Gram and Gramp’s new puppy: Freddie

pretty damn cute.

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So We’re Going To South Africa…

and I’ve done endless research on safaris within driving distance of Port Elizabeth. No South African I’ve spoken with has terribly nice things to say about Port Elizabeth but we’re volunteering at a school there. Side trips will be many and eagerly anticipated, including ones to the Great Karoo desert-y region, the Garden Route along the coast and the Addo Elephant Park. In my searching I found this extremely moving piece from the NY Times from 2004. It was written by Rob Nixon, an accomplished writer and now an English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s about walking in the bush with his schizophrenic brother. I’m going to read his book Dreambirds. Here’s a picture of one place we’re going: the Great Karoo.

A Not-So-Jobless Recovery

Sal Guatieri, a reliable stats guy at BMO Financial Group noted a recent divergence in the overall unemployment rate and the insured unemployment rate. What does this mean, Sal?

The insured unemployment rate has fallen nearly one ppt since June to its lowest level in 7 months (4.3% of covered employment). Some of the decline simply reflects claimants exhausting benefits rather than getting new jobs. Still, a decline of this size almost always tracks the unemployment rate lower. This is one of the few indicators that argues against another “jobless recovery,”as per the last two. Stay tuned.

Fail: iDon’t Driod Phone Ads

Tell me what you think, or actually don’t (no do) but I think the Motorola Google phone from Verizon that’s coming out has misguided advertising. You’ve probably seen the print ads or this 15-sec spot for Internet TV.

Black text on white spoofs the “iBlank” Apple grammar with “iDon’t”. See, Verizon, Google and Motorola subtly turn a vowel against Apple. So very clever, you Verizon, Google, Motorola you. One slogan says “IDon’t Personalize” (even though the iPhone does, via software). The problem with the campaign is that it is wee bit nerdy. Not enough heart; too much head. Megapixels, we got more! One of the slides reads “iDon’t allow Open Development”. Whoa, low blow. But how many people are really going to know what that means? Is 85,000 something apps on iTunes really closed? So they must have figured let’s go appeal to the 20 IT guys who get stoked about Open Development.

The Buck Is Burning

Keith McCullough, cofounder and dean of macro research at Research Edge, has an always-lively and mildly Kerouackian way of telling his clients what to watch out for in the markets. Lately his tone has gotten more ferocious as he sees rampant inflation warnings from all around the world. His latest morning e-mail missive takes accurate aim at the buck-burning trend, a Fed in denial and the blind cheering section over at CNBC.

The #1 headline on Bloomberg this morning is: “Stocks, Oil Climb on China Exports; Dollar Drops, Gold Gains.” Doesn’t this sound like a perfect environment for the Fed Heads to fear-monger you into thinking about Bernanke’s Great Depression text books? The Vice Chairman of the Fed (Kohn), who has never seen an asset price bubble that he understood, has a view that the chance of accelerating prices isn’t something we need to worry about “for awhile.”

What Almighty Incompetent One is “awhile”? Oh, right – the Fed doesn’t do specific durations. That’s perfect too! Now we can really jack this party’s volume up. Let’s ignore the accelerating prices that are marked-to-market though, and take Geithner’s Aides word for it. They are paid to be willfully blind. They’ll never know how loud we actually have this bullish Dollar debasement volume dialed up to anyway!

Perfect is as perfect does. Sounds like October of 2007… unfortunately…

For now, look at these bullish country level stock market prices accelerating which, ostensibly, the compromised and conflicted get paid to ignore.  Just “tilt your head back and laugh” some more:

1.      SP500 futures 1082 = that’s only +60% higher than said Great Depression Part Deux in March
2.      China closed up another +1.2% to +63% YTD, after reporting a sequential ramp in exports of 700 basis months month-over month!
3.      Hong Kong and Australia tacked on +1-2% moves overnight, taking both markets to higher-highs at +52% and +32% YTD, respectively
4.      Germany is leading Western European stock markets to new YTD highs, trading +1.8% so far this morning to +21% YTD
5.      Russia adds another +3.4% to its YTD deflation of +129%! Oops, I mean reflation – or Mr. Kohn is that an acceleration?
6.      Brazil’s Bovespa closed up at a fresh YTD high yesterday of +72%; accelerating prices anyone?

With that Buck Burning, don’t be bringing up the Commodity side of year-over-year price accelerations now either. That’s not going to be perfect for our newfound narrative of PERFECT! Shhhh… talk about rents or housing or something would ya…

Instead of seeing that oil moving from $35/barrel in Q4 of 2008 to $75/barrel this morning, or that the price of Gold or, God forbid, TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities), let’s let this Buck Burn at the stake. This is perfect for Debtors, Bankers, and Politicians. Never mind the citizenry… they don’t really watch this American Financial Wizard of Oz show on YouTube do they?

Yes, fortunately, they do. In face of the US stock market making higher-highs and the US Dollar making lower-lows, this week’s reading on American Consumer Confidence (ABC/Washington Post weekly data) dropped a full 3 points to minus -48 (down from -45). Maybe not so perfect for everyone after all…

Of course this isn’t perfect for everyone. In the long run, our long standing position as the world’s financial reserve fiduciary will be dead. In the meantime, them Intel and JP Morgan earnings really look perfect though don’t they! Give me a big CNBC Booooyah!

Gawker Thinks I’m “Fun”

Fri Sept 11 2009

Fri Sept 11 2009

Lamely posting this a week to the date, but here’s a bit from Gawker’s media-industry twitter watch. They picked up my barb at the Economist Group’s sale of CFO Magazine, which I still get every month but rarely read now. Thanks for the love G. Based on what you could have said, “Boring. Who gives a toss about CFOs?”

I got off easy.

I Love Data Storage