the week 2/11/2008 - 2/15/2008
a piece in the March 2008 issue of The Atlantic by Christopher
B. Leinberger titled "The Next Slum?....The subprime crisis
is just the tip of the iceberg. Fundamental changes in American
life may turn today's McMansions into tomorrow's tenements."
Following is the opening to this depressing story.
days are upon the residents of many a suburban cul-de- sac.
Once-tidy yards have become overgrown, as the houses they
front have gone vacant. Signs of physical and social disorder
Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles
northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community's
132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late
last year. Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper
wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have
furtively moved in. In December, after a stray bullet blasted
through her son's bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot,
who'd moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The
Charlotte Observer, 'I thought I'd bought a home in Pleasantville.
I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this
I wrote of my trip to Las Vegas and the housing market there,
warning that while there will appear to be some big bargains,
especially at auction, you have to understand two things:
"your surrounding area may be blighted and don't expect the
value to suddenly shoot up." I can't help but repeat this
warning again. Be careful in moving into any new neighborhood
these days. Phil W. just forwarded a story from Friday's Charlotte
Observer addressing this very issue a second time down there;
serious trouble with new developments built by Beazer Homes,
currently under federal investigation.
homework and be wary of new construction. I think this last
point will prove to be yet another well-publicized scandal.
Generally speaking, the quality is abysmal compared to what
most of us grew up in.
I've probably just ticked off a few of you with this last
remark, this past week represented another classic example
of the need not to get swept up in the day-to-day movements
in the equity markets but instead stay focused on the Big
Picture. No sooner had some experts called the end to the
bear market, which is essentially what we've been in, even
if not officially, when a whole new round of credit issues,
almost all of which have their genesis in the housing bubble,
came to the fore and stocks ended up giving back most of what
had been big gains.
help that on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
told Congress, "The outlook for the economy has worsened in
recent months, and the downside risks to growth have increased.
To date, the largest economic effects of the financial turmoil
appear to have been on the housing market, which, as you know,
has deteriorated significantly over the past two years or
gotta love this comment. "As you know." Well you didn't, Benny
Boy, until 300 million other Americans did. Bernanke didn't
know housing "has deteriorated significantly over the past
two years or so" until about December.
in the week the equally clueless Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson
told G-7 finance ministers that while "current financial turmoil
is serious and persisting," he still expected the U.S. would
avoid recession. Then at the same congressional appearance
as Bernanke, Paulson added "The U.S. economy is fundamentally
strong, diverse and resilient, yet after years of unsustainable
home price appreciation, our economy is undergoing a significant
and necessary housing correction."
Mr. Secretary, the correction is significant and necessary,
but it's rather disingenuous for the likes of you to speak
of "years of unsustainable home price appreciation" when you,
as former head of Goldman Sachs, were among those leading
the charge, the better to pad those Christmas bonuses. But
that's just the opinion of a cynic who spent 16 years on Wall
we keep hearing from the shills that our economy is "fundamentally
strong." Am I missing something? Is an economy built on world
record levels of debt, from the consumer to the national government,
fundamentally strong? One would think it's the opposite, but
then I didn't study economics at Princeton like one of our
esteemed federal officials.
the credit crisis spread further as the troubled bond insurer
sector faced ruin. New York insurance superintendent Eric
Dinallo proposed a break-up of their business models in order
to first and foremost shore up municipal bondholders and issuers.
But this also means the other side of the bond insurers' business,
insurance and derivatives contracts, could generate huge losses
for the investment banks and others exposed to these products.
The goal is to separate the healthy from the sick, like a
Third World clinic dealing with Ebola. This will all shake
out in the next few days, with one bond insurer, FGIC, already
seeking remedy on Friday.
you have a new issue to contend with, the auction securities
market; some $330 billion in short-term paper where government
entities and providers of school loans raise debt. It has
virtually shut down, pushing the cost of doing business sky
high. Long-time Wall Street buddy Mark R. told me on Thursday
of how this market segment is impacting leveraged closed-end
bond funds and sure enough, page C1 of Friday's Journal addressed
just that issue. Bottom line, many investors in these products
are either going to see their dividends slashed and/or they
may not be able to exit when they want to.
it any wonder that an esteemed mogul such as Mortimer Zuckerman,
publisher of U.S. News & World Report, writes:
simply, this financial crisis is the worst since the panic
that led to the Great Depression. As a result, the recession
may well be deeper and/or longer than any since the end of
WWII. No one knows where the bottom is. That is why the level
of confidence in both consumers and producers has declined
- and must be restored if the financial fiasco is not to turn
into a crisis for the broader economy."
housing, the six-county Southern California region registered
a record low in home sales for January, with 1 in 4 properties
that were sold having been foreclosed on, thus putting further
pressure on prices. The median home price here is at its lowest
since January 2005. Nationally, the median sales price was
down 5.8% for the fourth quarter vs. the last three months
of 2006, while Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius reiterated
home prices will drop 22% between 2006 and 2009, with 15 million
households experiencing negative equity, thus making refinancing
impossible, let alone taking out a home equity loan. Together,
refinancing and home equity LOCs totaled $466 billion in 2006,
according to Fannie Mae. Rocket fuel that is no longer available
for our "fundamentally strong" economy.
keeping with my global real estate bubble theme, I do have
to point out that while both the U.K. and Australia have record
low unemployment, as reported in each just this week, housing
affordability has never been lower. Last week I also told
you of the exorbitant amounts of credit-card debt in Australia
and this week we learned that in the U.K., credit-card debt
for the month of December was 25% higher than the same month
in '06. Staggering.
to keep your eye on the prize, friends; capital preservation.
early in the week were helped by a better than expected retail
sales number for January, but by week's end reality had set
in, particularly in the case of a horrible reading on consumer
confidence, the lowest in 16 years for the Michigan sentiment
survey. And notice how little press the economic stimulus
package received despite being signed into law the other day.
week the Dow Jones and S&P 500 each rose 1.4%, while Nasdaq
picked up 0.7%.
2.07% 2-yr. 1.91% 10-yr. 3.77% 30-yr. 4.58%
trend of a steepening yield curve, lower rates on the short
end and higher ones further out, continued as the bond market
is convinced the Fed has to once again lower the short- term
funds rate, with Chairman Bernanke saying as much this week,
but at the same time inflation pressures are impacting the
long end controlled by the bond vigilantes.
is rising worldwide, of this there is little doubt, particularly
in places like the aforementioned U.K. and Australia, which
in turn is further exacerbating the housing situation in those
countries, and on Friday our Labor Dept. reported that import
prices soared 1.7% in January, up 3.6% the past 12 months
if you strip out petroleum, the highest rate since Oct. 2005.
Jordanian government announced some fuel costs will rise 76%
as it is forced to slash subsidies. To try and alleviate the
pain, though, salaries for public-sector employees, civilians
and the military are being increased retroactive to Jan. 1.
This is a classic example of the problems faced in virtually
all emerging nations these days where governments have been
forced to heavily subsidize energy prices or the country simply
would cease to function amidst total anarchy. But at a certain
point, even government has to seek relief and take its chances
with a restive citizenry.
threatened to suspend shipments of oil to Exxon Mobil in retaliation
for Exxon's legal maneuvering to protect its assets in four
western ventures there; yet the latest example of the issues
faced by Big Oil in dealing with growing nationalism over
the control of energy resources.
IPO market on Wall Street is the worst since after the crash
in 1987. Last year investment banks took home $11 billion
in fees. Remember this as you contemplate sticking your toe
into this sector.
banking giant UBS reported a staggering $11 billion loss for
the quarter, including $13.7 billion in additional subprime-
related writedowns, bringing its cumulative total in this
regard to $18 billion. Remember when Ben Bernanke said the
total subprime mess would only cost $50 billion?
watch, part deux: Platinum hit a record price in excess of
$2,000 an ounce, though it's as much about ongoing power shortages
in South Africa, where much of it is mined, than actual physical
demand. Corn is now over $5.00 a bushel. And as folks around
the world are stealing building products such as copper wiring
for their scrap value, even my home town of Summit, N.J.,
is being victimized as idiots have decided to steal aluminum
risers from the bleachers at the football stadium. Are there
no workhouses? Are there no prisons?
firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, which acquired a 51%
stake in GMAC (the financing arm of General Motors) from GM
in 2006 for $7.4 billion, now says it faces "substantial difficulty"
in GMAC if credit markets don't improve. Ergo, since the same
markets are unlikely to over the immediate term, Cerberus
and GMAC have some issues to contend with. Last year GMAC
lost $2.3 billion on the heels of bad home and auto loans.
of GM, the other day CEO Rick Wagoner was on CNBC after the
automaker announced its earnings of 8 cents a share, well
above expectations for a loss of 54 cents. But hold on. what's
this? A $1.6 billion tax credit no one knew about? Gee, CEO
Rick, what was the impact of that on the bottom line? Wagoner
said he didn't know what the figure was.
found this incredible. The CEO is going on the air, touting
a huge turnaround that wasn't there, and he didn't know the
per share impact of the tax credit. So the Street was left
scrambling and as it turned out it was indeed as simple as
dividing the number of shares outstanding into $1.6 billion.
But talk about disingenuous. Nice going, Wagoner.
year, GM ended up losing $38.7 billion, the largest loss for
an automaker since the outfit that made Fred Flintstone's
car lost out to Henry Ford and the Model T.
announced a new round of early retirement and buyout offers
for all 74,000 members of the UAW at GM facilities in the
U.S., in the hopes of replacing them with lower-paid workers,
but there were doubts the company's targets would be met.
The cash payments of $45,000 to $140,000 may look attractive
to some, but you can run through that kind of money in a heartbeat.
a related matter, auto-parts supplier Delphi Corp. is having
problems financing its $6.1 billion plan to pull itself out
of bankruptcy because of the state of the credit market. As
the Wall Street Journal reported, "Delphi's chief lenders,
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc.'s Citigroup Global
Markets are having difficulties syndicating the loan to other
initially was looking for $4.45 billion in loans at rates
up to 9.5%. One distressed-debt investor who passed on the
Delphi debt told the Journal, "(Those were attractive terms)
last summer, but it's a nonstarter now. The deal is not going
well, and GM's in a bad spot unless some of the equity sponsors
saw where many of the automakers are now offering 84- month
car loans. That is beyond absurd, especially when a car loses
half its value after just 36 months in most cases. What's
the incentive to continue to make the payments?
the world's largest insurer by assets, suddenly found a "material
weakness" in how it valued its credit-default swap portfolio.like
by $4.9 billion in October and November, according to the
auditors. All together now. "These guys don't know what they
board rejected Microsoft's $44.6 billion offer, saying it
undervalued the company. Google, once mulling a joint venture
with Yahoo, lost interest, while News Corp.'s Fox Interactive
Media could merge with Yahoo, though while such a move would
create a display-ad giant, it would lack the search scale
of a Microsoft-Yahoo combination.
Jones & Co. announced it was pushing Altria Group and Honeywell
out the door and replacing them in the 30-name Dow Jones Industrial
Average with Bank of America and Chevron, effective Feb. 19.
Excluding thinly traded Berkshire Hathaway, the two new entries
are the biggest U.S. companies by market capitalization that
aren't already in the Dow. The move was partly forced by the
fact Altria was about to split off its international operations.
As for Honeywell, it is the smallest in the Dow 30 in terms
of revenue and earnings, plus industrial companies in general
are not as prominent in the overall economy as finance and
energy these days.
watch, part trois: The cost of a first-class stamp is rising
a penny to 42 cents in May.
York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the economic stimulus package.
want to send out a check to everybody to stimulate the economy.
I suppose it won't hurt.but it's in many senses like giving
a drink to an alcoholic. The government's been doing exactly
that. It's been spending money it doesn't have..This country
has a balance sheet that's starting to look more and more
like a Third World country."
was later criticized for comparing alcoholics to cash- strapped
Americans, but I agree with the mayor.
want an example of a real stimulus program? Try Continental
Airlines, which this month is issuing profit-sharing checks
to its employees in an average amount of $3,500. That's capitalism
at its finest.
watch, part quatre: The cost of my lunch on Thai Thursday
has risen 7 percent. Separately, no Salmon Sundays these days
as conservationsalmon.com is out of the fish until June/July
(at least you know it's real.and not farmed in China) and
I suspect the cost will go up then by at least 10 percent.
York developer Harry Macklowe purchased seven Manhattan skyscrapers
from Equity Office Properties Trust just one year ago for
$7 billion. Now he is in default.
around the area last week, I couldn't believe the number of
homes for sale given the time of year. That is not a positive.
Josh P., who hails from out San Diego way, just told me one
of his neighbors has had his house on sale for exactly one
year, even after cutting the price three times. $2.8 million
down to $2.2 million. Everything's relative, friends..
as this one. Rocker Ozzy Osbourne and wife Sharon cut the
sales price on their Malibu home $3 million the past two years,
to $11mm from $14mm, but have now taken it off the market.
It's available for a long-term lease, however.$37,500 a month.
$33,500 and I'd consider it, depending on the neighbors. [Wall
their joint congressional testimony, Treasury Sec. Paulson
at one point said that despite all the problems in the mortgage
market, "93% of Americans were making their payments on time."
This is nothing to crow about, but when given the chance,
Fed Chairman Bernanke snippily corrected Paulson and said
the percentage delinquent "was closer to 2%."
Friday, the nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide,
said its January delinquencies rose to 7.47% of unpaid principal
balances from 7.20% in December. Now I'm no Alfred E. Einstein,
as Archie Bunker might have said, but it seems to me Sec.
Paulson was right and the ever-haughty Bernanke proved once
again he was clueless.
watch, part cinq: This is not a misprint. Inflation in Zimbabwe
is now running at a 66,212% clip according to government figures.
I believe the last I reported was around 26,000%.
another sign of a punk economy, all eleven casinos in Atlantic
City reported a year-over-year decline in January income for
the first time ever and it's not all due to competition from
I wasn't going to talk about my China biodiesel play again
until there was real news, but I do have to admit I purchased
a little more this week. I'll learn over the coming 12 months
whether this investment was worth it, but for those of you
playing along at home, just a reminder. Since Sept. 24 this
company has had two, 2-day spurts in the share price.one from
$1.15 to $2.25, the other from $2.10 to $2.80. I'm determined
not to miss the next one, assuming it's from the $2.10 level
rather than $1.15.
7:30 am...normally I wouldn't add commentary after posting
my column, but I'm obligated to tell you I just read a not
too flattering piece on the biodiesel company's auditor, also
used by other Chinese companies. I will comment on this next
week but for now understand two things. I've been to the plant,
this is a real operation, and they just received financing
for a massive expansion.]
out my "Wall Street History" column for a good recap on how
some 'got it' and others didn't when it comes to the housing
One of the world's most wanted terrorists, Hizbullah's Imad
Mughniyeh, was assassinated in Damascus, probably by Israel,
in what is viewed by most as a severe blow to the terror organization.
One analyst told the Jerusalem Post, "The fact that the killers
managed to reach such an important figure should sound an
alarm bell in Hizbullah. This means that Hizbullah's top brass
has been infiltrated by the Israelis and Americans."
we may never know what really happened but for now Israel
and its interests abroad are for good reason on the highest
state of alert as Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
said, "(Israel) has crossed the borders. With this murder,
its timing, location and method - Zionists, if you want this
kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this war
himself had to deliver the eulogy by videotape as he is a
longstanding target of assassination as well. "Mughniyeh's
blood will lead to the elimination of Israel." What is not
known is whether the death ends up being a recruiting call
for thousands to join Hizbullah.
I wrote of how uneasy I was over a demonstration planned for
Thursday to mark the 3rd anniversary of the assassination
of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Ironically,
the funeral for Mughniyeh in Beirut was held the same day
but the Army did a good job of keeping the two groups of supporters
apart, plus those mourning Hariri stopped their anti-Syrian
protest a half hour before the Mughniyeh funeral out of respect.
aren't familiar with Mughniyeh's history, he was accused of
carrying out the suicide bombings of the U.S. Marines barracks
in Beirut, along with attacks against Israeli interests in
Buenos Aires among others.]
The parliament finally made some real progress on political
reconciliation in approving a 2008 budget, granting limited
amnesty to thousands of detainees and clearing the way for
provincial elections. It's a start but deep divisions remain
between the Kurds, Shia and Sunnis, best reflected by the
fact the three pieces of legislation had to be bundled together
or else they wouldn't have passed separately. Meanwhile Russia
wrote off $12 billion in Iraqi debt in clearing the way for
the Kremlin to gain more access to oil projects.
Post, in praising the work of Defense Secretary Robert Gates,
to Mr. Gates' readiness to adjust (on the level of troops,
acceding to Gen. Petraeus' recommendation), it's more likely
that President Bush's successor will inherit an Iraq that
is moving slowly toward stability rather than spiraling into
chaos. So it's worth asking why Democratic presidential candidates
Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton remain so unwilling
to alter their outdated and dogmatic views about the war.
Both issued statements Monday denouncing Mr. Gates' statement
and the proposed pause in withdrawals; both stubbornly refuse
to acknowledge that the changed situation in Iraq requires
a rethinking of their plans for the rapid withdrawal of all
U.S. combat troops. As Mr. Gates has recognized, to mechanically
yank U.S. forces from Iraq according to a timetable inspired
by American domestic politics, just when the troops appear
to be succeeding, would be foolhardy as well as dangerous."
by the London Times, it also appears al-Qaeda in Iraq is in
a state of panic, according to a letter seized last October,
contents of which were just released. One al-Qaeda leader
described how his force in Anbar shrank from 600 to fewer
than 20 owing to the Awakening movement where more than 80,000
Sunnis have joined groups designed to help eject al- Qaeda
from the west and northern Iraq.
Critical vote on Monday, to say the least, as we all wait
to see to what extent the results are rigged, if President
Musharraf can survive, and what level of violence there is.
there was an encouraging poll the other day, conducted by
the U.S.-based Terror Free Tomorrow organization, that revealed
only 24% of Pakistanis approved of Osama bin Laden last month,
compared to a 46% approval rating last August. Backing for
al-Qaeda, overall, fell to 18% from 33%. But the same survey
showed 58% suspected Musharraf had a hand in the Bhutto assassination,
while only 7% thought al- Qaeda or the Taliban were behind
For the better part of two years now I have been urging the
Bush administration to end-run President Ahmadinejad and talk
to his chief rival, former president Rafsanjani. This week
Thomas Erdbrink of the Washington Post reported that with
Iran's upcoming March 14 parliamentary vote, it is clear Ahmadinejad
and his supporters are "sweeping aside" the old guard, represented
by the likes of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and
clerics have a chance at regaining the political prominence
they enjoyed in the years following the 1979 revolution, analysts
say, it will be under the leadership of former president Ali
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Rafsanjani's two terms in the 1990s, his faction controlled
several important executive and economic institutions in Iran,
among them the Oil Ministry. He helped bring cleric Mohammad
Khatami to power as his successor in 1997.
supporters, known here as reformists, included many onetime
revolutionaries, such as former students who came to regret
their 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Rafsanjani's
political allies teamed with the reformists and together they
began arguing that Islamic law is dynamic and adaptable. They
also favored reestablishing relations with the United States
through compromise and proposed minor democratic reforms."
reformists are either being pressured not to run in the parliamentary
elections or are being excluded from the candidate list outright.
One newspaper editor told Erdbrink that there is little likelihood
the cleric-politicians who gained power after the revolution
will rebuild their standing. "They are not a part of the decision-making
process anymore," said Iraj Jamshidi. "I don't see any chance
of a comeback."
this prove to be the case, and with Iran ever closer to gaining
the bomb, it will be one of the giant black marks on the legacy
of George W. Bush. Ahmadinejad was vulnerable, but Bush's
incredibly unimaginative foreign policy team, despite its
recent success in Iraq, blew it. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad is
heading to Iraq on March 2, the first such visit by an Iranian
leader since the 1979 revolution.
One thing is clear. The chief foreign policy goal for China
this year is to have a successful Beijing Olympics and this
week the government took a hit amidst a new chorus of boos
concerning its alliance with Sudan. Director Steven Spielberg
quit as artistic adviser for the Games, saying "My conscience
will not allow me to continue with business as usual. At this
point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies,
but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable
crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur."
Nine Nobel laureates signed a letter also urging a change
in China's policy.
Chinese are fighting back and the people are incredulous that
Darfur has become such a big issue when it's their moment
to shine on the world stage. They are also upset over charges
some Chinese nationals are alleged to have been involved in
stealing classified military secrets, as the U.S. government
indicted a Pentagon employee who is accused of passing on
material related to the space shuttle that was then forwarded
On a different
matter, the government is beginning to estimate the damage
from the storms, an initial cost of $15 billion (tourism revenues
over the Lunar New Year holiday off a projected 70%), with
90,000 square miles of farm products destroyed (look out food
inflation) and 1/10th of the forests damaged (90% in the hardest
something I didn't know. Trees take up only 18% of the mainland,
while the average worldwide is 31%. Yet another reason why
China has such a disastrous pollution problem.
there is Taiwan. Wendell Minnick of Defense News had a story
on the development of Taiwan's new land attack cruise missile.
Vice Defense Minister Ko Chen-heng said:
deny there's a development plan.The range cannot be publicized,
but they aren't intended to strike civilian targets such as
in Shanghai or Hong Kong.
China lacks capability to cruise across the Taiwan Strait
for a landing operation, China intends to fire missiles in
the political and economic nerve centers of Taiwan to cause
social paralysis, thereby forcing the U.S. to surrender."
however, that the U.S. government has been pressuring Taiwan
to halt development of the weapon and then he adds:
has boosted its capabilities to prevent intervention by the
U.S. military in times of emergency. Taiwan must wait for
the arrival of U.S. troops to fight together. Therefore, it
is essential to secure capabilities to make counterattacks
on China's missile and radar bases as well as runways for
military aircraft in order to buy time to delay China's invasion
Mr. Ko. The United States is not coming to the defense of
your good people (the best in the world that I've ever met).
That's the ultimate tragedy of it all.
Once again, state-run Gazprom threatened to shut off the natural
gas supply to Ukraine, though it was averted at the last minute
as Ukraine agreed to start paying $1.5 billion owed Gazprom,
while the latter is reported to have agreed to freeze the
price of gas exports to Ukraine at last year's level. Russia
supplies nearly 75% of Ukraine's gas, but 80% of all Gazprom
shipments to Europe travel over Ukrainian territory.
last news conference as president, Vladimir Putin said he
would hold the office of prime minister as long as Dmitry
Medvedev remains president (8 years then, for starters). Ergo,
Vlad the Great will be puppet-master.
touted his economic successes, which we all know are due solely
to soaring energy prices and he also issued now standard warnings
that NATO better watch its encroachment, as well as saying
recognition of Kosovo's independence (expected any day now)
would be "not moral and not legal." [To this end, Serbian
Prime Minister Kostunica issued his own warning to the people,
saying Serbia would not allow itself to be humiliated.] Putin,
in scolding the U.S. and many EU countries that are set to
recognize Kosovo's independence, said "Are you not ashamed
in Europe of the double standards you are applying to settle
problems?" in comparing the status of Kosovo to separatist
conflicts in parts of the former Soviet Union such as Abkhazia,
South Ossetia and Trans-Dniester.
Ukraine, Putin warned that if it joined NATO, Russia would
"face (the) need to take retaliatory action." And Vlad announced
he would grace an upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest in April
with his presence.
at a NATO security summit the other day in Munich, Ralph Peters
of the New York Post related a comment by South Carolina Sen.
Lindsey Graham, in attendance, who when questioned about Russian
Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov's complaints about NATO said,
"If Russia feels surrounded by states that subscribe to democracy
and the rule of law, it should feel lucky."
Parliament voted to lift a decades-old ban on Islamic head
scarves at Turkey's universities. The secular establishment
was upset, but the vote was overwhelming in favor.
Korea: The South has hard evidence Pyongyang is diverting
rice aid to the military, not that this should come as a shock
to anyone. It just puts more pressure on the government in
Seoul for having no checks on the $billions it has been sending
across the border.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued an apology to the Aborigines
for the tens of thousands that were forcibly removed from
their families as children.
for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments
that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on
these our fellow Australians."
however, are not satisfied and want compensation.
the men and women of our armed forces. We
also pray for the victims of Northern Illinois University
and their families.
for the week 2/11-2/15
S&P 500 +1.4% 
S&P MidCap +0.2%
Russell 2000 +0.4%
Nasdaq +0.7% 
for the period 1/1/08-2/15/08
S&P 500 -8.1%
S&P MidCap -7.3%
Russell 2000 -8.4%
Bears 35.6 [Source: Chartcraft / Investors Intelligence]
great week. I appreciate your support.
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