TheAcsMan's blog

Excesses

We're Americans.

We love excess and excesses and are probably harboring lots of pent up need to exercise excess, just waiting for an economic turnaround to finally get here.

In the meantime as those parts of the world that were once derisively referred to as "third world" are discovering the joy of excess, we still know how to party with the big boys.

I'm not certain whether I meant that literally or figuratively.

On Wednesday and Thursday my oldest son and I were in New York City, a place I rarely went to during all of the years spent growing up in the Bronx.

Of course, back then, the only places in "the city" to visit were things like museums and art galleries and they always seemed to take their child unfriendly causes to excess. Even the dinosaurs were a bit much, as if bigger was actually better when it came to extinct species.

Some of the great homes along Fifth Avenue, past residences to the Astors, the Morgans and others weren't appreciated by me back then, either.

Not even the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a display of inflated cartoon characters taken to excess was enough to attract me to see them on anything other than a TV set.

They didn't have things like Bloomberg News and CNBC back in the old days. Not just to watch on TV, but to physically step foot into.

Those are great attractions. I'd see them any day. And that's exactly what we did while visiting the past couple of days.

Sure, Wall Street was always there, but I never knew about Wall Street when growing up.

The funny thing is that I still have no desire to actually visit the epitome of capitalism. No desire to have the obligatory bull and bear picture taken. I did, however, want to have a picture taken with some Occupy Wall Street protestors, especially since they are, among other things, protesting the great excesses of Wall Street and banking.

Maybe next year,

Corned BeefAh, but a picture of a real New York corned beef sandwich. Now we're talking pictures.

On the way back home we stopped for New York deli food. Not to be overly chauvanistic, but you really can't get that kind of corned beef or pastrami anywhere else. The nice thing about the New York delis is that they don't offer corned beef sandwiches with a choice of cheeses or breads.

You get a choice of pickles, or if you don't like choice, you just get them all.

Talk about excess, but at least the elimination of cheese respects your need to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and the pickles must do something good.

I think that they're meant to be swallowed whole to help propel the other ingested contents toward their ultimate destination.

The corned beef sandwich shown barely captures half of the entire sandwich.

No match for these delicious monstrosities, we gave in to woefully inadequately sized stomachs and sheepishly asked for doggie bags.

I was never so embarrassed, having always finished all of my restaurant meals in the past.

We placed the leftovers in bags and put them into the car trunk and just watched the rear chassis sag and groan a bit. A sight and sound very similar to that which we observed in many of the deli's patrons.

The deli trop was a fitting end to the previous day when the market fell 394 points.There were lots of groans.

Talk about more excess.

Yet another day where the end result was one of an over-reaction, except there was really nothing to which the reaction was in response. Not even a rumor about a plan to have a plan to solve the Italian debt crisis falling through.

In professional trading circles that's referred to as a third derivative.

I can understand that kind of excessive reaction only because it's not very rare anymore, but I still can't understand the root cause. How is it that all of these very smart people who are driving the trading decisions of the big money players so rapidly fleeing their convictions?

But still,  I can also understand the excessive reaction of Green Mountain Coffee Roaster shares after announcing  poor earnings and questions continuing regarding accounting regularities.

Of course, when I bought my shares a few weeks ago I was fully aware of the overhang and the possibility of finding a chalk outline on the floor of the board room. That kind of unpleasntness could easily send a momentum stock reeling.

And it did.

But nearly 40%? After already suffering a 40% or so decline from its recent high?

Excessive?

Earlier in the morning I was sitting in the parlor of the cute boutique hotel in which we stayed and was watching the ticker showing Green Mountain's descent.

It was ironic that while I was stirring my coffee with what appeared to be a genuine silver spoon that my Green Mountain daily disaster's bitterness was being tempered by silver's own descent.

Since I now own a sizeable piece of the ProShares UltraShort Silver ETF's, I like it when silver prices go down. So as silver was doing just that, after a recent climb, my small Green Mountain piece, which has been nicely hedged with weekly options over the past three weeks was less of a nuisance.

In a show of true excess, Bloomberg Rewind actually lived up to its name and then some. On Thursday, it showed a clip of my Wednesday appearance on the show talking about the impact of Green Mountain's after hours announcement.

Sort of like Bloomberg Meta Rewind.

Although the clip seemed to indicate that I wasn't worried about the then 35% after hours price drop, I think it was taken out of context.

What I had actually meant to say was that I violently vomit at the very thought or taste of Green Mountain Coffee.

But I can see how they might misinterpret my words.

Fat guyWhen the day finally settled, some of Wednesday's excess was sucked out of the system, although Green Mountain decided to just settle in near its low for the day.

Normally after having a stock take a big hit like this  I would exercise the "Having a Child to Save a Life " strategy. But with Wednesday's broad drop and Thursday's half hearted recovery, I may not see any cash free up from assignments to pick up additional, but now discounted Green Mountain shares.

That prospect leaves just as bitter a taste, because an opportunity is a terrible thing to waste.

Or I could choose this opportunity to follow the Bernard Baruch axiom of selling when you hit the 10% loss level.

Conveniently, I'll include my options premiums received over the past 3 weeks in the calculation and ignore that advice.

I suppose that you could possibly stick to your process to excess and inadvertently create a new dogma.

I'm not a fan of dogma of any variety, unless it's potentially my own. Unfortunately, I don't have enough adherents to be able to call it "dogma."

A cult? Maybe, but it might just be a cult of one.

But if I did have real dogma and it really became popular, I think I would call it "Hot Dogma" and see to what excess I could get people to suck it down. It definitely sounds more palatable that way.

To make it all easier, have a little Green Mountain Coffee to wash it all down. That's much better than the Kool-Aid the other guy was offering.


And a Child Shall Bleed Them

I had a flashback this morning.

It had been nearly 50 years since I's been on the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey, the road that hugs the Jersey side of the Hudson River.

Obviously, we didn't get to that side very often and with the exception of an enduring admiration for Bruce Springsteen and his endless stories about his home state, I've never had reason to return.

I've made it a point to avoid all New Jersey public restrooms along the way as I've made the journey from Washington, DC to New York

PalisadesThe last time that I can recall being on that road was part of a family outing that took us to the old Palisades Amusement Park. Like Freedomland, an amusement park in the Bronx, Palisades Amusement Park has long met the wrecker's ball and real esate speculator's grasp.

Unlike Freedom Land, at least Palisades Park has found immortal fame by being the title of a rock song from the late 50's by the Coasters.

For all I know, it may have been the Platters and it may have been in the 60's, but you don't pay good money to read this blog for certified details.

As a child, I also remember going through what turns out to be a series of universal beliefs among children, up until reaching a specific developmental milestone.

My Sugar Momma, with whom I celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary today, will gladly volunteer the opinion that I've never reached certain developmental milestones.

Nonetheless, I believed that the person appearing on the television screen could see what I was doing, because all kids believed that.

Captain Kangaroo must have thought that I was a sick f**k.

And like all kids, I also believed that everything that occured in life happened because of something that I had done.

Sort of like Laszlo the Dog believing that the FedEx guy left his turf because he barked loudly and ferociously in his direction, each and every time he comes.

That's the same reason why kids always believe that they were the cause of their parents' divorce.

I continue to grieve over the Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher divorce, even though there little rational basis for feeling that way.

But here I was today, a very exciting day for me, but now one tinged in shame and a feeling of personal responsibility once the market decided to have a seizure.

My bad.

Thanks to the entirely accidental efforts of my publicity agent I found myself appearing on Bloomberg Rewind, hosted by Matt Miller.

As a strong believer in mathematical modeling, I can state with great certainty that every time I appear on Bloomberg Rewind, the market goes into a tailspin.

The facts bear me out on this one and I understand that it can only be my fault.

There I was to promote myself, my book and my fervent belief that the GOP debate should have included Joe Paterno and should have not been influenced by the sad reports and allegations.

Anyway, the past couple of days I had moaned about just how boring the past two days had been, but I'll still take the 200 point gains, thank you.

Driving along the Palisades Parkway and following the market's dreadful action, I couldn't help but believe that I was responsible. The images of childhood came back, but along with them were those developmental traits that had been long buried.

What had I done to cause a 400 drop? Was there anything that I could do to make things better? Could I have been a better investor and not such a disappointment to the market's overlords?

How did this child bleed them?

Surely things would get better when cooler heads prevailed. Of course, that's what most believed 2,000 years ago, as well.

When the market opens on Thursday, that may well be the case. But as far as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, things aren't likely to work out that way.

After delaying its earnings release by about two weeks and being in the crosshairs of David Einhorn, today was a bad day to announce disappointing earnings.

In general, you know that it hasn't been a good day when the best news was that Groupon's share price didn't fall as much as the overall market.

"Yes, Mrs. Lincoln, but his tophat is untouched'"

It was also a bad day to own Green Mountain shares, although Thursday will be worse as the institutional sellers begin to bail. Now might be a good time to scrap that strategic deal with Starbucks and instead infuse those soon to be non-proprietary K-Cups with some Diageo offerings or maybe some brown heroin.

But still, the thoughts haunt me.

Was there anything I could have done about that? Was that my fault?

Surely I could drink more coffee. Increased risk for prostate cancer may be a small price to pay for a couple of dollars rebound.

Besides, I already have the mustache and already donate to my namesake, the American Cancer Society.

Or I could not have gotten myself so enthralled with the $5 weekly options premiums over the past 3 weeks that it would have wiped out all feelings of guilt and responsibility.

Granted that those premiums bought the cost basis down, but still, I have to take responsibilty. I mean, why else would this company with questionable accounting and a questionable story ahead of it, just drop off the cliff?

As I deal with today's plummet, I also dealt with that childhood belief that the TV characters were seeing me and watching everything that I did.

Still, if that's what it took to be on good behavior, maybe that's a childhood trait that we should retain forever, maybe helping our weakened super-egos deal with all of the temptations out there.

And do, today I was on good behavior.

I even wore a sport jacket and tie as I learned that the people on the TV screen were actually three dimensional characters. Not only in their appearance, but in personality, as well.

Knowing that my segment would be up against yet another GOP candidates debate, I tried to fight off the guilt that I was responsible for the sorry state of the candidates.

Who shall lead them?

No one seems to really want it.

It just amazes me that people are beginning to talk up the Newt Gingrich surge in the polls.

What I'd really like to see, now that I'm in New York for a couple of days is a Rupert Murdoch New York Post inspired front page shouting out that "The Troll Rises in The Poll."

Granted, the extremists that seem to prop up the most unlikely of candidates have already backed away from that ocularly crazed Minnesotan, although that could just as easily describe Jesse Ventura.

Watching a replay of the debate after arriving back at the hotel following Bloomberg Rewind, it was clear that the candidates were there own worst enemies.

Especially Rick Perry.

There's no plausible reason for anyone else to take blame for his belief that he could lead.

With a market selling off 400 points lots of people are ready to fall into the "follower mode" and persue their need to panic.

As long as everything remains on paper, and paper only, why not pay attention to what technicians are always telling ius?

Not only do stock prices revert to their means, but so too should our emotions.

Whether feeling giddy about a couple of hundred points climb or in panic over losses like today, common sense should tell us that even those emotions should seek to revert to a mean, especially before doing anything stupid.

Like dumping shares wholesale.

Or you could just pop Zoloft.

Ultimately, I don't know if another "child shall lead them."

That would be sacrileous to think so. It's bad enough that I was in Cirque in NYC laughing at what appeared to be a statue of a Hindu God.

I disown those moments. I feel guilty about them.

But the child in each of us, the child that reacts based on an undeveloped system of cognition will definitely bleed us, if we allow it to happen.

Take today's 400 point loss on paper and only feel guilt if you choose to join in on the fear. Instead prey on the greed and the fear that others exhibit.

Lead yourselves out and everything else will follow.



 


Got anything Better to Do?

The other day was a perfect sign of the doldrums we're in at the moment.

No. it wasn't the boring day in the stock market that I discussed yesterday. And sure, today was more of the same.

Regardless of how boring these first two days of the week have been, no one that I know is about to complain about the extra 200 points that have been tacked on to the Dow in the absence of any tangible news. Since I don't consort with short sellers for the most part, everyone I know has been happy with the relative calmness of the past two days and happily accepted the added bonus of gains.

Actually, as I look at my Google+ circle I guess I really don't consort with anyone, unless geometry now allows you to define a circle on the basis of a single point.`

In what seems a lifetime, I haven't heard anyone mention the word "volatility" or use the phrase "risk on/risk off." For that matter, "catch a falling knife" and "rip your face off rally" have also taken much needed breaks. Although that, too, may be related to my lack of circle size.

But I do watch lots of TV and those sounds have been silent.

What could have been a day of great excitement on Tuesday turned into just another great yawner as Italy failed to live up to diminished expectations.

Conrad Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson?

Yawn.

Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, set to resign once economic reforms are passed?

Yawn.

SausageBut the real sign of the boredom that's set in centered on the latest Republican dynamics in their contest for the 2012 GOP Presidential nominee.

Had you not known better, you would have thought that the debate a few nights ago from Las Vegas was part of the process of coming down to the wire with the last remaining and surviving candidates.

Bloodied from the previous grueling debates all that were left from the once huge pool of Presidential wannabes were Newt Gingrich and Hernman Cain.

Clearly at this point it would have to be a battle of gladiators to fight until the death, if only two of the standing candidates are there to debate.

Much like ancient Greek gladiators who knew no fear and retired only upon the time of their battlefield death.

Instead it was the meeting of the two sausage kings, Newt Gingrich, sausage by staure and shape and Herman Cain, sausage provocateur du jour.

Obviously, they had nothing better to do, while the likes of Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann and the rest all had reasons for not getting involved with what promised to be a verbal blood bath.

Given that previous debates have seen the moderators criticized for asking questions that sought to elicit differences among the candidates, you would have expected more of those kind of fireworks, but not between the candidates.

Instead, the Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich in a combination Kumbaya/Rodney King moment urged his fellow combatants to resist the goading of the moderators who were clearly allied with the Democrat enemy in attempting to get the Republicans to bicker in public.

In the world of politics it's not surprising to find words nuanced, but most people seem to have the same understanding of the meaning of "debate".

In the past, the meaning of that word hasn't been open to debate.

What is this thing you call "debate?" is a question that's rarely asked, except at GOP debates.

Instead, this most recent debate was just a lovefest, so well suited for the likes of Bill Clinton's biggest detractor on the morals front, Newt Gingrich, who had proven himself to be quite the player and illicit lover.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Not on the same plane as Democrat John Edwards, but still, pretty scummy and hypocritical. Even for a politician.

Not to be left out, Herman Cain, deacon of his church, is battling allegations daily of seeking to insert unwanted sausage into each and every order.

Papa John's doesn't have to be the only one playing the Sausage Fest game. 

And why not? As Godfather's Pizza CEO, he knew the great value of extra toppings and great customer service.

Back in those lonely Washington DC days, lobbying for the NRA, not to be confused with the other NRA, which was once led by an actor who knew how to quiet the desert dwelling and commandment craving crowd with his own staff, Cain was just a good servant.

Even if you have something better to do, you can't just leave your sausage unattended for any length of time. Otherwise, it will go bad from disuse.

Cain knew that all too well and was proud of that sausage. Listening to his comments this afternoon, how could you not possibly believe that his attentions to an increasing number of women were anything other than pushing his fine product.

On a real positive note and demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit that is still alive, Godfather's Pizza announced their new limited time special offer. The Herman Cain. An extra large pizza with unwanted sausage.

With nothing much better to do this day, I at least got a couple of "yawner" kind of trades off. The kind that will barely be enough to cover Wednesday's trip to New York City. I sold some calls on Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, British Petroleum and Amazon.

Although not on the agenda, if the boredom continues, I may just stop off to see the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon and maybe snap a picture or two.

Unfortunately, I'll be competing against Wednesday's GOP debate.

While they'll be lining up for another debate, this one sponsored by CNBC and taking place in Michigan, I'll be appearing on Bloomberg Rewind, hosted by Matt Miller, who is bravely growing out his mustache on air, in honor of "Movember" in order to help raise awareness of prostate cancer.

I'm hoping that I'll be asked my opinions on debates and the canddates, but I don't think that's in the cards, although I did warn the producer that I suffer from a variant of Tourette's Syndrome and may occasionally blurt out details of my tax plan.

Although I'll miss the CNBC sponsored debate, because I do have something better to do for a change, that excuse won't last very long.

The next debate is being sponsored by the Cartoon Network and any number of GOP candidates seem to have an inside track to be the crowd favorite on that one. You can never go wrong with Paul or Bachmann in that regard, but wtach out for that Gingrich. He cuts a pretty cartoonish figure, reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty.

Hopefully, by then volatility will be back and Italy will entertain us in the manner that we had come to expect.

I'm tired of yawning these past two days and am pinning all hopes on the dysfunction that everyone has been expecting to come out of Italian politics to lead us back into the promised land.

But in a nod to the contrarians, so far, Berlusconi is letting us down by avoiding the theatrics that we'd come to expect.

It's not as if he has anything better to do, after all. Why can't he upstage Papandreou and make Merkel and Sarkozy do slow boils as they try to save the European Union despite their "challenged" Meditteranean brethren.?

Besides, what's a 75 year old billionaire going to do? Go out with a couple of underage hookers?

Exactly. So he does have something better to do.

Yawn.


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