Tuesday, April 12, 2016

$971, $200, $15

The state of America’s sports is a rip off. The average ticket price to watch a 16-65 Los Angeles Laker team final game of the season, and yes Kobe’s last game, is $971. Nine hundred and seventy one dollars to watch a once was and a bunch of has beens!

A student at the University of Michigan has to make a deposit of two hundred dollars by May 1 to have the opportunity to purchase a season ticket for the 2016 football season.  Really?

A ten ounce beer at Los Angeles Dodger stadium costs fifteen dollars. Really?

Fifty percent of the Los Angeles television market cannot view Los Angeles Dodger baseball games due to a monopolized cable television agreement. While Magic Johnson (he owns 1%, 1% of the Dodgers) says he is a man of the people. ESPN begins games at 9:30 p.m. eastern time, the University of California at Los Angeles head football coach is the highest paid California state employee. Really?

I sure miss Downton Abbey.

POLITICS 101 - LET'S PLAY MONEYBALL - Guests on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" gave wife's House campaign: Forty-eight frequent guests on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" TV show have given the House campaign of his wife, Kathleen Matthews, who's running for the open seat in Maryland's 8th District. "These individuals, their spouses, or their political action committees donated $79,050 as of December 31, 2015 - about 5 percent of the $1.5 million Matthews had raised as of that time," The Intercept reports. "Some of the guests made the donations after they were on the show - in some cases, long after. But in at least 11 of these cases, the Hardball guests appeared on the program after Kathleen Matthews announced her candidacy, and without any disclosure of the donations. And in at least three of those cases, the donations came within days of the MSNBC appearance.

Los Angeles Times (CA Governor Race) on #cagov2018: Newsom, Villaraigosa, Chiang, Faulconer, Garcetti, Steyer, Swearengin, Westly, and ... Condoleezza Rice? http://lat.ms/1V6nqkx

POLITICS INVADES HOLLYWOOD - Already, release schedules for the months preceding Nov. 8, Election Day, are peppered with movies that have partisan potential, whether overt or covert. Among the movies listed: "Independence Day: Resurgence," "The Purge: Election Year," "Southside With You" and Oliver Stone's "Snowden."

Days until the New York primary: 7. Days until the 2016 election: 209.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Governor Jerry Brown (78) Sacramento, CA; Hugh Hefner (90) Bel Aire, CA; John Madden (80) Oakland, CA; Dennis Quaid (62) Pasadena, CA; Joe Scarborough (53) Scarsdale, NY; Marion Roach Smith…famous writer and St. Lawrence University alumni; Robin Wright (50) Woodland Hills, CA.

WEEKEND READS --"Is 'Friends' Still the Most Popular Show on TV?" by Adam Sternbergh in New York Magazine : "Why so many 20-somethings want to stream a 20-year-old sitcom about a bunch of 20-somethings sitting around in a coffee shop.”

COLLEGE CHRONICLESChina U: The huge wave of Chinese students entering American higher education seems beneficial for both sides. The students are clamoring for American credentials, while U.S. schools want their tuition dollars. But on the ground, American campuses are struggling to absorb the rapid and growing influx. Teachers bluntly say a significant portion of international students are ill prepared for an American college education, and resent having to amend their lectures as a result. The unhappiness appears to be mutual. Chinese students are finding themselves separated from their American peers due to their high numbers and language and cultural barriers. One student who came from Beijing to study business at Oregon State University said, “I didn’t expect to go abroad and take classes with so many Chinese people.”

HARVARD AFFIRMATIVE ACTION CASE HINGES ON FISHER: A judge has placed a stay on the court case filed against Harvard by an anti-affirmative action group pending the outcome of Fisher v. University of Texas before the Supreme Court. The suit alleges that Harvard's admissions policies put Asian-Americans at a disadvantage. Court watchers have been waiting to see how the death of Justice Antonin Scalia may affect the Fisher case. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself, and leaving only three liberal justices deciding the case, so a conservative majority would require just four votes. The ruling: http://bit.ly/1V4fvUS.

- Speaking of the Supreme Court, the Council for American Private Education is celebrating Scalia in its latest newsletter, detailing his legacy supporting private education. Among the cases it cited in which Scalia was part of a majority supporting private and religious schools: Mitchell v. Helms, a 2000 decision that upheld an ESEA requirement that school districts lend materials and equipment to religious schools; Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, a 2002 decision that upheld the constitutionality of vouchers for religious schools; and Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn , a 2011 decision that upheld an Arizona program that offered tax credits for contributions to school tuition organizations. "As influential as Scalia's 282 majority opinions and 'occasional' dissents have been to the court's overall vitality, his ideas, words, and votes have had particular significance over the years on decisions affecting private education," CAPEoutlook wrote.

HEDGE FUND CLOSURES SOAR - More hedge funds closed their doors in 2015 than at any time since the financial crisis, according to new research, as turbulent markets dragged down the industry's performance. Last year was the worst year for liquidations since 2009, with 979 funds closing, up from 864 in 2014, according to data from Hedge Fund Research. The fourth quarter of 2015 also saw the fewest new hedge funds starting up since 2009, with just 183 openings compared with 269 in the third quarter.

The figures capture a period in which many of the industry's marquee names suffered significant losses. The HFRI Fund Weighted Composite index fell 0.9 per cent last year, HFR data show. December saw a flurry of funds converting into family offices, including Michael Platt's BlueCrest and Doug Hisch's Seneca Capital, or shutting entirely as Lucidus Capital Partners did following redemptions. Unnerved by jerky markets, hedge fund clients became fearful of risk and less patient with poor returns in the second half of the year.

BRAZIL IN CRISIS - Brazil was teetering on the brink of a constitutional crisis on Thursday after a judge blocked President Dilma Rousseff's appointment of her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to her cabinet, prompting clashes in Congress and on the streets. Just as Mr Lula da Silva's swearing-in ceremony drew to a close, a federal judge issued an injunction, suspending the ex-president's appointment on the grounds that it prevented 'the free exercise of justice' in corruption investigations. ...

Opposition politicians hailed the decision as a triumph for Brazilian democracy, while the government vowed to appeal, lambasting the order as part of a 'coup' by the country's elite, reminiscent of Brazil's period of military rule. Brazilian assets rallied as investors bet on the government's collapse ... Mass protests swept the country on Wednesday and Thursday night after a court released incendiary recordings of Mr Lula da Silva's private conversations that fueled accusations he had been appointed as minister only to shield him from immediate arrest.

GOING IN REVERSE - The term “subprime loan” strikes fear into the heart of many an investor. But forget, if you can, the mortgage loans that were central to the last financial crisis, it is early defaults in subprime auto loans that are now raising concerns. A report  last week indicated that some of these loans packaged up in recent bond issues are showing cracks, with high levels of missed payments and in a small number of cases where borrowers have filed for bankruptcy or had vehicles repossessed. Bond issues backed by U.S. subprime auto loans topped $27 billion last year, the highest in a decade and a 25% increase from 2014. Some say the appetite for auto debt is what is fueling the boom, and expect defaults to rise. But many analysts brush off suggestions of a subprime auto-loan bubble, pointing to low gas prices and stable unemployment rates.

L.A. COUNTY DEBT - has doubled to $20 billion: http://lat.ms/1pLfERb

WELCOME TO EARNINGS SEASON: IT'S GONNA STINK - On Monday, Alcoa kicks off what we expect to be a disappointing 1Q earnings season. Our year-end 2016 S&P 500 target of 2100 implies just 3 percent upside from the current level. ... 1Q 2016 year/year EPS growth will be at best flat but could fall by as much as 9 percent given the poor operating environment for banks and energy firms ...

Corporates are currently unable to execute discretionary buybacks, the only source of demand for US shares. ... Our analysts have highlighted a laundry list of headwinds including energy counterparty risk, a slowdown in capital markets activity, and a bruising quarter for asset managers. We believe Financials EPS could fall by as much as 25 percent.

MARCUS WELBY, M.D. – Five Things Lack of Sleep Does to Your Body:

Researchers say insufficient sleep is associated with negative behavior and physical consequences including:

•          an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
•          weakened immunity and an increased tendency to get sick
•          weakened cognitive function including memory, alertness and decision-making
•          increased impulsiveness, risk-taking and addictive behavior
•          eating more and eating more unhealthy foods

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Congratulations to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (34-6-4) on their eighth NCAA Hockey Championship beating the Quinnipiac Bobcats (32-4-7) 5 – 1.

Some key story lines to watch in the offseason: (1). Who will be the new coach of the St. Lawrence University Skating Saints? (2). Is Michigan State University Spartans due for a new coach? (3). The Quinnipiac Bobcats move to the Hockey East Conference.
Season to date (11-8).

TOP SNOBS – After watching The Masters golf tournament this past weekend no doubt in my mind that it is good TV watching but the idiotic club rules and traditions make the members of the Augusta National Golf Club Top Snobs.

There goes my chance of gaining a membership to Augusta National, but Really???

The green jacketed members of the powerful private club famously tell the biggest golf stars, TV networks and sponsors what to do and how to do it. Despite the millions earned by today's golfers, they're still "gutless" when it comes to meekly obeying Augusta's strict rules and regulations, according to golf legend Lee Trevino. Also, the word diversity is not at all seen at the Augusta National Golf Club.

OH, OH CANADA – For the first time since 1969 no Canadian team is in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Montreal Canadians, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and the Winnipeg Jets. What is going on….eh?


National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoff Picks:

Eastern Conference: #1 Washington Capitals (4-2) over #8 Philadelphia Flyers;  #7 New York Islanders (4-3) over the #2 Florida Panthers; #2 Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3) over the #3 New York Rangers; #3 Detroit Red Wings (4-2) over Tampa Bay Lightning.

Conference Semis - Washington Capitals (4-1) over the New York Islanders; Pittsburgh Penguins (4-1) over the Detroit Red Wings.

Conference Finals - Washington Capitals (4-3) over the Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference: #1 Dallas Stars (4-1) over the #8 Minnesota Wild; #2 Anaheim Ducks (4-2) over the Nashville Predators; #2 St. Louis Blues (4-3) over the #3 Chicago Black Hawks; #2 Los Angeles Kings (4-3) over the #3 San Jose Sharks.

Conference Semis – Los Angeles Kings (4-3) over the Dallas Stars; Anaheim Ducks (4-2) over the St. Louis Blues.

Conference Finals – Anaheim Ducks (4-2) over the Los Angeles Kings

Stanley Cup Champs – Anaheim Ducks (4-2) over the Washington Capitals

Season to date (32 -18)

MARKET WEEK - Market volatility reared its head again on Thursday as the VIX rallied 10% while stock markets and interest rates fell sharply amidst global growth concerns. These jitters stabilized somewhat on Friday with equities paring some losses to end the week down around 1%.

The week ahead, investors will be paying attention to economic data from the U.S., the International Monetary Fund meeting, corporate earnings from the U.S. and some key offshore data.

The focus for the week in the United States will be the release of the March Consumer Price Index. As the chance of deflation continues to dwindle the Fed will be hoping to see inflation continue its path to the 2% target. The consensus is for a rise of 0.2%. The CPI number is preceded by Wednesday's Producer Price Index that tracks prices at the producer level before it is passed onto the consumer.

Wednesday also sees the release of the March retail sales data where investors will be looking for a rebound from February's -0.1% fall.

The week is rounded off with the release of U.S. Industrial Production Index data.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Treasury Secretary Jack Lew at 8:30 a.m. on Monday delivers remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in DC on "America and the Global Economy: The Case for U.S. Leadership" ... President Obama on Monday afternoon will meet with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen "to discuss the state of the American and global economy, Wall Street Reform, and the long-term economic outlook" ... U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts a summit Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. on investing in American featuring Lew, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Senator John McCain, Governor Scott Walker and Governor Terry McAuliffe ... What are expected to be grim first quarter bank earnings begin this week with JPMorganChase on Wednesday and Bank of America on Thursday ... IMF and World Bank hold spring meetings beginning Tuesday ... Senate Finance Committee at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday holds a hearing on cybercrime ... Senate Appropriations on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. holds a hearing and the SEC and CFTC budgets ... House Natural Resources holds a hearing Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on the Puerto Rico bill ... House Small Business Committee has a hearing Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. on small business tax simplification ... Senate Banking on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. has a hearing on the bond market featuring Treasury Counselor Antonio Weiss ... Retail sales at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent ex-autos ... Producer Prices at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise 0.3 percent headline and 0.1 percent core ... Consumer Prices at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.2 percent headline and core ... Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m. Friday expected to dip 0.1 percent ... Univ. Michigan Consumer Sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Friday expected to rise to 92.0 from 91.0.

Next week: Top Five.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 11, 2016

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –The Democratic Campaign

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