Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The FED Cries "No Mas, No Mas" and Throws in the Towel

Another crappy weather day here. Friday things should improve, and this weekend should see temps in the low 80's! I have Monday off and I get out of work at noon om Friday when my company closes for the weekend. Too sweet.

Reader Watchtower wanted to know my opinion of the G-Loomis rods as well as my impressions of the St. Croix line. Well, I exclusively use St. Croix Premier rods for my fishing in sensitive situations. I fish Senkos in extra clear water a lot, and subtle pickups are best transferred along a solid graphite blank. I can feel the senko bait wriggle and fall by touching just above the rod handle. I can even feel a fish mouth the bait and spit it out at times! For $65-$90 dollars there is no finer rod available. The cork handles are extra nice as well. G-Loomis is comparable, but more expensive. Still a fine rod. I use the good old shakespeare "Rhino Rod" when I go Carp fishing because I am always afraid of hooking a huge carp and the rod snapping in two, as has happened on 3 occasions in my fishing career.

Anecdotal Evidence Warning
I love anecdotal evidence because it is so amorphous in value. So many "maybes" can be attached that they either offer a cutting edge insight, or a worthless one off observation. I offer the following item I saw this week for inspection.

On Monday, Tuesday, and today I saw a car pulled over in the breakdown lane and the Massachusetts highway assistance truck pulled over behind it. Nothing weird there, as those puke green vans stop to help flat tires, overheating radiators, etc. In the three instances I saw this week, the mass highway worker was at the gas filler cap putting gasoline into the car!

I realize that cars run out of gas, and I do remember seeing this about 4 other times, but that was over the past 2 years. 3 times in 3 days? Right as gas prices are climbing? Coincidence? You be the judge, but I think folks are trying real hard to stretch the gas as far as possible. Anyone else see anything like this?

Mainstream Media Stories Almost Reflect Reality
If the current trend of reasonable news stories continues, this blog might wither and die. I saw no less than 5 stories that actually asked a few questions and made some basic observations. What a concept, I know. Check out this one of the many that stood out to me, full link here:

The article goes over the Freddie Mac mythical earnings report from a while back. Good reporting overall on the balance sheet shenanigans. At the end the author, Jonathan Weil, hits it out of the park and resonates just like this humble blog with this quip:

"While the accounting-rule makers can't fix Freddie, they can fix the rules, by treating all securities the same and counting all gains and losses in net income. That would render the meaning of the word ``temporary'' irrelevant, eliminating the opportunity to abuse it.
Until then, we're left with a system in which the only reason Freddie Mac is now solvent is that everyone who matters has agreed to believe it's true. That can't last forever, either."

Perfecto! Welcome to the "pretend, deny, delay" club!

Dick Bove Already Squirming Away from his Ridiculous March Call
Loyal readers may remember my favorite clueless shill, Dick Bove formerly of Punk Ziegel, now Ladenburg Thalmann company. My March 20th post can be reviewed here:

Basically Mr Bove said that the US financial crisis was over. Done. No uncertain terms, no ifs ands or buts (butts?). Here was the quote from then:

The U.S. financial crisis is over but problems facing the economy are not, said Richard Bove, financial analyst with broker Punk Ziegel, adding that this was a "once in a generation" opportunity to buy bank stocks."I do, in fact, believe that the crisis is over. There will be more negative developments but they will be meaningless," Bove wrote in a note to clients."This comment sounds ridiculous given the conviction on the part of most commentators that the worst is yet to come; the extent of the decline is unknown; and that the length of the decline is similarly unclear," Bove wrote."An environment has been created that will pump profits into the American banking system," Bove said

Certainly a gutsy call! How is Mr. Bove doing on his rosy forecast? Well, let's take a looky loo:
Shares of Lehman fall amid hedging concerns
Wednesday May 21, 4:52 pm ET
Lehman shares fall amid speculation hedging losses and severance will hinder 2nd-qtr results
NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. fell Wednesday as an analyst said less-effective hedging strategies, and severance costs, may hurt the investment bank during the current quarter.
Lehman's shares fell $2.44, or 5.8 percent, to $39.56. Shares have traded between $20.25 and $82.05 during the past year.

Try to guess which analyst! Try hard!

"The company's hedges which worked so well to blunt the impact of markdowns in the first fiscal quarter may not be working so well now," Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Richard Bove wrote in a research note. "Plus, Lehman has begun the process of laying off personnel."
If hedging strategies failed in the past three months, Lehman could post a quarterly loss when it reports fiscal second-quarter results, Bove said. Lehman's fiscal second quarter ends May 31.
The amount of money Lehman must pay out in severance as it slashes jobs is also unclear, Bove said. The size of the cuts and severance is likely to hurt financial results during the current quarter, he added.
Bove cut his price target to $38 from $48 and his fiscal 2008 earnings estimate to $2.36 per share from $3.87 per share. Lehman's fiscal year ends Nov. 30.

Well there you go. A once in a generation opportunity to buy financial stocks! Well maybe he meant it would take a generation to get your money back. HAHAHA. If you bought LEH on Mr. Bove's great call on March 20th at $48 bucks a share, you are looking at $40 bucks right now, a sweet 20% haircut. The worst is over crowd just got one smart ass smaller it seems. Way too funny.

The FED Cries "No Mas, No Mas" and Throws in the Towel

Fight fans may recall the rematch fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran. Leonard was running around the ring, jabbing and clowning, and frustrating Duran so much, he tirned his back and said "No Mas, No Mas" (No More) to the referee and gave up the fight.

It seems the FED is at the same point. Embarrassed (hopefully) by the repeated "inflation is expected to moderate in the coming quarters" statement being disproved on a daily basis; Wrong about the whole "growth will rebound in the second half of the year" line that is trumped by Home Depot and Lowes saying no freaking way; and loss of all credibility in their craven attempt to bail out wall street, the FED has come to an inflection point.

The minutes of the last FED meeting were released today, and as soon as they were read, the markets had a fit. Barry Ritholtz at the blog The Big Picture had it perfectly summed up as thus:

"FED: Sorry Our Bad. FOMC minutes were released at 2:00pm this afternoon.
Upon reading the release, Candide suffered a fatal heart attack.
The reset of the cheerleading squad of pollyannas simply lost their arguments -- along with their lunch -- that growth is fine, inflation modest, the credit crisis contained.
The FOMC lowered their growth forecast, raised their inflation and unemployment forecast. The only omission in the announcement was their new policy, for the first time ever, of buying Index Puts to pay for all of the new Credit Lending Facilities.
Markets, which were positive, rolled over and fell 250 points."

The news that Moody's may have a computer issue that incorrectly valued certain debt instruments also did not help matters.

What to make of today's action? The FED minutes were pretty rough. Either it is time to buy guns, or it is time to load up on stocks! The FED is always wrong. Always. What we need to figure out is to which extreme is the FED wrong? On one hand we have a real recession that morphs into a major downturn (Depression, major recession?). Or a huge rebound occurs pushing markets to new highs. What is it going to be? Hard to say for sure, but I am going to go with the pretty terrible recession idea. Thought I do expect "the worst is over sentiment to moderate over the coming quarters". Bank on it!

Have a good night.


watchtower said...

I drove to the city this evening which means I had to get on the freeway to get there.
Maybe this was a fluke but for the first time that I can remember I was not passed by a crapload of extended cab 4 wheel drives. I was doing the speed limit (65mph) and so was everybody else for a change. Could be that people are realizing that pushing that truck (which is not as aerodynamic as a car) through the air faster and faster is not such a good thing with $3.79 gas.
I did check out the St Croix rods at the big outdoor store that we have here.
They were sweet, but I'm a little bit of a tightwad and will have to think on this till the weekend.
Of course if I get a new rod, my mind will start saying "Say, a new Shimano Calcutta reel sure would be a nice match for that rod"

Pandora's box I tell ya!

watchtower said...

Two more things,

When I see these 4 wheel drives with the big tires and jacked up suspension start putting the stock wheels back on to get a little more milage, then I'll know it is getting bad.

I believe this guy F. William Engdahl believes we are in an oil bubble from what I have read over at the Financial Sense site. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Oil bubble without a doubt. We don't have peak oil, we have peak stupidity coming from DC and the FED.