Saturday, November 29, 2008
There was a great window of opportunity to buy stocks the past three weeks. It was time to buy. Over the past week the market posted its biggest one week increase in 30 years.
the S&P 500 gained over 12%. The Dow Jones rose over 1000 points. General Motors gained 74% and Ford Motor gained 88%. These are really good numbers. And City group continued it's gains doubling in value. The last three weeks have been the best buying opportunity in years.
But, there will be another opportunity this week. A big buying binge leads to stocks being over bought. This will lead to profit taking and stocks will go down significantly. This will be the second best buying window because after profit taking, the stocks will move upward again. Energy stocks began the sell-off on Friday, so they should be the first to rise. Citigroup, Ford, and GM, are stocks to watch. Conoco Phillips is at a bargain price now. So is Gerdau American Steel (GNA). AK Steel dropped 10% on Friday so should be at a bargain this coming week. If the auto companies do, indeed, get their bail out, their stocks will go up, but so will the steel stocks.
The market will not challenge new lows, even if we officially go into a recession, because the lows have already been tested, and government bail outs have remedied several problems.
Friday, November 28, 2008
In my Thanksgiving litany entitled "Thanks a Lot!" I made one omission, health. And last night and today was was reminded of this in a very rude way. No sleep last night due to the flu. And a really miserable day today, bad headaches, queazy stomach, super tired, really bad chills. But tonight I'm better, but not perfect.
I am now really appreciative of good health. Over the years my health has been really good, as has the health of my wife. This is one of the biggest blessings in our lives. Thank you, Lord!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Well, Turkey Day 2008 is here. Those of us who believe in God call this "Thanksgiving." I believe that it is still Thanksgiving on the calendar. And there is a lot to be thankful for. In fact, there is more to be thankful for than most of us realize.
I want to start with God, Himself. All blessings begin with Him. I am especially thankful for His ever watching over us. Not a sparrow falls to the earth without His knowing, and the very hairs of our head are numbered. Now that must be a job because the number hairs on my head vary from day to day. You bald people must make God's job easier. God has supplied all our needs and has always been there in the time of need. He has felt our pains and sorrows and has healed both. He has blessed us with children, over whom, He also watches. But most of all, He has forgiven our sins and given us the bright hope of heaven.
I am thankful for my wife, who seems to somehow understand me, and still like me. She has been the greatest blessing and joy in my life. And just so everyone knows, I had nothing to do with her facelift. But I am thankful we could pay for it. Audrey keeps a clean and neat house, she makes great meals, and she shakes out the mattress pad every day (for which I am also thankful).
I am thankful for great kids. Three wonderful daughters: Rana, Amy, and Sonia. Each one has been a blessing to me over this past year. Rana and Sonia live far away, so I don't get to see them often enough. Amy is not so far away and I don't see her often enough either. Each daughter is unique and brings joy and fulfillment to my life.
I am thankful for our sons-in-law who have provided our daughters and grandchildren good homes. This is a real blessing. However, our daughters also do their share in providing the good homes.
I am thankful for our grandchildren, whom I hope will not forget their elderly grandparents as the years go by. Our grandkids are a real blessing to us and I wish we could see them more. It is a joy to watch them grow and develop. Sorry kids that we didn't catch any fish.
I am thankful for our home. Both my wife and I really love our house. The only thing else we would wish for is a third stall on the garage and an enclosed back porch (and a few less cars parked on the street).
I am thankful for our jobs that abundantly supply our needs. Audrey and I are both self employed which gives us a degree of flexibility with our work. Even in these hard times we have both been busy and have had work.
I am thankful for our church, Westminster Church of the Nazarene. Our pastor, Dr. Stan Reeder, has been a real blessing to us. Our pastor shows vision and is able to deliver God's Word in an interesting and understandable way. I never leave church without having had my soul fed. And our church has afforded me an opportunity to serve in a capacity where I can use my skills and talents to help others.
I am thankful for our nation. With all its problems, there is yet much that is great about the United States of America. There is no other place on this planet that I would rather live than right here. We have freedoms and wealths that other nations don't even dare to dream about. We have peace, security, safety, freedom, opportunity, and much, much more.
Thanks to God from Whom all blessings flow. Thank Him all creatures here below. Thank Him above ye heavenly host. Thank Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The day before Thanksgiving is generally a down day because a lot of day traders do not want to hold stocks over a holiday, and because many of them will take Friday off. Therefore, they usually sell off what ever they are holding, and this has the effect of pushing the market downward. I, therefore, would also take the day off. I don't think there is really a good pick that is predictable. I'd wait until Tuesday of next week to make any stock purchases. The exception to this would be, that if stocks go way down on Wednesday, for no other reason than it being a holiday, Then Friday could be a good day to buy select stocks.
What I would do is go to Starbucks and have a good cup of coffee or seasonal latte or cappuccino. I'd help them out this Thanksgiving. After all, what would this world be without Starbucks, or your other favorite coffee shops?
This is it! The bail out of Citigroup has bolstered the market and Citigroup rose 58% in one day. The market will not challenge new lows again. Goldman Sachs is raising new money through issuing new notes. Merrill Lynch will follow. The flow of money is loosening up. Is the recession over? No! But historically stocks go down at the beginning of a recession and then go up through the duration of the recession. Stocks will also move up because there are some great buys. Energy stocks are as low as they will get. So are the steel stocks. Citigroup will seesaw before taking another huge step forward. The government won't let them fail and they are required to trim even more expenses which will lead to a better bottom line.
My picks for this week are: Gerdau American Steel (GNA) at $3.75, AK Steel (AKS) at $7.00, US Steel (X) at $28.00, Exxon Mobil (XOM) at $75.00, Chevron (CVX) at $73.00, Citigroup at $6.00. Goldman Sachs went up $13.00 yesterday and is at $67.00. I would wait to see where it adjusts to in the next couple of days.
One wrench in the works is that Obama's stimulus plan is unclear. His plan will lead to higher taxes according to analysts. But the markets did OK when Clinton was president and we had higher taxes.
Now may be the time to buy your retirement fund.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Yes, relief at last! Relief in the markets, that is. What a wild week? This was not an exciting roller coaster, this was a free fall on a bungee cord. Friday we hit the bottom and got a little bounce. Being an optimist, I believe this is the bounce we needed. I believe this is it..... this is the bottom. Stocks of profitable companies have no more room to be squeezed downward. We now have a new Secretary of the Treasury who is bound to be more of a positive force than Secretary Paulson.
It is really a sad day when things get so bad, that at the first hint of good news, the market soars. And right now, stocks are way too cheap, but fear is keeping them down. Take US Steel for example, it peaked at $195 a share, now it is $25 a share. Once the decisions are made for the car manufacturers, and we realize that GM and Ford will not go out of business, but will continue to make cars, US Steel and other steel companies will go up dramatically over the next year. $195 is out of the question, but how about $25 to $75. That looks like 200% to me.
This recession will continue at least until summer, but stocks will now go up as buyers position themselves for the upswing. It will be both earnings per share, and speculation that will push the market upward. I am actually getting excited about it. The pessimists will continue to sell while the optimist will continue to buy and position themselves. Then, when the market moves upward the pessimists will continue to gripe and complain while the optimists will get rich at their expense. I want to buy my retirement fund now at a steep discount.
Well, on Thursday, I got my miracle! I had been suffering with intense knee pain in both knees for several months. I didn't dream when I slept at night, I only dreamt about sleeping. I had been to the doctor who gave me some anti inflammatory meds that made me feel tired, but didn't kill the pain. In the daytime it hurt to walk and move around. But the nights were worse than the days, I would lay in bed and writhe. I guess during the day, my mind was on my work, but at knight it was dominated by the pain.
Well, Thursday, I received a steroid shot in each knee. By the next day the pain was 95% gone. I could walk without pain, and without a limp. I could actually work, going up and down stairways. It was like a miracle. I know these shots are not permanent and eventually I will have to have knee replacements, but I do feel like living again. I am supposed to keep icing my knees and use ibuprofin when needed.
I feel good enough that I will probably be able to take my car tour this winter or spring. I would look forward to that with less pain and lower gas prices.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm not talking about the north or south poles. I'm talking about the ice packs wrapped around my knees. I do it twice a day. It's cold, but not as unpleasant as I thought it would be. And it actually seems to help.
Additionally I do stretch exercises each day. I have to do each position and hold it for one minute. For me that is 30 big inhales and 30 big exhales. And, I'm telling you, each minute is the longest minute of the day. The stretched area burns at the end of the hold for that position. The whole purpose of these exercises is to loosen my hips up so that it takes pressure off my knees. This, too, seems to be helping. Although, last night was a bad night.
Today I saw the orthopedist. I like him and my therapist. They seem to know what they are doing. The orthopedist said my knees are pretty shot. So he gave me a shot in each knee. Steroid to reduce the inflammation. He said that the shots should last up to a year. They take 2 weeks to fully kick in. He also ordered a knee brace for my right knee. He said if that helps he will order one for the left knee as well. I think somebody just pulled the plug on my wallet.
He said, ultimately I am likely to have knee replacements something like two years down the road. I asked if it was partial replacement. He took me to a chart and said we cut here and here. He made it look like they were going to cut my leg off in 3 pieces. But, what he meant was they would remove the entire knee and replace it. That doesn't sound pleasant. But it may be more pleasant than the everyday pain of bad knees.
So Audrey and I went out and celebrated my day of good news by buying our Christmas tree and by having a ginger snap latte. Audrey's was a skinny, of course.
And, yes, it was at Starbucks. They can't blame me for 95% decrease in profits. Now that their shares are so cheap they should thank me for my business by sending me a 100 shares. Ha!
Anyway, I think the latte gave me heartburn. Think I'll stick to real coffee. After all, real coffee is good for the colon, and I sure wouldn't want to get colon cancer on top of bad knees. Would you?
Friday, November 14, 2008
No, the title is not a misprint. I did not mean, "iced tea." I went to therapy today for the pain in my right knee. Come to find out, my left knee is worse than my right one, but neither one is worn out. And, my hips, which don't hurt are likely the cause of both my knees hurting. So now I must do home therapy. That is certain stretching exercises that are intended to make me more flexible and to take the strain off my knees. The therapist recommended Yoga, but did give me a list of exercises. He also recommended me to an orthopedist, whom, he said is likely to recommend knee braces and better pain medication. He also said, to sleep at night I should ice my knees and take 2 shots of tequila.
But it seems the worst part will be icing both knees twice a day. That seems cruel to have to ice my knees during the cold winter. I'm wondering, if I ice my knees, then take a hot shower to warm up, will that undo all the icing. Will this be a form of self torture with no value? Will icing my knees go better if I drink hot coffee during the icing? What if I go through all that icing for the rest of my life, but my knees still hurt? Will that drive me insane? Or, am I already insane? I know, this is all "inane." But this is my blog so I will be inane if I please.
Time to take the ice packs off.
Thursday I was in for the surprise of my life. It happened at a Home Depot. I had picked out a variety of items and headed for the checkout. The last thing to be rung up was a mounting bar that goes at the bottom of a mirror, you know, that little metal strip. The cashier ran the item through the scanner several times, and nothing would happen. She asked me if I knew what the item was. I told her, but the item must have had a different name in their book. So finally, frustrated, she said, "It's their fault it won't ring up so, just take it!
The item not being necessary to what I was doing made it expendable to me. But I wonder how many times a day she does that. I wonder how Home Depot's stock is doing. If my daughter, who works at Target is reading this, it is probably driving her crazy. Or, maybe she has even better stories to tell.
Think I'll finish my coffee.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A $750 billion switcheroo! After priming the market for the bail out, Paulson made the sudden announcement of a switcheroo! The money is not going where they said it would go. Now I feel I've been robbed and lied to! But, that's OK, the government evidently can rob us and lie to us with no penalty.
I've been doubly robbed. They will tax me to pay for the bail out, and because of the big lie the markets are tumbling making my assets worth less until the become worthless. Do they ever think before they act? Do they know what they will do with the money now? I have an idea, send me some. Oops! I shouldn't have said that because Obama plans to do just that with his new stimulus package. But somehow I don't feel that I'll get any of that either.
Since Obama was elected, the markets have tumbled and tumbled some more. I believe that is a statement. If the markets keep going down, we will all need stimulus checks. Paulson has no clue. Neither does Obama. Ufda! This hurts.
I hope tomorrow is a better day. If not, Friday will be basement bargain day. But with the idiots running the fed and the treasury, will they really be bargains?
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Today I am at the Coffee Mug enjoying various flavors of coffee, and a cinnamon roll. Various flavors because it's several cups. Ha! A nice luxury for a Sunday morning.
As I was sitting here I was thinking about today's economy. I was wondering how lower income people are making ends meet. Also the retired who are on fixed income. The first word that came to my mind was WalMart. And the syndrome is this. Americans hate Walmart, but most of us shop there. We despise Walmart because it is big, but we love their prices. Some of us won't shop at Walmart, but some of us have to. We don't like inflation, but we don't appreciate Walmart for keeping prices low.
In truth, I would rather help the poor through low prices (which I can also take advantage of) than to send them a stimulus check (which last time we didn't get). I'd rather they pay their own way by taking advantage of low prices than me paying their way through redistribution of wealth that they did not earn.
While Walmart gets spurned by it's haters, Walmart's stock is soaring, because in these hard times, even more people are taking advantage of their sales and low prices. Walmart helps control inflation by setting the standard for standard pricing.
I nominate Walmart as the business of the year! And, oh, their wages and benefits are about the same as K-Mart, Target, the Family Dollar, Lowes, Home Depot, and others. And their wages may be higher than a lot of the department stores that we so love.
Now, let's face it. A lot of people who gripe about Walmart, shop Walmart!
Also, I must note, there are a lot of people who love WalMart. Several times in the past couple of weeks I have heard people say with affection, "that's my Walmart."
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I remember the days of Sanka. I might even have some in my cupboard, still. Then came along Folgers instant coffee. You could get it regular or decaf. Soon the drip-o-lator came along. You could make regular coffee even faster. And now I own a Bunn-o-matic. We just call it a Bunn. I can get really good coffee in just 2 minutes. And now we make our own less often thanks to Starbucks, Borders, Tully's and others. How did we ever drink Sanka? We drank it because it was quick and easy.
That's how Americans like their politics, too! Quick and easy. We are fickle. We want fast and easy solutions to everything. It's too slow and too much effort to walk into McDonalds or Starbucks. We want to just drive through. I want my coffee, good coffee, and I want it now!
When 911 first occurred, I sat down that evening and wrote a poem to the effect that the US was attacked, we are patriots and will respond, we will fight a war, but when the body bags start coming home and the cost becomes too great, we will clamor for our troops to come home. I knew it would happen this way because history has taught us that it will.
I tore up this poem the next day because I thought it could be viewed as unpatriotic in light of what had just happened 911. I wish now that I had kept it so I could wave it in the face of today's fickle society. We are accustomed to instant gratification. We don't have the will to solve problems long-term. And the quality of what we are getting in this instant gratification society is a little less than Sanka.
An example of this may be the US auto industry. Our auto manufacturers made unwise decisions for instant profits. They kept making gas guzzlers (Large SUVs) even though the handwriting has been on the wall for some time that gas prices would soar due to world wide demand. Now the chicken has come home to roost. All three of our major manufacturers are on the verge of bankruptcy and could easily go out of business. But they won't. And they won't because they will get bailed out. The bail-out is a short term solution, but it feels good now. It will help in the short term. We get some instant gratification. We have bailed out auto makers before. Twenty-five billion was earmarked for this current bail out. But now the new government wants to leave its mark by doubling that to 50 billion. (I am wondering whose taxes Obama intends to cut) Believe me, the day will come that we will pay. Unless Ford and GM can come up with cheaper, more fuel efficient, higher quality, high option vehicles we will be back to bailing them out again. Our auto makers have allowed market share to get away. They will have to recapture that to be profitable.
No more Sanka! No more instant Folgers! We live in the day of Seattle's Best, Starbucks, Caribou, and Tully's. Everybody knows that a nice juicy burger off the grill is better than one just out of the microwave.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It's great to have a scapegoat for our own failures. I guess it is human nature to blame someone else. George Bush surely is getting his share of the blame whether he deserves it or not. I am not on the "kick George Bush while he is Down" band wagon. In fact, I think he is wrongly blamed for a lot of things.
Bush is blamed for the economy. In reality, the president has little to do with the economy. The economy is mostly controlled by Congress. The last four year congress has been in the Democrat's control. Why do the Democrats get a free pass on this? The question has been asked, "Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?" Because of the recent downturn in the economy most of us would be tempted to say, "No!" The fact is, we are much better off than we were eight years ago. We must remember that less than 18 months ago the stock market hit an all time high. It went over 14,000 points on the Dow Jones. So, it seems that for the first six years of the Bush administration Americans must have been doing much better. Even now, most of us are better off. But we have forgotten. But don't forget that the two men who set up this free fall in the market are Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernake.
Bush is also blamed for the war in Iraq. I don't think we are justified in blaming him. At the time we went into Iraq, this seemed like a reasonable decision because the world (not only the USA) believe Iraq to have weapons of mass destruction. Weapons, which they used to exterminate their own people. Yes, the war has gone on longer than any of us have liked. Yes, in the early going mistakes were made in the war. Yes, we have spent billions of dollars, (By the way, most of these dollars went to US contractors that provided top shelf jobs for American workers.) So, on the one had this spending stimulated the American economy (did not drain it). And..... Yes, there is a better Iraq today, and this nation will be better tomorrow if we give it a chance.
Bush is blamed for high energy prices. How many cars do you think the Bushes can drive at one time? (Joke) Bush's policies actually kept oil prices from going higher than they did. Promoting drilling and harvesting our own oil ads to supply and lowers prices. It was the Democrats who prevented US oil companies from developing oil fields. The effect of that was higher oil prices.
I know, I know, Oil companies turned record profits. Well, other companies turned record profits these past few years as well, but we didn't gripe about them. What is it in America that makes us feel good when a big company that provides quality jobs doesn't do well, or loses money? And, why do we blame the President when companies do make money. Are we retarded? Look what has happened to our economy since the banking industry has been losing money.
Now, I want to admit that George Bush has not been my favorite president. I have differed with him on a number of issues. But I don't believe that he deserves the blame he has been getting. Don't forget, this president effectively and successfully led us through one of the darkest times in our nation's history after 911. Even after the markets tumbled after 911, they also soared to new highs in 2007.
George Bush has served his country honestly, honorably, effectively, and successfully during his administration. I believe that he was the man for the hour. He did the right thing at the right time. He did the unpopular thing that needed to be done. He did the hard job that would have been too hard for John Kerry and Al Gore. He certainly wasn't perfect. Neither was Bill Clinton (Monica). And, neither will be Barak Obama. At this late hour, Bush is under appreciated. We owe him our gratitude.
President, George Bush, thank you for all you have done for our nation. I truly hope that history will treat you better than today's society, whom you have selflessly served. You were the man for the job at this time in history. God has used you to better this world. Thank you again!
The best part of John McCain's campaign was his concession speech. Had he been this John McCain through the whole campaign he certainly would have done better. I got really tired of his negative ads, and I got really embarrassed over Muskgrave's adds. I thought they were shameful. Most of my candidates lost the election and I think that in large part it was because of two things. 1) Their commercials were shameful, and 2) All Republicans carried the burden of George Bush. I'll have more comments on George Bush in future blogs.
But now is the time. It is time for the Democrats to prove that they have a better way while not leading our country into socialism and penalizing hard working Americans through high taxation. Now is the time for the Democrats to fix the health care system (if they can). Now is the time for the Democrats to bring jobs back to America (if they can). Now is the time for Democrats to fix Social Security (if they can). Now is the time for Democrats to give all Americans an equal opportunity to employment and prosperity, without affirmative action (if they can). We all know that affirmative action is not equal opportunity, but is a system that favors certain segments of society. Now is the time for the Democrats to keep oil prices down through production of renewable resources, and increased oil production (if they can). We all know that automobiles will require liquid fuel for years to come. Now is the time for the Democrats to fix the banking system (if they can).
If they can! They say they can. They say they will. Democrats, America is now relying on you to do all things you promised.
Republicans, let's give them a chance. Support our new President. By the way, I do not view Obama as an African American. I have never viewed people as being one color or another. I have viewed people as human beings with equality. If this election was at all about race, then this is sad. Obama is a human being. He is our President. He deserves our support as Americans. The election and campaigning are over. As Republicans we must not be sore losers.
There is One who controls all of history. He sets up kings and causes kings to fall. We know that God is ultimately in control. There will be great purpose for the Obama presidency in God's plan.
We are Americans! We are a great nation that can become even greater in the years to come if we follow God's plan.
The election was a bitter loss for Republicans, but the Starbucks is still good. Enjoy your coffee.