Monday, January 26, 2015

What Students Want

This time of year I send the following message to students (undergraduate and graduate)  I had the honor to work with during their studies who are graduating this Winter Commencement:

“I wanted to wish you the best on your graduation this weekend.  This is a big achievement and you should be proud of what you have accomplished. If there is anything I can do for you in the future please feel free to call on me.

It has been a pleasure and an honor to have you in class.

Remember three things as you go forward in your career:  (1) never compromise your ethics and values, (2) never sell yourself short, and (3) never trust bankers and marketers (only kidding, sort of).

You and your family have a wonderful graduation, much success and I will see you down the road.”

The replies to this message usually are of thanks, I will keep in touch, may I have a Letter of Recommendation, or most importantly, “Sir who do you know?”  But the last two Commencement messages I have seen replies becoming more direct in their need for jobs and better paying careers. Students these days are under heavy pressure to return their investment quickly; be it to repay student loans, the demands of employers, or to legitimize their commitment in time and funds to their higher education.

The demand for internships (either paid or non-pay) is desired by 80% of the students I work with who have no clear path to employment. Many students do not mind entering into the job market being underpaid, they understand the economy and how firms operate these days. But what they truly demand is job satisfaction, is their career actually accomplishing their personal goals and ethics. To make a big salary is important but not as important as joining an organization that fits their standards and their desire to be a part of a team providing a meaningful product or service.

I teach during a course of a year nineteen year old students who are very nervous about the future and wonder what this is all for?  Twenty five year old international students who must go home and prove to their families and colleagues their time in U.S. College was meaningful. Thirty year old military service men and woman who now must decide to take their skills into the private sector or continue to work their way through the military bureaucracy. Thirty five year old students who are back in the education system after years of work or raising families, who now try to compete in this tough labor marketplace of low entry pay and younger workers. Finally, the first generation college students, both undergraduate and graduate, who within their own families must answer the question is this education necessary, at the same time seeking their rightful place in the job market.

I am daily amazed at how these individuals deal with their future and all the pressures associated with it.

Just the other day a student of mine from Nicaragua, a first generation college student, said to me: Sir, help me find my passion, help me find my commitment. A humbling request to this educator but a request I must satisfy to the best of my abilities. This is the challenge of higher education in 2015. Can we help our students find their passion and commitment to a better life in the context of ever increasing tuition, fees and lower earning power.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - Lies, All Lies," by Clancy Martin in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "In Dallas G. Denery's excellent new history of Western thinking on deception, The Devil Wins [A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment], he cites a recent study that shows that 'during every 10 minutes of conversation, we lie three times and even more frequently when we use email and text messaging.' ... It's a funny thing about lying: We all do it, and we all damn it. In many traditions, both Western and Eastern, it is considered among the most blameworthy of acts." "

TAKING ANY GUT CLASSES? - NCAA Says It's Investigating Academic Fraud at 20 Colleges [18 Division I] The cases ... involve a variety of missteps, including allegations that players received impermissible assistance from professors, academic advisers, or people outside of an athletic department.

POLITICS 101 -- Romney's Inner Circle to Powwow in Boston on Friday: The meeting included members of the former Massachusetts governor's inner circle: his son, Tagg, top aides Spencer Zwick and Matt Waldrip, longtime confidante Beth Myers, political consultant Eric Fehrnstrom, longtime pal Bob White, and adviser Ron Kaufman.

Romney's top fundraisers consider bailing: Romney is struggling to secure the financial backing even of ... his staunchest supporters. The Center for Public Integrity ... attempted to contact roughly 90 top Romney fundraisers from his most recent presidential run, including every federal lobbyist who helped him raise $30,000 or more. The vast majority willing to speak on the record say they haven't decided whom to support.

CONVENTION SCHEDULE - 2016 Democratic convention set for week of July 25: Democrats will hold their presidential nominating convention the week of July 25 in 2016, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Friday. The convention will be held the week after the Republican National Convention, which is set for July 18-21 in Cleveland. In a statement, Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, said the DNC is still deciding whether to hold the convention in Columbus, Philadelphia or New York.

SAUDI KING ABDULLAH DIES - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has died at about age 91, according to a royal court statement read on state television early Friday morning local time. Crown Prince Salman has been declared king and Prince Muqrin became Crown Prince, according to the statement. ... Born before his father founded the modern Saudi state in 1932, Abdullah focused his final years on internal and external security threats to a nation he had seen grow into an oil giant and center of political and religious power in the region.

His death removes a bulwark against the democratic and Islamist movements that have roiled the rest of the Arab world since the uprisings of 2011, though his immediate successors are seen as just as conservative as he was, or more. In one of his final statements, an address before the consultative Shoura Council read by his half-brother and heir to the throne earlier this month, Abdullah emphasized that his country was 'blessed with security and stability' in the heart of a volatile region.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Cris Collinsworth (56), Wayne Gretzky (54), Gene Hackman (85), Eddie Van Halen (60), Dominik Hasek (50), Mimi Rogers (59), Tom Selleck (70), Curtis Strange (60), Bob Uecker (80), Oprah Winfrey (61).

BLANKFEIN AND DIMON GET OVER $20M EACH - Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, and Jamie Dimon, his counterpart at JPMorgan Chase, respectively received $24m and $20m in salary and cash and stock bonuses in 2014. Mr Blankfein earned $2m in salary as well as $14.67m in restricted stock for the year ... Half of the restricted stock is tied to his performance and will be awarded over several years. ... The cash portion of his award amounted to roughly $7.33m, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr Blankfein's typical cash award represents 30 per cent of his bonus, the person said, although this year it was slightly higher.

Mr Blankfein earned $29m a year earlier, which included a long term incentive award of $6m. Goldman last week reported lower profits for its fourth quarter, as fixed income trading revenues tumbled ... Mr Dimon's own pay package for 2014 was flat from the year prior, and included a $7.4m cash bonus and $1.5m base salary in 2014. The bulk of his package was made up of $11.1m in restricted stock.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, on Fox "Special Report" last week, picks Sen. Marco Rubio as most likely to win GOP nomination (with Jeb second and Scott Walker third): "He's my underestimated, dark-horse candidate who THREADS his way - young, energetic, he's got a program ... If he runs against Hillary, the contrast ... -- the vigor, the energy the Kennedyesque idea -- will be a major one."

DAVOS DIARY -- China Alibaba founder Jack Ma shows global ambitions - Ma, China's richest person, on Friday expressed ambitions of making his company into a global e-commerce platform serving two billion customers. ... 'What I am thinking about: how we can make Alibaba a platform for global small business,' Ma told the World Economic Forum.

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/31. 7:00 PM CT, FCS; #1 University of North Dakota Frackers (18-5-2) visit #5 University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (15-6-3). They will be 16,000 strong at the CenturyLink Center Saturday night, but too bad, North Dakota 4 the Mavericks 3.   Season to date (2-1)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – 2/1, 6:30 PM ET, NBC; New England Patriots (14-4) s. Seattle Seahawks (14-4). We like New England 28 – 24. The simple reason, #87 Gronk will be too much for the Seattle defense.   Season to date (15-6)

Katy Perry Super Bowl set list: Part of Me, I Kissed A Girl, California Gurls, Walking On Air, and Roar.


(NBA, Jan. 31) Los Angeles Clippers (30-14) 88 at San Antonio Spurs (29-17) 95

(SCIAC Game of the Week, Jan. 31) Men’s Hoops – #15 Chapman Panthers (16-0) 72 at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Republicans (12-4) 70

(ECAC hockey, Jan. 31) St. Lawrence University Saints (13-10-2) 5 at Clarkson Golden Jerks (10-11-4) 3

(NHL, Jan. 31) New York Islander (31-14-1) 3 at Detroit Red Wings (27-11-9) 2

Season to date (11 - 7)

MARKET WEEK - The stronger dollar is often presented as an optical problem for U.S. companies - it makes their overseas sales look smaller. But it can do a lot of real damage, too. Customers can disappear, competitors can get tougher and earnings can shrink - and it can be tough to adjust quickly. ... Avon Products Inc., which books 88 percent of its sales outside the U.S., can't raise prices on its makeup and wrinkle creams fast enough to offset the dollar's rise against the Brazilian real and other currencies. The suddenly stiffer price of a U.S. holiday means fewer foreign travelers booking hotels through Expedia Inc. 's travel websites.

DRIVING THE WEEK – President Obama continues his India trip today and will head to Riyadh on Tuesday ... Snow could shut down much of the northeast Tuesday and Wednesday ... Case-Shiller Home Prices at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday expected tor rise 0.7 percent. ... New Home Sales at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise to 450K from 438K ... Consumer Confidence at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise from 92.6. to 95.0. ... FOM announcement at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday not expected to change much with the central bank pledging to remain "patient" on rate hikes once QE ends ... First read on Q4 GDP at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to show growth of 3.1 percent ... Employment cost index at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to rise 0.6 percent ... Univ. of Michigan Sentiment at 9:55 a.m. expected to rise to 98.2 from 93.6.

Next week: Just words.

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA

January 26, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –  Luann by Greg Evans

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rink Rats State of the Union

We are a day late this week due to the MLK holiday. We participated in a variety of community services this past week: giving blood, helping the residents of a retirement community, aiding in tax return planning, and supporting our fellow citizens who need help. I urge all to give back to your community all year in any way you can.

This is the time of year for the “State of”, a time to assess your accomplishments of the prior year and determining your goals for the coming one.

The “State of” can be many things to many people: an acknowledgement of success, a realization of failure, or for some, a denial of the facts.

Here is the “State of” according to Rink Rats –

The State of Rink Rats is good; we have now written 249 editions and we are now read from South America to Sweden.

The State of Claremont, California is also good, real estate values are increasing, there is new development, and the Village area is developing into a place to be seen. The decision of who should control the city’s water is an issue of future concern. Where as usual in matters of political and economic control the lawyers are the ones’ to profit and the citizens the ones’ to pick up the tab.

No better example than in the City of La Verne, California – City government continues to dictate policy to the University of La Verne in the matters of parking and real estate development. Who determines these policies and why will be an ongoing narrative by this blog for the coming year.

The State of California is good, but high taxes and the immigration issue will determine how good California is for many years to come.

As we have seen recently the State of the Union is one of stalemate and lack of leadership from both sides of the political aisle. How POTUS handles this stalemate over the next two years will determine what party controls the White House in 2017.

The State of Higher Education in America continues to be a need for developing a strong partnership between government, students/parents, faculty/staff and management. The business model is good for those with vast endowments, the majority of higher education institutions though must find a new model of revenue growth without the further burdening of family incomes/debts.  Look for more pressure put on higher education management by students and employees to cut overhead and make college a cost effective investment not a quality of  life burdening experience.

Finally the State of the World is one of the relationship and the reaction to militants by the established countries of the world. Both internal and external militancy, be it armed resistance to cyber intrusion. How this plays out will drive everyone’s “State of” for the coming year(s).  

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - Education will play a starring role in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address tonight. He'll push for a sweeping tax proposal that aims to make higher education more affordable, especially for low-income students, though wealthier families might take a hit. His proposal would extend and expand the American Opportunity Tax Credit, simplify taxes for Pell grant recipients and get rid of tax cuts for 529 savings plans for wealthier families. It would change the student loan interest deduction so it's not available to new borrowers, although borrowers with existing loans could keep using it. And the proposal would streamline child care benefits and triple the child care tax credit, which could benefit an estimated 5.1 million families. "The announcement is a strong indicator that for the third year in a row, President Obama will make a strong push for greater federal investments in early childhood education," said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Kris Perry.

Obama will also talk about his plan to give two free years of community college to "everybody who's willing to work for it." All told, the new tax benefits for middle-class families would cost $175 billion over 10 years - in addition to the $60 billion price tag for the community college proposal. POTUS proposes paying for all that by hiking the capital gains tax and levying a new tax on banks. Republicans aren't likely to go along. 'Hopefully the president's address will also include some proposals that might actually have a chance to become law and help create jobs - such as ... eliminating paperwork to make it easier for college students to apply for scholarships already available," Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander said.

HARD DRIVE - President Barack Obama has spent weeks laying the groundwork for initiatives he'll outline in his State of the Union address tonight, and tech policy is no exception. Obama previewed the speech earlier this month by announcing a series of tech and telecom proposals he'll make, starting with a push for consumer and student privacy legislation and a federal standard for how companies notify consumers about data breaches. He also urged the FCC to override state laws that keep local governments from building out their own broadband networks. Expect the president to hit all of those themes tonight.

Cybersecurity is also high on the president's agenda going into the State of the Union. Our friends at Morning Cybersecurity report that Obama will build on recent calls for cybersecurity information sharing legislation, but he's not expected to immediately announce a proposal for executive action, according to White House officials. Work is continuing on a plan to broaden the focus of the government's information sharing strategy, one official said.

THERE'S ALWAYS THE TECH POLICY GRAB BAG - It's possible Obama could delve into other tech issues tonight. There's plenty on his agenda, including his administration's efforts to get more high-speed Internet into schools and libraries and his support for patent litigation reform - both of which got shout outs in last year's SOTU - as well as the immigration executive actions he announced late last year. Obama has also been a vocal advocate for the strongest net neutrality rules, issuing a game-changing call in November for the FCC to do the previously unthinkable and change the way it regulates broadband providers. We'll be tracking all his tech talk out of the speech.

ECONOMY - FED STILL SET TO RAISE RATES IN 2015: Federal Reserve officials are on track to start raising short-term interest rates later this year, even though long-term rates are going in the other direction amid new investor worries about weak global growth, falling oil prices and slowing consumer price inflation. After their next policy meeting Jan. 27-28, officials are likely to repeat in their statement that they can 'be patient' ...

That means no moves for at least the next two meetings - or not until June at the earliest ... At the same time they aren't likely to signal an alarm about developments abroad that would indicate a meaningful shift in their plans.

ENVIRONMENT - Last year was the hottest in earth’s recorded history, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring scientific warnings about the risks of runaway emissions and undermining claims by climate-change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped. Extreme heat blanketed Alaska and much of the western United States last year. Several European countries set temperature records. And the ocean surface was unusually warm virtually everywhere except around Antarctica, the scientists said, providing the energy that fueled damaging Pacific storms.

In the annals of climatology, 2014 now surpasses 2010 as the warmest year in a global temperature record that stretches back to 1880. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human emissions and poses profound long-term risks to civilization and to the natural world.

OSCAR TALLY - Nominations, by movie: "Birdman" - 9 ... "The Grand Budapest Hotel" - 9 ... "The Imitation Game" - 8 ... "Boyhood" - 6 ... "American Sniper" - 6 ... "Whiplash" - 5 ... "Interstellar" - 5 ... "Foxcatcher"

COMING ATTRACTIONS – Republican National Committee (RNC) rolls out 2016 debate schedule: The [RNC] announced ... it will sanction at least nine presidential primary debates, starting this August in Ohio and continuing through March 2016, with the potential to add three more. ... To give their push to control the debate process teeth, the party announced Friday that any candidate who participates in a debate that isn't sanctioned by the RNC will not be allowed to participate in any more sanctioned debates.

THE DEBATES: 1. Fox News, August 2015, Ohio ... 2. CNN, September 2015, California, at the Ronald Reagan presidential library ... 3. CNBC, October 2015, Colorado ... 4. Fox Business, November 2015, Wisconsin ... 5. CNN, December 2015, Nevada ... 6. Fox News, January 2016, Iowa ... 7. ABC News, February 2016, New Hampshire ... 8. CBS News, February 2016, South Carolina ... 9. NBC/Telemundo, February 2016, Florida.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Buzz Aldren (85),  Muhammad Ali (73), Bill Maher (59), Dolly Parton (69), Betty White (93).

COLLEGE SPORTS TAKES CENTER STAGE: More than 3,000 college sports staff and athletes are gathering outside Washington for this week's National Collegiate Athletic Association convention, which kicks into high gear with the opening business session and President Mark Emmert's annual "State of the Association" address.  White House officials said they held what is a typical stakeholder meeting with athletic directors and NCAA executives Wednesday to discuss relevant topics including the It's On Us sexual assault prevention campaign. But as USA Today reported, the discussion also coincides with talk about a conference commissioner-led "Coalition to Save College Sports," and a presidential commission to review the state and direction of institutional athletics.

Advocates for college athletes, including former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon and the College Athletes Players Association, also appeared on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to press for better financial and safety protections. Afterward, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told Morning Education that a presidential commission - first floated in legislation last year from former Rep. Jim Moran - would be "a healthy step forward" for the NCAA. "The reason we're even having this discussion is because the NCAA is not capable of reforming itself," he said. Dent and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) plan to reintroduce their National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act in the next month or two. Beatty told Morning Education that Wednesday's meetings "continued important conversations," and that she plans to work with lawmakers, the White House, colleges and the NCAA "to affect meaningful change" this Congress.

SUPER BOWL 49 - The Seattle Seahawks opened as Super Bowl favorites over the New England Patriots, but the point spread was on the move ... The Seahawks opened as 2.5-point favorites ... but the number was down to a pick 'em [in some] books within an hour ... There will be two weeks' worth of bets [before the] Super Bowl on Feb. 1, in Glendale, Ariz. [outside Phoenix]. The Super Bowl point spread has never kicked off at a pick 'em. ... This will be the sixth Super Bowl ... for the Patriots under ... Bill Belichick and ... Tom Brady."

SPORTS BUSINESS - LPGA pro @BrookePancake announces an endorsement deal with... Waffle House.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Our College Football season has concluded congratulations to The Ohio State Buckeyes on their National Championship.   Season to date (12-8)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/24. 7:00 PM ET, FCS; #11 University of Denver Pioneers (13-7-1) at #9 Miami of Ohio Redhawks (14-8-0). A big NCHC conference game at Steve Cady (St. Lawrence ’75) Arena, we like Denver to upset the Redhawks 3-2.   Season to date (2-0)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Super Bowl pick next week.  Opening Vegas line (odds) is pick ‘em.  Season to date (15-6)


(NBA, Jan. 24) Washington Wizards (29-13) 92 at Portland Trail Blazers (31-11) 98

(SCIAC Game of the Week, Jan. 24) Men’s Hoops – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Republicans (11-3) 75 at Pomona-Pitzer Endowments (2-12) 58

(ECAC hockey, Jan. 24) Dartmouth College Big Green (6-8-3) 2 at Cornell University Big Red (7-8-2) 5

(NHL, Jan. 25) NHL All-Star Game; Team Toews (West) 7 at Team Foligno (East) 6

Season to date (9 – 4)

MARKET WEEK - Earnings season ramps up this week. Morgan Stanley (MS) was under pressure in premarket trading after disappointing results. Dow stock Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is also out before today's opening bell, while Dow stock IBM (IBM) and Netflix (NFLX) are scheduled after the bell.

China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 24 years in 2014, official data revealed today. Chinese stocks rebounded slightly overnight, after falling nearly 8 percent on Monday.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Tuesday, President Obama the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress at 9:00 p.m. ... NAHB homebuilder survey at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 58 from 57 ... Senate banking has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on proposed Iran sanctions ... All week, World Economic Forum meeting kicks off in Davos, Switzerland.

Next week: Words of the month, an interview with a student, and Dear Rink Rats.

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA

January 20, 2015


Monday, January 12, 2015

Tax Time

At the beginning of 2013, many tax rates and breaks were made permanent. The increased certainty brought by these tax law changes has in some ways made tax planning in 2014 a little easier. But the changes also brought tax hikes to many higher-income taxpayers. In addition, some new and expanded taxes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now affect higher-income taxpayers. The ACA also has a tax impact on many businesses, and last year’s tax law changes only temporarily extended (generally through 2013) many valuable tax breaks for businesses.

It’s also important to remember that, even though many tax law provisions are now “permanent,” this simply means that they don’t have expiration dates. With tax reform still on its agenda, Congress may make some major changes in the future. So in your 2014/2015 planning, don’t count on the tax regime remaining the same indefinitely.

What does this all mean? Tax planning in 2014/2015 is as essential as ever. Meet your tax challenges head on, the worst thing you can do is to be in denial about your tax situation. So I have highlighted some tax topics for the current year. But there isn’t space to touch on all of the available tax-savings opportunities. So please contact your tax advisor to learn exactly which strategies can benefit you the most.

When it comes to tax planning and your investments, it can be difficult to know where to start. First, tax treatment of investments varies based on a number of factors. You need to understand the potential tax consequences of buying, holding and selling a particular investment. Higher-income taxpayers also need to know when higher capital gains tax rates and the ACA’s net investment income tax (NIIT) kick in. Yet, it’s unwise to make investment decisions based solely on tax consequences — you should consider your risk tolerance and desired return as well. Finally, your portfolio and your resulting tax picture can change quickly because of market volatility. Vigilance is necessary to achieve both your tax and investment goals.

2014/2015 may be another good year for families to save taxes. Most of the child- and education-related tax breaks on the table the last several years are available once again to parents — or in some cases to grandparents or to students themselves. Make sure that you and your family are taking advantage of the credits, deductions and other tax-saving opportunities that apply to you. Savvy, strategic tax-related decision-making can become a family tradition, if it’s not already.

Important 2015 Tax Dates:

 January 15, 2015

4th Quarter 2014 Estimated Tax
 Payment Due

         April 15, 2015

Individual Tax Returns Due for Tax
 Year 2014

Individual Tax Return Extension Form
 Due for Tax Year 2014

1st Quarter 2015 Estimated Tax 
Payment Due

Last Day to make a 2014 IRA 

        June 15, 2015

2nd Quarter 2015 Estimated Tax 
Payment Due

       Sept. 15,  2015

3rd Quarter 2015 Estimated Tax 
Payment Due

   October 15, 2015

Extended Individual Tax 
Returns Due

Last Chance to Recharacterize 
2014 Roth IRA Conversion

   January 15, 2016

4th Quarter 2015 Estimated Tax 
Payment Due

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - : In its fourth year of ranking online degree programs, U.S. News & World Report had a lot more material to judge: The number of distance education programs that colleges reported to the magazine increased by more than 40 percent, to about 1,200, from last year. Many of the top-ranked programs hail from institutions in the University of California system - including graduate engineering at UCLA and graduate criminal justice at UC Irvine. But Pennsylvania State University World Campus took the top spot for bachelor's programs. And in the inaugural ranking of online MBA programs, Indiana and Temple Universities and the University of North Carolina tied for first. See who emerged victorious in other categories:

UNIONS COME COURTING ON CAMPUS: Adjunct faculty at dozens of colleges are forming unions to demand better pay - and to challenge higher education's increasing reliance on part-time teachers. Sensing an opportunity to bolster their numbers, national unions are pouring resources into the movement. In the past two years, they have added thousands of contingent faculty to their membership rolls. And their efforts may get a boost from a recent National Labor Relations Board ruling that creates the most favorable conditions for faculty organizing in three decades. Successful unionization drives have been held at elite private colleges such as Georgetown, at public flagships such as the University of Oregon and at small niche colleges such as the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. The non-tenured faculty who have propelled the movement say they feel an unexpected kinship with the fast-food workers who have been staging protests at McDonald's. Their schedules are unpredictable, their wages low and many feel that their contributions go unrecognized, even though they make up more than half of all teaching faculty in the U.S.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Kevin Costner (60), AJ Foyt (80), Mary Pierce (40), Howard Stern (61), The Amazing Kreskin (80).

BOXER PUNCHES OUT - All eyes on Newsom, Harris for Boxer seat: Most of the attention turned to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Kamala Harris ... the contest could be among the most expensive Senate races in history. For years, the state's political class has buzzed about the tantalizing possibility that Newsom and Harris would one day collide ... Democratic operatives close to the pair ... said there was virtually no chance Newsom and Harris, political contemporaries who began their careers in San Francisco, would square off; instead, they said, one would run for Boxer's seat while the other would agree to wait until 2018, when the state's governorship will be open and the other Senate seat could be, too. 'They're going to make a pact,' said Joe Cotchett, a prominent San Francisco-area trial attorney who is friends with Newsom and Harris.

SPORTS BLINK - Boston picked to bid for [2024 summer] Olympics. The USOC ... will back Boston's ... bid over those from San Francisco, Washington ... [and] Los Angeles. ... During the next two-and-a-half years, [Boston] will be part of a competition that could include ... Paris, Rome, Hamburg or Berlin, Budapest, and Istanbul.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – College Playoff Championship Game: Monday 1/12, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN: #2 Oregon Ducks (13-1) vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1). The Ducks will be too much for THE Ohio State, Oregon 45 Ohio 24   Season to date (12-7)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/18, 2:00 PM ET, Bravo: #6 University of Mass-Lowell River Hawks (14-4-3) at #2 Boston University Terriers (12-3-4). A big Hockey East tilt, BU too tough at home, they win 5 – 3.   Season to date (1-0)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/18, 3:05 PM ET, Fox: Green Bay Packers (13-4) at Seattle Seahawks (13-4). Seabirds win and head to a second consecutive Super Bowl, 28 – 20.   Season to date (13-6)


(NFL, Jan. 18) Indianapolis Colts (13-5) 24 at New England Patriots (13-4) 27

(SCIAC Game of the Week, Jan. 17) Women’s Hoops – University of La Verne Leopards (5-8) 52 at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Republicans (11-3) 74

(NCAA hockey, Jan. 17) St. Lawrence University Saints (9-10-2) 2 at #4 Harvard University Crimson (10-2-2) 5

(NHL, Jan. 17) New York Islanders (28-13-1) 3 at Montreal Canadians (26-12-3) 4
Season to date (4 – 2)

MARKET WEEK - As fourth-quarter earnings season gets under way, investors are bracing for the softest U.S. profit growth in years, pinched by collapsing oil prices and a strong dollar. That double whammy ... will test the market's ability to prolong its extended bull run and will likely make for continued bumpy trading in the weeks ahead. Over the past few months, the Dow ... and S&P 500 have carved out new record highs, while suffering frequent setbacks. Both indexes hit fresh peaks in the final sessions of last year but have since experienced two straight weeks of declines.

Still, many investors and stock-market strategists say an improving U.S. economy ... will be enough momentum to keep the six-year-old bull market running. That optimism will be put to the test by the earnings season that kicks off Monday when Alcoa Inc. reports results after the close of stock trading. Overall, companies in the S&P 500 are expected by Wall Street analysts to report that profits rose 1.1 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter ... That would mark the slowest pace of growth since the third quarter of 2012, when earnings declined 1 percent.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Alcoa today kicks off a fourth quarter earnings season that is expected to be lackluster, pushed down by plunging oil and the rising dollar. ... Detroit auto show begins today ... JPMorgan and Wells Fargo report Wednesday. Bank of American and Citigroup report Thursday and Goldman Sachs on Friday ... President Obama has an event at the Federal Trade Commission this morning intended to "lay out his next steps in his plan to improve confidence in technology by tackling identity theft and improving consumer and student privacy" ... Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen this morning speaks at a Businesses Roundtable event ... Treasury Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin this afternoon will meet with bankers to discuss cybersecurity ... NFIB small business survey tomorrow expected to tick down to 98.0 from 98.1 ... JOLTS report Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. expected to show openings dipping to 4,800K from 4,834K ... Retail sales Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. expected to be down 0.1 percent headline and core ... Consumer prices Friday at 8:30 a.m. expected to be up 0.2 percent headline and 0.1 percent core ... Industrial production at 9:15 a.m. Friday expected to be flat ... Univ. of Mich. consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Friday expected to tick up to 94.2 from 93.6.

Next week: Words of the month, an interview with a student, and Dear Rink Rats.

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA
January 12, 2015



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015: To Be or Not To Be

The parties are over, the family has left town, the waist size has increased, the house seems empty with the holiday decorations in the garage, so it is now time to concentrate on 2015.

Expect nonstop energy drama in 2015: This year should be one of the most ambitious in energy and climate policy: President Obama's administration will spend 2015 taking on energy controversies from fracking to smog, from interstate air pollution to coal-burning power plants - and in December, his negotiators will head to Paris to try to reach a global agreement on climate change. In between all that, he just might make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Republicans ... vow to wield their spending and investigative powers to ensure none of this goes down easily. The collision between a strengthened GOP and a president with just two years to cement his legacy will be one of 2015's biggest policy dramas, while setting markers that will have repercussions for the 2016 presidential campaign. ... The Obama administration won't just be turning out new regulations - it will also implement ones it has been crafting over the last six years.

The senator to watch in 2015: Standing at the intersection of three foreign policy crises and a perennial constitutional tension, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, may be the senator who matters most in 2015.

The big question for the 2015 global economy is how dramatic China’s economic slowdown will be. A gauge of factory output in November registered an eight-month low, which piles onto a continuing slump in real estate. And this coming spring, expect China to announce its lowest official GDP growth target in nearly a quarter of a century: 7%. (Real GDP won’t outpace it either, as it has in the past.) The bright side? As China takes its foot off the gas, it can focus on reform efforts like dealing with its crippling pollution. The downside: Much lower growth could trigger widespread Chinese loan defaults—with global repercussions.     
Gas might be cheap, but a different American fuel is getting pricier: The cost of lattes is primed to increase in 2015 — potentially by as much as 30%. Prices of the morning salve’s main inputs — coffee beans and milk — are both up, and likely to keep rising. But this is all a preamble to 2080, when the coffee bean might disappear from the planet all together. If morning commutes are still around by then, expect mayhem.

Job growth has been faster in 2014 than at any point since the recovery began, but the American public is still down on the economy. Why? Wages for the average worker have barely kept up with inflation in recent years. That looks set to turn around next year. The unemployment rate already sits at 5.8%, close to full employment, and several other indicators suggest that the job market is about to get drum tight: this year saw a record number of job openings and increased labor market turnover. As the competition for labor gets tougher, employers will have to start offering raises if they want to keep talent.

10 Global Elections to Watch in 2015: From Louisiana to Saudi Arabia, this year isn't just a lead-up to 2016: Kentucky's Gubernatorial Election ... Nigeria's General Election ... Saudi Arabia's Municipal Elections ... Spain's General Election ... Chicago's Mayoral Election: Rahm Emanuel will be fighting for his political life this February ... Britain's Parliamentary Election ... Louisiana's Gubernatorial Election ... Canada's Parliamentary Elections ... Israel's Legislative Elections ... Argentina's Presidential Election.  

When reports surfaced that Xiaomi was raising money at a $50 billion valuation in late 2014, many were incredulous. But the Chinese company, which sells high-quality phones at razor-thin margins, overtook Samsung as China’s No. 1 smartphone seller this year. Now enter a half dozen other Chinese smartphone makers—including Meizu, OnePlus, and Vivo. Look for one to have a Xiaomi-like rise next year.

Same-day delivery services like eBay Now have proven costly and unnecessary. But on-demand services with very specific functions have thrived. For this, we can blame Uber, the wildly popular on-demand car service app. Uber’s seamless simplicity has conditioned us to summon anything we need—paving the way for startups like Washio (on-demand laundry), Glam Squad (in-home hair and makeup), Instacart (groceries), and Canary (the “Uber for weed”). There’s also the simplistic app Push for Pizza, which is exactly what it sounds like. Next year, the instant gratification economy will only get bigger and more ridiculous. Not-so-far-fetched ideas for 2015: on-demand tattoos, paternity tests and day-old bread. Need someone to brush your teeth for you? It’s only a swipe and a tap away. VCs, call us.

The world economy is still recovering from the last financial crisis, but is another just on the horizon? The consensus view is no, but economist David Levy says yes. He argues that China has over-invested in its export sector for years now without commensurate growth in demand across the developed world, and that this dynamic could trigger a Chinese debt crisis in 2015 that takes down an already reeling Europe and ultimately the U.S. This isn’t a popular view, as plenty of China watchers see the globe’s second largest economy continuing to grow at twice the speed of the world at large. But if the global economy does suffer a major slowdown, trouble Middle Kingdom will be the culprit.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will close 2015 at 2312, a roughly 10% increase from todays’ levels.

Liquid lunches will gain in popularity, not alcohol but Chicken Tea, a wide variety of soups and consommés, are gaining strength in restaurant menus.

Mixing warm metals, such as copper and rose gold, with cool ones like silver is hot right now in interior decorating: A strategic layered mix of silvery, gold and black metals as a stylish option to home décor.

Volvo V60 wagon is the hot automobile for 2015. Starting your car remotely from your smartphone, all seat heaters, this car is wired like hunting socks. Volvo On Call package of apps and telematics provides in-vehicle WiFi and app support. The GPS system is better than the Space Shuttle. Four big side doors and a top-hinged rear hatch. Zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds plus 28 mpg on the highway. A fantastic car, hugely practical, dead sexy, super fun, a class act all the way.

Augusta National moves ahead of Pine Valley into the top spot as America’s top golf course.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will never win another major golf championship; While Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Ricky Fowler will win many.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - 'THE THREE Cs': Coding, college readiness and community impact define Forbes' "30 Under 30" education honorees this year. Sarah Kunst, 28, gets a mention for her work with groups like Venture for America, Code2040 and the State Department's Tech Women. Strive for College Founder Michael Carter, 26, also gets a mention, along with Higher Achievement Director Amelia Castañeda.

Colleges' New Aid Target: the Middle Class. As soaring college costs saddle more students with debt, colleges are increasingly earmarking aid for students who can fall through the cracks of existing programs: those who aren't from poor families, can't necessarily maintain a 4.0 GPA or hit a three-pointer at the buzzer."

SOBERING DATA – U.S. off war footing at year's end, but wars go on. As of Dec. 16, a total of 2,215 U.S. troops had died in Afghanistan and 19,945 had been wounded. In Iraq, 4,491 died and 32,244 wounded.

TOP FILMS - The top 10 films at the North American box office in 2014," via AP: 1. 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' $332.9 million ... 2. 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1,' $308.9 million ... 3. 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier,' $259.8 million ... 4. 'The Lego Movie,' $257.8 million ... 5. 'Transformers: Age of Extinction,' $245.4 million ... 6. 'Maleficent,' $241.4 million ... 7. 'X-Men: Days of Future Past,' $233.9 million ... 8. 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,' $208.6 million ... 9. 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2,' $202.9 million ... 10. 'Big Hero 6,' $201.5 million.

Hollywood Predictions for 2015: Rupert 'retires' ... 2. Sumner [Redstone] 'retires' ... 3. Netflix crosses over. Which side is Netflix really on ... digital or is it TV? ... 4. Television crosses over ... 5. And Facebook wants to be television, too ... 6. Comcast deals NBCU ... 7. Boutique cable is the flavor of the year ... 8. A new notion enters the media discussion[:] ... 'the end of advertising.

2014 Box Office: Admissions Lowest Since 1995; Despite a fantastic Christmas at the box office, 81 million people didn't buy movie tickets this year. Not only were this year's domestic admissions of 1.259 billion off 6% from 2013's 1.34B, but the number of tickets sold hit their lowest level since 1995 when 1.211B people went to the cinema. ... Insiders attribute the down year to lackluster product and the lack of even bigger tentpoles versus ticket prices, which remained level.

114th CONGRESS CONVENES TUE. - Energy and Obamacare will dominate the first two weeks of Republican control of Capitol Hill. House Republicans will move next week on legislation to jump-start the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and define a full workweek as being 40 hours for the purpose of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a GOP leadership aide. The goal ... is to begin passing bills that will clear both the House and the Senate and end up on President Obama's desk. ...

The GOP is also trying to get ahead of another legislative crisis. In Congress' second week in session - the week of Jan. 12 - House Republicans will seek to pass a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which runs out of money Feb. 28. Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are working with Senate leaders to craft a package that also includes reforms to the nation's immigration laws. One strategy under consideration is to include a border security package in the funding bill. That could set up a major confrontation with Obama.

SQUAWK BOX MOVES – The popular CNBC early morning business program moves to New York studios on January 7. Lets’ hope host Joe Kernen stops dying his hair in 2015. Still the best business show on television, sorry Maria.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY – 70 years for President George Bush (41) and Barbara Bush

Mario Matthew Cuomo, 1932-2015: A national liberal champion when liberalism was marginalized: Cuomo became a political sensation through a medium thought to belong to another era: words. ... He was reared in a household of Italian speakers; English ... was his second language. ... Cuomo was a relative political unknown in 1984, when the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, Walter Mondale, asked him to deliver the keynote address at the party's national convention in San Francisco. ... He offered a polite but passionate assault on Ronald Reagan's America, his shining city on a hill. ...

Cuomo disdained the term 'liberal,' preferring to describe himself as a pragmatic progressive or a progressive pragmatist.

--STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT: "An Italian Catholic kid from Queens, born to immigrant parents, Mario paired his faith in God and faith in America to live a life of public service -- and we are all better for it. ... Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Mario's wife Matilda, his children, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Maria, Margaret, Madeline, and Chris, ... and New Yorkers who loved him dearly."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Nicolas Cage (50), Bradley Cooper (40), Robert Duvall (84), Nigella Lawson (55), Nancy Lopez (58), Bart Starr (80).

SPORTS BLINK - Win for ESPN, but Title Game Is the Real Test - Ohio State's 42-35 upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl attracted 28.27 million viewers, making it the most watched event in cable TV history. Oregon's 59-20 blowout of Florida State in the Rose Bowl had 28.16 million viewers - the most for that bowl since 35.6 million watched Texas beat Southern California in the 2006 national title game on ABC. ...

Now comes Part B for ESPN : Ohio State versus Oregon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex [Jan. 12]. Will the final's viewership soar beyond 30 million, to a level akin to that of the N.F.L. conference championship games, which averaged 53.7 million viewers last year? Or will it fall below that aspirational level without a magnet team like Alabama as a draw? I'll predict 45 million.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – College Playoff Championship Game: Monday 1/12, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN: #2 Oregon Ducks (13-1) vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1). The Ducks will be too much for THE Ohio State, Oregon 45 Ohio 24   Season to date (12-7)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/10, 7:00 PM CT, CBS: #7 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (12-6) at #1 North Dakota (13-4-2). A battle for first place in the NCHC, The ex-Fighting Sioux 4 the Bulldogs 3.   Season to date (0-0)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/11, 1:05 PM ET, Fox: Dallas Cowboys (13-4) vs. Green Bay Packers (12-4). I smell an upset, Dallas 24 The Pack 21.   Season to date (13-5)


(NFL, Jan. 11) Indianapolis Colts (12-5) 28 at Denver Broncos (12-4) 35

(SCIAC Game of the Week, Jan. 6) University of La Verne Leopards (4-6) 65 at Pomona-Pitzer Endowments (2-8) 59

(NCAA hockey, Jan. 10) #19 Yale University Bulldogs (8-3-2) 5 at #3 Harvard Crimson (10-1-2) 4

(NHL, Jan. 10) Nashville Predators (25-9-4) 3 at Minnesota Wild (18-15-4) 2

Season to date (81 - 68) – Final 2014 totals 54%

MARKET WEEK - Nonetheless, the S&P 500 chalked up its third straight year of double-digit gains, its longest streak since a five-year run from 1995 to 1999.

The euro sank to a 4-1/2-year low on Friday after comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi suggested the institution could soon start buying the sovereign debt of member states. Draghi said the risk of the bank falling short of its mandate on inflation targeting had risen.

Mergers and acquisitions activity reached nearly $3.5 trillion in 2014, the highest level since 2007, the New York Times reported. Dealmakers announced more than 40,000 transactions last year, in part due to cheap debt financing and accelerating stock prices.

U.S. box office receipts fell about 5.3 percent in 2014 from the previous year, the Los Angeles Times reported. American movie-goers spent an estimated $10.3 billion last year as studios released fewer blockbusters than they did in 2013.

Digital album sales fell 9 percent in the United States in 2014, and online song sales slipped 12 percent, according to Neilsen data, the Financial Times reported. Meanwhile, audio and video streaming increased more than 50 percent.

It’s the first full week of trading in 2015, and there’s no shortage of economic data on the docket leading up to Friday’s December employment report. Among the highlights, December auto sales are released today, with the ADP private-payrolls report and minutes from the latest Fed meeting out Wednesday.

The euro hit a nine-year low against the dollar, as the timetable for ECB action appears to be accelerating thanks to a storm of negatives including concern about Greek politics.

U.S. crude and Brent oil futures dropped to new five-and-a-half-year lows this morning on continued worries about a surplus of global supplies against the backdrop of weak demand.

DRIVING THE WEEK – President Obama is back in DC and the 114th Congress kicks off on Tuesday. The President will look to steal some thunder from the GOP takeover by hitting the road to preview State of the Union themes. The road trip begins Wednesday in Detroit for an event on the automobile industry and manufacturing in general. Obama is in Phoenix on Thursday for an event focused on the housing sector ... Obama and VP Biden will be in Tennessee on Friday (when the December jobs number comes out) for an event focused on a college affordability initiative ...

Auto sales come out late this afternoon and are expected to dip to 16.9M from 17.1M ... ISM non-manufacturing at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to dip to 58.0 from 59.3 ... ADP employment at 8:15 pm. Wednesday expected to rise by 225K ... FOMC minutes Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. will include discussion around dropping "considerable time" and replacing it with a pledge to "be patient" on rate hikes ... BLS jobs report at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to show a gain of 240K with the unemployment rate dropping a tenth to 5.7 percent ... House will look to move on Keystone XL and other bills they can now probably get through the Senate and to the president's desk.

Next week: 2014/2015 Tax Planning

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

January 5, 2015