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Bulls Clear the 13k Hurdle

DOW up 25 @ 13,005

NASDAQ up 20 @ 2896

S&P up 4.5 @ 1372

[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GwjfUFyY6M&ob=av3e 450 300]

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Good News for Pensioners

General Electric Co. (GE)Boeing Co. (BA) and 3M Co. (MMM) will join big U.S. employers in making a record $100 billion in 2012 pension contributions, 67 percent more than two years ago, as low interest rates boost companies’ liabilities.

Payments may total $400 billion from 2011 through 2015 to ease underfunding at the 100 largest defined-benefit programs, according to consultant Milliman Inc., which estimated that assets in January were enough to cover less than three-fourths of projected payouts.

“It’s been called the wall of contributions,” said Alan Glickstein, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson & Co. (TW) in New York. “All of a sudden this thing jumps up and stays there for a few years. That’s what it looks like — a wall.”

Companies from defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) to aviation-electronics maker Honeywell International Inc. are caught in a vise: the Federal Reserve Board’s vow to keep rates at current levels until 2014 means pension plans’ fixed-income investments are stagnating just as new rules shorten the time available to shore up funding.

“They’re going to have to kick money in,” said John Ehrhardt, a consulting actuary at Seattle-based Milliman. “We’re basically seeing historically low interest rates driving historically high employer contribution requirements.”

That’s money that won’t go back to shareholders through dividends or buybacks, or toward expansion, said Kevin McLaughlin, a pension risk management specialist with consultant Mercer in New York….”

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Kentucky Bourbon Makers Fear Hangover from Obama’s Corporate Tax Overhaul

By Erik Wasson – 02/25/12 07:49 AM ET

Kentucky bourbon makers say President Obama’s corporate tax overhaul could hobble their industry and cause major economic hardship in the Bluegrass State.

The makers of Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniels and Evan Williams are worried about the elimination of an accounting method that allows companies to lower their tax burdens by boosting the costs associated with inventory held for a long period.

Obama’s Treasury Department sees the “last in, first out” (LIFO) accounting rule as a loophole. By eliminating it and other tax provisions, Obama would pay to lower the top corporate tax ratefrom 35 percent to 28 percent.

Bourbon makers, however, argue their taxes would skyrocket if the decades-old accounting system is discarded and the lower corporate rate doesn’t make up for that.

The system benefits bourbon makers especially because it allows them to count their most recent inventory costs against new revenue, which results in a lower profit margin. Without LIFO, bourbon makers would have to count inventory costs when bourbon was initially distilled and before it is aged.

For a bottle of 12-year-old bottle of bourbon, this makes a big difference given inflation.

To fight the change, bourbon makers like Brown-Forman and Heaven Hill have enlisted members of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus such as Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Geoff Davis (R-Ky.).

“This could cost a lot of jobs,” Yarmuth said, noting there are 9,000 people employed in distilling in Kentucky.

Bourbon makers also have a powerful ally in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“Sen. McConnell, like the President’s own Small Business Administration, opposes the President’s proposed tax hike on job creators,” spokesman Don Stewart said.

He cited a 2009 letter from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy saying that that LIFO repeal could “force many small businesses to close.”

Though a corporate tax overhaul could be years away, Yarmuth and others in the caucus are worried LIFO could become a bargaining chip at the end of this year when Congress and Obama look to replace $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts triggered by the failure of the debt supercommittee.

Eliminating LIFO would raise $52 billion over 10 years, according to Obama’s 2013 budget. Obama has called for its elimination in his last three budgets.

At a House Budget Committee hearing last week, Yarmuth demanded Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner turn over to lawmakers an analysis examining the costs and benefits of eliminating LIFO. On Friday, Yarmuth said he had yet to receive a response.

Yarmuth said that the administration needs to look at whether the negative effects on smaller industries would actually reduce tax revenue over time.

The LIFO provision is used by more than bourbon makers. Major oil and gas companies frequently employ it as well to reduce their tax burden.

Yarmuth said exemptions for aged products like whiskey, wine and cheese could make sense.

“The American bourbon whiskey industry has been a really positive growth story, despite the uneven economic conditions,” Max Shapira, the president of Heaven Hill said. “Ten years ago, many industry analysts wanted to consign whiskey to the great liquor store in the sky.”

He said that bourbon is facing growing global demand, including in Asia, and that repealing LIFO at this time would hurt the ability of Heaven Hill to grow its exports. The Obama administration is trying to double U.S. exports over a four-year span.

Read the rest here.

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Like, OMG, Here’s the “Happy Mardi Gras” Party for the Obamas

via Drudgereport.com

Tue Feb 21 2012 20:11:21 ET

Subject: Pool #1--The BluesPool was escorted into the East Room for "In Performance at The White House: Red, White and Blues" at 6:45pmPOTUS and FLOTUS entered the room at 7:25pm to rousing applause.

Highlights: POTUS began his speech by wishing the crowd a "Happy Mardi Gras." Turning to the Blues, he said the music has "humble beginnings, roots in slavery and segregation, a society that rarely treated Black Americans with the dignity and respect that they deserved."

POTUS said the Blues helped lay the foundation for Rock n Roll, R&B and hip hop. POTUS said the blues "Speaks to something universal." "No one goes through life without both joy and pain, triumph and sorrow. Blues gets all that sometimes with just one lyric or one note," he said.

The music "teaches us that when we find ourselves at a crossroads, we don't shy away from our problems. We own them. We face up to them. We deal with them. We sing about them. We turn them into art."

Obama then called BB King, whom he called "the King of the Blues" to the stage, helping him up.BB King (wearing a shiny leaf-patterned jacket) and other musicians listed below then led the crowd in a rendition of "Let the Good Times Roll." (For all you Rolling Stones fans, Mick Jagger was not on the stage.)

Spotted in the crowd: First Granny Marian Robinson, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and WH senior adviser Pete Rouse. Full set list: “In Performance at The White House: Red, White and Blues”B.B King, Trombone Shorty, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, Shemekia Copeland, Susan Tedeschi, Gary Clark, Jr., Keb’ Mo’, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes

Set List

1. “Let the Good Times Roll” (Ensemble)
2. “The Thrill Is Gone” (B.B King)
3. “St. James Infirmary” (Trombone Shorty)
4. “Let Me Love You Baby” (Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck)
5. “Brush With The Blues” instrumental (Jeff Beck)
6. “I Can’t Turn You Loose” (Mick Jagger)
7. “Commit A Crime” (Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck)
8. “Miss You” (Mick Jagger, Shemekia Copeland, and Susan Tedeschi,)
9. “Beat Up Guitar” (Shemekia Copeland, Gary Clark, Jr.)
10. “Catfish Blues” (Gary Clark, Jr.)
11. “In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)” (Gary Clark, Jr.)
12. “Henry” ( Keb’ Mo’)
13. “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes)
14. “Five Long years” (Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Gary Clark, Mick Jagger)
15. “Sweet Home Chicago” (Ensemble)

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INDICATOR: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: Score One For the Bulls

It’s that time of year again!  On last night’s Late Show with David Letterman, the cover model of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was revealed to be America’s own Kate Upton.  While we’re all familiar with the Super Bowl Indicator, have you ever heard of the  Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Indicator?  The Swimsuit Issue Indicator says that the US equity markets perform better in years where an American appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual issue as opposed to years when a non-American appears on the cover. The table below highlights the annual performance of the S&P 500 since 1978.

Read the rest here.

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The 400% Man: Posting Mind-Bogglingly High Returns for a Decade

How a college dropout at a tiny Utah fund beat Wall Street, and why most managers are scared to copy him.


On a fall day in 2010, half a dozen wealthy investors and portfolio managers converged on an office in midtown Manhattan. These were serious Wall Street moneymen; in aggregate, they handled more than a billion dollars. They had access to the most exclusive hedge funds and investment partnerships and often rubbed shoulders with the elite of New York, Greenwich and Palm Beach.

But on this day, they had turned out to meet an unknown college dropout from Utah — and to find out how he was knocking them all into a cocked hat.

The unknown, Allan Mecham, had been posting mind-bogglingly high returns for a decade at a tiny private-investment fund called Arlington Value Management, and the Wall Streeters were considering jumping on board. For nearly two hours, they peppered him with questions. Where did he get his business background? I read a lot, he replied. Did he have an MBA? No. I dropped out of college. Did he have a clever computer model or algorithm? No, he replied. I don’t use spreadsheets much. Could the group look at some of his investment analyses? I don’t have any of those either, he said. It’s all in my head. The investors were baffled. Well, could he at least tell them where he thought the stock market was headed? “I don’t know,” Mecham replied.

Read the rest here.


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via WSJ 

[SP_GAY2]Joe Kline for The Wall Street JournalFedEx Ground delivery-truck driver Ed Weiland organizes packages in the back of his truck in Bend, Ore.

The morning after Jeremy Lin sank a thrilling, last-second three-pointer that lifted the New York Knicks over the Toronto Raptors and gave “Linsanity” its latest, rapturous chapter, the mysterious basketball oracle who saw it coming almost two years ago woke up in Bend, Ore., and blended himself a healthy green shake: celery, spinach, kale, orange juice. He put on his uniform, packed some trail mix for the road and pulled on his winter hat.

Then he went off to his day job: driving a FedEx Ground delivery truck.

In May 2010, an unsung numbers hobbyist named Ed Weiland wrote a long-term forecast of Jeremy Lin for the basketball website Hoops Analyst. At the time, Lin was a lightly regarded, semi-known point guard who had completed his final season at Harvard. But Weiland saw NBA material. He emphasized how well Lin played in three nonconference games against big schools: Connecticut, Boston College and Georgetown. He noted how Lin’s performance in two unsexy statistical categories—two-point field-goal percentage (a barometer of inside scoring ability) and RSB40 (rebounds, steals and blocks per 40 minutes) compared favorably to college numbers put up by marquee NBA guards like Allen Iverson and Gary Payton. Weiland concluded that Lin had to improve on his passing and leadership at the point, but argued that if he did, “Jeremy Lin is a good enough player to start in the NBA and possibly star.”

In the wake of Lin’s historic New York explosion, Weiland’s eerily prescient post has quickly recirculated around the Internet, as a rare example of someone who saw potential in a player who wasn’t drafted and was abandoned by two teams before getting a chance with the Knicks. Traffic rushing to Weiland’s 2010 Lin piece briefly crashed the Hoops Analyst website after Lin torched the Lakers for 38 points Friday, and his wisdom has been compared with the groundbreaking number-crunching in the baseball best seller “Moneyball,” which became a recent Hollywood movie. A tribute to Weiland’s foresight on the Yahoo Sports site The Post Game ended with, “Brad Pitt’s on line 1.”

Monitoring from his silver Toshiba laptop, Weiland has been amused by the new appreciation of his work. A 51-year-old father of two, grandfather of one, vegan and amateur trail runner who lives by himself in a region full of cyclists and snowboarders, Weiland doesn’t fit the profile of a 21st-century sports wonk.

“You were probably expecting a 22-year-old MIT graduate,” Weiland said Wednesday, in his first interview since Lin-mania began.

A Bench-Warmer’s Star Run


European Pressphoto Agency

Weiland grew up in Upper Michigan, near Norway, a city about a two-hour drive north of Green Bay, Wis. He played basketball, but never on a school team. He enrolled at Northern Michigan University but didn’t graduate. But he remained intrigued by mathematics. In the 80s Weiland became fascinated by the work of Bill James, an ex-security guard whose detailed baseball analysis would later help revolutionize that sport. For fun, Weiland began to compile his own data. “As long as I remember, he’s had spiral notebooks full of numbers,” said Weiland’s daughter, Jana, 29. “He had so much random knowledge of players and teams.”

A fan of the Michael Jordan Bulls, Weiland was living in Chicago when he began to find like-minded hobbyists on the Internet. He began self-publishing his insights online. Weiland connected with Hoops Analyst in the mid-2000s. “He had a special interest in translating how NCAA players would do when they came to the NBA,” said the site’s founder, Harlan Schreiber. “Jeremy Lin is just an example of what he’s been doing for years.”

Weiland is quick to point out he wasn’t the only stathead to take an early interest in Lin, and adds that he’s made plenty of head-slapping mistakes, like badly shortchanging Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. But what makes his 2010 post stand out is how sharply it sees Lin’s athleticism and ability to rise up in big moments, the very traits the 23-year-old has displayed since being inserted into the Knicks lineup. Weiland made Lin a centerpiece of his 2010 pre-draft analysis, a possible hidden surprise. “Part of my thinking was that maybe he’d break out,” he said.

More ‘Linsanity’

But Weiland never expected Lin to go as “Linsane” as this. Entering Wednesday night’s Knicks-Kings game, Lin was averaging 27.2 points and 8.8 assists in five scintillating starts. He is on the current cover of Sports Illustrated, and was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference player of the week. Weiland believes Lin’s numbers will come down when Carmelo Anthony returns to the New York lineup, but not drastically.

“When this all flattens out, I’m guessing he’ll be scoring in the high teens, say 18 points, with 10 assists,” he said. “That’s an All-Star point guard, or at least borderline.”

Meanwhile, Weiland continues to scour the NCAA, and he shared his enthusiasm for a pair of current players: Tony Mitchell of North Texas, and Jae Crowder at Marquette. By now, many of Weiland’s friends and colleagues know about his side life examining sports. “He’s got a real knack for numbers,” said Weiland’s boss, Vince VandenBosch. “Real smart guy.”

“I don’t think he set out to get recognized for this,” said Jana Weiland. “I think it’s really cool.”

Ed Weiland said that he’d once hoped to turn his stats hobby into a professional career, but it was “never a burning ambition.” He compared it to friends who played music for love. He confessed he’d never even spoken to Schreiber, the Hoops Analyst founder, communicating with the website only via email. Until late Wednesday, Schreiber had no idea what Weiland did for a living.

“I’ve lived a happily quiet life,” Weiland said. “And it’s still happily quiet.”

And with that, the man who anticipated the beginning of “Linsanity” said goodbye. There were deliveries to be made, and he needed to get to his truck.

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Kate Upton was revealed as cover model of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue during a taping of CBS’ The Late Show with David Letterman in New York Monday night.

SI unveiled a billboard of Upton’s cover image across from Letterman’s Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan. The 19-year old Florida native nabbed the coveted cover shot in only her second appearance. She was “Rookie of the Year” last year.

Among other SI models who appeared on the show: Julie Henderson, Jessica Gomes, Ariel Meredith, Alyssa Miller, Chrissy Teigen, Genevieve Morton, Izabel Goulart, Jessica Perez and last-year’s cover model Irina Shayk.

This year’s 2012 SI Swimsuit Issue hitting newsstands, the Web, tablets and iPhones today will feature 18 models and 6 athletes and will be read by an estimated 70 million adults.


Upton joins the list of other SI cover models, including: Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Elle MacPherson, Tyra Banks and Brooklyn Decker.

Upton has beenromantically linked in the tabloids to New York Jets QB Mark Sanchezaccording to TheBig Lead.com.

She’s done TV work for MSG Network and caused a YouTube sensation by dancing the “Dougie” at a Los Angeles Clippers game.

Upton’s personal Web site describes her as the “next great Supermodel.” She was a competitive equestrian before turning to modeling.

She’s joined in this year’s issued by three male athletes: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps; NBA star Chris Paul and tennis star Rafael Nadal.

And three female athletes wearing nothing but bodypaint: Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin; LPGA pro Natalie Gulbis; and U.S. women’s soccer star Alex Morgan.

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[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9chNh_baJe0&feature=g-all-u&context=G290057fFAAAAAAAAQAA 603 500]

This is in response to this ridiculous video

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl1ujzRidmU 603 500]

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Minimum Thought Put into Minimum Wage



by David Asman at FoxBusiness.com

Mitt Romney panicked the other day. The press was raking him over the coals for saying that he worried more about the middle class than he did about the poor. So he panicked and threw a bone to liberals, some of whom he hopes will vote for him in November.

The bone he threw was a promise to index minimum wage to inflation — an idea that’s not only an insult to those who believe in free markets, but also an insult to the millions of young folks who are out of work because of minimum wage laws.

As the brilliant economist Thomas Sowell pointed out in a column this week, a minimum wage is one of the worst things you can do to young folks out of work.

“When you set minimum-wage levels higher than many inexperienced young people are worth, they don’t get hired. It is not rocket science.”

The minimum wage is particularly tough on black teens, whose unemployment rate is now over 39%. But it hasn’t always been that way. Sowell reminds us that black teen unemployment in the late 1940s was under 10%. Why? Because there really wasn’t a minimum wage back then; high inflation had made it meaningless.

So young black men were able to get entry level positions. Sowell was one of them. His first job was delivering telegrams in New York — not a great job, but for a black, high school drop out in the late 1940s, it was a great start. And he wouldn’t have gotten that start if there had been a real minimum wage.

Minimum wage laws prevent that first leg up. And if we index minimum wage to inflation, we’ll see teenage unemployment go even higher.
Read more: http://trade.cc/ajegixzz1loAvTB89

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Facebook Turns 8 Years Old

Once known as “TheFacebook” when it launched on Feb. 4, 2004, the site will turn eight years old on Saturday. It’s expected to celebrate its birthday week with the filing of an initial public offering, which could value the company at around $100 billion.

The move would make the social network about four times the value of Google at the time it went public in 2004 with a valuation at $23 billion the day after.

The site has come a long way since it launched in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room. First limited to just Harvard University undergrads, the site later opened up to other schools and raked in about 5 million members in just two years. Now, it boasts more than 800 million users worldwide — or 40% of all Internet users — and is on track to reach 1 billion members by August. Behind Google, it’s the number one most-visited site worldwide.

Facebook caught the attention of investors since its beginnings, but declined bids from various companies from NBC and the Washington Post Group to MySpace and Viacom. In 2008, Zuckerberg was reportedly in talks with Yahoo for a potential sale, but he turned down an offer for $1.6 billion, saying the bid was too low.

Four years later, the company could be worth nearly 100 times that number.

Where do you think Facebook will be in the next 10 years? Do you think it has more long-term staying power? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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