Saturday, February 4, 2017

Super Bowl Weekend Edition

Our RR Super Bowl Edition, very little content on the Super Bowl though. We feel not too much excitement over Super Bowl 51: Patriots have a great organization but they cheat, Tom Brady is too perfect, Bill Belichick needs a personality transplant, Atlanta Falcons who???

Lady Gaga will say something rude about our new President at her halftime show, the commercials will be cute but not memorable, the game commentators will talk too much, and as always we will be left saying, “Why did I waste five hours to watch this nonsense.”

Our prediction is later in the blog.

Super Bowls are known for blowouts, but Vegas and sports pundits see Sunday's Brady Bowl in Houston as being close:

Sports Illustrated picks New England Patriots over Atlanta Falcons, 35-30.

ESPN The Magazine says Pats have a 55.6% chance of winning -- and projects a 1.8-point margin.

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight gives New England a bigger edge -- a 61% chance of winning.

In USA Today's special Super Bowl 51 magazine, four of seven sportswriters go Brady.

SUPER BOWL INDICATOR - An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the American Football Conference (AFC) foretells a decline in the stock market for the coming year, and a win for a team from the National Football Conference (NFC), or the old National Football League (NFL) before the merger of NFL and American Football League (AFL) in 1966, means the stock market will be up for the year. The Super Bowl indicator was first introduced in 1978 by Leonard Koppett, a sportswriter for The New York Times.

Though historically speaking the Super Bowl indicator boasts an 80% accuracy rate, remember the old maxim: correlation does not imply causation. In 2008, despite the New York Giants (NFC) winning the Super Bowl (indicating a Bull Market), the stock market suffered one of the largest downturns since the Great Depression. Though the indicator is an interesting take on predicting the stock market, by no means should the correlation dictate an individual's portfolio construction.

TRUMP'S INHERITED DEBT LOAD - Via the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: As President Trump enters his first full week in office, new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections show that he faces an unsustainable fiscal path. President Trump enters office with debt held by the public as a share of [GDP] higher than at the start of any presidency other than Truman's.

And according to CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook, debt under current law is projected to continue to rise unsustainably in future years.

POTUS DAY - President Trump, who flew across the country on hundreds of nights during the 2016 campaign to sleep in his own bed, has now spent five straight days in the unfamiliar surroundings of the White House. His aides said privately that he seemed apprehensive about the move to his new home, but Mr. Trump has discovered there is a lot he likes. 'These are the most beautiful phones I've ever used in my life,' Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening. 'The world's most secure system,' he added, laughing. 'The words just explode in the air.' What he meant was that no one was listening in and recording his words. ...

"He rises before 6 a.m., watches television tuned to a cable channel first in the residence, and later in a small dining room in the West Wing, and looks through the morning newspapers: The New York Times, The New York Post and now The Washington Post. ... But his meetings now begin at 9 a.m., earlier than they used to, which significantly curtails his television time. Still, Mr. Trump, who does not read books, is able to end his evenings with plenty of television. In between, Mr. Trump signs executive orders in the Oval Office and has meetings in the West Wing."

NIXON PART DEUX - On the morning after Donald Trump's inauguration, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds received an extraordinary summons: The new president wanted to talk to him. In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day's crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average. Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the agency's account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.

COLLEGE CHRONICLESBig Blue is Big Green: The University of Michigan is the first public institution ever to pay three assistant football coaches more than $1 million each in one year.

College Admissions: The admissions process must evolve, all the experts said. The big question was: "How?"

At an annual conference hosted this week in Los Angeles by the University of Southern California's Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, many conversations concerned the ever-present tension between the numbers (grades and test scores) that so often define merit in admissions and the many personal qualities (like leadership and determination) that can't be quantified easily.

Or can they? Admissions, long described as a mix of art and science, is tilting ever more toward science, which some insiders said could help — not hurt — preserve the humanity of the process. Is there a more systematic way to reveal talent and potential within a pool of increasingly diverse high-school students? A more efficient yet more thoughtful means of plucking students from a sea of applicants? Definitely, many speakers said. But in a realm of tight budgets and relentless competition, innovation is hard.

"There seems to be an interest in change," said Arlene Wesley Cash, vice president for enrollment management at Guilford College. "But sometimes we fall back on what's easy and comfortable. We now have an opportunity to turn ourselves out of our comfort zone."

Moment of Veritas:  Harvard University plans to outsource management of most of its assets and lay off about half of Harvard Management Co.’s 230 employees, as new endowment chief N.P. “Narv” Narvekar radically overhauls the way the school invests its $35.7 billion endowment. Internal hedge funds will be shut down and traders let go by the middle of the year, with other layoffs by year-end. Harvard’s endowment is by far the largest in the eight-school Ivy League, but its annualized return for the 10 years ended last June 30 ranks next-to-last, at 5.7%, and it lost money in 2016.

Harvard University’s endowment plans to outsource management of most of its assets and lay off roughly half the staff, in a radical overhaul of the way the world’s wealthiest school invests its money.

About half the 230 employees at Harvard Management Co. will leave as part of a sweeping change by the university’s new endowment chief, N.P. “Narv” Narvekar. The endowment will shut down its internal hedge funds and let go traders by the middle of the year, with other layoffs occurring by year-end, Mr. Narvekar said in a Wednesday letter to Harvard endowment employees, certain alumni and university administrators.

The internal team in charge of direct real-estate investments is expected to spin out into an independent entity that Harvard is likely to invest with. Only management of Harvard’s natural resources portfolio and passively managed investments will remain in house.

The changes are a break with the university’s long-held approach to managing its wealth. While Yale University and others park nearly all their money with outside managers, Harvard for decades deployed a “hybrid” approach, relying in part on its own traders to wager on assets such as stocks and bonds. It stuck with that model even after incurring deep losses in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, though the amount managed in-house has fluctuated over the years.

“We can no longer justify the organizational complexity and resources necessary to support the investing activities of these portfolios,” Mr. Narvekar said in his letter, referring to the in-house hedge funds.

Harvard’s returns have trailed rivals’ in recent years. The endowment’s annualized gains of 5.7% over the 10 years ended June 30, 2016 are second- lowest in the Ivy League and below the comparable 8.1% returns of Yale University and Columbia University.

The $35.7 billion endowment currently provides more than a third of Harvard’s operating budget and contributes to the costs of student financial aid, research and professor salaries.

Mr. Narvekar’s decision to shut Harvard’s internal trading program reflects the challenges even the most sophisticated institutions face in actively managing their assets. Some alumni and faculty have criticized Harvard for paying its traders too much for returns that have lagged Ivy League peers’. At the same time, others have questioned Harvard’s ability to attract top talent with pay that is less than what hedge-fund firms can afford.

The moves represent a dramatic start for Mr. Narvekar, 54, who began in December after 14 years running Columbia University’s endowment. Harvard’s fourth endowment head in a decade, he arrived with a broad mandate to boost returns.

 BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Christie Brinkley (63) East Hampton, NY.; Gene Hackman (87) Santa Barbara, CA.; Eddie Van Halen (62) Pasadena, CA.; Roxanne Lewis …famous social scientist; Chief Justice John Roberts (63) Washington, D.C.; Kerry Washington (40) Malibu, CA.

Cold weather does not cause colds.
Coffee and alcohol reduce your core temperature.
Sugar drinks help core temperature.

WEDDING MARCH - It's hard to imagine wedding music without the familiar strains of Mendelssohn's famous "Wedding March." The tune is so famous — opening with its regal blast of brass — that it seems like it's been around forever. But it was 150 years ago that the Wedding March was popularized for the first time.

The March was first performed in Potsdam in 1842, as a part of Mendelssohn's incidental music for the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night's Dream. It wasn't until Jan. 25, 1858, that the march first appeared in a royal wedding — as a recessional used by princess Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise, the oldest child of Queen Victoria, when she married Frederick William IV of Prussia.

TAX 101 - IS THAT A SURPLUS? A lot of the attention on state budgets naturally goes toward those states struggling to make the numbers work. But don't forget about the states that are on solid ground: California, Georgia, Idaho and Utah are among the states that have put themselves on a solid fiscal footing by avoiding deep tax cuts, enacting targeted tax increases, and diverting some surplus money into 'rainy day' funds to be tapped in leaner times.

FRIEND REQUEST - Facebook is trying everything to re-enter China—and it’s not working. Blocked on China’s internet since 2009, the social-media giant has courted Chinese officials, made Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg more visible in China, hired a well-connected China-policy chief and begun developing technology that could cull content the Communist Party deems unacceptable. It has made no visible headway. And as time passes, Facebook is watching from the outside as Chinese companies mop up the market that might have been its own. Facebook faces a wary central government, which blamed social media for stirring ethnic unrest in 2009 and remains uneasy with the company’s ability to be a dissidents’ megaphone. Meanwhile, Facebook is aiming to be more essential to its 1.79 billion existing users, unveiling new technology to let them reset passwords for other websites using its platform.

OBAMA v. CLINTON - The worst-kept secret inside Democratic circle is how bitter Hillary Clinton's team is at President Obama over her election loss. We have heard from numerous, anguished people in Clinton-land blaming Obama -- more than Putin, FBI Director James Comey or, um, Hillary herself -- for the defeat.

The reason: Clintonites feel that if Obama had come out early and forcefully with evidence of Russian interference in the campaign, and perhaps quicker sanctions, she might be president today. His caution, they argue, allowed the public to have a foggy sense of clear, calculated, consistent Russian meddling in the campaign. We can't stress enough how upset some Democrats are. It's testing relationships between Clinton and Obama loyalists. It's making efforts to form a new Trump opposition coalition harder.

GREAT WEEKEND READS - "The hi-tech war on science fraud," by Stephen Buranyi in The Guardian: "The problem of fake data may go far deeper than scientists admit. Now a team of researchers has a controversial plan to root out the perpetrators."

Bill Plaschke’s column in the Los Angeles Times, Saturday Feb 4:

KICK SAVE AND A BEAUTY - The NHL’s All-Star Weekend wrapped up quickly last Sunday night after somewhat entertaining three-on-three tournament filled with star-studded talent . The Metropolitan Division came away with a 4-3 win over the Pacific to receive the $1 million prize, while Philadelphia Flyers’ forward Wayne Simmonds took home MVP honors after notching three goals in the tournament – including the game-winning goal in the Final round to crown his team victors.

While the three-on-three tournament boasted highlight reel material, there were other standout moments from the weekend that ranged from feel good to disbelief. All in all, however, it was a weekend to remember as the NHL celebrates its 100-year anniversary.

In addition to all of the competitions that took place this past weekend, the NHL revealed the final 67 players named to the NHL 100, joining the previous group of 33 legends that were named before the Centennial Classic. Included in the list were six current NHL players: Jaromir Jagr (Florida Panthers), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks), Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks) and Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks).

A ceremonial puck drop for the ages took place at center ice before the 3-on-3 tournament, that included all of the participating players in the tournament and a number of the legends named to the NHL 100. While the puck drop didn’t go smoothly thanks to synchronization issues amongst the players, it made for a legendary moment and connected the players of the past to the players of today who have all worked so hard to be part of the game of hockey as we know it. It was a moment for the history books, no doubt about it.

SUPER BOWL QUIZ – Answers at the end of this Blog.

Who is the only Canadian born player to win a Super Bowl MVP?

Name the current NFL teams that have never been in a Super Bowl?

NFL GAME OF THE WEEK – Sunday 2/5, 3:30 PM ET, Fox: New England Patriots (16-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (13-5). Super Bowl 51 we like the Pats to win in a high scoring but mistake filled contest, 38 – 34.  Season to date (17-3)

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 2/4. 7:00 PM ET, HGTV: #14 St. Lawrence University Saints (15-7-6) vs. Clarkson Golden Knights (11-12-4). ECAC first place St. Lawrence travel down Route 11 to Cheel Arena to play the tough Clarkson Accountants, of course we like the Saints to win 5 – 4.   Season to date (7-6)


(NHL, Feb. 4) Washington Capitals (34-11-6) at Montreal Canadiens (30-15-7). The Habs win in a big “Hockey Night In Canada” game, 3 – 2.

(NBA, Feb. 4) Detroit Pistons (23-27) at Indiana Pacers (27-22), huge game for the Pistons if they want to be playoff contenders, Pistons win in Indy, 92 – 88.

Season to Date (17 – 6)


Mark Rypien, Calgary Alberta, Super Bowl 26 Washington Redskins

Cleveland Brownies, Detroit Lionhearted, Jacksonville Jokes, Houston Enrons

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP - A 26-year-old who created disappearing messages for kids filed for an IPO that could top $20 BILLION , despite losing $500 million last year. This was days after Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel agreed to invest $2 billion in Google's "cloud," which until a few years ago was something that blocked the sun, but now houses our digital secrets and creates vast riches for tech titans.

Thanks in part to this money cloud, Google knocked off Apple as the world's most valuable brand. Elon Musk, who builds private rocket ships and mass-consumer electric cars for the rich, agreed to keep his meeting with Donald Trump this morning, so he can push for, among other things, making "humanity a multi-planet civilization."

Oh, and CNBC says Bill Gates may become the world's first trillionaire.

Meanwhile, the sector where all of the companies reside seemed ready for war with Trump over restricting the foreign-born talent that helped bring them to life and property.

On the other coast, President Trump, at the National Prayer Breakfast, literally prayed for a former action movie hero who now stars in "The Apprentice," the reality show our president created AND still technically produces.

Trump's remarks took on separation of church and state: "I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment [banning political endorsements by churches] and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that -- remember."

Perhaps Trump's quote of the week: "The world is in trouble, but we're going to straighten it out. OK? That's what I do. I fix things. We're going to straighten it out."

Soon after, Nancy Pelosi, the voice of House Democrats, called Trump's top strategist, Steve Bannon (on the cover of the new TIME as possibly "the second most powerful man in the world"), a "white supremacist." And Trump, two weeks after threatening NATO and China, one week after threatening foreign visitors from select Muslim-majority nations, and one day after threatening Mexico and Australia, prepared a new threat to Iran in the form of renewed sanctions.

Happy Weekend ....
Next Blog: Chill out.

Until Next Time, Adios

Claremont, California
February 4, 2017

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –Paul Roth, The New Yorker

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