Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Those of us trying to scratch out a living in the equities market try to stay aware of many things. Just a few of those are oil prices, the value of the dollar, and the relationship between the two. Last Saturday there was an interesting article in the New York Times which I eventually saw this morning. (Let's just say the NYT website isn't on my short list of "must reads.") This article talks about the growth of wind farms in Texas and quotes T. Boone Pickens at some length. When Boone talks about energy it makes good sense to listen.
So, the short version is that windpower is growing and the most likely sites for wind farms are in the mid-section of the US. While some project a contribution to the national grid of 20% a la The Netherlands, the more likely high side is 5-7%. That's substantial given that Texas now generates the most windpower electricity in the US currently but it isn't anywhere near 7% of the state's demand. Meaning, there's going to be a lot of investment there in the next decade or more.
Then along comes Tuesday evening, Feb 26th in Texas. At 6:41PM local time they had a Stage 2 power emergency. It seems that at the same time they had a 14% surge in electric demand due to cold weather they also had the wind die down. In an instant the windfarms in question went from 1,700 megawatts of production to 300 megawatts. Apparently they didn't experience a power failure but they did come dangerously close to having demand overtake supply.
We usually think of wind-generated electricity as something on the margins. But the events of Tuesday showed a vulnerability with wind power that I had not considered. With other power sources when demand jumps we just increase the number of turbines spinning in the hydro plant or the amount of fuel being used be it coal, nat gas, nuclear, or incinerated garbage. But how do you make up 20% of your supply in an instant if the wind stops blowing?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
-The February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City
- The Richard Reid "shoe bomber" operation
-The October 2002 attack in Kuwait
-The nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia
-A plan for a "second wave" of attacks on major U.S. landmarks to be set in the spring or summer of 2002 after the 9/11 attacks, which includes more hijackings of commercial airlines and having them flown into various buildings in the U.S. including the Library Tower in Los Angeles , the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank building in Seattle and the Empire State Building in New York
-Plots to attack oil tankers and U.S. naval ships in the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Gibraltar and in Singapore
-A plan to blow up the Panama Canal
-Plans to assassinate Jimmy Carter
-A plot to blow up suspension bridges in New York City
-A plan to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago with burning fuel trucks
-Plans to "destroy" Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf and Big Ben in London
-A planned attack on "many" nightclubs in Thailand
-A plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial targets
-A plan to destroy buildings in Eilat, Israel
-Plans to destroy U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Australia and Japan in 2002.
-Plots to destroy Israeli embassies in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Australia
-Surveying and financing an attack on an Israeli El-Al flight from Bangkok
-Sending several "mujahideen" into Israel to survey "strategic targets" with the intention of attacking them
-The November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya
-The failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet leaving Mombasa airport in Kenya
-Plans to attack U.S. targets in South Korea
-Providing financial support for a plan to attack U.S., British and Jewish targets in Turkey
-Surveillance of U.S. nuclear power plants in order to attack them
-A plot to attack NATO's headquarters in Europe
-Planning and surveillance in a 1995 plan (the "Bojinka Operation") to bomb 12 American passenger jets
-The planned assassination attempt against then-U.S. President Bill Clinton during a mid-1990s trip to the Philippines.
-"Shared responsibility" for a plot to kill Pope John Paul II
-Plans to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
-An attempt to attack a U.S. oil company in Sumatra, Indonesia, "owned by the Jewish former [U.S.] Secretary of State Henry Kissinger"
-The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Tom Gage / The Detroit News
LAKELAND, Fla. -- That didn't take long.
On the second pitch to him as a Tiger, Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run home run to straightaway center Tuesday in the Tigers' annual exhibition opener against Florida Southern.
Cabrera's blast sailed over the 420-foot sign in center and caromed high off the backdrop. He hit it off a college junior, right-hander Ken Wadsworth, but it was a booming blast all the same.
Monday, February 25, 2008
"I think we're going to have a wonderful turnout because there haven't been awards shows. Not only our community is really excited about all of us getting together, but I think out there in the rest of the world, there is awards fever."
Guess again, Gil. No fever detected.
The numbers are in and last night's telecast had a 21% smaller audience than the 2007 show which I didn't watch. In fact, the audience was 14% lower than the all-time stinker show, 2003. You remember that one. The nation was gripped in the 12 month long "rush to war in Iraq." How could Hollywood be happy when Saddam was in danger? Or sumpthin' like that. Hard to remember the lefty rationale sometimes.
Of course, last night the Hollywoodsters dutifully saluted several troop-bashing documentaries.
Perhaps this ratings news shows that bashing America can get you even worse numbers than hand-wringing over a future conflict.
As a former entertainment executive I shall now offer some advice. I will NOT charge an exhorbitant consulting fee for this sage advice:
1. Nominate movies people went to see starring actors they admire.
2. To facilitate #1, make movies that are uplifting and celebrate the greatness of Western Civilization in general and America in particular.
3. If you must throw an award or two to the thousands of left-wing documentarians starving out there, do it at the luncheon early in the week and don't even mention it on TV. They'll appreciate the free meal and not having to rent formal wear. See? Win-Win.
4. Hire a real star to be the host. You remember stars. You used to have them host the show. Guys like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson et al. A guy with a smirky cable TV comedy show isn't a "star." He's a personality. Witty maybe. Clever sometimes. But zero star power. I know this shocks you, but a high percentage of your potential audience has never heard of the guy. Leno they know. Denzel they admire. Will Smith they adore. Try it.
The illustrious academy will pay no attention to any of this. They are like A&R people in the old record business-- more interested in being "hip" in their own little club than coming up with something the masses enjoy.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Which brings us to this morning. With US markets closed yesterday, the Asian and European markets performed fairly well. Futures for the S&P and NASDAQ100 are strong as we go into the open. But the final hour or two today will tell the tale-- not the open. We'll learn that we should either continue to stay out or that it's OK to start trading lightly. Nothing that can happen today will say, "Plunge in!" however.
The bell has rung and the NASDAQ opens up 27.
UPDATE: The NASDAQ's high for the day was right around that opening trade. It was weakest in the final hour. Not a good sign for a rallying market.
Monday, February 18, 2008
On persistence: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan 'press-on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
The party that will most likely be in control of the legislative and executive branches next year favors the largest tax increase in US history. Calvin was a supply-sider before people used the term. Coolidge understood the "Laffer Curve" before Art Laffer was on this earth. Along those lines: "The method of raising revenue ought not to impede the transaction of business; it ought to encourage it. I am opposed to extremely high rates, because they produce little or no revenue, because they are bad for the country, and, finally, because they are wrong... The wise and correct course to follow in taxation and in all other economic legislation is not to destroy those who have already secured success but to create conditions under which every one will have a better chance to be successful."
As we see the ugly rise of anti-trade, hate-the-successful, nitwit populism in American politics once again, try this from the The Cool One: "Government cannot relieve from toil. The normal must take care of themselves. Self-government means self-support. Ultimately property rights and personal rights are the same thing. History reveals no civilized people among whom there was not a highly educated class and large aggregations of wealth. Large profits mean large payrolls."
In this election year, a bit of wisdom about our political class: "The people who start to elect a man to get what he can for his district will probably find they have elected a man who will get what he can for himself."
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
In other landslide news B.H. Obama won by huge margins over the once inevitable nominee of the Democrats.
He's on a roll.
And Uno is the greatest beagle ever. He also could come up with a smarter tax plan than any of the Democrats in his sleep. Hmmm... is it too late to replace Scowly McCain with Uno the Beagle?
FULL DISCLOSURE: Uno, though owned by a consortium of people from four states, spends most of his time living at the home of his trainer Aaron Wilkerson. Aaron was the man who showed Uno at MSG and has taken him to all the TV chat shows this morning. He lives in the Midlands of our beautiful Palmetto State. Lugoff, South Carolina to be precise.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
"Well, the heartland spoke last night and about the only message it sent was that, no matter what the talk radio guys say, they're not voting for a Mormon; no way, no how."
I don't think that it's about Mormonism, frankly. Mitt's problem in the South is that he comes off as a slightly snobbish Country Club Yankee. I'm sure you can find people who didn't vote for Mitt because he's a Mormon, but it's not the prevailing view. Futures trading had AL, GA, TN and MN all going to McCain as the polls opened. I believe that the power of talk radio across "the heartland" knocked McCain down in those states. In the South the voters turned to the guy they're more comfortable with: Huck. In MN they turned to the one they feel more comfortable with: Mitt.
It isn't that he's Mormon. It's that he seems to be a Northeastern swell.
If Mitt had been the Governor of Utah instead of MA... knew how to wear jeans and boots... looked a little more like GI Joe and less like Ken... people in the mythical heartland would be warmer towards him.
I have little doubt, however, that the conventional (NY/DC) wisdom will be that, 1) Rush failed to stop McCain and 2) Southerners are a bunch of snake-handlin' goobers who won't vote for a Mormon.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
“Forecasts are dangerous. Especially those about the future.”
My forecast for the recent football contest was, "Patriots win and Giants cover." Which means I was dead wrong on the history part but 100% correct on the making money part. So, here's the forecast for Super Tuesday on the Republican side:
Monday, February 4, 2008
The nation's eyes were trained on the commercial announcements imbedded in the telecast. Rumor has it that the dalmation training the Clydesdale spot was a fave as well as the giant carrier pigeon for FedEx. The Coke ad with the parade balloons was very good I thought.
But the most interesting thing to me was the overwhelming number of commercials for companies selling water in a plastic bottle. I lost track of all of them there were so many. They even had one with Shaq as a jockey and another featuring lizards dancing with some woman I'm pretty sure I was supposed to recognize. In fact one water-in-a-bottle purveyor was the sponsor of halftime. Not the halftime show itself-- that was sponsored by some tire company-- but the part of halftime made up of yakking by the Fox Sports crew. It gets confusing.
Anyway, there had to have been over $20M spent on advertising designed to get people to buy water in a bottle. Which leads me to suspect that there is a huge markup on water in a bottle.
I kind of figured out it was a high margin business when I noticed that people would spend more for a gallon of water in plastic bottles than they would for a gallon of gasoline. Notice that the nation's oil companies don't buy ads in the Super Bowl? That's because oil companies only make about 10 cents on a dollar. Selling something that falls from the sky for free is a lot more profitable apparently. With margins like that you can even get Shaq to pretend to ride a racehorse.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Meanwhile, according to the San Francisco Chronicle a Union Pacific snow plow got stuck on the rail line crossing the Sierra Nevada between Reno and Sacramento blocking an east bound and a west bound train. Instead of being on the trains for 2 or 4 hours the 400 inconvenienced passengers were stuck onboard for 12 hours.
It was a "nightmare" according to the stranded passengers. For example:
"And then the tears started. We were stuck for hours looking at the same trees. We asked if they could move the train up a couple hundred feet every hour, just so we could see some different trees. We were just hoping for some deer to come by. Even a squirrel."
And then there was this:
The smokers were clamoring to be allowed off the train so they could get a few puffs. When they were told no, they went to the back of the train and tried to crack open doors and windows.
Sometime in the early evening, a couple of kids got on the PA system and acted as though they were Amtrak officials giving information. Other kids screamed and ran through the cars.
The horror. The absolute horror.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
That's a room clearer.
The boys down at the local bait shop paused for three beats and then went right back to football this AM. But, for the love of Mike, "Did you see what Alexander Ovechkin did last night?"...
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin broke his nose, needed stitches in his lip after getting hit with a puck and then showed the Montreal Canadiens the true meaning of the word tough.
The battered Ovechkin, who also sported a cut below his eye from a high stick on Tuesday night, scored his fourth goal of the night with 1:26 left in overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 5-4 Canadiens on Thursday night.
Four goals and an assist in the game while getting his nose broken getting crushed into the boards and catching a puck in the mouth. Get it? Hockey rocks like nothing else in sports. I'm not a Caps fan. I'm a Sharks fan, but that was unbelievable. And throughout it all he's playing with a grin on his face. Ever see an NBA player hit for 60 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists with a broken nose and stitches in his lip. Me neither.
"Yahoo!" says I.
The talking heads will be going non-stop on this at least until 8:30 ET when the January non-farm payroll numbers are released. They'll pause a minute, bury the dead and shoot the wounded, and then go back to MSFT+YHOO= ????. Yesterday looked like it had the potential for a short-term bottom and this might help-- but it's still too early to move from cash to equities again.