Massive Memorial Day Weekend Linkfest

Good holiday weekend! Its been the first positive week in a while, and the action saw the YTD performance of the SPX (briefly) joining the Nasdaq as negative for the year. (The Nazz is now down slightly YTD).

Why the markets caved this month looks to be more than a mere case of seasonal affection disorder, and we will delve into a variety of possible causes this morn. But since its the official kickoff of Summer, we range far and wide to bring you all manner of sources on all kind sof topics. Bring the laptop with wireless internet access to the beach, and go at it — we got ourselves a monster linkfest!

Its a 3-day weekend, and the official start of Summer, so of course we have lots of picks for you to click:

• Barron’s ask’s "What’s the bigger Bubble: S&P500 or CRB? The answer may surprise you    (If no Barron’s, go here)

• This month, commodities got whacked, while emerging markets melted down. So why did these markets tank? Quite a few theories abound:

Japan Sank the Market


Chinese Bank IPOs

Hedge funds (a new "contagion" or Reshaping Global Investment?)


Overseas Correction was due

– Its just a Commodities Correction (says Commodities Trends)

– No, its just an Equities Correction (says Merrill’s Bob Doll)

Pick your favorite, theory, mixing and matching is not only allowed, its encouraged! 

• My favorite pick as most ironic explanation dates from January 2004: The Great Humiliator.  The Bull won’t be over, wrote Ken Fisher, until the Bears throw in the towel. Merrill’s Richard Bernstein and Morgan Stanley’s Stephan Roach — both excellent strategists with a very Bearish tilt — did just that early May, just in time for the global whackage.

SPEAKING OF CONTRARY INDICATORS: Just before the selloff, the WSJ front page trumpeted "Behind Surging Stock Market: Old-Fashioned Economic Boom" (if no WSJ, go here). Was it a coincidence that just before the rally, we saw these two headline: Bears on Street Ask ‘How Far?’ Amid Pullback (if no WSJ, go here) and this: Bulls Retreat Worldwide as May Rally Turns to Rout.

We all know Market Timing can be a cruel mistress, but . . . man, whatta bitch.

• Let’s not just point fingers at Macro Strategists or Journalists — Forbes asks the question "How good are fundie analysts at forecasting earnings?"  As it turns out, not very.

Fed Chair Bernanke sent a letter to Jim Saxton, Chair, JEC. In it he (shudder), said that CPI Overstates Inflation (Puh-Leeze!)

• Incidentally, anyone else notice the brief Yield Curve Inversion this week?

• I agree with Alan Farley: We could see a rally this summer up to the old highs, then its Cue The Fat Lady;

• What have corporate executives learned from Enron? Apparently, not a hell of a lot. Dan Gross reminds us that  Fannie Mae, RefCo blow up, and the Options Backdating scandal are all post Sarbanes Oxely:  Lay and Skilling Aren’t the Only Guilty Ones.

• The comparisons with this market and the 1987 Crash do not hold up particularly well.

• The cover of this week’s Economist refers not to the US Equity markets, but instead to the Housing/Real Estate market; This makes it less of a buy signal for stocks.

• John Hussman notes the Textbook Warnings: "Market risk tends to be unusually rewarding when market valuations are low and interest rates are falling . . . Similarly, market risk tends to be poorly rewarded when market valuations are rich and interest rates are rising"

Stock Futures & Options magazine offeres this primer on how to use trends to time entries:  Trading with the Trend: It’s as Easy as ABC   

• The other bad comparison is 1995. I bring in a guest blogger for Dear God, Please stop talking about 1994-95

• If you trade for a living, you probably will go through 3 Phases of Trading Business  Maturity;

• What happens when a Lawyer tries to auction his future Social Security benefits on eBay?  GOING ONCE, TWICE

• Back in January, I advised readers to Buy Volatility. I expect there to be another good entry point for VIX calls sometime next month (readers are advised that these are European style options, and expire on Tuesdays); Meanwhile, heres a broad overview of VIX commentary:

Time To Buy Volatility, Sell Stocks (Forbes)

The Calm Before The Storm (investors insight)

Low Volatility pointing to some “Big Moves” in Investment Markets (PDF)

So much Inflation data, so little time:

• William R White, head of Monetary and Economic Department Bank for International Settlements, asks is Is price stability enough?  (PDF of working paper) John Mauldin has more on this)

• Its not quite here yet: Stagflation; Its the same old dilemma All Fed Chairman Face.

WWGD? (What Would Greenspan Do?)      

• The shills and montebanks are coming out in force on Owners’ Equivalent Rent and Inflation

• And in case you missed it the first time, Bernanke says Price indexes overstate inflation.

• Meanwhile former Chair of the CEA Greg Mankiw is blogging

• Last week’s Indonesia quake toll has passes 2,700

• Good Question:  Why is GM’s stock rallying to a six-month high?   

Interesting Real Estate and Housing developments:

We see the continued decelleration, with a 7.3% decline last month. Northern Trust had some excellent charts on Housing Market Cool Down, and New Home Sales.

Particularly hurt: Florida Home flippers’ investments flop as Housing prices in S. Fla. remain in a rut.

Barron’s cover story is on housing inventory, The Big Glut (free to Marketwatch readers)

These 16 Real Estate Web sites that can save you time and money.

• Energy and Commodity news has kept us busy also:

What has been driving Gold prices? A shift in global distribution of holders; CNN/Money looks at how hedge funds, traders, and Big Oil are really driving gas prices.

What is Commodities "Backwardation?"

You can check out spot prices on energy markets via Bloomberg and EIA/National Energy Information Center;   

Meanwhile, Gas Prices Aren’t Deterring Summer Travelers.

• Since no one has whined to loudly about our POLITICAL links, here’s some more:

-This was a surprise: Intelligence Czar Can Waive SEC Rules

– Amusing equal opportunity takedown of both political parties Walt Handelsman: No place like home (flash cartoon)

-Murray Wass discusses a Rove-Novak Telephone, and what it means to the Plame Leak Investigators

– My friend in the Nassau Conservative Party is "off the reservation" when it comes to the President. This apparently, is part of a national trend, according to the author of How Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause in Bush’s Base Betrayal.

– I was surprised by the Conservative base abandoning the President, thinking the drop was more likely to be due to (Liberal and Moderate) Republicans. That seems to be happening, according to Gallup reports showing a Large Drop in Support for Bush.   

-The Roper Center at UConn looks at Presidential approval ratings going back to Roosevelt.

– A reader sends in this chart, looking at Presidential Approval Ratings and net midterm congressional seat gains/losses. Since the 1970s, there is a very strong correlation between a President’s approval rating and how well his party does in the midterms

– Meanwhile, regardless of your politics, this is a great list: The 50 greatest Conservative rock songs via National Review.

– From Polling Report comes this surprising collection of polls on Religion

– Are Wars actually cyclical? Interesting graphic history

– The Washington Post has a big overview on The Threat of Climate Change

– And because we are equal opportunity offenders, Howard Dean reassures Democrats: ‘WE WILL FIND A WAY TO SCREW THIS UP’

So much Tech news this week, its hard to know where to begin:

10 fast-growing tech companies

• Bob Cringely in a two parter, noted Google Doesn’t Have to Try Nearly as Hard as Microsoft; (Part I is Why Microsoft Is Headed Down and Google Is Headed Up)

• Two consecutive weeks with a Paul Kedrosky link:  Fire Steve Ballmer Now;  Also, see this on The geek who took on Microsoft

• As Mister Softee slips further behind, Apple continues to push the envelope: This is so %^$%# awesome:  Nike + Apple = Cool Gadgets

• MP3 Newswire points out there are actually other MP3 players: iPod Killers for Summer 2006

Funny Da Vinci Code Apple  parody/mashup

Global Language Mapping

25 Things I Learned on Google Trends

• How insane is this: Nuclear weapon PC case mod

• Via Clicked, comes three cool links:

Why do people contribute?  What makes people spend
their free time contributing to group sites?  Who are these people, and do they
already exist or can they be made?

– The BBC offers a slide show of a new dam in China, telling the story
pretty well for only ten photos.

– "I’ve heard rumors about a pilot
who demonstrated that you can pour
a drink in the cockpit while doing a barrel roll
and not spill a
drop."  Scroll ahead to 2:09.





• This weekend kicks off the  Summer movie season, and there’s lots of good stuff out there worth reading.

CNN Money looks at Future of Hollywood

The WSJ breaks the Box-Office Code (free) Also, in films, Love Is Now a Four-Letter Word (WSJ sub) 

Fortune says, John Lasseter is Pixar’s magic man

On the small screen, after a slow start, the Sopranos has started getting interesting again (A pool cue? Ouch!).

The Office is one of the few recent British sitcom transplants that works well in the US (see the definitive guide
to the original on BBC). Its a car wreck, in a Curb Your Enthusiasm
kinda way. If you are not yet a fan, there is a marathon this Thursday
of 4 Office episodes on NBC. Catch Steve Carrell is all his annoying brilliance.

Also worth watching (now in reruns): Extras. Ricky Gervais — co-creator and lead in the original The Office — creates and stars in this dark satire about acting. There’s only 6 episodes
out so far. You must catch Kate Winslet, outfitted in a Nun’s Habit,
trying to teach Ashley Jensen how to indulge her new boyfriends
phone-sex fetish. Hysterical!

• Some interesting Music links

Blender, whose lists usually blow, has more hits than misses with their 50 Worst Things Ever to Happen to Music. They get off on the wrong foot by naming with number 50, naming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band malignant. (Imbeciles).

Stereophile Magazine has an interesting piece on XMSR this month: All of XM’s Trials; I have a good quote in it, based on this post Will XMSR Customer Complaints Kill its Stock? The answer, unfortunately, turned out to be yes, as the stock is down 61% over the past year.

Listening wise, I’ve been enjoying  a gew things: I’ve never been the biggest Miles Davis fan, but I really am enjoying this 4 disc set : The Blue Note & Capitol Years. If you like Trip-Hop/Acid Jazz,check out the better cuts on The Rebirth of Cool or Jazzmatazz   

And I am stricken with how fabulous the sound quality is on the Sarah McLachlan Storytellers DVD.

One of my favorite unknown bands, Roman Candle, has a new disc coming out next month: The Wee Hours Revue; You probably never heard their outstanding debut album, Says Pop. "a joyful assortment of finely crafted rock, country, and pop tunes." If FM Radio didn’t suck so bad, this is the sort of music you would be hearing more of. Finely crafted lyrics mated to delightful melodies delivered by a tight five-some.  Its a great beach listen, too.

• In lthe world of iterature this week:

Working on the "Great American Novel" over the weekend? Lifehacker points to the freeware program yWriter that helps budding fiction writers "break each novel into chapters, break each chapter into one or more scenes, and give each scene a goal, some conflict and an outcome."

A study by lulu finds the Life-Expectancy of Bestsellers Plummets.

But the book I am mot excited about is by Legg Mason’s Strategist, Michael J. Mauboussin: More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Place. To get a flavor of what his work is like, read "What Have You Learned in the Last Seconds (pdf)

In case it rains over the long holiday weekend where you are, here are a few amusing items to keep you out of trouble:

Hilarity ensues: I love most of the stuff this Google search finds   

Deal Breaker cracked me up on Thursday with this headline: Impending Enron Verdict Slays Everyone At CNBC

10 Steps You Can Take To Guarantee Failure   

Will Ferrell Bloopers

• Is this a real product? The Egg McMuffin Machine

• People sending you email junk? Send them here: Thanks No

• A series of car crashes captured by security camera in a tunnel in Russia — be sure to see the two trucks at the end.

You’re still here? It’s over! Go . . . . GO!

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on May 29

    I have just read Northern Trust’s Daily Global Commentary and now ask the following:
    1. Where is the housing bubble? Don’t prices of assets decrease rapidly when a financial bubble pops?
    2. The slowing in price appreciation from 16% to 4.3% is not a Price Correction.
    3. 6.0 month supply is considered equallibrium. The good news is that all who want to buy a home will now find one, new or existing.
    4. Although residential real estate has died down, strategic real estate is still in accumulation: Ocean view property, Lake front property, commercial property, resort investments, retirement living and foreign ownership in places like Costa Rica. However, for the average person prices are way out of reach.

  2. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on May 29

    From THE BIG GLUT:
    “For starters, many second homes have been sold not to serious vacationers but to speculative investors hoping to cash on the national real-estate craze. How else to explain why six out of 10 second-home owners surveyed by the Realtors group own two or more homes in addition to their main residences?”

    HOW ELSE? THIS IS A TREND, NOT A FAD, THAT STARTED AFTER 9/11. Too many people are unhappy with their lives in urban areas and they have started to invest in their retirement dreams earlier. That’s why vacation lot sales are up so much over the past 4 years. For those who can afford it they are buying and using their retirement homes as vacation homes early. They also view it as good investements.

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