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Sunday, October 2, 2022

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It’s the End of the World As We Know It

What are 308,367,109 Americans supposed to do?

First of all, despite clamping down on immigration, our population grew by 2.6M people last year.  Unfortunately, not only did we not create jobs for those 2.6M new people but we lost about 4M jobs so what are these new people going to do?  Not only that, but nobody is talking about the another major job issue: People aren't retiring!  They can't afford to because the economy is bad – that means there are even less job openings…   The pimply-faced kid can't get a job delivering pizza because his grandpa's doing it

There are some brilliant pundits who believe cutting retirement benefits will fix our economy.  How will that work exactly?  Pay old people less money, don't cover their medical care and what happens?  Then they need money.  If they need money, they need to work and if they need to work they increase the supply of labor, which reduces wages and leaves all 308,367,109 of us with less money.  Oh sorry, not ALL 308,367,109 – just 308,337,109 – the top 30,000 (0.01%) own the business the other 308,337,109 work at and they will be raking it in because labor is roughly 1/3 of the cost of doing business in America and our great and powerful capitalists have already cut their manufacturing costs by shipping all those jobs overseas, where they pay as little as $1 a day for a human life so now, in order to increase their profits (because profits MUST be increased) they have now turned inward to see what they can shave off in America.

How does one decrease the cost of labor in America?  Well first, you have to bust the unions.  Check.  Then you have to create a pressing need for people to work – perhaps give them easy access to credit and then get them to go so deeply into debt that they will have to work until they die to pay them off.  Check.  It also helps if you push up the cost of living by manipulating commodity prices.  Check.  Then, take away people's retirement savings.  Check.  Lower interest rates to make savings futile and interest income inadequate.  Check.  And finally, threaten to take away the 12% a year that people have been saving for retirement by labeling Social Security an "entitlement" program – as if it wasn't money Americans worked their whole lives to save and gave to the government in good faith.  Check

As Allen Smith says: "Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan pulled off one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the American people in the history of this great nation, and the underlying scam is still alive and well, more than a quarter century later.  It represents the very foundation upon which the economic malpractice that led the nation to the great economic collapse of 2008 was built.  Essentially, Reagan switched the federal government from what he critically called, a “tax and spend” policy, to a “borrow and spend” policy, where the government continued its heavy spending, but used borrowed money instead of tax revenue to pay the bills.  The results were catastrophic.  Although it had taken the United States more than 200 years to accumulate the first $1 trillion of national debt, it took only five years under Reagan to add the second one trillion dollars to the debt.  By the end of the 12 years of the Reagan-Bush administrations, the national debt had quadrupled to $4 trillion!"

Both Reagan and Greenspan saw big government as an evil, and they saw big business as a virtue.  They both had despised the progressive policies of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson, and they wanted to turn back the pages of time. They came up with the perfect strategy for the redistribution of income and wealth from the working class to the rich.  If Reagan had campaigned for the presidency by promising big tax cuts for the rich and pledging to make up for the lost revenue by imposing substantial tax increases on the working class, he would probably not have been elected.  But that is exactly what Reagan did, with the help of Alan Greenspan.  Consider the following sequence of events:   

1) President Reagan appointed Greenspan as chairman of the 1982 National Commission on Social Security Reform (aka The Greenspan Commission)

2) The Greenspan Commission recommended a major payroll tax hike to generate Social Security surpluses for the next 30 years, in order to build up a large reserve in the trust fund that could be drawn down during the years after Social Security began running deficits.

3) The 1983 Social Security amendments enacted hefty increases in the payroll tax in order to generate large future surpluses. 

4) As soon as the first surpluses began to role in, in 1985, the money was put into the general revenue fund and spent on other government programs. None of the surplus was saved or invested in anything.  The surplus Social Security revenue, that was paid by working Americans, was used to replace the lost revenue from Reagan’s big income tax cuts that went primarily to the rich.  

5) In 1987, President Reagan nominated Greenspan as the successor to Paul Volker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.  Greenspan continued as Fed Chairman until January 31, 2006.  (One can only speculate on whether the coveted Fed Chairmanship represented, at least in part, a payback for Greenspan’s role in initiating the Social Security surplus  revenue.)

6) In 1990, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York,  a member of the Greenspan Commission, and one of the strongest advocates the the 1983 legislation, became outraged when he learned that first Reagan, and then President George H.W. Bush used the surplus Social Security revenue to pay for other government programs instead of saving and investing it for the baby boomers.  Moynihan locked horns with President Bush and proposed repealing the 1983 payroll tax hike.  Moynihan’s view was that if the government could not keep its hands out of the Social Security cookie jar, the cookie jar should be emptied, so there would be no surplus Social Security revenue for the government to loot. President Bush would have no part of repealing the payroll tax hike.  The “read-my-lips-no-new-taxes” president was not about to give up his huge slush fund.

The practice of using every dollar of the surplus Social Security revenue for general government spending continues to this day.  The 1983 payroll tax hike has generated approximately $2.5 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue which is supposed to be in the trust fund for use in paying for the retirement benefits of the baby boomers.  But the trust fund is empty!  It contains no real assets.  As a result, the government will soon be unable to pay full benefits without a tax increase.  Money can be spent or it can be saved.  But you can’t do both. Absolutely none of the $2.5 trillion was saved or invested in anything. 

That is how the largest theft in the history of the world was carried out.  300M people worked and saved their whole lives to set aside $2.5Tn into a retirement system that, if it were paying a fair compounding rate of 5% interest over 40 years of labor (assuming an even $62Bn a year was contributed), would be worth $8.4Tn today – enough money to give 100M workers $84,000 each in cash!  The looting of FICA hid the massive deficits of the last 30 years in the Unified Budget. Presidents and Congresses were able to reduce taxes on the wealthiest Americans without complaint from the deficit hawks, because they benefited. The money went directly from the pockets of average Americans into the pockets of the rich.

Now that it is time to repay those special bonds in the Trust Fund, we are inundated in opinion pieces in the leading newspapers and magazines complaining about Social Security and its horrible impact on the budget.  Government finances have been trashed by foolish tax cuts, unpaid wars, tax loopholes for corporations and the very wealthy, the failures of economists, the greedy search for greater returns in financial markets and the collapse of moral values in giant businesses but Social Security is supposed to be the problem that needs fixing…

Social Security is not "broken" the money is in the Trust Fund. But the people who manage the finances of the United States don’t want to repay the bonds held by the Trust Fund. They want to default selectively against average people, their fellow citizens, who paid their taxes expecting to be protected in their retirement.  Refusing to repay the $2.54 trillion dollars in bonds held by the Social Security Trust makes the US look like Greece, just another nation unable to govern itself coherently. The people who manage US finances come from the financial elites, the best that Wall Street and enormous corporations have to offer. Selective default exposes them as charlatans. The claims of the economics profession to expertise are puffery. Their theories about the benefits of tax cuts are proven false. Their mathematical proofs about free markets collapse in the real world.

So, what is this all about?  It's about forcing 5M people a year who reach the age 65 to remain in the work-force.  The top 0.01% have already taken your money, they have already put you in debt, they have already bankrupted the government as well so it has no choice but to do their bidding.  Now the top 0.01% want to make even MORE profits by paying American workers even LESS money.  If they raise the retirement age to 70 to "balance" Social Security – that will guarantee that another 25M people remain in the workforce (less the ones that drop dead on the job – saving the bother of paying them severance). 

What's next?  Is it fair to say that children can't work in a struggling family business?  Isn't it to everybody's benefit that kids should be allowed to help out at the family store?  That will be the next step towards turning America into a 3rd World country.  The seemingly innocent concept of "letting" kids work will deprive another 5M people of paying jobs – throwing them out into the labor force as well and driving labor costs down even further

There's an expression that goes "give them an inch and they'll take a yard."  The top 0.01% of this country have taken their inches and they are foreclosing on the yards and they will come for the rest of your stuff next.  If you think you are "safe" from the looting of America, it is only because they haven't gotten around to you yet.  As I explained in "America is 234 Years Old Today – Is It Finished?" – the game is rigged very much like a poker tournament.  The people at the top table don't care how well you do wiping out your fellow players at the lower tables, they know they will get you eventually and your efforts to scoop up a pile of cash for yourself simply makes their job easier when they are ready to take it from you. 

The average American is $634,000 in debt thanks to the efforts that Reagan and Greenspan put in motion 30 years ago and the richer you are, the more of that money is going to come out of your hide eventually and the more you lobby to make sure that the "rich" are not taxed unfairly, the less fair it will be to you because, no matter how rich you THINK you are, unless your income is measured in MILLIONS PER MONTH, you aren't even close to the top 30,000. 

No progressive tax?  That means that people and corporations who make $1M PER DAY should pay no more tax than a person making $1M per year, right?  Well that means that the $2.5M debt that your family of four owes will be paid by you over 2.5 years of labor while the $2.5M owed by your Billionaire competitor will be paid over a long weekend, after which he can turn his attention back to crushing your business by creating cheaper goods – maintaining profit margins by driving down local labor costs and outsourcing the rest

It's a new world, America, and you'd better get used to it – we were sold down the river on a slow boat to China long ago and we're only just beginning to feel the first effects of waves that wash back to our own shores.  The people who own the media don't want CHANGE.  That's why you never hear this stuff in the MSM – things are going exactly according to plan and the old money crowd is playing a long, patient game and they already have most of the chips – the last thing they want is people questioning the system…

 

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So Moynihan woke up to the fact that the Federal government was using the Social Security surplus to fund the deficits in the general fund in 1990?  He was either an idiot or a liar.  That practice actually started under LBJ in 1968 with the unified budget, so its pretty dishonest for Dr. Smith to paint this as a Greenspan/Reagan scheme.  I figured this out in 1979 as a graduate business school student.  Also, are we really to believe that Moynihan didn’t know that this was going on??    Both parties are equally complicit in this scheme and have been bought and paid for by the top 0.01%, although I blame the politicians more for this than the top 0.01%.  They saw this as a bottomless cookie jar to fund their pet projects.  Alas, the cookie jar is almost empty.

Phil, You asked about people’s thoughts on drinking. I agree that people drink too much today. I think parents and the law have to some extent messed people up on this by making it "illegal" to drink before you reach a certain age. I grew up in an italian household and there was always wine on the table for dinner. I could drink it if I wanted since the time I could talk. My father’s rule was at dinner time, anyone could drink some. After dinner, the wine disappears until the next dinner time (you could drink but you had to be balanced). When I was in highschool, all of my friends wanted to drink and get drunk because they were all raised being told they couldn’t have it. To me, I didn’t care since it was always available. I got drunk once and realized my father’s wise rule.
I have implemented a similar thing with my teenage boys. You can have a drink with me if you want, all you have to do is ask. To them alcohol is no big deal because it is available to them (mind you, I do not take this stance on drugs, since that is harmful in any amount).
I think that if we teach our young people balance and moderation at a young age, then alcohol wouldn’t be as much of a problem as it is now.
Tony

gra, I think that the REagan Greenspan scheme was the plan to put it back on a proper footing and that part of the understanding was that the money would no longer be used as a cookie jar.  But I’m not sure of this, I never read the plan. 

My two cents worth:
The biggest on-going problem with govt over the past 20 or so years is the complete infestation of lawyers at all levels.  To me, lawyers are trained to do 3 things:
1. Fix blame
2. Move money/assets from one group/individual to another
3. NEVER answer a direct question
If you watch most politicians (regardless of party affiliation) you will see these 3 attributes again and again.
I would love to see a requirement for anyone running for public office to post a resume for all to see.  I bet the work experience part for a lot of these folks would be pretty thin.
—end of two cents worth

Phil
I am scoping out a few plays for the morning… I have been looking at FXI as a good candidate for a long position. As far as I am concerned, China will ( with their much stronger economy ),  turn the corner upward before we will here in the US. I am considering doing a bull call ratio spread – Jan 38/45 and selling  the 41 puts in a ratio of 3 to 2 for very substantial credit.  Do you like this one?

 Phil……Parties/Observations:     People do drink too much at parties, but that’s a GOOD thing.  It peels the cortex and allows for more meaningful conversation, as people say what they think and are less likely to bullshit you.   As to beer vs. wine……  Wine appreciation takes years to develop.   People drink beer for the buzz.  They drink wine to enjoy the oral and nasal attributes of the beautiful grapes, which also take years to develop.  I seek out wine-drinkers for conversation.   Beer drinkers…..not-so-much.    Was that a David Bruce 2006 Pinot Noir you said you were drinking at that party Phil?   

Iflantheman,
Have you heard of the term Wino? You are probably right, their appreciation did probably take years to develop. Maybe beer drinkers are more sophisticated than you know.

Education:  In inflation adjusted dollars the US has more than doubled the amount spent per student from 1970-2007; more money doesn’t equal better education.  RE: Beer/Wine   Having a nice wine cellar, I still thoroughly enjoy a fine ale; a good microbrew has enough complexities to satisfy any palate.  USA only ranks 13th in per capita beer consumption; surely we can improve on that, perhaps a department of hops & malts??  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_beer_consumption_per_capita

Tomorrow is interesting day in Europe: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66G0RT20100718
 

 

 

augrusot – great philosophy on the wine at dinner.  When my boys get old enough, I plan on doing the same. 
 
I am going to go off on a different avenue, but still a hot topic and one to consider since we are facing budget crisis, immigration, etc, and it has to do with drugs.   I am of the stance that all drugs (Marajuana, cocaine, heroine, etc) should be legalized.
 
First, alcohol IS a drug.  It alters mood and behavior.  Alcohol intox has two phases:  First, it is a CNS depressant, and then it then becomes a CNS stimulant (in moderation).  Its LD50 is ~ 0.4% or greater (meaning it kills).  Here is a table of the BAC % and what it does in the CNS.  Alcohol is regulated and taxed accordingly.  Did alcohol consumption go up or down after prohibition?  Not known, but what is known is the deaths went up considerably after the first few years of prohibition b’c the quality went down (methanol content was most likely a big part of it as methanol tastes like ethanol, is more intoxicating, and kills quicker if you are lucky. Otherwise one is blind for life).  The Cato institute has a good article on prohibition and its society effects.  I think illegal drugs are doing the same and this would, in part, ease a small part of the budgetary problems of local authorities.
 
Nicotine IS a drug. It is a stimulant and relaxant.  Nicotine releases glucose from the liver and epinephrine from the brain.  Cigarette makers were making hybrid plants (or maybe cloning plants OH NO!!!!!!)  that had higher nicotine content, and thus increased the ‘addictive’ qualities of their drugs, er cigs.  We are now regulating them more closely, and taxing them, but is this altering behavior?  Consumption has gone down – by using eduction!  From 1965 to 2006, we went from 46% to 20%.  I think the same eduction campaign can be done with drugs – all drugs.
 
Heroine = Codeine/Morphine.  The body makes codeine and morphine (more morphine actually) from heroine through metabolism by the brain and liver.  All are addictive, but it has not stopped people from using Oxycodone (another derivative) which is a schedule II drug, meaning you have to have a DEA license to prescribe it.  But it is not the young who are abusing it …..it is middle aged people….
 
Cocaine was legal and was in Coca Cola as late as 1905 (with lots of caffeine – another drug  OH NO!!!!). Cocaine is a stimulant and acts by inhibition of the transporters that reabsorb serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine – think of it as a SUPER Prozac! 
 
Pharma companies are making weight loss drugs that are of the cannabinoid family (marajuana).   Whilst they have a different mechanism of action (inhibition), the have side effects are not ones that people want to deal with ( see Acomplia). 
 
So, being a scientist and studying drugs, patterns, behaviors, etc, people will do drugs no matter what, and if they are regulated and taxed, like alcohol, then why not legalize them.  Yes some drugs are more addicting than others, but addictive behaviors are in all of us.  Second, if they are legal and regulated, then dosages can be controlled (like prescriptions), because the drug cartels are now making drugs that are MORE addictive (as in the above noted prohibition problem and cigarettes)!  Education is the key here, and the US is doing an OK job at teaching about the use of tobacco, why not drugs (As to augrusot’s  point on alcohol, if it is there, maybe it won’t be so sexy to do).  Estimates are that we spend $45B/year for the war on drugs, and if it was legalized and taxed, the gov’t would bring in $33B in taxes.  That is a big turnaround. That does not take into account the prison population issues, refocusing the police, etc. to fight terrorism, immigration, etc.   
 
On another note, Here is an article that focuses on the Minutemen patrolling for smugglers (drugs, people, immigrants, etc).  This is going to be the next problem when the minute men fire on the boarder agents or police in a fire fight with drug lords/smugglers, and the minute men actually outgun the police force!….then gun advocates will be cornered b’w a rock and a hard place (don’t get me going on gun rights). 

Phil, Did you see the aticle in Barrons about Greece?  If what the article says is true the idea that the IMF and EU have fixed the Greek (or any other European soveriegn debt) problem is crazy.  This must be a onesided view, but the outcome is close at hand.

Phil : If u get a chance, I would appreciate it if you would please update the 500 % protection positions or post some new recommendations. Thank you.

Speaking of Barron’s, the cover of the current issue is purporting that Google is 35% undervalued.  Magazine Cover Contrarian Sell signal?!?

Pharm…. I am in agreement with your stance on the legalization of drugs. Making them "illegal" does nothing but make them expensive, and those that are predisposed to injest this crap will do so regardless of the price. It should be offered free. At present the druggies just steal whatever they need to to pay for it.  Parental guidance is the best solution for abstinence. I would make one more suggestion, and that is to have the government contaminate 5% of all drugs with a deadly poison, and let this be known among those that choose to use drugs (large budget to advertise this new stealth ingredient). It would be a lot like "Russian Roulette"as you partake in the substance, and for those that want to gamble, then they are not intelectually qualified to function properly in our society anyway. One last caveat – If you are using drugs, then you pay for all your own medical expenses, as you are otherwise uninsurable. If you are unable to pay for your medical – then tough luck! I believe my solution would be the end of this awful problem, and our prisons would be 50% empty, as opposed to the current overflow status. Our insolvent financial crisis at the state level will now take a turn for the better – less crime, less requirement for police, fewer court cases, and fewer lawyers preying on the unfortunate.

Pharmboy
You wrote; "augrusot – great philosophy on the wine at dinner.  When my boys get old enough, I plan on doing the same. "
 
A reasonable idea, it was successful with my boys. I cannot see myself sitting around the table hitting a bong though with them.  Wine/beer is one thing but cocaine/heroine is another; be careful in legalizing everything; what is accepted as moderation is often used to excess and making it easy might be a mistake. I think it is a a mistake to equate all addictive substances/drugs to the prohibition analogy; as that is why they should be legalized.
 
At least beer and wine have some calories and make a good meal even more pleasurable; cocaine/heroine I’m not so sure about.

acobra, who is this great options trader you follow?

Pharmaboy, I don’t agree with legalizing drugs. But I can say that the financial benefit to the government would be substantial. In Ontario, Canada, where I am from, alchohol is purchased through provincial (state) outlets. They are open 7 days a week. Alcohol has built in taxes and retail markup of course. Since it’s run by the state, they get both. It is the one government business that turns in a huge steady profit. Maybe just doing that would solve the US deficit problem 🙂
The price difference for a bottle of Vodka is about 30-40% higher than in the US. I buy my liquor when I travel south, since we’re allowed 1 bottle per adult duty free. Even with the amount of liquor Canadians transport back over the border, the government still pulls in a huge amount of revenue.
 
Tony

Pharmboy,
On another subject, what is your thought on NWBO Northwest biotherapeutics? They seem to have a better solution than DNDN for a cancer vaccine.
Tony

Drugs and Alcohol – Having been raised by an alcoholic father I know the down side of living with the problem first hand. The entire question of legalizing drugs is one that scares the heck out of me since folks already have such a tough time dealing with the effects of those drugs and prescriptions of substances that are already legal.
Due to my background my wife and I have spent many hours volunteering in shelters for abused women and children many of which have been victims of addicts and to see the affects on the innocent kids is not just alarming it is devastating. I’m affraid the issues of child abuse will only get worse. 
My wife and I are not prudes by any means and enjoy a very fine wine cellar and have done tasting trips to California and Europe but again there needs to be a discipline and maturity exercised that unfortunately so many have yet to acquire. Not to say we are any better but we have seen what can go wrong and what is at risk.
Folks the down side is already horrible. It scares me ot think that it could get worse.  

 Alcohol- I think that if someone throws a party that is for adults then it is fine to serve alcohol.  But if there are going to be kids there, then the beverage choice should be dialed down and limited.  Guiness, my favorite pub beer, seems a bit heavy for a hot day outside or even a warm night.   Usually when I combine hot weather and heavy beers I sound like a pregnant woman by complaining about how bloated I feel.  Nobody wants to throw a party to have the guests go home and complain about the lack of, or choice of, booze and food.  Image is important and social events can be competitive.  I don’t think that people drink more or less now.  I think it has more to do with what impression people are trying to put forward at their party.  If everybody had fun and enjoyed the experience, then the choice of a lot of alcohol was a good one.  If not, then they should tailor their beverage choices a little better to suit their guests.  

Phil taking a stick to that ‘ol "independents" hornets nest, Pharm’s solid check on reality and all the great commentary. Just another weekend of fine reading at PSW…….  🙂

NWBO/arg – they seem to have DNDN beat, but in my mind they are very early in the game!  If you have play money, then I think they are worth a gamble.  There are several vaccine makers out there right now, but all are in early stages. 
 
FWIW – MRK had a vaccine for HIV….it failed.
 
Gel – Smoking kills people faster and thus those that stop are living longer and costing more to society as a whole.  Here is a New England Journal of Medicine article from some time ago.  Drugs would do the same thing, so the medical burden/debt on society would be far cheaper than the costs of keeping them in prison!  Oh, one other thing, alcohol kills more people than drug use…..

Pharm
With my plan to eliminate illegal drug use, the greatest economic savings would come from the penal system. As you  know, our state is severly burdened by the cost of housing prisoners that are serving time for drug abuse and trafficing. All of this would be eliminated under my plan. These folks that otherwise would be incarcerated, would now be productive and paying taxes.My plan assures there would be only two options – you are either drug free, no longer a burder to our society, or you were one of the unlucky ones that chose the wrong option and are dead.  This sounds cruel….. but that is what it will take to cure this malady forever, before it destroys us.

Ah yes, Social Security …. Phil, you really are on thin ice …. having no facts on your side, you resort to sad mockery …
 
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/three_little_pigs_how_entitlements_Ah41sxLQHFRPa5sB0vsB3L
 
 
Ah yes, after Bush failed and gave up on the idea of reform, a commission is kicking the can down the road.
 
No wonder its Obama’s favorite solution for everything.

Pharm/NWBO
I am holding this stock, and as you say the payday is a ways off if you are waiting for FDA approval of the NDA. These guys might be a good takeover target, as they have so much in the pipeline. They have no manufacturing facilities, and work out of a office in Chevy Chase, MD, just ove the DC line. I used to have an office in the same building, many years ago.

Chocolate Buyer – the ultimate fat finger !
 
300 miles driving today and lots of sun; I am wiped !

HH with some thoughts on the markets

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQjD2sw_eg4

Phil/BP News – "Seep" – So it would seem we now know why the pressure couldn’t build past 6,800 psi…the govt better un-cap the well immediately, or the relief wells could end up ultimately failing.  BP is playing a dangerous game…basically a high pressure fluid dynamics experiment surrounded by immense unpredictability and immeasurable consequences.  See the article excerpt below…even the govt is now finally admitting the well leak could become "unmanageable"…
Seep near capped well worries U.S.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-spill-20100719,0,1562603.story
…..the federal government is worried that the seal could create problems of its own. Specifically, if the well’s underground pipes are cracked, the seal could exacerbate the flow of oil through them and up to the seafloor, creating a potentially unmanageable multitude of leaks.
 
———-
And on a lighter topic…another possible unintended consequence of ObamaCare in 2012…for both small biz and and an already over-whelmed (and expensive) IRS agency….
Why the Self-Employed Might Owe OfficeMax a 1099
online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704913304575371033842971968.html

If you want a hedge – you could also just raise your cash positions.
People are getting whipsawed in this market.
Phil’s hedges are all great and you don’t pay for my opinion.
But
Getting short spy – with some longs in place that should out perform also feels pretty good.
Our friend David Fry is almost entirely in cash – I went to cash in wife’s retirement account at 1160 on s and p – and feel no obligation to do anything –  have not made a single trade  –

 Legalize drug trade – If we go this route, just make sure you are short Wachovia!  (see last week’s archives.)  I would make a huge FAZ disaster hedge since the loss of money laundering income will hurt banking.  It would probably hurt banks more than the recently passed financial regulations.  The illegal drug trade is estimated to be equal to at least 5 percent and possibly as high as 10 percent of global commerce.  (I’ll have to dig awhile to find the research, since I read it three or four years ago.)  Its not just violent drug gangs and the Taliban getting rich off this trade, so I don’t see there being much political will among the big banks to end this.  
Before we legalize drugs lets do a test and see if we can cut down the spread of diabetes that is being caused by the very legal twinkies and Coca Cola.  If our public health and education system can cut down on obesity and diabetes over a five year period, then we might be able to tackle the kind of plan it would take to deal with illegal drugs.  

Drugs –
As a public health practitioner, I heartily espouse total legalization of all drugs – on a similar public health issue, I have a friend who is an elderly obstetrician. He tells stories of the illegal abortion days, when the Kaiser Permanente Sunset Medical Center had an entire floor devoted to caring for patients with botched abortions. There’s a very good model in Vancouver BC, where little store-front clinics have been set up, essentially as "shooting galleries" – anyone can come in with their injectable drug of choice, receive a clean needle & syringe, inject under medical supervision, and stay there in a relaxed if modest place until the effects of the drug have worn somewhat and it’s obvious that they won’t OD. It’s cut down enormously on infectious disease transmission as well as the ER trips and deaths from accidental ODs, opiates being the main problem there.
 
Let’s go a little further – along with all the drugs, let’s please legalize prostitution. The trick with both of these is to make the legalization open enough that there is not an incentive for black markets. It would make public health work so much easier if both these "sins" were legal and open.

 Phil – a couple of things:
    1.  UCO:  I own UCO stock – and let the July $10 calls I sold in late May expire OTM of course, on Friday.  I still own the stock though – what do you suggest I do… sell another round of $10 calls for $0.50 -OR- wait (I think oil will go up in the near future – so I was thinking of waiting and trying to sell ATM (or a bit ITM) $10 calls for $0.75 instead) … but of course that risks the stock value going down in the meantime if I am wrong.  Long-term, I definitely think oil will grind upwards though.  What do you think?
    2.  TZA:    I added a bunch of TZA stock to what I already own (I believe the market will continue going down) – so I want to cover this by selling calls.  What looks most attractive to you?  For this one – again, my gut says I should wait for the stock price to increase, but this time sell OTM calls at the higher strike price on this one… but again, the risk of TZA going down is there to keep me up at night!
Anyway – your advice is always appreciated and valued here!

 p.s.  what’s up w/ the times of the postings – I see 3 postings before mine that are 6:13, and 6:39, and snow, you are at 9:29 – AM… above mine?

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