Archive for October, 2010

30
Oct
10

What Ever Happened to Rock And Roll?

Turn on the radio and tv today and you see the state of modern music. It is over produced, over commercialized and lacking quality. The lack of creativity and uniqueness is apparent as we see all the artists sounding and looking like their counterparts in pop music. Videos are used primarily to advertise for various product merchandising (i.e. Coke, Pepsi, Mercedes, etc.) and not promote the music. Record executives are teaming up with big corporations to exploit the minds of artists and consumers to make the almighty dollar. It is destroying the actual talented musicians and promoting these “artists” who aren’t even musicians themselves, merely performers. The number of  “recording artists” (who do not know how to play an instrument or cannot write a song) to actual musicians out there has ballooned. The messages in the music are meaningless and promote commercialism/materialism. The live music scene has been replaced by urban clubs. People are paying big money to see replay musicians and most of the modern artists releasing albums are very poor influences to the rest of the music scene. Promotion of the star qualities of the recording artist and their lifestyle is far more important than the quality of their music.

The singer/song-writers like that of yesteryear are no longer being produced. The music that is promoted as rock n’ roll today is merely 3 chord punk or grunge or heavy metal. Many of the bands all sound the same. Perhaps the early deaths of musicians like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Hendrix, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Michael Hutchins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ritchie Valens, George Harrison have been setbacks to keeping rock n’ roll afloat. Right now it looks like the only section of music doing rock n’ roll is Nashville. With the proliferation of hip hop and it’s influence in the bling-bling and gangster lifestyle, youth are being influenced in ways that are violent and dangerous. Hopefully there will be a re-surgence of rock n’ roll simply by people being sick of listening to the stale and cheesy music currently available and wanting something classic and lasting. Music is a very important part of a culture and it’s identity and rock ‘n roll is an important part of not only America’s History but the world being united with their love for rock n’ roll.

May rock n’ roll live forever!

08
Oct
10

1.2 Trillion in taxpayer money to make the average person’s life more expensive

According to PIMCO head Bill Gross the FED easing will come it at $100 billion per month up to a total of $1.2 trillion in treasuries to keep borrowing costs low.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-08/gross-says-employment-report-a-signal-for-more-fed-easing.html

This works out – I did the math – to $4,000 for each man, woman and child in the USA, assuming a population of 300 million.

Now I’m not a professional economist for either a major bond fund, nor a chief of any Federal Reserve Bank but in an economy where the main problem is a lack of “aggregate demand” (too many people don’t have enough money) my guess would be that just doling out four grand to every individual would probably do a lot more to stimulate the economy than increasing lending so the hedge funds and investment banks can gamble even more in stocks, junk bonds and commodities.

In fact, all this second round of stimulus – if it does come into being at all – will simply drive up the costs of living for the average consumer even more, increase the costs of ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses and squeeze their margins even more, effectively killing off any even nascent recovery.

So why are they doing this? Are they stupid? Corrupt? Without being privy to these backroom meetings, who knows. It could just be an outcome of the plain misguided supply-side, ‘trickle down’ ideology economics which has dominated the think tanks and university economics departments since the days of Milton Friedman. But it’s an ideology that certainly suits the class of people who are mostly in charge of running everything.

07
Oct
10

Amazing how all these company earnings always manage to ‘beat estimates’

Alcoa’s 3rd Quarter Income was down 21 Percent but still managed to beat “Analyst Estimates”.  Change the number and the company name and it’s a headline template we can expect to see the entire season.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Alcoa-3Q-income-dips-21-apf-4225995303.html?x=0

http://www.cnbc.com/id/39556949 – CNBC describes Alcoa of ‘easily beating expectations’.

Looks like another amazing quarter until you consider that these so-called analysts recently lowered their estimates.

In this instance, the eps three months ago was .17, lowered to around .05, while the actual income came in at 6 cents a share – though some outlets are reporting it as 9 cents per share if one excludes “one-time items”.

In some cases, estimates were slashed as recently as yesterday – by half.

http://www.benzinga.com/analyst-ratings/analyst-color/10/10/511449/dahlman-lowers-estimates-ahead-of-alcoas-earnings

BUY BUY BUY!!!

This isn’t the only company where this game is played either.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-03/s-p-500-profits-cut-for-first-time-in-year-in-analyst-forecasts.html

Of course, the surest way to beat expectations is to set low enough standards ahead of time.

The big question is: do people really fall for these tricks of gaming estimates quarter after quarter and year after year? And if so, who? What really goes on in their brains. I have a bunch of crap in my basement I’d love to offload and
they’d probably make a great market for it.

07
Oct
10

China offers to buy Greek debt – how kind of them…

“I have repeatedly said that China supports a strong euro and will not reduce the number of European bond holdings from its foreign exchange reserves,” said Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister.

http://english.aljazeera.net/business/2010/10/2010102195730121409.html

It would have the added benefit of making European exports vs those from China to the US more expensive too, wouldn’t it?

Radio Netherlands goes so far as to refer to Greece as “China’s first European Colony” noting that China is making huge investments in Greek ports and railways.

http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/greece-chinas-first-european-colony-0

Although it seems China is on the cusp of taking over the world, they have more than their own share of problems such as a inflation and a giant property bubble.

Something to keep an eye on, at any rate.

07
Oct
10

What is Causing This Stock Market Rally?


With the stock markets catapulting up to over 70% from their lows experienced in March of 2009 you start to question what is causing this stock market rally? Let’s look at some facts. There has been a dramatic decrease in trading volume during this market rally on the NYSE. Of the daily trading volume well over 60% of it has been due to program trading. Mutual fund outflows are setting new records as retail investors have either lost faith in the stock market or need to keep their money aside due to barely making ends meet from poor conditions in the economy. The number of outstanding derivatives has grown from ten of trillions of $dollars (before the crash in 2008) to in the quadrillions of $dollars (1 quadrillion is a thousand trillion).

Revenues are down for investment firms (with further lay-offs at these firms pending) due to lack of participation from the retail investor in the stock market. Near zero precent interest rates imposed by the Federal Reserve Banks has spurred an increase in high risk investing as there is simply nowhere else to park money to receive a decent return. With the economy being weak and most of the growth coming from one-time incentives by governments as well as auto makers and retailers trying to boost sales it makes you wonder how long can this stock market trend keep going up?

With a second residential housing dip occuring and further debt crises’ forthcoming in the area of commercial mortgages/loans, corporate bonds, student loans, automotive loans as well as state and municipal debts, this will have a big impact on the performance of the stock market. Will it be eventually higher interest rates that cause it to come back down to reality (the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has guaranteed to keep interest rates low until later in 2011)? Will it be history repeating itself as in 1987 where program trading had caused the biggest one day percentage drops in history for the Dow or the 1929 crash where leverage investing (derivatives) had ballooned to excessive levals and many investors had to sell to cover their margin calls? Only time will tell.

07
Oct
10

The Montreal Canadiens and Their Poor Scouting

When you reminisce about the Glorious Past of the Historic Montreal Canadiens franchise it is hard to not think of great players like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante, Guy Lafleur, Doug Harvey, Ken Dryden, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Patrick Roy and the other talented Hockey players who once played for the team that has won a record 24 Stanley Cup championships. Now, 17 seasons since their last Stanley Cup win in 1993 (their longest drought in history) it seems it is rare that a superstar plays for the Montreal Canadiens. The question is what happened?

Let’s go back into history around the time of the 1970’s. In 1977, the Montreal Canadiens decided to draft Toronto native Mark Napier as their 10th overall pick in the first round instead of taking Montreal native Mike Bossy who was selected in as the 15th pick of the 1st round by the New York Islanders. Bossy went on to win 4 Cups in the 1980’s and was the most important offensive player for his team. Irvin Grundmann was later promoted to team General Manager as Sam Pollock retired in favour of legend Scotty Bowman later in the 1970’s. In 1980, the Montreal Canadiens, with access to the first pick overall in the first round of the draft decided to go with Doug Wickenheiser instead of the talented player from Pointe Gatineau, Quebec named Denis Savard. A third Montreal native son by the name of Luc Robitaille was drafted in the 9th round 171st overall in 1984 by the Los Angeles Kings as the Montreal Canadiens had wider eyes set on no name American born Brad McCaughey. Bossy, Savard and Robitaille went on to be the most dominant offensive Quebec born players in the NHL during the 1980’s prior to the arrival of Mario Lemieux.

In 1990, the Canadiens selected WHL player Turner Stevenson (RW) with their 1st round 12th overall pick passing up Martin Brodeur (G) later chosen by the New Jersey Devils in the round.

In 1996, the Canadiens selected WHL player Matt Higgins (C) with their 1st round 18th overall pick passing up Daniel Briere (C) later chosen by the Phoenix Coyotes in the round.

In 1998, the Canadiens selected Remperts bust Eric Chouinard (C) with their 1st round 16th overall pick passing up fellow Junior linemate and Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Gagne (C) later chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers in the round.

In 1998, the Canadiens selected Gord Dwyer (LW) with their 6th round 152nd overall pick passing up Russian great Pavel Datsyuk (C) later chosen by the Detroit Red Wings in the round.

In 2002, the Canadiens selected Tomas Linhart (D) of the Czech Republic with their 2nd round 45th overall pick passing up Duncan Keith (D) later chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks in the round.

In 2004, the Canadiens selected WHL player Kyle Chipchura (C) with their 1st round 18th overall pick passing up Mike Green (D) later chosen by the Washington Capitals in the round.

In 2007 the Habs had two first round selections in the draft and decided to draft Americans Ryan McDonough (D) and Max Pacioretty (LW) with the 12th and 22nd picks respectively instead of Lewiston MAINEiacs player David Perron (LW). Ryan has yet to play a game in the NHL and Pacioretty has only 25 points as a Montreal Canadien while the gritty Perron has 124 points in 225 games as a St Louis Blues player.