..the gang that can’t shoot straight

From the Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes: “Did you hear about the Scotsman who quit golf, then took it up again twelve years later? He found his ball!”

Bloomberg Quote of the Day: “Defeat is not the worst of all failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.”  – George Edward Woodberry

Bloomberg Top Stories:

*S&P 500 Index Futures Fall as Dollar Slips Versus Yen Before Fed Meeting

*Fed Asset Buying to Reach $1.14 Trillion by 2014 as Bernanke Pushes Easing

*Home Prices in U.S. Climb by Most in Six Years, Case-Schiller Index Shows – San Francisco first, Minneapolis second. Only decliner in top 20 was New York City!

*RBS Drops on Report U.S. Authorities Want Guilty Plea in Libor Settlement

*Ford Profit Beats Estimates as F-Series Boosts North America to a Record

*Italy’s Borrowing Costs Drop to Near Three-Year Low in $11.4 Billion Sale

*Lilly Earnings Beat Estimates as Sales of Cymbalta Depression Drug Climb

*Gold to Head Toward T1,800 Before Drop in Second Half – it had better hurry!

*Insulting Your Boss on Facebook Put at Risk in Court Ruling on Obama Picks

After achieving its lofty perch of 1,500…to much hoopla, the S&P froze…almost literally. It traded in an incredibly narrow range of 1496-1503…that’s a SEVEN point swing, and closed just under 3 points lower at 1500.18. The Dow lost 0.1%. Dow Utilities and S&P 500 -0.1% and the rest of the major indices were up less than 0.2%, with similar narrow ranges. Dow Financials fell by 0.3% led by Brokers -0.6%, while Banks were off about 0.3%. Bank of America was most active, down 1.2% while GE gained 1%. That’s about it. Advance/Declines and Breadth were mixed with NYSE stocks -1.3% on both and AMEX stocks +1.3% each???

NYSE volume was a weak 3.36B shares while shares traded on then NYSE ran 656M – the fifth straight day of less than 700M shares…weak and a retail buyers strike? Hmmm.

Global stocks generally weaker by about 0.3% except UK +0.1%, Korea +0.9% U.S. stock futures slightly higher at session highs: DOW +30; SPX +3; NDQ +4.50%.

Bonds are came back from Friday’s selloff and are up slightly overnight with the 10 yr Treasury at 1.96% vs 2.00% and the 30 yr at 3.14% vs 3.17%. The long Tip is 0.49% vs 0.51%. Foreign bond yields are lower across the board by 2-7 basis points except Japan which is 0.75% +2. Greece at 9.94% -4! Spain 5.15% -7.

Gold fell modestly but from well below the 200 day closing -$3.80 to $1655.00 ($38 in four sessions!), This is the lowest close since January 9 and negates the attempted rally. The $1636 low on 12/21 – lowest since 8/21 is critical support!  It is up slightly  overnight to $1663.30 +$5.30 Crude rose by 56 cents to $96.44, trading in a very narrow range for a third straight session after putting in an intraday high of $96.92 (highest since 9/17) last Wednesday. Overnight it is $96.51 +.07. Lack of confidence?

…or talk straight to the people.  Ah, the Congressional follies are on again. First we had the budget compromise, aka ‘kick the can’ back at yearend…actually not signed until Jan. 2. Then after the stunning defeat of the GOP who snatched it from the jaws of victory, they held a retreat and took turns blasting the course of the party and need for reform. Wonder if the Tea Party members were even there. Then came the debt ceiling proposal to raise it for three months with no need for offsetting cuts. Yesterday, the immigration solution, peppered with comments that the reason was that for the first time ‘it is more harmful to be against immigration than for it.’ Wonder if the Latinos will recognize it for what it is: pandering to them! Even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) a Cuban has done a 180 and is sounding like that was his plan all along. Doesn’t matter how or why…at least they are talking again!

But will the Tea Party join or even allow the lovefest? Highly doubtful!

While everyone complains about the tax structure, don’t hold your breath waiting for serious reform. Why kill the ‘carried interest’ provision that helped enrich Mitt Romney and so many others on Wall Street when that is where the money came from? There are so many things that could and should be reformed but it is highly doubtful anything of significance will occur and without that the wealth gap will continue to widen until the majority says ‘enough.’ They will too, if and when a real leader emerges to unite them. If so, the wealthy may wish they had given some ‘dimes’ to the less fortunate, majority. TB worries too because it is possible that not only the wealthiest Americans will be punished but the remains of the middle class. It has happened before…not here, but then we have never had a wealth gap this wide. No nation has and survived. That is because we have a vote and we had better hope that it is not misused by an opportunist in sheep’s clothing.

Ah, but the economy is rolling along, right. Why home sales are back to levels of 2007 (like stocks, right?), even though they were modestly lower in December. But they are only a third of the peak year of 2005…what is amazing is how they are getting there. People are buying them but wealthy speculators continue to do so and then rent them out.

…and the beat goes on…and on…

A friend wrote suggesting TB was harsh on Phil Mickelson yesterday. He was an example of the thoughtlessness of today’s wealthy people. Imagine having $150 million and worrying about where you live because of taxes? Want someone else who did that? Arthur Laffer…father of supply-side (trickle down) economics or at least the one), who sold his ‘compound’ in La Jolla (it really was with exotic plants and animals!), and moved his company to Nashville due to a low tax rate. You decide if that is sensible.

As for Phil’s charitable foundation, that is laudable but it is the relative size that matters. TB tried to get figures but was unable. Look at Bloomberg, Buffett, Gates and others who have vastly reduced their personal wealth for foundations…and none of them complains about taxes.

Strange thing in the Lance Armstrong case which TB thought about ever since the USPS team was formed: what was a losing operation doing putting up millions to sponsor a cycling team? It boggles the mind…like the Army buying time in Superbowl commercials and sponsoring Nascar and drag racing cars? Just a thought…

Have a great day!

TB

. . .  – – –  . . . (SOS!)  . . .  – – –  . . .  (SOS!) . . .   – – –  . . .  (SOS!)

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