Posts filed under “Web/Tech”
Good Saturday morning! Another week of up/down/all around slamma/jamma trading. Markets did not have alot to show for all their exertions, ending pretty much where they began. I guess we can thank China, Microsoft, Gentle Ben, Oil, Gold and Silver for our trials and tribulations this week. All in all, its been pretty nuts, and nothing sums it up better than this cartoon, Its now official . . . we have no idea what’s going on.
Ahh, but enough frivolity — once again, it is another gorgeous weekend in the North East, and rather than fritter away the time chitchatting, lets plow headlong into this week’s linkfest:
• China tightened rates this week, and we were about to head into a nasty sell off. That was averted by Fed Chair Bernanke’s dovish testimony to the JEC. The markets reversed on the phrase "even if in the
Committee’s judgement the risks to its objectives are not entirely balanced, at
some point in the future the Committee may decide to take no action at one or
more meetings;" And thus, we keep getting reminded that It’s the data, stupid;
• File this under Uh-Oh: After the prior week’s big 200 point one day rally, I wrote (on April 19th) that the worst case scenario for the markets were a Pause/Resume scenario. Guess what? That is precisely what the Fed Chair implied with that quote above; The Pause/Resume scenario is now increasingly likely; Jim Jubak, writing before gentle Ben’s testimony, explained why interest rates will march higher;
• In other economic news, the WSJ reports that GDP Up, Wages Stagnant (If no WSJ, go here). GDP and Durable Goods data are a perfect example of why you must look at the series, and not rely on a single data point.
• Follow the bouncing email: In a related but amusing item, a reader sent me the the Columbia Business School Follies clip for "Every Change of Rate," a terrific parody of Bernanke and Glenn Hubbard; I dutifully blogged it, the WSJ Marketbeat picked it up, I forwarded it to Kudlow’s producers who put it on the show that night. The Columbia grad students ended up on Power Lunch the next day. I’m telling you, this email/internet thingie is gonna be big one day;
• As bad as things may be for Detroit, product remains the key to success in the car biz. Proof: the hot Ford Mustang;
• With Gasoline over $3 (blame Congress for the poorly thought out Ethanol plan), there were lots of interesting energy news: Some have proposed global cooperation as a way to bring prices down (Ha!). Some companies are allowing Telecommuting as a way to deal with High Gas Prices — and it seems to be working; Business Week notes these are surprisingly dark days For Energy Efficiency; Its not only gasoline, but electricity too — deregulation of electric markets is also pinching consumers;
• One of my favorite blogs looks at what it costs to fill up big SUVs in California (note: the prices are for regular, but many of these big trucks require premium); The NYT blames a Trading Frenzy" as adding to the oil price rises;
• After Bernanke’s JEC testimony, I opined "I think Gold — and most of the commodities — just got a whole lot sexier;" We saw Gold jump almost $20 the next day, Copper is at record, (some think the cycle may last years), and the Silver ETF traded 2.342 Mln shares on its 1st day;
• The longer cycle perspective comes from Marc Faber, who stated that "Gold May Rise 10-Fold If Dow Triples;" Or not: Veteran S&P beating fund manager Bill Miller warns that the sudden enthusiasm for commodities is very late in the cycle; it reminds him of the love of tech circa 1999;
• Slate’s Dan Gross notes that All this Globalization used to drive down prices; Not anymore;
• Cornell’s Walter LaFeber has trained three of the last four Advisers for National Security, plus a top member of Dick Cheney’s staff. So I sat up and paid attention when he penned an article explaining Why Condi Rice’s Foreign Policy Approach Is Flawed
• Over a dozen links and no mention of housing? Let’s rectify that:
-Good overview from Waxchovia: The Outlook for the Housing Market: The Music Has Not Ended, but the Beat Has Certainly Changed (pdf);
-Consistent with that: Strength in the Housing market has shifted to new regions;
-A look at the top 7 Coolest Real Estate Web 2.0 Sites;
-The Real Estate Journal continues to mull over whether we will have a Soft Landing or a Crash for the Housing Market?
-You know my views on the bubble issue, but I still found this interesting: Marching Through The Phases Of The Housing Bubble;
- The Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) looks at Deciphering Smoke Signals in the US Housing Market in Today’s Economy;
• Lots of news from China this week (notice a trend?)It seems that Google has a China Problem (and vice versa); Jon Markman thinks explains How China is winning the oil race; Finally, The International Herald Tribune looks at the huge imbalances in the U.S. current account withg China, in the amusingly titled Bubble, schmubble – foil or trouble;
• This week saw the long awaited return of the Apprenticed Investor series with Seven Steps for Handling Stock Tips; It was motivated by the ginormous spike in bulletin board volume; On a related note, the WSJ offers How to Tell if You’re Going Too Far Taking on More Risk;
• A "Contrarian’s contrarian" goes for the Incubators ICGE and CMGI;
• Earnings have been coming in strong, and lots of folk say that’s the basis for their bullishness; Not Marty Zweig or Ned Davis, who quantifiably show what you can expect from Earnings and Subsequent Market Performance;
• Thanks to the real estate boom, a lumpy recovery, and the dividend/capital gains tax cuts, your percentage of after tax assets/net worth has likely changed significantly over the past 5 years. It depends upon where you are in the economic scale. I was surprised to learn that the bottom 25% had a negative net worh.
• Fascinating chapter in the book How People Learn about (available on their website) How Experts Differ from Novices; Experts think in terms of core concepts or big ideas, while Novices’ are more likely to search for pat answers that fit their everyday intuitions. Consider the repercussions this has for Investors, and how they process information;
• Moving to the world of Science, we learn that: Black Holes are Actually Green; (See this cool NASA Black Hole Simulation); Men and Women are Wired Different Emotionally (duh); and the Milken Institute’s Not If, But When: The Economic Impact of the Coming Flu Pandemic;
• On the Tech side, some interesting reading: Bob Cringely thinks Apple will buy Adobe, and challenge Microsoft Office; Peter Abilla discusses his interview & job offer from Google; we should expect some cool stuff on Geodata from both Google and Microsoft; With Sun’s Scott McNealy stepping down from Sun, perhaps its time to get a grip ‘hairball,’ and other McNealyisms; Here are some Gadgets for the Lazy; Lastly, the sexy fun geeky Women of Mac World Expo;
• Two interesting Food & Drink related items: The NYT lays out the explosive growth of Australia’s YellowTail winery; (I’m a big fan of Australian and New Zelaland wines) Also, a Mediterranean diet may repel Alzheimer’s;
• So much music related news: The RIAA sued a family that doesn’t have a PC (more here); They lose their attempts to force a Guardian Ad litem; This blog covers all the RIAA’s lawsuits; The Allman Bros and Cheap Trick sue Sony,
claiming they are getting ripped off on downloads (how can the Labels claim "breakage" of downloads, as if they are not physical
records or CD? What weasels!); The Canadian Music Creators Coalition warns the RIAA that "Suing Our Fans is Destructive;" The Consumer Electronics Association finds their voice, and finally asks: Who Are You Calling "Pirate"? Lastly, in Cost Per Minute, we learn Compact Discs Are Not A Good Value;
• Bruce Springsteen hits the road once more, channels Peter Seeger on his new CD; (click through for video of the song John Henry); Arriving this week was my copy of the 30th Anniversary 3-Disc Set of Born to Run, which I will update you on in the future;
• The WSJ pegs In the Wee Small Hours as the Best Album Sinatra Made; While that’s an impossible task, you can’t go wrong with that album; Any of the discs he recorded with Nelson Riddle are terrific;
• The Movie Timeline is the history of everything, taken from one simple premise: that everything you see in the movies is true, so long as it’s reported in a movie somewhere…
• Hysterical: Christian Rocker Dan "Southpaw" Smith makes a biblical parody of "Baby Got Back" (as seen on VH1′s WebJunk)
• Sorta mixed reviews for James O’Shaughnessy Predicting the Markets of Tomorrow‘ (I’m still interested, having liked his prior What Works on Wall Street); Also interesting: American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury is getting good reviews (I have read not it yet);
I’m off to enjoy the great outdoors! You should too!
Back in December 2004, I wrote a column titled "Five Under-the-Radar Trends for 2005". One of the below radar trends I predicted was the acceleration of intellectual property lawsuits. That turned out to be rather prescient.
There are actually two different issues here: The first is, should the USPO
be issuing so many patents, especially those for business methods? Amazon’s One-click buying, and MercExchange’s Buy it now auction are certainly questionable "inventions." That’s an issue for Congress, who needs to adequately fund the Patent Office so they can hire many more patent examiners, rather than merely have an under staffed patent office rubber stamp applications.
The second issue is that once a patent becomes issued, who gets to use it and how? Very often, we see the first issue inappropriately raised as a PR defense in the second. I don’t get the sense that all of the financial media really has a firm grasp on this. There is an entire world of patents, innovation, USPO issues, and large corporate litigants that have not been adequately discussed. Some get it, some don’t. Compare this story: "eBay Takes on the Patent Trolls" with this one "In Patent Case, EBay Tries To Fight Its Way Out of Paper Bag." (For some intercorporate litigation, see Apple against Apple Corps. Ltd., and TiVo’s against EchoStar’s Dish Network).
Incidentally, the term "Patent Troll" was invented by Peter Detkin when he was defending a patent case against Intel. Ironically, Detkin is now managing director with Intellectual Ventures, an intellectual property firm suing patent infringers.
If you recognize the property right inherent in patents, then the term "Patent Troll" is quite meaningless, meant to stir up political opposition to patents. How you use your property is irrelevant to the property right attached to it. What does it matter if you choose to manufacture widgets — or merely license the patent to thos ethat do?
What is actually going on now is a massive land grab underway by large corporations, looking to keep the fruits of entrepreneurs and innovators labor for themselves. These are not meek and vulnerable entities at the mercy of lawyers; rather, these are very astute players seeking to use the patent to further their own goals — often at the expense of innovation.
Take Intel, where Detkin was vice president and assistant general counsel, for example. They are certainly no stranger to patent litigation. As the book Inside Intel makes clear, INTC used its patents as a club to thwart competition in the CPU market for decades. That’s why its taken AMD so long to become a legitimate competitor to the chip giant.
The stealing of entrepreneurial innovation by large firms is fairly common place. My own experience with patent enforcement is that it is an enormously expensive, difficult, time consuming venture, fraught with peril. Consider the case of Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittant windshield wiper. In 1967, he received several patents on his design, which he tried to license to the Big 3 in Detroit. They sent him
packing, but later the intermittant windshield wiper somehow found its
way into autos. Long story short, he ended up in litigation for decades before finally winning. Thats decades later.
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Oh, and I tried to bid the million dollars that’s suggessted , but it required filling out additional online forms . . .
The full auction listing is below; I captured the code ’cause I suspect eBay — or the SEC — will pull it eventually.
UPDATE December 5, 2005 5:01pm
eBay has pulled the listing