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

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