Monday, December 30, 2013

Things To Ponder At Year End

TRENDS OF THE YEAR - Tweets beat press conferences:  We saw lots of stories this past year about real-time news reporting ahead of the professional media (as in the Boston Marathon bombing) or tweets as ways to get information about things happening in places like Syria or Egypt. But 2013 was also the year in which another ... trend really came into its own: the use of ... Twitter/Facebook ... for politicians ... to communicate with the public directly. ... Media end up reporting what was put out on the web . This ... shrinks and possibly eliminates the role of media in keeping politicians honest and on their toes.

AP'S TOP 10 STORIES OF 2013, voted by U.S. editors and news directors: 1) health care overhaul ... 2) Boston marathon bombing ... 3) Vatican changeover ... 4) divided Congress ... 5) NSA spying ... 6) gay marriage ... 7) Nelson Mandela ... 8) Philippines typhoon ... 9) Syria ... 10) missing women found in Cleveland.

STAT DU JOUR - New York Soon To Trail Florida In Population: New York ... will soon fall behind Florida into fourth place, When the Census Bureau releases its latest population estimates on Monday, demographers expect that Florida and New York will be narrowly separated - perhaps by as little as a few thousand people - and that if Florida does not pass New York this time, it almost certainly will do so in 2014. ... The shift also highlights the struggles in upstate New York, which has lost large-scale manufacturing jobs, ... offsetting consistent gains in New York City. ... The changing population pattern could have many practical and political implications, including diminished congressional delegations.

JOHN MILLER of CBS News announced Friday on WCBS Channel 2, followed by a reader on the "CBS Evening News," that he is leaving the network to re-join incoming NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. Miller will take a top position counterterrorism and intelligence. Miller has been a leader under Bratton at the N.Y. and L.A. police departments, and helped him develop his philosophy of collaborative policing.

LOOK FOR CBS News to replace Miller with more than one person, given both his on-air roles and his array of law-enforcement sources.

ONE OF THE BEST YEAR-END ARTICLES THAT RAN ANYWHERE - The Economist, "The first world war ... A century on, there are uncomfortable parallels with the era that led to the outbreak of the first world war": "Globalization and new technology -- the telephone, the steamship, the train -- ... knitted the world together. ... Yet within a year, the world was embroiled in a most horrific war. It cost 9m lives-and many times that number if you take in the various geopolitical tragedies it left in its wake, from the creation of Soviet Russia to the too-casual redrawing of Middle Eastern borders and the rise of Hitler. ... Too many people, in London, Paris and elsewhere, believed that because Britain and Germany were each other's biggest trading partners after America and there was therefore no economic logic behind the conflict, war would not happen. ...

"The United States is Britain, the superpower on the wane, unable to guarantee global security. Its main trading partner, China, plays the part of Germany, a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation and building up its armed forces rapidly. Modern Japan is France, an ally of the retreating hegemon and a declining regional power. ... The most troubling similarity between 1914 and now is complacency. Businesspeople today are like businesspeople then: too busy making money to notice the serpents flickering at the bottom of their trading screens. Politicians are playing with nationalism just as they did 100 years ago. China's leaders whip up Japanophobia, using it as cover for economic reforms, while Shinzo Abe stirs Japanese nationalism for similar reasons."

The 10 craziest stories of 2013

1).        Sexting with Danger: Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner began his attempt to finagle his way back into public life in April with a New York Times Magazine profile of his post-congressional, supposedly post-sexting, life. Weiner officially began his ill-fated campaign for New York City mayor on May 21, repeatedly saying he and his family had moved beyond the scandal as he sought to keep his focus on the “issues.”

Turned out that Weiner had indeed continued sexting with women after leaving Congress, as photos, messages and his ridiculous moniker were shared. A woman, later identified as Sydney Leathers, came forward with sexually explicit online messages. And on July 23, he admitted that he kept having relationships even after he got caught the first time.

Weiner finished with a tiny 5 percent of the vote, and just after his concession speech, he gave a fitting goodbye to the reporters who covered his campaign as cameras caught him flipping off a journalist.

2).        All My Children, or Not: Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of Rep. Steve Cohen’s life. And what a soap opera year it was for the Tennessee Democrat, complete with a surprise “daughter,” a shocking paternity test and a bunch of bizarre tweets.

3).        Rand Paul and the case of the copy and paste: The plagiarism charges around Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — he was accused of lifting from a think tank study, an op-ed in The Week magazine, Wikipedia entries for the films “Gattaca” and “Stand and Deliver,” and more sources — stayed in the headlines for a few weeks in the later part of year, with ever-more examples of other people’s writing found in his book, speeches and op-eds.

4).        Unionization of College Adjunct Faculty: The Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) attempt to unionize College Adjunct Faculty at small college and universities. Want-a-be Faculty and unions do not mix. But also university management beware of tougher fiscal times ahead.

5).        The Fake Interpreter: After Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Dec. 10, people couldn’t stop talking about the selfie President Barack Obama took with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British PM David Cameron. But that wasn’t even close to being the strangest part of the event. The sign language interpreter who stood feet away from world leaders such as Obama as they delivered speeches was a fraud, using gestures that deaf groups called nonsensical. Thamsanqa Jantjie said he may have been suffering from a schizophrenic episode and claimed he saw “angels” during the service. He also fessed up that he had been violent in the past, and reports emerged that he had been charged with involvement in a mob that in 2003 had burned two men to death. He had never faced trial, however.

6).        “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine”: It took until November for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to finally admit he had used crack: “Probably in one of my drunken stupors.”

7).        Not Classy, San Diego Mayor: Accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, San Diego mayor and former Rep. Bob Filner spent much of the summer refusing to resign. First to go public with allegations was his former communications director. Then a dozen more women came forward in rapid succession with stories of the 70-year-old Democrat behaving inappropriately, forcing them into headlocks, trying to sneak kisses and making inappropriate comments. Finally, on Aug. 23, Filner stepped down in a deal with the San Diego City Council, and, in October, he pleaded guilty to felony false imprisonment and two misdemeanor battery charges. Filner was sentenced in December to three months of home confinement and three years of probation.

8).        Jailhouse Rock: In April, the FBI arrested an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi suspected of mailing ricin to Obama and other public officials. Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was released nearly a week later, with authorities determining he had been set up. Then the FBI turned to James Everett Dutschke, a taekwondo instructor who had a year’s long feud with Curtis, charging him with sending the letters and attempting to frame Curtis. To celebrate his freedom, Curtis appeared on CNN and ended up regaling viewers with a live rendition of a Randy Travis song. Dutschke, meanwhile, has been in jail since April. In December, he pleaded not guilty to a new indictment that charges him with trying to recruit someone from jail to send another ricin-laced letter to Sen. Roger Wicker — and again trying to frame Curtis.

9).        The Fugitive: The Edward Snowden story dominated the year’s news, from the leak itself to the repercussions of what the documents revealed about the NSA and government surveillance. But for all the substantial policy debates that rocked the political world, one question about Snowden commanded the headlines this summer and offered up the wackiest part of the NSA leaker’s tale: Where in the world was Snowden? As a fugitive on the run, Snowden delivered what seemed like a plot out of a bestselling political thriller, with stops in global locations spanning Hawaii, Hong Kong and Russia. The question of where Snowden was — and where he’d end up — captivated the world. After his U.S. passport was revoked, Snowden boarded a plane to Moscow, where he stayed for 39 days in Sheremetyevo International Airport’s transit zone. Adding another twist, Snowden had a seat booked for a flight through Cuba and, although he never boarded it, a number of reporters did. On their flight to Havana, some passed the time by photographing Snowden’s empty seat. Ultimately, he was granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year, setting the stage for a sequel in 2014, when Snowden’s asylum expires in August.

10).     The Tale of T-Bone:  Some young kids have an imaginary friend. And so does a U.S. senator, according to some reports. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s drug dealer bestie T-Bone’s very existence was called into question again this year in a National Review story. Could the Democrat’s frequent campaign tale of the Newark drug dealer who once threatened his life before becoming his good friend be a fantasy? The question of T-Bone’s existence first made a run in the press in 2008, when Esquire reported that Booker had admitted “that although T-Bone’s corporeal being is ‘1,000 percent real,’ he’s an ‘archetype’ of an aspect of Newark’s woe whose actual nom de crack may not actually be T-Bone.” Fast forward to Booker’s 2013 Senate run, where the story came back with a vengeance.

The conservative National Review dug into the controversy, asserting that T-Bone was a tale spun by Booker and quoting Rutgers University history professor Clement Price, a Booker supporter, who said the Newark mayor had confessed to him T-Bone was a composite. Booker’s spokesperson, however, told Slate that “this is a partisan attempt to revive a fake controversy from five years ago and make it a 2013 fake controversy” and pointed to the Esquire piece. T-Bone never materialized for an interview, photo-op or otherwise to put the story to bed. Undaunted, Booker won the election in a cakewalk.


BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Bobby Hull (75), Ben Kingsley (70), Sandy Koufax (78), Meredith Viera (60), Tiger Woods (38).

THE MOTHER SHIP - For ESPN, Millions to Remain in Connecticut: The governor of Connecticut arrived at ESPN's expansive campus here to celebrate the groundbreaking of the sports media giant's 19th building, a digital center that would be the new home of 'SportsCenter.' It was August 2011, and this was the third visit in a year by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ... This time, Mr. Malloy brought a hard hat, a shovel and an incentive package for ESPN potentially worth $25 million. ESPN is hardly needy. With nearly 100 million households paying about $5.54 a month for ESPN, regardless of whether they watch it, the network takes in more than $6 billion a year in subscriber fees alone. Still, ESPN has received about $260 million in state tax breaks and credits over the past 12 years, according to a New York Times analysis of public records. ...

ESPN is Connecticut's most celebrated brand, ... employing more than 4,000 workers in the state. ... This is peak season for ESPN, which is broadcasting 33 of the 35 college football bowl games, including the national championship game on Jan. 6 between Florida State and Auburn. This spring, it is scheduled to open the 193,000-square-foot Digital Center 2 ... The main hallways in the building were designed to be wide enough to fit a race car.

ESPN's Monday Night Football: Cable's Most-Watched Series for Eighth Straight Year; -- ESPN release : "The 2013 season ranks as the third highest-rated and most-viewed season in ESPN's eight years of presenting Monday Night Football ... Since 2006, Monday Night Football has registered five of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history. (Only Bowl Championship Series college football games since 2011 - which also aired on ESPN - rank higher.) ... ESPN's highest-rated MNF game of 2013 was the Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears (Dec. 9 ... 16,192,000 viewers). The most-viewed MNF game was the Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins season-opener (Sept. 9) with 16,524,000 viewers."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Wednesday 1/1, 5:00 PM ET, ABC: The Grand Daddy Rose Bowl, from Pasadena, California – #5 Stanford Cardinal (11-2) vs. #4 Michigan State Spartans (12-1), we like the Spartans to win a wild one. State 35 Stanford 31.   Season to date (12-6)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Season Complete. Final Season totals (10-5)

SPORTS BLINK - Rematches galore in wild-card playoff round: It begins with the Colts hosting the Chiefs on Saturday. Indianapolis won at Kansas City just last week. At night, ... New Orleans is at Philadelphia. On Sunday, it's San Diego at Cincinnati ... And the wild-card finale with San Francisco visiting Green Bay ... Off next weekend are Denver (13-3) and New England (12-4) in the AFC, Seattle (13-3) and Carolina (12-4) in the NFC. In the divisional round, Seattle and New England will be at home on Saturday, Jan. 11, with Carolina and Denver hosting games on Jan. 12. ... Aaron Rodgers played the role of returning hero ... in Green Bay's 33-28 victory at Chicago.

Bengals 34, Ravens 14 ... For first time in six seasons, Super Bowl champs will miss playoffs.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/4, 4:35 PM ET, NBC: AFC Wildcard Playoff – Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (11-5). It has been a great year for the Chiefs but it ends here, Colts 24 KC 20.  Season to date (12-4)


(NCAA Orange Bowl, Jan. 3) #12 Clemson Tigers (10-2) 30 vs. #7 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1) 38.
(NCAA Hockey, Jan. 4) Yale Bulldogs (7-3-3) 4 vs.  Vermont Catamounts (10-6-1) 3
(NHL, Jan. 1) Toronto Maple Leafs (20-16-5)  3 at Detroit Red Wings (18-13-9)  4
(NFL Upset of the Week, Jan. 5) San Francisco 49ers (12-4) 17 vs. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) 21
2013 Season Final (55-46)

DRIVING THE WEEK - Dow on track for best year since 1996: The Dow Jones Industrial Average is on track to end the year with its biggest percentage gain since 1996 and is almost certain to have its best year in a decade. If it closes on Dec. 31 above 16,422.11, the Dow will beat its 25.32 percent surge in 2003. That would make it the best year since 1996, when the Dow gained 26.01 percent. ... The Dow is also heading for its fifth straight annual gain, its longest winning streak since nine consecutive gains ending in 1999. The index is up 87 percent since it closed at 8,776.39 on Dec. 31, 2008.

The new week begins with a single economic report on the calendar: Pending home sales for November from the National Association of Home Builders. Economists are looking for a 1.0 percent increase, following October’s 0.6 percent decline.

Next week: Rink Rats 2014 predictions.

Until Next Monday, “Happy New Year”.

Claremont, CA
December 30, 2013

#IV-37, 194

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Rink Rats Christmas

Our annual Christmas gifts and wishes list to those special individuals or groups on our Rink Rats gift giving list for 2013.

Rink Rats would like to give The City of La Verne a one year subscription to Real Estate Management magazine.

On our list is some “time to step it up” discipline to the Detroit Lions Football Club.

A Rink Rats Christmas gift to Fox News, for intelligence and common sense in news reporting for 2014.

Rink Rats would like to give Sue Ellen Mischke in the College of Business & Public Management a year of solid work and an opportunity to show us what you really do for the College???? Where is your office?

We have a special gift for realization to the Obama Administration; we have no money, deal with it.

To Speaker of the House John Boehner, an invitation to any M.B.A. program in America on managing people.

To Wells Fargo Bank, a gift of my business; not because you are a well operated bank, quite the opposite – I don’t think it can get any worse in 2014.

To the squirrels of Claremont, California – a separate plate of food in my garden, so now leave my bird food alone.

1).  “It’s a Wonderful Life”, 1946       
2). “Holiday Inn”, 1942
3).  “Home Alone”, 1990
4).  “A Christmas Carol”, 1951        
5). “Christmas Vacation”, 1989

1.         Candy Cane Cocktail: Festive Christmas cocktails add to the cheery atmosphere. For this drink, combine 2 ounces strawberry vodka, 4 dashes white crème de menthe, 2 ½ ounces cranberry juice, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Combine well and strain into glasses. Use crushed candy cane as a garnish around the rim.

 2.        The Blizzard: Hot Christmas cocktails are a comforting beverage when it’s cold outside. In a glass coffee mug, stir together 1 ½ ounces Irish whiskey or rum, ½ ounce hazelnut liqueur, and ½ ounce Irish cream liqueur. Top with hot coffee and a dollop of whipped cream.

 3.        Eggnog Martini: This Christmas cocktail recipe puts a new spin on an old classic. Stir in your favorite brandy with either homemade or store-bought eggnog and ladle into glasses garnished with pumpkin-pie spice. If you’re feeling adventurous, try this homemade eggnog recipe.

4.         Mulled Wine: Warm Christmas cocktails are a toasty treat. Start by zesting and then juicing a large orange. With the flat side of a knife, bruise two cardamom pods and combine with the zest, juice, 6 whole cloves, 6 allspice berries, 6 whole black peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cups of fruity red wine, ½ cup of sugar, and ¼ cup of brandy in a large non-aluminum pot. Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the flavors have melded (approximately 30 minutes). Pour through a fine-mesh sieve and serve immediately.

5.         White Cosmopolitan: Perfect for a chilly, sophisticated Christmas cocktail. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then add 1 cup white-cranberry juice, 4 ounces vodka, and 2 ounces Cointreau. Shake to combine well and strain into large martini glasses. Serves 2.


BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Heidi Bravo …famous teacher, Richard Chute …famous fundraiser, Jack Ham (65), Annie Lennox (59), Cokie Roberts (70), Jon Voight (75), Denzel Washington (59).

GET READY FOR 2014 - As 2013 winds down, it's worth looking at some critical economic moments coming up early next year. The biggest of course is likely to the debt limit fight, which should start in late March and conclude sometime later in the spring. It remains unclear what Republicans will demand in return for raising the borrowing limit but they will almost certainly demand something either on health care or deficit reduction. Conventional wisdom is the fight won't be so bad next year but that wisdom is based more in hope than fact. ...

Huge Fed meeting takes place March 18th and 19th. It will presumably be Janet Yellen's first as chairman. She will meet the press on the 19th and could be announcing an end to the central bank's massive stimulus program. The stakes will be huge for markets and the economy the rest of the year. Will Yellen quickly win investors' trust? Will she be able to clearly communicate a complex and unprecedented stimulus unwinding? How much more will she do to tamp down the unemployment rate? ...

April 30th offers a first read on first quarter GDP. Fourth quarter growth is likely to be weak given shutdown impact but there is a great deal of hope that 2014 will be significantly better, closer to 3% growth or more. This will be our first look at whether those predictions come true. ... Even sooner, the first jobs report of 2014 arrives January 10th and will tell us if the stronger trend of 200K-plus growth the last couple months will continue into the New Year.

HANDY 2014 CALENDARS - Fed meetings: ;Jobs and other labor data: ; GDP and other economic data:

2016 - With eyes on Hillary Clinton, Democrats fight to maintain digital edge, some of the biggest names and deepest pockets of the Clinton and Obama eras are involved in various digital efforts, including billionaire financier George Soros, Clinton insider Harold Ickes, Google's Eric Schmidt and former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. ... The network of super PACs functioning as a ... Clinton campaign-in-waiting are at the center of the data tug-of-war. The hub, Ready for Hillary, is working on data initiatives that are unprecedented for a candidate-specific super PAC ... A 50-state voter file ... will merge granular historical data for every registered voter in the country with social media and email information ...

The super PAC intends to deploy the new database as early as January to mobilize supporters, ... building and executing a model of voter coalitions and messages to win a presidential campaign. ... A direct mail program [using] Clinton's likeness, and testimonials from high-profile surrogates, [will] raise cash and collect supporter data. It's expected to launch sometime in the first quarter of 2014 ... It's expected that ... data ... would be rented, swapped or sold to Clinton's campaign, meaning contracts ... are being closely watched as a symbolic foot-in-the-door to the 2016 effort.

BERNANKE'S FINAL ACT - Ben Bernanke took his foot off the gas. The Federal Reserve chairman, wrapping up a tumultuous eight-year term in which he helped the nation fight back from the worst recession since the 1930s, said ... the central bank will begin pulling back on its unprecedented stimulus efforts, arguing the economy is finally gaining enough strength for the Fed to begin its long-awaited retreat. ... Investors embraced both the Fed's message and its policy moves sending stock markets to record highs following the announcement. ... The Fed's maneuvering may seem technical and eye-glazing. The term 'quantitative easing' is not one most people use over the dinner table.

But the central bank's decision ... represents a declaration from Bernanke, on his way out the door, that the economy is finally healing and no longer requires the kind of massive emergency help the Fed began to apply following the financial crisis and subsequent recession ... 'This is the first change in policy since 2006 which has been away from the direction' of stimulus, said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics. 'In the great scheme of things it does not seem like a big deal but when you think about the fact that it's the first time in seven years that they have moved this way you see that it's a very big deal.

Today is the Federal Reserves 100th Birthday.

NEW ERA OF PREDICTABLE POLICY? - "The Fed's move means 'predictable monetary policy for the next year or more and that's bullish for markets and positive for the economy,' said David Kotok, chief investment officer and Cumberland Advisors. Couple that with more predictable fiscal policy in Washington, and some economists are looking for 2014 growth closer to 3 percent, which should mean faster wage and job growth, lower deficits and possibly a transformed political landscape.

"Bernanke said that because unemployment remains high at 7 percent, the central bank believes it should not abandon its bond buying program immediately. He also said that the Fed will likely work to keep short-term interest rates at current levels 'well past' the point at which the unemployment rate dips below 6.5 percent, a decision that also pleased investors"

STUDENT LOAN STUDY - The first comprehensive study of the private student loan market since the near government takeover of the entire industry was released last week by MeasureOne ... Two conclusions: Only 4 percent of students borrowing from banks are in default, a significant reduction due to responsible underwriting. The US Government now controls over 90% of the market, holds over 90% of the $1trillion plus student loan debt, and has a disturbing and ever increasing 15% default rate."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/28, 7:15 PM ET, ESPN: The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, from Tempe, Arizona – Michigan Wolverines (7-5) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (7-5). The difficult year will continue for The Big Blue, K State 38 Michigan 28.   Season to date (11-6)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Congratulations to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater Whitehawks (15-0) for winning the D-III National Championship 52 – 14 over Mount Union (14-1).  Final Season totals (10-5)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/29, 4:25 PM ET, Fox: Winner take all weekend begins with the Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) visiting windy and cold Soldiers Field and the Chicago Bears (8-7). The Norris Division is up for grabs, we like The Pack 21 – 20.  Season to date (11-4)

SPORTS BLINK - NFL Playoff Picture: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning clinched division titles, Cam Newton reached the postseason for the first time ... The Chicago Bears ... host Green Bay next Sunday -- the winner takes the NFC North, ... Several hours later, in the last game of the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Philadelphia Eagles. The Sunday night showdown decides who wins the NFC East ...All the AFC division titles got settled. Denver, New England and Cincinnati won to join Indianapolis with crowns. Kansas City is assured of one AFC wild-card spot. Defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore, Miami and San Diego are tied at 8-7 for the other slot with even Pittsburgh at 7-8 still in it.

Newton and his Carolina Panthers, along with Seattle, are the only NFC teams with guaranteed playoff berths. San Francisco (10-4) can clinch a playoff spot Monday night with a win against visiting Atlanta. ... Carolina (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win next Sunday at Atlanta. ... The 49ers, New Orleans and Arizona are competing for the last two NFC playoff slots.

PEYTON RECORD - NFL release:  Denver quarterback PEYTON MANNING ... has 51 touchdown passes and passed TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) for the most touchdown passes in a single season ... Manning ... is the fifth different player to throw for at least 5,000 yards in a single season. He joins DREW BREES (three times), Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO, TOM BRADY and MATTHEW STAFFORD.


(NCAA Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 28) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-6) 38 vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4) 35.

(NCAA Hockey, Dec. 28) New Hampshire Wildcats (9-9-1) 3 vs. #15 Cornell University Big Red (7-4-2) 4

(NHL, Dec. 28) Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-6)  2 at Anaheim Ducks (26-7-5)  4

(NFL Upset of the Week, Dec. 29) Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) 21 vs. Dallas Cowboys (8-7) 31

Season to date (53-44)

DRIVING THE WEEK - Apple announced its long-awaited mobile phone distribution deal with China Mobile last night, and iPhones should hit the Chinese market next month under the new deal. Could the China Mobile deal push Apple to new heights? The tech giant's stock reached a 52-week high of $575.14 this month.

After a banner year for stocks, some analysts think U.S. equities still have room to rise through 2014. Today is the last day for consumers to obtain health care coverage that would take effect on Jan. 1, and new rules under Obamacare leave insurers guessing how the new law will unfold.  A final fight over the federal budget looms in Washington this week.

Next week: the best and worst of 2013.

I want to wish you the joy of this special season and a happy, healthy 2014.  2013 certainly brought its challenges, but as this year draws to a close, I can't help but feel very, very blessed. I wish all my friends the best for the holidays and peace and health to you all.


Rink Rats

Until Next Monday, ‘Happy Holidays”

Claremont, CA
December 23, 2013

#IV-36, 193

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nasdaq for Not-For-Profits

What if?

That’s the way Lindsay Beck, a two-time cancer survivor and the founder of a successful charity, started thinking about how the world of finance and Wall Street could revolutionize the staid nonprofit industry.

Ms. Beck was a graduate student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania when she blurted out a question that had been consuming her: “Could there be a Nasdaq for not-for-profits?”

The idea — creating the equivalent of a profit-driven stock market for nonprofits — might seem counterintuitive at first. It was a “radical idea, and maybe I was naïve,” she acknowledged.

But for the last year, she has pursued the concept. It has gained enough traction that it has won her meetings with executives at Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and members of the Obama administration. A team of lawyers at Morrison Foerster has been working to understand the tax implications and how to comply with Securities and Exchange Commission rules.

Ms. Beck’s idea is just an idea, a germ of a concept that could go nowhere. And it is early, very early. But it has the potential to upend an entire part of the global economy if it succeeds. By some estimates, if just 1 percent of the money in the portfolios of wealthy individuals in the United States was directed to nonprofits through new financial instruments like social impact bonds or Ms. Beck’s exchange, the nonprofit world would be sitting on $1 trillion.

Wall Street is littered with clever plans to use financial instruments to change behavior — carbon trading, for example. Some have changed the world, and others failed miserably. As Douglas Horton said: “Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Bad ones are free.”

Several ideas about using financial instruments and a for-profit approach in the world of nonprofits are now taking hold. This month, Goldman Sachs announced a $250 million social impact fund. Morgan Stanley plans to raise $10 billion over the next five years for what it calls its “investing with impact platform.”

In September, JPMorgan Chase teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to start a $94 million investment fund to finance late-stage drugs, vaccines and tools to fight diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and H.I.V./AIDS.

Considering the black eye that Wall Street has suffered in the public consciousness, some of these efforts will probably be greeted with cynicism. That may very well be part of Wall Street’s motivation, but that hasn’t stopped the nonprofit sector from jumping at the chance to explore how to use these funds to raise money.

Ms. Beck’s idea is an outgrowth of her experiences. She started a nonprofit, Fertile Hope, which helped female cancer survivors with pregnancy. Later, it merged with Livestrong (before Lance Armstrong confessed to doping and left the foundation).

Afterward, she decided to get an M.B.A. She began examining how to make the nonprofit world more efficient at fund-raising and made it her independent study project. She says she has long believed that charitable money is often misallocated; some of the most effective organizations struggle to raise funds, while some of the least effective charities are allocated millions.

That got her thinking: An exchange, like a stock market, would make the success — or failure — of organizations more transparent, leading to more money in the best hands. On top of that, if donors thought about their charity as an investment, literally, it would transform the nonprofit sector.

“When you take off your charity hat and put on your investor hat, you behave very differently,” she said.

She has been inspired, in part, by several programs that Goldman Sachs developed to sell so-called social-impact bonds. A group led by Alicia Glen, a managing director at Goldman Sachs who is a former lawyer and a former assistant commissioner for housing finance for New York City, has developed a series of such bonds.

Ms. Beck’s vision for an exchange “is very creative and visionary but it may take a long time to come,” Ms. Glen said. She added that although it might be years, if not decades, before such an exchange could be viable, “It is a very laudable goal.”

Ms. Glen should know. She helped develop the financing program for the Citi Bike program, in which Goldman Sachs paid for the purchase of the bicycles and stations in exchange for a potential profit that was capped by the city. Such an arrangement helped provide money for a program that the city could not otherwise have afforded.

The company also created a $9.6 million loan for New York City for a program run by MDRC, a social services provider, aimed at preventing former Rikers Island inmates from ending up back in jail. The program has clear goals and benchmarks. Goldman will directly benefit only if the program works. If recidivism drops by 10 percent, Goldman will be repaid the full $9.6 million by the city. If recidivism decreases more than that, Goldman could a profit, capped at $2.1 million. However, Goldman would lose up to $2.4 million, if recidivism does not fall at least 10 percent.

Goldman has used its own money to finance the programs. But now, it and other firms are coming up with ways to turn these types of programs into investments for its clients. JPMorgan’s nearly $100 million fund works because the Gates Foundation is offering to pay to protect investors from the potential downside of investing in some risky new drugs and vaccines.

“At the outset of the investment, you are underwriting both sides of the ledger: the financial side and the social side,” Ms. Glen said of these new bond products.

Still, Ms. Beck says that to expand such a program broadly, an exchange needs to be created to allow investors to trade these instruments. That way, they could hold the most successful ones and dump the duds.

She says the current spate of “impact bonds” aren’t really bonds; it’s a misnomer. From a technical perspective, she said, “They are really just multiparty contracts with contingent payouts.”

She is developing ways to create a common system to develop social impact bonds that are, in her words, “real bonds.”

Of course, her idea may be ahead of its time. When she was researching her idea, she came across an article from 2006 about a plan to hold initial public offerings for nonprofits. Still, she asked, What if?

WHERE TO NEXT? - Obamas Might Stay in Washington After Presidency Ends, by then, their eldest daughter Malia will be in college, and their youngest daughter Sasha will still be in high school as a sophomore. 'So we've gotta ... make sure that she's doin' well ... until she goes off to college,' the president said. 'Sasha will have a big say in where we are.' ... If the Obamas do stay in Washington and maintain a residence in the city, President Obama would be the first president to do so since Woodrow Wilson. In fact, Wilson, who was partly paralyzed from a stroke, is the only former president in U.S. history to maintain a residence in Washington, D.C., where he stayed until his death three years later. ...

Obama hinted that separating Sasha from her high school friends might be asking one sacrifice too many. ... Obviously they -- and Michelle -- have made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my cockamamie ideas, the running for office and things,' Obama joked.

TOP STORY: NUMBER OF BANKS HITS LOW SINCE DEPRESSION - The number of banking institutions in the U.S. has dwindled to its lowest level since at least the Great Depression, as a sluggish economy, stubbornly low interest rates and heightened regulation take their toll on the sector. The number of federally insured institutions nationwide shrank to 6,891 in the third quarter after this summer falling below 7,000 for the first time since federal regulators began keeping track in 1934, ... The decline in bank numbers, from a peak of more than 18,000, has come almost entirely in the form of exits by banks with less than $100 million in assets, with the bulk occurring between 1984 and 2011. ...

The falloff is raising alarms among boosters of community banks, who say such lenders - which represent the vast majority of U.S. banks - are critical to the economy because they are more likely to make small-business loans. The number of physical bank branches in the U.S. is also shrinking. From the end of 2009 through June 30 of this year, the total number of branches dropped 3.2 percent, according to FDIC data.

FAREWELL GOVERNMENT MOTORS - The U.S. government ended up losing $10.5 billion on the General Motors bailout, but it says the alternative would have been far worse. ... Treasury ... sold its final shares of the Detroit auto giant ... recovering $39 billion of the $49.5 billion it spent... Without the bailout, the country would have lost more than a million jobs, and the economy could have slipped from recession into a depression, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said ...

Since leaving bankruptcy, GM has been profitable for 15 straight quarters, racking up almost $20 billion in net income .... It also has invested $8.8 billion in U.S. facilities and has added about 3,000 workers ... The auto bailout was part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, with the bulk of the money going to financial institutions. Treasury said it spent $421.8 billion on bailouts and so far has recovered $432.7 billion, including the loss on GM.

MORTGAGE DEBT RISES - The US has reached an important milestone in its recovery from the financial crisis after the first rise in outstanding mortgage debt since the beginning of 2008. After reducing debt for 21 consecutive quarters, US households increased their net mortgage liabilities at an annualized rate of 0.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2013 ... The rise in mortgage borrowing is a sign that US households are making progress in their painful deleveraging after the financial crisis, and may be better able to increase their consumption, supporting economic growth next year.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Benjamin Bratt (50), Chris Evert (59), Al Kaline (79, Brad Pitt (50), Keith Richards (70), Cicely Tyson (80).

2013 TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR: POPE FRANCIS -  TIME names Pope Francis the 2013 TIME Person of the Year. TIME Editor Nancy Gibbs, who met Pope Francis in Rome last week, writes: 'Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly-young and old, faithful and cynical-as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.... He is embracing complexity and acknowledging the risk that a church obsessed with its own rights and righteousness could inflict more wounds than it heals.... For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world's largest church to confronting its deepest needs, and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is TIME's 2013 Person of the Year.''

N.R.A. POWER - Inside the Power of the N.R.A.: It has been a year since the Newtown's shootings, and federal gun laws haven't changed. Here is why: Even as the votes in the chambers still favor the N.R.A., gun-control advocates have some cause for optimism. Time does not seem to be on the N.R.A.'s side. ... Between 1977 and 2012 the percentage of American households possessing one or more guns declined by 36 percent. ... The N.R.A. is all too aware of the headwinds it faces and has ramped up its efforts. In recent years, it has targeted young military veterans by offering them a free introductory 'Life of Duty' membership. It also works extensively with the Boy Scouts, David Keene [recently retired NRA president] told me, 'to try to get kids in the city to hunt and fish.' The N.R.A.'s signature method of recruitment, however, is to play on the fears of gun enthusiasts with over-the-top claims that President Obama and his administration will not rest 'until they've banned, confiscated and destroyed our guns' ...

Over time, this tactic could prove to be a losing one . Just as Tea Party rhetoric has hurt the Republican Party among young people and Hispanics, the N.R.A.'s seeming capitulation to the smaller, no-compromise gun groups risks turning off whole swaths of mainstream gun owners who may be more concerned with the job market and the cost of college tuition than with the prospect of a national gun registry. For now, the matter of universal background checks joins immigration reform and same-sex marriage as issues in which Washington Republicans lag behind nationwide public opinion. And so the more competitive gun-legislation battles have begun to take place at the state level. ...

The N.R.A. has had this issue to itself for a generation,' Mark Glaze, the executive director of the Bloomberg-backed Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said ... On the subject of the Manchin-Toomey defeat, he said: ... 'We might have started advertising sooner and more broadly. We might have paid millions rather than thousands of dollars to ship telephone calls into offices. But it's entirely possible that none of that would've made a difference, because you're at the early stage of a process that has several stages.

BUSINESS WEEK COVER, THE NEW GENERAL ... As Mary Barra takes charge of GM, the inside story of how the automaker came all the way back," by Tim Higgins and Bryant Urstadt : "GM is looking stronger than it has in decades. It's in its third straight profitable year and feasting on the fruits of bankruptcy, which in its case include lower labor costs, less debt, and the elimination of weak brands and redundant dealers. ... Warren Buffett has been buying the stock. China, where Buick is a status symbol-it was the ride of China's last emperor-is now the company's biggest market. And GM is no longer 'Government Motors.' On Dec. 9, ... the Department of the Treasury, which had been selling about 1 million GM shares a day as the year was ending, declared it had sold the last. The federal government will recoup about $39 billion of its $50 billion investment.

"Supporters of the Obama administration's decision to take over GM ... contend that the jobs saved at both the company and its huge network of suppliers more than repaid U.S. taxpayers. According to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., the takeover preserved 2.6 million jobs in 2009 at automakers and companies that depend on the industry. The center calculates that a collapse would have eliminated $284 billion in personal income in 2009 and 2010 and cost the federal government $105 billion in unemployment benefits and reduced Social Security contributions. GM says it has invested $8.8 billion in U.S. facilities since 2009 and created 25,500 jobs for new and existing workers."

GOLD KEEPS TANKING - Bloomberg: "Investors are dumping gold-backed exchange-traded products at the fastest pace since the securities were created a decade ago, mirroring the steepest price drop in 32 years. Holdings in the 14 biggest ETPs plunged 31 percent to 1,813.7 metric tons since the start of January, the first annual decrease since the funds started trading in 2003 ... The removals erased $69.5 billion in the value of the assets as prices fell by the most since 1981. A further 311 tons will be withdrawn next year, according to the median of 11 analyst estimates"

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/21, 3:30 PM ET, ABC: The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl; #20 Fresno State Bulldogs (11-1) vs.  #25 University of Southern California Trojans (9-4). SC is favored by 6, but we like The Bulldogs to win 42 – 35.  Season to date (11-5)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/21, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN: The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, D-III National Championship Game; #1 Mount Union Purple Raiders (14-0) vs. #2 UW-Whitewater Whitehawks (14-0). We have be saying all year, this is the year of The Purple Raiders to win the national championship in a wild one, 42 – 40.  Season to date (10-4)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/22, 1:00 PM ET, CBS: Indianapolis Colts (9-5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3). Both teams in the playoff picture, KC has the home field advantage, 32 – 24.  Season to date (11-3)

SPORTS BLINK - Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning - Cover story by Lee Jenkins: "For two decades Peyton Manning has methodically elevated the standards of everybody from NFL quarterbacks to video-room interns to offspring named in his honor -- one film session, one spiral notebook, one dummy audible at a time.

NFL PLAYOFFS - Kansas City has become the fourth NFL team ever to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 14 games, clinching an AFC berth by destroying Oakland 56-31. ... The NFC East and North races are just as cloudy as ever following Green Bay's 37-36 comeback win at Dallas. The outcome keeps the Packers within a half-game of Chicago for the NFC North lead and leaves the Cowboys one game behind Philadelphia atop the NFC East. The Packers improved to 7-6-1 by scoring two touchdowns in the final 4:17. ... Eddie Lacy's one-yard scoring run put the Packers ahead for the first time all afternoon.


(NCAA D-I National Semi Final, Dec. 20) #15 New Hampshire Wildcats (10-4)  17  vs. #1 North Dakota State Bisons (13-0)  38
(NCAA Hockey, Dec. 21) #5 Providence Friars (11-2-3)  6  at Army Cadets (3-11-0)  2
(NHL, Dec. 21) Colorado Avalanche (21-9-1) 2 at Los Angeles Kings (22-8-4) 4
(NFL Upset of the Week, Dec. 22) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) 21 at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) 17
Season to date (49-44)

MARKET WEEK - It’s a busy Monday for economic reports, starting with the Empire State Survey for December at 8:30 a.m. ET. At the same time, the government is set to release Productivity and Costs figures for November. At 9:15 a.m. ET, it’s the November read on Industrial Production. Will they or won’t they? That’s the $85 billion a month tapering question for the Fed as it gets ready to meet tomorrow and Wednesday. Either way, it could be a volatile week.

The Federal Reserve is scheduled to celebrate its 100th anniversary today. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will give brief remarks, followed by former chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Fed meeting starts Tuesday with announcement Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and Bernanke's final press conference as Fed chairman at 2:30 p.m. ... Senate expected move to cloture on the budget bill on Tuesday. Could be close but there should be over 60 votes to push the measure to final passage ... U.S. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue gives his annual "State of American Business" address Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. and will hold a presser along with the Chamber's Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten.

Next week: a Rink Rats Christmas.

Until Next Monday, ‘Mele Kalikimaka!”

Claremont, CA
December 16, 2013

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