I'm voting for Obama...

Just to let people know, I'm voting for Obama. Although I live in Kansas and my actual (electorial vote) is going to McCain. I really, really wanted to like McCain, but he is just not the same person he was in 2000. That's just too bad, I am pretty sure the 2000 McCain would kick the 2008 McCain's ass.

I don't care who people vote for either, please just go vote.


Market Status Update...

(que cool news ticker evening news beginning music)

Well don't know if anyone has been looking at the news recently but the economy is in the can. Some people are seeing this time as now being a buying opportunity, but I am not so sure. I have bought some PM stock and VTI shares, but otherwise I am keeping about half of my money off of the table. Why, because well I am observing my environment.

Fact is I was laid off just a month and a half ago from what I do still think is a well run company. While I will not share the company's name, I will reveal their business, which is paint. Paint is a lovely commodity that can instantly give an investor a clear picture of one clear customer, the American Consumer. Let me explain a little bit further, paint covers everything a buyer really wants: appliances, mowers, home hardware, power tools, windows, cars, and mailboxes. Traditionally it is all that stuff you buy within six months of buying a house. The housing market dried up two years ago, and it started affecting the paint business six months after. Then the market sort of flattened out and paint was still being made, just at a lower rate. I recently learned that paint orders have basically just dropped off the face of the planet. That is a hair raising bad thing to hear.

I have a good ear to construction and agriculture equipment as well. I thought that when I left the con/ag situation a couple of years ago, things were going to start to fall off. I was wrong then, but look as if I am getting more right now. The Caterpillers, Deere, and CNH's of the world have actually started showing signs of slowing. I always think that when these companies as a collection start showing weakening returns, then that shows a slow down in all construction: residential, commercial, or government. To me that means funding is really drying up, loans are becoming much more scarce to build not only what is wanted but what is needed. Or even worse, industrial improvement operations have ceased and companies are now in waiting game mode.

So what does look good. Well during my interview process for a new job, I think that I found the industrial sectors that are doing well. Railroad car manufacturers cannot produce enough cars to keep up with demand. Increase costs in shipments by truck has led to a mini boom in railroad cars. Companies are working 7 days a week to keep up. I worry some about the railroad industry as the economic structure falters though for the industry, gas keeps falling as well too. Food ingredient companies are hiring and spending lots of money. My new job sells a certain type of equipment to various food, petrochemical, and industrial sectors. Well a quick scan of orders shows who is really spending cash, and food is in. They are going about spending smartly as well by expanding operations at current plants to state of the art systems that can reach a lot of profitable returns. I have been looking at Kroger (KR) but I think now companies like Kraft and Del Monte may be a good bet.

The economy is still in rough shape however, a lot of good people have made some bad decisions and more foreclosures are still coming over the next 2 -4 years as these 3-5 ARM's expire and change rates. Remember that unemployment rates are not necessarily showing the big picture either. For every job lost or plant closed, there is someone with a customer lost, and then some money on their paycheck is lost and so on and so forth. It's not just the unemployed's missing funds, but the ripple affect will move on to contractors, salesmen, commission jobs, and small business. That in turn will hurt the big businesses that much more. I think we are six months to a year before this truly bottoms out.

Government is focused on the day to day lending and borrowing but truly what will save the common American is working with the mortgages that they are upside down in. I think that what will end up saving us is a forcing of a low interest rates on banks loans for those who screwed up and in turn lower the borrower's monthly payments. I don't care if they make them 40 year fixed or whatever, banks will be in a lot better shape with a steady payment and by extending the loan years will ensure that they still get their money in the long run. Foreclosures are not working, and bailing out banks is a Band-Aid. Rooting out a solution for the actual mortgage issue should be the top priority. I think people will start spending again once they know that they can make the payment for the month and their family is safe.

I guess we will all see. Be careful out there and keep some money back.


Exciting Halloween Costumes

Phat Phelps:
Fat guy, Speedo. 8 sports participation ribbons.

Chinese Olympic Gymnast:
Leotard, Diaper, and huge smile.

Chiefs Quarterback:
Glue bench to butt and injured reserve letter on head, and greasy hands that are unable to hold football. Money in back pocket optional.

Bad Idea :
Dress as $.99 store recycle bag or Royals professional baseball contract or Drill Bit with ANWR painted on it.

Good idea:
Dress as windmill or mattress stuffed with cash or CFL Bulb or 4 cyl engine.

Find empty wine barrel, carve out bottom, add suspenders, tie, and cigar. Or wear suit complete on front, completely ripped off on back.

AIG Executive:
Armani Hobo outfit, don’t forget golf clubs and tickets to Club Med in pocket. (Note utilizing interpretive dance to avoid tough questions about using taxpayer bailout money for executive retreat). Or dress as gigantic douche bag.

Chiefs GM, Various Bank CEO’s, President Bush:
Dress as gigantic douche bag.

Presidential Candidate:
Mask that has Obama face on one side McCain on the other, must know how to lie constantly or I mean “promise change” to everyone around you. Shell game prop would be handy at taking people’s money. If they want their money back hand them a few pennies and call it an economic stimulus package. Make sure to burn all money acquired from the shell game at the end of the night.

Congressman with significant economic stimulus package:
Costume not available at this time.

Mortgage Broker:
Wear suit, cover thoroughly in Teflon, whiten teeth, and grease palms. Blame everyone else for problems.

Blackberry, cigarette, Starbuck’s coffee cup, repo-ed Lexus cutout, $400,000 foreclosure home cutout, Mc D’s Manager uniform, and white picket fence optional. Must text constantly, sweat, and only talk about how crappy you are paid, and how you should have bought a BMW instead. If asked about foreclosed home or repo-ed Lexus act as if you never saw it coming. Ask for credit applications every time you meet a new person.

American Company CEO:
Suit, Scrooge-McDuck-sized money bag, and golden parachute. Must speak in nonsensical verbiage like, "synergistic parallels" or "knowledge cohesion" and must always choose the wrong decision. While at the party talk about moving the keg processing operation overseas to save money. Hand out pink slips constantly.

American Healthcare System
Body bag and gurney. Have buddy dressed as douche bag, I mean as a lawyer, push you around the party and talk about what great shape you are in.

Real Time Stock Ticker
Wear all red and bounce on trampoline. Occasionally fall, and only get up after conversation with person dressed as Warren Buffett or douche bag. Or person dressed in shorts may trip you constantly.

American Consumer Confidence:
Rent zombie outfit.

Ben Bernanke or Henry Paulson:
Rent Ronald McDonald outfit and juggle. Hand out money all night to people dressed as douche bags.


Read before it goes to the archives...

An excellent interview this weekend in the Wall Street Journal of Anna Schwartz about the current economic crisis versus some of our past economic downturns. She co-wrote a book that Bernanke thinks is the best explination of great depression failures in the 30's. Please stop and read it this weekend while it is free and before it turns into the WSJ archive.

Link here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122428279231046053.html


Cash is King

So we all have heard the comment, "Cash is King!" Usually I heard it around my old job downtown, with a lot of these little mom and pop places that didn't like being charged some fee from Visa or Mastercard to get their money. Now I can't help but think about the comment when I see US banks, automakers, insurers, and brokers claiming that they are in million dollar short falls. So who actually has the money if all of these companies don't have it? I don't know, but I bet a year's worth of garnished wages that it will end up being us. I won't pretend to know the answer to this economic crisis, but a part of me is getting a bit more anxious about where all this financial support from this government is coming from. Am I the only one that sees raised taxes on the horizon from whomever the next president is going to be?

The golden parachutes of top execs piss me off, what they have gotten paid to ruin companies really piss me off. Welsch, Iacocca, and Ford are probably amazed at how crappy CEO's have become, the countries companies are run by bankers and not grind your nose out leaders.

Banks making loans out to people they never should have pisses me off, people who cannot afford those loans piss me off. The American Dream is sometimes meant to be a dream, not a reality. How people got massive amounts of money without putting in the time really bothers me. A society of these people is a huge problem.

I guess I want to say that, I saved my money living in crappy housing to put together the traditional 20% for a home. I have always had a emergency fund account that took care of me when I didn't have a job or when my dog needed surgery or whatever. And how will I be rewarded: inflation, higher taxes, crappy healthcare, and a government that doesn't have any clue about what Americans really need. Whatever happened to leaders, real leaders, planners, real planners, and how about a person with a clue on how to get us back to a better place.

Where have all the good people gone?