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Showing posts from September, 2011

Pensions Raising Cash, Trimming GPs in PE?

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Still 100% cash in my portfolio and glad I'm not trading in the last days of this quarter. Been trading terribly lately and it's pissing me off because I'm in no position to lose any money. I'll tell you what else is pissing me off, this rigged market which continues to be hijacked by high-frequency trading assholes and naked short-selling criminals while the SEC and other regulators sit on their hands and refuse to take action.

Instead of covering up Wall Street crimes, providing them with more ammunition to continue the great retirement heist, the SEC should reinstate the uptick rule, but regulators in the US and elsewhere are proving to be the most corrupt, inept, incompetent fools of all the players in the financial world. I'd fire all of them but since they're public sector employees, they're protected and their incompetence goes unnoticed while they aid and abate Wall Street wolves. Then again, the 'United States of Wall Street' is headed down…

Off to the Races Once Again?

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Looks like we are off to the races once again. At this writing, global stock futures are rising as German lawmakers backed a plan on expanding the remit of the euro region’s rescue fund. Nowadays, stocks move up and down like a yo-yo on every little tidbit coming out of Europe. Very tough markets to trade in; I should know, decided to go 100% cash before the huge run-up on Monday and have not stepped back in this market.

Why did I go cash? Basically don't trust these markets and don't trust European lawmakers. It's like watching a bad soap opera. Policy blunders have crippled stocks, the global economy, giving naked short-sellers and high-frequency trading scam artists the green light to profit off all the doom and gloom. Zero Hedge posted a presentation by Bank of America's David Cui on Wednesday stating that he sees a "hard landing" in China.

Then Gary Shilling, president of A. Gary Shilling & Co., spoke with Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker and Deirdre Bol…

CalPERS Seeding Canadian Hedge Funds?

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Dave Dorr of Dorr Asset Management sent me his monthly comment on these schizophrenic markets. I urge you to read it as the Dorr Global Macro fund continues to perform well, up 13% as of August. Dave also sent me an article last week about Calpers putting $100 million of ‘seed’ money in a Toronto hedge fund:
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension, invested for the first time in a hedge-fund startup, putting $100 million into a Toronto-based firm. The deal with Breton Hill Capital, which invests in equities and currencies as well as commodity and financial futures, represents Calpers’ first foray into seed funding for a money manager, Brad Pacheco, a Calpers spokesman, said yesterday in a telephone interview. Calpers, with $223.8 billion in assets, earned almost 21 percent on its investments in the 12 months through June, its largest gain in 14 years. The fund invests $5.3 billion, or 2.4 percent of its portfolio, in hedge funds, according to a stat…

The Great Retirement Heist?

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Ellen Schultz, an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter and author of Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, was interviewed on Yahoo Daily Ticker on Monday discussing the retirement heist, how US pensions were plundered by corporate greed:
It's pretty obvious times are tough for America's working class. The combination of a prolonged period of stagnant wages, high unemployment and shaky economy - including a decade of little or no returns (if you're lucky) on assets like stocks and real estate - make it harder to pay the bills. (See:As America's Middle Class Shrinks, P&G Adopts "Hourglass" Strategy) Meanwhile, New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman, noted in a piece last week titled "The Social Contract," that while the middle gets squeezed, the rich keep getting richer in both real and relative terms. "...the Congressional Budget Office — which only go up to 2005, …

Post Paradise Stress Disorder?

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It's official, my journey to paradise has now ended. I arrived in Montreal on Sunday afternoon but my head is still in Greece. I think I'm suffering from post paradise stress disorder. Went for an amazing workout this morning to clear my head, and here are some random thoughts on everything I'm mulling over:
Why did I leave paradise?: I had an awesome vacation and really didn't want to leave. I can easily live in Greece. I love the weather, the food, the beach, the sea, the sun, the beautiful women from all over the world, but most of all, love being close to my family. I even love the hustle and bustle of Athens, including the dust, pollution, traffic, and chaos. Athens is alive whereas Montreal is dead. I feel so healthy there. Montreal is my home, love it here too, but the weather here just isn't for me and it's especially hard on people dealing with a chronic disease like multiple sclerosis. Everything seems so heavy here. The minute I walked off the plane, …

Moment of Truth?

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A friend of mine sent me an excellent chart from the BBC displaying Greece's debt crisis odyssey. My friend is exasperated with the debt crisis, ratings agencies, financial bailouts, incompetent politicians and financial oligarchs:
Nothing like spreading panic based on total nonsense. A default is probably the best thing that could happen now. Once you reach the precipice, the best thing to do is jump and break your leg. Sitting at the edge of a cliff, looking down into an abyss, wetting your pants, and making yourself feel better by giving a massive donation to the banking system is not helping.

I am now convinced more than ever that the capital markets need to undergo harsh medicine. The EU and the Fed need to stop interfering. No more tarp, quantitative easing, or IMF bailouts. Yes, this will wipe out the half of the financial institutions in the U.S. and Europe. However, this is happening anyways so may as well restore market discipline after years of debauchery. The bank…

Fiddling While Rome Burns?

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Voice of America reports, Global Markets Plunge on US Economic Recovery Doubts:
Global stock markets plunged Thursday as investors worried that the U.S. economy, the world's largest, would not turn robust anytime soon and instead help drag the world economy into another recession.U.S. stock markets plummeted about 4 percent in late-day trading, with the broad-based S&P index of 500 companies retreating to its lowest point of the year. The sharp stock sell-off began in Asian markets, quickly spreading to bigger losses on key European exchanges in London, Paris and Frankfurt, where investors also feared a possible Greek debt default. The closely watched Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 key stocks on Wall Street lost more than half of the amount it has dropped for all of 2011 in just five and a half hours of trading Thursday . Prices for commodities also dropped, with oil sliding nearly 5 percent, dipping below $80 a barrel for the first time in a month on worries th…

A Greek 'Twist' of Global Deflation?

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Left my beloved Crete yesterday to make my way up to Athens. Greece's capital is eerily quiet this morning as buses, taxis, metros, and trams are all on strike. People are striking to protest against the new austerity measures unveiled on Wednesday:
A set of austerity measures to be applied straight away were announced by the government on Wednesday evening as it tries to convince the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, known collectively as the troika, that it is serious about meeting its fiscal targets and should receive its next loan tranche.After a cabinet meeting lasting some seven hours, government spokesman Ilias Mossialos set out in a written statement the steps to be taken, pending Parliament’s approval in the next few days, to reduce Greece’s deficit. “These choices send the message to our partners and the markets that Greece wants and is able to fulfill its obligations, always remaining in the central core of the…

Troika Flirting With Disaster?

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Ekathimerini reports, Troika keeps Greece hanging on for loans:
Greece will have to wait until later this month or even next month, after top officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund have returned to Athens, to find out if it has done enough to secure an 8-billion-euro loan installment that would stave off default.Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos held a second teleconference with the troika representatives on Tuesday night to discuss the measures that the government can adopt straight away to reduce its deficit. A brief statement after the talks said that the two sides had reached an agreement that paves the way for the troika officials to come to Athens next week.Prime Minister George Papandreou is due to chair a cabinet meeting this morning to discuss the steps that were set out during the teleconferences on Monday and Tuesday. These included public sector sackings, reductions to pensions, civil servants’ salary cu…

Rescuing the Titanic?

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I've been taking it easy, slacking off from blogging and tweeting, but tracking the news in Greece very closely. Have to admit, it's depressing and I understand why Greeks are so turned off, not bothering watching the news. But there are also some excellent discussions going on in the news here that none of you will hear or read about in mainstream media.

I've also benefitted from my discussions with family members. One of them is my uncle who is one of Greece's most successful entrepreneurs. He started a plastics company, Plastika Kritis, decades ago and he knows what is ailing the Greek economy. Over dinner on Friday night, we had a long discussion on tax evasion which he calls "Greece's national sport." He said the public system is riddled with corruption and waste and that Greek labor is too expensive and unable to compete with other countries.

My uncle also told me that he will read what George Soros has to say about Europe and the global…