Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Where do you get your news(z)?

I'm going to add a little poll on the sidebar for the next week and I've added the poll to this post.  Please share this post with your friends because it would help with some research I'm doing on the changing face of news.  Thank you!

*** Sorry - I guess the poll didn't work in the post that went out via RSS feed.  Technology, right?  The poll on the right of the homepage - www.grindstonefinancial.com - should work.  Thx.

Where do you get your news?


I think people want their news faster than ever and that they want to see their news constantly updating which is why some people sit on one website and hit refresh 364 times/day.

What if there was a site that did the work for you and brought you the latest news from leading sources around the world instantly?

What if that site did not filter the news through their own political bias like some do?

What if the site was ad-free?  Remember the good old days of Facebook/Google before they began hawking everything under the sun and every car dealer had a flash ad popping up in your face?

What is most important to you - local DWI arrests or Congressional debates on education funding?

You can reply here or email me directly at blantier 4 at gmail dot com (obviously remove the spaces, etc, - I'm just trying to trick the spambots) with any feedback.

Thank you again!

Imagine if Russia had recreated the Soviet Union?

Stocks would have been up 50%!!  Of course, I kid, but the point is still the same.  On Friday, there was concern that Russia would actually follow through on annexing Crimea.  Stocks had their worst week in over 9 mths.  Then Russia does the unimaginable and crosses one of our many red lines in the sand (or whatever catch phrase the polling data says we should use this week) and stocks of course....... SOAR?

Even the most ardent bulls are starting to question this market where down is up and up is down. The number of people that I speak to who are dumbfounded today is reaching levels last seen in 2008 (and 2000).  Anecdotal evidence is also popping up suggesting people that are on the fringes of the market are starting to ask "What's hot?" and the message boards..... I mean Stocktwits is covered with story stock names that have overpromised and underdelivered for 15-20 years both of which are strong contrary indicators.

I'll say that while we are throwing parties as our stock market soars, take a look at the rest of the world - Russia, China, Japan - which are all down 10-20% in the past 3 months.  Also, note that copper, long regarded as a leading indicator of economic activity is sitting at a 5 year low.

and here are the latest revisions to US GDP via @not_jim_cramer


But as Kevin Bacon says in Animal House, "Remain calm.  All is well!"

Cheers!



Tuesday, March 04, 2014

One stat sums it all up...

The last time the Russell 2000 went up 3% AND set an all-time high - as it did today - was March 1, 2000 which was about 2 weeks before the dotcom bubble began its decline.

As a respected trader said today, "Buyer Beware."

The global surge in stocks was driven by a sudden relief that Putin was not going to start WWIII.  There was never any real risk of this, but the computer driven buyers can't be bothered dealing with facts (more on this below).  I believe that this issue is behind us for now, but at some point the market is going to have to focus on the fact that the US is poised to grow at about 1.7% this quarter.

This series of data for January/February car sales sums up our country better than any political pundit could....
  • *FERRARI POSTS RECORD SALES IN U.S. AND U.K. IN 2013
  • *MASERATI GLOBAL SALES MORE THAN DOUBLE IN JAN
  • *PORSCHE REPORTS RECORD FEB. SALES (UP 15%)
  • *MERCEDES REPORTS HIGHEST JAN SALES IN HISTORY
  • *LAMBORGHINI SEES 2014 HURACAN DELIVERIES EXCEEDING 1,800
  • *FORD FEB U.S. LIGHT-VEHICLE SALES FALL 6.1%
  • *GM FEBRUARY U.S. SALES FALL 1%
  • *TOYOTA U.S. FEB SALES DOWN 4.3%
  • *VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA FEB. VEHICLE SALES DOWN 13.8%
  • *HONDA FEB. U.S. VEHICLE SALES FELL 7%
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If you've been reading for awhile you know that I'm concerned with the growing student debt burden that is weighing on our young people.  The old model from my generation - work hard, get good grades, go to a good school, get a good job - is broken and I don't know if it is ever coming back.

On the flip side we have more and more what I would call "subprime students" borrowing massive sums of money to fund their education and in some cases fund other activities unrelated to their education.

I'll include some of the most interesting pieces of this Wall Street Journal report but your really should read the whole article.  It highlights the fact that a growing portion of "student loan debt" is going to finance anything but education.

Take Ray Selent, a 30-year-old former retail clerk in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was unemployed in 2012 when he enrolled as a part-time student at Broward County's community college. That allowed him to borrow thousands of dollars to pay rent to his mother, cover his cellphone bill and catch the occasional movie.

The Education Department's inspector general warned last month that the rise of online education has led more students to borrow excessively for personal expenses. Its report said that among online programs at eight universities and colleges, non-education expenses such as rent, transportation and "miscellaneous" items made up more than half the costs covered by student aid.

He uses roughly $2,000 in student loans each year to stock his fridge and catch up on bills. His wife is a stay-at-home mother who also gets loans to take online courses.

"We've been taking whatever we can for student loans every year, taking whatever we have left over and using it to stock up the freezer just so we have a couple extra months where we don't have to worry about food," says Mr. Matherne, who owes $51,600 in federal loans.

Early last year, when Denna Merritt lost her long-term unemployment benefits, the 49-year-old Indianapolis woman enrolled part-time at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh's online program, aiming for a degree in graphic design. She took out $15,000 in federal loans, $2,800 of which went to catch up on unpaid bills, including utilities, health-insurance premiums and cable."

I wish someone would point these people the plethora of online tools that are available for FREE that would enable them to learn a hard skill.  People would be knocking down their doors, but there's no money in a system like that for the schools, the cell phone companies and the cable providers so we don't encourage that behavior.  Instead we encourage people with a bachelors to go to community college to study acting so they can gain access to more student loans.  :(
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Finally, this is perhaps the most interesting (if depressing) quote I've read in awhile.  A study was conducted which has determined that in the US public health campaigns aimed at increasing public awareness of vaccines and debunking myths about the risks of vaccinations appear to be having the OPPOSITE effect and might be leading some parents to skip vaccines.  Here's the quote of the day and I think you could apply this to many things in our fact-challenged society - "The best response to false beliefs is not necessarily providing correct information."

Cheers!