Thursday, February 26, 2009

Implosion, Meltdown, Who can truly comprehend $3.55 Trillion?????

Okay so another $410Bn was approved by congress last night and the question is where will this all end. With $3.55 Trillion now sanctioned, thats 1/3 of the entire national debt, one has to ask, why are they giving away all this money they dont have when they havent even spent the original $900Bn and seen the economic impact and fallout.

They always say you dont truly see the impact of a Presidents bills until 8-10 years later and alot of the consequences of Bill Clintons actions are now being felt (giving away panama canal, deregulation of finance - where the hedge funds really grew as a phenomenon, changes to foregin labor visas etc). I truly feel sorry for our children who will feel the ful economic impact of Obama and the Democratic run congress and senates bills. I am no republican and i was a very big critic of George Bush but i think we are truly about to witness the implosion of the US economy and an end to its global dominance.

Bring on the next decade, it probably belongs to China and India.....

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Travelling like a Rock Star kills the economy

So who would like to charter their own provate jumbo jet and fly from Washington to Chicago for dinner for Valentines night..... Why the president of course, Barack took his wife to chicago for dinner on airforce one for Valentines day at a cost of several million dollars.....

Didnt the motor company bosses just get hammered for making a similar flight......

Grounding airforce one which is getting ridiculously over used right now would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year which would go some way toward making up the incredible budget deficit our new President is planning to create.

Amateur hour has begun in Washington, can Obama even count high enough to work out how many commerce secretaries have resigned to date. If we add another $2-3 Trillion to the budget deficit then we will saddle the country with an unsurpassable burden which will lead to China or Europe suceeding the US as a world super power and the leading economy. This could be the death throes of an empire if we dont let the markets bottom out naturally and start over with a new improved and unbroken system. The patchwork quilt we are creating will leak like a seive and no the wasnt an SIV i was talking about although that works just as well.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Secrets to Travelling Like a True Road Warrior (Relocated from another of my blogs, written - 3/21/2008)

Everyone talks about the big things in travel, I want to bring up a few of the smaller items that people so often omit or don't even know about, the creature comforts that make travel not just easier but a pleasure. Her is my top 12 items that could change your perspective......

1) The difference between a 5* hotel and a 1* is invariably their sheets - I turn the worst bed into a luxury with a 100% Silk Travel Liner. It comes complete with a pillow pocket so that even my head is lying upon the finest silk and it all fits in a 3x2" 6oz bag.
You can buy one for $60 from REI -

2) Never check a bag again or borrow an iron. Use Space Saver Vacuum Bags are the best way to pack for travel, they will compress your clothes to 1/4 or 1/8th the size, they will leave the clothes wrinkle free and the airport TSA staff wont open them and mess up, touch or expose your clothes/ dirty laundry in public. I always carry 3 - 1 clean, 1 dirty and a back up.
You can buy them for $20 from Bed Bath & Beyond

3) Rain X Wipes - These could and will save your life, grab one and give your windows a quick wipe before you set off and for the next 3 days, no matter how much rain or snow fall you will be able to clearly see your way - make sure you get wipes as TSA will remove the liquid.

4) Buy your own GPS - It will cost you from $150 for a basic system up to 350 if you want traffic - this will take a lot of the stress out of finding your job, your hotel and your way late at night in the dark. If you work it out renting units will be more costly within 10 days. I also program my job and hotels prior to leaving home or in the airport or even on the flight so that I dont have to deal with it when I arrive and I know what time I will arrive

5) Energizer battery charger - plug it into your phone or your computer and use normal batteries to get you by!

6) Dry Cleaner Secret - Put any suit or piece of clothing in a tumble dryer for 20 minutes on medium heat and it comes out like new

7) Yak Trax are indispensables in snow and ice if you don't want to end up on your ass or looking like one! Slip them on over and pair of shoes for perfect traction in any conditions. Visit but shop around you can get a pro for as little as $16.95

8) The dreaded 4S's may seem like an excerpt from the 7 deadly sins to you but to the frequent air traveler 4 SSSS 's in the bottom right hand corner of your ticket means extra special attention from the TSA. Your going to get everything searched and its gonna take and extra 10-50 minutes to get through security as a result..... Avoid this like the plague, adding an airline frequent flyer program and talking to your airline can reduce how often you face this problem, especially when you have last minute, one way tickets!

9) Clinical Strength Deodorant makes sure you make it through a long harrowing and often energetic day without any telltale wet patches or odor - add anti odor, anti bacterial, cooling undershirt for the perfect finish and finish with a 50ml bottle of EDT aftershave for that fresh scent.

A little more Expensive but these items make a huge difference for me:

9) IPOD Shuffle/ Noise Canceling Headphones/ Eagle Creek Travel Pillow/ Eye Mask - primarily used as white noise to block out the crying babies, engine roar on props and insulate me from the rest of the world for a little while. The travel pillow has a great pocket it folds up into and also allows you to carry all your travel items in one place - i keep my mask and ipod etc in there all the time.

10) Tom Bihn Empire builder suitcase and Brain Cell are the perfect briefcase and laptop combination. Whilst expensive the pockets are so well thought out it makes work and travel a breeze, the padded laptop case means you can drop your bag by mistake and get away with it. It will also ride ontop of your work case effortlessly.

11) You will think i am mad but quality pays for itself - Victorinox 22" Carry on plus Suit Carrier is expensive but should it break for any reason the company will get a brand new bag to you within 24 hours for free and that is for life. Expect to go through 2 lesser cases a year, so go figure, little extra upfront saves a lot of hassle in the long term.

12) Tablet notebook computer- laugh at me all you want but 20% of my jobs are a go as soon as i pull the computer out and start writing on the screen like a notepad. It saves you carrying pads of paper and writing up your notes later - use all the free time you have for the recognition training and it will virtually never make a mistake.

I hope this helps ease the woes of Travel

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The Ultimate Gift (Relocated from one of my other blogs - 12/21/2007)

Every once in a while there comes a movie that embraces or harness the power of human goodness, lifts us to want for or strive for more and to do better. "Pay it Forwards" " Forrest Gump" "Meet Joe Black" "God Grew Tired Of Us" are good examples of this inspiring genre. I was blessed to watch such a movie recently, "The Ultimate Gift" which incorporated and embodied so many values that I personally aspire to hold true.

If you haven't seen the movie then don't read on!

The 12 gifts are:

The Gift of Family
The Gift of Love
The Gift of Dreams
The Gift of Laughter
The Gift of Giving
The Gift of Friends
The Gift of Learning
The Gift of Work
The Gift of Money
The Gift of Problems
The Gift of Gratitude
The Gift of A Day

Take a little time and watch this movie, allow it to inspire you, don't be afraid!

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World Shift (relocated from another of my blogs, written 12/21/2007

The world stands at the edge of a cataclysmic financial abyss, and no i am not talking about the current housing and liquidity crisis, i am talking of something a little further away and somewhat grayer (excuse the pun).

The financial timebomb that is the graying population of the industrialized world.

We live longer, live better, consume more and expend more. If you sit down and read the social security/ welfare document sent each year to every tax paying american, you will also see that the US welfare system is budgeting to run out of money within the next 20-30 years!


thats correct, they admit their funds will have run dry and they will not be able to provide for anyone after that time without a drastic increase in taxes (probably to a scandanavian style 60%) Why is this, because the baby boomers will mature, the first of them passed 59 1/2 in 2005 and thus over the next 10-15 years there will be more people claiming social security pensions than people working and paying into the system, creating an insurmountable deficit.

What do i propose or advocate as a solution, don't just throw stones, give solutions, provide answers that spark debate and could ultimately lead to some kind of resolution. So lets try this, Romania "i believe" recently told its populace they would not be paying for their retirement, people had to plan for it themselves! I think that the social security system is somewhat archaic and grotesquely mismanaged and rather that continue it, make everyone more that 25 years out responsible for their own retirements!!! These people must take financial responsibility and accountability now and start saving.

Several things that need to happen to help society survive;

The government find ways to become more financially efficient and stop or even reverse inflation.

reduce dependency on oil as it is a finite supply and prices will continue to rise even on the exaggeration on the speed of reduction of this decreasing supply. Like Diamonds, it isnt as scarce as prices would indicate, but neither is its supply going to last out our lifetimes!

My solution will have several consequences, many of which i think are inevitable either way, that will be interesting;

The first being that as a collective generation, those that come after the baby boomers will probably be poorer than their parents!

The second that property values will fall significantly as more housing stock is returned to the open market with less inhabitants!

Immigration will increase from countries such as China and India that will become overly populous and lower more affordable prices will draw people in. These countries will ultimately come to resemble Japan and Tokyo in terms of density and expense.

Our generation will have significantly fewer children than our parents as we will simply not be able to afford them.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Credit Rating Agencies - The One Business That The Government Should Run

I am not a fan of the government running businesses and I am even less of a fan of the rating agencies, who are even less able to demonstrate any degree of competence whatsoever.

Here is the problem, they are in the business of providing ratings and they charge the company for the pleasure... do they make a sale or give a good rating?

When you speak to them they have actuarial style tables that investments have to fit into to be rated and then they charge you between $50-250,000 for the rating. In my opinion if you get ratings from three agencies which is pretty normal you end up with $150-750,000 in fees which significantly reduces your yield unless you put together huge funds/ portfolios or deals to justify the costs. The bigger and more complex the deal the less opportunity they have to truly vet an investment or even to be able to understand it. With offshore structures, tax mitigation strategy and complex structures the people scrutinizing the deals are not exactly a location for the cream of the investment, financial acumen gene pool.

The government would have no bonus structure, no side interest and therefore may hopefully have a little less bias if no greater understanding of the deals. Truly what we need is a more astute investor assessing the validity of deals, the problem is that deals are not clearly explained and defined. This would end the perpetual cycle which currently occurs where companies spend huge amounts of money on a rating and cook every figure they know the agency will look at to make sure they get the right rating. (the consultants specializing in this cost about another $50-150,000) The government would be able to avoid so much of this situation..........

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Why commerical and retail real estate arent the bargin they seem to be

With commercial and retail yields rising dramatically in the last several months people have started to dive in and buy at 8-10%.

Why do I not think this is a good idea?

This market didn't just dry up so quickly as a result of the capital markets failure as you might initially think, what has really hit this market is that the economy is so unstable that one cannot guarantee the liquidity of any companies. With major banks collapsing, nothing is safe, a bank portfolio was always considered about as safe as treasuries and had yields to match. I personally wouldn't want to own the definitive bank property in Bear Stearn's HQ in Manhattan re renting a couple of hundred thousand square feet........

That doesn't mean to say that in 18-24 months this wont be a great strategy, once we have seen alot of major companies file for bankruptcy and reorganization the shake up should leave for some great opportunities

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why the Euro might be the place to be

The markets have certainly been in freefall, right now we sit in a lull before the next wave of storms arrive, there is no imminent sign of recovery and the US bailout seems so cretinous there is little chance of it helping the consumer in any way.

Right now I think the strongest trend is to sell Great British Pounds, the country is in a tailspin from which it may not recover;

1) A considerable amount of banking interest in London is no longer UK owned so expect these banks to consolidate back to their core countries taking jobs with them and leaving London as a secondary financial center

2) Expect Germany to pick up a lot of the slack as a financial center based upon the strength of the Euro in the next few years

3) Watch for China and India's emergence as banking hubs

4) The property market has a lot further to fall

5) What little manufacturing there is left is likely to falter due to overregulation and over zealous implementation of regulation making the UK even more uncompetitive

6) No major wars on the horizon to boost government spending, p.s the Americans screwed the UK on a lot of Iraq, Afghan contracts etc so not too much input there (George Bush/ Dick Cheney and their self interest team were pretty thorough there) So once you have divested yourself of GBP think Euro not Dollar.

7) The UK became a tertiary and services based economy with little or no productive output (industry/ agriculture) as such I have always stated they were enroute to becoming the new third world as a continuation of the cycle. How will people in the UK make, create or produce anything to save their economy?

Why not the Dollar:

1) Once Obama fever has passed people are going to realize there is little or nothing he can do to help, he is an ultra "popularist" president with Fort Myers town meetings etc which help for sound bites but the DJ and Henrietta Hughes plight in Florida don't solve anything in the Macro economy. We may even see a repeat of a lot of the Clinton Era's disastrous bills.

2) The stimulus package seems to put a lot of emphasis on tax cuts, which means without sales the government income is reduced, the deficit is increased and the country goes bankrupt. Furthermore this doesn’t actually stimulate the economy like putting cash and sales into the system, which a war and government injection into private businesses does. (We have used that one up)

3) The government has never been able to run anything well especially businesses as the politicians have no idea what they are saying doing or talking about - why Bloomberg wasn’t drafted in to run the distributions to the banks and the bailout is beyond me, he is one of the only self made people in government. When the government starts making cars as they did in England you know it is the beginning of the end, the only salvation for the car companies is to crush the unions once and for all as they are the primary component to be blamed for its current position. Thatcher beat the Unions in the UK to great benefit, I would love to see Obama try and do the same but he doesn’t have the integrity or strength of character to do so as he is so desperate to be popular he wont be willing to make any hard decisions he is already working on this second term campaign and his legacy as to how he will be noted in history aside from being the first black president.

4) Interest rates have to rise, expect to see true underlying inflation of 10-18% within five years Bernanke is compounding on mistakes already in place rather than bottoming out and letting us move forwards.

5) If the government prevents the foreclosures they are artificially propping up the market and supporting financial imprudence, I should have gone out and bought a house twice as expensive as I could of afforded and been rewarded by the government. It makes a mockery of everything. All that does from a banking standpoint is allow banks to keep people who should be fired and policies that need to be changed and the only way to change them is because they are illustrated not to work and maintaining them would be damaging to someone’s bottom line and pocketbook.

So these are a few ideas of why I am not looking at the Dollar either, I would hope to acquire several billion Euro of cash flowing, income producing assets within the next few years, divesting Euro and GBP positions for a Euro resurgence as the first major economic zone to recover.

Visit for investment opportunities in the safest investment other than government treasuries and in my opinion possibly safer than US & UK government treasuries right now which I don’t trust p.s I sure wouldn’t want more than the insurance limit in any banks right now as they haven’t finished collapsing yet there are just several firms with better accountants right now who have hidden more debt off the balance sheet, I find it hard to believe Bank of America or Wells Fargo are solvent, I would have though HSBC and some of the Swiss, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Belize, BVI, Cayman Banks are a better bet.
On a more micro level:

I expect to see Buffett and Gates take full advantage of their cash stock piles and leverage them for incredible returns - Buffett should pass the hundred billion mark within the next few years.

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft’s new store concept works out, seems like an imitation of Apple at the worst time possible so expect to see it bomb.... Their products just don’t work together too well any more and they rely on barriers to entry and buyout assimilation to keep competitors out..... MSFT stock to drop further

I still think Google is the biggest phony of the dot com era out there, whilst I wouldn’t dream of using anyone else for search I still don’t believe their revenue streams. I expect to see a $100 share price within the next couple of years

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