Archive for January, 2008

I need to vent

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Life gets frustrating when events way beyond your control, entangle you in their web.

Like this morning; My alarm goes off at 5:45 AM, I putter around, shower, do my daily stuff, walk my puppy(She’s a Dingo, actually a North American version,a Carolina Dog),  bought my coffee and the paper, and was in my car by7:30.

I normally aim for 8AM arrival at work, so that I can wake up the computer, sip my coffee, check overnite messages, and have the building ready by the time my employees start arriving at 8:30.

I live on Long Beach Island, a long narrow shelter island , on the South Shore of Nassau County, New York. Living at the beach is great for a myriad of reasons, which we will enumerate at a later date, probably when the weather warms sufficiently to turn Mother Ocean into a giant play station and bikini magnet.

Anyway, one of the negatives about living on an island, besides the parking crunch during the Summer, is getting off the Island. Your choices are, a bridge(there are 3 of them, several miles apart) a boat, or swimming. thje last 2 won’t work in the cold Winter, especially when on your way to work.

This morning, the far eastern draw  bridge which I must use to connect to the highway system, apparently was frozen in the up position.

That is a problem, especially when the Police, and/or traffic people don’t warn you about the problem. So this morning I drove the length of Long Beach island, in increasingly heavier traffic, only to find the entrance to the Parkway blocked by 2 police cars, turning everyone around, but with no explanation of why.

Suddenly, the trip to work degenerated into one long ,bumper to bumper traffic jam. My 30 minute trip took 2 hours and thirty minutes. My office didn’t get opened until almost 9:30, and I mumbled nasty curses under by breath for most of the trip.

Not a pleasant way to start your morning.

Now I feel better . If someone had posted a warning about the frozen bridge detour, I would have traveled a different way, and avoided the agita(sp?) .

Thanks for listening. have a nice day.

Big Blue + The METS, I love you

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I know there are momentous events happening in the world.

I know a very difficult and unsatisfactory primary season is unfolding, with dire consequences for the future of this country and the World, But,But,But…..

Today I woke up with a smile, and a world class diversion. My Metsies, the New York Mets, my #1 sports passion and biggest frustration( my appologies to the Knicks , Nets, and even the surprising Super Bowl bound Giants)

Today I woke up with a smile!!!  We got the best pitcher in the world!!! Johan Santana is a Met! Yay! My Summer is made.

Baseball is in my blood. It has been since I was a little boy, maybe 5 years old,I  remember running the streets of suburban Long Island yelling and screaming with joy,  Johnny Padres had just shut out the hated Yankees, ( I was a Brooklyn boy, of course) 2-0 in the 7th game of the World Series, to bring Brooklyn its first World title.

As a sports thrill, Johane Santana as a  Met, makes my day….

Reality can wait for a little while, this young boy still has baseball stars in his eyes. 

The State of What Union

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Lord knows, I’m no fan of President Bush. Sadly, there was a time when I thought he had a lot of potential and might have been a  bright hope, but that hope has been dashed in a sea of indecision, waffling, and half hearted initiatives.

His soft approach has left my Country, deeply divided, and seemingly rudderless, in a time of momentous events.if you believe in something, then do it, and do it right.That is what our country has always accepted in our leaders.

In this day and age of intense media scrutiny, electronic surveliance, and instant dissemination of any and all events, the President of the United States, has to develop a thick skin. Too many people know too much about too many things, and the micro examination of any event or action, leads to too much antagonism.

Almost any opinion or cause has a group of passionate advocates, and this type of exposure leads to too much half knowledge.The words , and stories are there for all to see, and for the ignorant or blindly passionate, to missunderstand. The internet as a source of all knowledge is the greatest blessing in history, and conversely the greatest potential for passion , conflict, and hatred.

Today , instant gratification is the defining emotion. We have all become big babies, with the internet being the teat of knowledge. Humanity is ready to stamp its feet and pitch a temper tantrum, while micro examining each and every nuance and punctuation.

In the 70’s, many people joined the various causes, for diverse motivations, from being genuine anti war advocates, to guys wanting to meet girls.  We were forced to join groups, and add our voices to a cause through personal contact.  Today the face to face is secondary, we have the internet.  people can be passionate in the privacy of their home, anger building and aimed at a computer screen , with the outlet for passion  more of a festering  effect, than a  true release.

The polarization resulting  from  this internalized passion, is ripping our Country into an antagonistic morass of bubbling resentment.

Recession! A blessing in disguise?

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Well dear friends,

I find myself writing and postulating about Wall Street and economics, far more than was my initial intention.

For better or worse, I did spend almost a decade as an inside trader and market maker in the OTC market, and I got to know a bit about the way things work. The technology has changed all the rules, but the basic game is eternal.

The slowing down of a healthy economy after 6 or 7 years of growth, is a historic necessity.An economy can not continue to expand uninterrupted for ever.Excesses begin to develop, the longer the expansion lasts beyond a relatively limited period of years.

Economic bubblez tend to develop when too much expansion, generates excessive cash which chases new and riskier projects.See  .com bubble, real estate bubble, and numerous technology related, land related, Enron, Savings and  Loan related fiascos, et al.

So While I have been warning my friends to duck from the Stock Market, by no means do I advocate the end of the world, This is, I believe, a necessary and hopefully quick readjustment.

We are the most inventive, economically agressive people in the world , times 10 , . The only people who can beat Us is Us….That  scares the sh-t out of me…

This sounds serious

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

For those of you that know me for a long time, you know that when it comes to pressure situations, and the necessity of dealing  with risk situations, I am good. It’s not easy to scare me. I was an O T C  trader on Wall Street, in the wild and wooly “old  days”  before computers were utilized in market making. I began my career using the pink sheets and at any given time, was a primary market maker in upwards of 100 different stocks, and carried positions close to 1,000,000. In those days, that was a lot of money.

 I sat at a trading desk with a headphone, 10-15 incoming land lines, and close to 75 direct lines to trading/ board rooms all over the world. In an active market, that was the ultimate high pressure, nerve racking job. I was good at it, and I did not rattle easily. I remember one day in particular when 5  Ivy League attorneys , representing the SEC, told me to get out of their office because I was an  “Obtuse” witness. I considered it a badge of honor regarding my unflappability.

This being said, I have just read  an article on MSN that has me somewhat frightened. Not being active in those circles anymore, I have not paid close attention to these items, but am sophisticated enough to understand them…and they scare the S–t out of me.

First of all, lets call a spade a spade.  Sub prime lending crisis, is just another / innocuous way of saying, less than “good credit worthy”, Or…more risky loan.These became the norm, and loans were extended for mortgages and way beyond, including risky credit cards, auto loans, boat loans etc.

How were all these major financial institutions, like Citi Bank, Merrill Lynch, Ban kof America et al, able to take such risky loans. After all these are some of the most rock solid institutions in the world.

I just read one of the major answers. It is something called a C D S  or Credit Default Swap. This is a way for bond holders(in this case lenders to corporations of dubious credit standing.) to lend risky money at high interest rates, therefore  showing higher profits. The CDS is a method for lenders to buy insurance against companies defaulting on their debt.

These risky high yield bonds are called Junk Bonds, and they come by their name honestly. When times are good, they pay,But  as recession and a  slowing economy arrives, the junk becomes JUNK.

No problem , you say,. we are insured by the CDS reinsurance  companies.

Reality check….There is somewhere around $20 trillion of this type insurance,and there is not 5% coverage  , in case of defaults…

This is a worldwide problem, and judging by the reluctant admissions by the banks of how much was lost in the 4th 1/4 of 07, tye numbers are staggering, and have global implications.

Hold on to your hat!!!! This is just the tip of the iceburg, with a lot more turmoil to come.

Sorry, I wish I could be more optimistic, maybe check back with me in 09 or early 2010, depending upon the quality of our leaders and politicians….Boy are we in trouble…

By The Way..

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Maybe I’m getting old, or out of the loop of pop culture, or something, but I gotta ask… Who is Heath Ledger? Until the other day, I had never heard his name before.

Now let me state unequivocally, I am an empath, and the thought , feeling, or reality, that someone died, is a tragedy in its own right, and I hope and pray that this Heath was a good soul, and that right now he is with the Boss and the Angels; however, aside from the fact that he was an actor(apparently), very rich,and  good looking,why  this incredible news coverage and microscopic examination in all the medias.

Peopel die every day. Each in his or her own context deserves to be remembered and missed, but why does this young man I never heard  of, get a heroes coverage, with such intensity.

28 is young, and death is tragic, but  time to turn the page.O D ing on drugs, accidental or intentional, should perhaps be a wakeup call  about the dangers inherent in abusing prescription drugs….

Let his death help at least one kid get straight…..G-d rest his soul.. 

Far Eastern Drama

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

In recent years, tens of millions of citizens of China, India, Korea, and other Pacific Rim nations of the Far East, have been exposed to the speculative face of Capitalism, in the guise of  stock speculation, and locally trading financial  markets.

These new “Investors”, are totally unsophisticated in the workings of stock trading markets, and have looked upon these vehicles, as a form of speculation , and have created an unwitting  frenzy of excess.

Prices of local Chinese or Indian companies as reflected by the stock averages in those Countries , during the past few years,  has been inflated beyond reason and sanity.

On paper, millions of these people have created , vast wealth, beyond their wildest hopes and dreams, by “PLAYING” The Market!!!

I can just picture a multitude of Chinese or other new capitalist citizens of the World, getting up every morning, and running to their newspaper, or other method of stock pricing, seeing that their value of shares has gone “up”, and rejoicing in their new found wealth and a method of “safe” gambling which seemed to guarantee only increased wealth. What a great way to gamble, much more profitable and a sure thing besides.

Enter reality: Unfortunately, Wall Street is not a one way street.Prices and wealth do not always go in one direction.  The Herd psychology has been rampant for 4-5 years. The value of real estate, securities, and commodities  was going up ,up, up, and “they” said that anyone who missed the ride was a fool. The opposite is true, as the markets drop. drop, drop, “they”  say it will never end…

I’ve always said, ” what do ‘they’ know? And by the way, who are They?”

It is almost 4 p.m. 1/23/08, the market has roard back from -300 to presently + 250. This type of volatility is a bad sign of speculation and gambling desperation.  If it were my money, or my sister looking for advice, I would tell her not to trade, but either sit tight, or sell. The worst is yet to come…I’m very sorry to say…

10 p m ,,A 600 + swing intra day trading, an almost all time record..too wild too much. The markets need to stabalize,  This was a Bull  rally in a heavy bear market, fueled by short covering of day traders…Please be cautious and very careful for the next quarter or two or three or… just be cool .

Not trying to be a pessimist, just a friend

Good Old Uncle Sam

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Uncle Sam to the rescue.In a preemptive move, the Fed has lowered the discount rate by 3/4 of a point.The largest move, up or down in recent history.

Considering that the futures were trading down over 550 points,this morning, due to irrational  copy cat selling. the Fed move at least diffused a panic day, although at this hour the Dow is still -140’s, but the wild gyrations of an emotional market are now retreating in an orderly manner.

-120 is a victory over the Bear. Let the Asian markets do 1/2  as well.

The Sneaky Really Big Bear Market

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Wow saying anything negative almost feels like pileing on.The world appears to be well on its way to paying the piper for the excesses of the previous decade .

October 9, 07  was only 3 months ago, right?  The Dow has dropped over 14 .5 % , and Nasdaq is down over 18%,  wow how volatile. i don’t remember such violent fluctuations in the old days.  but with tomorrow looking at a major sell off,  this is a sell off of historic proportions. A cold splash of reality.  Whoopy dooo!!!!

Just an observation II

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

A Corona with a slice of lemon.

A nice cup of tea with honey & a slice of lemon.\

Salmon broiled with lemon and garlic.

Gin & tonic with a slice of lime.

All of the above made with fresh lemon or lime.  Very tasty, a concentrated shot of vitamin C, an attractive splash of color to enhance the visual.

BUT….Think about this….

Have you ever seen anyone, including your self, who has ever washed a lemon? Do you think that they spray lemon trees to keep bugs away? Do you think that the native ,lemon pickers, wash their hands before handling the fruit? How about washing after going to the toilet?Or whatever….

I wash the fruit before using it, and usually peel off the skin…

What do I know?