Autumn Linkfest: Week in Review

And that’s the bell!

At the end of the qurter, we see the scoreboard is rather different than many imagined just a few short volatile weeks ago.

The leader for the third quarter is the Nasdaq,which added a solid 3.8%. The Dow Industrials were right behind, gaining 3.6%. Leadership continues to come from Tech and very big cap. The S&P 500 was held back by the financial sector, and gained less than half of what the Dow did — a mere 1.6%. The big loser were the small-caps, with  Russell 2000, sliding 3.4%. Since the Fed cut the discount rate on August 16,
the S&P500 is up 11%. Both the Dow and the Nasdaq gained 4% in the the month of September.

Hotnot_20070928For the week, the big winners were emerging market stocks; They gained 3.8% for the week — as much as the Nazz did for the quarter! Gold added 1.5%, while REITs saw a gain of 1.4%, as the dollar’s slide continued, falling 0.6% against a trade weighted basket of currencies.

Barron’s Trader column noted that the "Dow Jones Industrial Average has
climbed in the fourth quarter for nine consecutive years, and in 24 of
the past 27 years. The Standard & Poor’s 500 has produced
fourth-quarter rallies in 13 of the past 15 years."

Will this 4th quarter be as market friendly as Qs gone by?  Perhaps not; Barron’s Trader column quotes Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius:

"But for all the hopes, there are plot twists that could thwart this year’s happy ending. For a start, last year’s economic rot was well-contained within the housing market and proved meaningful enough to push rates lower but not enough to dent S&P 500 earnings. So even as housing slumped, consumer spending managed to improve 3.3% over last year’s second half, due to the twin tailwinds of declining rates and waning energy costs.

"This year, things look different," says Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius. Consumer-spending growth has already slowed to 2%, which could affect a greater swath of consumer-dependent companies and retailers. "Rates have eased, but credit is tighter." A reprieve from high oil prices also looks unlikely, with crude oil up 34% this year and gas-refining spreads threatening to widen."   

The key will be Q3 earnings. If they stay strong, the Bulls will keep the rally going; If they fall precipitously, then recession talk will begin in earnest, and investors may seek more defensive asset classes.

But that’s still weeks away. For now,we have some links to click!:


U.S. Stocks Have Biggest September Gain Since 1998 on Rate Cut: U.S. stocks rose this week to complete the steepest September advance since 1998 as the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate cut helped energy and raw-material companies lead the market’s recovery from a summer rout. It was the fifth straight quarter of gains for the  Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The Fed’s Sept. 18 reduction to 4.75 percent of its rate for overnight loans sustained the stock market’s recovery from losses spurred by subprime-mortgage defaults. In July and August, the S&P 500 had the largest slump in four years. (Bloomberg)

Tech Stocks Get Giddy :) Technology stocks are posting big gains, after a long period when they were scoffed at by the market, and some money managers say the recent rally is just the beginning. [This week] three of the best-known tech stocks finished at all-time highs: Google Inc., Apple Inc. and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. And the tech-dominated Nasdaq-100 index of large nonfinancial stocks is now up 18% so far this year, reaching its highest level since February 2001. "There’s a lot to be positive about in tech," says Bruce Bartlett, a portfolio manager at the $263 million Lord Abbett Large-Cap Growth Fund, which has roughly 30% of its assets in tech stocks. (Wall Street Journal)

• Bear Stearns snookered the NYT, CNBC, and lots of other folks the other day with a far-fetched story about Warren Buffett. The very next day, they issued a few billion in new debt. I was having absolutely none of it: Buffett to Buy Bear? Bull$%*#

• Merrill Lynch’s 10 major macro themes of the past week (PDF)   

Most hedge fund strategies lost money in August: Most hedge fund strategies lost money last month as the effect of the credit crisis swept through the $1.7 trillion industry, according to firms that track manager performance.Funds run by firms including SAC  Capital, Red Kite and Third Point were among those affected.An index of hedge fund managers run by Credit Suisse (CS) and Tremont Capital Management fell 1.53% in August, leaving it up 7.03% so far in 2007, the firms said on Monday.All the different strategies tracked by Credit Suisse and Tremont lost money last month, including managers with a short bias, who mostly bet on declines in the price of securities, the firms noted. (Marketwatch) 

Still Seeing Bargains, Selectively: The Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut has given fresh momentum to the stock market, but that could make buying opportunities harder to come by. Still, fund managers say they are finding companies that offer solid growth prospects at a decent valuation.(New York Times)

Fed’s Rate Move Slows Nasdaq Bears:
Short-selling activity fell sharply on the tech-stock-led Nasdaq Stock
Market in the latest monthly reporting period, which included a rally
in tech shares as investors placed their bets ahead of the Federal
Reserve’s latest interest-rate cut. (Wall Street Journal) but see European Stocks Post Quarterly Loss   

Brokers’ Fictitious Gains: Most of the Street applauded earnings by the big brokers. They shouldn’t have — the earnings gains, which were due to a new accounting rule, don’t exist.   see also Why I Distrust Goldman Sachs’ Good Fortune (NY Post)

Papers Study August Crisis, From First Wave to Last Ripple:
Smart investors love crises. People panic, everything gets out of
whack, securities get cheaper, and the world gets more interesting.
Academic types also love crises because they produce data, which
prompts questions and every once in a while produces some answers.
August, the month in which everything went awry on Wall Street, offered
up fascinating data. The financial world trembled, which it does every
so often, and even though everyone seemed to know it was coming,
everyone seemed surprised. Two recent papers, one academic and one
written for investors, examine the August unwind. They reach similar
conclusions about risk (there is more of it) and the cause of the
collapse (an unknown multibillion-dollar fund unwinding), but they
differ slightly on what it means for the types of hedge funds that were
most affected. (New York Times)

The Barron’s 400: You gotta think an ETF is soon to follow . . . 

How Wal-Mart accidentally became "green":
The “Wal-Mart environmental moment” starts with the C.E.O. adopting a
green branding strategy as a purely defensive, public relations,
marketing move. Then an accident happens — someone in the shipping
department takes it seriously and comes up with a new way to package
the latest product and saves $100,000. This gets the attention of the
C.E.O., who turns to his P.R. adviser and says, “Well, isn’t that
interesting? Get me a sustainability expert. Let’s do this some more.”
The company then hires a sustainability officer, and he starts showing
how green design, manufacturing and materials can save money in other
areas. Then the really smart C.E.O.’s realize they have to become their
own C.E.O. — chief energy officer — and they start demanding that
energy efficiency become core to everything the company does, from how
its employees travel to how its products are manufactured. (New York Times)

Betting On Yahoo! (Forbes)

A SHORT COURSE IN THINKING ABOUT THINKING with the co-creator of behavioral economics, Danny Kahneman   


The Wall of worry continues to build:

• We have long argued that CPI Inflation Data is a "Lie". For the most part, the media has dutifully reported the nonsensical CPI
data as if it were scripture. This drumbeat of criticism — both here
and elsewhere –  has begun to penetrate the MSM. We’ve seen a few
critical columns over the past year or so. But I never expected to see
this kind of critical reporting in a mainstream outlet such as Bloomberg. See also Speechless on Core CPI

In Sequel, Fears Of Stagflation Haunt Economy:
There hasn’t been serious stagflation since the 1970s and early 1980s,
when inflation and unemployment hit double digits. With inflation,
expectations make all the difference, and inflation expectations are
much lower and more anchored now than then.In the 1970s, an oil-price
shock helped to convince people that all prices would keep soaring.
Businesses passed higher costs to customers and workers demanded huge
wage boosts. Inflation became a fact of life.By 1980, the Philadelphia
Federal Reserve’s inflation expectation survey found professional
forecasters anticipated consumer-price inflation of nearly 9% annually
over 10 years.In the first half of this year, the survey projected
long-term inflation at less than 2.5%. Consumers and businesses are now
used to low inflation. Having learned from history, central bankers are
more vigilant.(Wall Street Journal)

Is the Fed Deflating?   

Fed Bank Presidents Warn Against Assuming an October Rate Cut: Four Federal Reserve bank presidents warned investors against assuming the central bank will lower interest rates in October, indicating that weaker economic data would be needed to justify the move. "It would be a mistake for markets to bake into the cake the assumption of ongoing rate cuts,” St. Louis President William Poole said today in New York. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said he had an “open mind” on the need for further reductions. The remarks are at odds with traders, who are betting that the Fed will lower borrowing costs for a second straight meeting on Oct. 31, interest-rate futures show. Stocks fell to their lows of the day after Poole’s remarks. (Bloomberg)

The Econoblogosphere!

• Inflation rates in China are very high: Food inflation is running 18.2% year-over-year, led by meat and poultry (49%) eggs (23.4%) and vegetables (22.5%): see Exporting Inflation from China   see also Inflation is Dead? Part II

Housing Chill Grows Worse, Bites Consumers: The housing market is going into a deeper chill, and consumers are starting to shiver.Sales of existing homes in August fell sharply, and home inventories by one measure soared to an 18-year high, according to data released yesterday. One major home builder, D.R. Horton Inc., is auctioning homes this weekend with starting prices for some units at 50% off an earlier price.The housing market is worrying consumers, raising fresh concerns about economic growth. Consumer confidence fell this month to its lowest level in almost two years, a new survey showed. Retailers such as Lowe’s Cos. and Target Corp. said they’re feeling the pain. Both reported softer-than-expected sales Monday. (Wall Street Journal)



• CNBC reshuffles their line up: Fast Money to 5:00 pm; Kudlow & Co. to 7:00pm   

• Apple iTunes killer? Not quite but, Amazon’s DRM-Free MP3s is quite interesting. is a nexus of information about the United States Congress. Bringing together information on the status of federal legislation, voting records, and other congressional data from official sources, and turning it into an understandable and trackable free information resource for everyday citizens, GovTrack aims to narrow the divide between the public and our government.

Run away the ray-gun is coming : We test US army’s new secret weapon    

The Piracy Paradox: A recent paper by the law professors Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman suggests that weak intellectual-property rules, far from hurting the fashion industry, have instead been integral to its success. The professors call this effect “the piracy paradox.” (New Yorker)   

Trust in Federal Government, On Nearly All Issues, Hits New Low — Even Less Than in

Watergate Era   

‘Miracle’ saved teenager’s eye after chair assault The xrays are astounding . . . 



• One of the all time great science fiction movies is finally restored to its director’s original specs: BLADE RUNNER: FINAL CUT NYC makes its big screen debut in NYC Saturday night.  The Q&A we mentioned last week with director Ridley Scott is now on line. Also, BR Movie is an utterly massive Blade Runner fan site.   

RIAA Complaint Dismissed as "Boilerplate"   

The top 10 hand gestures you’d better get right      


This week, we end with a quote: 

real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable
world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of
trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an
illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. 
looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its
exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness
lies in wait." 
- G. K. Chesterton


Got a comment, suggestion, link idea? Or do you just have
something on your mind?
The linkfest loves to get email!  If you’ve got something to say, then by all means please do.

Category: Financial Press

NAR on “Temporary” Housing Problems

Category: Credit, Data Analysis, Markets, Real Estate


Category: Digital Media, Film

UAW/GM Modern Times

Category: Corporate Management

Exporting Inflation from China

Category: Commodities, Data Analysis, Federal Reserve, Inflation, Politics

Speechless on Core CPI

Category: Commodities, Economy, Federal Reserve, Inflation, Podcast, Psychology

Fast Money to 5:00 pm; Kudlow & Co. to 7:00pm

Category: Financial Press

Q&A: Ridley Scott on Blade Runner


Attention Blade Runner junkies: The offline Wired interview with Ridley Scott, which I mentioned in this weekend’s linkfest, is now online.

As we noted previously, the latest version of Blade Runner is in theaters in October, with a 5 DVD disc set to follow next year.

Here’s the Ubiq-cerpt:™

"It’s a classic tale of failure and redemption, the kind of story Hollywood
loves to tell.

Fresh off his second successful movie, an up-and-coming director takes a
chance on a dark tale of a 21st-century cop who hunts humanlike androids. But he
runs over budget, and the financiers take control, forcing him to add a
ham-fisted voice-over and an absurdly cheery ending. The public doesn’t buy it.
The director’s masterpiece plays to near-empty theaters, ultimately retreating
to the art-house circuit as a cult oddity.

That’s where we left Ridley Scott’s future-noir epic in 1982. But a funny
thing happened over the next 25 years. Blade Runner’s audience quietly
multiplied. An accidental public showing of a rough-cut work print created
surprise demand for a re-release, so in 1992 Scott issued his director’s cut. He
silenced the narration, axed the ending, and added a twist — a dream sequence
suggesting that Rick Deckard, the film’s protagonist, is an android, just like
those he was hired to dispatch.

But the director didn’t stop there. As the millennium turned, he continued
polishing: erasing stray f/x wires, trimming shots originally extended to
accommodate the voice-over, even rebuilding a scene in which the stunt double
was obvious. Now he’s ready to release Blade Runner: The Final Cut,
which will hit theaters in Los Angeles and New York in October, with a DVD to
follow in December.

At age 69, Ridley Scott is finally satisfied with his most challenging film.
He’s still turning out movies at a furious pace — American Gangster,
with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, is due in November — building on an
extraordinary oeuvre that includes Alien, Thelma & Louise,
Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down. But he seems ready to accept
Blade Runner as his crowning achievement. In his northern English accent, he
describes its genesis and lasting influence. And, inevitably, he returns to the
darkness that pervades his view of the future — the shadows that shield Deckard
from a reality that may be too disturbing to face."

Other goodies:  An interactive look at the Cultural Influences Before and After the Film in the Blade Runner Nexus , and a full transcript and Audio of Wired’s Interview with Ridley Scott.

Its a must read for fans — even if Ridley gets whether Deckard is a replicant or a human wrong . . .



Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined   
By Ted Greenwald  09.26.07 | 4:00 PM

Category: Digital Media, Film, Video

Media Appearance: Kudlow & Company (9/27/07)

Category: Media

CPI Info-porn

Category: Data Analysis, Federal Reserve, Inflation