Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Investment Dogs With Fleas

Published by Fortune magazine, the Fortune 500 is a yearly list that ranks businesses in the United States by total revenue for each company’s respective fiscal year. Public companies and privately held companies with revenues available to the public are eligible to make the list.
Making the Fortune 500 list is widely considered a marker of substantial achievement and is often heavily publicized by included companies. It is also often considered a kind of seal of approval for investors looking to make profitable investments.

However, making the Fortune 500 list is no guarantee of longevity. Among the most famous and regularly listed Fortune 500 companies that no longer exist are Compaq, MCI WorldCom, Eastern Airlines, Enron, Woolworth’s and Trans World Airlines.

1) Compaq
During the 1980s and 1990s, Compaq was among the largest sellers of personal computers in the world. The company came to an end in 2002 after its merger with Hewlett-Packard Corporation. In relative terms, Compaq had a short life, lasting from 1982 to 2002. The chief executive officer (CEO) of Hewlett-Packard at the time, Carly Fiorina, sought and oversaw the merger and ultimate takeover of Compaq to facilitate her strategy to make HP’s market share larger than it had ever been.

2) MCI WorldCom
WorldCom began in 1983 as Long Distance Discount Services. In the following decade, the company underwent several massive mergers that transformed and updated the corporation. In 1998, the company was rechristened MCI WorldCom. Shortly thereafter, the telecom industry began what eventually became a prolonged downward trend. The management team at WorldCom resorted to tricks with accounting techniques to make it appear that the company’s stocks were still viable. In 2002, the elaborate accounting fraud scheme was revealed, and WorldCom declared bankruptcy and shortened its name to MCI. Verizon purchased MCI in 2006, and MCI’s operations are performed under Verizon Business.

3) Eastern Airlines
Eastern Airlines started in the 1920s and operated primarily as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. During the following several decades, Eastern Airlines made numerous acquisitions and expanded its company, eventually dominating a significant portion of domestic air travel along the East Coast by the 1950s. Into the 1970s, Eastern Airlines was largely successful and remained one of the top four major airline companies in the U.S. The Air Transportation Deregulation Act of 1978, which took away political control of the airline industry, caused Eastern to struggle. The company was driven into bankruptcy in 1989 and finally ceased all operations in 1991.

4) Enron
Enron may have caused one of the largest business scandals in the last 100 years, one that ultimately led to its own demise. Based in Houston, the energy company had a meteoric rise, grew to employ over 20,000 workers and claimed over $100 billion in revenues in 2000. Shortly thereafter, the company’s massive accounting fraud scheme was exposed. Enron was forced into the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history in 2001. Today, the company is generally seen as the symbol for corporate corruption and fraud.

5) Trans World Airlines
Trans World Airlines (TWA) was founded in 1930 and rose to become the major U.S. competitor to Pan Am for international air travel. As was true for Eastern Airlines, deregulation laws and a lack of investments in new aircraft had a significantly negative impact on the airline. Through a brutal takeover in 1985, Carl Icahn acquired TWA and eventually took the company private in 1988 after burdening the airline with over $500 million in debt. In 1992, the company finally declared bankruptcy after several years of being unable to cover its debt payments. American Airlines purchased TWA in 2001.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Position Opening; Advancement Business Intelligence & Reporting Specialist, Pomona College, Claremont, California

In the desert landscape that was inland Southern California in 1887, it took audacity to imagine "a college in a garden." Yet far from the ivied halls of the Northeast, Pomona's founders envisioned "a college of the New England type," with small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a green jewel of a campus. From that beginning, Pomona has grown to be one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges. Located in Claremont, Calif., on a campus where ivy and palm trees coexist under habitually sunny skies, Pomona offers an environment for intellectual development and personal growth that is second to none. (Please)

The Advancement Business Intelligence and Reporting Specialist functions in a team environment, working closely with Advancement users throughout the division. This position acts as a business analyst and applies expertise in data warehousing and reporting; investigates and analyzes the feasibility of program requirements and develops data warehouse specifications; analyzes needs, designs, writes and tests dimensional models, dashboards and reports; and is responsible for the overall lifecycle management of the Advancement data warehouse and reporting infrastructure.

    Bachelors degree in MIS or a related field or equivalent combination of education and experience is required
    Experience with Data Warehouse design and implementation, data warehousing life cycle and dimensional modeling
    Advanced Structured Query Language (SQL) programming experience including DTS and ETL
    Solid data warehouse skills and knowledge of data warehouse methodologies; solid business analyst skills
    Ability to complete complex analysis, design and programming projects
    Excellent written and oral communication skills; ability to multi-task and set task prioritizations
    Minimum of two years of experience with Cognos and/or Tableau is preferred
    Experience at an academic institution is preferred
    Deploy professional skills in Cognos, Tableau, and language (SQL) programming, in collaboration with colleagues, to best promote the Advancements strategic interests
    Demonstrate effective, accurate and clear communication with excellent verbal, written, interpersonal, and customer service skills
    Operate computers proficiently with basic Microsoft Office software (such as Word, Excel, Outlook) and associated professional software
    Use assigned technology/devices/equipment to achieve annual goals and maintain confidentiality
    Working knowledge of report design methodology
    Experience with Business Analysis and Process redesign
    Advanced Structured Query Language (SQL) programming experience including DTS and ETL
    Demonstrate solid data warehouse implementation and maintenance skills and methodologies
    Must understand and communicate the mission and history of the Colleges liberal arts environment

AGING WITH STUDENT DEBT: The Education Department and some congressional Democrats seem to agree that more should be done to protect Social Security recipients who have their monthly payment garnished to pay student loan debt. The question is who should take the responsibility. Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chairs Reps. Keith Ellison and Raúl Grijalva teamed with organizations such as the AFL-CIO, Alliance for Retired Americans, Student Debt Crisis, and Social Security Works on Thursday to present to the Education Department a letter signed by nearly 40 members and a petition urging the government to stop the garnishments. "Halting this troubling policy will ensure greater economic security for the most vulnerable Americans, and promote the value of investing in higher education," said the letter addressed to leaders at the Social Security Administration, and the Education and Treasury departments.

- The Education Department agrees it's an issue that needs to be addressed but says Congress should act. Department spokeswoman Denise Horn noted that Congress in 1996 required the department to refer defaulted student loan debt to Treasury for collection. Horn said the department has increased outreach to these borrowers about their options. "We have also called on Congress to better protect Social Security from garnishment,' Horn said. "We urge Congress to take up this proposal, and the other legislative recommendations in the recent Student Aid Bill of Rights report, as we continue working to improve protections for student loan borrowers."

- The number of people whose Social Security benefits were offset to pay student loan debt increased about five-fold between 2002 and 2013, from about 31,000 to 155,000, according to the GAO. In 2013, the government collected about $150 million. The GAO said about 80 percent of seniors' debt was for their own education, while the rest was for loans they cosigned to help out others, like their children.

NO GO JOE - Vice President Joe Biden last Wednesday ended months of breathless will-he-or-won't-he speculation about a potential presidential run, saying he's concluded that he's simply "out of time" to mount a real and winnable campaign. The announcement, in the Rose Garden, with Biden flanked by President Barack Obama and his wife, Jill, means the vice president is foregoing what would have been a third run and likely the last chance to fulfill a lifelong quest to the highest office in the nation.

BIDEN ON WHY HE SAID NO - "I've said all along what I've said time and again to others: that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president: that it might close. I've concluded that it has closed." RR would of liked to see Joe run, just for the fact it would be good theatre versus Hillary.

POLITICS 101 - INSIDE THE CAMPAIGNS -- Bush slashes costs as campaign gasps:  Starting on Nov. 1, the campaign will cut payroll costs by 40 percent, downsize its Miami headquarters by more than 50 percent, reduce travel costs by 20 percent and cut 45 percent of spending on things other than media and voter contact. Even if those moves ease financial pressures, ... they only reinforce the prevailing narrative about a candidate, not long ago viewed as a front-runner, in freefall.

According to donors, some of whom called for Bush to rein in its spending, the campaign's assurances about its organizational and financial advantages have worn thin; and the third-quarter financial report, filed last week, gave further definition to their growing concerns about the state of a big-spending campaign failing to deliver results. ... [One bundler:] 'There's a lot of frustration that a lot of money's been spent and it hasn't moved anything.' 

Bush's team didn't know the depths of its problems until it got to look at the other campaigns' finance reports. The just-ended quarter - the first full period in which all the major candidates had announced and campaigned - set off alarms in Miami. ... [A Bush staffer]: 'Suddenly Marco's campaign had about as much money as we did, but it wasn't as big.

This past weekend, Bush went to Houston for a weekend meeting with his father and brother, an event conceived as a reward - a pep rally of sorts - for major donors but one that now serves to further underline the campaign's reliance on an old network of family funders ...
The anxiety inside Bush's Miami headquarters was running high ... as staffers met with their bosses to discuss possible reassignments. As local reporters and photographers gathered outside the building, staffers were encouraged not to speak to the press when leaving and to remove their ID badges before walking out. ... During ... meetings with division directors, senior adviser Sally Bradshaw and [campaign manager Danny] Diaz, staffers were given the option of transferring to jobs in the early-voting states ...

After months of insisting that no one state is of critical importance to what was billed as a national campaign, it's clear that New Hampshire is increasingly Bush's top priority. ...
Of all the GOP presidential candidates, Bush ... spent the most on early state ads ($9.8 million), consulting services ($2 million), charter-air service ($922,000), and payroll ($1.7 million) on the biggest staff (134).

Days until the 2015 election: 7. Days until the 2016 election: 378.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Stephanie Abrahms (37) New York, NY; Dodie Bracken ….famous UCLA graduate; James Carville (71) Atlanta, GA; Hillary Rodham Clinton (68)  New York, NY; Bob Knight (75) Bloomington, IN; Katy Perry (31) Los Angeles, CA; Gary Player (80) Johannesburg, South Africa; Juli Roberts ….famous academic administrator; Jaclyn Smith (70) Houston, TX.

HARD DRIVE - Private Preferred: The IPO parade is marching on, but without many tech firms. Technology companies’ share of U.S. initial public offerings has fallen to a seven-year low, and a number of once-hot IPOs have underperformed recently including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and social-media site Twitter. There are now at least 117 private companies valued by venture firms at $1 billion or more, nearly double the number from a year ago. The current trend threatens the outlook for what has been one of the most robust segments of the U.S. investment landscape. That said, some of the most valuable startups are intentionally holding off IPOs and growing at rates that could be eagerly welcomed by public investors.

Keys to the Future: Most notebook computers are likely to be replaced by devices with optional keyboards, writes WSJ’s tech columnist Christopher Mims in his column on why tablets are the future computing. “I’m willing to bet that the iPad Pro will only help sales of the Surface, and its competitors, by doing what Apple has always done best: convincing the masses that what seems like a strange new category of gadget is in fact a must-have,” he notes. Elsewhere in the tech world, Google is ready to turn its self-driving car technology into a business and has hired an auto-industry veteran to run it. And Facebook is working on a stand-alone video app that would support 360-degree videos, allowing users to change their viewing perspective by tilting their phones.

Risky Business: Michael Dell is pressing ahead with an ambitious and risky deal that would require massive debt financing at a time when credit markets have become less hospitable to mergers. Negotiations have advanced for a $50 billion-plus acquisition of data-storage giant EMC and could produce an agreement by next week, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal marks an attempt by Mr. Dell to craft a future for a company caught between the shift toward mobile devices and fierce competition among providers of storage capacity and computing power. The recent rebound in markets has lent urgency to the talks. U.S. stocks climbed again yesterday after minutes from September’s Federal Reserve meeting were released.

GOOD READS – “The Lost Art of Listening," by Anna Goldsworthy in The Monthly: "Has classical music become irrelevant?" http://bit.ly/1LSGD4P

-"Ten Borders," by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker: "One refugee's epic escape from Syria." http://nyr.kr/1kAvUld

A HEADY BREW - After weeks of back and forth, SABMiller’s board has agreed on key terms of a sweetened takeover proposal by Anheuser-Busch InBev, setting the stage for the creation of a brewing behemoth. A $104.2 billion combination of the world’s two biggest brewers would redraw the map of the global beer industry and is likely to trigger higher prices for consumers around the world. The pending deal would also bring radical cultural change to SABMiller and will reduce AB InBev’s dependency on the U.S. market. The acquisition, however, still requires regulatory approval, and would almost certainly involve the company selling off operations in the U.S. and maybe China.

TEARJERKER - StoryCorps thought Thanksgiving was the perfect time to put the app into use. "Essentially, students who are studying US history would have an opportunity to discover the history in their own family, their own backyard," said Kate Duff, director of the initiative. Duff, herself a history major, emphasized how the Great Listen can be a teaching tool. She said recording the conversation allows students to create a primary source, as well as assign archive titles, summaries and keywords - "the very elements that future historians will use to browse the Library of Congress," Duff said. "To our knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done before."

- StoryCorp is working with several education partners, including the NEA, National Council for the Social Studies and Teach for America, to get the word out and encourage teachers to involve their students.

YOU GOTTA’ LOVE SPORTS – This week all four major sports are on the scene: NFL is in week 8, NHL is in week 4, MLB has the World Series, and the NBA begins its’ 2015-16 schedule.

WORLD SERIES LOOKAHEAD - BBQ or bagels? A tasty World Series set, Royals meet Mets: The pitching-rich New York Mets, boosted by Daniel Murphy's power surge. The plucky Kansas City Royals, aiming to atone for last year's near-miss. ... They start Tuesday night in Kansas City. ... [By coincidence,] opening day in the majors next April 4 is Mets at Royals. ... One team wearing blue is about to end a long drought.

The Royals, who lost ... in Game 7 ... last October, haven't won the crown since George Brett and Bret Saberhagen ... in 1985. The Mets' most recent title came in 1986, led by Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. ... The teams have met only nine times since interleague play began in 1997, with the Royals holding a 5-4 edge. The Mets haven't ... visited Kansas City since 2004. RR likes The Metropolitans to win in five games.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/1, 5:30 PM ET NBC: A big one; Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Denver Broncos (6-0). It has been awhile in the NFL for two 6-0 teams to meet, The Pack has no problem with Denver, 24 – 14. Season to date (3-4)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/31, 5:00 PM ET ABC: #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1) visit #21 Temple Owls (7-0), this will be closer than you think Irish 30 Owls 27. Season to date (5-3)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/31, 2:10 PM ET HGTV: #7 St. Thomas Tommies (7-0) at #17 Concordia-Moorhead Cobbers (7-1), a huger MIAC battle for first place. We like The Tommies 35 - 28. Season to date (7-1)


(SCIAC, Oct. 31) Chapman University Conservatives (2-4) at University of La Verne Leopards (5-1), La Verne wins this one a league title is in site – Leopards 32 Chapman 24.

Season to date (80-51)

MARKET WEEK – U.S. stock futures were lower this morning. This week's big drivers include the Fed's two-day meeting, which begins tomorrow, and the continued flood of earnings, including Apple (AAPL) after the bell tomorrow. 

With a week to go in October, Wall Street has, thus far, had its best month in four years. The Dow is coming off its fourth straight week of gains for the first time this year.
Quarterly profits and revenue at big American companies are poised to decline for the first time since the recession. The drag on earnings and sluggish growth projections for 2016 come as the Federal Reserve considers raising interest rates for the first time in nine years, and could strengthen the case of those in favor of postponing any rate increase until next year. The global economy’s troubles are casting a long shadow over this week’s Fed policy meeting, as investors see a growing likelihood that there will be no rate increase this year. Meanwhile, another third of the S&P 500 are expected to report their results this week, including Apple, United Parcel Service and Exxon Mobil Corp.

It’s been more than seven years since the Federal Reserve began its extraordinary measures to aid the U.S. economy and as 2016 approaches, pressure is on the central bank and Janet Yellen to better manage expectations for interest rates and the U.S. economy. Bank officials are widely expected to announce Wednesday that short-term interest rates will remain near zero, leaving mid-December as the central bank’s last chance to raise rates this year. The timetable poses challenges for Ms. Yellen, including deciding whether the U.S. economy is ready for an interest-rate increase, and signaling central bank intentions without causing further market confusion.

DRIVING THE WEEK -  T-minus 12 days till the debt limit deadline. Clean hike remains the likely outcome but getting there could be ... scary. ... House expected to vote on measure to fund the Ex-Im bank ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew this morning will join Secretary Kerry at the U.S. - Qatar Economic and Commercial Dialogue at the State Department ... CNBC debate on Wednesday night in Colorado will focus on jobs and the economy ... US Chamber on Tuesday holds its 16th annual Legal Reform Summit ... SEC at 09:30 a.m. Tuesday holds a meeting of the Equity Market Structure Advisory Committee ... First American Financial at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday hosts the "Achieving the American Dream" leadership forum ... Senate Banking at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday holds a hearing on "The State of Rural Banking: Challenges and Consequences" ... New homes sales Monday at 10:00 a.m. expected to dip to 550K from 552K ... Case-Shiller home prices at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.1 percent ... Consumer Confidence at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to dip to 102.8 from 103 ... FOMC Announcement at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday expected to feature no rate hike but any change to the growth outlook? ... First read on Q3 GDP at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to show growth of 1.9 percent.

Next week: Financial Aid 101, Dear Rink Rats, Fall in the Garden, and Jack Ass of the Month.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 27, 2015


Thursday, October 22, 2015


The numbers are shocking: Personal information from 76 million households may have been compromised as part of the cyber-attack on JPMorgan Chase. That is the equivalent of two out of every three households in the United States, though a small portion of those affected may be overseas. The intrusion compromised the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of those households, and can basically affect anyone — customers past and present — who logged onto any of Chase and JPMorgan’s websites or apps. That might include those who get access to their checking and other bank accounts online or someone who checks their credit card points over the web. Seven million small businesses also were affected.

While nobody knows what the hackers are planning to do with the data from JPMorgan — if anything at all — privacy experts say the biggest risk is that the thieves will try to extract more sensitive information from affected consumers.  “It would give the thief a call log of who to victimize, but that in and of itself is not enough to steal someone’s identity,” said Matt Davis, a senior victims adviser at the Identity Theft Resource Center. “That is the silver lining there.” There is no evidence that account numbers, passwords, user IDs, dates of birth or Social Security numbers were compromised, according to the bank, nor did the bank suggest that customers change their passwords.

 “I think it is always good practice to regularly watch your accounts,” said Trish Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman. “That is just good financial hygiene.”

It is possible that the thieves could sell the JPMorgan data to others, who could then combine it with publicly available information, found through census data or social media, said Pam Dixon, executive director at the World Privacy Forum, a public interest research group. They could then create sophisticated — and very convincing — emails that targeted individual consumers, a practice known as spear phishing. The goal is to trick consumers into providing Social Security numbers or user names and passwords.

“I would be very conscious of the email you get in the next year, which could be related to this hack,” Ms. Dixon said. “They are really hard to detect. It’s not like, ‘Send me money in the Philippines.’ ”

Legitimate financial services companies, retailers, cellphone companies, government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and other providers will not (or at least should not) request personal information in an email. But if a customer detects something suspicious about an email, they should contact the company that supposedly sent it. They should not, however, use the phone number in the email — that is likely only to put them in touch with the criminals. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also advises consumers to enter website addresses manually (or, at least, to do a web search for them). In other words, do not follow links inside the email. If a customer’s bank account ultimately is compromised, they will not be held liable for any unauthorized transactions, but they should contact JPMorgan immediately.

Those who want to add a layer of security to their financial life should consider a “security freeze,” one of the strongest tools against theft because it prevents someone from trying to open a new account in a consumer’s name. When you freeze your reports, the big three credit bureaus will not release your credit reports to any company that does not already have a relationship with you. Financial providers and other companies typically request such reports before issuing a new account.

Consumers need to approach each of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and may need to pay a small fee, depending on where they live. The process can be a hassle because the freeze has to be “thawed,” or lifted, to apply for a new credit card, for instance, or for a mortgage. (And consumers may need to keep PINs and other information handy to do that). But the extra effort may be easier than trying to undo the mess created by a thief.

Then there is the boilerplate advice that all consumers should heed: Regularly monitor all of your accounts; read every transaction on your credit statement every month; and check each of your three credit reports regularly, which you are allowed to do free at least once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Consumers may be desensitized by now, given the frequency and breadth of cyber-attacks on retailers like Home Depot, Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus and others. Many may even assume that some hacker, somewhere, already has at least some of their personal information. “Security is out of your control,” said Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert. “The only thing you can do is agitate for laws about regulating third-party use of your data and how they store it, use it and collect it.”

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – DAVID SKORTON, former Cornell president and now 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, was welcomed to town with an elegant Metropolitan Club reception hosted Monday evening by Dr. Elena and Robert Allbritton, Ann and Knight Kiplinger, Austin Kiplinger, and Cathy Merrill and Paul Williams.

--Robert is landlord for Skorton and his wife, Robin Davisson, and joked during the remarks that this gives new meaning to keeping "your friends close, but your enemies closer." Skorton had one of the funnier lines we've ever heard at a gathering like this, saying he had given cards to many in the room -- and if he hadn't, it probably meant that Cathy, a Cornell alumnus and longtime friend, had "pulled me aside and said 'Don't waste a card' on you." Guess you had to be there.

BUDGET DEFICIT FALLS - Per Treasury: "The deficit in FY 2015 fell to $439 billion, $44 billion less than the FY 2014 deficit and $144 billion less than forecast in President Obama's FY 2016 Budget. As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the deficit fell to 2.5 percent, the lowest since 2007 and less than the average of the last 40 years. In dollar terms, the FY 2015 deficit was the lowest since 2007 as well."

CANADA GOES LEFT! - Justin Trudeau's Liberal party was heading for a stunning victory in Monday's Canadian general election, ousting Stephen Harper and his Conservatives from their near-decade reign over a country now hit by the oil price crash and an economic recession. ... Less than an hour after polls closed across the country, the Liberal party was projected to win 189 seats with 40 per cent of the popular vote, according to Elections Canada, the government election agency. ...

The wider than expected margin appeared to be at the expense of the leftwing New Democratic party, which was on track to win only 35 seats, while the Conservatives were heading for 103. The results were far more favorable for the Liberals than had been predicted by pre-election polls, which projected a slim minority win for Mr Trudeau's party. They also marked a sharp turnaround from the 2011 election when the Conservatives crushed the Liberals, winning 166 seats to the Liberals' 34.

Canada’s Conservative Party has been ousted after almost a decade in power, as voter discontent and a souring economy helped sweep Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau into the top office. After turning his party into a national political force, Prime Minister Stephen Harper failed to make a lasting impact with middle-of-the-road voters in the country’s central and eastern regions. Amid the faltering economy, his opponent’s newcomer status may have played into a deep-seated desire for change. Here are five things we can expect from the government of Canada’s newly elected premier—the 43-year-old son of the country’s long-serving Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Mike Barnicle (62), Boss, Mass. Jackson Browne (67), Austin, TX. Erin Gratz ….famous keeper of the faith, Jennifer Holiday (55) Las Vegas, NV. Angela Lansbury (90), New York, NY. John Lithgow (70) Pinehurst, NC. Joe Pepitone (75) Tampa, FL. Tom Petty (65) Woodland Hills, CA.

THE SWAMI’S NHL Preseason Picks –

The Swami makes his preseason selections on what NHL hockey teams will rule in 2015-16:

Eastern Conference:             Atlantic – Montreal Canadians        Metropolitan – New York Islanders
Other Playoff teams: NY Rangers, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference:  Central – St. Louis Blues    Pacific – Los Angeles Kings
Other Playoff teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks

Eastern Finals: Montreal Canadians over the New York Islanders
Western Finals: Anaheim Ducks over the Dallas Stars

Stanley Cup Finals: Montreal Canadians over Anaheim Ducks

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/25, 1:00 PM ET CBS: Houston Texans (2-4) at Miami Dolphins (2-3), the loser can expect a long season: Texans 24 Dolphins 21 Season to date (3-3)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/24, 4:00 PM ET ESPN: #15 Texas A&M Aggies (5-1) at #24 University of Mississippi Rebels (4-2): SEC at its finest, Ole Miss 35 Aggies 28. Season to date (4-3)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/24, 7:00 PM ET HGTV: University of La Verne Leopards (4-1) at University of Redlands Bulldogs (2-3): First place on the line in the SCIAC, La Verne in an upset 24 – 21. Season to date (6-1)


(NCAA, Oct. 24) #8 Wheaton Illinois Thunder (6-0) vs. #16 North Central Illinois Cardinals (4-2), The Thunder prevail 42 – 35.

Season to date (77-50)

MARKET WEEK –The S&P 500 is coming off its best weekly gain of the year, and the Dow has risen for six straight sessions as investors begin a new week. The fate of the market rally could well depend on the increasing pace of corporate earnings in the coming weeks, as well as how economic data fuels speculation about what may happen at the late October meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers.

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said Sunday Fed policymakers are still likely to raise interest rates this year, but that could change if the global economy pushes the United States off course.

However, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei told China Business News now is not the time for the Fed to hike rates. Lou said global economic weakness is due to lack of demand in developed markets.

Next week: Fall in the garden and Dear Rink Rats.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 22, 2015


Tuesday, October 6, 2015


I haven’t been blogging much lately because this writer has been traveling, teaching, learning, and professionally wasting time. Seriously (I think), we are back and hopefully will continue our Monday blog schedule. I so enjoy writing this blog, but sometimes keeping up with its demands can be a bit much.

Here are some observations with the beginning of fall coming to Southern California. Fall in Southern California, yes; 90 to 100 degree temperatures with Santa Ana winds, even more traffic with school back, and too much attention given to USC and UCLA football. This is fall in Southern California.

OH, OH CANADA - On September 1, 2015, Statistics Canada reported that the economy has contracted by 0.5% in Q2 2015, after falling 0.8% in previous quarter. This implies that the Canadian economy is in recession for the first time since the financial crisis, as they reported two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Plunging oil prices constituted the primary factor weighing down the Canadian economy in the last two quarters, leading to shrinkage in business investments and creating sustainability issues for existing businesses. The mining, quarrying and oil and gas exploration sector took the biggest hit. It was down by 4.5% amid shutdowns and production barriers in Q2 2015.

Other factors that led to contraction of the Canadian economy were subdued business investments, a decline in new home construction (-4.1%), passive exports data and falling inventory levels. The most affected regions were energy exporting areas like Alberta. The results are expected to hurt current Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chances to win in the upcoming elections on October 19. The opposition party has pointed out that Harper’s policy has failed, arguing this is a lost decade for Canada.

THE POPE’S VISIT - With Pope Francis come and gone to the U.S. What is the state of Catholic education? In the last 10 years alone, over 1,600 Catholic schools closed or consolidated and enrollment plunged by 20 percent, according to the National Catholic Educational Association's 2014-15 report. One possible factor in addition to larger demographic trends - competition from charter schools, which offer a free alternative in many urban neighborhoods: There are bright spots, however, such as an Omaha diocese that just saw its first enrollment spike in 17 years.

- An unsettled issue for these schools is the decision by many to adopt the Common Core. Their adoption was in part an effort to stay relevant and keep students enrolled. But the standards have divided parents and teachers in the Catholic school community. There is even a Facebook page called Catholic School Parents Against the Common Core. Still, don't expect the pontiff to take a break from talking about immigration or climate change to wade into the Common Core debate.

- But Catholic schools are wading into some sticky issues on their own. The New York Times recently wrote about the emergence of Gay-Straight Alliances at Catholic high schools and colleges. "Pope Francis's language is of inclusivity," said Candida Moss, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. "Previously, the argument against a Gay-Straight Alliance at a Catholic high school or college would have been that we don't want to endorse non-Catholic lifestyles. But with this pope, a G.S.A. can be seen not as an endorsement of a lifestyle but as a support group, as a way of having people be in community.

Since 1977, weekly Mass attendance has dropped from 41 percent to 24 percent of adult Catholics. Bishops have taken to running campaigns, such as the Archdiocese of Washington's 'The Light Is On For You' ... In 1965, nearly 59,000 priests served in the church ... now below 38,000 ... 40 percent of U.S. priests over age 65 ... In 2013, nearly one-third of Catholic parishes operated at a loss.

POWER PLAYERS - ACROSS THE ABYSS: California is on the verge of unprecedented power in Congress, but party leaders McCarthy and Pelosi barely speak: When "McCarthy becomes speaker of the House, ... [it'll be] first time in history that both the speaker and minority leader ... have hailed from the same state. Several colleagues said they can't recall ever seeing the two together.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - Fishing for Students  - U.S. colleges, especially those without brand names abroad, are paying agents to recruit foreign students, a practice that is illegal when recruiting most domestic applicants. Schools that use agents say the intermediaries are the most practical way to woo overseas students without the cost of sending staff around the world. Skeptics point to conflicts of interest and say agents open the door to falsified applications. “Why are American universities doing this? The answer is very simple: money,” said one critic. Experts estimate that at least a quarter of U.S. campuses pay such agents. Students also hire them to help them get a place at U.S. colleges, a popular strategy in China.

COLLEGE DEBT RELIEF MAY BACKFIRE - Federal programs designed to ease the burden of college loans are causing snarls in the bond market and raising concerns that banks may soon ratchet back lending. The programs, which let struggling borrowers scale back their repayments, have made student loans more affordable at a time when millions of Americans are falling behind on their student debts. But that slowing stream of money is having a knock-on effect in the market for bonds backed by that debt.

Investors who own the bonds are beginning to worry that they may not get repaid on time, and they are balking at buying new bonds being offered by financial institutions. Without that revenue from selling off the student loans into bonds, banks have less capital to turn into new loans. Credit rating firms Moody's Investors ServiceInc. and Fitch Ratings Inc. have collectively placed more than $36 billion worth of bonds backed by student loans on watch for a possible downgrade.

HARVARD SEEKS SHORT-SELLERS - Harvard is looking for investment managers with expertise as short-sellers, as the world's biggest university endowment becomes more cautious about the outlook for financial markets. In its latest annual report, which showed investment returns fell to 5.8 per cent in the year ended June 30, the $38bn endowment said its managers had started to increase cash holdings and feared that some markets had become 'frothy'. “Frothy” not a word usually associated with Harvard. The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1KtMLyA

SYLLABUS - PROMOTING SUCCESS FOR ALL ASIAN STUDENTS: At 14 percent of the state population, Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders comprise the fastest-growing racial and ethnic group in California. But while they overwhelmingly attend public institutions when they go to college, their success varies dramatically by subpopulation, a new report finds. For example, 70 percent of Indian adults have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to just one in 10 Laotian adults. The Campaign for College Opportunity and Asian Americans Advancing Justice say the problems of AANHPI students are being "overlooked and exacerbated by looking at the group as a monolithic whole." The authors call for considering the differences among subpopulation when making policies designed to close access and completion gaps. They also want continued state investment to make room for more AANHPI students at community colleges and public universities in the Golden State.

NEW BOB WOODWARD BOOK coming Oct. 13: "The Last of the President's Men" - Simon & Schuster release: "Woodward exposes one of the final pieces of the Nixon puzzle in his new book 'The Last of the President's Men,' his 18th book for Simon & Schuster ... Woodward reveals the untold story of Alexander Butterfield, the Nixon aide [deputy to Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman] who disclosed the secret White House taping system that led to Nixon's resignation. In 46 hours of interviews with Butterfield, supported by thousands of documents, many ... not in the presidential archives and libraries, Woodward has uncovered a new dimension of Nixon.

"'There's more to the story of Nixon,' Butterfield, now age 89, confided as he opened his secret archive of documents at Woodward's request, and then spent a year telling dozens of new, never before published anecdotes and incidents. ... Butterfield provides the intimate details of what it was like working and living just feet from the most powerful man in the world as he sought to navigate the obligations to his president and the truth of Nixon's obsessions and deceptions.

"'The Last of the President's Men' could not be more timely and relevant as voters question how much do we know about those who are now seeking the presidency in 2016-what really drives them, how do they really make decisions, who do they surround themselves with, and what are their true political and personal values?

"For four years in the West Wing, three of those working and watching from an office adjoining the Oval Office, Butterfield was regularly the first to see Nixon in the morning and the last at night, the constant insider and ultimately the most dangerous witness. At Nixon's request, Butterfield supervised the installation of the secret taping system that ... provided the evidence that ended Nixon's presidency. ...

"As Woodward writes, 'The secret taping system was not put in place until February 1971. There are no tapes of the first two years of the Nixon presidency.' Due not only to the thousands of pages of documents but 'By virtue of his proximity to the center of the Nixon universe and his extraordinary memory, Butterfield himself essentially became the tape recorder.' ...

"All 17 of the books [Woodward] has authored or coauthored for Simon & Schuster have been national nonfiction bestsellers, and 12 have been #1 national bestsellers. The first was 'All the President's Men' by Bernstein and Woodward ... in 1974. ... Alice Mayhew, Vice President and Editorial Director of Simon & Schuster, acquired world English rights and audio rights to 'The Last of the President's Men' from Robert Barnett of Williams & Connolly."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this weekend to: Julie Andrews (80), Beverly Hills, CA; Frankie Avalon (75), Glendora, CA; Karen Ball …it is the big one, Littleton, CO; Rod Carew (70), Miami, FL; Tommy Lee Jones (69), Austin, TX; Mario Lemieux (50), Pittsburgh, PA; Devorah Lieberman …POTULV, Claremont, CA; Sophia Loren (81), Rome, Italy; Bill Murray (65), Scarsdale, NY; Kate Winslett (40), London, England.

TV WATCH -- ALEXANDRA PELOSI's new documentary, "San Francisco 2.0," airs all week on HBO. "With the onset of the digital gold rush, young members of the tech elite are flocking to the West Coast to make their fortunes, and this new wealth is forcing San Francisco to reinvent itself. But as tech innovations lead America into the golden age of digital supremacy, is it changing the heart and soul of their adopted city?" Trailer http://bit.ly/1LVf5w4

SO LONG YOGI - "It's deja vu all over again!" Baseball's Yogi Berra dies at 90. Top "Yogisms,": "You can't think and hit at the same time." ... On a restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." ... "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore." ... On the 1973 Mets: "We were overwhelming underdogs." ... "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." ... "I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4." ... What time is it? "You mean now?" ... On a spring training drill: "Pair off in threes." ...

"Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical." ... "You can observe a lot by watching." ... On his team's diminishing pennant chances: "It ain't over 'till it's over." ... On his fractured syntax: "I really didn't say everything I said." ... A final piece of advice: "Always go to other people's funerals. Otherwise they won't go to yours."

A classic, he will be missed.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/11, 1:25 PM ET CBS: Denver Broncos (4-0) at  Oakland Raiders (2-2) – are The Raiders back? This game will tell us; Raiders 24 Broncos 21. Season to date (2-2)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/10, 12:30 PM ET BTN: #13 Northwestern Wildcats (5-0) at #18 University of Michigan Wolverines (4-1). The battle of the maybes in the Big Ten, Michigan 17 Northwestern 14. Season to date (3-2)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/10, 1:00 PM ET HGTV: Alma Scots (2-2) at Adrian Bulldogs (2-2). We like the bulldogs in this MIAA rivalry game, 20 – 17.  Season to date (4-1)


(NCAA, Oct. 10) #23 California Bears (5-0) at #5 University of Utah Utes (4-0); Again, what is a Ute? Cal 42 – 35.

(NCAA-SCIAC, Oct. 10) It is Homecoming at La Verne; Claremont-Mudd Republicans (2-1) visit the University of La Verne Leos (2-1), Coach Chris Krich has a gutty group this season – La Verne wins 28 – 17.

(MLB, Oct. 7) Playoffs begin, end on Christmas Eve; Chicago Cubs (97-65) at Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64), Cubs Win, Cubs Win, 4 – 3.

(President’s Cup-PGA October. 8-11) PGA vs. International: Not the Ryder Cup, American’s win 18 - 16.

Season to date (75-44)

MARKET WEEK – STOCKS WORST QUARTER SINCE 2011 - US and global equities are had their worst quarterly performance since 2011, with investors rattled by China's economic slowdown, uncertainty over Federal Reserve policy and growing pessimism about corporate earnings. Adding to investors' unease, the International Monetary Fund last week warned that corporate failures were likely to jump in the developing world, after a borrowing binge in the past decade.

With an array of sectors slumping since the start of July, beyond those directly influenced by the rout in commodity prices, the global equity bull run of recent years is now facing a major challenge. The S&P 500 has fallen 8.5 per cent, the biggest decline since the third quarter of 2011. Previously high-flying sectors that led the market earlier this year, notably biotech and healthcare stocks, have fallen appreciably in recent weeks.

DRIVING THE WEEK - House expected to vote on new leadership this week (though timing could change) with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy remaining the front-runner for speaker ... The U.S. Supreme Court opens a new term this week and could take up the federal appeals court ruling making it harder to prosecute insider trading cases ...

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew heads to Lima, Peru later in the week for the IMF and World Bank meetings that begin Thursday ... Non-Manufacturing ISM Survey at 10:00 a.m. Monday expected to drop to 57.5 from 59 ... FOMC Minutes Thursday at 2:00 p.m. will offer some color on why the central bank held off a rate hike at its last meeting while giving few clues to when it will move (still likely in December) ... HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TARP! - Saturday marked the seventh anniversary of the bank rescue program. Treasury has a handy graphic and blog post looking back: http://bit.ly/1jItYXn, http://1.usa.gov/1GrmZqE

Next week: Words of the month, Dear Rink Rats and NHL preseason picks.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 5, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Doonesbury by G.B. Trudeau