Archive for June, 2009

Gentlemen: Start your scooters

June 30, 2009 8 comments

scooterRocky notes that Legendary Physicist Stephen Hawking reportedly is “up in arms” over a new EU tax on scooters for the disabled.

The new 10% import tax (perhaps to protect the burgeoning domestic scooter industry) was devised by a little known sub-bureaucracy (the “World Customs Organization.”) The WCO places scooters in the same tax classification as Formula 1 race cars.

Previously, the UK exempted equipment for disabled people from tax.

The USA fortunately rejected the World Customs Organization’s absurd analysis — which means that handicappers at the next Indy 500 can expect that race to proceed at Formula 1 speed, and not at the pace of a motorized scooter.

For the full story, click [here].


The Swap Spread Mambo

June 28, 2009 3 comments

It’s a quiet night in the markets, so Rocky’s tappin’ his toe to the “The Swap Spread Mambo.”
(His only regret is that the author didn’t use the Chiquita Banana Song.)

Click and enjoy!

The Rat Pack returns to Vegas (and Wall Street)

June 23, 2009 4 comments

ratSeeking wisdom and insights, Rocky will interview some dirty rats behind his town garbage dump this evening.

Cambridge University researchers have discovered that rats are skilled gamblers — and successfully play the odds in a casino. The researchers conclude that the “average” rat may be a better speculator than Rocky!

For a laymen’s discussion of the “rodent revelation,” click [here].

To read the article at the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (spelling checker just crashed), click [here]. (Subscription required.)

Blind squirrels, nuts and investing

June 19, 2009 Comments off

lake wobegonRocky often vacations at Lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” For tax deductibility, he spends a portion of his trip recruiting young traders from the shores. Last year, he recruited Sue, a man who sadly lost an eye and a leg in a golfing accident, but whose eye for investment value remained intact.

This morning, Sue hobbled across the office, tripped on an empty Coke can, and handed Rocky a new paper from Eugene Fama, a father of the Random Walk theory of stock prices. The paper posits that NO investors have skill that enhances expected returns. It’s all about luck, and the fact that even blind squirrels find nuts.

Rocky thanked Sue for bringing Fama’s article to his attention, and noted that he’d rather be lucky than smart. (And as the saying goes, “the harder you work, the luckier you get.)

Click [here] to read the full paper.

Here is the abstract:
The aggregate portfolio of U.S. equity mutual funds is close to the market portfolio, but the high costs of active management show up intact as lower returns to investors. Bootstrap simulations produce no evidence that any managers have enough skill to cover the costs they impose on investors. If we add back costs, there is some evidence of inferior and superior performance (non-zero true alpha) in the extreme tails of the cross section of mutual fund alpha estimates. The evidence for performance is, however, weak, especially for successful funds, and we cannot reject the hypothesis that NO fund managers have skill that enhances expected returns.

Radiation, radishes & ridicule for Mrs. Obama

June 16, 2009 5 comments

obama garden

It looks like old-guard Soviets may be beaming radiation at the White House again. That is Rocky’s explanation for the rapid and bountiful vegetation growing in the new White House garden.

On March 19th, the New York Times reported that First Lady Michelle Obama would plant a White House vegetable garden. [Click here.]

Less than 90 days later, Mrs. O and the students from the Bancroft Elementary School were back at the White House harvesting waist-high crops.

Crops cannot grow this fast (except in the Amazon), so Rocky offers two more explanations for the improbable bounty:

1) Genetically modified crops. Seriously modified.
2) Global warming. In Washington, there is so much hot air that the growing season starts early.

Most likely the crops were planted fully grown — and it’s just a photo opportunity. This sure isn’t Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden !

victory garden

Wolfgang Puck, burnt toast and the Government

June 12, 2009 6 comments

wolfgang puckSavoring a first cup of coffee while browsing the day’s headlines is an early morning ritual for many folks.

A risk-averse pessimist, Rocky Humbert’s morning ritual includes an additional step: He always checks the latest safety recalls from the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Rocky just read that the CPSC recalled his beloved Wolfgang Puck Toaster. The CPSC recalled the toaster because it can remain “on” after the toast pops up.

Admittedly, Rocky’s toast has been darker than usual of late — but he attributed this to day-old, stale bread — rather than the toaster working overtime.

Although Wolfgang Puck prefers his steak “rare to medium-rare,” the Chef evidently likes his toast burned to ashes.

Rocky’s weekend project will be to exchange his toaster, and write a heartfelt letter of thanks to the 444 diligent employees at the CPSC whose $80 million budget has grown 27% over the past two years.

Tim Geithner’s Throne (and more)

June 5, 2009 3 comments

Geithner's ThroneA wise man once said, “You can judge a man by the company he keeps.” Rocky finds this platitude unsatisfying. Rocky also wants to see the man’s “abode.” Oops, typo. Make that “commode.”

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geither continues to (unsuccesfully) market his New York suburban home. The listing is now on Zillow. Click here for details and pictures.

Mindful that former Federal Reserve Chairman said that he did his best thinking in the bathtub, the world can now see the room [click here] in which Secretary Geithner dreamed up the TARP. The computer on which he botched his income taxe return [click here.] And most importantly, the room to which he fled, when he learned that Lehman filed for bankruptcy [click here.]
While Mrs. Geithner sits by the phone waiting for a call from the producers at MTV Cribs and House Hunters, Trophy Wife asks, “What’s with those blue bathroom tiles anyway?”