A Dog with Two Tales

I mentioned the other day that I was never very good at idiomatic expressions, maybe I’m not very good at spelling either. I’ve definitely become too lazy to look up the spelling of words, as I’ve been unable to get the spell check feature to actually function without crashing the installation.

Hononyms have always been the bane of my existence.

For want of a waywardly mis-spelled word, I’m certainly not going to bother with the headache of backing up my site’s data. A lot of good it used to do for numbers runners to have their data readily available.

The Szelhamos site may go down, but I’m not.

But I do know the expression “Tail wagging the dog” refers to an inappropriate decision making process or a case of mis-placed organizatonal structure. And I also know that it’s “tail” and not “tale”

Who's Wagging Who?Sometimes, though it seems that there is no head, just a couple of tails wagging one another.

On first re-read, that actually sounds like the premise for a gay pornography film, but that’s for the future to decide. But just in case, I just purchased the domain name “HesAllForeskin.com”.

Thursday’s trading was just another one of those days when, in the absence of any particular news, one of the tails got the upper hand.

I suppose that could be part of the film, as well.

As always, regardless of what is going on in front of our eyes, it then becomes a tale of another kind.

On dog’s of a day like those with triple digit losses, the tales start wildly wagging as each person tries to out-expert the next. Despite the fact that there is often no identifiable difference bewteen two successive trading days, there’s never a shortage of interpretations to explain the action.

After Wednesday’s 275 point climb and gold’s $60 drop it was a different story Thursday. A differnt story is actually the same old story.

At first, it looked as if Wednesday’s tail had overtaken the opposite wagging of the early morning. After nearly a 100 point drop on the open, within 10 minutes the Dow erased that in its entirety and actually made it to a gain over slightly over 40 points.

Gold, in the meantime, just ignored the $60 drop and recouped nearly that entire days’ loss.

While gold was staying on its singular course the market gave up its gain and then some in the 10 minutes before the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, delivered his speech in Minnesota.

Considering that President Obama is appearing before the joint house this evening, just prior to the NFL season kick-off, it probably shouldn’t have been too surprising that Bernanke didn’t really say that much.

In this case, one tail was bowing to the other. His may be a non-political position and independent from the Executive Branch, but the man is not a rude schmuck.

But still, it was surprising that the market would show any reaction at all. What were they expecting, something other than the obvious? Given the well established belief that the market is forward looking, they must have had their sights set somewhere well beyond the horizon.

The inability to expect the obvious was also evident in Wednesday evening’s GOP Presidential debate, although no one would ever excuse this sad group of being forward looking. After having just seen ex-candidate Tim Pawlenty on with Stephen Colbert, I have a new found respect for Pawlenty.

It all derives from his simple comment that he should have “put a sparkler up his butt” to bring some excitement into his now dead campaign.

As for the rest of the wannabes, clearly, these combatants were following two different tales.

After listening to Newt Gingrich, a strong 12th in the polls, chide the moderators, I’m not certain he understood what a debate is all about.

He faulted Brian Williams and the Politico guy whose name I never bothered to register for trying to get the debate participants to disagree with one another.

Perhaps the producers gave two different tales to the opposing sides. The moderators were told to ask insightful questions and the participants were told to sing “Kumbaya”.

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney did nothing to dispel the notion that they had no clue what a debate was supposed to be about, although right after saying that they weren’t there to disagree with one another, they each quickly forgot that sentiment and then tried to outdo one another with unsubstantiated “factoids”. However, I do have to give high marks to Romney for suggesting that Perry, when it came to signing an Executive order mandating Gardisil vaccinations, would have rather accomplished the same thing but through a legislative process, instead.

Of course, Ron Paul believed that the moderators should have no mandate, so he just answered whatever question popped into his mind. Not surprisingly, there was some gold and even silver, thrown in with his answer, in addition to the idea that the marketplace takes care of everything.

When asked about such specific issues as car safety regualtions, he again said that the market would decide and consumers would move away from less safe cars.

Of course, what was left unsaid was that without mandated safety regulations the only way to discover the spmething is unsafe is through the laboratory we call “life”.

Too late if that’s the way you have to find out. Condolences in advance.

The funny thing is that such a belief is no different from religious zealots that believe that God is responsible for everything that occurs in the world. God willing, God will provide or the market will decide are all expressions of blind faith and the abdication of responsibility.

Poor Rick Santorum. How does he reconcile the demand that government stay out of our lives when it comes to Gardisil vaccinations for young girls, but government should step in and outlaw abortions?

In one tale he tells the story of how parental rights shouldn’t be abrogated, and in the other tale personal rights should.

I imagine his head might explode if a parent actually supports their child’s decision to get an abortion.

Although as the old saying goes “If a head exploded and there were no brains inside, would there still be splatter on the wall?”

Like most things, I don’t pretend to know the answer to that question.

As the day just degenerated further I made a couple of trades adding to my ProShares UltraShort Silver ETF position, which has snuck up to 5% of my portfolio. Most of those holdings are not hedged, as I’m feeding my evil, but reasonably latent speculative side. That side is one that’s very differnt from my overall conservative approach that eschews greed, panic and envy.

If silver falls I will dedicate a room in my home to the Hunt Brothers and will pray to their alter.

But that’s another tale for another time.



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Did I Not Get that Memo?



With Eddie Murphy being back in the news following the announcement that he will be hosting the next Academy Awards, I was reminded of a vintage sketch he did on Saturday Night Live many years ago. (Regular readers will note this is the second time this week I’ve reached for an ancient SNL citation)

Going undercover as a “white person” he discovered the secret society, along with all of its perks, that was hidden from people of color.

The bottom line was that even with “white people problems,” life’s not that bad, I want in.

As I listen to the daily description of the over-riding trading strategy manifesting itself as either being “Safety trade off”, “Risk on” or “Risk off”, I wonder where those decisions are being made.

The various “talking heads” say it with such a cavalier attitude that I get the impression that there is some secret cabal meeting where the Stock Market Direction of the Day Committee gets together and decides where things will be headed.


Eddie Murphy does RedI’d like to be on that committee, despite the fact that I generally agree with Groucho Marx’s observation that he wouldn’t want to join any club that would have him as a member. I’m perfectly willing to use any leftover white pancake powder that Eddie Murphy doesn’t need. I’d even wear one of those powdered wigs, but will not wear one of his skin tight red leather suits.

You have to draw the line somewhere, even though I don’t do charts.

As I look through my resume, which is chock full of worthless committee assignments, this one I would gladly be part of, not that Radiation Safety isn’t vitally important to vital organs.

At least a memo. Send me a memo, preferably a day or two in advance. That way I could instead look through my portfolio and not see a list of worthless or non-performing holdings. Besides, I’ve made my position on Insider Trading pretty clear.

No one gets hurt.

The existence of such a committee is clearly patterned after the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd. committee which meets twice daily in London to set the morning and afternoon price of gold.

The difference is that we all know about that committee. Membership is tightly controlled, but it’s proceedings are publicly divulged.

Interestingly, as the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd. Committee meets twice daily, physically present members may pause proceedings by placing a Union Flag atop their desk, whereas telephone members simply say the word “Flag” to pause the proceedings.

Very typically civilized and orderly as is the rest of the days’ precious metals trading.

In the case of Carol Bartz, who was fired via a telephone call from the Yahoo! Board on Tuesday, I don’t know if she had a flag to use. My guess is that if there was a transcript of that phone call, some flags would be raised if I tried to reprint what would likley have been a salty conversation, given her past penchant for profanity.

Whereas many feel that such a firing over the telephone is quite distasteful, I look at it as being symbolic.

Maybe its actually “emblematic”, but I’m certainly not going to use what little remains of Yahoo! Search to figure out which word is best suited for use.

Oh. Nothing remains?

The manner of Bartz’s firing is actually very much similar to the way the CEO of Borders informed employees of the demise of the bookstore chain.

He did it my e-mail. Maybe if he would have used paper and the printed word and convinced more people to do the same, Borders would still be selling books.

You would think that Yahoo! could have come up with a much more technologically savvy way to inform Bartz.

Personally, knowing that every person of stature “Googles” themselves, that would have been a good way to deliver the news.

The fact that “Google” is a verb, while “Yahoo!” not so much, tells the tale. Instead, Yahoo is a noun and not a very flattering one, unless you take pride in being rude, noisy or violent. Maybe profane, too.

In the meantime, the other big news of the day happened at the beleagured Bank of America.

Despite great performance at its Wealth Managment division headed by Sally Krawcheck, she’s now ex-BofA, as she is ex-Citi.

Here too, though, it’s clear that a memo hasn’t been received.

In this case, its for all of those who are showing their support for CEO Moynihan.

Those supporters should know that it’s no longer acceptable to use the excuse “he inherited this mess” in defense of someone who assumed leadership in January 2009. If you buy that line of thinking, either Angelo Mozilo has been elevated to George W. Bush status or the other way around.

Seems that you can’t decry that defense when applied to President Obama and then turn around and use it for Moynihan. But then, those silly Wall STreet types never think that anyone is listening and taking notes.

I keep the memos.

That memo might have been best delivered in the foreclosure notice that was actually filed against a Bank of America branch in Florida.

Today’s secret memo clearly set a signal to put the risk back on, despite the fact that it’s hard to understand how you can refer to prices now being of “value”, yet refer to the actions taken to secure value as being “risk on”.


Today as we just picked up from the last hour of Tuesday’s trading the climb in prices never looked back.

I took the opportunity to sell weekly call options on Halliburton, Freeport McMoran and Sunoco. I also had the opportunity to sell a September Bank of New York call option on the shares I picked up this past Friday.

With still a week to go for this month’s options cycle I find my performance to be well below last month, which was the second best I’d ever had with regard to premiums collected.

Not too surprisingly, when stock prices go down, as they did in the past month, I’m not as aggressivie in selling those calls, as I do like to  recoup unrealized capital losses. Luckily, that’s been the case.There’s a trime for income and ther’s a time for trading profits.

I think that was a song by The Byrds.

As the day came to an end with the Dow up 275 points and gold down nearly $60 the view on “The Street” was summed up by the exchanges “Streetwalker”.

According to CBC’s Bob Pisani, we should stop using the phrases “risk on” and “risk off”.

Ah, finally a man who is against the secretive mechanics of the markets. A man who believes that we should all drink from the same deep cup of wine.

His reasoning was so crysta clear and to the point.

“Risk on and risk off are QE2 phrases”.

Huh? What? What does that even mean? Why do they keep changing the code every day?

I’m sure that won’t be the last memo I’ll miss.






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Turn the Lights Off (Archives)


The original Szelhamos Rules ran for precisely 1 year, from February 2007 – February 2008. This article originally appeared March 27, 2007. It is reprinted here in honor of Dick Parsons’ appearance on CNBC this morning and the ouster of Sally Krawcheck from Bank of America


What do India, Buffalo, Cincinnati and northern New Jersey have in common? Here’s a hint. They are the antithesis of London, Hong Kong and New York.

Sad CitiCitibank, or as it is now known, CitiGroup, announced that it is laying off 10,000 people and re-assigning another 14,000 +.

Do you remember the old Citibank slogan? “The Citi never sleeps? Apparently, the slogan was true. But there was a steep price to be paid. Why didn’t Citi ever sleep? Because it always kept its lights on in such high electricity cost sites as London, Hong Kong and New York. With the worldwide cost of energy soaring, it was only a matter of time until the venerable Citi put on a sweater, turned the thermostat down, lights off and fired 10,000 employees.

The much beleagured Citigroup Chairman, Charles Prince, has decided that the Citi must sleep. So he has ordered that the lights be turned out, at least in those costly cities. And 10,000 people will now be able to get some rest.

As for those other 14,000 that are going to be relocated, they won’t be sleeping. Scientific evidence seems to indicate that the lack of sleep in low cost of living areas has no detrimental effect on health. And like any good employer in a capitalist society, Citi wants what’s best for its employees. So now, they won’t be sleeping in affordable sections of India, Buffalo, Cincinnati and northern New Jersey. Did you ever think that the latter three would ever be in the same league as a third world nation?

So say “hello” to India, Buffalo, Cincinnati and northern New Jersey. If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, you’ll be amazed at how similar it is to Buffalo. That should be an easy relocation. I feel badly, though, for those Hong Kong people being relocated to Cincinnati. Talk about culture shock. Do you know how hard it will be to get good fresh pickled eel? They may have to cross over into Kentucky.

But I know what you’re asking. How does this news effect me? Pretty straightforward. Your life as a customer in need of assistance, will be miserable. If you think the accent of your customer service rep in India was tough to handle, just wait until you hear the northern Jersey accents. You’ll be pining for the old days.

Over the years I’ve been looking for good reasons to buy some Citi. Until today, I hadn’t found any. As Citi kept getting bigger and bigger, it seemed to lose its way. Jim Cramer is very blunt about Citi. He thinks the only way for the stock to appreciate is for Prince to go, The chorus is getting louder.

So today comes the big announcement. Even in today’s down market, the news would have ordinarily been met with enthusiasm. As it turned out, Citi under-performed today’s market. What will Prince need to do next to keep his head off the chopping block? He’s obviously going to strategize like it’s 1999. But whatever else, it’s probably too late. So as it turned out, I still haven’t found a compelling reason to make the purchase. But it’s coming sooner, rather than later.

So Citi didn’t help things today, but at least it’s not involved with sub-prime, at least not as far as we know. But in just a second degree of separation, the market wasn’t very good today, with homebuilders, yet again, dragging everyone down. Put this into short term context, though. Yesterday, after all, was actually a great day. After 5 straight up days, we were poised to slide. Down over 100 points, the rebound returned us to a loss of just 11 points. How great was that?

So today, with no real news, just more dwelling on the housing numbers, the market didn’t do much of anything. No conviction or just a case of taking a breather. I doubt the latter. Traders are just waiting for the slightest positive hints to take us to the next level. But they are nervous.

On a personal note, despite the qualms about trading UNH for Altria, on day one it’s looking like a really good move, especially with UNH down $1.20 from where I sold it and the Altria (when issued) up $0.42 from its purchase price. I’m glad that when I get my life insurance premium quotes they don’t ask me whether I’m a smoker, by proxy.

And did you see NYSE today? It continues on its climb back toward its high. I’ve been holding off selling call options, because I felt that it’s stock price was too low and the stock would still be heading up. In the after hours, thanks to some very positive comments by Jim Cramer, NYSE doubled its regular trading gain, closing in on $96. Once it gets to 100, it will be time to sell April $105 or more likely, May $110 call options.

While the market continues to look poised to move up once it completely digests this sub-prime stuff, I am actually wondering what Citi’s move portends in the long term.

In the past few years, the economy has been adding jobs. We’re a little removed from some of the misery a few years ago when it seemed that each week a new and ever larger layoff was announced. We were getting used to companies announcing one huge layoff after another. It’s hard to know whether the relative calm of the past few years has been because companies are now lean and mean, or because business has been good.

The consistently increasing monthly productivity numbers might seem to indicate that both are true. Perhaps there was a causal relationship. But its been calm lately, that is, until today. No numbers were given on the proportion of Citi layoffs in the United States. You would think that with the past outcry over outsourcing, if jobs were being relocated to the US, CitiGroup would trumpet that fact. So who knows?

It’s time to turn the light back on CitiGroup to help clarify what their announcement really means for all of us. Or as is said when the lights go off for the night, “Good night sweet Prince, good night”.


Note: The original version of this article did not include the graphic “Sad Citi”



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All that Glitters

There are lots of things that I’m not very good at.

One, apparently, is the inability to not end an opening sentence with a preposition.

I’m also continually reminded that I don’t clean countertops very well, although it’s still not clear whether I can’t master the process or am just disinterested in the proocess.

I also tend to use multiple negatives in the same sentence.

But the one thing that bothers me is my inability to understand idiomatic expressions. That weakness haunted me back in my SAT days.

Math? No problem. Same with reading comprehension, analogies, synonyms and antonyms. I was even able to keep those prepositions and negatives in check when it really counted. But once you started throwing those idioms at me I was at a loss.

Fortunately, I think that idiom interpretation held a relative weighting role similar to the traditionally recommended place of gold in your portfolio, so it probably didn’t contribute to the final score all that much.

I don’t do well with adages, either.

All that GlittersI do understand the expression “All that glitters is not gold” in that there are either other things that actually glitter, or perhaps there are other things that have the ability to entice.

I guess it could also mean that just because something glitters doesn’t make it valuable, but that’s the least likely one that I think of when I hear the expression.

So using my contraindicatoromometer, that would have to be the correct answer.

And then there’s that silver lining thing.

Did the Rwandan carnage really have a silver lining? The Killing Fields of Cambodia? Does there really have to be something good that underlies everything that is so clearly bad?

Is there anything good about rhetorical questions?

The fact that every cloud is said to have a silver lining is akin to “beauty is only skin deep”. The stuff that’s hidden and out of the way, weither a lining or deeply rooted beauty is totally irrelevant.

If it can’t be seen it doesn’t exist.

That expression is not likly to need any deep analysis. The correct answer is “all of the above”.

These days everyone is touting gold. I’m not, but everyone else seems to be doing so.

What’s funny is that it also seems that all of the commercials for buying your old gold and all of the hype about gold parties seem to have died down.

I don’t know whether that’s due to people realizing they were getting less than bottom dollar for their old gold or the fact that market has already been tapped out at the significantly lower prices of the recent past.

I don’t know anything about gold. Yeah, in the early days of my previous life I had played with casting gold using the ancient lost wax technique, even designed our wedding bands, but that’s about it. When it comes to gold as an investment or as a hedge, I’ve got no opinion.

In general. But these aren’t general times.

These days, you can cast yourself into one of two camps, more clearly defined than The Bloods and The Crips.

You’re either a “Glitterati” or a “Fundamentalist”.

I did purchase 10 gold coins for my 2 kids a few years ago as college graduation gifts, never thinking that their value would double. At least not in my lifetime. So call me a Glitterati, but I did so with no conviction.

Despite the fact that my oldest son, thus far the only one to receive his gift had sold three of those coins at about $1500/oz and reinvested in S&P 500 ETF’s, I still believe that was a rational trade, mostly because my mantra is “no regrets”.

I don’t know if that’s his mantra, too. Based on some of his college and young adult party pictures I’d say “no regrets” is his mantra for daily life, but I’m not certain that extends into his investing philosophy.

It’s funny how your approach to money changes when it’s your money that’s at stake.

Other than that one time foray into the metal itself, somewhere I have a nearly 40 year old silver bar. I think it may have been 25 ounces and I think it was at about $4/oz. But then again, I really have no clue where it is. What I do know is that I fared better than the Hunt Brothers, who even if they had held onto the silver they had purchased in an attempt to corner the market, still wouldn’t have reached a breakeven.

And that’s despite using 1979 dollars.

So as gold and silver have been on this upward tear, for people like me and by which I mean anyone with a shred of rational thought, would assume that their prices were primed to drop.

Last week that one day $100 drop seemed to be the start of a well deserved return to normalcy and perhaps a return of the stock market to more sane intra-day movements.

Wrong and wrong.

Down $100. No problem, just go up $150 and then some for good measure.

Now, I do have to admit that I have been slowly accumulating shares of the ProShares Silver Ultrashort ETF.

I first started doing that when those shares were at $17. They subsequently moved up to about $21, as silver fell to $32 or so, per ounce.

Since I hedge just about everything, I was more than happy to pocket a very healthy option speculative and volatility driven premium and give up my shares.

Since then, though, silver too has been on an unabated upward climb and I’ve again started accumulating shares.

I’ve done so always in the belief that silver would join gold and return to its senses.

It hasn’t and neither have investors, or speculators, whatever you want to call them.

Tuesday, after about a 300 point early day drop in the Dow Jones and a $25 rise in gold’s price, some sense of normalcy returned. Obviously, on the basis of 3 hours worth of sane behavior, I feel comfortable projecting the next 10 years into the future of the markets.

The Dow finished down just 100 points and gold lost about $25 in just a couple of minutes.

While it showed as much as a $9 loss, it did end the day up $4. Silver on the other hand was down all day long, but came off of its lows for the session.

I suppose that Ron Paul, probably still seething over the Tulip Bulb Crash, is happily telling everyone who shows the least interest in listening that he told them so.

I can’t blame him if he were to do that, especially since he should get his moment in the sun after 40 years of trying to spread that message that has clearly been a losing proposition for the vast majority of that time.

These days stocks are clearly not the ones with glitter. It’s certainly not real estate or European bonds, either.

Although I’ve never been one to pay too much attention to price charts, I’m having a hard time understanding why people don’t look at a chart of gold or silver and apply the same kind of cautionary notes that they would if they saw a stock or index demonstrate the same upward climb.

That cautionary note is called “gravity”.

I do understand the perspective of the crumbling world economy being thrown into the mix as perhaps being the reason given for the available support of a continued climb. But I’m old enough to remember we’ve had lousy financial periods over the past 30 years and nowhere near the same reaction in metals.

Granted, the Russian economy of the 90’s was not precisely of the same weight as the European Union of today, but that would have been a great time for gold to rocket. At least the European Union of today has some banking and financial standards and the existence of some relatively healthy members who are willing to prop up the union.

On the other hand, it’s hard to say with any kind of certainty that Russia of today still has any banking standards. Can you imagine the devastation that would have occured back in 1998? And yet, gold did nothing and the stock markets, fueled by technology soared.

I wish that people would have the same sense and sensibility that I have when it comes to the emotions that surround this glittering stuff. Although I did take a pick and shovel with me as I paid a brief visit to the cemetery the other day, common sense eventually took hold after I had broken into a third crypt.

That’s when I remembered that I just wasn’t cut out to be a Glitterati and was no longer a practicing necrodontist. I needed to focus back on Fundamentalist concepts, instead.

The one thing you can say about the fundamentals is that they definitely do not glitter. They’re boring, but at least no one is going to be blaring on my TV suggesting that I go through my old drawers for unwanted fundamentals.

And no, there will never be any alcohol fueled “fundamentals parties” with my many fundamentalist friends.

That would just be weird.



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See a sneak preview of Chapter 1.  hoco blogs

More about the book and purchase options. Scroll down and read the Szelhamos Rules blog, updated every weekday.

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Never a Good Sign


I used to really dislike three day weekends.

Since my only hobby is watching the CNBC ticker, I feel a real void on days when the markets are closed. As if Saturdays and Sundays aren’t bad enough, the third day makes it truly insufferable.

I certainly don’t dispute the need to have national holidays nor do I dispute the specific events or concepts that we honor, but so much is lacking on those days.

For example, even inveterate viewers can stand to watch “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” only so many times as CNBC seeks to fill the air on the holiday schedule. Admittedly, though, I could watch the “Marijuana USA” special on an endless loop, as long as someone lets in the medicinal delivery guy when he knocks.

A few weeks ago, as Hurricane Irene was threatening to blow the roof off of the northeast, CNBC broadcast live on Sunday, a day normally reserved for broadcasting its public service imformercials. I’m not certain why I have MediaBistro.com bookmarked in my browser, but they showed a photo of the CNBC air mattresses after their deployment, to show just how seriously they were taking their commitment to breaking news.

Had Hurricane Irene posed a threat only to Florida or North Carolina viewers would still be able to learn about the many purchase opportunities available for their kitchen rotisserie. However, since Irene was headed for the northeast, the only part of our nation deserving of weekend coverage, that gratification had to be delayed.

Any other part of the nation and MediaBistro.com would have posted photos of CNBC hammocks.

Well, here I was, Labor Day and me without a job, by choice. What to do? What to do? Mind you, back when I was working, Labor Day and all 3 day weekends were a welcome event.

Today was Sugar Momma’s turn to take her visiting brother to the movies and they’ve left to see “The Smurfs Movie” prior to his departure for home tomorrow.

Me she sent to see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” with him the other day. In the recent past, he and I had seen such delights as “Yogi Bear”, “Alvin and the Chipmuks” and “Marmaduke”. I don’t know why I listened to her this time, as I didn’t follow her advice last year to take him to see “Inception”. This time  I wanted to see the Smurfs, but will bide my time for appropriate revenge. That threat is probably empty as I still haven’t devised my revenge for the time she made me place a “to go” telephone order, that took about 20 minutes to complete, at a new Japanese restaurant where the staff didn’t speak anything resembling English.

That was 26 years ago. There’ll be hell to pay.

So that left me home alone with Laszlo the Dog and I was scratching my head and his back over a topic for today’s blog.

The most difficult blog of the week is always the first, as boredom and slow news days don’t lend themselves well to an interesting topic. The biggest story, the absence of Jerry Lewis from the traditional Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon wasn’t a real story, since the news was released months ago. Besides, despite the lack of transparency over the surprising decision, everyone, including Jerry Lewis, seemed to be focused on the main event rather than the behind the scenes drama.

Even the Twitter stream was slowing, but then again, I only follow 29 people and they seemed to be taking the day off bidding an official goodbye to yet another summer.

But there she was, Jane Wells.

Second time this week she provided topic inspiration and guidance. You can always count on her, even though if she ever ascends to elective office in the “Draft Jane Wells for President” movement,  she may ban corked bottles of wine.

I’d like to see her struggle with an screw top bottle of Australian wine and see how long it takes to realize that “righty loosey, lefty tighty”. Besides, is America really ready for a “Wine Party” candidate?

This time she tweeted that CNBC was live with European market coverage.

That Can't be GoodThat can’t be good.

I tried to tune into CNBC, but the Hammacher-Schlemmer Artificial Intelligence Remote Control seemed to know that was a likely error and instead suggested that I watch CNN on this market holiday.

So I had to try and figure out what the various buttons on the TV and cable box actually did and eventually found the proper sequence of clicks to summon up CNBC.

Do you see why I don’t like these 3 day weekends?

As it turned out the market equivalent of a hurricane hit Europe, with the FTSE 100 faring best, down only 3% for the day. You don’t want to know how the DAX did, but let’s say it dropped the equivalent of the savings afforded by one of those tax free shopping days.

The only thing in this financial natural disaster missing was video of George W. Bush patting the back of the Bank of Greece CEO and saying “Heckuva good job, Brownieopoulis”.

As it turned out, the Enron documentary was being pre-empted by a group of people with decidedly British accents, yet unaccompanied by sub-titles. There was a banger filled rotisserie grill in the background and I imagine air mattresses, as well, although there’s a very good chance that the British do not celebrate our Labor Day.

Sorry, Labour.

Luckily, numbers,charts and graphs are reasonably universal, as are the colors red and green.

Oh, I’m sorry again. Colours.

Conventional wisdom had it that following the terrible open in US trading on Friday, the market would recover much of that loss by the second or third hour of trading.

No one was more surprised than me that the conventional wisdom turned out to not be correct.

But I do have to admit that I fully expected, in the absence of any earth or market shattering news, our Tuesday trading to be positive.

Now, it’s not looking quite as good.

In hindsight, it’s unfortunate that the sell-off on Friday, taking a number of my holdings that were hedged by weekly options, ended up with them being slightly out of the money. As much as I enjoy being able to repurchase those shares on the next trading aday at a price lower than was assigned, that won’t likely be happening on Tuesday.

Only some of my Freeport McMoRan shares will be assigned, and there’s never any telling where those will trade, as they don’t particularly follow the market trend with any regularity.

At this point, it’s barely noon on Monday, the European markets are closed and the US futures are pointing down over 200 points.

Live CNBC coverage has now ceased, there’s still about 20 hours before our markets open and it promises to be a slow remainder of the day.

Who knows, between now and then some unforeseen good news may pop-up, like maybe capturing and killing bin Laden again.

Short of that it’s hard to see any good news offsetting those bad signs.

At least I got my CNBC fix today and have an idea of what to expect tomorrow.

As it stands, we don’t have anymore 3 day weekends for a while, but there will be another Sunday coming up next week.

From now on, I’ll be using CNBC as my guide for breaking weekend and holiday news. If there’s no Magic Bullet slicing and dicing its way through the weekend, take cover, it’s just not a very good sign.






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