Monday, October 31, 2011

Genius: "Europe According to..."

From ZeroHedge:

Europe according to Greece:

Europe according to Germany:

Europe according to the US:


"Euro Retraces Entire 'Bailout' In 3 Days" (EUR/USD)

 EUR/USD down 2.127%!! at 1.3847.
From ZeroHedge:
Joining US TSYs, BTPs, and SPGs, the EUR has now retraced the entire post-summit rally in a mere 3 days, and is down 300 pips today alone. It also seems the actions in Greece are starting to get reactions in US financials and broad risk assets. We also note that EURJPY has retraced over 75% of the intervention in 18 hours...perhaps Azumi will let the market be now?

They also have the EUR/JPY chart which is even sadder.
See also Friday's "Citi Explains Why The Time To Fade The EUR Rally Has Come (EUR/USD)" at 1.4168.

Ursininity: Bob Janjuah Appears Headed Toward His Winter Den

I usually agree with Mr. Janjuah but not this time, at least not on the timing.

When I checked to see if 'ursininity' was a word (it is now, or as soon as the googlebots find it) the google box kept asking me "Did you mean 'asininity'?" and I kept thinking "NO, he's not a Permabear" but it does no good to yell at the google box so I looked for a post, anywhere, written by anyone, that would combine the Latin bear refs with a hint of bull.

And found me.
"***Alert*** Bob "the Bear" Janjuah is About to Become Bullish ***Alert*** (before returning to his ursine lair)".

Here's the latest from the cave, via FT Alphaville:
Greed and fear with Bob the Bear
And now for something completely different.
In his latest note to clients, Nomura’s Bob Janjuah goes all technical:
In terms of the secular outlook, I wanted to do something different, so I have included below a classic Greed & Fear chart. The chart looks at a 90 year history of the Dow, rebased in terms of the price of an ounce of Gold. I am not including this chart to specifically support my secular bullish Gold view or my secular bearish equity view.
Click to enlarge

Rather, for me, this chart speaks to long-term trends and turns in the Greed & Fear equation, which is a principle driver of market returns. I find this chart stunningly clear and simple in its message: Over the next year or so the Dow can, in Gold terms, hit a ratio of 1. Think about that. Of course I know many folks dismiss such chartlology (I have too much respect for the world’s technical analysts to call my work technical analysis), and I know many folks look at Gold as some barbaric relic. So readers should feel free to dismiss the message from this chart...MORE
Within a year?

Here he is at CNBC:
'Emperors With No Clothes’ Driving S&P to 700 – Bear
And as recently as Oct 3 it was:
UPDATED: Nomura's Bob Janjuah: "We are in a secular bear market"

"Blocking Patterns Could Lead to More Winters of Deep Cold Snaps" in Florida and Europe

"Trading Places" anyone?
From the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Arctic blasts like those that plagued Florida in 2009 and 2010 could become the norm in coming decades.
The culprit is something weather experts call "blocking," which occurs when high pressure locks in place and forces the jet stream to go around it.

A blocked jet stream — the current of air that drives weather eastward around the northern hemisphere — can steer far south bitterly cold air that is usually confined to the Arctic.

Some blocking is likely again in the Atlantic this year, sending Florida at least a few blasts of cold air, one researcher predicts. And it may happen more in the future, leading to more cold winters.
"It wouldn't happen every year, but it would be more common," said Anthony Lupo, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Missouri.

Meanwhile, weather experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say a Florida drought is almost certain this winter. But the agency did not make a temperature forecast, partly because of the uncertainty over that Arctic air.

Common weather patterns periodically make the jet stream shift. La Niña, for example, a phenomenon driven by cooler-than-normal seas in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, makes the jet stream move north. La Niña winters, such as this one, can sometimes result in slightly warmer Florida temperatures.

But La Niña also helps to set up a bubble of high pressure over the eastern Pacific. That high pressure blocks the jet stream, forcing it to shunt Arctic air south into central Canada and the United States....MORE

First Solar Down 7%, Hedge Funds Hammered on Merrill Downgrade and the One "Must Read" on the Stock (FSLR)

The stock is trading at $50.00 down $3.99 (7.39%).
We mentioned Al Gore's Generation Investment Management and linked to ZeroHedge doing the Nyah-nyah bit on Maverick last week.
First up InsiderMonkey:

Hedge Funds Lose Big After First Solar $FSLR Shares Fall Over 6%
...The following hedge funds lost the most in early trading Monday:
1. Maverick Capital - Lee Ainslie: Lost $8.9 million
2. Generation Investment Management - David Blood, Miguel Nogales, And Al Gore: Lost $3.5 million
3. Seneca Capital - Douglas Hirsch: Lost $1.8 million
4. D E Shaw - D. E. Shaw: Lost $822,000
5. Coatue Management - Philippe Laffont: Lost $649,000

Back in February 2010 we posted "A VERY Important Article for Solar Investors (I'm Talking to You First Solar, Trina Solar, Suntech and Sunpower) FSLR; SPWRA, SPWRB; STP; TSL; YGE"

We re-referenced it a couple weeks later in "First Solar Reports Utility-type Earnings Growth, Stock Drops (FSLR)"

And again in July 2010: "First Solar Shows Utility Type Growth, Does it Deserve a Utility Type Multiple? A VERY Important Article for Solar Investors (FSLR; SPWRA; STP; TSL)":
...Top line growth of 11.8% year-over-year and 4% sequentially from Q1 does not a growth stock make....
You get the point, we thought it was important.

Lumber: "Weyerhaeuser sounds alert at China housing market" (WY)

From Agrimoney (Oct. 28):
Weyerhaeuser added to the clouds over China's housing market, which some analysts have identified as key to the world economic outlook, by blaming faltering demand for logs from the country for a dip in timberland profits.
The US wood and pulp group, which has a portfolio of more than 20m acres of timberland, mostly in North America, said that all its divisions "faced challenging markets in the third quarter", as a slowdown in Chinese trade added to softness from the continued downturn in US housing.
"The US housing market languished and we experienced a slowdown in demand from China," Dan Fulton, the Weyerhaeuser chief executive., said.
However, its timberland division was the most affecting, with "weakening" Chinese demand hastening a fall in log prices.
The comments follow a warning from German-listed Asian Bamboo two weeks ago that a slowdown in Chinese demand for bamboo, used largely in construction, meant it would miss its sales targets, and had left some rivals in "serious difficulties".
And they come amid growing reports of hiccups in the China's property price surge, with reports of property groups being forced into discounts to sell homes, leading to price falls which official news agency Xinhua on Friday reported at up to 30%.
'Treadmill to hell'
China's handling of its real estate market is viewed by many observers as crucial to the country's, and therefore the world's, economic outlook.
Jim Chanos, the short-betting investor seen as one of the first to foresee problems at Enron, which collapsed 10 years ago, has said that China in on a "treadmill to hell" because of its reliance on property price growth....MORE

"Birinyi Associates: Market at Extreme Overbought Levels"

The DJIA futures are indicating a 95 point drop at the open.
A twofer. First up, CNBC from Thursday:
The stock market has entered extreme overbought levels, with nine out of ten S&P 500 sectors trading within 2 percent of that level, according to a research note by Birinyi Associates.

Using a sector-timing model, the market research and money management firm determines absolute overbought or oversold pricing levels to determine entry and exit points. 

"Currently the S&P 500 is 5.15 percent above the top end of its trading envelope, which is the highest it has been in the past year.  We consider anything within 2 percent of that level extremely overbought," says Kevin Pleines, equity market analyst at Birinyi Associates....MORE
And from Minyanville:
The Stock Market's Upcoming Monstrous Week

Chart courtesy of


See also Oct. 19's "Analysts: EUR/USD to $1.20 or Market Melt-up":
From ZeroHedge, served with a side of snark, gratis:
Throw Away The Shackles Of Your Birinyi Rulers And Be Free! Hungarian No Longer Bull; Now Just bull
Hark - either the end is nigh, or we are about to see one of the biggest market melt-ups in history: the man who conceived, developed, and distributed the Birinyi Ruler to a Comcast financial comedy cable channel near you, and to late night comedy in financial circles everywhere, is no longer a Bull. He is merely a bull...

UPDATED: "Top US foreclosure law firm threw Halloween party where staff dressed as homeless, foreclosed-upon Americans"

Update below
A class act all the way
-Homer J Simpson

Via BoingBoing:

From a NYT opinion piece by Joe Nocera, "What the Costumes Reveal"—

On Friday, the law firm of Steven J. Baum threw a Halloween party. The firm, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo....MORE
Here's some general information for the law firm of Steven J. Baum:

Phone Numbers

Phone: 716-204-2400
  • Fax:  716-204-4600
  •          716-204-2496

Regular Mail

P.O. Box 1291
Buffalo, NY 14240-1291

Overnight Mail

220 Northpointe Pkwy, Suite G
Amherst, NY 14228

Long Island Address

900 Merchants Concourse
Suite 412
Westbury, NY 11590
* This is not a mailing address *

The firm's principal's names, home addresses, phone numbers etc. are also easy enough to find.

From the Buffalo News (a Berkshire Hathaway company):
Law firm says party was ‘poor taste’
Read the apology, these guys are scum.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Royal Society opens archive, kills productivity" (Newton's First Published Paper; Franklin and the Kite, etc.)

This is what I was going for when I got sidetracked by the cartoons in the post below.

From The Royal Society:
Royal Society journal archive made permanently free to access
The Royal Society has today announced that its world-famous historical journal archive – which includes the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal – has been made permanently free to access online.
Around 60,000 historical scientific papers are accessible via a fully searchable online archive, with papers published more than 70 years ago now becoming freely available. 

The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific publisher, with the first edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society appearing in 1665.  Henry Oldenburg – Secretary of the Royal Society and first Editor of the publication – ensured that it was “licensed by the council of the society, being first reviewed by some of the members of the same”, thus making it the first ever peer-reviewed journal.
Philosophical Transactions had to overcome early setbacks including plague, the Great Fire of London and even the imprisonment of Oldenburg, but against the odds the publication survived to the present day.  Its foundation would eventually be recognised as one of the most pivotal moments of the scientific revolution.
Professor Uta Frith FRS, Chair of the Royal Society library committee, said: “I’m delighted that the Royal Society is continuing to increase access to its wonderful resources by opening up its publishing archives.  The release of these papers opens a fascinating window on the history of scientific progress over the last few centuries and will be of interest to anybody who wants to understand how science has evolved since the days of the Royal Society’s foundation.”

Treasures in the archive include Isaac Newton’s first published scientific paper, geological work by a young Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated account of his electrical kite experiment.  And nestling amongst these illustrious papers, readers willing to delve a little deeper into the archive may find some undiscovered gems from the dawn of the scientific revolution – including accounts of monstrous calves, grisly tales of students being struck by lightning, and early experiments on to how to cool drinks “without the Help of Snow, Ice, Haile, Wind or Niter, and That at Any Time of the Year.”...MORE
HT chain:  Open CultureBoingBoing, Simoleon Sense.

Hazard: Moral and Otherwise

Via Simoleon Sense' Weekly Roundup 151: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web:

Too Funny: Google Search Results for 'Romney Can Win'

I had to do it without quotation marks but did get:
Showing results for romney can't win

CBS News was able to get the "Did you mean" which probably would have had me rolling on the floor.

Wildenstein: The Art World's Most Powerful Dealer Family

In their day Duveen did okay.
From Vanity Fair:
Bitter Spoils

The messy, scandal-sheet divorce proceedings between Alec and Jocelyne Wildenstein may open the door on the secret history of the art world’s richest and most powerful family. From the intelligence network the Wildensteins created to accusations they collaborated with the Nazis, to the legendary contents of their vaults in New York and Switzerland, the author explores four generations of an insular art-dealing dynasty whose $5 billion fortune, Gulfstream IV, racing stable, private Virgin Island compound, and 66,000-acre Kenya ranch cannot erase the rancorous legacy handed down from father to son to son. 
Last September, Daniel Wildenstein’s family celebrated his 80th birthday with a party at the two-star restaurant Laurent, one of Paris’s most fashionable spots. It was an intimate dinner, for about 70 guests, to which Daniel’s 64-year-old second wife, Sylvia, had invited only her husband’s closest friends and his family, whose members had flown in for the occasion from New York, Montreal, and Palm Beach, some of them on the family’s private Gulfstream IV. Daniel’s two sons, Alec, 57, and Guy, 52, and Guy’s wife, Kristina, were there, as were all six of his grandchildren. Most of the friends in attendance that night were from the horse-racing world, trainers and jockeys who had worked with the Wildensteins over the years. Horse racing was the old man’s passion, and his stable, Allez France, is considered among the best in Europe.

Almost no one from the international art world was there, even though there were few people in that world whom Daniel Wildenstein, probably the richest and most powerful art dealer on earth, didn’t know. Wildenstein, always aloof from his peers, rarely ventured out in recent years, except for regular excursions to the track and his office.

As friends and family toasted him that night, Daniel appeared relaxed and happy. It was an evening devoted to celebration, and there was a lot to celebrate. So many things had turned out as he had planned. In the three and a half decades since he had taken over the 123-year-old family business from his father, Georges, Daniel had added greatly to the luster of the Wildenstein name and also amassed enormous wealth; estimated at more than $5 billion, his fortune was the only one of that magnitude ever made in the art market. People didn’t trifle with him or with his family, over which he maintained an iron control.

They said behind his back that he was “mean,” “ruthless,” and “frightening,” but few really knew him, because that was how he wanted it. Other families had their public scandals, but his did not. Over the years he had made sure very little had been written about it in the press. After all, he sold art to some of the world’s greatest collectors—Mellons, Annenbergs, David-Weills—people who valued secrecy and privacy as much as he did. His family’s vaults, hidden around Europe and America, contained one of the largest private collections of masterpieces in the world. It is believed that some of the paintings have not been seen in decades by anyone except Wildensteins—there is a rumor of a long-hidden Vermeer, and, according to Alec Wildenstein, Georges used to travel with a rolled-up Velázquez which was virtually unknown.
Daniel seemed determined to enjoy his birthday party as if nothing were wrong. But things were going wrong. Several days earlier, Alec had been arrested and thrown in jail, charged with threatening his estranged wife, Jocelyne, with a gun in their bedroom in the family’s Manhattan town house. The next morning, Alec’s face, haggard after a night in prison, was plastered across the tabloids.

Ever since the news of Alec and Jocelyne’s bitter divorce broke, three months before the birthday party, the press had been filled with stories about the Wildenstein family. Friends were stunned that they were finally making headlines. Some blamed Jocelyne for leaking information to the press. “It’s her way of taking revenge on people who never, never have their names in the paper,” says a friend of Sylvia’s. Daniel, faced with the unprecedented situation of a loose cannon, seemed to be doing exactly the wrong thing: he declared war on Jocelyne, cutting off her credit cards and trying to have her barred from the family’s homes, including the New York town house, the Château de Marienthal (reportedly the largest private residence in metropolitan Paris), the 66,000-acre Kenya ranch, and the family’s private island compound in the British Virgins.

But Jocelyne refused to be intimidated. After 19 years in the family, she had a powerful trump card: the stories no one had ever heard. Among those who seemed to be interested were the F.B.I. and the New York State tax authorities, which, sources close to Jocelyne say, have already been in touch with her. The entire art world was riveted. “Jocelyne could be the thread that unravels the whole sweater,” says a collector who has known the Wildensteins for two decades. “She could open up the whole story.”

On September 3, the day Alec was released from jail, The New York Times ran a story about artworks that had been stolen by the Nazis in 1940 and discovered recently in the possession of the Wildensteins. The report might have passed with little notice had it not been for Daniel’s comment to the newspaper that because the victims hadn’t come forth at the time they had no rights now. The remark was so “absolutely unbelievable, so breathtakingly unbelievable,” as one prominent art dealer put it, that it created a second controversy. People had whispered for years about the origins of the Wildenstein collection—that, despite their being French Jews themselves, they had made money by trafficking in art looted by the Nazis. The family has always dismissed such talk. “If you think something is ridiculous, why even comment on it?” says Alec.

The Wildenstein gallery on East 64th Street is the most sumptuous private gallery in New York. Built for the family in 1932 by Horace Trumbauer, whose firm also built the Widener library at Harvard and the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Louis XVI–style town house, down the street from the family’s Manhattan home, features a reception area with soaring 30-foot ceilings, marble floors, and a grand staircase that was modeled on the one in the Wildensteins’ headquarters in Paris, an 18th-century hôtel particulier on the Rue de la Boétie. In the basement, and in those of the three adjoining buildings, which the Wildensteins are believed to own, are lead-lined vaults. At one point, their inventory was said to include some 400 Italian primitives, two Botticellis, eight paintings each by Rembrandt and Rubens, three Velázquezes, nine El Grecos, five Tintorettos, 79 Fragonards, and seven Watteaus, not to mention an enormous collection of Impressionist paintings. No other art dealer in the world today has the stock of paintings and sculptures that the Wildensteins do. “If it’s obtainable privately,” says one prominent art collector, “the Wildensteins will have it. No one has their resources.”....MORE

"Shanghai Gets Supersized"

From Smithsonian Magazine:
Boasting 200 skyscrapers, China's financial capital has grown like no other city on earth – and shows few signs of stopping

When building projects grew scarce in the United States a few years ago, the California architect Robert Steinberg opened an office in Shanghai. He says he didn’t understand the city until the night he dined with some prospective clients. “I was trying to make polite conversation and started discussing some political controversy that seemed important at the time,” he recalls. “One of the businessmen leaned over and said, ‘We’re from Shanghai. We care only about money. You want to talk politics, go to Beijing.’ ”

When I visited Steinberg’s Shanghai office, he led me past cubicles packed with employees working late into the evening. “We talk acres in America; developers here think kilometers,” he said. “It’s as if this city is making up for all the decades lost to wars and political ideology.”

Over the past decade or more, Shanghai has grown like no other city on the planet. Home to 13.3 million residents in 1990, the city now has some 23 million residents (to New York City’s 8.1 million), with half a million newcomers each year. To handle the influx, developers are planning to build, among other developments, seven satellite cities on the fringes of Shanghai’s 2,400 square miles. Shanghai opened its first subway line in 1995; today it has 11; by 2025, there will be 22. In 2004, the city also opened the world’s first commercial high-speed magnetic levitation train line.

With more than 200 skyscrapers, Shanghai is a metroplex of terraced apartments separated by wide, tree-lined boulevards on which traffic zooms past in a cinematic blur. At the 1,381-foot-tall Jin Mao Tower, whose tiered, tapering segments recall a giant pagoda, there’s a hotel swimming pool on the 57th floor, and a deck on the 88th floor offers a view of scores of spires poking through the clouds. I had to look up from there to see the top of the 101-story World Financial Center, which tapers like the blade of a putty knife. The Bank of China’s glass-curtained tower seems to twist out of a metal sheath like a tube of lipstick....MORE

"Beer & Bullets to Go: Ancient 'Takeout' Window Discovered"

From LiveScience:
Some 5,200 years ago, in the mountains of western Iran, people may have used takeout windows to get food and weapons, newly presented research suggests.

But rather than the greasy hamburgers and fries, it appears the inhabitants of the site ordered up goat, grain and even bullets, among other items.

The find was made at Godin Tepe, an archaeological site that was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by a team led by T. Cuyler Young Jr., a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, who died in 2006.

A team of researchers took up his work after he died and recently published the results of the excavation, along with more recent research on the artifacts, in the book "On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe" (Hilary Gopnik and Mitchell Rothman, Mazda Publishers, 2011).  In addition a symposium was held recently where the takeout windows, among other research finds at Godin Tepe, were discussed.
The idea that they were used as takeout windows was first proposed by Cuyler Young and is based mainly on their height and location beside the central courtyard.

The windows could have been used by ordinary individuals or perhaps by soldiers "driving through" to grab some food, or even weapons. [See images of the ancient takeout windows]

Odd windows
The research shows that Godin Tepe started out, in prehistoric times, as a simple settlement. "For about 1,000 years the mound of Godin was occupied by a small village of farmers and shepherds," said Hilary Gopnik of Emory University, at a recent symposium at the Royal Ontario Museum.

That changed quickly. "Sometime in about 3,200 B.C. somebody razed those houses and built this oval enclosure," Gopnik said. The mud-brick structure had a central courtyard surrounded by buildings, including one particularly prominent structure with two windows.

"The windows and the walls of the main building are very unusual for architecture of this period, and they've been interpreted as a kind of takeout window," Gopnik said.

Inside the building, researchers discovered beveled-rimmed bowls (a pot type found throughout the Middle East), food remains, a fireplace and 1,759 sun-dried clay sling bullets, a weapon used for warfare and hunting. Clay tablets were also found within the structure.

"As far as I know, that is the only example of those odd, framing windows. We don't usually find windows at all," in the Middle East, Gopnik told LiveScience.

Clemens Reichel, a curator at the museum, said that while archaeologists do find openings that may have been air vents or cubby holes, windows are rare and are hard to identify.

"Dr. Gopnik is completely right in stating that attested windows in mud-brick architecture are rare. But it takes an experienced archaeologist to recognize an opening in a mud-brick wall — you have to be able to see the difference between mud-brick and compacted debris in such a cavity, and that can be very difficult," Reichel told LiveScience in an email.

Sling bullet with your food?
If these windows were used for takeout, what exactly was served?
A wide variety of food remains have been found at Godin Tepe. "There [were] lentils, there was goat bone, sheep bone, there was also beer and wine," Gopnik said. "We think those beveled-rimmed bowls were used for rations of grain."

As for a "drive-thru" spirits store, Gopnik said, "people have suggested that maybe they were delivering rations of beer, [but] that seems a little far-fetched."...MORE 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Zakk Wylde of "Ozzy Osbourne" and "Black Label Society" Covers "Iron Man" with Special Guest

Words fail.

Another Ozzy alumnus- Mike Inez ( also Alice in Chains) plays bass.
Media: William Shatner Covers Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

I Don't Think the Globe and Mail is Taking #OccupyToronto Seriously

Remember, this is Canada.
Which is populated by Canadians.
Who have a distinct approach to humor.
(see post above)

From the Globe and Mail:

Occupy Toronto: The one-week anniversary party 
On the one-week anniversary of this city's failed copycat protest, the participants got together to share memories and reminisce about the greatest social movement this country has ever seen. Snippets of their conversation have been captured here, for posterity:

“We have these amazing commemorative Occupy shirts for sale. The minimum order was 250, so there will be extras if anyone wants one.” – Dave, 23

“Looking back, I can't believe what we achieved in a few incredible days: government-funded health care, a well-regulated banking system, and a cap on corporate political donations. Our work is done.” – Tracy, 20
“The day after Occupy, I used an ATM and the same old message came up saying you will be charged $1 for this transaction or whatever. But it felt different, somehow. You could tell the ATM felt embarrassed, that it knew it was just another pawn in this charade we call capitalism. I felt sorry for my robot brother.” --Alex, 23

“I have taken to doing the human mic as an act of conscientious citizenry. I went home to have dinner with my parents and when my mother would speak, I would repeat it so that my dad could hear at the other end of the table. At one point, she says 'pass the potatoes' and I shout 'pass the potatoes' and then my dad just freaks out. He starts laying into me and then tells me I'm a pathetic loser.” – Russell, 26

“I'm not making money on these. Okay, like $2 per shirt. But that won't come close to covering what I lose on the extras. So I don't see how you can call that profit.” – Dave, 23

“It’s weird protesting on Bay Street. You get there at 9 a.m. and the rich bankers who you want to hurl insults at and change their worldview have been at work for two hours already. And then when it's time to go, they're still there. I guess that's why they call them the one per cent. I mean, who wants to work those kinds of hours? That's the power of greed.” – Jeremy, 38

“If they can bail out the banks out with billions of dollars, why can't they bail me the measly $200 I'm going to lose on these shirts? This is why the system is so unfair. This is why there is so much anger right now. Can't anyone see that?” – Dave, 23

Austerity Italian Style: Govenment Buys 19 Maseratis to Tool Around Roma

From the Telegraph:

Italian govenment buys 19 Maserati supercars despite austerity cuts
Italy may be in the midst of a savage austerity drive but that has not stopped defence ministry officials ordering a fleet of armoured Maseratis to ferry themselves around Rome. 

The Italian government has bought 19 top-of-the-range Maseratis

The delivery of the 19 top-of-the-range executive cars has raised eyebrows at a time when the country is meant to be shaving billions off its public spending.
Opposition MPs said it was it was an outrageous indulgence at a time when the defence ministry is supposed to be reducing its budget by €2.5bn (£2.2bn) over the next three years.
The matter was raised in parliament by Emanuele Fiano, an MP from the opposition Democratic Party. "At a time when millions of Italians are being affected by a very serious economic crisis, is there good reason for the defence minister to feel it necessary to add 19 armoured Maseratis to the ministry's car park?" he said.
Italian officials are notorious for their attachment to what are known colloquially as "auto blu" - vast fleets of dark blue and black limousines which carve through traffic with flashing lights and police outriders.
Ignazio La Russa, the defence minister, dismissed the row as a "witch hunt" by the opposition and said the cars had been paid for with money out of the 2008-2009 budget, before swingeing cuts were announced in the summer by Silvio Berlusconi's government....MORE

"Men in a mating frame of mind become less loss-averse"

From FuturePundit:
The willingness to take losses for larger gains depends on whether one has been primed to think about mating and also one's sex.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Could a passing mood influence your financial portfolio for decades to come? Can impulses you inherited from your cave-man ancestors influence your financial decisions in the modern world in ways that may have lifelong consequences?
In a word, yes.
Arizona State University researchers report new evidence that passing mood and deeply embedded human impulses can and do influence us as we make important financial decisions. The new findings, just released online by the American Psychological Association, suggest that our economic decisions change radically when either survival or reproduction is on our minds.
The old view of economic decision-making focuses on human beings as acting rational. In the last few years, cognitive psychologists have revolutionized economics by demonstrating that economic decisions are often irrational. One of the best-known examples of such irrationalities is the phenomenon of "loss aversion."
To a rational economist, $100 is worth exactly $100, whether it's in your pocket now or on the gambling table. But dozens of studies have demonstrated that the typical person places about twice as much psychological value on keeping the $100 bill in their wallet as they do when they place it on winning another $100.
From an evolutionary perspective the effects on men and women make sense. Though today we aren't in the environment for which we are evolutionarily adapted and as a result we are making decisions that are less than optional....MORE
I believe that last word should be "optimal".

Redistribution: $20,000 in Occupy Portland Account Disappears

From OregonLive:
Organizers of Occupy Portland say they fear as much as $20,000 donated to the group through a PayPal account has disappeared.

They also say the group's finance committee has hijacked the demonstration's Internet domain name and filed for incorporation against the wishes of the group's decision-making body....MORE

First Solar Paid Ousted CEO $29.9 Million for 15 Months Work (FSLR)

He could at least thank the German hausfraus who paid the feed-in tariff.
The stock is up 47 cents to $53.37. As the story points out it dropped 60% during Gillette's tenure.
From Bloomberg:

First Solar Paid Ousted Chief $30 Million, Topped Chevron’s CEO
Rob Gillette, who resigned as chief executive officer of First Solar Inc. (FSLR) this week after boosting production capacity during a slump, collected $29.9 million for his initial 15 months on the job and may be eligible for an $8.9 million severance package.

The world’s biggest maker of thin-film solar panels rewarded Gillette while its shares dropped 60 percent from the day he started in October 2009 through Oct. 24, the day before he stepped down. Gillette’s compensation is at least 19 percent more than what Chevron Corp. CEO John Watson earned over the same period, when the U.S. energy company’s shares gained 54 percent.

Gillette’s pay, described in regulatory filings for 2009 and 2010, also included a $5 million signing bonus to lure him from Honeywell International Inc. (HON) First Solar received $3.07 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. government to support projects using its technology, which is a rival to silicon-based solar cells made by Chinese companies led by Suntech Power Holdings Co....MORE 
Between this disclosure and Chairman Ahern's incessant insider sales, to the tune of $740 mil., I am reminded of something Joe Kennedy said before he became the first Commisioner of the SEC:

"It's easy to make money in this market," said Kennedy, famously, to an associate. 
"We'd better get in before they pass a law against it."

Three Years Ago: "Dow, S&P 500 Futures: Lock Limit Down"

The date was actually Oct. 24 but it was the the Friday before Halloween.
[which, apparently, was also a Friday -ed]

Lock limit down. Those are some of the scariest words in the market. It means there's no market.
From DealBreaker:

DealBreaker Afterdark: Aw, That Will Buff Right Out
As of this minute, S&P 500 futures have hit their "limit down" trigger, and are frozen at 855.25. That is a frightening development.
The drop is almost certainly tied to the abysmal performance of Asian and European markets overnight, and the response to what might end up being the United Kingdom's first recession since 1991.
Friday will be an interesting market, that's for sure.
Update: Dow Futures are locked limit-down as well at 8224.
Looks quite like a flatline, doesn't it?
And how about the bid/ask interest here. Wow.

19 x 1,807, hmmm.

Oil: “Something structural has changed in current fundamentals”

FT Alphaville flags a good one:
John Kemp at Reuters has penned a cracking column on the current peculiarities afflicting the crude markets.
As Kemp notes, ask anyone in the market — specifically the physical market — and they will tell you the market is tight. Not just tight. Really tight. (And most likely that the recent backwardation reflects this tightness.)
He writes:
Hedge funds and other money managers remain convinced oil prices will rise. The ratio of money managers with long positions in WTI-linked futures and options to those running short positions remains 3:1, according to data released by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). For Brent futures and options, the long/short ratio is 1.77:1, according to Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), lower than earlier in the year but still bullish.
Physical traders are also bullish. “Bullish physical oil traders, who have been warning for months of a tightening market, have so far won the game against bearish macroeconomic hedge funds” as my colleague Javier Blas wrote in the Financial Times on Tuesday (“Swing in WTI price curve leaves oil traders reeling”, Oct 25).
Yet, despite all this bullishness, there is one inescapable fact. Prices have been trending lower...MORE

Where's the VIX (and theipath SP 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN) Going? VXX; VIX

A follow-up to yesterday's "VIX Plunges to Early-August Low (But VXX still Hasn't Filled the Gap) VIX; VXX"

From Alpha Global Investors:

ipath SP 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX) ;
Perfect break down, (after a clear head and shoulder neckline break down)
What's missing ? VOLUME !!!!
Still lots of bears out there
Also at Alpha:
30 year bond, quick reminder for Bill Gross

As Bunge Flails it Flags Sugar and China Oilseed Hopes (BG)

The stock is up 80 cents (1.29%) at $62.88. I keep thinking this would be a way for Soros-backed Gavilon to pick up some decent assets on the cheap.

From Agrimoney:

Bunge struck positive notes on sugar prices, and China's hunger for oilseeds, even as it unveiled a sharp drop in profits, depressed by setbacks from a poor cane crop to "aggressive competition" in vegetable oils.

The US agribusiness giant said that Chinese oilseed crushing margins, having improved from levels depressed by state controls on cooking oil prices, "should remain supported" by growth in demand for vegetable meal, an important feed source.
China's soymeal demand will soar 10% in 2011-12, to 47.6m tonnes, to keep the country's expanding hog herd fed, on US Department of Agriculture estimates.
And Bunge backed its case for expanding in Brazilian cane, despite another disappointing quarterly result, saying that prices of sugar and ethanol "should remain supported by strong demand, tight ethanol supplies in Brazil and the need to encourage Brazilian capacity expansion".
Indeed, strong prices were needed to encourage investment in Brazil's important Center South cane region, whose first fall in cane output this year in a decade has fuelled a recovery in sugar prices from a May low.
Brazil downgrade 
Bunge cut production prospects for its own Brazil sugar operations this year by a further 1m tonnes, to 14m-14.5m tonnes, following a similar downgrade in July....MORE

Here's the recent price action via BigCharts:

"Debunking the “Paid Back the TARP” Myth: Banks Should be Paying Over $300 Billion a Year in Systemic Risk Insurance"

It does seem as though the banks got off cheap.
From naked capitalism:
This Institute for New Economic Thinking interview with economist Ed Kane discusses how systemic risk should be measured. Kane argues that taxpayer are essentially disadvantaged bank shareholders, getting the downside and none of the bennies, like dividends or capital gains. He argues that banks should be paying taxpayers for the privilege of having them and their counterparties rescued, and that is over $300 billion a year.’
And that isn’t the only freebie banks are getting.

For instance, the near zero interest rates are tantamount to a tax on savers (when per above, the banks should be making payments). Some have estimated the cost to savers is over $350 billion a year....VIDEO

From the "I Knew This Might Be Important" File: "Who Loses if Greece Restructures Without Triggering a 'Default Event'?"

A re-post from May 15:

He who sells what isn't his'n, Must buy it back or go to prison.
-Daniel Drew
Wall Street speculator*

Shorts might get hurt, there are a couple scenarios where they might be forced to cover.**
More probably, longs who think they're hedged with CDS'.

Via a reader, from International Financing Review:

It’s a question that politicians have frequently asked over the past couple of years when lambasting the credit default swap market. Now, as rumours abound that Greece will look to avoid triggering CDS when restructuring its debt, even some of the instrument’s most fervent supporters are questioning its value.

Christopher Whittall reports.
Senior derivatives users, including a member of the board at the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, have warned that the intrinsic value of credit default swaps could be severely compromised if Greece restructured its debt without triggering a credit event.

As a consensus has grown among market participants that authorities will look to avoid triggering CDS when restructuring Greek bonds, market participants have been scrambling to understand the potential ramifications of such a development, with many fearing the worst.

“If there is a restructuring that doesn’t trigger CDS, that calls into question the value of the instrument,” said the ISDA board member. “If you buy CDS and it doesn’t economically protect you as expected, you will question the usefulness of that tool as a risk mitigant, and you’ll be unlikely to ever buy protection again.”
Some dispute this analysis – pointing out that Greek CDS has performed well in hedging the mark-to-market risk of Greek bonds over the past year. While conceding this to be true, other senior derivatives traders are worried that CDS will be devalued in the eyes of end-users if Greece were to sidestep a CDS restructuring event through legal manoeuvring.

It could also have more immediate repercussions for European debt. One London-based sovereign CDS trader said much peripheral sovereign bond-buying had stemmed from negative basis players in recent times (where an investor buys a bond and CDS protection in order to arbitrage differences between the two levels). These investors might not take kindly to Greek CDS not triggering.

“For the last six months, the only Greek bond buying that’s happened away from the ECB has been basis buying,” said the trader. “If you take those guys out of the equation, there would be a lot of sellers coming out of Portuguese and Irish bonds, because they would realise their CDS hedges aren’t good. If Greek debt restructures, then CDS should trigger just in terms of the economics of what it’s meant to do.”...MORE
*That's a bit of understatement. He was probably the first great American speculator. And he knew all the tricks. In addition to his comment on short-selling he applied the term "watered stock" to finance.
In 1867 the owner of the New York Central Railroad, Cornelius Vanderbilt, decided to buy the Erie Railroad out from under Uncle Dan'l.

Drew responded by the tripling the outstanding stock with illegally issued shares.
Good times.

**In 1863 Uncle Dan'l had shorted the New York & Harlem Railroad and then conspired with municipal officials (who were also short) to revoke their previously granted approval for the railroad to lay track from south of Union Square to the Battery. Vanderbilt, had been building a position starting in the $8-9 range because of the railroad's strategic value. The stock advanced to the $50 range after it became apparent that the Commodore was interested in taking control. After the City Council approved the laying of track the length of Broadway the stock advanced to $75. Enter Drew et al.

Vanderbilt absorbed every share the shorts sold to him and ended up with the entire float.
He allowed the shorts to settle at $179.
[there is some dispute whether Drew got caught in the first Harlem corner. -ed]

In 1864 Vanderbilt decided to bypass the aldermen and went to Albany to get the State's okey-dokey.
Uncle Dan got wind of the plan, went long, got the legislators on the bandwagon and ran the stock to $150.
The plan was to sell, go short and defeat the bill.

The stock dropped from $150 to $100 in two days.
This time Vanderbilt bought 137,000 of the 110,000 shares outstanding. Uh oh.
He was so pissed that this had happened again that he said he'd let the shorts out at $1000 but eventually settled at $285.


Large Investors, Price Manipulation, and Limits to
Arbitrage: An Anatomy of Market Corners

Wharton, 2006 (49 page PDF)

What China Wants for Rescuing Europe

From the Times via The Australian:

China takes long view with rescue role
AS China prepares to play a role that it has rehearsed and dreamt of for years, an editorial by the state-run news agency gave a telling flash of Beijing's teeth.

The language was darkly evocative. Written just two weeks after a two-year-old Chinese girl was run down and 18 people were filmed ignoring the mangled child, the Xinhua editorial asserted that China would not be a "bystander" of the euro-zone crisis, and that emerging economies "should not be seen as the EU's Good Samaritans".

China's largest trading partner bloc, ran the clear subtext, was a helpless, bleeding toddler in need of urgent life-support.

The tone is partly designed to head off domestic objection to Beijing's role in the bailout.
It is pre-empting uncomfortable questions at home over why an emerging economy with large-scale poverty should be coming to the aid of feckless developed economies who spent, speculated and lazed their way into crisis.

But China's proposed role in helping to rescue Europe brings into sharp relief profound shifts under way in global economic power.

Emerging markets were the supplicants when the Western-dominated International Monetary Fund was called upon to rescue their economies in the 1990s.

Now the tables are turned, with China relishing the prospect of enhancing their world political stature by helping stricken developed economies.

Beijing has clearly signalled that there will be strings attached to its munificence.
On his recent tour of Europe, Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister, repeatedly employed the narrative of "partnership" to suggest that China had, on balance, been the more generous partner and that it was high time that Europe reciprocated.

Beijing would dearly like to be granted market economy status by the EU, and its participation in the deal may very well guarantee that.

Besides securing that sort of banner gesture, China will probably assume that a relatively small contribution to the bailout will significantly leverage some of the political capital that it has amassed....MORE

This May Be Why the Kyoto Protocol Was Never Going to Work: "The emergence of Indian coal barons"

Thank God the Senate voted 95-0 for the Byrd-Hagel Resolution not to ratify back in 1997. The Protocol was an economic suicide note that guaranteed the decline of developed economies while China and India powered on with coal. All for an estimated .007 degrees Celsius reduction in global temperature.

That was the magic number that the cap-and-trade pushers never mentioned. .007 degrees.
If you go through the CI archives you'll probably figure out that I was not in favor of transferring mom's bank account to Goldman Sachs, Lehman, Cantor CO2e and the rest of the Carbonistas.

From the Times of India:
MUMBAI: What is common between Anil Ambani, Gautam Adani, Madhusudan Rao and G V K Reddy? In a race to secure coal assets to fuel their power plants, these billionaires are fast emerging as global coal barons. The companies that they run - Reliance Power, Adani Power, Lanco Infratech and GVK - will feature among the top 10 coal miners in the world, behind Peabody and Shenhua Energy, once they start coal production in coming years.

Peabody Energy, which claims to be the world's largest private sector coal producer, had registered sales of 246 million mt in 2010 and Shenhua Energy's coal production is pegged at 256 million mt according to its website. However, government-owned Coal India is the world's single largest coal producer with an annual production in excess of 430 million mt. At peak production, some of these Indian firms will have excess coal production compared to such global miners as Rio Trinto, Anglo American, Xstrata, Russian Suek and Indonesian Adaro. Adani, with a resource base in excess of 8 billion mt of coal, plans to produce 200 million mt per annum at peak production, while others plan to produce over 100 million mt per annum each in the coming years.

Increasing Imports: In spite of having the world's third biggest coal resources after US and China, Indian firms are aggressively acquiring coal assets overseas as most of Indian coal reserves lie in forest areas and cannot be mined for environmental concerns. Indian coal imports are, therefore, seen rising against a stagnant output and rising demand. Total coal imports in 2010 were 55 million mt, which is likely to climb to 186 million mt by
2014 because of aggressive ramp-up plans by steel and power companies. Michael Cooper, associate editor, Platts International Coal Report, has another reason....MORE
Starting on 28 November the caravanserai that is the U.N. climate confab will be meeting in Durban.
From our 2010 post "Climateer Line of the Day: Carbon Traders Edition":
At the big climate confab in Bali (the one before the meetings in Copenhagen, Bonn and Bangkok but after the gabfests in Nairobi and Montreal) the International Emissions Trading Association was the largest single Non-Governmental Organization with fully 7 1/2% of the 4483 NGO delegates. There were another 5000 of these jet-setters accredited to various national governments with maybe 1500 journalists reporting on the brutal conditions:
The hotel where British ministers will stay, the Westin Resort Nusa Dua, describes the experience of staying there as "sheer indulgence."
Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, Phil Woolas, junior environment minister, and Gareth Thomas, the junior minister for international development will each have £330-a-night suites around the hotel's "free form" pool, with their own teak-floored bedroom, living room and dining room....

Citi Explains Why The Time To Fade The EUR Rally Has Come (EUR/USD)

The euro is trading down 0.14% at 1.4168.
From ZeroHedge:
Yesterday the short squeeze in the EURUSD brought the pair to within pips of Citigroup's revised stop loss of 1.4260 even as it got even more bearish on the European currency, setting a new target of 1.3150. Today the bank's FX strategists continue their onslaught, stating in a note that wonders how long the Euro-love will last that "The post-summit EUR rally is driven by a continuing squeeze in short risk positions and unwinding of worst fears of financial contagion, rather than improvement in cyclical fundamentals." Here are their full thoughts on why the time to short the pair, and thus the entire EURUSD-driven market, lower.

From Citi's Steven Englander
The EUR rally in the aftermath of the EU summit is not corroborated by the fairly muted correction in fundamental drivers like sovereign debt risk. Indeed, the summit outcome has brought euro zone government spreads just back to where they were in two weeks ago (Figure 1)  and the level of rates in peripherals has barely budged. Measures of relative rate expectations like 2y Germany-US bond yields spreads actually tightened in the last few days....MORE

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Michael Moore "Is Not in the 1%"

Nor is he fat.
From CNN:

Celebrity Net Worth has the transcript and notes:
...Moore’s denial is strange when you consider his net worth is easily over $50 million. His three biggest documentaries have raked in over $300 million at the box office. Moore cleared over $20 million off Fahrenheit 911 alone. Under his current distribution deal with Miramax, Moore is entitled to 27% of all his film’s revenues. He also receives generous 7 figure advances for his book deals. So how is he not part of the 1% which OWS defines as “anyone with an annual household income greater than $593,000″....
I Am NOT Fat!
I'm sequestering carbon.

Société Générale's Albert Edwards Upbeat, Almost Chipper: See's Humanity Approaching Broad Sunlit Uplands (Oct. 27, 2010)

I know I've used that headline before* but this time I mean it!
Or FT Alphaville does (maybe not):
Edwards: Going bust and ECB QE
What’s come over über bear Albert Edwards? The day after Europe’s leaders reached a deal (of sorts) to tackle the region’s sovereign debt crisis the SG strategist is relatively chipper:
I have minimal confidence that governments can turn this around within the confines of the eurozone project. You might be surprised though that I feel more bullish! Why? Both Dylan [Grice] and I have come to the view that the ECB will be forced, by events, to monetise debt in the GIIPS and beyond. And if investors believe the governments in Spain and Italy are bust, then Germany, France, and not forgetting the UK and US, are far, far worse.
We did say ‘relatively’.

Edwards reckons the looming threat of a euro break-up will force the ECB to lose its “monetary virginity”, a phrase coined by economist Paul de Grauwe, and begin printing money. Rudolf Von Havenstein, president of the Reichsbank in the early 1920s, who kept printing because he was scared of the mass unemployment that would result if he stopped, should serve as a fitting precedent....MUCH MORE

*Société Générale's Albert Edwards Upbeat, Almost Chipper: See's Humanity Approaching Broad Sunlit Uplands (Nov. 17, 2010)

"S&P 500 Breaks Above 200-Day Moving Average" (SPX; SPY)

The S&P is currently up 43.26 at 1285.26.

This move above the MA isn't as big a deal as it might appear, the 200-day didn't offer much resistance on the way down so there's not a lot of congestion on the way up. The next real test is the spring high, 1,363.61 on April 29.

And if you see a pattern like this (DJIA):

April 29  12,810
May 2     12,807
May 3     12,807

run for the hills.
That was the DJIA top for this year and for the current cyclical bull market.

On July 16th, 1990 the DJIA closed at 2999.75.
On July 17th, 1990 the DJIA closed at 2999.75, the exact same closing print and I pointed out to an old-timer “Hey we almost closed at 3000″.
His reply: “Yeah, but we didn’t, I’m going short”.

By Aug 1 we were at 2,899.26.

The next day Iraq invaded Kuwait.

By Oct 11 we were at 2365, down 21% from where the pro decided to make some money.

From Bespoke Investment Group:
The S&P 500 has broken above its 200-day moving average today for the first time since August 2nd.  Just 18 trading days ago, the index was 16% below its 200-day.

Ahhh...Don't Book me on Ryanair for a Few Weeks, Okay?

From The Sun via Gizmodo:

Airplane Caught In Duct-Taped Window Shocker
200 passengers got the shock of their lives when their plane was forced to do a U-turn and head straight back to the airport after their pilot's window, which had been 'patched up' with duct tape, came loose.

Apparently the mental-underachievers in the Ryanair maintenance crew thought that just taping the window down on a jetliner would be a good idea. But according to the Irish Aviation Authority the tape was there just as a precaution to secure a new window seal. One passenger told The Sun:
"We were kept in the dark, and were terrified. I could see guys taping in the windscreen with what looked like duct tape or gaffer tape."
I'm surprised Ryanair didn't call the tape a 'cost-saving measure', or indeed charge the customers more for the thrill.

U.S. Economy Finally Back to Pre-recession Level

From Economix:
Back to Where We Began. Finally
The American economy has finally reached the size it was before the recession began four years ago, according to the latest gross domestic product report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
That may sound like good news, but it’s long overdue, and frankly not good enough. If the economy were functioning normally, it would be significantly greater today than it was before the recession began.
Here’s a look at the level of gross domestic product over the last decade:
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, via Haver Analytics 
It has taken 15 quarters for the economy to merely recover the ground lost to the recession.

Banks Much More Successful at Panhandling than #OccupyWallStreet

While the Wall Street Journal is reporting "'Occupy Wall Street' Protesters Debate How to Deal With $500,000 in Donations":

Protest's Money Problem 
Occupy Wall Street May Have to Appoint Leaders to Deal With Its Donations
Once a rag-tag group that relied on donated pizzas for sustenance, the protesters camped out in a Lower Manhattan park are grappling with a new problem: how to manage and spend the nearly $500,000 they've raised in five weeks....MORE
Meanwhile at Yahoo Finance's 'Breakout' we read:
..."What we've done is send a bunch of banks in Europe out panhandling, cup in hand, looking to shore up their capital ratios," he tells me. The deal does much the same thing to European officials who now turn to China and Japan to increase the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to the $1.4 trillion level they believe is needed to calm markets....
The banks will raise the money.

Company Whose Toy Beads Metbolized to Date-Rape Drug GHB Fined

From the AP via the WaPo:
The federal government slapped a hefty $1.3 million fine on a toy company that sold popular arts-and-crafts beads that were linked to a dangerous drug and sickened about a dozen children.The civil penalty, announced Thursday, marks the third largest toy-related fine issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The Aqua Dots toy beads were imported by Spin Master in 2007 and recalled after tests showed they were coated with a chemical that, when ingested, can metabolize into the so-called “date-rape” drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB). The compound can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death....MORE 
Here's CNN's 2007 Holiday Shopping Forecast:
12 Best toys of 2007
Aqua Dots Super Studio  
Toys Wishes magazine call this "one of the most innovative activity sets" to hit the market in a long time....
Marketed in Australia as Bindeez it was also named the Australian "Toy of the Year" for aught-seven.

"Gee the kids are so quiet and well behaved".

VIX Plunges to Early-August Low (But VXX still Hasn't Filled the Gap) VIX; VXX

The VIX is currently at 25.90, down 3.96 (13.30%)
The VXX ETN is trading at $38.08, down $3.95 (9.40%)
The gap is between $33.53 and $36.66.

From MarketBeat:

The CBOE VIX Volatility Index is retreating amid a global equity rally kickstarted by agreements on Europe’s sovereign debt.
The VIX recently had sunk 16% to 25.10, its lowest intraday reading since Aug. 4....MORE
There is still some downside, here's the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN:

While the VIX itself doesn't have "market memory" the ETN does.
On August 17 VXX closed at 33.53. On the 18th it opened at 36.66 and closed at 40.47 on volume of 102,205,184.
Yesterday the volume was 22,695,065.

Knowledge@Wharton: "Is It Time for a Trading Tax?"

What with #OccupyWallStreet marching for a Financial Transaction Tax on Saturday* this seems timely.
From Knowledge@Wharton:
To its advocates, the idea is a no-brainer: Charge a tiny tax on each stock, bond or derivative trade to raise badly needed revenue, discourage dangerous short-term speculation and make Wall Street help clean up its own mess.
"It seems like an idea whose time has come," says Jack Bogle, founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group, the mutual fund firm, who argues that a transaction tax would help curb speculative trading. "Speculation has triumphed over investment, and the implications of that are very bad."
The concept has been around for decades. In 1972, Princeton economist James Tobin, a Nobel laureate, proposed a transaction tax to calm the currency markets. The idea has since been suggested for stock, bond and derivatives markets as well. "It's an old question in finance -- whether you want to throw some sand in the wheels of the financial markets," notes Wharton finance professor Itay Goldstein. "I can certainly see the benefit in having [a] tax, because in some cases I do think that speculation might be getting out of control."
Recently, the idea has gained momentum. In September, the European Union's executive body recommended a 0.1% tax on stock and bond trades, and a 0.01% tax on derivatives trades. In the United States, where members of Congress have introduced transaction tax bills several times, only to see them stall in committee, the issue is getting renewed attention.
What has changed? Following the financial crisis, many want to make Wall Street pay. And, of course, governments are eager to find new revenue. Also, the soaring growth of computerized "high-frequency trading" has triggered concerns that too much speculation is roiling the markets and hurting ordinary investors. The "flash crash" of May 2010 -- when stocks inexplicably plunged 700 points, then quickly rebounded -- raised concerns about the potentially damaging effects of high-frequency trading. A very small tax could curb the practice by wiping out the tiny profits produced on individual trades, millions of which are conducted daily.
"I think we're in an environment where people are looking for someone to blame," says Gus Sauter, managing director and chief investment officer at Vanguard, who opposes transaction taxes. "If it's not Goldman Sachs, it's high-frequency traders."

'Casino-style Trading'
Transaction tax proposals have a number of critics, ranging from those who are against tax increases in general, to those who say that such a tax would actually make the financial markets less efficient, hurting ordinary investors by raising costs.

"This is one of the worst ideas of a truly great economist [Tobin] who seldom had a bad idea," notes Wharton finance professor Richard J. Herring, who feels the tax could create more problems than it would solve. "It is an idea that will not die because it has enormous appeal to politicians, who are generally suspicious about markets and who are often desperate to raise money without appearing to tax the middle class."...MUCH MORE
The United Nations org really likes the idea.
They have been searching for a revenue stream not subject to oversight by the member states for years.
They got close with a harmonized carbon tax a few years ago but then the zeitgeist changed.
Don't mention the oil-for-food scam, that was supposed to be on the down-low.
Here's #OccupyWallStreet:

NEWS: Occupy Announces #Robinhood Global March
OccupyWallSt and AdBusters have announced the #Robinhood Global March for October 29th. They are proposing for the world to rise up and demand for the 1% #Robinhood tax, which is essentially a tax on stocks, commodities, currencies, derivatives, and other trading investments.
Here's the announcement:
On October 29, on the eve of the G20 Leaders Summit in France, let's the people of the world rise up and demand that our G20 leaders immediately impose a 1% #ROBINHOOD tax on all financial transactions and currency trades. Let's send them a clear message: We want you to slow down some of that $1.3-trillion easy money that's sloshing around the global casino each day – enough cash to fund every social program and environmental initiative in the world....
#OccupyWallStreet to March in Solidarity With the NWO For A Financial Transaction Tax
Well now, this is a bit more concrete than some of the demands.

I don't actually know if the New World Order folks are going to lace up their Manolo Blahniks for the march.
I would like to see the two Georges (Bush, Soros) arm-in-arm at the head of the parade.
From Adbusters (the folks who organized the first protest):

Oct. 29 #RobinHood Global March
We take from the rich and give to the poor.


Alright you redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,
We're living through a magical moment … #OCCUPYWALLSTREET has catalyzed into an international insurgency for democracy … the mood at our assemblies is electric … people who go there are drawn into a Gandhian spirit of camaraderie...

Here Come the Presidential Executive Orders

From an email response I sent a friend during the budget ceiling negotiations last August regarding the options available to the Government and the Fed:
I have some arcane knowledge of the workings of the Fed and see no impediments there. As to the trust funds, the enabling legislation either exists or could probably be more easily written than the ceiling legislation.

I keep coming back to the President though.
Executive orders give so much latitude, especially when couched in state of emergency terms, that my reading is the Exec can do pretty much as he pleases,

Back in 2008 some barrister types were making that argument re: climate change policy, potential constitutional crisis be damned.
The link goes to a 213 page PDF under the imprimatur of the University of Colorado Law School titled:

Using Executive Orders to Implement
Federal Climate Change Policy

Since that Aug. 2 email Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has called on the President to declare a State of Emergency, bypass Congress and unilaterally hire 15 million unemployed at an average $40,000 and the President has stated “We’re not going to wait for Congress.”

Here's the latest, via UPI:
WH: Obama to use executive authority more
President Obama likely will use executive orders more often as he does all he can to grow the economy and spur job creation, a White House aide said Monday.

Changes by executive order don't "substitute for the action that Congress absolutely must and should take … it is simply a part of doing everything you can: Focusing on what is the No. 1 issue for most Americans, which is an economy that's not growing fast enough, an economy that's not creating enough jobs," White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a media briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Las Vegas.
Obama announced Monday the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) took three steps to help responsible homeowners refinance and take advantage of low mortgage rates.

Why use the executive order?

"Because we have to do everything we can," Carney said....MORE 
Which of course raises the question: Why now? Why not in 2009? Or 2010?
Ya got me.

Here are this week's EO's:

White House Announces Mortgage Refinancing Overhaul Through Executive Order
Obama issues order aimed at preventing federal data leaks
Obama's latest executive orders affect veterans
Obama's Executive Order of the Day: Easing Student Loan Payments

They are coming fast enough that the National Archives are only current through mid-August.

It should be an interesting year or five.