Monday, November 21, 2016
Thanksgiving week in America: Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys football on Thursday; Trump transition in full swing; Black Friday; and the usual Rink Rats news and views …..
HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN ON WALL STREET - Christmas has arrived early for Wall Street in the early days of the Donald Trump era. A populist candidate who railed against shady financial interests on the campaign trail is now putting together an administration that looks like an investment banker's dream.
Former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin has been seen at Trump Tower amid rumors that he's the leading candidate for Treasury Secretary. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross appears headed to the Commerce Department.
Steve Bannon, another Goldman alum, will work steps from the Oval Office. If Mnuchin drops out, as some rumors suggest he may, JPMorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon remains a possibility as Treasury Secretary, and will serve as an outside adviser if he doesn't get the job. It's a restoration of Wall Street power - and a potential flip in the way the industry is regulated - perhaps unparalleled in American history.
You would have to go back to the 1920s to see so much Wall street influence coming to Washington,' said Charles Geisst, a Wall Street historian at Manhattan College. 'It's the most dramatic turn-around one could imagine. That's the truly astonishing part.'
If you really want to reduce bank regulation you have to change the nature of the Fed so it really has the desire to start easing off and I think it will be pretty easy for Trump to do that. You have two board seats empty and there is a good chance he can push out Yellen and Fischer and that would give him four out of seven and five if [Daniel] Tarullo becomes isolated and resigns.
FIVE MYTHS ABOUT FLU SHOTS – (1). They can give you the flu. No, they can’t, because the vaccine is made with a “killed” virus. At worst—and this is rare—the body’s immune system reacts to the dead virus by producing mild aches or a low-grade fever.
(2). They don’t work. It’s true that the vaccine doesn’t protect against every strain of flu. But last year the shot reduced an individual’s risk of flu illness by 49 percent. If you do contract the flu after getting the shot, your symptoms will be less severe.
(3). You never get sick anyway. Everyone gets the flu at some point. Besides, you’re not alone in this: The vaccine lowers the odds you’ll pass the virus to a child, senior, or someone else who could be killed by it.
(4). It’s too late already. Not if flu viruses are still circulating, as they can be until summer.
(5). The nasal spray is equally effective. Not at all. The CDC reports that sprays were largely ineffective for three consecutive seasons.
COLLEGE CHRONICLES -
IMPROPER PAYMENT RATES SOAR FOR PELL AND STUDENT LOANS: The Education Department estimates that in fiscal year 2016 it incorrectly calculated more than $2.2 billion in Pell grants — an error rate of 7.85 percent that is up considerably from last year’s 1.88 percent. Most of the improper payments for Pell grants — slightly more than $2 billion — were the result of overpayments, while nearly $200 million reflected underpayments, according to the department’s annual financial report released this week.
The federal direct student loan program improperly disbursed more than $3.8 billion, according to the department. That amounts to an error rate of 3.98 percent — an increase from 1.30 percent last year.
The vast majority of improper payments for both Pell and student loans were the result of a wide range of “administrative or process errors” made by colleges or the student loan servicers hired by the government, the department said. That includes not processing student account data properly, not appropriately tracking students’ academic progress, or not correctly calculating the return of federal student aid when a student drops out. The remaining problems, the department said, were related to students and families erroneously reporting income on the FAFSA and therefore receiving incorrect determinates of their eligibility for aid.
Campus Sanctuaries - Declaring campuses “sanctuaries” won’t necessarily do anything to help students, said Michael A. Olivas, an expert in immigration law who is the interim president of the University of Houston-Downtown, a Hispanic-serving institution. “It has no legal meaning and the admonitions are vague and impossible to implement, which will only frustrate people more,” Campuses haven’t been raided in the past and are unlikely to be now, Olivas wrote. “But just like I cannot tell you how to react to any rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act, I cannot tell people what this could do and what the alternatives are. I know it will not be good.”
“In 16 years of being a university president, I’ve never seen the tensions higher,” F. King Alexander, the president of Louisiana State University, told Morning Education. “We have Muslim students worried. They came to me the end of the spring last year — they were worried about the rhetoric they were hearing. We’ve got Hispanic students worried, because of the deportation issue and their family members.” Undocumented students “add a lot to our campus,” said University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves. “I’ve met with a number of students,” Fenves said. “They’re very motivated and dedicated students.”
NEWSPAPERS, IS THE END NEAR? - Print newspapers are dying faster than you think. That the print industry is in decline will surprise no one, but the latest advertising revenue figures “tell a scary story. Print ads declined 15 percent during the third quarter at Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher and the owner of USA Today. Meanwhile, print revenues were down 17 percent at McClatchy (which owns The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee), 19 percent at The New York Times, and 21 percent at The Wall Street Journal; the last announced it will cut staff and eliminate sections to cope with the losses. Making matters worse: These ad revenues are dropping precipitously even as the overall economy is growing. Advertising has long been “a cyclical business,” and when newspaper revenues plunged during the recession, many in the industry imagined they would recover once the economy improved. That never happened. If newspapers are doing this badly during a recovery, “things will get much, much worse when the next recession hits.”
Where do newspapers go from here? Ironically, the future of print may be in its distant past. The earliest American newspapers relied on small numbers of subscribers who paid luxury prices for the product. Beginning in the 1830s, media innovators realized they could make more money selling cheap papers to bigger audiences, with the real profit coming from ads. Today, newspapers are once again refocusing on subscribers as a profit center. In 2000, circulation accounted for 26 percent of The New York Times’ revenue. Today, it’s 60 percent, “and growing.” Newspapers will need to experiment radically in order to survive the industry’s downturn, said Jennifer Saba in The New York Times. The trouble is, that’s unlikely to happen at a publicly traded media company. Investors really don’t have the patience to wait for struggling companies like Gannett and Tronc, which publishes the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, to test new content models and delivery methods. But hope may lie in next-generation media moguls like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post in 2013. “Many American newspapers would benefit from a steward willing to sacrifice short-term profit for a longer-term vision.”
What if almost the entire newspaper industry got it wrong? Over the past two decades, print papers have struggled mightily to reinvent themselves for the digital age. But a recent study shows that despite huge investments in “digital first” strategies, major newspapers have seen almost zero growth in online readership since 2007, with readers turning instead to news aggregators like Yahoo News and Google News. Digital ad revenue for newspapers increased from $3 billion to only $3.5 billion from 2010 to 2014. Surveys also show that most readers still prefer the print version of their daily newspaper to the web product. It sounds like heresy, but maybe newspapers should focus on what they’re good at—instead of fighting a digital war they can’t possibly win.
Last week I asked my classes with eighteen, nineteen, and twenty year old students how many read a daily newspaper? The answer: zero.
WEST COAST WATCH -- The Obamas are going bicoastal: The Obamas are moving into a nine-bedroom mansion in the Kalorama section of Washington - the posh neighborhood of diplomats and DC old money - while younger daughter Sasha finishes high school at Sidwell Friends. But they have apparently been buying real estate elsewhere, too. According to sources, the Obamas have purchased a house in Rancho Mirage, Calif., not far from Sunnylands, the former Annenberg estate, which presidents use as a getaway and which is thought of as the unofficial West Coast Camp David ... The Obamas are also said to have bought a holiday getaway in Obama's childhood home state of Hawaii.
FALL MOVIE CHOICES:
Hacksaw Ridge - Mel Gibson’s new World War II drama is a picture alive with grim vitality.. Ten years after the actor-filmmaker was arrested for drunk driving and went on an anti-Semitic tirade that threw his career into a downward spiral, he’s returned to directing, dramatizing the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II medic who singlehandedly rescued 75 other soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa. A convincing Andrew Garfield plays Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist who refused to carry a weapon for religious reasons but threw himself into the heat of horrific combat anyway. The movie is not for the faint of heart, very violent. But while Hacksaw Ridge lacks subtlety, it is brutally effective. Gibson’s masterful re-creation of Okinawa features “some of the most violent battle scenes ever committed to film, and from the movie’s midpoint on, it’s impossible to look away. Eventually, you can’t help noticing that you’re watching the most paradoxical of features: a movie venerating pacifism, made by a man pathologically beguiled by violence. On the Rink Rats scale of one to ten, with ten being the best; we give Hacksaw Ridge a 7.5. Great story but the violence is not for everyone.
Arrival – I am a sucker for science fiction, If big-screen sci-fi has been searching for a genre-defining moment, it has finally arrived. Succeeding where Interstellar fell short, this alien contact drama from the director of Sicario is as heartbreaking as it is thrilling and cerebral. Amy Adams plays an expert linguist who’s mourning her teenage daughter’s death when the government contacts her for help. A dozen spacecraft have landed across the planet, triggering a crisis. Together with a military scientist (Jeremy Renner), Adams’ academic must decipher the aliens’ language and communicate with them before China and Russia start an international war. The plot sounds familiar, but “Arrival instantly distances itself from most alien invasion movies. Indeed, there’s rarely a moment in the film that’s predictable. Instead of firefights, it builds toward big ideas, like the need for global communion and the power of language to change perception. The pacing is methodical, the story captivating, and the filmmaking beautiful. Arrival is the kind of science-fiction film we dream of. The film’s music, story, and images come together in a seamless whole, and that whole is big, somber, and grand. On the Rink Rats scale of one to ten, with ten being the best; we give Arrival a 8.0.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Traci Allen Attman; Tom Brock …famous respected mad scientist; Bo Derek (60) Santa Barbara, CA.; Megyn Kelly (46) Manhattan, NY.; Gordon Lightfoot (78) Cape Bretton Island, Nova Scotia; Meg Ryan (55) Del Mar, CA.; Sam Waterson (76) Darien, CT.
TOP THREE THANKSGIVING COCKTAILS - Thanksgiving isn’t all about the food! When you’re hosting a Thanksgiving party, don’t forget about the cocktails! Thanksgiving cocktails are a great way to complement your food and add some fun to your celebration. The best Thanksgiving cocktails match the flavor of your food and the autumn season. Rink Rats, after intense grueling testing, has pulled together the top Thanksgiving cocktail recipes for you to try at your get-together this year. Cheers!
Cranberry Cosmopolitan: A festive drink for the holiday season!
1½ ounces vodka, preferably ruby red vodka or citron vodka
½ ounce orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce cranberry juice, red or white
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with cranberries.
Cider Smash: Try this Thanksgiving cocktail recipe as a variation on the classic apple cider!
2 ounces bourbon
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 ounces chilled sparkling apple cider
Thin red-apple slice
Pour the bourbon and lemon juice into a glass and mix. Top with chilled sparkling apple cider and garnish with an apple slice.
Falling Leaf Fizz: This pumpkin cocktail is perfect for your Thanksgiving festivities!
1 part Grey Goose La Poire Vodka
4 parts sparkling wine
Dash of simple syrup
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin butter
Pinch of pumpkin pie spice
Dried apple chip for garnish
Put the vodka, syrup, pumpkin butter, and pie spice in the bottom of a glass and mix. Pour the sparkling wine over the mixture and garnish with the apple chip.
NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE WHO GETS FIRED FIRST - The 20-game mark and the oft-used hallmark of American Thanksgiving are approaching like a world-destroying meteorite for many teams. The holiday is often used as a time to give your team a hard, honest look in the mirror. With that looming on the horizon, some coaches might start to find themselves on a very hot seat.
Willie Desjardins, Vancouver Canucks: The Vancouver coach is the obvious pick to top the list. He’s been given 7/2 odds of getting the can. The Canucks have struggled mightily in the early going and as is often the case, the general manager bears a lot of responsibility. Yet, it’s the coach who serves as the canary in the coal mine on the path to a first-overall pick.
Jack Capuano, New York Islanders: Coach Capuano is in a similar situation. The search for scoring and a wing for John Tavares weren’t helped by off seasons moves. But Capuano is likely to bear the brunt of ownership’s disappointment if things don’t change.
Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators: It’s shocking considering how highly regarded the Predators were entering the season. With how great the team was last season, it’s hard to see how Laviolette gets axed. But if the team doesn’t turn around, someone may have to pay the price of high expectations.
HOCKEY NIGHT IN IRELAND - After a weekend sweep of Yale and Brown at Appleton Arena, the No. 20 St. Lawrence men's hockey team hit the road on Sunday morning with a final destination of Belfast, Northern Ireland to compete in the second annual Friendship Four tournament. Other teams in the tournament this year include ECAC Hockey rival No. 4 Quinnipiac and Hockey East foes Vermont and the University of Massachusetts (UMass).
The squads will square off at The SSE Arena, home of the Belfast Giants, a professional team that competes within the Elite Ice Hockey League. The arena also hosted the inaugural Friendship Four Tournament in 2015, a four-game set that featured the ECAC's Brown University and Colgate University and Hockey East's UMass Lowell River Hawks and Northeastern Huskies.
The team's will play a traditional tournament format, with the Saints facing Quinnipiac in a neutral site conference game on Friday evening and UMass and UVM also playing a conference game in the opening game Friday afternoon. The winners of both contests will compete for the Belpot Trophy on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. Eastern).
NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Thursday 11/24, 12:30 PM PT, Fox: Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Detroit Lions (6-4). The Norris Division lead is on the line at Ford Field, Lions win the Turkey 24 – 21. Season to date (9-2)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/26, 12:00 PM PT, ABC; #3 University of Michigan Wolverines (10-1) at #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1), a ticket to the Big Ten Championship game is on the line, Michigan wins the battle of the defenses 20 – 17. Season to date (10-2)
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/26, 12:00 PM ET, HGTV: The D-III Playoffs Round 2; Linfield Wildcats (9-1) at #1 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (11-0), the Wildcats lost 66-27 earlier in the season to the Crusaders, can you say deja vu, 50 – 24. Season to date (7-5)
COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday 11/25, 2:30 PM ET, NESN: The Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Ireland. #20 St. Lawrence University Saints (8-4-2) vs. #4 Quinnipiac Bobcats (9-3-1). Saints take a four game win streak into Guinness Land, Saints win 5 – 4. Season to date (3-4)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(CFL Grey Cup, Nov. 26, Western Final) Calgary Stampeders (16-2-1) vs. Ottawa Redblacks (10-9-1), Calgary wins their eighth Grey Cup, 45 – 25.
(NCAA FBS, Nov. 25) #6 Washington Huskies (10-1) at #22 Washington State Cougars (8-3), a battle for a chance at the Pac 12 title game, Huskies win 32 – 22.
(NHL, Nov. 26) Chicago Blackhawks (13-4-2) at Los Angeles Kings (10-9-1), big game at Staples, Kings in a wild one 6 – 5.
Season to date (105 - 89)
MARKET WEEK - The U.S. dollar steamed to a level not seen since 2003 and yields on the 10-year Treasury note reached a high for the year Thursday, as Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen confirmed investors’ view that the U.S. economy is strong enough to withstand an interest-rate rise soon. Ms. Yellen told lawmakers in testimony Thursday that the Fed could move “relatively soon,” after the government released a grab bag of economic data all pointing to a stronger economy: an improving housing market, rising consumer prices and a more robust labor market. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment insurance fell last week to its lowest level since 1973, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Ms. Yellen’s comments bolstered expectations that the Fed will lift its benchmark federal-funds rate at its next meeting on Dec. 13-14.
DOLLAR’S GOOD WEEK - The dollar extended its powerful rally, spurring central banks in developing countries to take steps to stabilize their own currencies and threatening to create headwinds for the long-running U.S. expansion.
The U.S. currency moved closer to parity with the euro after rising for the 10th straight day, the dollar’s longest winning streak against the euro since the European currency’s inception in 1999. The dollar also moved higher against the yen, which fell to its weakest levels against the U.S. currency since May 30.
The gains are even greater against many emerging-market currencies, prompting central banks in a number of countries to intervene to slow the slide. The Mexican peso has fallen 11% against the dollar to record lows since the election, while the Brazilian real has tumbled 6.3%.
The currency’s gains make foreign goods and travel cheaper for U.S. consumers and could give a boost to exports from Japan and Europe. But they also are reigniting fears that the dollar’s strength could slow U.S. corporate profit growth and intensify capital flight from the developing world, which would complicate the prospects for economic growth.
DRIVING THE WEEK - Treasury announcement could come in the next couple days ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday will conduct a bilateral meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. ... Existing Home Sales at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday expected to dip to 5.34M from 5.57M ... New Home Sales Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 590K from 575K ... Univ. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise to 91.6 from 87.2 ... FOMC Minutes at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday ... Justice Department challenge to the proposed $48 billion merger of health care companies Anthem and Cigna begins in court on Monday ... ECP President Mario Draghi answer questions Monday at the European Parliament.
Next week: Words of the Month and Jack Ass of the Month, plus the NHL at the quarter.
Until Next Time, Adios.
November 21, 2016
CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Tribune Company’s, Dana Summers