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Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Useful Piece of Software for Keeping Track of Companies… and Other Things

I am a big proponent of efficiency as most who know me will attest. With that in mind, I have been looking for a way to keep track of the companies that I am interested in: basically a program that will allow me to jot down notes on companies, keep track of their attributes from a risk / reward standpoint, keep links to relevant websites, and anything else I can think of all in a searchable database style program. Well, I have been testing Azz Cardfile as a way to accomplish this and so far I have found it very useful. It allows me to set up a file that I use exclusively for stocks and other investments. The structure of the program allows me to create a “card” for each stock. In that card I can keep anything relevant to that stock including links to other sites, the text from articles, pictures, maps, and my own input. All this information becomes searchable so if I need to know what the key near-term risks are for Boeing all I have to do is type “Boeing” into the box atop the card list and voila the Boeing card comes up. If I need to know which company is associated with “currency risk” I type that in the “Search For” box in the task panel under Advanced Search and Azz Cardfile will pull up all companies that have the string “currency risk” in their cards. So if there is a day when the Euro is tanking, I can search for all companies that I follow with currency risk and I will know which ones may be impacted that day.

Obviously, the program isn’t limited to being used for stocks. You can use it in much the same way to keep track of anything like personal information, favorite restaurants, recipes, etc…

From the Azz Cardfile website: “AZZ Cardfile is Windows program that helps manage any personal information like addresses, phone numbers, references, notes, recipes.  It can serve as personal organizer, contact manager, address book, rolodex, personal information manager (PIM) or small database software.  You can download a fully-functional free trial at www.azzcardfile.com.”

I recommend this program to all of our members as a great and inexpensive way to keep track of your investments as well as a host of other things that tend to clutter up your life.

Terrorism , Stock Market and Apathy

Will fear of terrorism, be the catalyst for a market sell-off? I don’t believe so. Ultimately there may very well be another terrorist attack on US soil. The Authorities and cooperative governments in the war on terror should be commended for all that they have been able to prevent to date. We have witnessed their success on numerous occasions and are probably unaware of countless other thwarted terrorist attacks.

But have we as a society come to learn to live with the possibility of an attack, perhaps even the probability of one? Or are we in denial and somehow believe that it could never happen again.

Here are some reported facts and news items taken from numerous sites on the web. I chose them randomly as to convey the complexity of the problem as well as the inevitability that the war on terrorism, which has actually been going on for generations, will probably do so for quite some time to come.

• Approximately 641 terrorist incidents occurred in the United States between 1971 and 1975 compared to 272 between 1980 and 1999. Among these attacks were 166 bombings, 120 fire bombings, and 118 shootings. During the first six months of 1975 alone, 24 attacks occurred in California, 12 in New York, and 11 were directed at targets on the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

In the 1990s, as international economic and financial barriers were lowered, terror groups expanded their businesses, which become transnational. Today, money is raised cross border, as proved by the joint business empires of Yousef Nada and Idris Nasreddin, two of bin Laden’s associates. According to the UN, their portfolios, which range from real estate to fisheries, sprawl across Europe and Africa, and are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

From 1981 to 2000, there were a total of 9,179 international terrorist attacks (excluding intra-Palestinian violence), averaging at 459 attacks a year. The number of terrorism attacks was at its highest in mid-1980s. The average number of annual attacks between 1985 and 1988 numbered about 630. 

Terrorism declined in the mid-1990s and was at its lowest in 1998, when only 274 attacks were recorded. It increased in 1999 to 392 attacks, and 423 attacks in 2000.

The UN has no internationally agreed definition of terrorism.

The definitional impasse has prevented the adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 the UN failed to adopt the Convention, and the deadlock continues to this day.

*Osama bin Laden has not been caught. *Several studies have shown terrorism related deaths in the world are increasing (not decreasing) since the War on Terrorism began. 2009 marked the highest point since 2001 in both terrorism related deaths and terrorism related incidents worldwide. (January 18, 2010, The Associated Press) *

Saturday’s failed car bombing in Times Square was a reminder that the terror war is still on, if a reminder was needed. And as with the Christmas Day bomb plot, America only avoided catastrophe because of terrorist incompetence.

America’s top counter terror official says “more than a dozen” people tied to Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other extremists have tried to infiltrate the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But they weren’t caught swimming the Rio Grande from Mexico, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Daily News in a recent interview.

“More Canada than Mexico, to be honest with you,” he said.

A woman has reportedly been arrested in Yemen’s capital Sanaa after police surrounded her house.

Two bombs found on cargo planes were viable explosive that could have brought down aircraft, according to British Home Secretary Theresa May.

Ultimately the question I posed at the outset of this blog entry seems to have been answered. Clearly we have learned to live with the possibility and probability of terror attacks. The market moves lower on fear, and tends to take some time to digest the global impact of new exogenous events. But, terrorism is no longer an unknown exogenous event. It is part of a long list of fears that we have come to understand drive volatility in the market. We may very well move lower on Monday morning, but we would recover relatively quickly. It is a dichotomy of our generation that our numbness to terrorism is both a positive and a negative reflection on society. A positive in that we continue to live our lives and express our freedom in the face of such a menacing enemy. A negative, in that, generations to come will look at terrorism with a matter of fact attitude. The post 9/11 generation will not be as surprised or shocked by violence on innocents as a statement of belief or protestation. Perhaps this will be the final end for terrorism, but we will pay a high price for it.

As Helen Keller famously said

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings.”

Clonazepam, The Perfect Holiday Gift For Your Wall Street Spouse

A depression era stock market

The daily range on the S&P is tightening, The E-trade baby has a commercial where he checks quotes on an IPad. My 5 year fixed interest only mortgage just got adjusted to a principal plus interest adjustable rate that is half of my old rate, from 6.5% to 3.25%. These three observations can only mean one thing, market conditions are improving and I am cautiously optimistic that we will continue to rally through the rest of the year; S&P cash ending near a 1275 level. I will be focusing on takeover opportunities, buy out speculation and merger names. 2011 should be a major year for takeovers, as well as small business growth. As credit frees up and home prices seem to have found a bid, consumers will find themselves spending again. Interest rates will remain low and asset prices will rise. The Fed may be a bit quicker to raise rates this cycle, but I believe the market will anticipate it and it will be quite some time. The most telling indicator of a recovery is my wife’s decision that we should take our first ever Disney family vacation where we will be staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We have been putting this trip off for three years. I have anecdotally heard from a number of friends that they are taking family vacations that they had put off the last couple of years. The holiday season shopping is upon us. The first phase of the consumer recovery will be in the form of more practical purchases. A good coat that will last more than a season, an electronic reader, a new coffee machine, or perhaps a subscription to Netflix will prove to be popular. DVDs, Xbox games and ITunes gift cards will stuff the stockings and be boxed around the Menorah. The malls will be packed, the restaurants crowded, and the movie theatres filled. The airports will be crowded and the tickets will not be cheap. Big Pharma will sell more antidepressants this holiday season than in any year past, as the world starts to come out of a deep psychological depression. I have high hopes that we are at the beginning of a new bull cycle, but then again, I get a regular gift from big Pharma, so it may just be the Clonazepam talking.

A gift to myself

Opening Credits Of My Movie, Monsey NY filming

Can You Keep A Secret

Lets move through this next part of my movie relatively fast. Think of it as that part of the movie where we see credits or titles after a 10-minute opening sequence. Title of movie - “Work in Progress”, Producer – Overnight Films, Director – G-d, Star – Me, etc. etc., another 20 different production company titles flash on the screen. They all seem to be the Schools I attended, the Firms I worked for, friends and family. Everyone seems to want a credit.

Next, we see one of those aerial shots looking down on New York City. We travel quickly up the east side and cross the George Washington Bridge. Hang a right onto the palisades parkway. Palisades parkway to NY state thruway to exit 14b, Airmont road. Monsey NY. Hang a right at the light. Better if at this point we switch from aerial view to quick shots of roadside scenes, like in the opening credits of The Sopranos.  Very normal looking, suburban houses, shrubbery, a seven eleven, local dry cleaners, some sort of constructions sight, putting up some strip mall. Beneath the surface of this very plain looking suburb lurks a twisted world of hypocrisy, extremism, and every so often deviance and aberrance. I don’t mean to imply that there wasn’t a great deal of good honest hard working family people. But they were living in a bubble. A bubble where they believed their town folk don’t commit crimes, their married couples don’t cheat, get caught and get divorced. They believed their kids don’t do drugs or have premarital sex. They believed a man with a title of respect always deserved this respect even in the face of flagrant transgressions that people would rather turn a blind eye to. Meanwhile beneath the surface, Wall Streeters were scheming and scamming, arsonists were burning down warehouses for insurance scams, politicians were cross dressing, kids were dealing dope, a vacation for parents meant a home filled with “kids behaving badly”, psychotic teachers who might take a slug at a kid and every so often a local night club owner would get murdered. Yes, you read all that correctly. I will address the murder in a later blog along with a couple of drive by shootings that happened while I was a freshman in high school.

What happens in Monsey stays in Monsey

The camera pans over the elementary school. For a while it was named Hebrew Institute of Rockland County (HIRC), then they ran out of money, so a family named Schreiber gave some dough, built a gym and the school became the Adolph Schreiber Hebrew Academy (ASHAR). A couple of points here. The following is an excerpt from the schools history, published on its website.

“First housed in Monsey’s Community Synagogue on Cloverdale Lane, the school was originally called the Hebrew Institute of Rockland County (HIRC). Although other day schools and yeshivas existed, it was this need to incorporate Ahavat Yisrael into their children’s education that inspired a handful of parents to establish a school that provided a religious Zionistic environment mixed with a strong general studies curriculum.

In 1956, Rabbi Irving Levy, the first Chairman of the Board of Education, encouraged Rabbi Nachum Muschel to join the Monsey community and HIRC. Over the course of more than four decades, Rabbi Muschel led the school through tremendous growth and success. During his tenure as Principal and later Dean, Rabbi Muschel created a groundbreaking Jewish Studies curriculum that continues to  anchor our limudei kodesh program and remain  a model for numerous other institutions.  In his current position of Dean Emeritus, Rabbi Muschel’s daily presence and devoted guidance serve as  a constant source of inspiration.”

I asked for an onion bagel

It was obviously a Hebrew school, sort of, I guess we called it Yeshivah, but there was another type of Jewish school that “really” was the yeshiva. Then what was my school you may ask? Well it was more like a modern orthodox Jewish school that tried to teach much of what was taught in yeshiva but do it in a way in which the kids who would one day leave the school and go out into the real world, might ultimately be able to socially straddle two cultures, the religious and secular. For me it was an utter experimental failure and today it is a full-blown ultra orthodox Yeshiva. I believe they still may whack around a kid every so often though. Quite frankly the place was a lunatic asylum and the head Rabbi was a psychotic warden, the vice principal who was quite the eccentric. Truth be told the school was the natural reaction to a whole generation that was making the break from their Jewish, eastern European, Shtetl, small one oxen town, closed and isolated world.  They were attempting to adapt to the modern age here in America, many having escaped the Holocaust, and to this day over half a century later are still not much closer to resolving many of the fundamental problems resulting from assimilation. Perfect example, the uproar at the announcement of a same sex marriage in the Jewish Standard (A local publication) and there subsequent pathetic apology.

The way my grandparents lived

Editorial from the Jewish Standard

Published: 04 October 2010

“We set off a firestorm last week by publishing a same-sex couple’s announcement of their intent to marry. Given the tenor of the times, we did not expect the volume of comments we have received, many of them against our decision to run the announcement, but many supportive as well.

A group of rabbis has reached out to us and conveyed the deep sensitivities within the traditional/Orthodox community to this issue. Our subsequent discussions with representatives from that community have made us aware that publication of the announcement caused pain and consternation, and we apologize for any pain we may have caused.

The Jewish Standard has always striven to draw the community together, rather than drive its many segments apart. We have decided, therefore, since this is such a divisive issue, not to run such announcements in the future. “

50 years of progress, set back with one retraction.

Monsey Movies

This is just a taste of complex and sometimes disturbing cultural issues that have evolved from towns like the one I grew up in. As a side not, the entire town has changed over, and is now an ultra orthodox and extremely religious environment. Housing prices have dropped dramatically and I am not sure if the 7/11 made it. It is practically a foreign country, which oddly enough is how I viewed it as a kid, but I was always a bit of a forward thinker.

Kosher Kitchen

“They call it the holy shtetl” Gitty Grunwald - July 08

Monsey NY

To be Continued………………

profits as tiny as a bedbug

The Market makes me itch

Just got back into the trading game this week after a brief hiatus.  Sadly the action remains challenging, and the volatility is still very low.  Consequently this is a very challenging, and to some degree unforgiving, market for the short term day trader.   That said, the sun will indeed come up tomorrow, and this daddy will be watching his three children play in 5 soccer games throughout the tri-state region.  Then I look forward to Halloween (I am going to dress up as a bedbug), and preparing for November trading.  After we get through QE-2, we should have some more clarity, and some better opportunities.  Happy weekend.

Catskills on my mind

Final hour of trading here.  Most commodities are closed for the weekend.  Sugar put in a new high today at the top of a huge move up over the last 3 months.  Cotton also up another 3 cents today on decent volume, and another surge in the metals  puts silver in striking distance of recent highs of $24.95.  Next week should be very active with elections on Tuesday and QE2 details  on Wed.  Headed up to the catskills for some much needed R&R . Everyone have a great weekend.

Choppy Stock Market Review

I am really looking forward to a great weekend of sports.  Tonight we get to see the Heat try and prove that opening night was a fluke and that they deserve to be the favorite in the east.  Personally, I lost a lot of respect for lebron when he announced that he would be taking his talent to SB, as it proves that he doesn’t have enough confidence to win a ship by himself.  However, I am a Laker fan and think it would be great to see the lakers play the heat in the finals.   I’m also excited to see the jets get after Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.

Now back to market.  This week has been very choppy and has made it tough for traders to have conviction on any direction, but buying strong stocks with good technicals and fundamentals has been working well.  The ags (cf, mon, mos, agu, pot) have made for great trades anytime they pull back to the 8 day moving average and show relative strength.  Google looks great on the daily and should see 52 week highs if the market can hold up.  With the fed announcement and elections next week, volatility should pick up and we should get some great trading opportunities.

Have a great weekend.

The weekend and QE2

pondering the markets

Im looking forward to 60 degrees and sunny to play some tennis tomorrow. While im on the court I’m sure I’ll be thinking about the coming week of QE2 and the elections. I can tell you that any sell on the news or sell from dissapointment in the news is a buying opportunity for stocks. Think about it , Where is the money going to go. Real estate , smallbusinesses, I dont think so. Too risky! The money is going to flow to the SP500 . Thats where the least amount of risk is for the banks.  Watch Mos, Agu, cf , gld, slv, and at appropriate times to buy on dips.

Hillside 2 Launchday!

Hillside 2 is a GO

Hillside 2 is in the process of launching with live camera and audio being installed as we speak. Thankfully providing some entertainment in a market that has been pretty quiet most of the day. More posts to come! My name is Tim Fox and I work with Cliff Berger and Jerry Scelzo. Jerry has boycotted the blog world so far. He should be making his first post soon. He is a commodities enthusiast.

Weak Data Overseas While GDP Comes In In-Line

Morning Notes

-       Overseas mkts all down

-       Japan Industrial Production and Household Spending came in weaker than expected

-       Meanwhile JPY showing strength, adding further pressure to Nikkei, which is down 1.75%

-       Eurozone CPI and unemployment rate worse than expected

-       Gold and oil down, but seeing spike now

-       Dollar is up a bit

-       Q3 Advanced GDP: +2.0% vs. +1.8%

-       Personal Consumption: +2.6% vs. 2.5%

-       S&P futures now down about 3 handles from FV, getting a very slight lift after GDP data

-       S&P futures on the S3 Buy pivot signal

-       Up ahead, we have Chicago PMI and UMich Confidence data out at 9:45a and 9:55a, respectively

-       Note that today is the last trading day of the month, for whatever that’s worth