Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Royal Dutch Shell reported a 58 percent drop in Q1 profits compared to last year. This is similar to the 62 percent drop at BP and the 80 percent drop by ConocoPhillips.
Boy, I'll say one thing - it sure is a good thing that McCain/Palin didn't win. Their whole "Drill Baby Drill" energy plan looks pretty silly now (I commented on this months ago before the election).
Even if we allowed drilling anywhere, anytime in the U.S., oil companies are not going to waste their declining profits on building new rigs to flood the already oversaturated market with more oil. All that would do is reduce their profits even further.
As part of the stimulus package, social security beneficiaries are getting a one time $250 cash payment. Fifty million beneficiaries are going to get the money in May. There will be a temporary increase in spending that we can expect to happen as a result of this. We are talking about $12.5 billion in stimulus money that will mostly be spent in May and June. This should provide a nice spark to the economy. To be sure, $12.5 billion is not a whole lot relative to a $12 trillion economy, but it is a spark.
I still doubt Hannity is going to walk the walk. All he does is talk the talk.
Frankly, it is another sign that the economy is moderating. As stimulus money makes its way into the economy in the next 2 quarters we should see improvement. I'd like to see GDP growing by the end of the fourth quarter. If fourth quarter GDP increases by .5-1.0 percent, that will be a remarkable turnaround and it will be further evidence that Obama's economic policies are working.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Hannity isn't going to let himself be waterboarded - he is a wuss and he is all talk and no substance.
Keith will donate $1000 per second that Hannity can put up with it.
I like Keith's guest in the video, the guy is a former U.S. Army interrogator who is willing to waterboard Hannity. He says he is willing to bet that he can get Hannity to say, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann is his favorite show."
Monday, April 27, 2009
I think they will get some contributions at receiver and in their defensive tackle rotation. I also think a few of the guys will make their presence felt on special teams. I'd be surprised if there were any Pro Bowl players in the group, but I like the overall draft.
Friday, April 24, 2009
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|Sh#t That's Never Gonna Happen - Global Currency|
The stabilizing economy is one of the main reasons Obama still has sky-high approval ratings.
It is also why more and more people in the country are believing we are now on the right track. Less than 10 percent of the nation felt we were on the right track before the election. It has been steadily rising since Obama won and then took office.
The people who are funny are the ones who still refuse to see that Obama is delivering on change, things are improving, and that the majority of American people approve.
Come on Hannity, put show us how tough you are. I doubt you will actually allow yourself to be tortured. He is an idiot.
Now that all of the secret nonsensical memos justifying torture are coming out, all the Bushies are defending torture and saying it was good policy. But where were these "heroes" when the pictures of torture came out at Abu Ghraib? They allowed grunts to go to jail and called them a "few bad apples." Some of these low-level soldiers are still in jail, and it turns out that they were just following policy directives from the highest levels of the Bush Administration. Pathetic.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
A month ago, I predicted the Dow would hit 8500 by April 23. We have had a nice 700 point runup, but unless things really heat up over the next three hours and tomorrow, looks like I will come up a bit short.
That said, I like the action we are seeing on the markets from a technical standpoint. After the bloody day on Monday, the market recovered on Tuesday. If things were more unstable and there was more pessimism we would have seen a multi-day selloff. We don't have that - instead, traders are coming back in on downturns. That is a good sign that we are stabilizing.
They could go a lot of directions with their picks - I say just take the best available and focus on speed. They could use a big, fast wide receiver, a fast free safety, depth at D-line and linebacker, O-line, another running back, you name it. I don't think they have any specific major needs to address with the draft, they just need to focus on picking up quality team guys who can make them better all around.
I'm really looking forward to how the first round shakes out. In particular, it will be interesting to see where Sanchez goes. People are talking about him going #4 to Seattle. Personally, I think that is just a smokescreen. The Seahawks have a good team and a solid QB who still has gas in the tank. They will pick a player who can help right away or they are posturing so they can move down in the draft (I believe this to be the case). For example, they want Washington to trade away JC, the #13 pick this year and a 2nd or third round pick next year to move up. Danny Boy might just be stupid enough to do it.
It should be interesting.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Unemployment will continue to rise throughout this year. It is a lagging economic indicator and employers are not going to go on major hiring binges until they are sure the economy is improved. I would be surprised if the national unemployment rate did not hit 10% by the end of the year. Then it will moderate next year and fall back to about 7%-8% by the start of the fourth quarter.
What I would like to see now is for the government to allow some more of the failing banks and financial institutions to fail. The market will show who the weak competitors are and for those that are too weak - let them fail and regulators can roll up their good assets into more stable banks.
There is a good piece about the overbearing, oligarchical control Wall Street has on our economy. I agree whole-heartedly. In the end, strong regulatory control to prevent the boom and bust cycles is necessary to effectively manage the economy.
Friday, April 17, 2009
President Obama's economic policies are working but more impressively, he has raised "The Dead."
In another good sign, consumer confidence is rising again and is the highest it has been since September when the crisis really started to bubble up.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
It looks like we are in the midst of a nice afternoon rally on Wall Street yet again. We are up over 100 points with about 45 minutes to go. That is a great sign given that General Growth filed for bankruptcy. The firm is the largest mall operator and their $27 billion filing is the largest commercial real estate bankruptcy in history. The market seems to have shrugged off that news, which is another sign that hope and optimism are returning to Wall Street and the broader economy.
We are a week from April 23, and the Dow is at 8138. With the announcment of the Obama/Geither toxic assets auction plan last month, I made a prediction that by April 23 the Dow would be at 8500. We are closing in, but may be losing steam on the bull market run.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Give me 2 hours and I could bring together more people than the nonsense in DC.
The worst part is all they did in DC was mill around, barely chant, and then throw some tea bags on the White House lawn. Littering is a crime.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It looks favorable on paper for much of the year. We'll see.
Monday, April 13, 2009
In the end, all that he will accomplish is he will keep Franken from taking his seat a few weeks longer, he will alienate Minnesota voters, waste millions of public dollars, and make people see him for what he is - a SORE LOSER.
Frankly, I think the key to success for the Bears will be whether they can play good team D again. The last two years have been disappointing. Injuries have taken a toll on the D the last two years, but Bob Babich's coaching has been suspect. Lovie is taking over the D this year. I am sure that he will get a lot of input from new D-line coach Rod Marinelli. If they can get their D straightened out, the Bears will challenge for the NFC crown. If they don't and they fail, I expect that Lovie will be out.
I love Lovie and think he is a good coach, but patience is not a virtue in the NFL and Shannahan and Cowher are sitting out there. I would not be surprised if they got a call if Lovie cannot right the ship this year and make the playoffs.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Here is an example of the ignorant fringe folks who will turn off moderate folks.
The thing I love about this "grassroots" effort is that there are literally dozens of people protesting. Consider that there were 1.5 million people at Obama's inauguration and that he had more than 14 million donors and volunteers to his campaign. That is a "grassroots" effort.
To anyone who thinks Obama has hidden his birth certificate, just click here. That is just nonsense.
That said, there is a small movement of people who are hosting "tea parties" to protest government spending. Let me say that I encourage any citizen to stand up and protest if they feel they must, but most of the people that are on the youtube videos seem like complete dolts. Most of these demonstrations are made up of a few dozen to a few hundred angry folks.
Next week, April 15, is the national tea party protest day. There will be hundreds of protests across the country. No doubt there will be a couple of larger events (perhaps in the thousands), but I don't see any evidence of any widespread movement. There will be some fiscal conservatives who hold principled views, but I suspect most of the protests will bring out the crazies. We will all be treated to plenty of examples of the right wing fringe nuts who think Obama is not American, or he is a Muslim, or he is a socialist, or whatever. There will be a lot of angry screaming that should be entertaining. We'll see how inane some of these people really are.
In the end, these protests won't be the kind of thing that will spur moderate folks to re-join the Republican Party. I suspect they will be hate-filled shouting deonstrations that scare normal people away and remind us all of why the Republican Party is where it is.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
The great part is that we are really poised for a huge bust-out in the banking sector in coming weeks. The toxic asset plan was a real winner and in coming weeks we will see growing confidence in the banking sector. Obama's plans are working as advertised and we are all benefitting.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
The willingness to listen and not dictate policies was very pragmatic and it is clear that the world's leaders were more positive about our new President than they had been about our last President.
It is so nice to have a President that can communicate with our allies and speak in a way that people understand. That is why his approval ratings remain very high and there is growing optimism in an economic recovery.
Monday, April 06, 2009
I hope Orton has a big year, and I hope that Cutler has an even bigger year. As I consider the trade, I think this may be one that works out for both teams. The Broncos get a bunch of picks that can help them rebuild their awful D. The Bears get their franchise QB.
On an unrelated note - Todd Marinovich is back in jail. It is sad how far he has fallen. Here is the original 1988 SI story about the guy when he was in high school.
I think there is upward momentum and the money on the sidelines is itching to get back in. With the first quarter now in the books and earning season getting into swing, if there are a few firms that surprise to the upside it will really move the market up. People want to see that the economy is at bottom and that things are improving. My guess is that first quarter earnings will be weak and second quarter earnings will be slightly improved. That will signal that we may have hit bottom.
The stimulus money and economic growth will start to show up in the third and fourth quarters and the market will stage a major rally by year end.
As for this week, my prediction is that it will be a choppy week - up and down - that will end about where we started at 8000 on the Dow.
Friday, April 03, 2009
The Dow and NASDAQ are both up more than 20 percent over the last four weeks. In fact, it has been the best 4 week rise (percentage wise) on Wall Street since 1938 over any 4 week period.
The Dow closed up over 8000. Great week again and the trend seems to be very good - even in the face of some very bad news. From a strictly technical standpoint that is great.
I like Orton and think he is a solid NFL QB, but I think the deal makes sense for the Bears. Part of the reason I say this is because they have upgraded the offensive line quite a bit through free agency and the return of a healthy Chris Williams, so that is not really a need area to address in the draft.
The main thing is that they have excited the fans and the city with a young, strong-armed QB who grew up a Bears fan. Like him or not, he has the arm strength to make deep throws and to throw into the swirling winds of Soldier Field. I think the team also sends a message that they expect to win now. Had they drafted a QB, it would have been a work in progress.
In the end, the real cost of the deal is a first round pick next year. Orton and this year's first round pick wash out with Cutler. The Bears give up one of their third round picks this year, but they still have a third round pick and they get a fifth round pick this year - that comes up a wash. Then they give up next year's first round pick. If the Bears make the playoffs, that will be a high pick anyway. So, from a risk standpoint, it is manageable risk and it is a worthwhile gamble.
It seems to me the Bears now have a very good chance of making the playoffs and can use the draft to pick up some defensive talent and perhaps a wide receiver. They should be better, but they don't play football on paper, so we will see how Cutler meshes with the team.
That said, the President's budget passed through the House and Senate. They are slightly different so the two Houses of Congress will come together to put together a single budget that will pass and get to the President's desk. I cannot believe how short sighted many Republicans have been about the need for stimulus and increased government spending. Without the extra government spending, instead of 9-10 percent unemployment this year, we would be talking about 14-16 percent unemployment. The fact is that the private sector is contracting and there has been a lack of confidence that has required the government to step in. But just watch, many Republicans (in the dozens) will vote for the President's budget when the final bill comes up for vote.
The unemployment number was bad, but the market is not likely to be spooked by that number. The TARP monies that were paid back were a good sign. We are up a little over 200 points for the week on the Dow again (4th week in a row we are up). I think we will have a flat day. Some profit taking, some buyers. I think we will be plus or minus 50 points for the day in the end. Anything better than a 100 point loss for the day would be great given the unemployment figures and the bad news about GM this week.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
However, 5 banks that got TARP money paid back the government $353M plus $5.4M. This news came after the market closed but it should be good for the opening bell tomorrow. It is a sign that banks are making some progress.
On top of that, these banks can buy back the warrants that the government holds. Basically this is equity that the government can exercise. So the government will get more money back. And for all the "Obama is a Socialist" folks out there - wrong again. The government is not going to exercise the warrants and take ownership. The plan is to either have the banks buy them back or sell them to private investors.
Jay Cutler takes his arm and ego to Chicago. He is a 25-year old franchise QB and if his apparent fragile super-ego can deal with the Chicago fans this could be a great trade. It is expensive - Orton, two first round picks (this year and next year) and a 3rd rounder this year (the Bears got a compensatory pick so they still have a third round pick). But, if the guy plays at a high level it will be easily worth it. I have my concerns about his ego, but for the Bears it is a good gamble.
The Bears also got Orlando Pace to sign a 3-year contract. If he is even reasonable, he will be a better left tackle than anyone they have had for the last decade.
The offense will have an all new line. Pace will play left tackle, Chris Williams who was their first round pick last year will play right tackle. Omiyale who they signed from Carolina will play guard, and Kruetz will play center. I'm not sure if the Bears will keep Garza at guard or move Shaffer (who they signed from Cleveland), that we will have to see. What I can say is after a couple of horrible years at line, the Bears should be vastly improved.
The Bears need to sign a guy like Holt and draft another receiver. But their offense should be far more potent this year.
This is just another great move by the Obama Administration to address short-term concerns and problems in the financial sector as it tries to find its footing. All of those "Obama is a Socialist" people don't know what they are talking about. This is exactly what the private sector and Wall Street have wanted (needed) to help them through the current turmoil.
In coming months, we are going to see the stimulus dollars kick in and create construction jobs. It is also going to help re-build American infrastructure which will be a visible sign of good government and a great use of American dollars. I predict that a good number of Republicans in the House are going to abandon the horribly bad Republican economic blueprint (I hesitate to call it an actual plan because it is so sparse on details) and vote for the President's budget. There are enough smart ones to recognize that Obama's plans make better sense, and are working, and they won't want to get caught with their pants down looking like idiots.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
It seems fitting that on April Fools Day the House Republicans laid out their ridiculously bad alternative spending plan. They want to freeze government spending, add tax cuts, and still project out $500B annual deficits for as far as the eye can see.
These idiots don't even understand what Reagan did. Reagan recognized that the economic malaise of the 1970s required strong government deficit spending to shock the system. He spent heavily on defense spending, turned the $1 trillion national debt into a $3 trillion national debt, but created an economic boom. There are clear times to spend - and this is one of them. The private sector is bleeding jobs and unemployment is rising - private capital expenditures are down. This is the time for government to step in and spend.