New Column up at Real Money (12/31/04)


My latest column, "Five Under-the-Radar Trends for 2005" is up at RM. These five are significant issues which have not been getting a lot of ink / electrons — but should be.

Here’s an excerpt:

‘Tis the season for lists of predictions, trends and "best of" picks. Investors get deluged with articles offering advice on where to invest and suggestions for must-own stocks. This isn’t that kind of column.

Readers already know the impact oil has had on the economy, that deflation (and inflation) were issues, that the dollar has been weak, that Iraq is problematic, that the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates and that dividends were important in 2004, and will be even more so next year.

Let’s avoid the obvious. Instead, think about issues that have received less coverage but are of no less importance. Because these issues have been under the radar, the markets may not yet have fully discounted their potential impact. As such, these issues still have the ability to surprise, and therefore, significantly impact prices . . .

What are the five under the radar trends?

    1. FASB Option Expensing Begins June ’0
    2. Job Creation Still MIA
    3. Accelerated Depreciation Goes Buh-Bye
    4. Rise of the Pure Patent Business Model
    5. Terrorist Act Against the U.S.

Category: Media

New Year’s Resolutions for Investors

Category: Markets

U.S. Album Sales Slightly Positive for 2004

Category: Music

DVDs continue to cannibalize CDs

Category: Film, Music

Tsunami Resources

Category: Uncategorized

Music Industry Responding (slowly) to Pricing Issues

Category: Finance, Music

Chart of the Week: Consumer Confidence Spikes

Category: Economy

VIX Worries? Not quite . . .

Category: Markets

Ralph’s Fearless Forecast

Category: Markets

A Different Kind of Top 10 Music List For 2004

It’s year’s end, and that means list time.

The annoying thing about the ubiquitous year end list — best Books, best Movies, best Albums — is that they tend to be compiled by people who read, watch or listen to stuff for a living.

Most of the listed items are nanoseconds old. And while that’s de rigueur for someone who does that professionally, it has little correlation to the lives the rest of us lead. Gotta job, family, obligations? Then you probably don’t get to listen to hundreds of new releases each year. Good luck then, making an intelligent top 10 list.

Movies? The days of waiting on line opening night are long since gone for this old man. A majority of the films I ended up renting, buying or pay-per-viewing this year were not 2004 releases. Wanna make a helpful list for me? Tell me the best stuff on HBO next weekend; Knowing 2004′s most critically acclaimed Eastern European documentaries is of little use for most people.

OK, rant over. Here’s a different kind of top 10 list; these favorite CDs are what actually got listened to in 2004. While a few of these came out this year, that wasn’t a requirement. These are what actually spent the most time this year on the iPod or in the CD player of a person with a job and an ever decreasing amount of spare time.

The task was made infinitely easier by iTunes, which shows me the chronological order of when CDs were ripped, and purchases made via ITMS, or downloads via a P2P service, as well as the number of plays each song got. Incidentally, the correlation between my downloaded P2P tunes and subsequent CD purchases is extremely high; I’ll bet others have had similar experiences. Don’t expect an RIAA study looking into that phenomenon anytime soon . . .

Anyway, on to the top 10 list:.

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Roman Candle  Says Pop

Roman Candle’s debut is a joyful assortment of finely crafted pop
tunes. If FM Radio didn’t suck, this is the sort of music you would be
hearing on it right now. Finely crafted lyrics mated to delightful
melodies delivered by a tight power pop five-some in a surprisingly
slick production. Like nearly all the discs on this list, this one is
really good from start to finish.

Why didn’t you ever hear of these guys? Roman Candle hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and signed with an independent label. No payola, no Clearchannel — and no radio play.

Roman Candle   Says Pop

Bonus:  I discovered Roman Candle through BBC 2’s Bob Harris Check him out.

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Category: Music