Thursday, December 4, 2014

RUSSIA & UKRAINE - A COUNTRY THAT WAS ONCE ONE...(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 9/11/14)

Sometimes common wisdom is way off the mark.  Over the last few years we have pointed out that the PC wasn't going to disappear, the price of gold  was overblown, the pundits of gloom were mostly not worth listening to, the occupiers had little case, the deficit was substantially media hype, and the appeasement of enemies is generally not a winning strategy.

What I am going to say now seems absurd on its face, even to me who is writing it, but here I go.

My parents were born in Russia. Their citizenship papers say they were born in Russia.  Specifically they were born in Ukraine, Russia.  In my family it was taken as a statement of fact that they were from Russia. I took a look at Wikipedia and it was obvious, for several hundred years, Ukraine was considered Russia.

Somehow or other the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the name Russia was called by, ceded Ukraine to its own independence.  Now there is man by the name of Mr. Putin who thinks that breaking up the union was a very negative development for his country.

The Civil War in the United States was initially about maintaining the union between the North and the South, it was not initially fought over slavery.  I'm not sure that maintaining the Russian union is not as important to them as it was to us during the Civil War.

What am I missing?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

OIL IS NOT HOUSING - BLOG OF THE DAY...

The pundits of doom are reappearing.  This time it concerns the negative effect of the substantial and rapid decline in crude oil prices.  If the price of oil remains in the $70 dollar area it will cause the need for certain economic adjustments.  Some pundits are comparing the oil price decline to the housing crisis.

This is totally wrong.  The comparison is little or none.   The reason is that there were no real beneficiaries from the substantial decline in home prices.  There are countless beneficiaries from the substantial decline in crude.  That is the vast difference.  It will work out that way.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

OBAMA WILL GET YOU TOO! ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 6/11/12

We first published our blog below about the Solyndra scandal on September 26, 2011.
There's an incredibly misleading editorial about the Solyndra scandal in a leading New York newspaper. A simple review of the company's prospectus immediately highlights the following:

1. Several executives had compensation approaching a million dollars.
2. There were at least 25 million stock options made available to various parties.
3. Large hedge funds were significant owners of the company's shares.

The editorial blames the bankruptcy on a "stunning collapse in the price of solar panels".

It is obvious that before an investment of $500 million occurred analytical reports should have been written forecasting the trend of solar panel prices (if the company did not have enough big commercial customers that should have been easily detectable to anyone that took the time to review the company's position in the marketplace).

To compare the financial crises with the solar panel market is patently absurd. Home prices have risen for many years whereas solar panel prices were really a commodity product.

The idea that risking is what its all about is a joke on its face. Its easy to take risks that are totally wrong, but success is determined by wise decisions. The outlook for solar panel pricing in the United States was obviously negative since the number of companies that have been started in just a few years indicates relatively simple ease of entry and requires no particular technological advantages.

Another disadvantage the solar companies faced is the fact that oil producing countries want to keep any alternative sources of energy out of the picture even though most oil is used for cars and trucks, not power generation. Coal is the only true competitive alternative to solar energy and reducing the demand during the next decade would cause serious additions to unemployment. Unfortunately most of the coal miners could probably not be working in the solar industry.

The relationship between the hedge funds, all sorts of people in government and whether there were unions involved in the Solyandra workforce is only the tip of what seems to be a huge potential scandal of political power with our money.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SAFETY TRUMPS PRIVACY...(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2013)

A recent round-table discussion centered on why security at schools should not include metal detectors and other signs of collective safety.

The argument focused on the deterioration in the quality of schooling which would occur if the schools began to feel more like fortresses rather than educational institutions.

The debate concerned the intrusion of tighter security into the freedom of our schools, which should not be imposed by criminal elements.  The logic went that if the additional security measures were enacted the bad guys had basically won the day.

You could argue and discuss this for a long time but at the end our schools still remain vulnerable.  This last incident in Colorado could very easily have resulted in  many, many more deaths.  We were just lucky.  We might even make the claim that the increased security since Columbine substantially saved a number more lives.

I wonder if the D.C. Federal Judge would have so smugly undermined the constitutionality of the anti-crime terrorists surveillance if "his kid" was blown away by a mad person because security failed to trump our over expectations of what it means to be a free society.

Without safety , the Constitution will lose its value.


METAL DETECTORS NO, BUT KNIVES OKAY..(TODAY'S HEADLINES) ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JANUARY 2013

As they woke in the morning they turned off the house alarm and said good morning to Fido, then proceeded to breakfast.  On the way to work they pass either the superintendent, a doorman, a guard or a concierge or may open twenty different locking systems before proceeding out the door of their building.  There probably will be a cop on the corner or the next corner and they might pass a sheriff on the road and in smaller cities many often pass the police station.

Arriving at the office there is a bank branch in the lobby with a guard standing out in front. Security cameras are everywhere including the red lights on the road and the elevators in their office building and parking garage.  As it is Christmas time they may go to the local shopping center where signs immediately greet them "Patrolling Security".  The next day they may leave for vacation at the bus terminal or airport and security is extensive.  Everywhere the hypothetical person turns there is one form of advanced security or another. Everywhere but...

THEN THEY WENT TO THEIR CHILDREN'S SCHOOL.  THERE WERE FIFTY DIFFERENT WAYS TO ENTER THE SCHOOL, THERE WERE NO PANIC BUTTONS IN THE CLASSROOMS AND NONE IN THE HALLWAYS.  ANY ADULT COULD HAVE ENTERED, THERE WERE NO METAL DETECTORS, THERE WAS NEXT TO NOTHING KEEPING THE CHILDREN SAFE FROM INTRUDERS OR HARM. THERE WAS NO SECURITY...

Back in the day, schools were considered sacred ground.  The horror of that no longer being true.  Can you imagine the "horror" of using our children in political brinkmanship on the matter of guns? What type of security is required at schools is not only about guns but about many other issues.

Can you imagine the stupidity of President Obamas' proposal that you can have a ten bullet gun but not an automatic weapon.  I suppose that would allow a crazy person to sneak into the school with 5 handguns but not an automatic weapon.  What will this really accomplish?

Friday, November 14, 2014

OBAMA NEEDS A FREUDIAN ANALYST...

Since our President seems unable to effectively gain the respect of Putin, he's busy directing his manliness towards battles with the Congress.

Wouldn't it be better if he projected an agenda aimed at working together to improve the American experience?

Friday, October 31, 2014

THERE'S A LOT OF GOOD THINGS GOING ON...(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 6/8/12)

Watch the news, pick up a magazine especially newspapers, watch the TV and immerse yourself in the "everythings wrong" philosophy.

The democratic process, with its unbelievable capacity for openness and sharing of thoughts, seems to thrive on conflict. This conflict results in a vibrant Nation that lurches forward with small and gigantic steps.

All around us the pundits of doom sell negativism.

The reality is anything but. The enormous strides made by democracy and capitalism in the last few decades are incomprehensible. Almost every country has seen the standard of living of its people rise. There is no longer a significant chance of slipping back into extreme socialism and communism. All about us the engine of American and World creativity is blossoming into a whole new era that is only at its beginning.

Cars are changing, jet planes are making huge strides, biotechnology is still alive and well. The immensity of the Internet and all the companies that are continually being spawned is almost too much to grasp. Old industrial America is stabilizing. Revolution in America is not realistic for many years, if ever.

Markets get ahead of themselves, competition for profits is intense and there is a continuum of winners and losers in most spheres of life. The government in all its confusion functions. There is an awareness that so many major components of our democracy need revitalization. So all is not lost.

The market doubled too quickly from its lows. No one I know bet the house on 1 1/2% 10 year government bonds. Most observers are focused on everything but the real picture.

The real picture is our ingenuity. The fact is that most people go to work everyday and most enjoy their jobs.

The deficits will not sink the ship (although they should be brought down). Europe will not sink. Greece will still be there and so will Spain. And Russia, with all its recalcitrance will not do anything stupid. So seek your opportunity, use common sense, pay attention to what you are doing and praise the fact that everyday there is opportunity.