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.


What a Difference a Day Makes

Unless I'm missing the obvious, any consecutive two days in the markets these days would qualify for being the impetus for today's blog title.

It's becoming a truism that no two days are alike, unless you consider diametric opposition to be the sincerest form of flattery. A truism that's repeated almost as consistently as hearing parents tell you just how incredibly different their children are in all aspects of their lives.

Wednesday was an absolute yawner. The fact that I was napping during the last hour of the trading session and missed that 60 point drop just means that it never really existed for me. When I woke up, nothing was really any different.

Today? Where do you start with decribing today?

Ted WilliamsWell, you probably need to start with some sort of baseline. What represents the world's greatest change from one day to the next?

Some would argue that the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima was such an event that so markedly distinguished between before and after.

Others might point to the assasination of John F. Kennedy, the day that an entire nation lost its innocence and left Camelot, never to return.

I think that Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice, best describes the transition that can be seen from one day to the next.

The photo that you're looking at is not the cryogenically gone bad head of the baseball Ted Williams. If your memory fails you, that's the picture on the day he was spotted at the intersection off ramp.

Here's what he looked like after you blinked your eyes just a few times: Ted Williams - What a Difference a Day Makes

 

Quite a difference, no?

Well how does yesterday's market action stack up next to Ted Williams?

It certainly was no flash crash and we've certainly seen volatility in the markets before. But today was at the very least not like the day that preceded it.

Obviously, I'm not prone to hyperbole.In fact, no one is less prone to hyperbole than me.

Today's action reminded me of speed dating, that is, if I did that sort of thing. We got to see a little of everything and exaggerated reactions to just about everything. There was also plenty of opportunity to make bad situational decisions.

Bad employment numbers, more Greek worries, less Greek worries, release of strategic oil reserves, resolution of Greek crisis, capture of Whitey Bulger and visions of Barney Frank and Ron Paul toking on a big one in a congressional hot tub.

These are a few of my favorite things.

I know that I'm not very smart when it comes to micro and macro-economic issues, but I'm still having a really hard time understanding the plunge in crude oil futures based on the graduated release of 60 million barrels of oil.

Oh, I see. A few days of reserves, over a few months.

Sure, that should tip the markets upside down. The fact that the Saudis had no great opposition to the symbolic move and the little bit of a squeeze it may theoretically place on Iran and Venezuela makes it all worthwhile.

Besides, now that I've had to modify my diet in response to the sludge like cholesterol induced blood that I have, I've cut out at least that much oil from my deep fryers in less time.

Maybe I'm just not following the right people on Twitter.

The only one that made the case that the reaction to the strategic oil reserve release was ridiculously overblown was Dennis Kneale from FOX News and FOX Business.

I'd say "Bravo", but that's an NBC property and they might take litigation against me for using that word in a direction laudatory of Dennis Kneale.

At least I can still say "WINNING" without hesitancy.

But maybe it was something Bernanke said in the after press conference party that got people worried. Do you think that maybe after a few kirs, he started spouting that not even QE 12 was going to get the economy out of the "Loo"?

Somehow, I have a hard time seeing that possibility. I know with great certitude, that the Federal Reserve Chairman would have used the word "crapper", owing to his southern heritage.

I also know with great certitude that I never used the word "certitude" prior to last week.

Whatever the cause, the volatility was there today. One measure, the ProShares Short-term VIX ETF was all over the place today. It traded in an 8% range today, finishing just pennies off its lows. It's June 2011 options were equally volatile, although that probably shouldn't be overly surprising, should it?

Like Riverbed Technology and Home Depot, the VIX ETF was still up all day. I only mention the latter two, because I had mentioned this past Friday that I was planning to purchase shares in both.

As I further mentioned on Monday, I didn't, having instead added shares in Halliburton, Freeport McMoran and Sallie Mae, instead. I'm not sure why I bother making those kind of disclosures.

Well, there's always tomorrow. After all, isn't that the theme?

In today's trading, it seemed as if there were really two transformative events, or non-events.

The oil reserve release and the reported Greek financial crisis resolution.

A tale of two absurdities.

The belief that a cultural way of life enjoyed by Greek citizens will be abolished by decree and banking fiat is probably not terribly realistic. Just more of the same. Kicking it down the road.

The fact that the per capita debt of the United States is actually $1,000 more than that of Greek citizens can't have too much relevance. Otherwise, we'd be doing something about it now, instead of tomorrow.

From my perspective, I don't care if our injudicious and wreckless fiscal actions effect my great-great-great granchildren. My reasoning is that I'm not very likely to have that strong of an emotional connection to them to be worried about how they've been left holding the bag for our frivolous ways and neither will my own kids.

So let's just do what we need to do today, to make tomorrow just another day of great denial.

Not denial of things that we value, like things, just denial of things that are irrelevent, like the concepts of truth and facts.

I guess in that way today and tomorrow don't really need to be that different.

 

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