Summer Doldrums Linkfest

The lazy hazy days of summer have given way to the late August doldrums. The heat wave broke, and some nice early fall weather (lo 70s) showed up — only to slide towards a wet weekend in the Northeast. 

So, too, slid the markets: The nice pop last week gave way to a listless sidewinder this week, as the Smart Money headed to the shore or mountains or river — anywhere but the canyons of lower Manhattan. With the A team gone, 3rd Stringers and Rookies manned the terminals. And it showed, in the lackluster, low volume, directionless trading. 

More than once this week I mistakenly thought my PC froze — the board was that lifeless. Where were the flashing lights, spinning numbers, change in ticks? Alas, that will have to wait until after Labor day. And if you thought volume was anemic last week — well, just wait until this week. I expect Thursday and Friday will be sub-billion share days on NYSE.

Besides, adrenaline junkies shouldn’t be trading anyway. What they should bve doing is looking for links for your weekend reading pleasure:

Why are you so obseessed with Housing? Over the past 18 months, I’ve been asked that by more people than I can recall. Well, this week, we got the answer to that question:

• Before the new and existing home sales reports were released this week, we looked at How We Got To This Point in the Housing Market

What’s the official data say?

Existing-Home Sales Down With Softening Prices (Realtor Association) 

Builder Confidence Slides In August    (National Home Builder’s Assoc.)

Housing Starts Cool 2.5 Percent In July (National Home Builder’s Assoc.)

• Put this in the common sense file: In Housing as in Most Things: What’s Up the Most, Falls the Most   

2Q home prices for 151 markets

• One of the big mysteries of the housing market is this: If year-over-year sales have fallen 21.6% since July 2005, then why are home prices flat? It has to do with math:  Why Don’t Big Housing Sales Drop Produce Big Price Drops?

• The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has alot of leeway for local brokers to enter price information about home sales into the NAR database. It turns out that some of them may be lying;

• Whither Housing? To answer that, watch these 10 Economic Indicators (pdf)

Unsold Manhattan Apartments are at 10-year High; While Foreclosures are up 5% Last Month, 18% From Last Year, they still are far off of record levels.

• The penultimate question: Is a Housing Crisis Approaching?

Many worthwhile Investing stories worth exploring this past week:

• Bulls & Bears:  an interesting collection of quotes and statistics about pundits

• The NYPost’s Chris Byron goes postal on Nasdaq

• Forbes looks at Naked Shorts: Failed Trades

• THE RISK POOL  What’s behind Ireland’s economic miracle—and G.M.’s financial crisis? (hint: Demographics)

• Are there economic reasons for American’s Obsesity epidemic?   

Are there any similarities between the Dot-Coms in 2000 and Housing in 2006

• Steve Roach says the Housing slowdown will lead to another Post-Bubble Shakeout   

Lose All The Money In Your Trading Account In 30 Days Or LessGuaranteed!

• Are Consumer Electronics Caught in a Deflationary Spiral? Bargains Are Near; Just Keep Waiting

Good news for me: Evidence that lefties earn more

• The Rich are different from you & I (they have more money); But the Ultra-Rich, they are really different — especially the way they spend their money.

The Federal Reserve made some news this week:

• To be filed under WTF? The Fed argues that Tech — not their ultra low rates — is what fed the housing boom

• 8th Inning Fischer says China’s economy poised to overtake US

• The Fed has argued the economy could tolerate higher levels of
Inflation due to the US’s fast growing Productivity. Wat happens when
that  Productivity begins to slow? (Hint: Inflation);

Copper prices soar amid labor dispute

• Inflation or just rampant collector’s speculation? Anger as 2005 Bordeaux wine fetches record prices

•  Bernanke’s Jackson Hole Speech on Global Economic IntegrationBo-ring!

Three interesting Oil / Energy stories:

The Oil Sands Rush   

The Contrarian Case for $50 Oil

Are "Fuel Surcharges" a Scam?   

A ton of Science and Technology news this week:

NASA Finds Direct Proof of Dark Matter (see also this Harvard release)

• Nice problem if you can get it: Google has too much cash!

• Pluto: Planet no more and Rethinking the Solar System

Why Steve Jobs should buy YouTube    

• Amazon is about to jump into downloadable video;

Using patients’ own “killer” cells to battle cancer;

• Hmmmm, An iPod for TV;

Ricky Gervais secret Microsoft Office

Oh, the Places You’ll Go and the Fun You’ll Have! (apologies to Dr. Suess)

• As mentioned just above, two hilarious Microsoft Faux Training videos, featuring The (UK)
Office’s Ricky Gervais, were yanked from You Tube. As of this morning, you could still catch them on Google
Video (parts one and two), but they will likely be gone by Monday. Why? I cannot answer that — you would think Mister Softee would be more PR savvy by now;

• Compare & Contrast: the new CGI Grand Theft Auto inspired/GTA parody Coke Commercial on YouTube — I don’t think Coke minds its been posted — the advert has been watched over 300,000 times (across 20 different postings).

• Missed the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance? Here’s the full catalog

• Drive a Ferrari 430, and you’ll never wipe that sly little grin off your face   

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation (as in graphic comic book)

Six Horrifying Parasites

The Human-powered rowboat Submarine

• The best Toyota Ad you’ll ever see

• Guess what happens when an iPod accidentally falls into an Airplane Toilet? Total Transportation Mayhem!


Music Makes Your Brain Happy

The Flaw of Television News, as told by an Army Lieutenant Colonel who doesn’t watch TV

• I caught CSNY live at Jones Beach theater this week — they were one of the last big Boomer acts I hadn’t seen. How was the show? I’ve been a fan of their harmoniesa nd songwriting for years, and the music was great. Amazingly, Neil Young is as full of rage as he was 30 years ago. You can see his concert videos here and stream his entire new album here; The concert playlist is here (scroll down)

• New rock stars use Web videos to win fans (really? go figure!)

• I did see Little Miss Sunshine (trailer) last week — great cast and terrific writing made it a fun movie. I also caught Miami Vice (trailer) last week — and while I enjoyed it, I kept wondering what it had to do with the 1980 series of the same name (nothing);

• I just added David Swensen’s Unconventional Success to the book queue;

• If you missed it, definitely catch Comedy Central’s Roast of
William Shatner
. George Takei (Mr. Sulu) and Betty White stole the
show, despite a dias full of professional comediannes.

• And since he is not here to defend himself, Cody Willard’s Whisper To Me (yes, I am one cruel SOB motherf$#@&*r).

Yeah, I know: I went a little long, and a little heavy on the time-wasting videos, but what the hey, its a boring rainy summer weekend. Besides, you may have to go without next week, as I plan on Jet Skiing and ParaSurfing (weather permitting) over the long holiday weekend.

See you in two weeks!

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Tony Winston commented on Aug 27

    penultimate = next to the last (definition)

  2. DBLWYO commented on Aug 27

    BR – thanks. Always appreciate the business/fin/econ stuff as it’s eclectic and useful. And am usually informed and entertained by your alter egos contributions as well.

    But this time wanted to particularly thank you for the 911 Report which I was unlikely to have found. It’s extremely well done and hopefully it’ll reach a broader audience.

    Having known people in the security/intell community in the mid-90s I followed some of that and was aware of their frustrations and disappointments at not being allowed to do their jobs. But, as the graphic report makes pretty clear IMHO, we weren’t prepared nor able to justify it.

    My dad flew C-47s (DC-3s) in Aus/New Guinea during WW2, at a very bad time to be a transport pilot and brought home some of his manuals. The USAAC used Hollywood artists and cartoonists to reduce extremely complex flight training manuals down to faster and more graspable materials for the many thousands they had to train.

    This reminds me of that effort. Too bad it’s the only one.

  3. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Aug 27

    Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale AZ 272.2 11.8%


  4. brion commented on Aug 28

    Are you saying Cody Willard did that Whisper to me” song??!?
    I love shoegazer rock and that is actually a pretty good example of it….

    Barry, if you like more Beatle-y stuff what do you think of mine?

  5. Royce commented on Aug 28

    Swenson’s Unconventional Success was kind of a turgid read, but the guy knows his stuff and has a lot of interesting things to say about the utility of different asset classes, allocation strategies and the uselessness of the retail mutual fund industry.

  6. MikeF commented on Aug 28

    I recently finished David Swensen’s book, “Unconventional Success” and found it to be great primer for those new to the fundamentals of managing risk through asset allocation. Mr. Swensen is the highly regarded Chief Investment Officer for Yale’s $15 billion endowment where he has earned annual compounded returns over 16%. His discussion of what should constitute core and non-core asset holdings in a portfolio is sensible and pragmatic. In addition, he is highly critical of the financial services (i.e., mutual fund) industry and the Morningstar rating system and provides numerous examples of how individual investors have been repeatedly disadvantaged by both. I highly recommend this book to any individual with a 401(k) or IRA account to manage. My only criticism would be that his writing style is, at times, a little dry and academic. One should note that many of the resources that he utilizes as an institutional investor (private equity and absolute return products) are not available to us mere mortals and he is upfront and candid about that.

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