Wednesday, January 25, 2017
You hear and read a lot of noise lately about the first hundred days of the Trump Administration. What will the President do? How is he at managing? Is he a leader? One hundred days is used to measure the successes and accomplishments of a president during the time that their power and influence is at its greatest.
Presidents come to office hoping to spruce up the ship and then realize how much time must be spent to keep it from foundering in a giant, hostile sea. Avoiding disaster—in the form of war—is the big challenge.
War is the horrible wild card of presidencies. A prolonged stalemate in Korea left Harry S. Truman deeply unpopular by 1952, and he abandoned efforts to get re-elected. Vietnam not only cost Lyndon Johnson his presidency but also, because of the many lies that were told, destroyed the trust most Americans had in their government before then. And, no, I’m not forgetting Iraq. If the last 42 months of the presidency of George W. Bush had gone like his first 6 months, we’d merely have had kooky fiscal policies, poorly enforced borders, and a financial meltdown. Not ideal but not irremediable. Unfortunately, after September 11, 2001, a major security failure in itself, we saw ill-considered wars, a massive loss of blood and treasure, vast erosions of civil liberties, and even the use of torture on detainees in our custody. All that will keep hurting for decades to come.
Even presidents who try to scale things back find themselves drawn into more than they planned for. Barack Obama claimed to reject the Beltway playbook yet got us involved in overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi and funneling aid to rebels in Syria. Such efforts did the first Obama White House little good and left the next one with trouble it was ill-equipped to handle. Last year, the United States dropped more than 26,000 bombs in seven countries—what Obama’s critics call “America in retreat.” I’d hate to see an advance.
Republicans control everything for the first time in a decade, Democrats are trying to find their way and the media is grappling with a massive shift in our nation's politics. Leaving politics aside, Washington changes with every administration.
One hundred days is an important indicator not only for the Presidency: one hundred day diets, one hundred day certificates of deposit, one hundred day probation, one hundred days into a relationship, one hundred days of peace, one hundred day wars, for professional sports the first one hundred days of a season are an indicator of success.
It seems like a short time but in fact it is an accurate measurement of success or failure. Many of us live our lives by quarters; budgets, exercise, habits. Those extra ten days for many indicates a better measurement of performance.
FOR HISTORY -- PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP (Front Pages)
GRAND RAPIDS PRESS: "HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Trump takes reigns of country with a vow to return the power to the people" http://bit.ly/2jj2Iip
THE BOSTON GLOBE has a great front page with an eye-grabbing AP image. http://bit.ly/2jiYvvo
COLLEGE CHRONICLES - 'Free college' in New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal on last week to offer free tuition at New York’s two giant university systems for families with annual incomes up to $125,000 could be groundbreaking for the “free college” movement. It would be the first such program that calls for free tuition for four years of college, not just two years, as in Tennessee and Oregon.
But some analysts are already calling it a “regressive” approach. That’s because it would cover only tuition, and many lower-income students would already qualify for enough state and federal aid to cover those costs. Also, under the proposal, students would have to attend full time to be eligible. About one-third of CUNY and SUNY students attend part time, and many part-timers do so because they need to work to support their families.
CALIFORNIA DREAMING - Fifty is the new 30. Orange is the new black. And in Donald Trump's America, California has become the new Texas. California is now a deep-blue island of resistance, one of only four of the 50 states with both a Democratic governor and legislature.
PHOTO - "My Ten Years With Obama": "Brooks Kraft has photographed the outgoing president from the campaign trail, to the White House, and back again. Here's the best of what he saw." 32 pix http://politi.co/2jhZhZY
APPLE MILESTONE - Apple to hit $1 trillion in total iPhone, iOS revenue this year: report: Total revenues from iOS products, which include iPhones (now celebrating their 10-year anniversary), iPod Touch devices, Apple Watches, iPads and Apple TV systems, will hit $980 billion by the middle of this year. Add in $100 billion in revenue from iOS services, and "iOS will have generated over $1 trillion in revenues for Apple sometime this year.
OUCH - Billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros lost nearly $1 billion as a result of the stock-market rally spurred by ... Trump's surprise presidential election. But Stanley Druckenmiller, Mr. Soros's former deputy who helped Mr. Soros score $1 billion of profits betting against the British pound in 1992, anticipated the market's recent climb and racked up sizable gains, according to people close to the matter.
The two traders' divergent bets are a stark reminder of the challenges even acclaimed investors have faced following Mr. Trump's unexpected victory. Many experts had predicted a tumble for stocks in the wake of the election, but instead the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed about 9 percent since Election Day. Stocks have fallen broadly in the past couple of sessions, hurt in part by a reversal for smaller companies and the financial industry.
A NICE READ -- "The Bush Sisters Wrote the Obama Girls A Letter" -- FUNNY LINE: "Enjoy college. As most of the world knows, we did." http://ti.me/2jeYk6S
FRIENDLY SKIES - JetBlue becomes the first airline to offer free wifi in every seat. The Fly-Fi service includes streaming video curated by Amazon and 36 channels of DIRECTV. Also free wifi at its terminals at DCA, JFK, LAX and many other airports.
SEARS ON THE BRINK - Long-struggling Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) may soon be on the brink of bankruptcy. "Nothing they have gets them where they need to be," says one retail consultant.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Alan Alda (80) Austin, TX.; Wayne Gretzky (55) Thousand Oaks, CA.; Jack Nicklaus (77) Palm Beach, FL.
FINANCE 101 – NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement)
A regulation implemented January 1, 1994 in Mexico, Canada and the United States to eliminate most tariffs on trade between these nations. The three countries phased out numerous tariffs, (with a particular focus on those related to agriculture, textiles and automobiles), between the agreement’s implementation and January 1, 2008. NAFTA’s purpose is to encourage economic activity between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
About one-fourth of U.S. imports, (especially crude oil, machinery, gold, vehicles, fresh produce, livestock and processed foods), comes from Canada and Mexico, which are the United States’ second- and third-largest suppliers of imported goods. In addition, about one-third of U.S. exports, particularly machinery, vehicle parts, mineral fuel and oil, and plastics are destined for Canada and Mexico.
The Clinton administration, which signed the law that was developed under the George H. W. Bush administration, believed NAFTA would create 200,000 American jobs within two years and 1 million within five years because exports played a major role in U.S. economic growth. They anticipated a dramatic increase in U.S. imports to Mexico under the lower tariffs. Critics, however, were concerned that NAFTA would move U.S. jobs to Mexico. While the United States, Canada and Mexico have all experienced economic growth, higher wages and increased trade with each other since NAFTA’s implementation, experts disagree on how much NAFTA contributed to these gains, if at all.
NAFTA was supplemented by the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC). These side agreements were intended to prevent businesses from relocating to take advantage of lower wages, more lenient laws about worker health and safety, and less strict environmental laws.
NAFTA did not eliminate regulatory requirements on companies wishing to trade internationally, such as rule of origin regulations and paperwork requirements that determine whether a good can be traded under NAFTA. The free trade agreement also contains administrative, civil and criminal penalties for businesses that violate any of the three countries’ laws or customs procedures.
Countries are most likely to import goods that domestic industries cannot produce as efficiently or cheaply but may also import raw materials or commodities that are not available within its borders. For example, many countries have to import oil because they cannot produce it domestically or cannot produce enough of it to meet demand. Free trade agreements and tariff schedules often dictate what goods and materials are less expensive to import. With globalization and the increasing prevalence of free trade agreements between the United States and other countries and trading blocks, U.S. imports have increased from $473 billion in 1989 to $2.24 trillion in 2015.
WORD OF THE MONTH: intrapreneur
\in-truh-pruh-NUR, -NOO R, -NYOO R\
1. an employee of a large corporation who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, systems, etc., and does not have to follow the corporation's usual routines or protocols.
Many companies—including global brands like IBM, eBay, and Facebook—focus on developing an “intrapreneur” culture. An intrapreneur brings the creativity and drive often associated with startups to larger, established companies.
GREAT READS - "The Government Secrets Trump Is About to Discover," by Garrett M. Graff in the January/February 2017 issue of Politico Magazine: "From spy planes to cyberattacks to the private lives of foreign leaders, the president gets access to more confidential material than anyone else on the planet. Now, it's all in Donald Trump's hands." http://politi.co/2iN0DPG
"The Great Exception: California vs. Trump. Part One," by Andy Kroll in California Sunday: "With a GDP of $2.5 trillion, it has the sixth-largest economy in the world, trailing only the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, China, and, of course, the United States. With 39 million people, it is by far the most populous state in the union. (Put another way, nearly one out of every eight Americans is a Californian.) Two of the nation's most influential industries - tech and entertainment - reside primarily in California. The state is the fifth-largest supplier of food in the world." http://bit.ly/2jD9aUW
GOOD LISTEN – If by chance you have Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 82 Mad Dog Sports is quite entertaining this week (Noon – 4:00 p.m. PT). Christopher Russo is having his annual Super Bowl Trivia contest; you must answer four questions to win two tickets to the Super Bowl. As of today Tuesday no winners, and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo is getting aggravated, a good listen.
OUT AND ABOUT – Rink Rat follower, Todd Eckel, was quoted last week on KPCC 89.3:
This piece was regarding an agreement between the University of La Verne and the local school districts – which include those in Pomona, Alhambra, Covina, Duarte and other areas – is meant to ease the pathway between high school and higher education.
“The more accessible and affordable we can make our education at the University of La Verne, the better off the region will be as a whole,” said Todd Eckel, the interim dean of admissions at the University of La Verne.
CONGRATS TO – Viggo Mortensen (St. Lawrence ’80) for his Academy Award Best Actor nomination.
NEW ENGLAND PREP SCHOOL HOCKEY - #6 Loomis-Chaffee Pelicans (9-3-1): The two teams to beat the Pelicans are Avon and Deerfield, by scores of 2-1 and 3-2 (OT). In both of those losses Loomis poured over 40 shots on net. So excellent goaltending has been the only thing to stop Loomis. But Loomis has a pair of backstops who are very tough in their own right -- team GAA is 1.20.
SUPER BOWL QUIZ – Answers at the end of this Blog.
What two players who played in the 1967 “Ice Bowl” NFL Championship game went on to coach in the Super Bowl?
What two NFL teams have a record of one win and two losses in the Super Bowl?
COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday 1/27, 7:00 PM CT, HGTV: #2 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (15-5-4) at #6 Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-6-2). The Battle of Minnesota, The Bulldogs prevail in the Twin Cities, 5 – 4. Season to date (6-6)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NBA, Jan. 28) Los Angeles Clippers (30-17) at Golden State Warriors (38-7), Golden State too much for the Clips, 102 – 94.
(Pegasus World Cup, Jan. 28) $12 million stakes race at Gulfstream Park in Florida. Bet a sawbuck ($10) on California Chrome to win and end his illustrious career in style.
Season to Date (14 – 4)
MARKET WEEK – World's 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half of Global Population: The report, based on Forbes's annual list of billionaires, was prepared for release with last week's gathering of world leaders and business elites at Davos, Switzerland. It follows up on a similar study conducted a year ago that found that the world's richest 62 people had as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. The eight: Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega Gaona (founder of Inditex, which owns Zara), Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Mike Bloomberg.
DRIVING THE WEEK - Donald Trump kicks off his first full week in the White House with meetings on Monday with business leaders at 9:00 a.m. and union leaders at 3:00 p.m. ... At 10:30 a.m. he is expected to sign more executive orders. Later in the week he will huddle with Republicans at their House and Senate retreat in Philadelphia. ... British PM Theresa May will also visit the retreat before heading to the White House on Friday where she will be the first foreign head of state to meet with the new president ... Still no vote set yet on Mnuchin ... First read on Q1 GDP on Friday at 8:30 a.m. expected to show growth of just 2.2 percent.
SUPER BOWL QUIZ ANSWERS:
Forrest Gregg, Green Bay Packers coached in Super Bowl 23 for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dan Reeves, Dallas Cowboys coached in Super Bowls 21, 22, 24 for the Denver Broncos
Seattle Seahawks (1 – 2)
Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Next Blog: Winter Dining
Until Next Time, Happy Chinese New Year on January 28: The Year of the Rooster
January 26, 2017
CARTOON OF THE WEEK –“For Profit” Signe Wilkinson
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Every now and then we (Rink Rats) have a piece entitled Ten Questions. Where we ask colleagues, students, Rink Rats readers, Ten Questions: this week we continue with a student who is graduating from the University of La Verne this January, Dallas Parent.
1). Tell us about yourself; where did you grow up, go to high school, hobbies?
I am a 21-year-old college grad that grew up in Fullerton California. Growing up I was heavily involved with sports; played travel baseball where I got to play in Cooperstown New York, baseball Hall of Fame, played AAU basketball where I got to play a game in the Staple Center and with an NBA player Stanley Johnson, and started playing Pop Warner football at the age of 5 where I fell in love with the game. I went to Troy High School in Fullerton where I was a team captain for our football team my senior year and lettered in 3 varsity sports, football, basketball, and track. When I’m not playing sports I enjoy going snowboarding and playing cards. I also enjoy doing puzzles.
2). What was your major in undergraduate study, and why did you select your major?
At the University of La Verne I studied Business for my undergrad because I really did not know what I wanted to do with my life, still don’t know what I want to do. With having a degree in business there are numerous jobs out there in the world that you can do.
3). What did you like most about college?
My favorite thing about college was the relationships that I was able to build with my friends. With going to a small school you got to build such strong relationships with not only your friends but also with the professors and staff at the University.
4). What did you least like about college?
My least favorite thing about college was that our school does not do a good job at support our sport teams: Needs to be more school pride.
5). What next: career, life, etc.? Explain.
What’s next for me is going overseas to France to go play football for 6 months. They are taking care of me with everything and giving me a little money where I can enjoy myself while I’m visiting. Once that is over I may go into coaching because I have my high school coaches wanting me to go coach with them. All depends if I can find a career job in finance or not before football season starts.
6). How has education added to your life?
Education has added to my life by making me more knowledgeable about what is really going on in this world. Know where things go, why things work like this, etc.
7). What is your perfect job?
My perfect job would own my own business, doesn’t really matter what the business is just as long as it would let me still have a normal social life. Or be a high school head football coach in Southern California. I don’t want my job to take over my life where I can’t enjoy myself every now and then. Also want to be in a position where I can make an impact on lives one way or another.
8). If you had some “mad money,” what would you purchase and why?
I would investment that money because I like making money by doing nothing. I am perfectly fine with my life style right now and don’t need anything else at the moment.
9). What are you currently reading?
I am not currently reading anything due to being busy with just finishing up school and going to play football.
10). Who/whom are your heroes and why?
The only hero’s that I have are my parents because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here. But I do respect and admire a lot of people in this world.
INAUGURATION 101 - The California Democrats who've announced they will not attend Trump's swearing in: Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard of Downey, Barbara Lee of Oakland, Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, Mark Takano of Riverside, Mark DeSaulnier of Concord, Judy Chu of Monterey Park, Jerry McNerney of Stockton, Grace Napolitano of Norwalk, Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert, Ted Lieu of Torrance, Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, and Jared Huffman of San Rafael. A host of others are undecided, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Yes, it's a public display of disapproval of Trump. But we can tell you that it's actually quite common for some members not to attend the inauguration. They just usually don't talk about it. It's usually cold. Members of Congress have the week of inauguration off, and many would simply rather be home -- regardless if they like the president or not.
The current thinking among Trump insiders on the order of action is: health care repeal first, with a framework for replacing it; tax reform second, using an infrastructure plan as a sweetener to get win Democrats, making that third. The wall is a budget item that goes near the front of the chute.
We hear his inaugural address will be shorter than average.
Trump will hit just three Inaugural balls — Bill Clinton did 14! - and his parade will be a mere 90 minutes, "making it among the shortest on record," per a WashPost front-pager about his "workmanlike" inauguration.
OBAMA TO PALM SPRINGS -- President Obama and Michelle Obama will be leaving frigid Washington D.C. for sunny Palm Springs. We're told when the First Family leaves the Capitol after the inauguration, they'll take a chopper (it will not be Marine One because he won't be the active president when he boards) to Andrews Air Force Base. Our sources say at 2:45 PM they will leave Andrews on Special Air Mission 29,000, the plane that will take them to Palm Springs. It's the same plane that Obama used as president, but it won't be called Air Force One.
INAUGURATION QUIZ –
When George Washington was sworn in as our first President, where did it take place?
A). Washington, D.C.
B). New York
What President had the longest Inauguration Day parade?
A). Barack Obama
B). Ronald Reagan
C). Dwight Eisenhower
Answers at the end of the blog.
CLAREMONT GREEN - After years of punishing statewide drought, copious amounts of rain and snow are now blanketing California, from Los Angeles and San Diego to the far northern reaches of the Golden State.
What had been unsuccessfully predicted for the past two winters is now in full swing across not only California, but other areas of the western US as well. Of much interest to scientists and weather enthusiasts alike is what appears to be a notable contradiction between what is occurring in the atmosphere presently and what sea surface temperature data had led scientists to predict this winter.
According to the Mercury News in San Jose, “In a typical year, one ‘Northern Sierra eight-station index’ receives 50 inches of precipitation. As of Monday it was already at 40 inches—199 percent of the historic average for this date—and running slightly above 1982-83 and 1997-98, both of which were marked by severe El Niño flooding.”?Many state reservoirs are approaching their capacity and/or above 100 percent of their historic average for this date.
In the short term, present forecast models suggest a temporary break from present wet conditions locally beginning Friday, but longer-term projections suggest moisture laden-air from the Pacific could very well re-establish itself as a stable, ongoing force, especially during the two usually wettest winter months of January and February in California.
POTUS FINAL WEEK - On Monday, the President will welcome the Chicago Cubs to the White House to honor the team and their 2016 World Series victory. Later in the afternoon, the President will participate in a service project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On Tuesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House. On Wednesday, the President will hold his final press conference. On Thursday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.
On Friday morning, the President and First Lady will welcome President-elect Trump and Melania Trump to the White House for tea. The President and First lady will then attend the Inauguration of President-elect Trump at the U.S. Capitol. They will then proceed to Joint Base Andrews via helicopter where the President will deliver remarks to a group of staff gathered there to bid farewell, before departing JBA on their last flight aboard the presidential aircraft.
Three days to President Trump, nineteen days to Super Bowl 51 (in Houston)
POPULISM’S NEXT EPICENTERS - The populist fires of 2016 will continue across the globe in the new year, with Oxford Economics concluding in a new report that "at least one further victory in a major economy is very likely.
Business Insider posts a fascinating chart from the report, showing that Latin America is one of the next big cauldrons, with Brazil and Mexico both seen as having a more than 20% chance of having "a populist movement being in power in the next 2-3 years."
The inside take: Also watch western Europe, where Trump officials think Germany's Angela Merkel could well lose her bid for a fourth term, and this spring's French presidential election promises a rowdy counterblast to immigration.
HOMELAND IS BACK -- After thwarting a terrorist attack at Berlin's Hauptbahnhof Station during the climactic finale of Season 5, Season 6 [premiering Jan. 15] picks up several months later following the recent election of the new President of the United States. Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is back on American soil, living in Brooklyn, NY, and working at a foundation that provides aid to the Muslim community living in the United States.
THE HOUSING GAP - The volatile housing market of the past 15 years is widening the divide between pricey urban and coastal areas and more affordable inland regions. Much of the spoils of the recent boom have been concentrated in pricier markets. Homes in ZIP Codes where the median value is $500,000 to $1 million are now worth 103% more than they were 16 years ago, while in ZIP Codes where the median home was worth $100,000 to $150,000, prices have risen 16% since the trough of the market. In more rural areas outside major cities, demand for housing has been flat, with little new supply and more people leaving for larger cities and coastal regions. This contrast offers one explanation for the frustration building in the mostly rural, middle-American areas that helped propel Donald Trump to victory in the presidential election.
TEAM OF RIVALS - President Elect Trump has assembled a cabinet and senior staff with divergent views on such issues as the deficit, trade, climate change and Russia, posing a challenge for his administration as he tries to mold his own sweeping campaign themes into specific policies for governing. The president-elect’s pick for budget director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, for instance, has opposed raising the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump has proposed steep tax cuts and large increases in defense and infrastructure spending that a number of economists believe will cause the deficit to grow. Incoming administrations often have to grapple with contrarian viewpoints. However, Mr. Trump will be surrounded by a plethora of divergent voices from the outset. Much could depend on how the president-elect can establish a chain of command.
Trump's new economic math": "How will we know when America is great again? The economy is doing pretty well by traditional measurements such as unemployment - now at a nine-year low of 4.6 percent -- and growth -- currently at an annual rate of more than 3 percent. But Donald Trump regularly dismisses such numbers, describing the official unemployment rate as 'total fiction' and slamming President Barack Obama for failing to stem the loss of industrial jobs. So now that the Obama economy is about to become the Trump economy, Trump is likely to focus on the metrics that drove his campaign: wage increases, manufacturing jobs, a larger labor force, a declining trade deficit and faster overall growth. And if the American economy fails to advance on these fronts, Trump may simply redefine what success looks like. ...
In the face of all these challenges, Trump could simply use anecdotal examples of new manufacturing and coal industry jobs, seize on any further increase in wages, decide the jobless rate is now legitimate and declare victory. 'The president-elect judges his own personal wealth based on his own feelings,' [AEI scholar James] Pethokoukis said. 'So on any given day, he could just decide based on his feelings that America is great.'
TERMINATED: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's catch phrase for dismissed contestants on The Celebrity Apprentice is, "You're terminated," viewers of the show's first episode learned Monday. Cigar smoking, Schwarzenegger's famous accent and "Conan the Barbarian" references abound. While a receptionist referred to the new boss as "Mr. Schwarzenegger," contestants appeared to mostly stick with "Governor." When one called him "Arnold," Schwarzenegger said, "In here, you call me governor."
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Nick Clooney (83) Scottsdale, AZ.; Faye Dunaway (76) Santa Barbara, CA.; Julia Louis-Dreyfus (56) Woodland Hills, CA.; Aline Martins Lopes ….famous Brazilian Finance student; Dave Matthews (50) Maui, Hawaii; Michelle Obama (53) Washington D.C.; Dr. Laura Schlessinger (70) Los Angeles, CA.; Betty White (95) Beverly Hills, CA.
ELUSIVE EQUITY - The U.S. is becoming “de-equitized,” putting some of the best investing prospects out of the reach of ordinary Americans. With interest rates hovering near record lows, big investment funds seeking higher returns are showering private companies with cash. Mergers are booming and a new generation of companies have shunned public markets. Since the financial crisis, the equity market has become bifurcated, with a private option available to select investors and a public one that is more of a last resort for companies. The number of U.S.-listed companies has declined by more than 3,000 since peaking at 9,113 in 1997. In the technology industry, the private fundraising market now dwarfs its public counterpart. We examine why America’s roster of public companies is shrinking, while the average size of a public company in the U.S. has swelled.
TAX MAN - This flew kind of under the radar, but workers making around $125,000 a year are going to absorb a pretty big tax increase this year. The payroll tax cap took a pretty substantial jump - from $118,500 to $127,200. (The government takes out taxes for Social Security on income only up to the cap.)
The 7.3 percent increase in the payroll tax cap is the largest since 1983, which also happens to be when Washington finished off a bipartisan overhaul of Social Security. Why so big? The federal government basically had to push two years' worth of adjustments based on average wage increases into 2017, after being unable to raise the cap in 2016 because Social Security recipients hadn't gotten a cost-of-living increase.
GOOD READ - Richard Haass (no relation) in his latest book, 'A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order,' ... depicts the world Donald Trump will inherit, one characterized by increasing disorder, and explains how we arrived at this point, emphasizing the impact of new technologies, globalization, and the consequences of what the United States and others have done and failed to do at home and abroad. Haass calls for the adoption of an updated global operating system - which he calls World Order 2.0 - based not just on the rights of sovereign countries but also their obligations to one another, something that is increasingly essential in an interconnected world in which little stays local for long.
WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE DETROIT AUTO SHOW? Never heard of the so-called Chicken Tax, a 25 percent tariff on pickup trucks imported to North America? You're not alone. But The Wall Street Journal reports that car company executives in Detroit this week think getting rid of the tax, which has caused companies to produce their pickups in North America or send stripped down versions from abroad here to finish, would be a boost. "Many analysts say the Chicken Tax has protected U.S. jobs. But the tax also has limited options for buyers and likely hurt the overall fuel-economy opportunities for light trucks," according to the Journal, citing Dan Ikenson of the Cato Institute.
NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/22, 6:40 PM ET, CBS: Pittsburgh Steelers (13-5) vs. New England Patriots (15-2), AFC Championship game. Home field is the difference, Pats win, on to Houston for Super Bowl 51, 32 – 24. Season to date (16-3)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Congrats to the Clemson Tigers (14-1) for winning the BCS Championship. Our season of college football is complete. Our preseason 2017 pick is Alabama Crimson Tide. Final Season to date (12-6)
COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/21, 7:00 PM ET, HGTV: #16 St. Lawrence University Saints (12-6-6) at #15 Cornell University Big Red (11-4-1). HUGE ECAC game at Lynah Rink (wish we could be there), Big Red prevails 4 – 3. Season to date (5-6)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NFL, Jan. 21) Green Bay Packers (12-6) at Atlanta Falcons (12-5), the Rodgers streak continues, Pack wins in a wild one 42 – 36.
(NHL, Jan. 21) Anaheim Ducks (25-13-9) at Minnesota Wild (28-10-5), good Saturday night game, Ducks win in OT 5 – 4.
(NBA, Jan. 21) San Antonio Spurs (32-9) at Cleveland Cavaliers (29-11), Spurs win in Cleveland 92 – 88.
Season to Date (11 – 2)
MARKET WEEK - A Wall Street Journal front-pager gives a primer on "America's Fastest-Growing Loan Category" — energy-conscious loans, which have "Eerie Echoes of Subprime Crisis." The loans are " designed to encourage homeowners to buy energy-efficient solar panels, window insulation and air-conditioning units … Creditworthiness matters little to lenders, because loans are based on the value of a homeowner's property." Plumbers and repairmen essentially functioning as loan brokers. What could go wrong?
With government help, energy-conscious home-improvement loans are growing rapidly across the U.S. Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, loans are set up by local governments and designed to encourage homeowners to buy energy-efficient solar panels, window insulation and air-conditioning units. As the loans spread, so do problems that are reminiscent of subprime mortgages. We report that plumbers and repairmen essentially function as loan brokers but have scant training and oversight. Creditworthiness matters little to lenders, because loans are based on the value of a homeowner’s property. And loan growth is fueled partly by investor appetite for bonds created from PACE loans, especially among mutual funds and insurers.
- Caution seems to be the watchword at the start of this holiday-shortened U.S. trading week, as the World Economic Forum kicks into full gear in Davos and the world awaits Friday's inauguration of Donald Trump.
Emptying the Nest Egg : The largest generation in U.S. history has to start pulling out its retirement money this year, kicking off a mandatory movement of cash that could total hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades. U.S. law requires anyone 70½ years of age or older to make annual withdrawals from their tax-sheltered retirement accounts and pay taxes on those distributions. The oldest of the nation’s 75 million baby boomers are now crossing that threshold. And with boomers holding roughly $10 trillion in tax-deferred savings accounts, according to an estimate by Bank of New York Mellon’s Edward Shane, the obligatory outflows are expected to ripple through the U.S. economy, the stock market and the money-management industry.
B). New York , in 1789 the U.S. Capital was New York City. Washington took the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street (still there today).
C). Dwight Eisenhower’s parade in 1953 was the largest. It had 73 bands, 59 floats, horses, elephants and military vehicles and lasted 4 hours and 32 minutes. Since then, the limit is set for 15,000 participants. The only parade canceled was President Ronald Reagan’s in 1985, due to frigid temperatures.
Next Blog: Words of the Month and Winter Dining
Until Next Time, Adios.
January 17, 2017
CARTOON OF THE WEEK –“Transition”, Clay Bennett
Monday, January 9, 2017
In the Chinese calendar, 2017 marks the Year of the Rooster.
According to the Chinese calendar, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. To be more accurate, it is the Year of the Fire Rooster as fire is the governing element of the two year-period corresponding to the year 4715 within the chronology of the Chinese calendar. The last Year of the Fire Rooster occurred in 1957.
Within the Chinese Zodiac, the Rooster occupies the 10th position and symbolizes a confident, motivated and, at times, pompous character. Those born under the Zodiac sign of the Rooster are confident, courageous and active individuals. Despite being rather blunt when offering an opinion, people with the Zodiac sign of the Rooster are loyal, proud and trustworthy, expecting the same benevolent honesty from friends. According to the Chinese calendar, the Rooster is very sociable and likes to be the center of attention in a social environment. In their continual search for attention from others, they sometimes run the risk of being considered annoying.
Can someone say, “Paul Gallagher”.
The Year of the Fire Rooster will begin on 28th January 2017 and finish on 15th February 2018, marking the beginning of the Year of the Dog.
It is a particularly special year as it has one month more (13 months in total) than the rest of the years. This month (闰月, rùnyuè) was added to the Chinese calendar to balance the lunar months with the annual solar calendar.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017 – Rink Rats predictions for the year ahead what to expect in 2017: If left only to domestic drivers, the US economy would likely experience a pickup in both growth and inflation in 2017, together with further job creation and broader and higher wage growth. In the process, the policy stance would pivot from excessive reliance on monetary policy to include greater use of fiscal measures and structural reforms.
But for these domestic developments to prevail and also lead to genuine financial stability, it also matters what other countries do - particularly, China, Germany and Japan. Absent concurrent pro-growth policy adjustments there, the prospects for better US economic performance and higher Fed interest rates would lead to further dollar strengthening, and this from a level that is already at 2003 highs. Such excessive dollar appreciation would risk undermining growth while increasing the risk of protectionism.
The United States Presidency, though I am sorry to say this, will become a joke in 2017, leading to an impeachment trial in late 2018.
The business model of higher education will continue to collapse, with rising costs, strategies that are twenty years old, and debt limits of consumers reaching their limits.
The Detroit Red Wings will not make the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs will make the playoffs, and the Pittsburgh Penguins will repeat as Stanley Cup Champs.
IT'S A NEW YEAR, STATES EDITION: For Pennsylvanians and Michiganders, 2017 means a higher gas tax. (Floridians now face a very slight gas tax increase, stemming from an automatic cost-of-living adjustment.) New Jersey's gas tax hike last year will mean a larger tax exemption for retirement income for Garden State seniors, a more robust Earned Income Tax Credit, a lower sales tax and a phasing out of the estate tax, starting this year. And while California's reputation might be for high taxes, Golden State residents actually got themselves a tax cut for 2017: a 0.25 percent decrease in the sales tax.
Finally, don't forget this: That Philadelphia soda tax, which even became an issue in last year's Democratic presidential primary, went live on Sunday, too.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS: Pet more dogs ... To help promote a renewed respect for evidence and facts - and accept those that might not be in sync with my own world view. ... Find time for more recreational reading and travel to a new state and/or country ... Allocate a limited amount of time per day to social media so it does not demand too much time…Change all my passwords... A healthy and happy family. Finally, to do what I can to rid the world of two things: reply all email and me, myself, and I social media hype.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Jimmy Buffett (70) Key Largo, FL.; Robert Duvall (86) Austin, TX.; January Jones (39) Malibu, CA.; Nigella Lawson (57) London, England; Nancy Lopez (60) Orlando, FL.; Walter Mondale (89) Scottsdale, AZ.; Charlie Rose (75) New York, NY.
WHAT TO FREAK OUT ABOUT IN 2017 - Geopolitics tops the list including the rise of Donald Trump and a weakened German Chancellor Angela Merkel: This year marks the most volatile political risk environment in the postwar period, at least as important to global markets as the economic recession of 2008.
The world's sole superpower was once the international trump card, imposing order to force compromise and head off conflict. Now it's a wildcard. Instead of creating policies designed to bolster global stability, President-elect Donald Trump will use US power overwhelmingly to advance US interests, with little concern for the broader impact ... Rivals like Russia and China will test. US-led institutions will lose more of their international clout.
Emails: on average an American office worker sends and receives roughly 120 emails per day, a number that grows each passing year. The ubiquity and utility of email has turned it into a fine-grained record of our day-to-day lives, rich with mundane and potentially embarrassing details, stored in a perpetual archive, accessible from anywhere on earth and protected, in some cases, by nothing more than a single password. Just ask the Democrats.
DRIVING THE YEAR - The WSJ has a handy full-year calendar for big economic events coming in 2017.
TRUMP CORRECTION AHEAD? - Some market watchers are getting worried that the post-election market rally may be coming to a close. The Dow's failure to break the 20,000 mark to close the year at first sparked the concern. Stocks opened 2017 on a positive note but the Dow once again closed well short of 20K.
A late 2016 increase in volatility - may presage a significant market decline of seven to 10 percent early this year. The last three years all saw tough starts followed by recoveries later as U.S. growth improved.
The uncertainty in the market on the opening day of this year is higher than it was in either 2015 or 2016 especially given the geopolitical risks with a Trump presidency. We haven't seen an incoming president this detached from political experience before particularly on the global stage. ... There is also the prospect of the politicization of monetary policy. And the domestic political impact of Trump's policy is yet to be seen, how it's really going to work. ... So we have a pause here based on those things. ...
Why I am concerned is because I've looked at how we've historically closed out and began recent years ... And this is sort of a similar situation with fear jumping into market at the last minute after the Trump rally. ... And we have more uncertainty now than last year or the year before.
3 ways to prime a portfolio with ETFs for 2017
Building a portfolio can be a daunting task, especially at an economic and political turning point like now. Here are three things that investors can consider doing to start the new year.
The swirl around the U.S. election pulled the markets sharply into its vortex. The surprise came in the intensity, scope and direction of the trading activity. Most notably, the weeks following the election saw the birth of the “Trump put,” in which economic optimism buoyed U.S. stocks to record highs, while taking down once-loved sectors like bonds and emerging markets.
As we’ve seen in previous periods of intense trading, exchange traded funds (ETFs) once again stepped in to provide investors with orderly, efficient portfolio repositioning. On November 9, the day following the election, ETF trading volume doubled, to 3.2 billion shares, according to Bloomberg; that week, U.S. stock ETFs absorbed flows of $27 billion, a record.
Given this past year’s tumult, what should investors look for in the months ahead? The recent market frenzies, while dramatic, have simply brought to the surface investment themes that have been percolating for some time—around global growth, interest rates, corporate earnings and ultimately how much return you should expect for your risk.
We can’t know exactly how and when these themes will play out, but there are steps you can consider to potentially position yourself for success. Here are three investment ideas and ways to consider when executing with ETFs:
1. Welcome back, inflation
The ongoing trend toward reflation—rising wages, higher core inflation, a strengthening dollar and stabilizing oil prices—may be accelerated by Trump’s win.
Investment Idea: Think about hedging across asset classes, including Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), real estate and cyclical stock sectors that may benefit from potential economic growth and a steeper yield curve. Consider iShares TIPS Bond ETF (TIP), iShares Core U.S. REIT ETF (USRT), and iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF (REM).
2. Get granular with your emerging markets
Despite the post-election volatility in emerging markets (EMs), a strategic weighting to the overall asset class may make sense both as a diversifier and a potential return enhancer. However, there’s increasing divergence among emerging economies, which can get lost in the China-heavy broad EM index.
Investment Idea: Single country ETFs can complement a broader allocation by helping to pinpoint specific opportunities; we currently favor EM Asia, for example. You might also look at Saudi Arabia, which is implementing market reforms and targeting inclusion in the MSCI EM Index in 2017. Consider iShares MSCI India ETF (INDA), iShares MSCI Indonesia ETF (EIDO) and iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia Capped ETF (KSA).
3. Reduce “bad” taxes as close to zero as possible
We believe stock markets are in for an extended period of subpar returns, even with the recent rally. That means minimizing costs is more important than ever. Make this the year to be tax-smart by aiming to reduce capital gain distributions that are triggered when fund managers realize a profit on the sale of a security. Regardless of your fund’s return, you can owe taxes on it.
Investment Idea: ETFs in general are structurally tax-efficient and have lower turnover than actively managed mutual funds. (iShares is especially tax-conscious: just 3% of our ETFs distributed cap gains over the past five years, according to Morningstar data as of 11/12/2015. Past distributions are not indicative of future distributions.) Accentuate “good” taxes instead, namely those with a cash benefit to you. Think potentially higher-yielding ETFs such as dividend growth and preferred stocks. Consider iShares U.S. Preferred Stock ETF (PFF) and iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF (DGRO).
If one thing is certain right now, it’s that we’re truly at an economic and political turning point. In the face of such major change, building a portfolio may feel daunting—like dressing in the dark and hoping you come out reasonably put together. Fortunately, there are things investors can do to shed some light on the markets and start the year buttoned-up.
5 most important things for stocks in 2017:
3. Trump / GOP Plans (taxes, etc)
NYT's "52 Places to Go in 2017: 1. Canada ... 2. Atacama Desert, Chile ... 3. Agra, India ... 4. Zermatt, Switzerland ... 5. Botswana." http://nyti.ms/2iLrdrL
GOOD READS - "1999 Was The Last Time Everything Was Fine," by BuzzFeed's Doree Shafrir: "When I moved to New York City after college in 1999, it felt like anything was possible. But things were about to change more quickly than anyone knew." http://bzfd.it/2hYJceH
"How to Sleep," by James Hamblin in the Jan/Feb issue of The Atlantic: "Should you drink more coffee? Should you take melatonin? Can you train yourself to need less sleep? A physician's guide to sleep in a stressful age." http://theatln.tc/2hLfRns
POTUS WEEK AHEAD -- On Monday, the President will attend meetings at the White House. On Tuesday, the President will travel to Chicago, Illinois to deliver his farewell address to the American people, where he will thank his supporters, celebrate the ways we have changed this country for the better these past eight years, and offer some thoughts on where we all go from here. The First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden will also attend. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.
ALUMNI - Martha MacCallum (St. Lawrence ’86) will succeed Tucker Carlson at 7 p.m., per Fox. MacCallum will anchor a program called "The First 100 Days," chronicling the first 100 days of the Trump administration. She will also co-anchor inauguration coverage for Fox. Shannon Bream will succeed MacCallum as co-anchor of "Happening Now," alongside Bill Hemmer.
NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/15, 4:40 PM ET, Fox: Green Bay Packers (10-6) vs. Dallas Cowboys (13-3), upset of the weekend, maybe not but we think Packers will win in Dallas, 32 – 24. Season to date (14-3)
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Monday 1/9, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN; National Championship Game - #2 Clemson Tigers (13-1) vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0). Tide rule again, a true dynasty, 34 – 22. Season to date (12-5)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NFL, Jan. 14) Seattle Seahawks (11-5-1) at Atlanta Falcons (11-5), Falcons win this divisional playoff game, 24 – 21.
(NFL, Jan. 14) Houston Texans (10-7) at New England Patriots (14-2), not much to say, Pats win 30 – 10.
(NFL, Jan. 15) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-4), Steelers in an upset, 27 – 21.
Season to Date (7 – 1)
DRIVING THE WEEK - Confirmation festivities kick off Tuesday with Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Gen. John F. Kelly for Homeland Security. Wednesday will feature as many as five including Elaine Chao (Transportation), Rex Tillerson (State), Betsy DeVos (Education) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (CIA). Carson (HUD), Wilbur Ross (Commerce) and Andrew Puzder (Labor) are scheduled for Thursday.
House Rules Committee on Monday at 5:00 p.m. is scheduled to make a rule on H.R.5, the "Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017" and H.R.79, the "Helping Angels Lead Our Startups Act." ... JOLTS Report on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. expected to show dip to 5,500K from 5,534K ... Retail Sales at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to rise 0.6 percent headline and 0.5 percent ex-autos ... Univ. Michigan Consumer Sentiment at 10:00 a.m. Friday expected to dip to 98.0 from 98.5.
Next Blog: Ten Questions.
Until Next Time, Adios.
January 9, 2017
CARTOON OF THE WEEK –The New Yorker, Paul Noth