Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone, especially to the people running the show.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doctor Doom's Prediction

I'm not the only cynical dreamer with dour predictions for the stock market. The worst is yet to come for markets and the global economy in 2013, according to New York University economist, Dr. Doom, also known as Nouriel Roubini.

As the good doctor points out, major economies are either in a recession or experiencing slow growth rates, while in the United States, uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff — a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts due to strike next year — will roil markets as well.

See for yourselves. He sounds pretty confident in his views during this recent interview -

Friday, December 7, 2012

Betty Remembers Pearl

Betty McIntosh’s account of the attack on Pearl Harbor went unpublished - until today.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Creative Enforcement

This December marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Great Recession, and most of the American public (including me) are still angry about why it happened.

Now, I'm not angry for selfish reasons. Except for the taxpayer-funded bailouts and the continued risk of economic collapse, the Great Recession didn't negatively-affect me financially. I profited from it.

In 2006, I saw what was coming, prepared myself accordingly and profited tremendously from the vast financial crimes that were perpetrated against the American public. Although I tried to warn everyone, I'm not angry simply because I personally lost everything like many others.

I'm angry about how it's affected American society as a whole.

What I'm still angry about is the fact that leaders in Wall Street, the banking industry, the real estate industry, and in collusion with some leaders in our own Government, successfully perpetrated the largest financial crime in American history - and got off Scot-free!

But, what makes me even more angry is that even after five long years, many of the same people are still running the show in Government, and that nothing has really been done to prevent these crimes from being perpetrated again. Enforcement is a joke.

So, with all that's transpired in the past five years, how can any rational person NOT be angry and to be cynical about the future of America? Who would trust such a corrupted system?

Personally, I don't see anything changing for the better until the corrupted are removed from office, the too-big-to-fail risks are addressed, the rules are fixed so they can't be "legally" exploited, and the top perpetrators of these crimes are held criminally-responsible. IMO, that's the only way to restore faith.

Like George Carlin cynically jokes about, perhaps we need to become creative in our enforcement.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekly Wrap | It's Going Down

Although there was a pop on Friday afternoon due to news reports about the fiscal cliff possibly being avoided, the S&P 500 fell 20 points from last week, down another 1.4%, to end the week at 1360.

But something else piqued my interest this week. Sometimes you have to look for subtle clues in order to get a sense of market sentiment, and I think I discovered something.

As the stock markets tanked this week, I got a quiet sense of desperate fear being reported through financial mainstream media in the form of "more than usual" bullish and optimistic posts, especially later in the week, in order to stem the flee. The crowning clue was when CBS This Morning stopped airing their usual stock market updates across the bottom of the television screen.

It's like the word is being put out behind the scenes to spin the news in order to get people to focus on anything else but a falling market. Do anything to allay fears and keep investors playing the game. It's not like I can't understand their reasons to do anything to prevent another market meltdown, but I can't see how they're going to succeed. Investors will eventually see through their schemes.

The global slowdown has corporate profits falling, and that doesn't bode well for either stocks or for unemployment levels. And it's not like there's anything on the horizon domestically to cheer about economically, although some people are trying to be cheery. Even The Vanguard Group is putting a positive spin on flat or worsening economic data.

The only bright side anywhere economically is perhaps the housing market, but personally, I see that sector's short term growth leveling out or producing very slow growth at best.

Although the focus in the news has been the fiscal cliff, it isn't the only thing that investors should be worried about. The world has descended into even further chaos since my last post discussing our current problems. Recessions, riots, and violent demonstrations against austerity and corruption are increasing throughout Europe and South America, and we're on the verge of war in the Middle East.

So, you can buy into the spin and be the Huckleberry left holding the bag. But for me, I'm still going to remain in cash, and I'm still expecting even more stock market declines. It's going down.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Weekly Wrap | King Of The Jungle

Looks like I was right on the mark when I commented that investors were waiting for the results of the Presidential election before making a commitment with their investments. And that commitment was to SELL, loudly. The S&P ended this week down another 2.4%, finishing at 1380.

And I still don't see a good reason for it to change it's course. So, I'm remaining fully invested in cash.

Now, I know what you're thinking. What makes me so certain about my own investments?

How can I, a mere human without fangs or claws, gain an advantage in a market environment full of ferocious predators trying to eat me alive? How can a simple individual investor consistently outwit a pride of lions, to become king of the jungle?

Like I said before, it's about being one with the markets, and staying attuned to what's happening in the jungle around you, understanding the motivations and behaviors of both your predators and their prey, and confidently making the call before the herd stampedes.

That of course, and lots of alcohol.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Voodoo Markets

History always repeats itself. Anyone know what lies in our near future? Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekly Wrap | More Pain

Just for my own records again - the S&P 500 index lost another 1.5% this week, closing out at 1412. That's about 3.5% off it's peak of last month - down, but not out.

It seems like the stock market's still have a little fight left in them, and won't go down in the first few rounds. Personally, I'm still waiting on that knockout punch no one saw coming.

So, I thought I would ask an old clubbing buddy his thoughts of the stock markets in the near term? He's been around the ring a few times and often has confident insight into his opponents capabilities.

Here's his prediction about that fight -

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Black Monday Revisited

Black Monday, October 19, 1987, the largest one-day percentage drop in the history of the Dow, was often attributed to fearful investor behavior and those investors' reactions to perceived dangers in the markets, as opposed to anything being fundamentally wrong with the markets.

But, many experts in the financial world also blamed the crash on computerized programmed trading which, at that time, was just coming into existence.

A lot has changed over the years, and the stock exchanges have created safety valves and circuit breakers designed to help prevent such flash crashes from occurring again. But if you ask me, there's a perfect storm brewing that includes almost everything that was blamed for the Black Monday crash.

Dangers abound when both negative perceptions and reality coincide. And the realities are -

The fundamentals of the markets have still remained corrupted since the Great Recession, sinister and still-unregulated derivatives continue to be sold, heavily financed and unregulated hedge funds litter the landscape, and even more-sophisticated and unfair HFT strategies now predominate trading.

On a macro level, the world's industrialized nations are in severe economic crises, we're experiencing significant disputes in worldwide monetary policy, and bond markets are seriously-concerned with the inevitable rise in interest rates.

Combine all of those factors with the economic (fiscal cliff, unemployment) and political uncertainties (Presidential election, war on terror, and Iranian nuclear capabilities) we're facing in the last quarter of this year and I see a perfect storm brewing for another market crash or significant pullback.

Is there another Black Monday waiting just around the corner? As it often does, history could easily repeat itself. But, don't just take my word for it -

Robert Shiller, a professor at Yale University and co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values, and Jeremy Siegel, professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, talk about the 25th anniversary of the so-called Black Monday stock crash and current market risks. They speak with Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television's "Market Makers."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On Lions And People

How do mere humans, without fangs or claws, gain an advantage in this market environment?

On Lions and People from ( (( marS )) ) on Vimeo.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekly Wrap

The S&P 500 fell 1.3% this week to close at 1441, it's biggest weekly slump since June. Perhaps my intuitive decision to abandon the stock markets came at the right time. But, only time will really tell.

Although I could be wrong, I can't help but have the gut feeling that the stock markets have reached their limits, and that something wicked this way comes. Everything about this zombie economy is telling me that there's a tightening slipknot around it neck, and the Fed-induced record market heights are screaming psycho-social gains to me.

So, in order to seek some type of validation for my decision, I thought I would ask some former Wall Street insiders, who've recently switched sides to join the Occupy Wall Street movement, about their opinions of current economic and market conditions. Here's what they had to say -

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Markets Speak

You can do all the praying you want, but when the markets speak, it's wise to listen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Joining Club Zero

As has been my investment thesis for four years now, the powers that be will do whatever it takes to ensure that failure is not an option (for now). Last week is was the ECB and this week it's the Federal Reserve Bank. According to an excerpt from the FOMC Statement released today -
To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee agreed today to increase policy accommodation by purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month.

The Committee also will continue through the end of the year its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities as announced in June, and it is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities.

These actions, which together will increase the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of the year, should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative.
And the stock markets continued their bullish response to further central bank easing. The S&P 500 closed today at 1460, up 1.6% from yesterday. But on the other hand, gold prices also continued to climb even further, up almost 2% to close at 1768. That's troubling to me.

So, while many investors whose jobs depend upon generating alpha are jumping into equities after this Fed announcement, I'm doing just the opposite. I only answer to myself, and I'm content at my achievements so far. The risk of seeking alpha in equities seems too great for me at this time.

I've moved my last remaining equity position into cash today, and am fully invested in money-market funds. I've made a great return on my investments over the past four years, and now I'm happy to sit back, see what transpires in the near term, and have my portfolio saved by near-zero returns.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap | Follow Your Intuition

For the week ended September 7th, the S&P 500 Index rose 2.2% to 1,438 (for a year-to-date total return—including price change plus dividends—of about 16.1%), and also reached within 10% of its pre-recessionary record high of 1565 set in late 2007.

Both the Dow (13,307) and the Nasdaq (3136) have also closed at pre-recessionary levels this week. So, do you know what that means? It's time to get out of the stock markets for the rest of this year.

I've always been one who follows my intuitions in both my career and investments, and it's almost never steered me wrong. While I've been bullish since I moved 100% of my investments from cash into stocks near the bottom of the 2008 crash, I feel that the markets have become over-exuberant again and have reached these levels based mainly upon herd mentality behavior.

The contrarian in me says it's time to bail again. So, being the fickle and beautiful woman that she is, I pulled this Jewell of a stock market to the side to explain my feelings to her. To my amazement, she understood my intuitive reasoning and thanked me for the appreciation that I've given her over the past four years, and agreed it was a good idea to part ways. Maybe we'll hook up again in the near future.

So, today I moved my entire IRA, Roth IRA and 529-plan investments into money-market funds. Next week I'll also move my donor-advised fund into cash.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Big Club

Perhaps George Carlin was right in his assessment of The American Dream.

If you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, then you enjoy a tax break every time you contribute to your account. That's because your contributions are made on a "pre-tax" basis, meaning each dollar you set aside reduces your taxable income.

The upshot of that tax deduction is that 401(k)-style retirement plans "cost" the government money - an estimated $75 billion each year in revenue.

And with Uncle Sam facing serious fiscal challenges, some policymakers and budget analysts see retirement plan tax deductions as a tempting target, according to Ann L. Combs, head of Vanguard's Government Relations unit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Just like a fickle and beautiful woman. After losing faith in my high opinion of her, listening to others with sinister motives, and coming undone just three short months ago, it looks as though this crazy stock market has come to appreciate my sticking with her throughout the storm, once again.

The S&P 500 gained ground for the fifth straight week, up 1.1% this week, closing at 1406.

But love is a two-way street and I'm not that forgiving. While I'll continue to enjoy her fading beauty and stick with her for the short-term, expect me to soon be looking into investing in something not quite as volatile and with a little more stability. Hopefully, I'll be able to time it right.. knock on wood.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wooly Bully

The S&P 500 finished the week back at 1391. Like I've said before, it's only temporary pullback, and to wait it out. But, since no gives me any credibility, why not listen to what Matty told Hatty.

The Trickle-Down Theory

"Trickle-down economics" and "the trickle-down theory" are terms in United States politics that refer to the false idea that tax breaks or other economic benefits provided by government to businesses and the wealthy will benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole.

The term has been attributed to humorist Will Rogers, who during the Great Depression said that -

"The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands."

"Share the Wealth" - PP Jokes #28 on Vimeo from Brandon Ray on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Fresh Look At Stocks

After Friday's gains, it looks like investors may be taking a fresh look at the stock markets.

[original video removed by link source]

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Boxing Lessons With Erik Kelly

Your career as a successful boxer has suddenly come to an abrupt end.

So in early 2007, you bought an over-priced home thinking you could quickly flip it for a profit. But, by late 2007 you found yourself underwater, fooled by Wall Street and all of the financial "experts" telling you that the economy was on sound financial footing. Then in early 2008, you lost your life savings after investing in their much-heralded stock picks.

Now your mad as hell and looking to get even. So, what do you do?

You become a boxing coach to the miscreants who led you into that mess.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Like I said before, this is only a temporary pullback.

Once investors realize that the Fed and their European counterparts won't allow failure, the S&P 500 will be right back where it was at the beginning of the year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is The U.S. Financial Sector Criminalized?

Since my opinions don't seem to carry much credibility, I thought I'd post this video excerpt of Tavis Smiley asking the tough questions to an unconventional, but highly-acclaimed filmmaker, Charles Ferguson, who won an Oscar for Inside Job, his film on the financial crisis.

Watch the entire interview on Tavis Smiley.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Every Journey Begins In The Mind

Fear is an extremely powerful force that can easily be manipulated by a few powerful monsters with their own sinister agendas.

Perception is reality when it comes to short-term market movements, and it looks to me that right now, some traders and investors are letting their imaginations get the best of them.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Yes, I'm still here, and although I haven't written anything lately, I'm still following the stock markets.

I've remained bullish on the stock markets, but had the feeling that other investors might be uncertain after the S&P 500 crossed 1400-point level. So, like I usually do during periods of uncertainty in the markets - I do nothing, sit back, watch, and patiently wait. I'm not really worried that the market's going to crash anytime soon. Like I've said before, there is no way that the current administration is going to let that happen, especially in an election year.

But, if you don't subscribe to my corruption theories, and simply focus on the numbers for the past month, you can see that the markets really haven't found a direction, and that the herd is basically chewing on their cud, awaiting a signal from herd leaders before deciding which way to head.

Personally, I don't see any seriously wrong on the horizon that might spook the herd, so I'm just patiently waiting for them to keep following the lead of their own kind - the bulls.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Truth In Advertising

What's different about me from other individual investors that makes me so successful? It's because I have the ability see what other people think and how they will behave, and can focus my attention on how their behavior will affect the big picture.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The REO Specialists

Readers of this blog can pretty much figure out that I focus most of my efforts on the stock markets. But, that doesn't mean I've ignored all the other markets, especially the real estate market. I've been patiently watching and waiting for real estate to bottom-out for years. I've also previously shared my views freely and openly on this sector too. But again, no one would listen.

I'm not sure why people chose not to even investigate my claims, but in mid-2006, I was constantly warning anyone who would listen to consider just how crazy the real estate market had become, and that there was something seriously wrong with it.

But instead, everyone I spoke with chose to listen to the criminals in the real estate and mortgage industry, and buy outrageously-priced homes and land during the bubble. Absolutely no one gave me any credibility and dismissed my warnings as the musings of a lunatic. So, while I'm still upset that the perpetrators of the greatest crime in America got off scot-free, I think most people can understand why I don't feel much sympathy for underwater homeowners.

Fortunately for me, I believed in myself and chose to wait to buy a home until I thought the real estate market reached bottom. Just recently, in August 2011, I bought a fully-renovated REO foreclosure to live in for pennies on the dollar. It was so reasonably-priced that I was able to pay cash for it and now live in my home debt-free. Although I bought it as a place to live instead of an investment, in the short time that I've lived here, it's already appreciated twenty-percent in value.

But, I only mention this story because [at least where I live] real estate has already reached a market bottom. Where once REO foreclosures predominated home sales, they're now falling by the wayside. The smart investors who capitalized on these home bargains in the past year or two have waited the storm out, and are now beginning to realize the fruits of their patience.

But, don't just take my word for it. Listen to the REO specialists yourself -

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unrecognized Geniuses

Inventors - some people consider them crazy. I consider them geniuses. They change the world.

Inventor Portrait: Brent Farley from David Friedman on Vimeo.

Too Big To Fail

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Board of Dallas, says the financial reform bill is too complicated and still leaves the system at risk. Go figure.

Source: Top Fed Official: “The Moment Is Now” to Break Up Big Banks

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

She's Come Undone

I had a feeling this was going to happen. The stock market started listening to those who don't see the beauty in her as I do, and began to withdraw. Like many beautiful and fickle young women, she wasn't going to allow me to ignore her to fend on her own. My praise helped her reach new levels, but without my constant support, she's gotten a little frazzled and come undone.

Like any long-term relationship, this one also has it's ups and downs. I blame myself for not paying closer attention and giving her the encouragement she needed. But, I'm not going to kick her to the curb like other investors just because of a small bump in the road. No sir, not me.

History has proven to me that this is not a insurmountable problem that a short amount of time can't heal. I'm going to stick with her, keep reminding her of her true potential, and ride this thing out.

Monday, April 9, 2012

FRONTLINE | Money, Power and Wall Street

In this special four-hour investigation, FRONTLINE will tell the inside story of the struggles to rescue and repair a shattered economy, exploring key decisions, missed opportunities, and the uneasy and unprecedented partnership between government leaders and titans of finance that affects the fortunes of millions of people around the world.

Beginning April 24th on PBS FRONTLINE. Here's the trailer -

Saturday, March 31, 2012

How I Became A Contrarian

It wasn't until the first year after I graduated college and began working in my profession when I first realized that financial freedom was the key to having some control over my own destiny.

Fortunately, the realization presented itself quickly. It began when I was complaining to my supervisor about the dangers of an ever-increasing workload, and after he got in my face and told me bluntly "Shut up! You're in no position to make any demands, you're going to do whatever I tell you to do."

As any normal person would be, I was pretty hot under the collar. But truthfully, he was right. I wasn't in any position to do anything about it. I had just graduated and had an enormous amount of student loan debt, had recently bought a new car and a new home, and had a very materialistic wife.

I realized that as long I carried a tremendous amount of debt and had no savings, no matter where I worked, I was doomed to be bullied in the workplace by some pathetic limp-dick sell-out with a chip on his shoulder and a bonus in his sights.

My debt made me a prisoner, a slave to the corporate overlords.

After the supervisor's dressing down of me in front of my co-workers, and after my remarkable ability to avoid putting him in the hospital, I made it my mission to learn everything I could about personal finance and investment.. and quickly. I would do the opposite of what my beaten down colleagues who hated their jobs were doing, and become financially independent.

And that's precisely what I did. In just a few years, I paid off "all" of my debt, dumped the gold-digger, and became a successful contrarian investor. All it took was an understanding of peoples' behaviors, changing my perspective on life, and doing something about it.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Stock market action over this past two weeks had me chuckling. So tell me, just how many of you became fearful, got shaken out of the bushes, and moved out of stocks the last half of this month? Personally, market action the last two weeks of March has given me even more reason to be bullish.

According to -
Broad support on Friday helped the S&P 500 come back after booking three straight declines. The effort helped feed a weekly gain of 0.8%, which stands as the eleventh weekly advance in 13 tries for the S&P 500. That hot streak drove the broad market measure to a 3.1% gain for March -- its fourth straight monthly gain -- and a 12.0% gain for the first quarter.
The S&P 500 Index ended the week at 1408, rallying to around a 24% gain since my initial forecast.

But I believe that's not the only good news. Being that it was the end of a great quarter, many money managers whose jobs are dependent upon generating alpha for their investors, had to realize their gains by selling their long positions. It was imperative they lock in their gains in order to show their investors how successful they've been, right? Otherwise, impatient investors will lose faith in their perceived "abilities" and move their money elsewhere.

But now, those same money managers must reinvest those realized gains back into the markets in order to keep generating alpha. Being in cash or Treasuries won't generate any gains what-so-ever. Bonds are facing significant interest rate risks, and gold and silver are at peaks levels while facing an improving economy. The Fed has already proven that economic failure is not an option anywhere.

On the other hand, stocks continue to fare well in an improving economy, pay higher dividends than many fixed-income investments, are fairly valued, and are generating significant alpha right now.

So, where do you think those money managers will reinvest first quarter's realized gains?

IMO, they MUST continue invest in stocks again in order to remain competitive. And as they do so, the stock markets will continue to climb. It's one big perpetual hypocrisy in which success draws in even more investors, leading to even higher stock prices. So, I'm leaving my portfolio alone for now.

Sound too corrupt for you? Well then, you might want to re-evaluate your perception of the rules.

Corruption from menoargenti on Vimeo.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Self-Control Is A Predictor Of Financial Success

The more self-control people exercise, the more financially-successful they become. At least that's what Grover, Elmo, and Duke University psychologist, Terrie Muppet Moffitt, have to say.

Source: Making Sen$e

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The 2012 Business Roundtable

The POTUS met with a group of his supervisors last week to explain, according to On The Money, that “The economy is getting stronger and the recovery is speeding up," and "The question now is: how do we make sure it keeps going?” "If you’re a CEO that’s willing to bring jobs back to America, we want to do everything we can to help you succeed," Obama said.

But, being the busy executive that he is, the POTUS didn't have time to socialize after his speech. So instead, he sent in his economic spokesman to speak at that evening's soirée.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bill Moyers | Gretchen Morgenson

Bill Moyers talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson about how money and political clout enable Wall Street and financial industries to escape regulation and ensure high compensation for executives at the top.

Gretchen Morgenson on Industry Influence from on Vimeo.

Let me preface what I'm about to share by saying that both Bill Moyers and Gretchen Morgenson are two of the top investigative reporters that I most admire. All of us average Americans owe them both a big debt of gratitude for uncovering, exposing, and consistently reporting about just how corrupted our political, financial, and economic systems have become. I'm just as outraged as them myself.

So, that being said, let me state the obvious -

It doesn't matter how much we bitch about government corruption, crony capitalism, corporatocracy, or plutocracy, or whatever you want to name it; or how much outrage we have that the corruption is allowed to continue without change or without anyone in real power being held criminally-accountable.

What matters most is that we're listening to what's being said -

Corporations run this country and there is nothing we can do about it.

The people running the show don't care that we know about the corruption, don't care what we think, and don't care how angry we get about it. Brooksley Born proved that the system was rigged in the 1990s, and it hasn't changed since. Rhetoric won't change it now.

Our political and economic system will only change when it finally breaks down, chaos ensues, people are held accountable, and blood is shed. When will that be? Who knows? No time soon I would think. Most-likely it'll occur right after the next criminally-instigated financial crisis.

But, instead of being angry about the unfairness, or whining, bitching, and sitting on the sidelines letting the criminals continue to capitalize at our expense, I believe that we should strive to understand the criminal mind, embrace it, and capitalize on their corruption ourselves while it lasts.

And that's why I've been fully invested in the stock market for the past three years.

The criminals are running the show and they're powerful. I'm not going to bet my life savings against them just yet. There is no way that they're going allow a system that's keeping them in power to fail. The system will only fail when no one is expecting it to fail, and right now, people are still worried.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Century Of The Self

Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses.

Unwittingly, his work also served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal. To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people.

Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really?

The Century of the Self is an award winning British television documentary film. It focuses on how Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and Edward Bernays influenced the way corporations and governments have analyzed,‭ dealt with, and controlled ‬people and tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

If you haven't seen this Adam Curtis documentary before, it's a must watch. The Century of the Self details the history behind how America was transformed from a democracy and into a corporatocracy during the twentieth century. Here's the trailer -

Archived full version: The Century of the Self

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just Restating My Bullish Case

Exploring new frontiers tends to make people nervous. But, don't be played again by a financial news media with their own hidden agenda trying to instill fear in your hearts. This type of fear-mongering happens every time the stock market reaches a new high or low level. It's been happening for the past three years, and media pundits have been wrong the entire time.

The stock market rally isn't going to fall head over feet. If anything, this crazy stock market is telling me that she's not leaving anytime soon. But, don't just take my word for it. See what she says -

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Deficiences Of Capitalism

I just finished reading Jeremy Grantham's February 2012 GMO quarterly missive, The Longest Quarterly Letter Ever (pdf).

Now, I've always taken what most prominent and heralded money-managers say with a grain of salt because it's their job to attempt to marginalize the individual investors' abilities to achieve success on their own. Especially when they say things like - "If you cannot resist temptation, you absolutely MUST NOT manage your own money." or "Only a handful of the hundreds of senior economists and bankers seemed to see what was coming."

It's imperative to remember that fund managers' success in business isn't fully dependent upon their investment successes, but rather, their ability to convince you that they can invest your money better than you can do it yourself. In actuality, most cannot. They're salespeople, and they generate their income from fees charged to assets under management, regardless of performance.

But, I digress.

The reason I mention Mr. Grantham's letter is because I agree with Part II: Your Grandchildren Have No Value (And Other Deficiencies of Capitalism) and his criticism of some the aspects of capitalism as it stands today. It provides great food for thought, and criticism often leads to greater awareness.

One paragraph excerpt that I especially found insightful is -
It gets worse, for what capitalism has always had is money with which to try to buy influence. Today’s version of U.S. capitalism has died and gone to heaven on this issue. A company is now free to spend money to influence political outcomes and need tell no one, least of all its own shareholders, the technical owners. So, rich industries can exert so much political influence that they now have a dangerous degree of influence over Congress. And the issues they most influence are precisely the ones that matter most, the ones that are most important to society’s long-term well-being, indeed its very existence. Thus, taking huge benefits from Nature and damaging it in return is completely free and all attempts at government control are fought with costly lobbying and advertising. And one of the first victims in this campaign has been the truth. If scientific evidence suggests costs and limits be imposed on industry to protect the long-term environment, then science will be opposed by clever disinformation. It’s now getting to be an old and obvious story, but because their propaganda is good and despite the solidness of the data, half of the people believe the problem is a government run wild, mad to control everything. So the “industrial complex” (or parts of it) fights to increase the inherent weaknesses of capitalism. They deliberately make it ever harder to reach the very long-term decisions that will serve us all. The influence of the Tobacco companies in deliberately obscuring the science to protect profits at a huge cost to society in health costs and lives is a perfect analogy to the energy industries that work hard to confuse the public on scientific measures of damage to health and the environment. Yet it is one that is surprisingly forgotten.
Make sure to take the time to read at least Part II in it's entirety.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The State of Financial Crime

The FBI today released an overview of the problem of white-collar crime throughout America and their response to it in our latest Financial Crimes Report to the Public. The report—which covers the period from October 1, 2009, to September 30, 2011—explains dozens of fraud schemes, outlines emerging trends, details FBI accomplishments in combating financial crimes (including major cases), and offers tips on protecting yourself from these crimes.

So, excessive greed, for a lack of a better word - is NOT good. [Turn up the volume]

FBI: How To Contact Us

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Market Speaks

Although the S&P 500 Index closed out this week on a positive note again, it didn't have that end of the week "oomph" that I was expecting to see.

It seems like there's a little hesitation on the part of some investors to fully believe that we're in the midst of a bull market rally. They don't realize that there's been a significant shift in the publics' attitude, and that this change in perception is what's making the markets rise. They're still fearful of something going wrong, and will be even further left behind when the realization finally hits them.

I'm not sure what more I could say to convince those bearish investors that what's happening is real. So, instead of me providing another analogy of the stock market sometimes acting like a beautiful but fickle woman again, I thought I'd ask her to explain what she's feeling herself.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Another positive week for the S&P 500 Index. Except for a marginal loss last week, this is the sixth time out of the last seven weeks that the index has been in the black. It ended this week at 1361, a nine-month high. It's also up just over 8% for the year so far, and like I previously forecast, on the way to that 1400 level that we haven't seen since early 2008. So, I'm still holding my long positions.

As I've been saying for months now - the stock market is like a beautiful woman, fickle and unforgiving at times. But, if you realize her potential, believe in her, show her some appreciation, and invest some money in her, she'll do her best to make you happy that you went long on her.

But, don't just take my word for it, see for yourself. Each week more and more skeptical American investors are also beginning to see the magic that I see, and are burning to hook up with her.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekly Wrap

After posting marginal gains throughout this past week, the S&P 500 Index gave back those gains and a little more on Friday, leading to the index's first weekly loss of the year, closing out at 1343.

What do I make of Friday's pullback? One day does not a market make, this rally's alive and kicking.

If you've been an individual investor and daily stock market watcher like I have for years, you come to gain a certain feel for things, and a confidence in your abilities. It's nothing tangible or quantifiable mind you, and it can't rationally be explained to someone who hasn't walked in your shoes. It's what I previously referred to as "being one with the markets". Other people may refer to it as psychosis.

But, the way I see it, the main reason why the stock markets ended the week in the red is because investors having been expecting bad news for months, and now that nothing has materialized, they don't know what to do next. They're uncertain, like deer stuck in front of the headlights of a car, and can't decide which way to move. Given that herd mentality uncertainty, and being that it's the end of the week, the wise move is for them to lock up their gains, get out of the market, and see what happens next week. It has nothing to do with a loss of faith in stocks, just fear of the unexpected.

The S&P 500 index will continue to move ahead, and it will surpass 1400 soon enough. But, it's up you to decide whether you should stay, or whether you should go. Mull over those two choices.

As I've proven over the years, it doesn't take a genius to become a successful individual investor. All it takes is the ability free one's self from the matrix known as Wall Street, to open our minds, to avoid the herd mentality, and to think independently.

Of course, no one will believe it's that simple. So, I've called in a few of my simple-minded friends from the past to speak on behalf of my contrarian abilities, and to share their own opinions about current market conditions. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Weekly Wrap

It looks like calls for this market rally dying earlier in the week were a bit premature. Like I've been saying, if investors open their minds, they will come to know that this rally is not dying. People are just beginning to believe in (or forget about) our corrupt system again.

Data has consistently been pointing to a slow-growing economy, not a faltering one, and corporate profits and cash positions have remained in the upper hemisphere for months. Unemployment levels are slowly but surely falling, and consumers are continuing to spend. But, whether intentional or not, the financial news media has continued to report bearish sentiment. That is - until today.

According to a Bloomberg News report at market close -
U.S. stocks advanced, extending the best start to a year for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since 1989, after a report showed that employment growth topped estimates and the jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 8.3 percent
The S&P 500 Index gained almost 32 basis points for the week, closing up 2.2% at 1345, and the Nasdaq Composite Index reached an 11-year high, closing up 3.2% at 2906. Wall Street is joyous!

But most importantly, and what's not being reported as having an impact on the markets, is the fact that this is an election year. There is absolutely no way that the current administration is going to let both the economy and the markets falter, and will continue to pull out all strings to ensure success.

I'm still bullish, holding long, and expecting even more gains to appear on the near-term horizon.

Related Links - Weekly Wrap for January 30, 2012
The Vanguard Group: Economic Week in Review

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RIP: Don Cornelius

A lot of younger people probably don't know that Don Cornelius was an American television show host and producer who is best known as the creator of the nationally syndicated hit dance/music franchise Soul Train, which he hosted from 1971 to 1993. According to an AP release today - Los Angeles police say Cornelius has died in California of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

For the past week, I just happened to be thinking about Don and Soul Train, that great TV show that he created. Ask me why I just happened to reflect back on the show, and I can't explain the reason why it came into my thoughts. But, this isn't the first time I've had such unusual thoughts about someone or something right before an important event involving those thoughts occurs. Who knows? Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn't.

But, what I do know is that while recently reflecting back on Soul Train, I found this video that I was going to use to make a point about where both the economy and stock markets are heading in the near future. On the other hand though, maybe it came into my thoughts because it represents what the future holds after we get through this recent period of worldwide turmoil.

So, in memory of that great American entrepreneur, Don Cornelius, I present you with something that "perhaps" he wanted everyone to see. You've left a great legacy, RIP Don.

Monday, January 30, 2012

OWS: Oakland

You've got to hand it to those Occupy Wall Street protesters, they're not going to be deterred, even when the situation escalates to violence. According to an excerpt from a post on their website -
Yesterday, Occupy Oakland moved to convert a vacant building into a community center to provide education, medical, and housing services for the 99%. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and mass arrests. The state has compounded its policy of callous indifference with a ruthless display of violent repression. The Occupy movement will respond, as we have always responded: with an overwhelming show of collective resistance.
Of course, Oakland Mayor, Jean Quan has a different point of view. She says "I ran out of patience a long time ago" and the protesters are just vandals, out to damage the city. Here's video of Oakland police cracking down on the OWS protesters, and their response -

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Like I've said before, the stock market often acts just like a beautiful, but fickle woman. Sometimes it takes a little effort, but if you love her and treat her right, you'll get back more than you give. Monkee around with her, and she'll turn on a dime.

In that respect, I've been trying to get her to realize the beauty I saw in her when no one loved her a few months back, and now her face is starting to glow again. All it took was the ability to see what was underneath her tarnished reputation, realizing her potential, and faithfully believing in her.

But, don't just take my word for it. Other investors are starting to appreciate her beauty too.

Although the S&P 500 barely closed out this week higher, it does mark the fourth straight week of gains for the index, returning approximately 4.6% to investors for the year so far.

It also marks what I believe to be the beginnings of a significant return in economic and stock market confidence. Short-term stock market movements are all about perception, and market conditions are now reflecting the perception that perhaps things aren't as ugly as previously thought.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Well, it's looks as though my bullish stock market forecast is coming into fruition. In over this past month alone, the S&P 500 has climbed over one-hundred points, and finished this holiday-shortened week above that crucial 1300-point level.

Like I also said before, the economy isn't as bleak as is often reported, and investors may be starting to realize it. According to The Vanguard Group's economic week in review -
The economy continues its modest forward pace, without stoking higher inflation. In fact, this week's data show price increases decelerating, easing fears for the moment that the Fed's accommodative monetary policies are sowing the seeds of high inflation down the road. For the week ended January 20, the S&P 500 Index rose 2.0% to 1,315.38 (for a year-to-date total return—including price change plus dividends—of about +4.7%).
In this period of de-evolution, I think that's a good thing - and I'm expecting more gains to evolve.