Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Stop the Madness
We are in a crisis in American society, from Higher Education to Business, the email “Reply All”.
Each day the fight gets tougher. More and more educated Americans are taken by this dreaded disease. The need to reply: “Thanks for sending”, “I agree”, “Count me in”, and so on and so on.
America we do not care! Keep your opinions to yourself. I believe there should be a course in graduate school, entitled “The Evils of Reply All.” Because the main followers of this cult are educated Americans, the PhDs, EdDs, and JDs of the world have all been hit hard by this disease.
How can we stop this madness? Two solutions make every advanced academic degree holder watch a season of The Orange County Housewives or just end the “Reply All” function in email. A tall order for both, but with modern science and technology this goal can be achieved in our lifetime.
Please as citizens of the planet, end this now.
“Citizens Against Reply All” CARA – “We really don’t care what you think!”
HAPPY 149th BIRTHDAY CANADA JULY 1 - Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. Originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed. Canada Day observances take place throughout Canada as well as among Canadians internationally.
With our choices in this year’s American Presidential Election, Canada is looking pretty good these days. Yes, they have lousy professional National Hockey League teams, and yes they have a dollar coin called the loonie, and yes their Prime Minister is a tad odd. But they have the largest coastline of any country in the world: from Vancouver, British Columbia in the west, to St. John’s, Prince Edward Island in the east, Windsor, Ontario to the south and Nunavut Territory to the north. All this with only 35 million people, Don Cherry, and the best beer in the world: Molson Export Ale.
This writer is one quarter Canadian, so we wish all Canadians Happy Birthday and have a cold one on your knucklehead neighbors to the south.
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA - George Stroumboulopoulos is out and Ron MacLean is back in as the host of Hockey Night in Canada according to a report by Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star.
Stroumboulopoulos was one of Rogers’ biggest hirings when they acquired the NHL broadcasting rights for $5.2 billion in 2014. The former CBC talk show host replaced MacLean, the longtime host of Hockey Night in Canada on CBC, in that role on Sportsnet.
Stroumboulopoulos, a former MuchMusic VJ and passionate hockey fan, was hired in hopes of bringing a younger audience to the broadcast, as MacLean was pushed aside in a smaller role. Clearly, the decision to replace MacLean was the wrong one — although it’s not entirely Stroumboulopoulos’ fault. He proved to be a capable host and an excellent interviewer who didn’t mesh well with the rest of Sportsnet’s talent. (Changing his wardrobe was among the requests executives suggested.) It just proved to be an awkward fit. Also look for other changes to the Sportsnet hockey analysts’ roster.
WHAT’S ON THE iPAD? – five songs we are listening to this holiday weekend:
1). “Love Runs Out”, 2014 – OneRepublic
2). “Right Place Wrong Time”, 1973 – Dr. John
3). “Going to California”, 1971 – Led Zeppelin
4). “Expressway to Your Heart”, 1967 – The Soul Survivors
5). “365 Days”, 2013 – ZZ Ward
STATE FAIR MENU – Minnesota State Fair (Aug. 25 to Sept. 5) announces "New Foods for 2016": "SPAM® Sushi: ... Macaroni & Cheese Curds ... Gumbo Frites: A bed of crispy french fries topped with [Ragin Cajun's] traditional New Orleans gumbo ... Italian Taco ... Deep Fried Grilled Cheese Bites ... Beer Brat Buddies ... SPAM® Curds: Cheese-flavored SPAM® that has been cubed, battered and deep-fried, served with a side of ranch dressing. The Claremont Club address is: 1777 Monte Vista Avenue, Claremont CA.
THREE GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW THROUGH THESE ECONOMIC TIMES - The nonfarm payroll report (commonly known as the job report) released earlier this month was just the latest reminder that the current U.S. economic expansion remains uneven, inconsistent and prone to disappointment.
Although recent data shows a consumer sector in good shape, with home prices rising and household spending accelerating, a sharp deceleration in payroll growth calls into question the case for a consumer-led recovery. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector is still struggling with last year’s rapid rise in the U.S. dollar and the collapse in commodity prices.
How can investors navigate through this murky picture? Here are three guidelines:
Watch the Dollar: U.S. manufacturing has been decelerating for most of the past two years. A number of factors have contributed to the slowdown, including soft overseas growth and a sharp drop in capital spending by energy and mining companies.
But a strong dollar also bears much of the blame. Over the past five years, the level of the dollar index has explained roughly 30% of the variation in the rate of growth in industrial production. The silver lining of this month’s weak payroll number is a greater likelihood that the Federal Reserve will hold off on raising interest rates, which could lead to a softer dollar. That, in turn, should help alleviate the pressure on the manufacturing sector, as well as corporate profits.
Income matters more than confidence: Pay less attention to what consumers say and more to what they’re earning. The best predictor of household consumption is income growth, with wages being the most important component of income. Historically, changes in personal income have been the biggest driver of changes to retail sales. Surprisingly, consumer confidence has had a much weaker relationship with retail spending. Outside of the 2008 recession, the level of consumer confidence has told us very little about spending.
The lesson being: Consumers will spend if their income is rising, regardless of how they answer polls.
Lending indicators do in fact lead: To state the obvious, economies are complex and vulnerable to exogenous shocks. As a result, there are no truly reliable measures of future growth. That said, certain economic statistics have historically led overall growth.
My preferred measure is the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI), which has historically correlated with economic activity one to two quarters ahead. In other words, it won’t provide much information on what the economy will do a year hence, but it has historically done a decent job of signaling an imminent recession. Today, the CFNAI is right where it’s been for most of the past seven years, hovering close to 0. This suggests that growth is likely to remain positive, albeit tepid.
Given the recent weakness in the dollar, the modest acceleration in hourly wages and stable leading indicators, for now my view is that the U.S. economy will continue to expand in the coming quarters. Just don’t expect great things…or consistency.
SUMMER PIE RECIPE – Michigan Tart Cherry Pie
Makes: 8 servings, Prep 30 mins, Cool At least 2 hrs, Bake 1 hr, Stand 45 mins
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 1/2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened pitted tart red cherries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Two Crust Pie Shell (Helen Fletcher's No Fail Pie Crust)
1 tablespoon sugar
In a large bowl, stir together the 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, quick-cooking tapioca, and cornstarch; add frozen cherries and lemon juice. Gently toss until coated. Let mixture stand about 45 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed but still icy; stirring occasionally. (If using fresh cherries, let cherry mixture stand about 15 minutes or until a syrup forms; stirring occasionally.)
Prepare and roll out Two Crust Pie Shell pastry (see below). Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of the pastry.
Transfer cherry mixture to the pastry-lined pie plate. Cut slits in remaining pastry to make a pretty design; place on filing. Trim overhangs to an even 1 inch all the way around. Tuck the crusts under and flute the edges. Lightly brush top pastry with a little water. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon sugar on top pastry. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil.
Place pie plate on middle shelf in oven; place foil-lined baking sheet on lower rack beneath pie. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake about 50 minutes more or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 8 servings.
Rink Rats Two-Crust Pie Pastry:
3 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup shortening
7 tablespoons cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
In a large bowl, stir together cake flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening until pieces are pea-size.
In a small bowl, stir together 6 tablespoons of the water, egg and lemon juice. Using a large fork, gently toss the flour mixture and egg mixture together. If there are any dry parts add the remaining 1 tablespoon of water and gently toss to moisten evenly (should be a mass of very large crumbs).
Turn crumb mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your fingers, gently form a ball. Using just a bit of flour, knead 4 to 5 times to form a ball. Divide in half. Using your hands, flatten each into a disc about 1 inch thick. If necessary, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disc of dough from center to edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter. To transfer pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate without stretching it and gently fit pastry into dish.
Roll remaining dough disc into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Place pastry on filling. Trim both overhangs to an even 1 inch all the way around. Tuck the crusts under and flute the edges. To prevent overbrowning, cover edges with foil. Bake as directed in individual recipes. Makes 2 pie crusts.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Mel Brooks (90) Beverly Hills, CA.; John Cusack (50) Pasadena, CA.; Kris Kristofferson (80) Austin, TX.; Lorrie Morgan (57) Memphis, TN.; Kellie Pickler (30) Nashville, TN.
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
Major League Baseball Game of the Week: Saturday July 2, 4:15 p.m. ET, NESN; Los Angeles Dodgers (43-36) vs. Boston Red Sox (42-35). Battle of wild card playoff contenders, Sox win this Independence Day weekend, 7 – 4.
Season to date (50 -36)
MARKET WEEK – BREXIT: British voters didn't just shock the world and the financial markets by voting to leave the European Union a few days ago: They also ignored President Barack Obama, handed Hillary Clinton a potential economic burden and injected new energy into the populist currents roiling politics on both sides of the Atlantic. ... The surprise 52-48 result in favor of leaving the European Union - which British networks projected just before 5 a.m. local time - came after a tense night of vote-counting throughout the United Kingdom. ...
In addition to driving down the pound by nearly 10 percent, the vote slammed global markets, with shares in Asia down sharply. Markets had a big swoon on Wall Street Friday and Monday with shares falling more than 3 percent. That would amount to a Dow drop of close to 600 points, a plunge frighteningly reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis.
Market analysts struggled overnight to reckon with the potential global impact of the Brexit vote. 'Massive institutional uncertainty is now being superimposed on economic fragility and financial fluidity,' said Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz."
Look for lots of soothing statements from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, as well as heads of state, as leaders try to calm the financial markets and limit the damage from the vote. But make no mistake: A Brexit represents nothing less than the partial splintering of the world's largest political union and trading bloc - an $18 trillion economy.
Many fear that other European countries will now hold their own exit referendums, leading to a chain reaction that will reverberate across the Atlantic. The Brexit vote could also break apart the U.K., scramble transatlantic political unity amid growing tensions with Russia, and complicate U.S. trade ties.
It could even hit the U.S. economy, warned Harvard professor and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. “The economy is more fragile to a negative shock than at any time since the second World War. Always before when had a downturn there was room for monetary policy action to counteract that. Today there is essentially no such room.”
STOCKS TO WATCH - Amazon (AMZN) is expected to announce an expansion of its Dash push-button ordering service, according to the Wall Street Journal . The thumb-drive-sized devices allow customers to directly order products.
Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) has submitted a bid for 17 Sports Authority stores, according to Reuters. Dick's is said to be the only bidder to make offers for more than a single location operated by its bankrupt rival.
Walt Disney's (DIS) "Finding Dory" topped the weekend box office again, pulling in another $73.2 million in North American ticket sales. The movie is the sequel to the 2003 hit "Finding Nemo." But another sequel, "Independence Day: Resurgence," struggled.
FINANCE 101 - EUROPEAN UNION: The European Union (EU) is a group of 27 countries that operates as a cohesive economic and political block. Nineteen of the countries use the euro as their official currency. The EU grew out of a desire to form a single European political entity to end the centuries of warfare among European countries that culminated with World War II, which decimated much of the continent. The European Single Market was established by 12 countries in 1993 to ensure the so-called four freedoms: the movement of goods, services, people and money.
The EU had its beginning in the European Coal and Steel Community, which was founded in 1950 and had just six members: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It became the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome, and subsequently became the European Community (EC). The early focus of the Community was a common agricultural policy as well as the elimination of customs barriers. The EC first expanded in 1973 when Denmark, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Greece and Spain joined. A directly elected European Parliament took office in 1979.
In 1986, the Single European Act solidified the principles of foreign policy cooperation and extended the powers of the community over the members. It also formalized the idea of a single European market. The Maastricht Treaty took effect on Nov. 1, 1993, and the EC was replaced by the EU. The Treaty provided for the creation of the euro, which is intended to be the single currency for the EU. It debuted on Jan. 1, 1999. Denmark and the United Kingdom negotiated "opt out" provisions that permitted them to retain their own currencies. Several newer members of the EU have not yet met the criteria for adopting the euro. In 2014, the GDP of the EU totaled $13.8 billion, which is larger than that of the United States.
The EU and the European Central Bank (ECB) have struggled since the global financial market collapse of 2008 to deal with very high sovereign debt and collapsing growth in Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Greece and Ireland received financial bailouts from the community in 2009, which were accompanied by fiscal austerity. Portugal followed in 2011, along with a second Greek bailout. Multiple rounds of interest rate cuts and economic stimulus failed to resolve the problem. Northern countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands increasingly resent the financial drain from the south. Repeated rumors that Greece would be forced to withdraw from the euro failed to materialize amid disagreement as to whether the move was legally possible as it was not covered in the Maastricht Treaty.
DRIVING THE WEEK - Brexit react will dominate the start of the week ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will appear on CNBC's "Squawk Box" at 8:00 a.m. ahead of the US market open. Later in the morning, Lew will deliver remarks and participate in a moderated conversation at the 2016 Bretton Woods annual conference ... Top central bankers begin meeting today at a three-day European Central Bank summit in Sintra, Portugal ... Third estimate of Q1 GDP on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. expected to be revised up to 1.0 percent from 0.8 percent ... Case-Shiller Home Prices at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to grow 0.5 percent ... Consumer Confidence at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise to 93.1 from 92.6 ... Personal Income and Spending at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday both excepted to grow 0.3 percent ... ISM Manufacturing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 51.4 from 51.3.
Next week: Jack Ass of the Month and Words of the Month
Until Next Time, Adios.
June 28, 2016
CARTOON OF THE WEEK –The New Yorker, Warp