Sunday, January 25, 2009

No, wait, DON'T GO!

This is still the blog for the infamous Toad Musings. Only, I think I've grown out of my wife's pet nickname for me. I also thought Adverse Selection was more appropriate. In economics, adverse selection is what you call it when you do business with someone/thing that you should not have only because the other party had information you didn't (what many call informational asymmetry). Confused about the parallels? Excellent. Feel free to tell me if you don't like the new layout.

This will be a big week for the markets. There are a lot of earnings reports coming out this week and if the DOW can stay above its psychological floor of 8,000 that will be a good sign that maybe we've reached the bottom. Notables announcing earnings this week include McDonalds and Wells Fargo. Both may act as the proverbial canary-in-the-cole-mine. McDonalds historically has done very well in recessionary environments and Wells Fargo will provide a proxy for financial services in general. My prediction is that it will not be pretty. I think most firms announcing are going to take a big bath in order to lower expectations going in to the next quarter. Losses will be greater than what most analysts predict and I think its highly probable the DOW will slip below 8,000.

Oh yeah, I haven't said happy New Year yet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Laughable Year

So I've been patiently waiting for an interesting financial news story to write about, although I have no idea how any could top what we saw in '08. 2008 was the year we saw the average Joe become a genius. Any schmuck could complain about any industry/politician/policy and be right. It was all a mess. From a rogue trader taking Societe Generale (a HUGE French bank) for $7 Billion, to bank runs, bailouts, and oil frenzies. Whew! What a year. It had all the hallmarks of a good action movie--non-stop explosions, car chases, and blatant disregard for extras. And like a good action flick, just when you think the action is over there is a dramatic outburst of unexpected last-minute action. Like last December where we were supposed to all hold hands and sing like the Who's in Whoville (much to the chagrin of the Grinch) on Christmas Eve--BAM! The grand finale featured Bernie Madoff wowing the audience by taking $50 Billion from savvy investors. In the words of Syndrome (from the Incredibles), "I'm still geekin' out about that!" I got back to my office after the holidays, sat back in my chair, took a deep breath and thought, "What next?" That's when my eyes wandered through the days headlines and saw.....

A Porn industry BAILOUT? Excuse me? Yep, turns out the CEO of Hustler and the CEO of Girls Gone Wild paid a visit (no pun intended) to capital hill for a piece of the stimulus action (no pun intended), approximately $5 Billion. Where did THEIR money go?! America wastes money on boos, cigarettes, gambling, and porn. What's Hustler's excuse? They don't get any love from Jenga (and if the CEO of Hustler is reading, "Jenga" is just my stage name). Hilarious.

Changing gears, my vote for "Best Decision nobody knows/cares about": How about the GAO (government accountability office) refusing to opine on the Governments financial statements for the 11th consecutive year. They claim the government misdirected $55 billion, meaning, it went missing, in 2007. That's up from $41 billion the year before. How about Obama focuses on mowing his own lawn first this year. I'd start with the Defense department, where the GAO sites "accounting chaos." Good call GAO for not putting your name on THAT.

I got a good chuckle out of these cheeky headlines from 2008 from

1. Iraq War Ends; Bush Indicted For Treason (NY Times Spoof Edition)
2. Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy (Borowitz Report)
3. Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job (The Onion)
4. Failure to Blow Election Stuns Democrats (Borowitz Report)
5. America to World: "We're Not Retarded!" (23/6)
6. Bush in Race Against Time to Wreck Country (Borowitz Report)
7. McCain To Suspend Campaign In Order to Rescue Campaign (Opinions You Should Have)
8. Bill Clinton Sadly Folds First Lady Dress Back Into Box (The Onion)
9. Nation Finally Sh*tty Enough To Make Social Progress (The Onion)
10. Bush To Put FEMA in Charge of Wall Street Rescue (Opinions You Should Have)

Honorable Mention:

11. McCain Replaces Palin with Startled Deer
12. Ponzi Estate Sues Madoff Federal Prosecutors For Slander

2008 set the bar pretty high.