Mother’s Day Weekend Linkfest! (Part I)

It was a mixed week for the Markets. The Dow rose for a sixth straight week, gaining half a percent. Its up just under 7% for the year. Over the past 29 days, the Dow has gained 8.6% in 29 days
The Standard &
Poor’s 500 was flat, and is 1.4% from its March 2000 all time high.The Nasdaq Comp actually fell 0.4%, while the Russell
2000 also slipped 0.4% (is that even allowed?).

On Wednesday, the Fed made it clear that Inflation remains its primary concern, and the odds remain low for a rate cut anytime before September. On Friday, flat core PPI and awful Retail data made traders forget the previous sentence, with rate cut hopes powering the Dow to a triple digit gain for the day.

Earnings season is nearly over (more on this tomorrow), and  M&A activity shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

You have two things to do this weekend: Send mom flowers, and get clicking!


A superbear turns bullish We saw something that is extremely rare [on April 20 and April 25], in fact I can’t remember ever having seen this before. What I’m referring to is that on those two dates all three Dow Jones Averages — Industrials closed at simultaneous historic highs. To me, a fellow steeped in Dow Theory for over half a century, this was like a clap of thunder… My take on the situation is that the stock market (and the Dow Theory) told us that an unprecedented world boom lies ahead." (Marketwatch)

Another Bear, not so much: Street Insight’s own Doug Kass offers up 15 Reasons Stocks Should Be Falling (

M&A Frenzy Question: Why now? Money was just as cheap 3 years ago, while acquisition targets were much cheaper then . . .

Munger Speaks on Berkshire’s Success: "I didn’t set out in life to become the assistant leader of a cult." That is how Charlie Munger welcomed shareholders to the 2007 Wesco annual meeting. The cult, of course, is the loyal throng of value investors that invade both Omaha, Neb., and Pasadena, Calif., each spring to learn at the feet at Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, and as Munger noted "to leave a little wiser than they came." (Morningstar)

Where Have S&P500 Returns Come From? Dividends, Inflation and Capital Gains — in that order!

Why investors are so glum with the market so high: With the Dow Jones Industrial Average flirting with record highs — and the broader Russell 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 also at historic peaks — investors should be positively giddy. Instead, they appear to be glum, their mood dictated by concerns over rising gas prices, falling home values, fluctuations in currency values and worries about inflation. (Marketwatch)

China’s P/E Ratio is Now About 50

What are the odds of the Dow being up  24 days of 27?
Over the course of 111 years — 30,000 trading sessions — since the
Dow was created in 1896, Rudi Fahlenbrach, an assistant professor of
finance at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business,
caclualtes the odds are between one and two times in an 111-year period
– exactly what has happened.  (Marketwatch)


The Wall of worry continues to build:

More on NFP: More Recognition of Disbelief  BLS Birth Death adjustment comes under attack by many ddifferent sources 

Economy Is Clawing Back, but Not Much The worst of the economic slowdown has passed, private
economists said in the latest forecasting survey. But they
don’t see any reason to expect a significant acceleration. By a more than 5-to-1 margin, the economists said they
believe the first quarter’s 1.3% growth — the weakest in four years –
marked the low point in the slowdown that gripped the economy much of
last year. However, they expect growth to stay below 3% into early
2008, leaving 2007 on track to have the slowest economic growth since
2002. (free Wall Street Journal

The Tooth Fairy index is off 15% this year! (ABC)

The Fed Has a Target. It’s the Unemployment Rate:  "It makes me wonder why the Fed bothers to employ so many
economists,” says Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High
Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York. "They only need one
guy, half a day a month, to monitor the unemployment rate.” (Bloomberg)         

The Missing Link to Global Rebalancing
Financial markets are giddy over the prospects that a $51 trillion
global economy has once again displayed Teflon-like resilience in
coping with a major problem.  There are signs that a benign global
rebalancing could well be at hand.  A downshift in the US economy has
been largely offset by improved economic conditions in Europe and
Japan.  Meanwhile, the dollar has resumed its five-year downward
trajectory – tilting the world’s relative price structure against the
mother of all external deficits. My advice is to keep the champagne on
ice – there is a critically important piece to the global rebalancing
puzzle that has yet to fall into place.  (Morgan Stanley)


Home Prices Fall in Rich New York Suburbs Once Immune to Slump: The U.S. housing slump has hit New York City’s richest suburbs. Wealth and excellent credit have until now spared bedroom communities in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York’s Westchester County from declines in home prices. Now the tightening of credit in response to rising subprime defaults has disrupted the real estate food chain, bringing the national housing slump to Manhattan’s doorstep. Prices fell as much as 18.8 percent this year in 15 of the 24 areas in which data was collected.  (Bloomberg)

Reuters subprime coverage page

Supply of Homes Continues to Grow The supply of houses and condominiums available for sale continues to grow quickly in much of the U.S., reflecting weak sales. The number of homes listed for sale in 18 major metropolitan areas at the end of April was up 7% from March, according to data compiled by ZipRealty Inc., a national real-estate brokerage firm in Emeryville, Calif. The data cover listings of single-family homes, condos and town houses on local multiple-listing services. The increase was above the seasonal norm. Over the past 22 years, home inventories nationwide have increased an average of 4.5% in April from March, according to Credit Suisse Group. Spring is the busiest time of year for home shopping, as families with children try to get settled ahead of the next school year. Also, Housing prices are rising in some areas of the U.S. that missed out on the boom. (Real Estate Journal)

Toll cites trickle-up effect of subprime: Toll Brothers Inc. said Wednesday that it doesn’t expect to meet its full-year profit outlook and that more stringent lending standards as a result of problems in subprime mortgages are reverberating in its own luxury-home market. (MarketWatch)    


The Secret of Apple Design The inside (sort of) story of why Apple’s industrial-design machine has been so successful. (MIT Technology Review)   

You’re a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well
In the age of Google, being special increasingly requires standing out
from the crowd online. Many people aspire for themselves — or their
offspring — to command prominent placement in the top few links on
search engines or social networking sites’ member lookup functions.
But, as more people flood the Web, that’s becoming an especially tall
order for those with common names. Type "John Smith" into Google’s
search engine and it estimates it has 158 million results. (free Wall Street Journal)

• Enter your zip code, and MSN Auto will show you a map of Gas Station prices in your neighborhood, huighlighting the cheapest  (MSN)

Incredible Tornado Video from May 4, 2007 Ellis County, Oklahoma      


• Weekend Jazz: Gerry Mulligan: "the most influential baritone saxophonist in jazz."   

Disney Sells 2 Million Movies on Apple iTunes   

How to Slow Down a Ferrari: Buy It: How long should the world’s super-rich have to wait before they can buy a Ferrari? The answer has as much to do with how luxury-goods companies create an aura of exclusivity as it does with the global economy’s shifting winds minting more millionaires in places like China, Russia and the Middle East. (free Wall Street Journal)

• Quiz: Do You Have a Bulls**t Job?     (CNN Money)


That’s all from the NorthEast, where the last few Sopranos are slowly slipping away. I don’t really mind — so long as long as Entourage remains as good as it has been!

Category: Weblogs

WSJ Market Data

Category: Financial Press, Markets, Web/Tech

Friday Night Jazz: Gerry Mulligan

Paraiso_2About 10 years ago, while window shopping in Sag Harbor (the least offensive of the Hamptons), I hear this fabulous music wafting out the door of a small shop.

Turns out it was Gerry Mulligan‘s CD, Paraiso-Jazz Brazil. An eye opener. Clean, cool recording of lovely Latin melodies, all the while overlaid with this dry, reedy saxophone that infused the music with a flavorful sophistication.

Mulligan_chetbakerThat was Gerry Mulligan’s sound.  NPR radio observed that Mulligan was "the most influential baritone saxophonist in jazz." But Mulligan was more than that — he was a
commanding composer, an innovative musician, someone who pushed boundaries, yet remained accessible and enjoyable to listen to.

His history of playing with other key Jazz greats is rather astounding: He worked with Miles Davis‘ on the historic Birth of the Cool. He created a piano-less ensemble, with trumpeter Chet Baker.

Meets_monkHe cut albums with Thelonius Monk, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Judy Hollidaythe list of sidemen goes on and on.

Mulligan’s light and airy baritone saxophone was the epitome of the the "cool" jazz sound. Yet its amazing how easily he could interact with many other musical styles: Ben Webster’s blustery tenor (the epitome of a "warm" sound); Monk’s percussive, fractured piano rhythms and dissonant tunes; the sweet, subtle tension between Mulligan and Chet Baker.

M_plays_mYou can pretty much grab any random Mulligan album (I put up a decent selection here) and not be disappointed. You will see scattered around a broad selection of different styles, eras, and musical cohorts.

Are you a Brubeck fan? Monk? Chet Baker? Webster? Desmond? Grab anything, sit back and enjoy.


Mulligan became known for his writing and arranging skills in his teens. He wrote for Johnny Warrington’s radio band in 1944, and for Gene Krupa’s band two years later.

BerlinMulligan hit the big time when he became known for his work (writing, arranging, and soloing) on Miles Davis’ defining album, "Birth of the Cool." Gerry’s compositions for this album included "Jeru," "Godchild," and "Venus de Milo," all songs that would remain in his repertoire long after the initial success of the album had died down. (This album launched and aided several careers of important jazz figures).

Mulligan’s last record came out as one of his most beautiful. Lovely tunes, clever arrangements, and understated fabulous players mark his last recording (John Scofield and
Grover Washington, Jr. play on this).

DragonflySimply timeless music.

Mulligan Discography (massive PDF)

NYT Mulligan Obit

Mulligan Videos after the jump


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Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music

Corn Industry

Category: Commodities, Markets, Real Estate

Where Have S&P500 Returns Come From?

Category: Dividends, Investing, Markets

Commerce Retail Sales Data: Beware Gas Inflation

Category: Consumer Spending, Data Analysis, Economy, Energy, Retail

Why Are Stocks Falling?

Yesterday morning, Doug Kass gives us his short list of why stocks ought to take a stumble:

1. The price of gasoline rises to a new high, serving as the functional equivalent of a tax increase for the U.S. consumer.

2. Tech bellwether Cisco’s (CSCO) U.S. business enterprise is weak, and guidance for aggregate sequential revenue growth (of +4%) is disappointing.

3. Other tech companies like Novellus (NVLS) , Nokia (NOK) , SanDisk (SNDK) , Flextronics (FLEX) and Sanmina (SANM) disappointed. The much-heralded release of Vista has failed to meet expectations (and has led to a buildup in PC component parts). DRAM prices fall by nearly 70% to below cash production costs. Electronic Arts (ERTS) , Best Buy (BBY) and Circuit City (CC) guided lower, raising questions about the health of consumer electronics.

4. Multinationals offset end-market weakness in the U.S. by the effect of a weak U.S. dollar. More astonishingly, investors consider the foreign exchange gains as recurring.

5. The multiplier effect of the housing downturn hits many building materials companies like Mohawk Industries (MHK) , Home Depot (HD) and Graco (GGG) whiff, but rumors of private-equity deals bail investors out.

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Category: Economy, Investing, Markets, Trading


Category: Web/Tech

Retail Sales = Hard Landing ?

Category: Consumer Spending, Markets, Psychology, Retail

Forget Murdoch: Yahoo! Should Buy Dow Jones

Category: Media