10 Tuesday AM Reads

My Big Fat Greek Wedding morning train reads:

• Highest Forward 12-Month P/E Ratio for S&P 500 since 2004 (FactSet) but see To Nasdaq 5000 and Beyond (Barron’s)
• Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Hedge funds nearly drowned in 2014, beset by bad news and bad returns. Prepare for a comeback. (Chief Investment Officer)
• Four Reasons to Boost Your Foreign-Stock Exposure (WSJ) see also U.S. Money Managers Are Sending Cash Overseas (MoneyBeat)
• Meet the Wall Street Refugees Running Freddie Mac’s Bond Trades (Bloomberg)
• Women are leaving the tech industry in droves (LA Times)

Continues here



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  1. ilsm commented on Feb 24

    “Please don’t thank me for my service…..”

    I agree, I do not want to be thanked for anything I did or ‘could have done’* while in the military.

    When I use my retired ID at a TSA and the youth sends me to take off my belt and shoes I think: “if you knew what it cost the US for ‘my service’ you would not thank me!”

    In my 30 years of service the US totally abandoned “just war”. Today apologists, including the demented saying Islam is a terrorist cult say all war is filled with atrocity so as long as the exceptional US does it then it is just fine.

    In my 30 years the US became a nation of war profiteers, it privatized most military activities that do not include pulling the trigger and some that do. That privatization improved and perfected the “unwarranted influence” that Ike warned about in Jan 1961.

    So next time I get a “thank you for your service”, I am going to say: “keep paying your taxes we need more waste in war profiteering.”

    *Could have destroyed the world 10 or 20 times over.

    • VennData commented on Feb 24

      Thank you for your comment.

    • ilsm commented on Feb 24


      You Are Welcome.

  2. farmera1 commented on Feb 24


    I thought I was the only one that had a very negative emotional reaction to this off-handed comment from people that have no idea what it means, that don’t know me and had no stake in the events. I react to politicians that talk glibly about wanting war the same way. For politicians (seemingly always gray beards) I secretly wish they will have an opportunity to directly participate in the events they are setting in motion.

    Please the next time you are about to thank a vet for his service think about how the vet might secretly react.

  3. RW commented on Feb 24

    Even Better Than a Tax Cut

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, wage stagnation is not a result of forces beyond our control. It is a result of a policy regime that has undercut the individual and collective bargaining power of most workers. Because wage stagnation was caused by policy, it can be reversed by policy, too.

    • RW commented on Feb 24

      Just another case in point.

      The Patent Theory of Knowledge

      Suppose that the government made its funding partly contingent on developing a usable product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Would all the inventions still sit on the shelf because people are too dumb to make a usable product without the motivation of a patent monopoly? …

      One has to wonder what it is about developing drugs that require patent monopolies when people in so many other areas can be motivated simply by money. It’s a great mystery.

      NB: It’s policy, stupid.

      Who sets policy and how? Well …

      “The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.” –Bertrand Russell

    • willid3 commented on Feb 24

      but but…its what drives the tax cut agenda. even if they never cut %99 taxes.

  4. rd commented on Feb 24

    This is an interesting post looking at the investor returns in Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index mutual funds. The investor returns are better than the actual mutual fund returns which is highly unusual. He posits several different ideas for why this would be but I think he misses a major one. VTSMX is a major component in the Vanguard Target Date funds and LifeStrategy funds. As a result, the periodic rebalancing of these funds means VTSMX is getting bought when it is down and sold when it is higher. Since the “all-in-one” funds are fire and forget for the investors and have also been growing rapidly over the past decade, the investors are basically putting new money in but not shifting it around themselves. Instead, they are basically letting the Vanguard rebalancing process handle any shifts.


    • VennData commented on Feb 24

      V pushes this approach in their corporate plan pitches.

      Buy it, hold it, stay the course.

      The Obama Rally has bee very good to me (a couple weeks away from the annual Obama bottom call.)

    • rd commented on Feb 24

      I looked at the Vanguard Total International Stock fund and it also shows better investor returns than fund returns over the 15 year time frame. It is the other (smaller) portion of the equity component of the Vanguard all-in-one funds. The 15 year timeframe includes two bear markets and two bull markets with very different components leading and lagging in each of them. International and domestic stocks have had very different performances periodically during that period, so the longer trends get picked up in the rebalancing that includes swaps from stocks and bonds as well as swaps between international and domestic stocks.

  5. rd commented on Feb 24

    Unfortunately, the new oil tanker railcar regulations do not appear to be significantly increasing the safety of moving oil by train.


    there are a lot of areas in the country that are quite safe from natural disasters, so the oil trains moving through those communities have rapidly turned into the biggest potential disaster those communities face. This has happened very quickly (just in the past five years), so the communities are generally unprepared and in fact many are largely unaware of the risk. Since railroads are common carriers, there is no way for communities or states to significantly regulate the movement of these trains. Instead, they are just left to pick up the pieces and pay the bills if a disaster occurs.



  6. slowkarma commented on Feb 24

    My reaction to the LA Times story about women leaving tech: My wife says this may be the teeniest bit sexist, so be warned. I think (to somewhat oversimplify things) there are two separate working cultures, male and female. A young intelligent ambitious woman works hard, picks a field, does well, but not as well as she expected, and she sees that as a failure. Or, she looks around for somebody to blame. She sees sexism (which surely exists, but is not necessarily the cause of the problem.) A young intelligent ambitious man works hard, picks a field, does well, but not as well has he’d hoped — just another day in the life. Male culture insulates men against perceived failure because men, with a longer culture of working in corporations, have internalized the idea that they’re working in a pyramid structure, and no matter how deserving one may be, not everybody can get to the top or even close to it. So men have lots of excuses — I want to do other things, I want to spend more time with my family, money’s not everything, I couldn’t do that asshole stuff that was required to move up, I wasn’t willing to kiss the rights asses, and so on. I don’t believe women have developed that kind of excuse culture. They don’t make it to the top, they tend to see it as failure, or obstruction, when, logically, not everybody can move up. That’s just the way it is.

    I also, of course, have a problem with the LA Times. It’s a dreadful newspaper.

    • rd commented on Feb 24

      I work in engineering and I think you are missing the reality of what is going on. I have actually ended up with some all-woman teams working for me over the past couple of decades. The reason these teams were all women is because I was willing to work with the people that the other male engineers my age “didn’t know what to do with” (exact quote from one conversation).

      They were great to work with, eager and willing to do new tasks, very bright, very organized (one of their jobs was to keep me organized), and never gave me budget problems (one reason is that they were all underpaid compared to their male counterparts).

      I would push for pay raises, but could never get them back up to their male counterpart levels. A couple of them had kids over the years. I have no idea how they got the quality and quantity of work done (generally they kept pace or were ahead of their male counterparts, even with the kid duties and maternity leave) that they did while looking after their kids. The male engineers would typically have been far less productive with that added workload and stress.

      Periodically one would leave and get a 25% pay raise which would help the others get a bigger raise that year while management was still thinking about it.

      From a quality standpoint, the very best engineers were generally guys, simply because there was a much bigger male population to draw from, so statistically you would expect that. But the average woman I had working for me was equivalent to an above average male. If you offered me random female vs. male engineers that I knew nothing about, I would take the woman every time because I would have a much higher probability of getting an average to above average worker. However, they were typically paid less than their average male counterpart. The difference is declining today but is still quite visible.

      I think there is still fundamental sexism going on. I have not been able to put my finger on what exactly the causes or remedies are, but it is definitely out there. I deal with design and construction, and the outright sexist comments that I was hearing 20-30 years ago are rarely heard today (apparently unlike the tech sector) but there is still not equal pay for equal work and there is more limitation of advancement opportunity.

    • willid3 commented on Feb 24

      it isnt as much as some think it is, and people burn out pretty quick in it. its not all that unusual to work a lot more than 40, and have lots of on call time ((with your electronic leash). course over the last 30 years, there seems to be more and women in it. but its not like we males dont burn out too

  7. Whammer commented on Feb 24

    @ilsm and farmera1, is there anything besides “thank you for your service” that might be good to say?

    I’ve never been in the military; I have some nephews and a son that are getting to the age where they might think about it. At the moment, I think it is a terrible idea, because I think we, as a country, have become quite cavalier about throwing troops in harm’s way for poorly-defined reasons.

    Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that people are willing to make the sacrifices they make to join the military to begin with, not to mention the obvious “ultimate sacrifice”. I just think that we need to respect our troops, and that means don’t send them off to do terrible things unless we have a really good reason. I am honestly shocked that people are talking about “boots on the ground” because of ISIS — more shocked about civilians advocating that rather than politicians/graybeards.

    • willid3 commented on Feb 24

      i too wonder. then again it always seems to be the of the action that gets folks pumped up. we have failed at the back end since the founding of our country. and up to the civil war, the military really didnt do any thing about wounded troops.

    • ilsm commented on Feb 24


      Since the military’s “job” since 1990 has been muffed and the casu belli have been scammed war started for empire, saying “thank you” is not meaningful, it should be a mention of sympathy for being used and abused.

      I came in at the end of the Vietnam War, did not go to Southeast Asia. I stayed for a full career.

      As a “lifer” I was more like the modern US volunteers. It was a profession and a career, that it had to do with “organized murder” I did not think much of until well after the cold war ended.

      Consider this: the veterans since 1982 have all been “volunteer” which means in part they saw it as a mixture part career, and part a service to the country. No one considers the pain of war, killing is a terrible thing to live with. If the country uses that service for good, which it has not the past 30 years then thanks is a job well done for a good cause.

      The folks who should thank the troops are the war factory workers, and shareholders. Thank us for making their living for them.

    • OkieLawyer commented on Feb 24

      I just submitted a contrary article to this one, rd.

  8. VennData commented on Feb 24

    Home Retailers’ Shares Detached From Reality–Ahead of the Tape – WSJ


    ​Yesterday Rupert Murdoch proclaimed Home Depot is way overvalued and the American consumer is dead and… well.. the same things he’s been telling you for six years now.​

    The ‘Ahead of the Tape’ column should always be referred to as Stuck to the Chair.’

    See, in REALITY on their quarterly conference call Home Depot announced the best quarter since the Clinton administration​ and the stock is up 5% in a day.


    More GOP/Fox News/WSJ predictions that turned out wrong.

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