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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is Jon Huntsman's Campaign Falling Apart ?

Maybe that's going too far, but the WASHINGTON POST reports that " Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman’s (R) presidential campaign manager, Susie Wiles, is resigning and will be replaced by communications director Matt David, according to the campaign."

On the other hand, THE WEEKLY STANDARD's Andrew Ferguson quipped that Huntsman's Campaign peaked on June 21, 2011. That was the day he announced his candidacy.


Seldom if ever do I find myself agreeing with pundit E. J. Dionne ( he's pictured here, ironically, on the right ) but EJD really hit the nail on the head in his April 17 2011 WASHINGTON POST article--excerpted below--asserting that the U.S.'s Elites are failing the country. Whether as he suggests, they are failing themselves, I'm not so sure.

* * *

The American ruling class is failing us--and itself.

At other moments in our history, the informal networks of the wealthy and powerful who often wield at least as much influence as our elected politicians accepted that their good fortune imposed an obligation: to reform and thus preserve the system that allowed them to do so well. They advocated social decency out of self-interest (reasonably fair societies are more stable) but also from an old-fashioned sense of civic duty. “Noblesse oblige” sounds bad until it doesn’t exist anymore.

Those at the top of the heap are falling far short of the standards set by American ruling classes of the past. As John Judis, a senior editor at the New Republic, put it in his indispensable 2000 book, “The Paradox of American Democracy,” the American establishment has at crucial moments had “an understanding that individual happiness is inextricably linked to social well-being.” What’s most striking now, by contrast, is “the irresponsibility of the nation’s elites.”

“A blind and ignorant resistance to every effort for the reform of abuses and for the readjustment of society to modern industrial conditions represents not true conservatism, but an incitement to the wildest radicalism.” With those words in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt showed he understood what a responsible ruling class needed to do. Where are those who would now take up his banner?  


Fancy Bond ETF's ? How about MLP's ?

If you've been kicking the tires on Fixed Income ETF's but have a hard time making sense of various measures of performance, then Jared Cummins of the ETF Database's got some answers for you, in his SEEKING ALPHA post, Deciphering ETF Yield Metrics.

Interested in an investment vehicle that pays a steady 6% ? Well, if you can stomach High-Yield-Bond-type risk and have a good tax accountant, MLP's may be just the ticket. What are MLP's ?  They're Master Limited Partnerships, and for the ins and outs of MLP's check out SL Advisors' SEEKING ALPHA post, MLPs: An Undervalued Sector Outperforming Other Asset Classes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking for Insights on the Continuing Housing Mortgage Crisis ?

Check out the contrasting views presented in William Galston's survey of proposed approaches in THE NEW REPUBLIC ('Three Ways Obama Can Fix the Housing Crisis') and Greg Fielding's SEEKING ALPHA post ('4 Ways Obama Might Try to Stabilize Housing Before the 2012 Election').

Why Does David Goldman Believe some PIIGS Are Doomed, and Not Just Financially ?

In his SEEKING ALPHA post, 'Southern Europe: Beyond a Demographic Point of No Return', Goldman argues that Southern Europe is rapidly aging, and as its native-born numbers sink, it will be overwhelmed by a tidal wave of emigrants who will transform its societies.
Between 2020 and 2045, however, the infertility of Southern Europe will catch up with it, and the elder dependent ratio will rise to over 60%–an impossible, unmanageable number. At that point the character of these countries will change radically; they will be overwhelmed with immigrants from North Africa as well as sub-Saharan Africa, who will not have the skills or the habits of civil society to maintain economic life. And their economies will slide into a degree of ruin comparable only to that of classical antiquity. Perhaps the Chinese will operate Greece as a theme park. Spain, which can draw on Latin American immigrants, is likely to be the least badly off.
The southern Europeans are doomed. They have passed a demographic point of no return. There simply aren’t enough females entering their child-bearing years in those countries to reverse the rapid aging.
Goldman isn't nearly so pessimistic about Ireland.
Ireland’s fertility rate still hovers around replacement. The Irish economy was far too dependent on offshore finance as a source of employment and suffered disproportionately from the collapse of the credit bubble in 2008. But this small country also has high-tech manufacturing and other industries, which make the eventual restoration of prosperity possible.

Are Commodity Investments Still the 'Non-Correlated' Way to Go ?

Not so, says Charles Lewis Sizemore in his SEEKING ALPHA post,'The Myth of Commodities Investment', excerpted heaviily below.

One of the oft-cited reasons for investing in commodities is that they have historical returns comparable to stocks while having a low correlation to the stock market. The problem is that this statement is patently false [emphasis mine].

Yes, commodities used to have low correlations to stocks. But that was before the era of “financialization” and securitization. In their 2011 paper “Index Investment and Financialization of Commodities,” Princeton University Professor Wei Xiong and Renmin University of China Professor Ke Tang prove empirically what many of us in the profession have long suspected: Commodities and commodity stocks are becoming more highly correlated to each other and to other asset classes.

Furthermore, while the prices of individual commodities have always been volatile, commodity prices as a whole have also become far more volatile in recent years.

The question begs to be asked: Why?

Tang and Xiong place the blame on the slew of ETF and mutual fund products that offer stock investors passive, indexed access to commodities. Whereas the equity and commodities markets used to be populated by very different types of investors and traders, there is now almost total overlap. It’s hard to find a traded commodity that doesn’t have an ETF or ETN that tracks it; the commodities market has become the stock market, and volatility in the one spills over into the other. The end result is that virtually all commodities track the price of oil now, and oil in turn tracks the stock market.

When academics first suggested commodities as a portfolio diversifier, they failed to understand how a massive increase in investor interest in the sector would affect the relationships between stocks and commodities and between the various commodities themselves. Call it the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Finance," if you will.

For investors today, this means that one of the primary reasons for including commodities in a diversified investment portfolio — the low correlation to stocks — is now largely moot. Talented speculators can still make a bundle trading commodities, of course. But longer-term investors would be better served allocating their funds elsewhere.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tonight Blogger DJ Accedes to the Magic of Love

Keple-Gestalt - Victor Vasarely, 1968
The Eagles - Witchy Woman
ELO - Strange Magic
Classics IV - Spooky
Olivia Newton-John - Magic
Jeff Beck and Joss Stone - I Put a Spell on You
Fleetwood Mac- Hypnotized 
Heart - Magic Man
The Searchers - Love Potion No. 9
Focus - Hocus-Pocus

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tonight's Blogger DJ Song

The Eternal Female forever baffles and thwarts the Eternal Male, as explained eloquently in this Van Halen cover of The Kinks 'You Really Got Me'

Need A Major Golf Championship Fix ?

Check out web coverage of the (British) Open Championship --being played, as we type, at Royal St. George's-- by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

Romney Campaign Prepares Plan to Thwart Chief GOP Rival--Michelle Bachmann

As the recent Quinnipiac Poll shows that Michelle Bachmann represents Romney's chief rival for the GOP Presidential nomination, sources in the Romney Camp reveal their three-fold Stop-Bachmann strategy to McKay Coppins of the Daily Beast :
  1. Play up Bachmann's economic inexperience
  2. Otherwise take the high road in criticizing MB 
  3. Don't sweat a Bachmann victory in Iowa, but lay the foundation for a resounding Romney win in New Hampshire that should stop Bachmann's momentum, if any, cold.
In his Crystal Ball Post, Bachmann: Romney’s Best Friend ?, Political Analyst Kyle Kondik sees sees an additional dimension to Romney's Iowa strategy, asserting that in winning Iowa, Bachmann could well force Ex-Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty from the race.

A Bachmann victory in Iowa could eliminate at least one of Romney’s rivals, potentially even Pawlenty. Romney then could confront Bachmann on friendlier territory in New Hampshire, where her religious conservatism would not play quite as well. That would put Romney in the position of John McCain in 2008, as the ideologically questionable front-runner fending off a challenger more beloved by the base (Bachmann as 2012’s Huckabee). Romney is betting that the GOP establishment will get behind him this time, as it did for McCain four years ago.

Perhaps Romney, who is not participating in the Ames, IA straw poll in August, will mimic McCain’s path in another way: effectively skipping Iowa and letting Bachmann do his work there for him.

Hague Making It Harder to Oust Gadhafi

The Hague--specifically the International Criminal Court--is making it harder, not easier, to remove, or expedite the exit of, Gadhafi from Libya. How ? George Friedman explains in his article, Libya and the Problem with The Hague, an excerpt from which is reporduced below with the permission of STRATFOR.

Regardless of what a country’s leader has done, he or she holds political power, and the transfer of that power is inherently a political process. What the ICC has done since 2002 — and the ICTY to an extent before that — is to make the political process moot by making amnesty impossible. It is not clear if any authority exists to offer and honor an amnesty. However, the ICC is a product of the United Nations, and the authority of the United Nations lies in the UNSC. Though there is no clear precedent, there is an implicit assumption that the UNSC would be the entity to offer a negotiated amnesty with a unanimous vote. In other words, the political process is transferred from Libya to the UNSC, where any number of countries might choose to abort the process for their own political ends. So the domestic political process is trumped by The Hague’s legal process, which can only be trumped by the UNSC’s political process. A potentially simple end to a civil war escalates to global politics.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tonight's Eclectic Blogger DJ PLaylist

Estelle, of AMERICAN BOY
Phil collins - Separate Lives
Phil Collins - One more night
Dan Hartman - I Can Dream About You
Streets of fire - Tonight is what it means to be young
John Legend - Give Me the Green Light
Haddaway - What Is Love ?
Estelle - American Boy

More photos from the C.V.'s and Mrs C.V.'s gardens


Climber, with blossoms galore

A bug crashing in our Rose Double de Coubert

Our lavender has an Afro habit

Froggie stares down a demonstrative Lily

Hanging basket of petunias adds color to the backyard

Monday, July 4, 2011


Blogger DJ Celebrates the Glorious Fourth in Song

Johnny Cash and June Carter - Green Grow the Lilacs

The Steve Miller Band - Living in the USA

Sousa - Stars and Stripes Forever

Culture Vulture's Favorite Film for the Glorious 4th ?

It's no contest : Bronco Billy (1980). Check out the trailer, as well as Janet Maslin's spot-on review in the NEW YORK TIMES.

IMHO, this is Eastwood's best, and most American, film.

July 4 Not Hot Enough ? How about some A/V Heat and Fireworks...?, say, Michelle Pfeiffer's rendition of Makin' Whopee in THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS ?

IMHO, Pfeiffer's treatment compares well with those of Julie London, Peggy Lee, and even Marlene Dietrich.

Want more Pfeiffer ?  Your wish is my command. In FBB, M.P. also covers More Than You Know, Feelings, and My Funny Valentine.

To check out Henry Parke's Western Movie Blog, click on the link below...
A graduate from NYU's prestigious film-school, Parke is an accomplished writer who's worked in the movie business since before liesure suits went out of style. I've been following his career from a respectful, non-stalker-distance ever since Speed Trap (1977).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blogger DJ's Fourth of July Body-Surf for the Soul Playllist

Catch the Wave, Soul-wise
Weather Report - Black Market
Weather Report - Teen Town
Weather Report - Boogie Woogie Waltz
Weather Report - Nubian Sundance 
The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (1961)
Pat Metheny - Last Train Home
Stan Getz - Desafinado
Gilberto/Getz - Girl from Ipanema
Antonio Carlos Jobim - Wave
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil - Cinema Novo
Milton Nascimento - Anima
Milton Nascimento - Travessia (Bridges)