Posts filed under “Think Tank”

Happy Birthday America

Happy Birthday America
July 4, 2009

As we celebrate the nation’s birthday, we may wish to be mindful of the stress that many in our country are under.  We may try to be gracious in the face of adversity.  We can pause.  And reflect.  And give aid.

On Friday, in New York, I watched a caring person take 15 minutes to escort a blind woman to her home.  They were strangers.  There was construction on the street and the blind person needed some guidance.  Many passed her by, but thankfully not all.  Kindness to a stranger is a value that doesn’t get measured in our national GDP.  It gets counted when each of us looks in the mirror.

Two close personal friends sent me the email that I will quote below.  It is sourced to a Washington Post story; that link is below as well. It will inspire us as the grill is lighted and the chicken sizzles.  America will weather this economic storm if it does not lose its humanity.  The risk of that loss is a far greater threat than the federal deficit.

The email story follows:

“Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen, then looked at his watch and walked on.

10 minutes:

A 3-year-old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously.  Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, are we able to perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?  One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:  If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made, how many other things are we missing?”

For details see the story by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post staff writer, Sunday, April 8, 2007; page W10.  The link is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html .

Now to some economics as we celebrate America’s birthday.

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Category: Think Tank

Michael Lewis: The Man Who Crashed the World

Category: Think Tank

Return of the Spice Route

Fascinating discussion via Nomura strategist Sean Darby on a new investment theme: Investors are overlooking the domestic growth opportunities of Muslim-dominated countries situated along the ancient Spice Route. We estimate that between 2020F and 2025F, approximately one in every five births will be in countries whose ports were visited by merchants trading along the route…Read More

Category: Think Tank

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The WSJ: Wall Street Pay Approaches 2007′s Records Will Ben, Hank, Little Timmy and Congressional leaders explain to the American people how it is possible for Wall Street to have near record remuneration AFTER the US taxpayers were put on the hook for about $12 trillion of guarantees to The Street? And will they explain to Americans that while Street insiders ‘earn’ record pay they must suffer a severe recession or depression, possibly record future inflation, collapsing home values, job losses and an income contraction?

Zero Hedge: NYSE Halts Transparency, Feels Goldman Program Trading Disclosure Is Unnecessary. The Exchange has filed with the SEC to implement the decommissioning of the DPTR requirement following the July 10, 2009 trade date…

From the memo: The New York Stock Exchange LLC (“NYSE”) will be decommissioning the
requirement to report program trading activity via the Daily Program Trading Report (“DPTR”), which was previously approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”).1The last trade date for which member organizations will be required to file the DPTR with the Exchange will be July 10, 2009 and therefore the last required date to submit the DPTR will be July 14, 2009.

Anyone think that Goldman put pressure on the NYSE to halt embarrassing disclosures?

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Category: Think Tank

Jobless Claims

Initial Jobless Claims totaled 614k, 1k less than expected but the prior month was revised up by 3k to 630k. Continuing Claims fell by 53k from last week and was 38k less than expected. There has been a big discussion of late over the expiration of unemployment insurance and how the recent drop in Continuing…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

ECB President Trichet

Lost in the payroll news was the ECB press conference where ECB Pres Trichet hinted that interest rates should remain at the 1% level. He is definitely not in the deflation camp when he says that negative inflation will be short lived and is due more to temporary factors (aka falling food and energy prices…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Quick summary of Payrolls

Payrolls fell 467k, 100k more than expected and vs the drop of 322k in May (net revisions were up 8k). The unemployment rate rose to 9.5% but was .1% less than forecasted but at the highest level since 1983 as the household survey fell by 374k and the labor force fell by 155k. The U6…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

morning note/Payroll time

June Payrolls are expected to fall by 365k after a drop of 345k in May (which was well above estimates of a drop of 520k). With ADP reporting job losses of more than 450k in the past two months, I believe the odds are against another big upside surprise and the only question will be…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Q3 Starts With Both a Bang and a Whimper

Good Evening: Better than expected manufacturing data points both here an in China catapulted U.S. stocks higher this morning, but the gains faded as the day wore on. Some other economic releases that weren’t quite as friendly may have caused the first day of the third quarter to end with a whimper after starting with…Read More

Category: Markets, Think Tank

Fed Pres Evans chiming in on exit strategies

Following the speech by Fed Pres Bullard Tuesday on the Fed’s ‘exit strategies’ where the discussion was more on how they will unwind their different programs rather than when, Fed Pres Evans is adding his thoughts to the debate. I want to first say that setting a time period is of course difficult due to…Read More

Category: MacroNotes