This weeks’ entry is fairly miscellaneous, a consequence both of the amount and variety of news coming out of China and my own hectic schedule, which prevents me from dealing with all of these issues in a more unified way. Between lots of investor meetings and finishing up a number of writing commitments, I am preparing next week to go to New York and Washington for ten days.
As an aside, the timing of my trip was determined by an East Coast tour, centered on New York, which my music label, Maybe Mars, is arranging for some of the best Beijing musicians, including the surreal folk singer Xiao He, one of the most astonishing and creative musicians I have ever worked with. For those of my regular readers based in or near New York who may be interested in checking out the Beijing new-music scene, I strongly recommend that you keep an eye out for the shows, beginning November 5 and running through the end of the month. These guys are really good and I expect a great reaction from the New York music community.
But back to more mundane stuff. Last week’s excellent economic numbers once again reinforced everyone’s existing prejudices. I discussed why in a September 11 entry in response to similar numbers last month. Those who believe that the stimulus package has essentially resolved China’s plight and eliminated its vulnerability to export demand saw the 8.9% year-on-year GDP growth rate (at the lower end of a narrow range of expectations) as proof that Chinese growth has solidly recovered. Andy Rothman at CLSA in a research report released the following day had this interpretation:
Other than GDP coming in just under 9%, no surprises, and we agree with the NBS spokesman, who this morning said ‘the overall situation of the national economy was good.’ We maintain our forecast of about 8% GDP growth for this year, and 8-9% for 2010 (closer to 9% if you expect a US/EU recovery to generate a bit of a net exports boost for China).
He then went on to say something that puzzled me:
The fact that China’s GDP grew by 7.7% in the first nine months of the year while exports were still extremely…
Correspondent David C. summarized the Medicare-like trend in higher-education costs-- double the growth of inflation--and questioned the value of all those "must-have" degrees. David recommended this thought-provoking article: M.I.T. Calls Academia’s Bluff (Gary North) and added these comments:
According to this web site, Financial Aid.com, "A good rule of thumb is that tuition rates will increase at about twice the general inflation rate." I went to Dunwoody College of Technology, AKA private votech, for about $4,000 a year in the early 90s and now it costs about $16,000 a year! After all in our culture, parents are expected to pay the full cost of college. As if one must get a higher education or they’re screwed to a lifetime of crappy lowpaying jobs. Then there’s the snobbish view if you don’t have a college education you’re a moron. Academia pushes the "lifelong learning" dogma as if the only place you can properly learn is in school, they do this of course to increase their customer… I mean students.
I’ve always wondered why the cost to get a "higher" education goes up so much. Is it a conspiracy by the elites/rich to keep poor people ignorant? Or maybe to keep the middle class in debt servitude? Or maybe greedy teacher salaries? Or maybe too much bureaucracy? Or maybe schools that think they need state of the art facilities in order to provide a quality education.
Whatever the reason the increasing costs are going to make a "higher" education from academia impossible for more people. Maybe that’s a blessing in disguise, what is the real value of a college degree these days?
With the average student $20,000 in debt it seems to me
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
Tim Cook discusses being gay on BusinessWeek. Recent bullying statistics show that gay teens are from 2 to 3 times more likely to commit suicide than others, and almost 30% of completed suicides are related to problems dealing with sexual identity. Perhaps Tim Cook's story will help people accept their differences, whatever they are, and move on to achieve their goals.
Note from dshort: The charts in this commentary have been updated to include the Q3 2014 Advance Estimate.
The chart below is my way to visualize real GDP change since 2007. I've used a stacked column chart to segment the four major components of GDP with a dashed line overlay to show the sum of the four, which is real GDP itself. Here is the latest overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.
Bulls showed renewed backbone last week and drew a line in the sand for the bears, buying with gusto into weakness as I suggested they would. After all, this was the buying opportunity they had been waiting for. As if on cue, the start of the World Series launched the rapid market reversal and recovery. However, there is little chance that the rally will go straight up. Volatility is back, and I would look for prices to consolidate at this level before making an attempt to go higher. I still question whether the S&P 500 will ultimately achieve a new high before year end.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then o...
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If you're following Valeant's proposed takeover (or merger) of Allergan and the lawsuit by Allergan against Valeant and notorious hedge fund manager William Ackman, for insider trading this is a must-read article.
Linette Lopez describes the roles played by key Wall Street hedge fund owners--Jim Chanos, John Paulson, and Mason Morfit, a major shareholder in Valeant. Linette goes through the con...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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