Daylight Savings Linkfest: Week in Preview

Yesterday, we looked at the week that was. Today, we preview the week that is to come.

Following last week’s near frantic activity (GDP, FOMC, NFP) this is a relatively light week for economic data: Wednesday has Productivity and Costs, and Wholesale Trade; On Thursday, Retailers report October sales, and given energy and food prices, the monthly figures may be none too pretty. Thursday also has Jobless Claims; Friday, Import and Export Prices, International Trade and Consumer Sentiment.

We also hear from more Central Bankers on Thursday: BoE at 7:00am ET, ECB at 7:45am ET.

Earnings season continues, albeit at a slower pace: GM is Wednesday; Ford (F) is Thursday; TIme Warner (TWX) and Fews Corp (NWS) release profits on Wednesday

Lots of Fed chatter this week: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke presents to speeches this week: On Tuesday at a microfinance summit in San Antonio, and on Thursday before Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.  Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin gives a speech Monday-morning at derivatives and risk management conference;  Monday afternoon Fed Governor Randall Kroszner on mortgage-lending; Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker discusses the role of central banks in credit markets Wednesday morn; Wednesday afternoon sees speeches by Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and St. Louis Fed President William Poole. 

While any one of these can be market moving, after Chairman Bernanke, Mishkin and Poole seemingly swing the most weight

The credit crunch, and its impact on Banks and Brokers remains a key issue (links below).The WSJ quoted Jim Awad about what danger lurks in the hearts of traders: "The
market will wake up every morning to see if there’s unexpected bad news
from the credit sector. The real question is going to be how many
credit surprises there are, how bad they are, and the implications for
Main Street."

Ok, enough yadda yadda yadda: On to the lumber yard!


Speculation of Bigger Loan Writedowns?:
Concern about the extent of losses among financial companies sent
banks and brokerages in the S&P 500 to a 6 percent weekly decline.
Citigroup’s warning on Oct. 15 that defaults will plague lenders for
the rest of the year spurred a 7.6 decline in financial shares two
weeks ago, the worst since 2002. (Bloomberg)   

SPX Earnings Bound for Double-Digit Gains: Third-quarter growth remains strong thus far and has held above double digits for the past week. The median company has reported growth of 11.1%. Every sector currently boasts more positive surprises than negatives and the surprise ratio has continued its steady rise over the past week.  (Zachs)

Watch the Nasdaq-100:
One third of the advance in the Nasdaq-100 is due to just two stocks,
Apple and Google. These are the types of statistics that can put the
market in a precarious position. Pick your poison. Place your eggs in a narrow
basket or bet against stocks that are just plain powerful. Either way,
risk is elevated and picking the right stocks is critical.  (Barron’s)

Dollar Falls to Record Low Versus Euro on Credit Concern, Fed:
The dollar fell to a record against the euro and dropped to the weakest
since 1981 versus the pound on concern deepening credit-market losses
will prompt the Federal Reserve to reduce interest rates a third time
this year. (Bloomberg)

Calling Gold’s Tune:
WITH THE FEDERAL RESERVE’S interest-rate cut out of the way, gold
futures are likely to continue taking guidance from their closest
bedfellows of late: the euro and crude oil.  The most-active December
gold contract on Nymex’s Comex surpassed $800 an ounce — a
psychological benchmark set for the first time in 1980 — on the back
of stronger crude oil, a falling U.S. dollar, and inflation worries.
While gold probably has more upside in the months to come, the yellow
metal’s star power might be reined in over the short term. (Barron’s)

Why Oil May Not Stop at $100:
Oil at $100 a barrel? That may not be the worst of it.  Consuming
countries, they argued, will simply have to deal with the fact that new
pockets of oil are getting far harder and more expensive to tap. That,
combined with years of underinvestment by the industry, has led to a
tapering off of new oil supplies that will continue for years, despite
rising energy demand in Asia, the Middle East and some industrialized
countries. (Wall Street Journal)

• A very good explanation about enterprise prediction marketsBefore It’s Too Late. Prediction markets work by soliciting input across a diverse group of "traders" inside and/or outside the organization. Global brands that have been using prediction markets since they first became available have quickly realized they can significantly improve forecasts of key performance indicators. (Forbes)

Municipal Bond Insurers: More dangerous than you realize  Trouble for MBIA, FSA, FGIC, and AMBAC  . . .   

• Get ready for SFAS157, a November 15th accounting change impacting Level 3 assets:  From November 15, we will have a new tool for figuring out how much toxic waste is in investment banks’ balance sheets. The new US accounting rule SFAS157 requires banks to divide their tradable assets into three "levels" according to how easy it is to get a market price for them. Level 1 assets have quoted prices in active markets. At the other extreme Level 3 assets have only unobservable inputs to measure value and are thus valued by reference to the banks’ own models. (Urban Digs)   

Handicapping the Environmental Gold Rush:
The green stampede is on. As a global economy powered by cheap fossil
fuel comes under intense pressure to change, corporate executives are
racing to stay ahead of the tectonic shift in their world. New companies –
even new industries — are challenging the established giants to
exploit a growing market for everything from green cars to green fuels.
(free Wall Street Journal)

Auto Sector’s Role Dwindles, and Spending Suffers: During the third quarter, the government reported, spending by Americans on autos and auto parts fell to 3.1 percent of the total gross domestic product. As recently as 2003, the auto industry was taking a 4 percent share of G.D.P., well above its average share, over the last 50 years, of 3.7 percent. A few tenths of a percentage point do not sound like much. But if the auto industry were taking its normal share this year, that would mean additional spending of about $80 (NYT) see also Chrysler to Phase Out Magnum, Crossfire, PT Convertible, Pacifica

Is Merrill the tip of the iceberg? IS THERE such a thing as panicky resilience? That might be the best way to describe the mood in stockmarkets. The S&P 500 index ended this week up a steely 2.6%. Yet nervousness is everywhere, with the flimsiest of rumours sending share prices sky-rocketing or lurching. Markets leapt on Wednesday after someone whispered that the Federal Reserve was about to announce an emergency rate cut. It was nonsense. The next day AIG, the world’s largest insurer, tumbled by 8%, before recovering, on unsubstantiated fears that it would suffer a whopping loss on its $33 billion of subprime mortgage-related assets. (Economist)   



The wall of worry continues to build:

• How does BLS account for all of the surcharges on invoices? Benign Inflation, Added Surcharges

Why a Fed cut won’t save Christmas:
Could a Federal Reserve interest rate cut on Wednesday be the trick
that treats tapped-out consumers to more spending money during the
critical holiday shopping season? Most economists say the extra money
may be too little, too late to save Christmas 2007. "Another
rate cut won’t give a lot more money to cash-strapped consumers," said
Paul Kasriel, senior vice president and director of economic research
at Northern Trust. "The first cut in September also didn’t get
Americans to spend more." (CNN Money)

Making Up Jobs: Floyd Norris notes that 80% percent of BLS new jobs came not froma ctual counted positions, but from the statistical adjustments.    

 Inflation at 16.7%? Some people continue to take government statistics on inflation as if they were an accurate representation of the real world. Others are not so naive: Richard Russell reports that a recent Economist magazine puts the year-over-year dollar index of ‘all item’s’ up 16.7%. The price of food is up 31.6% year-over-year. But the government tells us ‘core inflation’ is running between 1 – 2%. Its amazing that some people — apparently suffering from blunt head trauma — still take the 1-2% core readings seriously.

• With Oil at $96 and Gold over $800, the Fed has belatedly rediscovered their inflation worries

The Catastrophist View:
What would it take to send the U.S. economy—and New York’s—into free
fall? A doomsday primer.  New York Magazine channels a Cramer-like rant
about the end of the economic world. Accidentally amusing.

Alarm is growing about rising food prices:
Concern about the cost of food is even spreading beyond the world’s
poor countries. Last month Italians took to the street in Rome and
Milan to protest against an increase in pasta prices. They are eating
less too: Italians’ pasta and bread consumption dropped 7.4% and milk
consumption fell by 2.6% in the first eight months of the year.
Efforts to find solutions have been complicated by political manipulation . . . price controls, import tariffs, and subsidies.  (Economist)

Can the U.S. economy avoid recession?:
If you’ve listened recently to some prominent Wall Street economists,
the U.S. economy in the next two quarters is going to slip from the
jaws of the credit crunch, hurdle the tiger-trap of the housing
slowdown, swing across boiling oil prices, and land on its feet having
narrowly escaped a recession. But many economists are skeptical. They
say that this scenario of the economy as swashbuckling hero from a
classic B movie isn’t very realistic. (Marketwatch)


Home Price Fall For 8th Consecutive Month 

Communities Go Solar Together and Save Convincing
a group of neighbors to agree on anything is rarely easy. But in a
growing number of communities in the U.S. over the past year neighbors
have proven fairly persuasive at influencing dozens of their peers to
spend $25,000 or more on a rooftop solar system. 
(Real Estate Journal)

• Paul links to a very funny droll BBC video on finance: The Truth About Mortgage Markets

Foreclosures almost doubled from ’06: report Residential foreclosure filings nearly doubled last quarter from a year earlier, and appear set to increase into 2008, a report said on Thursday. Foreclosure filings for July-September rose to 635,159, representing one in every 196 households and a 30 percent jump from the second quarter, according to RealtyTrac, a marketer of foreclosure properties based in Irvine, California. (Reuters)   see also Texas Makes Top 10 List In Home Foreclosures


Apple’s Microsoft-Devouring Jungle Cat — How Leopard demolishes Vista:
Steve Jobs may be the undisputed grand master of technology hype, but
when it comes to numbering operating systems, he’s oddly self-effacing.
With Leopard, the new version of OS X, Apple has nudged the version
number forward from 10.4 to 10.5. Most companies would assign such a
teensy increment to an update with a few minor bug fixes, but Leopard
includes more than 300 new features by Apple’s count.

Devices Enforce Cellular Silence, Sweet but Illegal (NYT)   

• Chris Anderson, Wired’s Editor-in-Chief, goes Postal on PR weenies

Why Google Turned Into a Social Butterfly:  In a bravura switch of strategy, Google left its own island to embrace open standards that belong to no one company. Its initiative, which it calls OpenSocial, is an appeal to software developers and Web sites to cooperate in adopting a single set of software standards for the little software widgets that can add a social-networking layer to all Web sites. Unlike Facebook’s programming requirements, Google’s use nonproprietary programming languages. (NYT) see also  Checkmate? MySpace, Bebo and SixApart To Join Google OpenSocial: Facebook vs everyone else . .  . 

How a VC Evaluates a Business Idea

If We Had No Moon:
In this essay, Bernard Foing looks at the effect the Moon has had on
the Earth, and explores how different our world would be if we had no
planetary companion.



All time Greatest Movie Soundtracks!  The wankers at Vanity Fair started some buzz about a crappy article on Music Soundtracks. Rather than waste too
much time telling you how clueless VF’s music editors are, or why they are wankers for making controversial pick to generate buzz, I would rather — in the spirit of our Friday Night Jazz Series point you to this very worthwhile list of films and soundtracks for your perusal. So far over 50 of you have weighed in with some excellent suggestions . . . .

Cleavage at the office: Inappropriate?  The Today show asks "What kind of message does it send in the workplace? Is it ever acceptable? NOTE: This was accidentally very funny

Meet the anti-Seinfeld, Jerry’s brilliant, twisted, evil twin   


That’s all from here — remember, enjoy that extra hour of sleep, with the end of Daylight saving time last night . . .


Got a comment, suggestion, link idea? Or do you just have
something on your mind?
linkfest loves to get email!  If you’ve got something to say, the by
all means please do — send email to [thebigpicture] AT [optonline] DOT [net].


Category: Financial Press

Gracenote Music Maps

Category: Digital Media, Music, Web/Tech

Daylight Savings Linkfest: Week in Review

Category: Financial Press

Five Days of Misery

Category: Corporate Management, Credit, Finance, Markets

Friday Night Jazz Film Soundtracks

Oh, goody, yet another list. How f$%&ing original!

For some silly reason, there seems to be all this hoo-haa about the silly Vanity Fair article on the top Movie Soundtracks of all time.

These people are wankers for many reasons: 1) The VF weenies press released to death; b) the article is not even available on line; iii) the editors chose Purple Rain as the greatest film soundtrack of all time.

I remain convinced that the purveyors of these annoying lists select a controversial top pick to generate buzz (tho’ you would think this would might encourage online posting).

Regardless, let’s not play into their hand. Rather than waste too much time telling you how clueless VF’s music editors are, or giving them any linklove, I would rather — in the spirit of Friday Night Jazz — compile a worthwhile list of films and soundtracks for your perusal.

A few ground rules:

• We are looking for outstanding soundtracks to outstanding films. (Merely o.k. doesn’t cut it).

• Groundbreaking films, soundtracks and performances get bonus points. (Mediocre performances get cut).

• Better non-film versions take points away from the movie soundtrack — where there are superior versions such as the Broadway soundtrack (i.e., Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.) than those flicks don ‘t make the cut.

• Pure adaptations of Broadway shows also get cut. In my mind, Cabaret, Chicago, Chorus Line are more filmed stage productions, rather than pure movies. (as forewarned, totally subjective).

Hence, several films that I love failed to make the cut: Apocalypse Now is fantastic in the way it uses music (especially The Doors’ The End, and Wagner’s The Ride Of The Valkyries), but its not great as a standalone soundtrack; the wonderful My Fair Lady, with Rex Harrison’s mediocre voice, and the dubbing of Audrey Hepburn’s voice, also doesn’t make the cut.

These things are totally subjective, and are rarely based exclusively on mere merits. Pink Floyd The Wall was a great album so overplayed when I was in
college, that I simply couldn’t pull the trigger on it (the film is a bit
ponderous to boot). Again, these things are very subjective.

Alternatively, the film can’t suck. The greatest
soundtrack in the world becomes irrelevant if its attached to a film
like, say, Hedwig and the Angry Inch — a play that sucked two hours out of my life that I will never get back, and will literally regret on my death bed.

We can certainly debate the order of any list, or the contents, and we probably will (thats what the comments are for).

Here’s my subjective top ~20:

1. A Hard Day’s Night:  A brilliant film and album that both remain as energetic and fresh today as they were in 1964. The Beatles personalities were perfectly suited to the medium, so much so that its hard to imagine a better film/soundtrack combo.

: A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day’s Night

If you want to consider another Beatles sound track, both Yellow Submarine and Help! are fun — but neither rise to the sheer genius of A Hard Day’s Night. 


2. Stop Making Sense:
Quite simply, the best concert film ever made. Yes, some of you will
declare The Last Waltz, (with a few stragglers nominating Woodstock)
but there is simply nothing else that ha the combination of
showmanship, musical innovation — and the big suit — like this film
does. Marvelous.

: Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense


3.  Blade Runner: Forget the ponderous and boring Chariots of Fire, THIS is Vangelis Masterpiece. Not only is the music hauntingly beautiful, but it fits the filmscape so perfectly, making it even better than it originally was. We’ve already spilled so many words about BR, that the less said the better. "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain." 

: Blade Runner

Blade Runner


4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
I could try to explain this, but I couldn’t do it justice. Find a
theater where this is playing at the midnight show, and go with someone
who’s gone before. Repeat.

: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 Film)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 Film)


5. The Graduate:
Not only is this a seminal, groundbreaking film, but the soundtrack is
phenomenal. The way the various songs are interwoven into the action,
mood, psyches of the players is amazing (listen as Benjamin’s Alpha Romeo Spider runs out of gas).

I don’t know if Mike Nichols is
a genius, or just got incredibly lucky. Either way, its a great
soundtrack and a great movie.   

: The Graduate (1967 Film)

The Graduate (1967 Film)


6.  Harold and Maude:
One of the most subversive, outrageously amusing black comedies ever made — hysterically funny to boot. Cat Stevens (before he became Yusaf)
created a wonderful collection of songs that enhance the story line’s mood and emotions.  This is, quite bluntly, one of the
funniest films ever made.

: Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude


7. Garden State:
My "surprise" entry. A charming little film with a soundtrack that simply
refuses to stop delighting you with its lovely tunes and ballads, nearly all of which are by bands that
prior to this soundtrack were relatively unknown. This disc was played constantly in the car in 2004/05.

: Garden State

Garden State


8. (tie):Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains The Same
The Who, The Kids Are Alright:

Perhaps its my age showing, but I have always found each of these to be tremendous films and soundtracks. The Zep concert film was utterly ground breaking, and I must have seen it a zillion times after they broke up; The Who film was a fantastic documentary.

: The Song Remains The Same (Remastered / Expanded) (2CD)

The Song Remains The Same

: The Kids Are Alright

The Kids Are Alright


10. Fantasia: Music by Tchaikovsky, Moussorgsky, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Ponchielli, Bach, Dukas, and Schubert. ’nuff said.

The film was groundbreaking in many ways, including the innovative
use of animation and stereophonic sound — but its the overall approach
that has been so enduring:  Allow the Disney animators tointerpret Classical music. The results are both playful and surreal. Its amazing how well this has held up after 60 years . . .   

: Fantasia (Special 60th Anniversary Edition)

Fantasia (Special 60th Anniversary Edition)


11. Pulp Fiction: The film does so many things so well — but the way the music is integrated into the actual plot is simply terrific.  Plus, Travolta and Uma can each dance. 

: Pulp Fiction: Music From The Motion Picture

Pulp Fiction: Music From The Motion Picture


12. West Side Story:
Leonard Bernstein’s musical update of Romeo and Juliet. The combination
of Stephen Sondheim brilliant lyrics, the kinetic choreography and the
bravura camera work made for a fantastic wide screen film. The
soundtrack created the perfect counterpoint to the dance and action.

Sure, its a bit dated (hence, #10), but it remains an all time great.

: West Side Story

West Side Story


13.  Purple Rain: There is no doubt that the purple one can sign, dance, play guitar — but Acting? Not so much.

Regardless, his sheer overwhelming talent is why this manages to get onto my top 15.

True Story: I saw this in the theaters in college, and my remark was "He’s going to be bigger than Michael Jackson" — who was huge at the time.

Its a toss up how right that call was, but the general concept was dead on . . .

: Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"

Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"


14. Little Shop Of Horrors: A fantabulous musical/horror/comedy. It’s all a whole lot of fun, and the musical styles range from honky-tonk to doo-wop to straightforward rock n’ roll. The strength of the film carries what otherwise might have been a mere Broadway adaption into an entire different level.

: Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)

Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)


15. Koyaanisqatsi: A quasi-documentary, this film has been described as "visual concert of images" or a "filmic landscape." The reason its here is the hauntingly beautiful music of Phillip Glass. A classic college flick . . .

: Koyaanisqatsi - Life Out of Balance

Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance


16. Saturday Night Fever: One of those seminal films that tremendously influenced the culture.

My choice in music was rock-n-roll, and I had little interest in blow-dried hair, white polyester suits, or cruising discos looking to pick Staten Island bimbos.

The music works as well on its own, but it also works as a classic piece of pop history. (And John Travolta makes the list twice!)

: Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track

Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track


17. The Tao of Steve: Another charming little film that surprises with its wonderful songs. A fun amusing, philosophically oriented film, with a soundtrack to match. For you Outdoor Types.

: The Tao of Steve: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Tao of Steve: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


18. All That Jazz: The Oscar winning soundtrack by Ralph Burns includes jazz, classical, pop, and Broadway standards. Its a marvelous mix that works to great effect in the film.

Can you imagine anyone other Director making so self-critical autobiographical film other than Bob Fosse? While some have criticized the film as a  rip-off of Fellini’s 8 1/2, my favored descriptions of All That Jazz is "the musical version of Apocalypse Now." If you can imagine that, you have a better sense of what the film itself is like.

: All That Jazz (1979 Film)
All that work. All that glitter. All that pain. All that love. All that crazy rhythm. All that jazz.

All That Jazz (1979 Film)


19. The Big Chill:
The Motown dominated score was one of the most artistically skillful –
and commercially successful — uses of pop ever set to a film.

More than merely setting a time and place, the soundtrack has a
wispy nostalgia for a prior period in the players’ lives. Subsequent
attempts by other movies have been less successful of creating a look
back from a specific time to another one;  e.g., I think of the Forrest
Gump soundtrack as Big Chill 2.

: The Big Chill - Deluxe Edition

The Big Chill – Deluxe Edition



20.  South Park – Bigger, Longer & Uncut: You will laugh until you piss yourself. This one squeaks in at #20 because the soundtrack is so very, very funny. 

: South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut

South Park – Bigger, Longer & Uncut


Thats my top list; A few Honorable Mentions are after the jump . . .

Read More

Category: Digital Media, Film, Friday Night Jazz, Music

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Category: Credit, Currency, Federal Reserve, Finance

Results: Big Picture Reader Survey

As promised, here are the results of the survey we did on Monday.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this survey: Over 2000 of you responded, and the results are quite intriguing. Kudos to Survey Gizmo for putting together a nice product — very simple and easy to use. (I am sure I could have done a better job if I actually read the instructions)

In many cases, I did not show the full set of answers — too many one offs to fit neatly on a web page . . .  but where possible, I gave the top few answers, down to ~1%.

When someone asked me "Who are your readers," I could only answer in the most general of terms. Michelle over at Footnoted suggested doing a survey, and hence, here we are.


This was quite an interesting experiment; Please feel free to make suggestions for other ideas/questions/quiz ideas/concepts in the comments.   


Long ass page continues after the jump . .  .

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Category: Data Analysis, Weblogs

NFP +166k

Category: Employment

Delving Deeply Into the Data of NFP Day

Category: Data Analysis, Employment

Now we know Argentina is REALLY in trouble

Category: Financial Press, Inflation, Taxes and Policy