Sunday, August 01, 2010

Random Thoughts

From the Office of Captain Obvious: The FTC's "Do Not Call" List now has 200 million numbers but telemarketers still ignore it.

One woman's story "I had a telemarketer for Sears call me repeatedly over and over despite my request to stop calling. To make a long story short, I filed a small claims suit after writing to the company, and they continued to call. In fact, the last call they placed to my home, I grabbed a tape recorder and I taped it and I wrote the company, I told them, I said, look, you know, you keep calling, I can prove it, I’ve got the proof.

I filed a small claims suit, and the next thing I knew, Sears’ lawyers turned around and countersued me for $10,000 saying I violated state and federal wiretap statutes — and by the way, it is legal in my state to tape my own calls. They also threatened punitive damages."

"Since the list went into effect, the FTC has gone after more than 60 companies alleged to have violated the law. Most recently, in May 2010, it targeted three companies that were robocalling consumers with “urgent-sounding messages from ‘Card Services’ or ‘Financial Services,’ stating that consumers needed to ‘press one’ to speak to a representative about their credit card interest rates. Many consumers believed the calls were from their credit card issuers.”
In reality, the calls were from some companies who thought it would be a nice business to charge in-debt consumers $500 to $1,500 in return for bringing down the interest rate on their credit cards. When the people paid up, the companies “sent consumers instructions to pay down their credit card debts early, thus saving money on interest. Consumers who complained and demanded refunds allegedly were denied outright, got the run-around, or had a $199 ‘nonrefundable fee’ deducted from their refund.”

* There was a great - if detailed - analysis of the impact of the High Frequency Traders on the markets today at ZeroHedge.

"analysis by Nanex in which the market trading analytics firm presented irrefutable evidence of quote stuffing by HFT algorithms in tens of stocks, in which thousands of cancelled quotes would reappear each second with a definitive periodicity and regularity. Aside from the fact that it is illegal to indicate a quote without a trade intent, this form of quote stuffing is in fact manipulative when conducted by HFT repeaters in specific "shapes" as it actually moves the price higher or lower, in cases pushing the bid/offer range up to 10% higher without even one trade ever having occurred, simply by masking a big block order which other computers interpret as bid interest."

The week ahead...

* Auto sales are expected to be between 11.6 and 11.8 mil units on Tuesday. This would be the highest rate since cash for clunkers. I don't have an answer for how this is happening in the face of a weakening consumer. I don't watch much TV, but I've noticed a huge increase in auto advertising in the past couple of months. My current favorite is an Audi ad that preaches the way Audi's retain their value but then wraps up the ad with monthly lease rates.

* ADP data will move the markets on Thursday and the monthly jobs report will be the focus on Friday. The expectations are for a creation of 75k jobs ex-census jobs lost. This might be another confusing report but I think it's hard to imagine the unemployment rate declining unless another 250k people gave up looking for work last month.

A variety of data that hit the wire last week...

* The Census Bureau reported the homeownership and vacancy rates for Q2 2010 this week. The homeownership rate declined to 66.9%. This is the lowest level since 1999.

* Durable Goods orders fall 1% in June

* Truck tonnage fell 1.4% in June


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