Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Stock Market: Should we abandon ship?

This must be on many minds this weekend as we broke through support levels which defined 25 year uptrend lines on the Dow. While we broke below support so gently the past week, nevertheless, we did break through the support levels and that is not a good sign. I took another look at the next level of support and while I can do this on a 25 year chart, I can't do it with the precision you deserve. So check with your professional stock advisor or other certified professional expert. It is my best guess we might go down to 6,300-6,500 on The Dow and 700 on the S&P. That means possibly another 10% drop of the total value of your portfolio of stocks. Ugh.

But there is also the possibility we can still have a strong Bear Market rally and go back up to 9,000 or over. That would be a 28% gain from where we are now. I personally am willing to take the risk of a 10% loss for a nearly 30% gain at this point. I can't speak for you here so you need to watch yourself and your assets. I believe this though, there is pent up demand and an oversold feeling with this market and the move up could happen very quickly. If any indicators aren't as bad as was expected in the coming week and show any possibility of no worse than last month, that could be enough for many to jump into the market.

I ventured in yesterday to buy Citi, symbol C, and so did many others as over 1.7 Billion shares were traded on Citi giving the Dow index a spike in volume for the day.

My recent purchases are underwater for my ETF's as well as the stocks I had purchased. TNA, the 3x Ultra Pro ETF of the Small Caps, closed yesterday at $15.53, after hitting a 52 week low of $15.02/share. I had recommended and purchased this at $23.36/share. SSO, the Ultra Pro shares of the ETF for the S&P 500 closed yesterday at $17.31/share after it hitting a 52 week low of $17.24/share. I had recommended and purchased it at $21.57/share. Ford Motor has pulled back after getting back up to as high as $2.20/share but now closed at $2.00/share. I had recommended and purchased this at $1.90/share. Apple, symbol AAPL closed yesterday down at $89.31/share. I had recommended and purchased the stock at $86.50 and $78/share. So there is the summary of my purchases.

Putting everything into context in a summary here, I think it's a crap shoot for this coming week as to whether we actually test new lows at the 6,300-6,500 level. If the SEC instituted back the Uptick Rule, we might not go lower but there is no certainty they will. It has been only discussed by Bernanke and others in the Administration. And further complicating matters is that Wall Street does not like what President Obama has been proposing on a host of topics like Healthcare reform, Medicaid reform, tax rate changes, stemming foreclosures and the bailout of banks. They speak with their money in the markets and that hurts us all. But change isn't coming, change is here and they had better get used to it. The good old boys network and the good old days, are gone forever or at least during this Administration. So I am not selling here and will hold and possibly add more shares of these investments as long as the cash holds out. So to answer the question asked in the title of this Blog, "Should we abandon ship?", the answer is No!

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Take Mini poll: How long will the recession last?

There is only 2 days left before I summarize the data from the mini poll to the right of this post. I will summarize the data and compare it to December and January's summary. So if you haven't yet taken the poll please do. Thanks and return here on March 2nd for the summary posting. I believe you will find the data interesting.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Market Outlook for Feb. 26, 2009

The market has been in a very tight range of late. The VIX currently is at 44.67 and has retreated from the over 50 readings of 2 and 3 days ago. Volume the past 3 days has been higher than normal and the Put to Call ratio has abated down to 0.84 from highs in the 1.20 and higher intraday peaks of the past few days. The fact that we are still holding is encouraging. Also Fed Chairman Bernanke has also stated in testimony before Congress that they might reinstitute the Uptick rule for Shorting stocks which previous SEC Chairman had ended the rule taking the wrath of many investors like myself who called for his head.

I continue to believe we are not heading lower in the Dow and S&P 500 Indexes but my belief has been tested as well. I continue to hold TNA and SSO, AAPL, F and other favorites. It was good to see Ford climb back up over $2.00 the past few days. It had been as low as $1.67 the past few days so it is a nice recovery.

If I had available cash to invest I would wait to see if we can hold these levels before committing more cash to stocks. I still am hopeful we will finish the week neutral to positive.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Republican effect and why it will take longer to get out of this recession.

The Republican party has taken on the mantle of being the loyal opposition since the election of President Barack Obama. The affect of this is to continue divided government and this in turn plays out amplifying the continued fears of most informed citizens. This in turn keeps confidence low and ensures the lack of a recovery. The best way to monitor this is to watch the stock market.

Yesterday President Obama appealed to Republicans to enjoin him where there can be agreement and offer solutions rather than just finding fault with proposals before him, referring to upcoming challenges such as Healthcare reform and Social Security reform.

But the effect on markets today is again a slip in major indexes. Wall Street controls the money and the markets as they are the market makers. They can drive markets up or down at will and the small investor gets whipped around. I predict the result of this will be fewer traders in the coming years and that will not benefit them. They are playing Russian Roulette and are not being too strategic. In fact they are being quite short sighted in my view.

The game is rigged but for now they don't want anyone winning a thing. We are still at the edge and looking into the abyss. The Dow continues to test the 7,200 level.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Markets pull back from the Edge today

We stared into the abyss and pulled back from the most certain painful decline that we almost had today. We are not out of the woods yet but if we can string another day or two together we may be on our way to a Bear Market rally. Much anticipation as to what Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's plan is for the Banks so that shoe is still yet to drop. But President Obama was confident and bold tonight in what he wants to be measured on regarding the success of his plans to restore the economy. You can't say he is shy about taking on responsibility. He has set a new standard just on that metric compared to all previous Presidents.

Futures are down a little this evening but it is too early to tell what will happen tomorrow. On a positive note, Ford Motor, symbol F, went up today to $2.20/share and is now profitable based upon my earlier purchase and strong belief in the stock back on January 24th with an average price of $1.90/share. My Apple stock is also back into profitability as well, from my purchase back on January 7th for $86.50/share and again on January 14th for $78.00/share. Still own all my shares of TNA and SSO.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Market disappoints and may disappoint further

Well, I had my fingers crossed we would hold at the 7,200 on the Dow and 750 level on the S&P 500 but we didn't. We have broken now the uptrend line with todays drop in both indexes. I hate to be the bearer of more bad news but there is better than a 50% chance we will go down to the next support level which is 6,200 on the Dow.

I don't see Wall Street embracing the changes Obama is making. As a matter of fact by the data on the markets, I would say they don't like it at all. And so they are acting with their trades accordingly. They have no faith and they are the market movers. So here we sit and watch the markets drip, drip drip to new lows. If they keep it up there will not be much investment in stocks going forward so they better calculate accurately what their actions are doing to long term investors. They may be getting ready to throw in the towel for good. The only redeeming quality of the action today was that the market finished at the lows. This created the Candlestick pattern called the hammer. The hammer pattern usually signals a reversal. That is the only hope I see for tomorrow and beyond right now.

So what to do here. I guess I have decided to stay pat and wait for now. Not comforting to others I'm sure but I see no really good options, including selling here.

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Ideas for Recovery: A Special Treat

Back when I worked at IBM, my mentor, Dr. Richard Lazar, I was impressed as to how he was always looking for ways to help an individual improv , an organization, a company, and yes even our Country. In the 1970's we were all concerned as a Country about whether Japan was going to surpass the U.S in Manufacturing by ever increasing quality in their products and Richard was always looking for ways for IBM and U.S. Manufacturing to compete better globally and preserve jobs.

I received a copy of his latest work this morning titled, "DRIVING ON THE ONLY ROAD TO ECONOMIC RESURGENCE, 17 Innovative Products for Jobs" I am going to reprint a portion of his and his wife Caron's paper with a link below to contact him or if you would like a copy of the entire report. Richard is a great American and real patriot in the best sense of the word. He helped me get a start in this profession. I learned so much from him I will be eternally grateful. Now for the excerpt:

"The Heart and Brain
Without understanding the heart and the brain of our system, the CPP*, they do understand that non-regulation and runaway greed have been involved. They call the financial, banking and mortgage markets the Oxygen of our system. It is! However without the Heart and Brain, Oxygen is not enough. This error is the “sine qua non” to the restoration of the USA. We must build and sell new innovative products. We must develop excellent prime movers and key players. The second urgent piece to revitalizing the American economy is described in my “USA—The Innovation Nation” piece. I believe strongly that our new President, Barack Obama, will get it right, if helped by advisors and staff, as he has “gotten it” on so many vital issues that all Americans want resolved. In summary, jobs will come from our innovative products sold here and abroad in successful, victorious competition with China. We need our market share to provide jobs to produce sufficient income to enable our middle class to pay their mortgages, credit card debt and to finance health care for all. Prolonged war has hurt badly . . . very badly. At this time, 93% of Americans are hurting. There is no end in sight. They only way is through peace, progress and profit through the rigid adherence to the CPP and the prescription I advance in USA The Innovation Nation. Now let’s get it on!

(*CPP refers to Central Productive Process)

The Central Productive Process (CPP)
By Richard G. Lazar, PhD and Carôn Caswell Lazar

In 1987, Richard first constructed what he called a Behavioral Economic model that describes what it takes to have a strong and sustainable economy and called it The Central Productive Process or CPP. In fact, when we met 22 years ago our very first conversation was on the US economy and product building.

And, although he and we have refined the model over the last 21 years, it remains as true today, December 2008, as it was then. At the CPP’s core is the “Building and Producing of High Quality and Market Driven Products for Sale in the U.S. and Abroad,” (step #1 of model). Everything progresses from this single strategy for economic prosperity. Everything depresses from ignoring this single strategy. Economic wellbeing starts, or stops, with building and producing products domestically.
To believe otherwise, that a successful economy can be created, grown and maintained by the financial and service sectors, has driven us to one of the lowest economic points of our history.
From the production of tangible, market driven products all other sectors of an economy develop. When a company employs people to build a tangible product it will soon employ people to sell and service that product. The company will hire others to improve the design and function of its product. As the company grows more people will be needed to administer the affairs of the company. All of these employed people will need homes, furniture, food, and even books. Many want coffee and donuts from the coffee truck that comes at 10:15 in the morning or from Starbucks. The building of products springs forth all sorts of businesses that employ many times the number employed by the product producer (spin-off job factor estimates are 3.5x to 12x). All of the people employed in the construction trades to build the homes, the furniture makers to fill the homes, the farmers and food processing companies to feed the families that live in the homes, and the authors and publishers who produce the books to fill the minds-hearts-and shelves of peaceful inhabitants’ homes, and the coffee truck owner and Starbucks—all of them derive their income from the product builders.

They, in turn, also financially support the providers of goods and services and they all then pay taxes that combined with the taxes of others provide for the common good. But take away product building and there is no foundation upon which to grow and then a once mighty economy will begin to move towards the tipping point that can almost overnight reverse the fortunes of whole local communities, nations, and even a world. We are on the verge of that collapse now The key to a strong economy is income, taxable income. And the way to ensure income for individuals and government is with jobs centered in product building and then moving out in circles around that center—like the ripples formed when a rock is thrown into water. That’s the ripple effect to aim for. Have you noticed that when the rock sinks to the bottom, the ripples also end? That is not the ripple effect to aim for. We need to re-establish our economy as diverse product builders that provide a continuing stream of expansion. The financial sector is not one of the rocks it is one of the ripples. No product-building, nothing to invest in. A strong economy is founded on ideas made tangible and consumable. Believing that the financial markets can continue to offer sound investments and flourish while selling dying ripples is just foolish. There has been a misguided notion of what creates ripples."

To contact Dr. Richard Lazar you may email him at

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

State data comparisons: California Budget crisis did not need to happen. Is your State next?

Everyone has heard of how California has been locked in gridlock over its budget mess for the past 5 months until getting it approved this past week. Much of the debate was centered around the Republicans wanting not to increase taxes and instead to cut spending, postulating that our State government has grown out of control and fiscally irresponsible. No real data has been published to validate this fact except for the fact we have had a $41 Billion dollar shortfall, so of course the Republicans blame this on too much spending. So I decided to do a little fact checking myself and see for example, does California have too big a government compared to other States around the country and what I found out was truly surprising. I looked at the number of State Employees we have versus the size of our population to see what was the percent of employees of our total population. I then did this for every State in the country. I then ranked them by the lowest percentage to the highest percentage. Before I show the data, where would you guess California ranked, one of the best, one of the worst or about in the middle? Here's the data. Look for your State's data here as well.

State % of State Employees as a % of Total population

Illinois 0.82% (President Obama's home State)
Arizona 0.89%
California 0.91%
Florida 0.93%
Nevada 0.97%
Wisconsin 0.97%
Ohio 1.04%
Texas 1.07%
Colorado 1.07%
Pennsylvania 1.14%
Georgia 1.15%
Michigan 1.19%
Indiana 1.20%
Idaho 1.21%
New York 1.21%
Tennessee 1.22%
New Hampshire 1.22%
Minnesota 1.24%
Massachusetts 1.30%
Missouri 1.35%
Virginia 1.37%
North Carolina 1.38%
Oregon 1.39%
Iowa 1.39%
Kansas 1.41%
Maryland 1.48%
South Dakota 1.51%
Connecticut 1.52%
Nebraska 1.52%
Washington 1.54%
Utah 1.54%
South Carolina 1.57%
Maine 1.57%
New Jersey 1.65%
Alabama 1.69%
Kentucky 1.70%
Oklahoma 1.71%
Mississippi 1.72%
Montana 1.76%
Louisiana 1.76%
Rhode Island 1.76%
West Virginia 1.90%
Arkansas 1.91%
Vermont 2.20%
Wyoming 2.22%
North Dakota 2.28%
New Mexico 2.28%
Delaware 2.61%
Alaska 3.45%
Hawaii 3.98%

One could make a good argument that the problem California has is that it HASN"T raised enough money from taxes to support itself, contrary to what has been the Republican position. However, without including the spending part of the equation, this would be irresponsible. I will look to see if I can also get that information and post it here. But let's be clear about one thing, California needed to pass a budget and what the Democrats were trying to do for the past 5 months was very reasonable and what the Republicans were doing in preventing passage of the current Bill was irresponsible. California voters should remember this stance next time they vote. California is not irresponsible nor are its citizens. The irresponsibility comes from ideological Republicans who, as a national Party, are doing everything they can to see President Obama fail. Shame on you all!

Sources of this data comes from the Government Census Bureau.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stock Market: Review of yesterday's action and Outlook for week of Feb. 23rd

It was a day of fear and hope yesterday culminating in a Double Witching expiration and gave the feeling of a roller-coaster ride. Much of the action was normal Options expiration but the added volatility magnified by comments coming from Robert Gibbs, Press Secretary for President Obama, when he took Nationalizing the Banks off the table for consideration. This followed a comment from Sen. Chris Dodd of CT, Chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, where he said to the media that some banks might need to be Nationalized for a short time. When Dodd spoke, the market tanked to the lows of the day, and when Gibbs spoke, saying that President Obama was not in favor of nationalizing the banks, the market rallied, giving a clear signal of where Wall Street was on the matter.

I was very pleased about yesterday's action. We did go down below 7,300 but closed above it. We also did drop enough on the S&P 500 to come close enough to a retest of the November lows to say we had arrived and successfully passed the test, at least for yesterday. The S&P 500 closed at 775 after hitting a low for the day of 754. The November low was 741. The Dow closed at 7,366 after setting a new low of 7,266, breaking the previous Nov. low of 7,392.

Looking forward, I see this coming week showing a positive gain and possibly enough momentum going into the week of March 2nd to sustain a bit longer rally. On Friday I bought more shares of the ETF Ultra Pro shares of the S&P500, symbol SSO, at $18.48 and also bought more shares of the ETF Ultra Pro Small Cap Fund, symbol TNA for $17.48/share. I didn't hit the exact lows on each purchase but was very happy I did buy them. The low for the day for SSO was $18.25/share and for TNA the low for the day was at $17.19/share.

Reflecting on some previous call I had made, I was in error in my call on selling the ETF Ultra Shorts SDS and TZA back when I did. I had sold TZA back on Jan. 21st for $67.24 and yesterday TZA hit a high of $76.05/share. Clearly I could have kept the shares till yesterday and done better than I had back on Jan. 21st. I could have gotten at least another $5/share profit in hindsight. But I do feel good I made a good profit when I sold them. On SDS, I had also sold the shares on Jan. 21st at a price of $86.90/share. Yesterday SDS reached a high of $94.82/share so I left at least $6/share on the table for that one as well. Again, I made a good profit when I sold them both in the 25% to 35% range. The reason I am posting this all here is so you know I really do continually look at my decisions over time to reflect more on my decisions. If Bankers did that on the Sub Prime problem and realized what they were doing, we might not be in the mess we all find ourselves in as a country.

The moral of this analysis is several fold. First, Lesson #1, don't ever be sorry for selling a stock at a profit. Greed is your enemy as it makes you risk losing what you have. Secondly, Lesson #2, don't be afraid to look yourself in the eye and give a true assessment of you shortfalls and errors. It is the only way to improve your situation. And lastly, if you want to really learn lessons permanently, learn to admit your errors to others voluntarily. It can be very humbling and also very reinforcing of lessons 1 and 2. Hope this helps you today.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Double Witching Friday: Will the stock markets hold? UPDATE

This is the question of the day and many are nervous it won't. There isn't much data to point to, to answer that question. The only data I could bring forth today, as a piece of encouragement, was that the VIX Volatility Index closed at 47.08, down 1.38, as it still stays under 50. When the Volatility Index comes down it doesn't mean that markets will go up, it just means that people aren't panicking and selling like a mob, they are much more calm about it.

This latest market drop, back to the November lows, looks well managed, in my view. The daily moves are modest and not like what it was like when we first reached the lows, back in November, when the VIX was between 70 and 80. I tend to think it is Wall Street wanting to send a message to the politicians in DC that they don't like what the Obama Administration is doing to solve the Credit crisis, the Mortgage crisis nor the Stimulus package. The problem with this point of view is all those voices have come up with no new ideas other than reducing taxes. It is the only action most right wing Republicans can come up with.

So I still believe we are going to hold around this current level. We may go as low as 7,200 on the Dow, When I first put the chart together projecting the lows of about 7,300 when no one thought we were ever going that low, I also said it could go to 7,200. The reason for the discrepancy was that the uptrend line which I constructed and analyzed started from about 1975 to the mid 1980's. I did not enter all the data in a spread sheet and use an equation to determine best fitting line. I used existing charts for the period of 1970 to September of 2008 and drew a line that while imprecise hit at around 7,200 to 7,300. So when I said we will hold, I really believe we will. We just need to get through today rightfully labeled "Double Witching" for this month's Options expiration. It will be a measured test not a panic drop but the shorts want to extract every penny they can from these lows. Keep the faith!

UPDATE: 8:45am PST.

Well we have gotten as low as 7,311 today and still appear to be holding, and the S&P 500 has gone as low as only 762, which is also good news. The VIX has risen to as high as 50.36 but went back below 50 again.

UPDATE: 10:00am PST.
I wanted my readers to know what I am currently doing. I have just purchased additional shares of the ETF Ultra Long of the S&P 500, symbol SSO for $18.48/share and also purchased additional shares of the other ETF I own, symbol TNA, for $17.49/share.

The VIX is now up over 51 and the Dow is down to 7260.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Market Outlook for Feb. 19th, 2009 to week's end: Holding above Nov. lows!

Well we did not do badly Wednesday in the market, all things considered from Tuesday's abysmal showing. Today the Dow hit a low of 7451, which is ever closer to the previous November low of 7,392. The S&P closed Wednesday at 788 but did have a low for the day of 780. Looking at the charts on both indexes it looks very much like we are in the process of retesting the low of 7,392 on the Dow this week. It may only be a brief moment but my sense is that we will bounce back up off the bottom if we do touch it. The S&P 500 is a different story as we are still about 40 points above the November lows of 741, and we would have to have a more drastic drop in the S&P to get there than the Dow, which seems unlikely. So the Index to watch will be the Dow for the retest.

Friday is what they refer to as Double Witching fro Options expiration. Usually that means increased volatility. Volatility as measured by the VIX index today actually went down slightly from yesterday closing at 48.46. However on Tuesday it leaped up touching 50 before backing off to close at 48.66. While it is over the 20 and 40 Day Moving Average, it most likely does not look like it will go to the highs back in November when the market hit its lows. back then the VX hit between 70 and 80. Based upon this fact alone I do not see us in for a meltdown this week. I do see instead an opportunity to take some risk and buy some stocks as the market will have a rally most likely next week.

Supporting evidence to me are several stocks. Apple, symbol AAPL is still above its 20, 40 and 60 day Moving averages and no where near the lows. Another indicator is the Nasdaq closed at 1468 which is well above the November lows of 1295. In conclusion, this week is a buying opportunity and as I said earlier in another post 3 weeks from now many are going to kick themselves for not getting back into the market. Some I own and like are TNA, SSO, AAPL. I think you will see Gold and other precious metals like Silver drop, as World markets reflect our move up.

UPDATE: 6:00am PST

Weekly Jobless claims were up only 8,000 keeping Weekly Claims at 627,000 jobs lost. Continuing Claims reached 4.99 Million jobs lost. The CPI was up 0.8% and the Core inflation rate was up a surprising 0.4%.

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California Budget Gridlock: Here are the Senators responsible for Gridlock.

First a little brief background. California is unlike the Federal government in that it must balance its budget but in order to do that it takes a 2/3rd approval rate, not the usual 50% majority other States have as a requirement. California has 40 State Senators. Currently, there are 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans. That would mean in order to pass the proposed budget we need 27 votes. Now with the Democrats holding only 24 seats, they need 3 Republicans to approve the Budget. They can get only 2 Republicans to vote for the proposed budget, which is a mix of Cuts in spending and tax increases. The Senate has been working on this problem a good 6 months to a year.

So here we are with a few stubborn Republicans who have helped create this mess in the first place, blocking all action to get the measure passed. The Republicans don't want a single tax increased and that is their position period. Here is a list of the Republican Senators who have caused this mess:



Now the Republican leader Sen. Dave Cogdill had voted for the budget in the spirit of compromise, but now faces his own party as the Republicans ousted him from his leadership position for voting in favor of the proposed budget. Sen Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria), voted against the taxes this morning but has stated publicly that he might support them if various government reforms were added to the package. He was sharply critical of his caucus for removing Cogdill. GOP Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield has agreed to vote for the package, according to legislative officials.

The GOP's only Latino senator, Maldonado, like Adams, represents a swing district and voted for the state budget in 2007.

On Monday, Maldonado said he would "take a look at" voting for the budget package if it included financial penalties for future legislators who fail to pass state budgets on time or drive the state into deficit. And Maldonado, who lost a 2006 bid for state controller to a more conservative challenger, said he wants future California primary elections to be "open," allowing voters to cross party lines to cast a ballot.

So we are in a mess and only some reasonable Republican Senators hold the key to getting us out of this mess. California is a beautiful state to live in from nature's perspective, but from some of the people that live here it is one of the worst states. And I say that having lived in Massachusetts for 25 years or should I call it Taxachusetts like the locals do.

Many want to blame Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but I think he has done his best to get his Party to join the Democrats. It's just that they are all stubborn and in my view should resign as they are failing to keep their oath to the people of the State. They have done everything they can to be obstructionists and don't deserve the seats they occupy.

UPDATE: Feb. 19th
I corrected the list of names above to reflect the State Senators instead of what I had listed, the Assembly. Thanks to the comments from those making them.

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Pre-Market Feb. 18, 2009: Time to get back into the market!

It looks like Housing Starts were down more than expected, down 16.8%. However it did not have the negative effect on the pre-market as was expected. Many on CNBC this morning have said the market is very oversold. So expect a relief rally today. President Obama will announce some plans on stemming the home foreclosure problem and that should have a positive impact on markets.

The Dow is up about 60 points in pre-market and the S&P 500 is up about 8 points.

We aren't out of the woods yet so the market is trying to look up versus looking into the abyss. But many who have some courage are considering buying some real bargains. Apple for example dropped almost $5/share yesterday and to me is a god bargain here. I purchased more shares of the ETF Ultra Pro Shares of the Small Caps x 3, symbol TNA. Price paid was $21.08/share.

It's time we bounced off the bottom of this low range and headed up. Is this wishful thinking? No, this is the time to be buying back into the market. Three weeks from now you will regret not getting back into it. The stimulus package has been approved. Today we get a plan on helping stem foreclosures. And soon we get a plan to rescue the banks by Geithner. We are on the move and if you can't feel it you aren't in touch with what's going on around you.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Market close Feb. 17, 2009

Wanted to update everyone, as I bought more shares of TNA at the close for $21.08/share. Market got nasty in last 15 -20 minutes closing at the lows of the day. Dow as off 298 to 7,552 and the S&P 500 closed at 789. This after President Obama signed the $787 Billion Stimulus package into law in Denver, Colorado.

The President, during his remarks before the signing, said that this was the beginning of the end of the loss of jobs. Buyers walked away from the stock market today but there was not panic selling. Volume was slightly higher today than there was on Friday.

The Dow did reach it's previous 52 week close which occurred in November. Major news still expected later this week and by all appearances it appears we may go lower. But I still feel confident we will not go below the 7,300 level as a close on the Dow. Can't promise obviously but it is a new day with the Obama Administration in control. No matter how bad the market appears right now, I am still thrilled we are not being led by former President Bush and the greedy Wall Street insiders and crooks of that Administration.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Market stats coming week of Feb. 17th

This week has a host of data being released and the news is slanted to be terrible by most accounts. On Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders will release its monthly sentiment survey, which has fallen to record low levels, with fewer than one in 10 builders confident about the business.

Industrial production is expected to have plunged again in January after falling 7% in the past six months. Economists surveyed were looking for a decline of 1.7%, following a 2% drop in December. The figures will be released Wednesday. Total hours worked in the manufacturing sector is seen falling 2.1% in January, with the number of jobs down in almost every industrial sector.

Continuing jobless claims have been at record high levels -- at nearly 5 million -- while initial claims have settled above 600,000 per week. No one knows what this week's data will show but many are expecting some very bad numbers.

The CPI is expected to rise 0.3%, and the PPI 0.4%, according to economists.

The Federal Reserve has warned it sees a risk of near-term deflation, but there's not much more they can do about that risk since rates are near zero.

With all this bad news pretty much expected, watch how the markets react. It is my opinion that the markets will hold and possibly rally on any news that seems to suggest we are near or at bottom or that maybe it is slowing the acceleration rate of these indicators. I particularly would watch how Apple stock reacts this week, as it is a good tech indicator of market direction. And what I plan to do is to again look for opportunities to buy the ETF, TNA, an Ultra short x 3 of the Small Caps. Watch volume for this week as well as it has been weak of late. Any high volume with a price rise will be most welcome and may cause the Shorts to cover.

UPDATE: Tuesday 5:45am PST

It looks pretty bad this morning in pre-market as markets around the World are negative. We must hold the lows of 7,300 on the Dow and 742 on the S&P 500 or we are in for some real pain. Dow futures down about 250 in pre-market. S&P 500 is down to 793 in pre-market. Today is shaping out to have a big drop at the open. The question will be whether we can recover today or are we headed to retest the very lows made earlier in November. Wall Street does not like with the Administration is doing with respect to the economic mess that Wall Street and the Bankers created in the first place. They don't like the restrictions on compensation put on them by the Congress and the Obama Administration. Fear levels are rising.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Who helped pass the Stimulus package in the Senate? You can thank the people of New Hampshire, Virginia, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Colorado!

Hard to believe isn't it. Yes, I am pleased at the extra praise rightfully given to Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, Republicans from Maine and Arlan Spector of Pennsylvania voting for the Stimulus bill. They really do deserve the praise for standing up against the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans but let's not also forget that if it wasn't also for new Democratic Senators elected in November the bill would never have passed. Here's the impact of your votes:

- Jeanne Shaheen new Democratic Senator of New Hampshire, who won a seat from a former Republican Senator John Sununu,
- Mark Warner, new Democratic Senator of Virginia, who also won an open seat which had been held by a Republican,
- Tom Udall new Democratic Senator of New Mexico who also defeated a Republican GOP Rep. Steve Pearce
- Kay Hagan Democratic Senator of North Carolina, who defeated Republican Elizabeth Dole and
- Mark Udall new Democratic Senator of Colorado who also defeated former GOP Rep. Bob Schaffer. Mark Udall is a cousin of Tom Udall.

So thank you my friends from New Hampshire, Virginia, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Colorado. Without you this Stimulus package would have certainly failed the final vote. And don't ever let anyone tell you again that your vote doesn't matter. The elections of 2008 changed all that forever. Just ask the soon to become Senator Al Franken, Democrat from Minnesota, who is about to defeat Republican Norm Coleman. Here's the latest on that race:

Al Franken gets boost over Norm Coleman in Senate race
Minnesota judges say Coleman hasn't shown a widespread absentee-vote problem.
Associated Press
February 14, 2009

St. Paul, Minn. -- The judges in Minnesota's U.S. Senate trial said in a preliminary ruling Friday that Republican Norm Coleman had not yet shown a widespread problem with absentee voters being denied the right to vote.

The three-judge panel ordered that rejected absentee ballots from 12 of 19 categories should not be counted in the Senate race.

Coleman, who is trying to undo Democrat Al Franken's 225-vote lead, had wanted to count ballots in all but three of the categories.

Coleman had argued that thousands of rejected absentee ballots were excluded inconsistently and should be counted, but Friday's ruling would limit the total number of ballots to be reviewed for counting.

"The facts presented thus far do not show a wholesale disenfranchisement of absentee voters in the 2008 general election," wrote judges Elizabeth Hayden, Kurt Marben and Denise Reilly.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Take a poll on how long recession will last

Even if you have taken the mini poll on the right margin before, it is appropriate to take it again as much has changed in the past 2-3 weeks. So please take the Poll and let's see when people believe the recession will be over. Thanks so much.

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Market Outlook: Retest of the lows but don't panic as we will rebound strongly

That's correct, we will be retesting the lows on the Dow and S&P 500. We can go as low as 7,300 and retest the previous low but we will hold. This is the final shakeout before we surge strongly back up. Do not panic or get too scared by throwing in the towel as that is what the manipulators want because we are about ready to approve and sign into law the Stimulus package. It will stimulate and work over the next 6 months to a year. The best we can all do is try to return our lives to normalcy.

I still own all my TNA shares and on this last leg down I will be adding more shares. I also still like AAPL especially in light of the lower expectations by Research in Motion, symbol RIMM. It is possible that Apple's iPhone is gaining more market share here. I have visited my local Apple Store and it is still mobbed most of the time. People are buying product and services.

So keep the faith and look at this as a good opportunity to rebuild your future as I am.

UPDATE 8:00pm PST.

Well the market went very low today but recovered above the critical 822 on the S&P 500. But a news story tonight validated my earlier hypothesis about Apple and Research in Motion. Here's what I read this evening:

iPhone now represents 51% of U.S. smartphone traffic — report

This comes from one Web metric among many, so take it with a grain of salt.

But according to AdMob, one of the largest mobile Web ad networks, Apple’s (AAPL) handsets now dominate mobile Web traffic in almost every category.

According to AdMob’s analysis of the billions of ad requests it saw in January:

The iPhone OS now represents 51% of U.S. smartphone traffic, leaving RIM’s (RIMM) BlackBerry (19%) and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Mobile (14%) in the dust.
In the global handset market, the iPhone and iPod touch now represent 18.3% of worldwide ad traffic — second only to Nokia (NOK) with 30.1%
Worldwide requests from Apple devices grew 28% month over month to 1.2 billion in January.
The iPod touch is rapidly catching up to the iPhone; it now represents 40% of Apple requests, up from 20% in September.
AdMob stores and analyzes every ad request, impression and click from more than 6,000 publishers’ sites in over 160 countries every day, according to its website.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blue Cross raises premiums and angers the public

Anthem Blue Cross of California, has raised premiums for healthcare coverage by as much as 40% for some of its insured members. They cite the increase in costs as the main reason for the premium increases. But the whole purpose for "managed care" was to manage and hopefully reduce costs.

Anthem Blue Cross is agreeing to a settlement with California regulators, the latest pact reached by insurers over the issue of canceling insurance plans after patients got sick.

The insurer, owned by WellPoint, has agreed to pay a fine of $1 million and to offer new coverage to 2,330 after they incurred big medical bills, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Anthem deal is the latest in a two-year effort by regulators to crack down on health insurers for dropping sick members on dubious grounds.

These are led by some of the same executives who basically stole hundreds of Millions of dollars(~$400 Million) in executive compensation to go along with the deal with WellPoint, to merge. California insured members have been stuck with these costs by paying increased premiums. It stinks, if you ask me, the same as the Banking industry bonuses have drawn criticism, after receiving TARP funds from the government. Greed has run amuck in our society as the average person is just trying to survive.

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Vote here on when the recession will end.

Lots going on this week to affect how you might feel as to when the recession will be over. Please take a moment and vote in my Mini Poll to the right of this posting.

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We are looking into the Abyss and only good will can help us now

The rancor is getting pretty bad out there over the Stimulus plan which just passed yesterday in the Congress and has already moved to the Conference Committee with the House, It also is getting bad over Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's rescue plan for the Banks. Add to that, today the House has called hearings with some former Investment bankers and now merged Bank CEO's to testify about excessive compensation packages they received last year, and you have the beginnings of Class Warfare. This is not, I repeat NOT, a good idea when we are trying to bring the country together as it is very decisive pitting the politicians, supposedly representing us, against the wealthy. I am very concerned this will add to the troubles in the stock market and make it impossible to turn this around in a more positive tone.

Watch for intimidation of these CEO's by the Democrats in the hearings and the tone of discussions. If it starts to get ugly the market could tip. I am standing ready to sell if I need to because our next stop could be as low as 6,300 on the Dow and that is very scary. We need a bounce back off these current levels to have a little breathing room.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We don't know the details of the Geithner rescue plan, but that may be a good thing if the concept still needs tweaking.

Do you need a loan? That's what the government plan assumes as they are talking about providing up to $1 Trillion dollars in loans available for such things as car loans, home loans, school loans and other loans. But call me foolish, but I don't know if people are really going to borrow money if they have no way of paying off or are worried they may lose their job and not be able to pay the loans back. But that is part of the reasoning in the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's rescue plan still being worked on, and, is partially included in the Stimulus package, in Conference Committee, now in the Congress.

I know I don't need a loan, and many people I have talked to recently, don't need a loan. They want to make sure they, and their friends and family, have jobs. Tax cuts don't seem to be an answer for people worrying about their jobs but that's what 42% of the Stimulus package includes, right now.

The only thing I want is for all leaders involved in defining these details to not allow their ideology to get in the way of needed actions and compromise. That's probably what you want to.

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Obama loses patience with cynics but not his temper..

President Obama's first news conference yesterday set the stage to get the support he needs for the Stimulus package directly from the American people and takes a shot at the critics. Where were they the past 8 years when the Bush Administration was spending money with no checks and balances, he chided. I think in the end he convinced those in the middle but didn't convert any zealots on the far right.

Today we will see the rescue plan for the banks announced by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The Administration has kept the details of the plan under wraps so whatever is announced today will sure to be criticized again by the far right as Nationalizing Banks or some such shot at the Administration. I doubt much will be said about putting our faith in the plan, but that is what will be needed. Critics need to shut up as they are doing as much to hurt the economy further than any actions by the Obama Administration. Confidence is the issue we need to address and those who spend all day criticizing the President and the rescue package are peeling the skin off investor confidence and are now equally responsible for the mess we are in. Get behind the president and give him at least a year or two to get this problem fixed. In the mean time look at how YOU can help the economy by spending a little, instead of completely shutting down all activities and expenditures.

Update: Feb. 10th after the close of the market

Well this was predictable. Critics wanted answers now, detailed plans and "substance" fro Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Dow closed down 382 points. At one time it was down over 400. Congress asked many probing questions and Republican Senator Shelby was the most negative about the overview of the plan.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

The market malaise will soon end

The market malaise is soon to end. Why you ask? Because we are still in the President Bush depression and have yet to feel great about the transition to President Obama's change we can believe in. As we have all seen by the Republicans in the Congress and the Senate, they don't get it yet and neither does Speaker Pelosi, but with the Republicans looking more like obstructionists, they will get that as a permanent label and lose the next election again with the American people. If they had been smart, they could have argued behind the scenes with President Obama about what the Democrats did and have the President fight with the Democrats. But they are more Ego driven than smart. So in this fight the Republicans really lose.

But in the end, it will be Obama struggling with the far left in the Democratic Party to curb their wanting it all now, instant gratification at the expense of their super majority win in the next election. They have played it as poorly as the Republicans did under the Senate leadership of Sen. Bill Frist. Remember him?

We have yet to see what President Obama can do. He has much to do and has taken on a fast start jumping into the foray with both feet. This economy will turn around eventually and maybe not as fast as we all would like, but it will turn around. You can help make it sooner rather than later by continuing as best as possible your normal life. Don't be afraid to spend some funds, as it does help keep jobs and more specifically your job, as we are all connected to each other. Yes, we are still in a Bush hangover and it has us down because it was eight long years, too long for most of us. Believe the phrase made so popular by our President, "Yes We Can!", and let's shake this hangover quickly!

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Market Outlook for week of Feb. 9th: Up & Down in a tight range until the Stimulus is passed.

Yes, we are doomed to uncertainty for the day today and possibly the next few days as the Stimulus package is in its final stages before the approval of Congress and the signature of the President. When the market closed on Friday we thought we might have a deal Friday night in the Senate and a vote, but we didn't. In anticipation the market rose Friday about 200 points. Now we know there has been posturing again over the weekend and only 3 Republican Senators look like they will sign it. Sen. Susan Collins Republican of Maine looked frustrated with her Republican colleagues on Friday night for not joining her other two colleagues, Sen. Arlan Spector and Sen. Olympia Snow, also of Maine, in joining their bipartisan move and be willing to add their endorsement.

Pre-market reflects this dichotomy, as the Dow is down about 50 points. This evening President Obama is taking his message directly to the American people in hopes of having them flood the Congress and Senate with their voices by emailing or calling them to get support for his bill. I don't think the strategy will work as most of the Republicans are still in Republican strongholds and their seats are safe with their constituents. But President Obama feels he must try and so he will. It should be interesting as the Oval office does not allow him the live audience to give a stirring speech as he would live with 10's of thousands of people in his proximity. He will get the Bill passed so their is no doubt about that. So when all is said and done the market will rise when it does.

I forgot to mention on Friday, but I bought back into MGM, as the price was irresistible at $6.20/share. I expect this stock to go back to $10/share on a strong Bear market rally coming to a neighborhood near you soon. I will not try to buy TZA in these small moves down and try to time the market. It would be foolish to do this during this week. I will keep my TNA and SSO and will not sell them although, depending on any pullback, I would add to the shares I own with additional purchases. I currently have about 6,000 shares of TNA and 3000 shares of SSO.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

The Stock Market: Week ending 2/6/09

So the summary for the week is as follows: The Dow closed the week at 8,281, which was up 280 points or 3.5% from the previous week's close. The Nasdaq closed at 1,592, which was up 116 points or 7.9% from the previous week's close.

Here's a summary of the stocks I have bought and where they stand at week's end:

TNA was purchased on January 21st at a price of $23.36 and today it closed at $27.89 for a paper gain of 19.4%. SSO was also purchased on January 21st at a price of $21.57 and today it closed at $24.25 for a paper gain of 12.4%. I also sold TZA on January 21st as well as SDS. TZA has dropped 26.7% since my selling of the stock and SDS has dropped 15.9% since the selling of the stock. It seems the strategy of buying the ETF Ultra Longs near the bottom of the range of the Dow, S&P500 and Nasdaq Indexes, is paying off.

Additionally, my purchase of Apple stock, symbol AAPL, on January 7th for $86.50 and additional shares at $78/share on January 14th, has had a nice paper gain closing today at $99.72/share. That's a paper gain of 15.3% and 27.8%, depending on which dates the stock is purchased. My average purchase price is $83.50/share.

Disappointing has been my purchase of Ford Motor Co., symbol F, with an average price of $1.90/share back on January 24th and January 28th ($1.80/share and $2.03/share).

Much depends on what happens to the vote on the Stimulus package which looks like it will occur on Sunday. If there is a semblance of bipartisanship, it would be a good thing for the country. The The Unemployment report today was an eye opener. It showed unemployment at 7.6%, with 598,000 losing jobs this past month. This may have put the necessary fire under elected officials.

Watch my post on Sunday night and Monday morning pre-market to get a sense of the upcoming week.

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Where to put some Stimulus?

Everyone is talking about a stimulus package needed to create jobs. But no one has mentioned the fact that we had a huge need that has been forgotten. It was to rebuild all the infrastructure in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Another major project is fixing the levees around the City of Sacramento. Another is to change city piping carrying our fresh water in all major cities. In the west, we have significant water shortages and could use better pipes to prevent loss as it is carried to our homes.

Look, there's plenty of things needing fixing. Tax cuts don't do it for mist Americans because the salaries aren't that hugh anyway. Besides the kinds of tax cuts being discussed help those making over $250,000/year and disproportionately favor the wealthiest Americans. It's time to stop that. Want to help give back confidence to investors and the American people? The pass legislation to claw back the bonuses and excessive compensation from firms getting TARP funds from the Government and the CEO's that lead them.

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Hope we can believe in.

As the day begins, there is more hope for reaching a bipartisan agreement on the stimulus package before the Senate today. I would estimate that a few days ago there was only a 35-40% confidence by the public, the media and the Congress that there would be a compromise within the Senate deliberations of the stimulus package. The needle has moved now to about a 55-60% confidence that there will be compromise and a good bill that most can live with.

The Unemployment rate (just announced) is 7.6%, as we had 598,000 jobs lost this past month. These two forces will result in some higher volatility in the market today (as measured by the VIX). Based upon the realities on the ground on the negotiations, I believe the Bulls have the edge over the Bears in this market. Being on the Short side right now is very dangerous as this market can snap up in a heartbeat. I do not have any Short positions nor do I currently have any ETF Ultra Short Funds like TZA, DXD or SDS and if I did have them I would sell them at the first opportunity today.

I did add to all of the shares I have mentioned here. Added yesterday to TNA, SSO, F, and AAPL and feeling very confident these will rise in the next 30 days. When the Stimulus package gets passed by the Senate today and a compromise worked out with the House of Representatives during the next week, hopefully President Obama will be signing the bill by Friday the 13th or more preferably by Feb. 12th, President Lincoln's birthday. And the President will be credited with bringing a different kind of politic to Washington, thereby increasing his popularity with the American people.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Stimulus package: Today there was a shift towards compromise

Markets have reacted positively to the work of finding a compromise on the Stimulus package, led by two well respected Senators, Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine and Sen. Ben. Nelson (D) of Nebraska. As soon as the two of them spoke to CNN, about what they were doing, and Sen. Collins said she believed she could get it done today, the markets reversed and started to go up. The Dow now is sitting at 8,082, up 129 at 11:30am PST. Indeed, this is what all Americans want, a sense of reasonableness from their elected officials. Sen. Collins gets it, but those hard core Republican Senators and Representatives from strongholds around the country from States like Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Kentucky, would rather feed their own egos, and help create a defeat for this new President, than to truly compromise and work with him. The Democratic far left from strong holds of people the likes of Nancy Pelosi, has its own people also who don't just get it. The world has changed and they are still playing the game of politics like everything is the same. They all need to wake up to the realities of a new day.

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Market outlook for Feb 5th and 6th: Update 2

Took a good look at the charts for the past 3 weeks for the Dow and the S&P 500. Looks to me we formed that "W" pattern but the second leg of the "W" pattern is lower than the first leg. It suggests to me the markets most likely will go down now the next several days. How low we go depends on the results of the Jobs report tomorrow. If they are bad showing at least as bad as last month, we will drop and possibly retest the previous lows on the Dow of 7,392 and 750 on the S&P 500. If the results are better than expected we will have a short rally up. However the news that will determine where we are going is the Stimulus Bill and how it gets through the Senate. It is how the process is perceived and how the President manages the news about this and how he uses the Bully pulpit. Time will tell, but we should know by a week from now.

My choices are going to be these. First, if the market drops down to retest the lows, I will purchase additional shares of the ETF's TNA and SSO. I will add shares of Ford, symbol F, and also Apple, symbol AAPL, continuing to add shares. I will not try to gain a little on the drop by buying TZA nor SDS as we are at the low of the range for these Indexes and I can't time the next leg up.

UPDATE: 5:30am PST

Jobs data out shows an increase of 41,000 jobs lost last week bringing weekly claims to 626,000 jobs lost. Productivity is up 3.2% and Continuing Claims have now reached 4.78 Million jobs.

UPDATE #2 8:08am PST

I purchased additional shares of Ford at $1.90/share, more shares of TNA for $24.90/share and more shares of Apple at $93.99/share

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Story of the day: TAXES!

So 2 more people have problems not paying their taxes. The first was Geithner, now Treasury Secretary. Today there was Tom Daschle, who decided to pull his name as Health and Human Services Secretary. The other was the newly created Chief Performance Officer who was to watch performance of Gov't agencies.

Let me vent for a moment on taxes. First of all we have been screwing up these past 50 -75 years because we have been taxing income. All these years while we were consuming beyond our means, we have been taxing income, instead of taxing consumption. Now that the American people have started to save and not spend what they can't afford, watch there will be a someone pushing for a Consumption tax. That's like closing the barn door after the horse has run away. But someone will promote this idea, most likely a Republican.

There is an advantage to a consumption tax. One advantage is that it doesn't require any special paperwork, or create the type of problem Daschle had today in not reporting income as he used the services of a car and driver and said he never thought about paying the tax. With the consumption tax, you pay the tax immediately when you make the purchase, as you do now with State Sales Taxes. Over time we will see where this goes. But we are moving from a Consumption society to a Savings society because of the current economic crisis. Now would not be the time to move to Consumption taxes. But a simpler tax code surely would help.

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Market action Feb. 3rd, 2009: A waiting game

Markets are quiet, volume is low and volatility has decreased. All eyes are awaiting 2 important bits of information. First, what happens on the Stimulus package in the Senate will be very important as not only is it affecting the market but will have an impact on how President Obama's Administration was successful or not in his jawboning Republicans and Democrats to get a Bill passed. The other information will come out on Friday and it is the Jobs report for January. Until these two independent variables are known, the market will be dullsville.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Update on this week's market outlook

The big tell this week will be to watch the politicians on the Stimulus package as the markets will react to the politics and what's in the package. It must be bipartisan to enough of a degree to have a positive reaction on Wall Street. Watch for the fear level to rise. This is very necessary to get the politicians back on the same page on the stimulus plan.

UPDATE 12:30pm PST

3 Month Libor rates have risen from a low of 1.09% a few weeks ago to now at 1.23%. Maybe this is a signal that banks have started to lend and want to get something more for the trouble bank to bank.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

January Mini Poll results: When will the Recession end?

Here is a summary of the Mini Poll data for January as compared to December.

First the question.
How long do you believe this recession will last?

December datA followed by January data:
Mid 2009 4%, 17%
End 2009 35%, 25%
Mid 2010 15%, 13%
End 2010 15%, 10%
Mid 2011 12%, 17%
End 2011 8%, 0%
Mid 2012 0%, 0%
End 2012 0%, 0%
Much Longer than the choices you have provided 0%, 0%
We are going to be in a Depression 12%, 19%

If I summarize by Year:
2009 39%, 42%
2010 30%, 23%
2011 20%, 17%
2012 0%, 0%
Depression 12%, 19%

Sample size for December was 26 and for January 48 votes. Thanks for voting!

On January 3rd, in an earlier post, I came across the results of another poll with a similar but slightly different question. First the question and then the data with a link to that poll below.

Q. When do you think manufacturing will come out of recession?
mid 2009 6%
end 2009 41%
mid 2010 29%
end 2010 or later 23%

The results are comparable to my findings but a little more negative outlook. Here's the link to Industry Week website.

I have cleared the data accumulated from the Mini poll so feel free anytime this month to enter again when you believe the recession will end. We can all see how the results change over time. I wish more would vote as with a bigger sample size it would become more statistically relevant.

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