senior citizens center, coach a sports team, clean up graffiti, smile to a stranger, learn a second language, there are hundreds of ways you can serve.

To show someone you care perhaps is the greatest service.

Try it, you will like it.

CONFERENCES – I was speaking to a business colleague this past week, he asked me if I was attending the annual conference this next month. Now it so happens, in my profession (like most), there is an annual conference every month of the year. As usual I explained to my learned colleague that I stopped going to conferences when Ronald Reagan was President, not that RR had anything to do with my decision.

Why should I spend hundreds even thousands of dollars to sit and listen to individuals who enjoy only hearing themselves speak. So called experts who are only experts because they wrote a dissertation about the mating habits of East Indian farmers. Conferences where middle age men, with dyed hair, get a chance to flirt with middle aged woman who think they are Heidi Klum. As I tell all my associates, how about staying home, at your business, and get to know your business; talk to your employees, every employee, understand your customers, and understand your competition. This is the “real world” of conferences we should concentrate on.

THE BEZOS POST - "Secret Amazon: An explosive new account will change everything you know about Jeff Bezos. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, out this past week from Little, Brown : To the amazement and irritation of employees, Bezos's criticisms are almost always on target. Bruce Jones, a former Amazon supply chain vice president, describes leading a five-engineer team figuring out ways to make the movement of workers in fulfillment centers more efficient. The group spent nine months on the task, then presented their work to Bezos. 'We had beautiful documents, and everyone was really prepared,' Jones says. Bezos read the paper, said, 'You're all wrong,' stood up, and started writing on the whiteboard. 'He had no background in control theory, no background in operating systems,' Jones says. 'He only had minimum experience in the distribution centers and never spent weeks and months out on the line.' But Bezos laid out his argument on the whiteboard, and 'every stinking thing he put down was correct and true,' Jones says. 'It would be easier to stomach if we could prove he was wrong, but we couldn't. That was a typical interaction with Jeff. He had this unbelievable ability to be incredibly intelligent about things he had nothing to do with, and he was totally ruthless about communicating it.' ...

"In 2002, Amazon changed the way it accounted for inventory, from the last-in first-out, or LIFO, system to first-in first-out, or FIFO. The change allowed Amazon to better distinguish between its own inventory and the inventory that was owned and stored in fulfillment centers by partners such as Toys 'R' Us and Target (TGT). Jones's supply chain team was in charge of this complicated effort, and its software, riddled with bugs, created a few difficult days during which Amazon's systems were unable to recognize any revenue. On the third day, Jones was giving an update on the transition when Bezos had a nutter. 'He called me a 'complete f------ idiot' and said he had no idea why he hired idiots like me at the company, and said, "I need you to clean up your organization,"' Jones recalls. 'It was brutal. I almost quit. I was a resource of his that failed. An hour later he would have been the same guy as always, and it would have been different. He can compartmentalize like no one I've ever seen.'

"Amazon has a clandestine group with a name worthy of a James Bond film: Competitive Intelligence. The team, which operated for years within the finance department under longtime executives Tim Stone and Jason Warnick, focuses in part on buying large volumes of merchandise from other online retailers and measuring the quality and speed of their services-how easy it is to buy, how fast the shipping is, and so forth. The mandate is to investigate whether any rival is doing a better job than Amazon and then present the data to a committee of Bezos and other senior executives, who ensure that the company addresses any emerging threat and catches up quickly. ... Bezos's Khrushchev-like willingness to use the thermonuclear option had had its intended effect."

JFK -- JILL ABRAMSON, executive editor of The New York Times "Kennedy: The Elusive President," on the cover of next week's N.Y. Times Book Review: "An estimated 40,000 books about him have been published since his death, and this [50th] anniversary year has loosed another vast outpouring. ... Readers can choose from many books but surprisingly few good ones, and not one really outstanding one. It is a curious state of affairs, and some of the nation's leading historians wonder about it. 'There is such fascination in the country about the anniversary, but there is no great book about Kennedy,' Robert Caro lamented when I spoke to him not long ago. The situation is all the stranger, he added, since Kennedy's life and death form 'one of the great American stories.' ... Robert Dallek, the author of 'An Unfinished Life,' probably the best single-volume Kennedy biography, suggests that the cultish atmosphere surrounding, and perhaps smothering, the actual man may be the reason for the deficit of good writing about him. 'The mass audience has turned Kennedy into a celebrity, so historians are not really impressed by him,' Dallek told me. ...

"Even during his lifetime , Kennedy defeated or outwitted the most powerfully analytic and intuitive minds. In 1960, Esquire magazine commissioned Norman Mailer's first major piece of political journalism, asking him to report on the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles that nominated Kennedy. Mailer's long virtuoso article, 'Superman Comes to the Supermarket,' came as close as any book or essay ever has to capturing Kennedy's essence, though that essence, Mailer candidly acknowledged, was enigmatic. Here was a 43-year-old man whose irony and grace were keyed to the national temper in 1960. Kennedy's presence, youthful and light, was at once soothing and disruptive, with a touch of brusqueness."

CHINA PREPARES FOR CRITICAL POLICY MEETING - "Addressing the mismatch in skills ... across China is a central issue facing the country's leaders as they gather on November 9 in Beijing. They will be convening for a four-day meeting, the Third Plenum, that is expected to set the tone for Chinese economic and political policy making for the next five years. They will discuss whether to cut consumption taxes, deregulate banking and currency markets, and break up state-owned monopolies ... The common theme of all the policies: how to create a consumer-led economy and arrest a steep increase in unemployment among young, educated Chinese.

"China has relied for the past three decades on unrelenting, even manic, construction of ever more factories, bridges, roads and apartment towers. But that is producing chronic overcapacity together with an acute shortage of blue-collar labor. ... Similar plenums in 2003 and 2008 produced calls for a shift to a more sustainable economy based on more consumption, more high-end services like finance and more high-tech jobs."

POLITICS - "Carter in race for governor: Senator hopes to follow footsteps of iconic grandfather. Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter will challenge Gov. Nathan Deal next year in a move that catapults the gubernatorial contest into the national spotlight and tests whether Georgia's changing demographics can loosen the Republican Party's 12-year grip on the ... office. Carter's decision ... is another step along the trail forged by his famous grandfather Jimmy Carter, who was elected to the state Senate and then the Governor's Mansion before winning the presidency. ...

"Carter, 38 [who went to Duke undergrad and University of Georgia law school], becomes the second high-profile Democratic scion to compete for a spot on Georgia's 2014 ticket. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, is her party's front-runner in the crowded contest to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Carter ... pitches himself as a fiscal conservative who will revamp an education funding system he derides as a 'shell game."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Prince Charles (65), Carrie Lewis ….famous community advocate, Gordon Lightfoot (75), Chris Noth (59), Condoleezza Rice (59), Richard Simpson …famous strategist, Sam Waterson (73).

SPORTS BLINK - Countdown for Rio Olympics reaches 1,000 days. The countdown to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics reached 1,000 days on Saturday, a major calendar milestone for the 2016 games. Cariocas -- as Rio residents are known -- celebrated the date with various activities scattered around several days and various cities. Games officials opened an observation platform at the Olympic Park, which will be the center of the games in three years. Construction has barely begun on many of the sports venues, and on Saturday the area was only a barren, 291-acre mud flat. The park is located in the west of Rio, a 45-minute drive from the city's famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/16, 8:00 PM ET, ABC: #4 Stanford Cardinal (8-1) at University of Southern California Trojans (7-3). Stanford rolls at the Coliseum, Cardinal 32 USC 17.  Season to date (8-3)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/16, 12:00 PM ET, NGTV; The Battle for Route 13 – Cortland State Dragons (5-4) visit #24 Ithaca College Bombers (8-1). They will be 5,000 strong at Butterfield Stadium in South Hill, The Bombers bomb 35 Cortland 10.  Season to date (8-1)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/17, 8:30 PM ET, NBC: THE game of the year thus far, Undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) visit Peyton Manning hurting Denver Broncos (8-1). The band wagon is over, Denver 24 KC 14.   Season to date (8-1)


(NCAA, Nov. 16)  #16 Michigan State Spartans (8-1) 38 at Nebraska Cornhuskers 28
(SCIAC Game of the Week, Nov. 16) Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (4-4) 14 at Chapman Panthers (7-1) 24
(NHL, Nov. 16) Tampa Bay Lightening (12-5-0) 2 at Phoenix Coyotes (12-4-2) 4
(NFL Upset of the Week, Nov. 17) San Francisco 49er’s (6-3) 24 at New Orleans Saints (7-2) 21  
Season to date (39-34)


Recently my wife made an old family chili recipe, the end result, a stomach that resembled Mount St. Helens. Any recommendations for a good chili?


Drop, drop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is

DEAR, Drop, drop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is –

Here you go, this is our favorite:

2 pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Shredded Cheddar, for serving
Chopped onions, for serving
Tortilla chips, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.
After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and /or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with shredded Cheddar, chopped onions, tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Total Time: 1 hr 35 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 1 hr 20 min
Yield: 6 to 8 servings



MARKET WEEK - The Dow and the S&P 500 come off five straight weeks of gains, as investors look ahead to a relatively light week for economic numbers and earnings reports.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Janet Yellen faces a Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday and will field some hostile GOP questions on stimulus and banking regulation. However, barring some massive gaffe (not likely), Yellen should win quick approval from the committee ... Senate budget conferees hold their second public meeting on Wednesday ... CFPB Director Richard Cordray testifies before Senate Banking on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Next week: Words of the month and look for the union label.

Until Next Monday, “Adios.”

Claremont, CA
November 12, 2013

#IV-30, 187

Monday, November 4, 2013

International Trade

This writer is fortunate to teach a course in Financial Management to a class of graduate students from China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico and the United States. The diversity and experiences of these students provide a wonderful platform for learning about financial management decision making and strategies.

Our class concluded the fall term this past week, the usual end of the term case studies and examinations dominated the class in the final week. But an interesting discussion I had with a student at the conclusion of the term, I thought meaningful to share in this forum.

The student was from Japan, he thanked me and all the fine staff of the University for his education experience and learning. But above all else he thanked me for proving his parent’s wrong. You see in Japan the relationship between the country and China is a long and distrustful one. Generations of Japanese students are taught in school and in the culture to keep their distance from the Chinese people. Through centuries of war, trade, and being neighbors, the Chinese were a people not to trust and even hate.

The student in fact told his parents that he had Chinese fellow students in class and his parent’s immediately wanted him to return home and enter another University. He did not, in fact he told them that through his studies he had become fond of his new friends and wanted to learn more about their lives and culture in China.

He has invited his new friends to visit Japan next summer and he desires to study business in China once he completes his studies here in the United States. Not to sound too “Red, White, and Blue” this is one of the best qualities of America and our higher education system. Yes, Universities have a cost structure out of control, revenue sources are ever changing, public monies are perhaps misspent, immigration laws out of date, but there remains in American higher education and society, the ability to bring people together without cultural or historical biases. To put aside what a person looks like, or where they come from, to understand what type of person they truly are.

Forget our billions of dollars international trade deficit, in my opinion; our international trade is just fine.

THE REST OF THE STORY - Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled. At her age, she's eligible for a good 'silver' plan for $333 a month after the subsidy -- $40 a month more than she's paying now. But the plan is much better than her current plan -- the deductible is $2,000, not $5,000. The maximum out-of-pocket expense is $6,350, not $8,500. Her co-pays would be $45 for a primary care visit and $65 for a specialty visit -- but all visits would be covered, not just two. Is that better than her current plan? Yes, by a mile. ...

The sad truth is that Cavallaro has been very poorly served by the health insurance industry and the news media. ... Anthem didn't adequately explain her options for 2014 when it disclosed that her current plan is being canceled. ... And the reporters who interviewed her without getting all the facts produced inexcusably shoddy work.

BOOK REVIEW -  PETER BAKER , chief White House correspondent for the N.Y. Times, is out  with his tour de force, "Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House" (Doubleday; 816 pages - 650 pages of text, plus footnotes, etc.). Here are a few notes from early readers: By the time they left office, Bush and Cheney were on opposite sides of almost every major issue, including North Korea, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, Middle East peace talks, gun rights, gay rights, climate change, surveillance, detention and the auto bailout. And that was all before the Scooter Libby pardon. ... There were more doubts about invading Iraq inside the Bush team than were publicly known at the time. Karen Hughes, one of the president's closest confidantes, worried that it would be a mistake to go to war and brought up her concerns with Bush. The president sent her to Condoleezza Rice for reassurance, but she was never fully convinced and at several points tried to keep Bush from feeling trapped into going to war. As one senior official who came to rue his involvement in Iraq put it, "The only reason we went into Iraq, I tell people now, is we were looking for somebody's ass to kick. Afghanistan was too easy."

“Iraq took more of a toll on Bush than he was willing to let on. As violence worsened in his second term, one adviser said Bush was discouraged "almost to the point of despondence" and at some briefings "it was almost as if he was pleading with us not to give him any more bad news." It got to the point that Bush was grinding his teeth so hard they hurt. Laura Bush took to inviting his brother, Marvin, to the White House on weekends to distract the president from his troubles. ... What really sank the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court was not opposition among conservatives but secret murder boards by administration lawyers who discovered how little she understood about constitutional issues like Fourth Amendment search and seizure rules or the Fifth Amendment bar on self-incrimination. "She literally knew nothing about it at all, nothing," said one official. Cheney could only shake his head. "I tried to tell him," he confided to an aide. ... When Bush first met Vladimir Putin and declared that he had "a sense of his soul," Cheney's staff was "rolling our eyes." Cheney told people that when he looked into Putin's soul, he saw: "KGB, KGB, KGB."

DAVID FRUM, former Bush speechwriter, reviewed "Days of Fire" last weeks’ New York Times Book Review, "Who Decided? Peter Baker's account of the George W. Bush administration is haunted by the question of leadership ": "The Bush administration opened with a second Pearl Harbor, ended with a second Great Crash and contained a second Vietnam in the middle. ... Peter Baker (who covered the Bush White House first for The Washington Post, then for The New York Times) neither accuses nor excuses. He writes with a measure and balance that seem transported backward in time from some more dispassionate future. Yet 'Days of Fire' is not a dispassionate book. Its mood might rather be described as poignant: sympathetic to its subjects, generous to their accomplishments and extenuating none of their errors. ... Almost every leading figure in the Bush White House ... has now published his or her version of events, and Baker has painstakingly worked through them all. The result is what you might call a polished second draft of history, most likely the most polished draft we'll have until the archives are opened and the academics can get to work."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Hugh Bonneville (50), Glenn Frey (65), Billy Graham (95), Miranda Lambert (30), Joni Mitchell (70), Maria Shriver (58), Sam Shepherd (70).

TWITTER IPO A CASH MACHINE - [Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley] are set to collect a total of $37.2 million in fees as underwriters of Twitter's initial public offering next week ... The seven financial firms hired to pitch the $1.6 billion deal will get a combined $49 million if the shares slated to be sold go for $20 apiece, or the top of their projected price range. Goldman Sachs's likely fee of $20 million as the IPO's lead underwriter amounts to less than one day of revenue for the securities firm.

But there are lots of other ways that Wall Street can profit from the IPO. The fees are largely compensation for banks tapping their client lists to find investors for the deal and for the labor involved in getting companies prepared for filings with regulators and meetings with investors during the 'roadshow' that precedes the final IPO pricing.

RED OCTOBER - Resurgent Red Sox give battered Boston a world championship, it was a Back Bay Bacchanal, a party unlike anything since 1918. Six months after Shelter in Place, the city of Boston invites the world to celebrate a victory of team over self. Boston Strong, at least a variation of the theme, hit a crescendo Wednesday night on the Fenway lawn, the town common of 2013. These Red Sox, the motley crew that left Fort Myers begging, 'Please don't hate us,' completed the ultimate redemption song, thrashing the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in the sixth and final game of the 2013 World Series. The Brotherhood of the Beard are World Champions for the third time this century, worthy progeny of the 20th century Sox, who won five of the first 15 Series back in the days when Babe Ruth was a fuzzy-faced left-handed orphan from Baltimore.

Nobody saw this coming. After the worst season in 47 years-the Bobby Valentine clown show of 2012- Sox general manager Ben Cherington and new field manager John Farrell made the Red Sox relevant and good again. The 2013 Sox dusted the field in the American League East, then blew past the Tampa Bays Rays, the Detroit Tigers, and the estimable Cardinals in an 11-5 postseason onslaught. The Sox were dominant. In the 2013 playoffs they bested aces Matt Moore, David Price, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Adam Wainwright, and Michael Wacha. And so Boston has its eighth championship parade since 2002, and outgoing mayor Thomas Menino will be on a duck boat, which is scheduled to roll down Boylston Street, past the places where the bombs exploded on Marathon Monday, April 15. It is the ultimate civic comeback story.

CBS BLACKOUT SLAMS TIME WARNER - The CBS blackout in homes with Time Warner Cable ended in early September. But the damage from the feud is still being tallied up - and it may be lasting. On Thursday, Time Warner Cable reported the steepest quarterly loss of television subscribers in its history ... When the third quarter wrapped up at the end of September, Time Warner Cable had shed 306,000 of its 11.7 million TV subscribers - a loss even worse than the company had anticipated.

The results underscored, to a degree rarely seen before, the damage that can be done when distributors and programmers publicly feud over contracts. They also offer vivid evidence that content has the upper hand in disputes with distributors.

SPORTS BLINK - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - No. 2 Florida State gains ground on No. 1 Alabama and moves ahead of No. 3 Oregon in latest BCS college football poll, earning four more first-place votes than it did last week. The Seminoles are coming off another easy victory against a previously unbeaten rival. Florida State beat Miami 41-14 on Saturday night and received six-first-place votes from the media panel Sunday. Last month the Seminoles handed Clemson its first loss. Alabama remains No. 1 with 52 first-place votes, three less than last week. Oregon received two first-place votes, a loss of one for the Ducks. Miami's first loss drops it seven spot to 14th. Notre Dame moved back into the rankings at No. 24 and Michigan fell out after losing to Michigan State. The Spartans advance six spots to 18th.

Ohio State, Michigan State in control of Big Ten. No. 4 Ohio State laid another beating on an overmatched conference foe, and No. 24 Michigan State took control of the Big Ten's other division with a rout of Michigan. The Buckeyes ... crushed Purdue 56-0 in West Lafayette, Ind. Ohio State has won 21 straight and has been far and away the Big Ten's most impressive team. The Buckeyes appear to be cruising toward a Leaders Division title and their first Big Ten title game. They have a one-game lead over Wisconsin, a team they've already beaten ... Michigan State and the nation's No. 1 defense were even more impressive. The Spartans pummeled their rivals 29-6 in East Lansing, Mich., and have a game and a half lead in the Legends Division.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 11/7, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN: #3 Oregon Ducks (8-0) at #5 Stanford Cardinal (7-1). The Pac 12 game of the year, the Oregon offense vs. the Stanford defense, Oregon wins 28 – 17.  Season to date (8-2)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/9, 12:00 PM ET, BRAVO: the first big game in a long time in Canton, New York. The #7 Hobart Statesman (7-0) visit the Scarlet and Brown St. Lawrence Saints (5-2) in a battle for first place in the Liberty League. Can Mark Raymond’s team pull off the upset, no – Hobart 30 St. Lawrence 17. Season to date (7-1)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/10, 1:00 PM ET, Fox: Another big game in the Norris Division; Detroit Lions (5-3) at Chicago Bears (5-3). The QB with the better game wins, Detroit 21 Tha Bears 20.  Season to date (7-1)


(NCAA, Nov. 9) UCLA Bruins (6-2) 40 at Arizona Wildcats (6-2) 30
(SCIAC Game of the Week, Nov. 9) Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (3-4) 20 at La Verne Leopards (3-4) 24
(NHL, Nov. 9) Vancouver Canucks (10-5-1) 3 at Los Angeles Kings (9-6) 2
(NFL Upset of the Week, Nov. 10) Denver Broncos (7-1) 28 at San Diego Chargers (4-4) 35
Season to date (38-31)

JACKASS OF THE MONTH - Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) may have opposed Hurricane Sandy recovery funding, but that reportedly did not stop him from visiting the Northeast to raise money on the eve of the disastrous storm's anniversary.

Senator Coburn raised money at a law firm in midtown Manhattan last Monday morning, the News reported, and the National Republican Campaign Committee has a fundraiser on Wednesday in the city.

Senator Coburn voted against hurricane recovery in January. Coburn said it was wasteful and would take too long to implement.

DRIVING THE WEEK – This week brings us another jobs day (Friday) and a first look at third-quarter GDP (Thursday). The jobs number is likely to be weak, hit by the government shutdown. The big question is how soft the October number will be when you discount the shutdown. The jobless rate could tick up a couple tenths given that furloughed workers will show up as unemployed in the household survey but not the employer survey. Third quarter GDP is a clean number and will give us a good early snapshot of how things were before everything blew up in DC. The number could come in stronger than expected given the good ISM manufacturing data out Friday.

Couple of key elections Tuesday including the Virginia Governor's race where Democrat Terry McAuliffe is expected to win, further tilting the state away from Republicans. In New Jersey, GOP Gov. Chris Christie should dominate, further bolstering his position to run as a moderate for the Republican presidential nominate in 2016. Bill diBlasio expected to handily win the NYC Mayor's race, an event that has many Wall Streeters fearing higher taxes ... Twitter prices its shares Wednesday and starts trading Thursday, entering a smoking hot IPO market ... Prosecutors are expected to announce a $1.2 billion insider trading settlement with SAC Capital today including a guilty plea and agreement to stop taking outside investor money.

Factory orders at 10 a.m. EST today expected to rise 1.8 percent ... ISM non-manufacturing at 10 a.m. Tuesday expected to dip to 54 from 54.4 ... Index of leading indicators at 10 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise 0.6 percent ... First read on Q3 GDP at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to show a gain of 2 percent ... BLS jobs report on Friday at 8:30 a.m. expected to show a shutdown-impacted gain of just 125K with the unemployment rate rising a tenth to 7.3 percent ... Univ. of Michigan consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Friday expected to tick back up to 74.5 from 73.2.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH – “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure." - Colin L. Powell

Next week: Dear Rink Rats, a good chili recipe, and Conferences

Until Next Monday, “Adios.”

Claremont, CA
November 4, 2013

#IV-29, 186