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
Between China's dismal trade deficit data (desperately defended by several sell-side strategists proclaiming it's just lunar new year 'noise' - aside from the fact that all the same strategists 'knew' the dates and still missed by 6 standard deviations) and the esclalations in Ukraine, it appears 'confidence' is a little shaken in the status quo. JPY has opened notably stronger dragging Yen carry trades lower and implying notable losses on the open for stock futures...
At Friday's close the eight markets on my world watch list turned in a mixed weekly performance, with four winners and four losers. The spread between the 3.79% rally for India's SENSEX and the -3.52% rout for Germany's DAXK is the largest of the 10 weekly closes in 2014 the the gang of eight. Japan's Nikkei finished in second with a 2.92% gain. And the S&P 500 took third place with an even one percent rise for the week. Germany was joined by the other two European indexes on my watch list for the bottom trio.
The Shanghai Composite remains the only index on the watch list in bear territory -- the traditional designation for a 20% decline from an interim high. See the table inset (lower right) in the ...
The Global X Social Media Index ETF (Ticker: SOCL) touched fresh record highs on Thursday morning, surprising no one given the top three holdings of the Fund are Hong Kong-based Tencent Holdings (12.678%), Facebook Inc. (12.506%) and LinkedIn Corp. (8.166%), which are up 130%, 160% and 22%, respectively, since this time last year. The SOCL reflects the performance of companies involved in the social media industry, including companies that provide social networking, file sharing and other web-based media applications. Shares in the ETF rose 1.3% today to a new high of $23.00, and have soared approximately 65% since this time last year.
Today brought three better than expected economic releases from Construction Spending, ISM Manufacturing, and Personal Income. The ISM figure was quite unexpected and Personal Income was well above expectations. If we ignore for a moment that the Final GDP reading for Q4 was lowered on Friday (which may or may not have been primarily caused by severe weather), we have had a week of better than expected economic numbers. Corporate earnings have also continued to exceed forecasts, albeit with a bit more cautious guidance.
Of course, none of that matters when the “war drums” start beating. Russia and the Ukraine are engaged in a serious game of “chicken” with a bear in the hen house. The Russian ruble has borne the brunt of the damage so far with a double digit drop today again...
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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