Of course it is still Friday night, and I even got some requests for some music so a few thoughts and then on to the show! This will be so exciting it will be like New Years Eve two nights in a row!!
New Years Resolutions
A new commenter stopped in and left a few kind words for me. Tom of the North runs a great site that I had never stumbled upon before. I would recommend his post New Year’s Resolutions from the Nation's Capitol for a real laugh. Another brother in arms for the army of sarcasm.
If you like 2010 predictions then Some Assembly Required does all the leg work for you and has this compilation list.
Two Items Worth a Look
There were two eye catchers for me today. The first comes from Zero Hedge who did some digging and asks:
Is The Government Misrepresenting Unemployment By 32%?
Now before you go all "It's another Zero Hedge baloney conspiracy" on me please read the article and check the graphs of Unemployment Benefits (paid out) vs. Total Insured Unemployment and then make up your mind. And yes, baloney is just a big hot dog.
The second tale comes via Mish who has some items related to the Vietnamese Dong (it's their currency so stop!) and gold trading over there:
Vietnam Halts Gold Trading; Global Imbalances Mount
Vietnam suspends gold trading on their gold trading floors due to speculation. The snippet that caught my eye:
The government said it was particularly concerned that some investors had been drawn into overleveraging their positions by low interest rates and the ever-increasing price of gold , which has risen from $660/oz when the first trading floor was started in 2007 to almost $1,100/oz today.Now remember that one of my main arguments against a gold bubble is that there is limited leverage applied to gold on the long side (plenty on the short side though!) but this piece argues otherwise. Worth keeping an eye on.
The government said that in some cases, investors had only been required to put up 7 per cent of the value of their portfolio.
The regulation will affect around 20 gold trading floors, but it is unclear if the government is intending to re-write the regulations and allow the floors to re-open or if the move is long-term.
2010: The Year the Bond Market Makes Contact?
Yes, that header is a spoof on the other 2010 film title.
One of my friends stopped in to make a New Years post and I would of course recommend Jeff from The Housing Time Bomb anytime:
2010: The Year of the Bond Market
A well written piece and I cannot argue with any of the thinking or logic except that I think the FED/Treasury have another trick up their sleeve as it relates to mortgage rates. First from Jeff:
Yields hit 3.9% at one point today on the 10 year before pulling back as stocks began to fall. This is a monster move that we have seen over the past three weeks. Some would call it parabolic.I would also note that Karl Denninger also sees rates going higher as well as some other writers.
Remember, if rates soar to 6% housing is toast. You think the drop in housing prices is bad now? HA! You ain't seen anything yet if the 10 year continues to soar. As we all know, mortgage rates are set based on the ten year bond.
This brings up a key "IF...THEN..SO" point. Right now the FED/Treasury/White House/CONgress all see a housing price floor as THE CORNERSTONE of any and all policy. I agree with Jeff that the 10 year is going higher, maybe even much higher, but where I am going to disagree is about mortgage rates.
It goes something like this:
IF mortgage rates are over 6-6.5% THEN the housing recovery is dead SO they will not rise to that level.
Mortgage rates are set by the bond market and the bond market is too big for even the FED to really affect except at the short end. I agree with that and it is also irrelevant.
My big prediction for 2010 will be a new arm of either the Treasury or the FED that will become the US mortgage market. Rates will be set at 5% for 30 years and have requirements much like the FHA loans do now (not much). This arm will be funded and backed 100% by the taxpayers. It will be like FNM/FRE are now only all up front and no more pretend games being played. The banks will be all too happy to allow the government a corner on this market.
Of course it will be termed some kind of "short term" or "temporary" program but really it will be in place until home prices truly bottom and begin to rise. This is going to take about 5 years. After that, the banks will jump back in when money can actually be made.
I know this sound crazy. I know this is wild. I know you want to write "but the FED/Treasury cannot do that!" but who could stop them? Trust me, nothing would make me more happy than mortgage rates at 7-8% and home prices cratering. We would be treated to many tales of new owners that took the home buying tax credit being instantly underwater by 5-10X the tax credit and all of their complaining. It would be delicious!
Which is why it won't happen.
Sound off in the comments. You know you want to.
Friday Night Entertainment
All kinds of goodies for you crazy guys and gals.
Top 10 Star Wars Books
I had to rearrange the bookshelves in the den after Christmas and I had a chance to put all of my Star Wars books back in chronological order on the shelves which is the only way I can be at peace (OCD I know! And Sad too). I will show off the depths of my geekness by my own top 10 list of Star Wars novels based upon my opinion. Of course all things Star Wars are my favorite, but here is the list:
10. The Unifying Force
The end of the Yuuzhan Vong War and features Zonama Sekot, a planet capable of hyperspace travel, how cool is that?
9. Outbound Flight
This book ties so many Star Wars elements and characters together it is a must read.
Non stop action and an emotional novel.
7. Darklord: The Rise of Darth Vader
Get an inside view on hard it was for Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader with an expanded role of Darth Sidious as a mentor.
6. Death Star
Ever wonder about all the regular people on the Death Star? Then this book is the one for you.
5. Star by Star
Courage and terrible sadness mark this top notch novel.
4. The Last Command
Any of the three Thrawn Trilogy novels could hold this spot. These books resurrected the Star Wars Universe.
The Big Three
Mara Jade Skywalker (Luke Skywalker's wife) meets her end in maybe the most vicious, hard fought duel in Star Wars history. I was so pissed she died.
2. Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
This novel goes to the very essence of the Darkside and shows the birth of the "Rule of Two".
1. Revenge of the Sith
The single greatest Star Wars novel ever written and 10 times better than the film. Enough said.
A few requests rolled in so let's see what I can do.
I get the feeling that Anon is a big Elvis fan, and who could argue with that? Enjoy "Suspicious Minds" live from 1970:
Gawains had requested Black Sabbath's "The Writ" but for some reason I cannot locate a version of it!? Well, some Sabbath never hurts so roll on with "Snowblind":
Emilio Esteves had wanted to use the Bon Jovi song "Wanted Dead or Alive" in the film "Young Guns II" but when asked Jon Bon Jovi did not feel the song fit the film. He insted penned the song "Blaze of Glory" and offered it for use in the film, and I am glad he did! Here is a really great live performance:
You ask about my conscience
And I offer you my soul
You ask if I'll grow to be a wise man
Well I ask if I'll grow old
You ask me if I've known love
And what it's like to sing songs in the rain
Well, I've seen love come
And I've seen it shot down
I've seen it die in vain
I have had this one on plenty of times but I am still amazed how many people have never seen the film "Crossroads" and more importantly the classic guitar duel! Go Danielson, I mean, Ralph Macchio!:
You want more? Ok, maybe two more.
A little more guitar? How about Eddie Van Halen doing the work for Michael Jackson's song "Beat It". Oh you did not know that? Eddie Van Halen did the ending solo (at the 2:45 mark) but did not want credit! It rocks:
Last Call! Grab a drink, a girl, a sandwich, whatever is closest!
Closing the show with one of the true Queens of rock, Pat Benatar! I love "Shadows of the Night" and I hope you like it too:
Have a good night.