That was one of the most gut-wrenching Indians losses in a long time. The Tribe had a chance to go into the All-Star break with all kinds of momentum as winners of five of six, and with a 45-40 record.
But alas, it was not to be. A bad error by Asdrubal Cabrera in the 6th inning opened the flood gates for four Tampa runs there, and then they scored three more in the top of the ninth off Chris Perez to steal the win.
Great first halves for our two All-Stars, just not great games yesterday afternoon.
All kinds of Kardashian-related news this morning. Kourtney Kardashian had a baby girl yesterday, and it appears the Cavs are on the cusp of adding Kim Kardashian’s former husband of about two weeks, Kris Humphries, as part of a three or four team trade that would also send Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets. Humphries is a legit power forward (averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds last year), but the Cavs are only involved in this because of their ample room under the salary cap. Humphries is a restricted free agent that is commanding close to 10mm a year, and in exchange for taking on that salary so the Nets can clear room for Howard, they’d likely also add a first round pick or Nets swingman Marshon Brooks without giving up much of anything.
I’ve talked before about some of the questions young kids ask that are tough to answer. How are babies made? Why are there wars? How does the Easter Bunny get in the house? How can Santa see what we’re doing all year? Why does Shelly Duncan look like Frankenstein, and why is he starting in left field?
How about this one I got from my son yesterday: “Who is Kim Kardashian?” Try answering that one. I had the Confused Pat Shurmur look on my face for about 90 seconds after he asked it.
Fight fans got a chance to see THE MASTER at his greatest Saturday night, as Anderson “Spider” Silva laid waste to Chael Sonnen in their highly anticipated rematch at UFC 148. After being dominated in the first round by the tough as nails Sonnen, Silva capitalized in the second after Sonnen fell down after missing a spinning back fist, finishing Sonnen a few seconds later. Despite pushing 40 years old, Silva showed Saturday night why he is the greatest fighter in UFC history, and that he is nearly unbeatable. Silva has now completely cleaned out the UFC middleweight division. Hopefully we’ll get to see this fight sometime in 2013 though.
Quote of the Day …
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers
Insane Fact of the Day …
The mask used by Michael Myers in the original “Halloween” was a Captain Kirk mask painted white.
A busy week for the markets that will get off to a slow start.
The week will start with investors continuing to assess the Friday’s jobs report, which was gloomy. Most people feel (as I do) that the jobs numbers are depressing, but haven’t been bad enough long enough to get the Fed to act. So we’re kind of stuck in the middle, which isn’t making the markets happy. It’s almost like the predicament the Cleveland Cavaliers are in. It would be in their best long term interest for them to be horrible enough this year to warrant another high draft pick, but fans and ownership are also eager for the team to start winning. If they fully commit to winning, they may make the playoffs but will get trounced first round, and be stuck in the Indiana Pacers/Houston Rockets netherworld of finishing around .500 every year and getting draft picks outside the top 12.
The economy is right there right now. Not strong enough to grow. Not bad enough (yet) to likely warrant further Fed action. As I said last week, I expect the July jobs #’s to stink as well, and we’ll likely see action then. If I was Bernanke, I’d just act now. Then again, I was calling for QE3 before the economy even started this predictable slide.
Of course, developments in Europe could change the likely Fed timeline. Today, Eurozone finance ministers will meet to try and flesh out a potential single currency plan, as well as to discuss banking supervision, how to use euro zone bailout money, aid to Spain, and whether to grant concessions to Greece. It’s a mess over there. Problems are cropping up faster than they can address the previous ones.
Second quarter earnings season also kicks off this week, as aluminum giant Alcoa, as always, will be the first to report earnings after the closing bell today. It’s expected to be a pretty brutal earnings quarter given the economic slowdown we saw in Q2.
And then after next to no domestic economic releases today and tomorrow, things heat up on Wednesday. We get the trade balance Wednesday morning, then the anticipated release of the minutes from the last Fed meeting. On Thursday we get import prices and jobless claims. And on Friday, PPI and consumer sentiment.
~ Investors Brace for Shaky US Earnings Season
~ Top Fed Official: Fed Should Ease Policy Further, Buy More Bonds
~ Ranks of US Community Banks Surge
~ The Week Ahead: Treasury Auctions, FOMC Minutes, and Class A MBS Settlement
~ Obama to Seek Extension of Bush-Era Tax Cuts
~ Euro Zone Fragmenting Quicker than EU Can Act
~ FHA’s Mortgage Delinquencies Soar
~ Homeowner Equity Improvement Noted in June Housing Scorecard
Four Friday pet peeves …
People that don’t give “the hand” when you let them pull out of a parking lot in front of you – This drives me insane. If I’m nice enough to hold up traffic behind me to let you out, give “the hand”. It’s not hard.
Bathroom paper towel dispensers that let out three inches of towel at a time – Really? If expenses are that tight where you have to set these things to emit a strip of paper towel the size of a bookmark, it may be time to tweak other aspects of your business model. I’m also not a big fan of the ones that make you pull the towel downward with both of your dripping wet hands. Don’t make it so hard for me to dry my hands. Please.
People that blame the President for their economic woes – I have a buddy that is STILL blaming George Bush for his economic problems. And another claiming Obama is keeping him down. I’ll also add in here the people that claim they will move to Canada if ______ wins the next election. I don’t care if Charlie Sheen is elected President with Delonte West as his running mate. I’m not going anywhere. Ever.
People that talk in public places on their Bluetooths – These people should immediately be incarcerated and be forced to watch Joe Bauserman highlight reels until they are rehabilitated. The people that do it in the men’s room should immediately be deported out of America and have their citizenship revoked.
How good have Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez been? Pestano leads all of baseball in “holds” with 21. He is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA. In 34 innings pitched, he has allowed just 21 hits and has struck out 39 batters. Perez is 2nd in all of baseball with 24 saves and has not blown a save since opening day. In 31 innings pitched, he has walked just 7 batters, and has 32 punch-outs. Hands down, this has been the top 1-2 back-of-the-bullpen duo in the entire league this season.
It is a HUGE advantage knowing that you only need your starting pitchers and middle relief guys to get you through six or seven innings. The Indians record when leading after six innings is an astonishing 35-2 this season.
Be afraid sports fans. Next week is “the week”. The only two days of the year without any professional sporting events. The day before and after the MLB All-Star Game.
Monday we at least have the home run derby to get us through. It’s Wednesday I’m dreading. Not one sporting event. Maybe I can use that night to plant grass seed in all the burned black patches in my backyard.
Quote of the Day …
“Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.” ~ Jackson Brown
Insane Fact of the Day …
No president of the U.S. has been an only child.
Another disappointing jobs report.
The US added just 80,000 jobs in June, per a report from the Labor Dept this morning. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2%. Expectations were for 100-110k new jobs, and no change to the unemployment rate. May’s jobs total was revised up from 69k to 77k. April’s was revised down from 77k to 68k. The biggest gains in June occurred in the fields of professional services (47,000), health care (13,000) and manufacturing (11,000). Yet the private sector only added 84,000 jobs in total. The average workweek last month rose 0.1 hour to 34.5, while average hourly earnings climbed 6 cents to $23.50.
Even more importantly, the less publicized but more accurate “U6” employment rate edged up from 14.8% to 14.9%. This total includes discouraged job-seekers that have stopped looking, and also people that want to be working full-time that are only working part-time.
This morning’s # puts a capper on a real stinker of a second quarter for the US economy. After encouraging growth in the first quarter, and average monthly job adds of 226,000 … the economy averaged just 75,000 in job additions here in quarter two. The US labor force naturally grows by roughly 110,000-120,000 people each month, so additions less than that equate to a net negative.
And somewhere … Mitt Romney is pretending like he’s disappointed while being secretly elated. With the Presidential election now just four months away, the employment picture here in America will have a huge impact on who the next leader of the free world is. Romney is a flawed candidate with a long history of losing elections. Obama is a very likable, personable candidate that inherited a mess and has the history of only two sitting Presidents (Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush) in the last eighty years losing re-election bids. Only way Romney had a chance is if what is happening now happened. In Vegas, Romney was a HUGE underdog to win six months ago. Now he is close to even money.
Stock futures are down. Treasury prices are up, with yields falling. The closely watched 10-year Treasury bond is now yielding an unthinkable 1.56%. Investors are gobbling up mortgage bonds filled with loans with rates in the mid 3’s like they’re going out of style. Even though I totally predicted this, it’s still almost impossible to conceive that people are paying premiums for 10 year bonds yielding 1.50% and bonds backed by mortgage loans with delinquency risk at 3.00% handles.
Everyone will be buzzing and talking about the Fed now. If they will act. If there will be a QE3. I don’t think we’ll see any immediate reaction from them, but the behind the scenes scheming will start. And then if we don’t see any improvement in July (which we may based on the leading jobs #’s from yesterday) … I think you will see action a month from now. I think you’ll see some form of QE3. I think you’ll see HARP 3.0. I think you’ll see more bond buying. It’s conceivable that you could see 30 year fixed rates in the low 3’s.
I also think all of this, while worth doing, won’t have huge impact. It will have some. If you look at all the positive signs we’re seeing in the housing market, a lot of that has to do with Fed actions. But this is a big boat to turn around.
It all starts with housing though. I think the Fed knows that.
Your move Big Ben.
~ Another Disappointing Jobs Number: US Economy Adds Just 80,000 Jobs in June
~ As US Economy Steadies, Bank Closings Become Rarer
~ Finance Chiefs Confront Europe’s Unfinished Business
~ Why Central Banks Will Struggle to Halt Slowdown
~ China’s Surprise Rate Cut Signals More Trouble Ahead
~ Spain Re-Enters Danger Zone; Germany Borrows for Free
~ Top Analyst Thinks Apple Stock Could Hit $1000
Hope everyone had a nice Fourth. It was a HOT one. And then the skies opened up right around the time most city firework displays were set to go off, causing cancellations in several places.
The rain was a welcome sight to me at that point in the night. It was almost as if someone above was telling me “Blowing up a watermelon is NOT a good idea. Now go inside and go to bed.”
Best. Steak. Ever.
Every time you think this Cleveland Indians team is down and out, they rally back. One week ago today, heading into the Orioles series, the Tribe had lost five straight and looked like a 70 win team in doing so. Then they go off to Baltimore and erupt for 32 runs en route to taking three of four from the O’s. They come back home, look anemic in being blanked by Jared Weaver on Monday night, and then proceed to batter a red hot Angels team 9-5 and 12-3 to take that series.
This team has a good makeup, led by manager Manny Acta. They have a good bullpen, and there are few teams in baseball that wouldn’t trade top three hitters (Choo, Asdrubal, Kipper) with us. I really hope they address the gaping hole in left field and in the starting rotation here in July via trade (sooner the better), and don’t count on the potential returns of Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez Heredia to be the saviors.
The Indians have four home games against the Rays remaining before the All-Star break. They are EXACTLY half way through the season. 81 played, 81 remaining. They stand at 42-39 and are two games behind the Evil Sox.
Quote of the Day …
“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
Insane Fact of the Day …
Diet Coke was only invented in 1982.
Jobs, jobs, jobs. We’ll close this week out getting the latest empirical data on the employment situation here in America. Make no mistake, along with the lingering sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the employment numbers are what are driving and moving markets right now.
Got some data in already this morning. The ADP employment report showed that private-sector payrolls rose by 176,000 in June, which was well above the expectations of about 100,000. Separate data showed that first-time weekly jobless claims declined by 14,000 last week to 374,000, which is the lowest level in six weeks. Nothing to get giddy about, but both numbers pretty handily bested expectations. We’re not getting the reactions in early trading from the stock and bond markets we usually would, which isn’t surprising, given the holiday hangover, and also the fact that the reports come ahead of tomorrows closely watched and highly anticipated jobs report from the Labor Department. Economists are projecting that nonfarm payrolls increased by 100,000 in June, compared with 69,000 in May.
We also get ISM non-manufacturing data at 10 AM EST this morning.
Investors are also digesting moves from global central banks today. China cut interest rates for the second time in less than a month. In Europe, the Bank of England expanded the size of its quantitative-easing program, while the European Central Bank cut interest rates, as expected.
In the shortened session of trading on Tuesday before the Fourth of July holiday, US stocks closed higher after a surprise jump in the nation’s factory orders for May and as higher commodities prices boosted energy and materials stocks.
~ Can Stimulating Housing Demand Cure the Economy?
~ Retailers See Disappointing Sales in June
~ ECB Cuts Interest Rates to 0.75%, Deposit Rate to Zero
~ China Cuts Interest Rates for Second Time This Year
~ Bank of England Prints Money Again to Boost Economy
~ The Day Ahead: Lots of Data Ahead of a Jobs Report Friday
~ Ohio Ranks Near Top for Underwater Mortgages
~ Google’s New Mini-Tablet Computer Shakes Up Market and Comes Out on Top
The Fourth of July is tomorrow. One of my favorite holidays. America is by far the greatest country in the world to live in, and what better way to celebrate that than by grilling meat and blowing things up.
I have a big fenced in backyard and cool neighbors. Thus, most of the neighborhood descends upon my house for the festivities each Independence Day. My backyard will look like a battleground Thursday morning. Burnt grass, firework schrapnel and casings strewn everywhere, parachute men stuck in all the trees, and a general lingering aroma that would please Robert Duvall’s character from “Apolcalypse Now”.
One of my favorite parts of the day is the morning trip to the firework store with my soon to be seven year old son. The kid is downright giddy when we go. The whole experience is hysterical, starting with how shady the building looks:
Then, in the store, you know the stuff is insanely marked up and a frivolous waste of money … but something just takes over when you get in there and see it all, especially when you have a hopped-up-on-firework-excitement seven year old boy with you egging you on.
Another great part of the day is the brutal tongue lashing I get from my wife when I walk in the door with bags and bags of fireworks. I’m talking Michael Douglas in “Falling Down” levels of anger. I know its coming. I try and just block as much of it out as I can, lie about what I spent, take my punishment like a man, and let the anger slowly and painfully subside until people come over, when she’s forced to once again be nice to me.
Another fun part? Running away from lit fuses. Nothing like that rush of lighting the fuse and then darting away. Especially in hot dry weather like this, which makes for quick fuses.
And of course, none of this fun could happen without my trusty “launching pad”. Formerly a cabinet door, The Launching Pad has embarked on a new, much more exciting life as an accessory to ignite explosive devices.
But probably the best part of the day is when I unleash the “Victory Celebration” on the unsuspecting masses. One at a time, it launches 37 shells into the air that explode and send cute little parachute men floating down to the ground. The neighborhood kids GO CRAZY, it is outstanding. It looks like the Normandy invasion, except with kids running around everywhere, trying to catch the parachute men as they float back down to earth.
Quote of the Day …
“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” ~ John F. Kennedy
Insane Fact of the Day …
Ohio is listed as the 17th state in the U.S., but technically it is number 47. Until August 7, 1953, Congress forgot to vote on a resolution to admit Ohio to the Union.
Should be a really quiet day for the markets. Outside of factory order data at 10 AM, we get no significant economic releases today. Bond markets close early at 2 PM. All markets are closed tomorrow in observance of the Independence Day holiday. And all market observers are kinda lying in wait for the battery of American jobs numbers that will be released on Thursday and Friday.
Stocks lost a little ground yesterday after Friday’s 278-point rally in the wake of an agreement by European Union leaders on fresh measures to tackle the euro-zone debt crisis. The economic data yesterday was mixed. The ISM Manufacturing Index fell to 49.7, below the consensus of 52.0, and the lowest level since July 2009. Readings below 50 typically are consistent with a contraction in the sector. A one month slip below 50.0 is not cause for great concern, but it would be if it stays below that level. On the other side of the fence, data on construction spending from the Commerce Dept was upbeat. Outlays for U.S. construction projects jumped 0.9% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $830 billion. That was the biggest increase of the year and was well above analysts’ expectations of a 0.2% rise. More positive news for the battered housing sector.
At the end of the day, everyone is waiting on the jobs data after we return from the holiday. Jobs numbers are driving everything right now. We’re pretty much at the point where consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of the US economy, will not increase significantly enough to have any impact until we figure out a way to put more people back to work.
~ Home Building Rise Pushes Up Construction Spending in May
~ US Consumers Better at Debt Repayment: For Now
~ Auto Sales Could Help Drive Market Sentiment
~ Why American Incomes are Barely Growing
~ The Day Ahead: Limited Data and an Early Close for Bond Markets
~ Dave Stevens Staying at the MBA
~ What are the Chances Facebook Stock Will Return to $38?
Some quick hits from the last 3-4 days …
Big time disappointment yesterday that my man Jason Kipnis didn’t make the American League All-Star team. He was clearly deserving. Kipnis is hitting .275 and is on pace to hit 23 HR’s, drive in 97 RBI’s, score 97 runs, and steal 42 bases (he’s been caught stealing once). The players selected Ian Kinsler as the backup at 2B to Robby Cano. At the end of the day, AL manager Ron Washington went with his own guy Elvis Andrus as a third shortstop instead of taking Kipper as the third second baseman. Andrus has less HR’s and RBI’s, but is hitting .307 and plays elite defense.
Chris Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera made the team for the Tribe, and both are having fantastic seasons. Vinnie Pestano was the other one that merited consideration.
The Cavs draft. It was very controversial, as the team surprised fans by taking Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters with the #4 overall selection, then traded their last three picks to move up and grab North Carolina big man Tyler Zeller.
In Waiters they get a guy that can clearly score, but is a little undersized, has somewhat of a checkered past, and who didn’t really play any defense in college. He also played with the ball a lot at the Cuse, and here, he’ll have to play off the ball. How well he does that and how well he is able to defend 6’6-6’7 shooting guards will determine how good of a NBA player he’ll be. Zeller is a safe pick, albeit with limited upside. The Cavs needed a true center though, and had good luck with the last big man they drafted with a Z last name.
I am fired up for the Olympics this year. More so than usual for whatever reason. Long time Dish readers know that I adopt one American female athlete to fawn over every two years when the Olympics roll around. In 2006, it was Sasha Cohen. In 2008, it was Natalie Coughlin. In 2010, it was Lindsey Vonn. This year, it’s down to track stars Lolo Jones and Allyson Felix.
Tough month for ESPN. After losing one of my favorites, Michelle Beadle, to NBC a few weeks ago … Erin Andrews announced yesterday that she’ll be leaving The Four Letter to take a job with FOX, who is ramping up their college football coverage this season. In addition to being their main sideline reporter for college football, Andrews will also be heavily involved in their NFL pregame show and their MLB Playoffs coverage.
Had a solo dad day with the kids on Saturday. We hit up the Italian/American festival in Berea. The food there … my lord. It wasn’t a huge fair, and one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that the smaller the fair, the shadier the carnies and the games are. Here’s a blow by blow of my conversation with the guy running the pop the balloon with a dart game:
Me: “What do I need to do to win this Super Mario stuffed animal?”
Carnie: “Pop a balloon with a large prize ticket behind it.”
Me: “Let me guess, there’s not many of those on the board.”
Carnie: “You’re a smart guy.”
Me: “What is the small prize?”
Carnie: “This fish.” (holds up a three inch stuffed fish that actually smells like a real fish)
Me: “How many smalls to trade up to a medium? How many mediums to trade up to a large?”
Carnie: “Twelve smalls equal a medium. Five mediums equal a large.”
Me: “That’s un-American.”
Carnie: “It’s actually VERY American.”
Me: “Touche. Alright, listen up (me now whispering) … how much do I have to give you to buy the Mario doll and then let you pretend my son won it by popping balloons?”
After that we went to Dave and Busters. Going to Dave and Busters is like one of those way too late nights at a bar in your early twenties. You wake up the next morning in a haze with nothing but credit card and ATM receipts in your pocket. Those swipe cards there make it WAY too easy to just burn through money, which is clearly their goal. My kids had never been there before … they’re used to the pedestrian “Fun n Stuff” by us in Macedonia. Their eyes about popped out of their heads when they saw what was going on at D&B. My credit card is still warm to the touch today.
And at Dave and Busters, they don’t have a prize desk like at Chuck E Cheese – they have a walk in prize ROOM. I made the mistake of letting the kids check it out before we played any games. WAY too much money later, here’s a shot of who was riding shotgun back home in my car:
I spent so much money winning this Hello Kitty for my daughter, after she fell asleep; I just beat on it for about 45 minutes to unleash some of my frustration.
Quote of the Day …
“Having a two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.” ~ Jerry Seinfeld
Insane Fact of the Day …
A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.
Got a goofy trading week ahead of us with the Fourth of July holiday cutting it right in half.
Today and tomorrow should be light trading days. The Europe situation got some positive momentum Friday when Eurozone officials surprised investors with the announcement of a plan to recapitalize European banks and to help reduce borrowing costs for Spain and Italy. Essentially, Germany agreed to an increased level of aid in return for the eventual creation of a single supervisor for all banks in the EU. Details of the plan have not yet been worked out. That momentum was halted over the weekend though when we got news that a European manufacturing index fell again in June, and then an accompanying survey of EU business leaders that showed jobs were cut at the fastest rate in two-and-a-half years last month.
We do get some domestic economic data today and tomorrow. Construction spending data and the ISM manufacturing index are released at 10 AM EST today. Tomorrow we get data on factory orders for June.
Thursday and Friday are the key days this week though. We get a battery of jobs data. On Thursday we get first time unemployment claims as well as the ADP private employment data for June. Then, on Friday, the national June jobs report. Economists are projecting that the economy added just 100,000 jobs in June and that the national unemployment rate will remain at 8.2%.
While most of the attention was on Europe last week, the housing data we got was VERY encouraging. May New Home Sales rose 8% from April to the highest level since April 2010, which was the tail end of the first time homebuyer tax credit. May Pending Home Sales rose 6% from April, also to the highest level since April 2010. Record low mortgage rates and high affordability levels are having big time impact on the housing market.
~ Eurozone Factories Hit Hard in June, Job Cuts Rise
~ The Week Ahead: Closed for the Fourth and then Employment Data Galore
~ Retailers See Fourth of July Spending Fizzle
~ Congress Hears Different Views on Appraisal Regulation
~ No Big Stimulus for China Even if Slowdown Worsens
~ US Small Business Lending Jumps in May
~ ‘Soft Patch’ on Jobs with Election on the Horizon
It’s gonna be a HOT ONE here in northeast Ohio today. Temps in the mid 90’s. It’s so hot I saw a squirrel picking up a nut with potholders. And two trees fighting over a dog.
It’s draft night for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tonight is an absolutely HUGE evening for the Cavs franchise. When you have a #4 overall pick, and four of the top 34 picks, you CAN NOT miss. Given the fact that free agents wouldn’t even come here when we had LeBald, the team must be built through the draft. And acquiring valuable assets in the draft also gives the team additional flexibility to improve the team via trades.
Nothing would surprise me tonight, the Cavaliers have been very aggressive in the post-LeDramaQueen Era. They could move up to #2 to steal Florida SG Bradley Beal from the Wizards, who are at #3. They could trade down with Portland (has #7 and #11 overall) or Houston (has picks 12, 16, and 18). But to me, the way it’s looking – the best guy for this team may fall right into their laps at #4.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from the University of Kentucky.
To me, this kid is an absolute no brainer if he’s there. He’s smart, he’s hard working, a good basketball IQ, can get to the bucket, and he’ll be a lockdown defender from day one. A lot of people forget, stopping the other team from scoring is just as important as putting the biscuit in the basket. He’s 19, has all the intangibles, and is incredibly gifted athletically. The jump shot will come. I’m not worried about that.
I watched A LOT of college basketball this winter and spring. When the tournament ended, I remember distinctly thinking that there were two no-brainer future star players that were gonna be in this draft. Anthony Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist from Kentucky. You add MKG to Kyrie Irving, and you have the start of something VERY special. MKG is going to be a 6’9 TERROR on the wing in a couple years, and a dynamic two way player.
At #24, I would go best big man on the board. Preferably someone that can score with their back to the basket and defend big bodied guys down low. I’d love to see Fab Melo from Syracuse be the guy there.
Should be fun tonight.
Quote of the Day …
“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” ~ Lucille Ball
Insane Fact of the Day …
The USA has more personal computers than the next 7 countries combined.
More positive momentum for stocks yesterday.
There were no negative headlines related to the European debt crisis. Durable goods orders came in stronger than expected. And we got more positive news on the housing market, as pending home sales jumped 5.9% in May according to the National Association of Realtors. The pending home sale index jumped to 101.1, its highest level in two years, or since the expiration of the first time home buyers tax credit. Pending home sales are up 13.3% from a year ago. That’s a significant increase, and is great news for the battered housing sector coming off of Monday’s encouraging news on new home sales, which are up over 19% over last May.
We got American jobs data this morning, as first time unemployment claims came out at 8:30 AM EST as it does every Thursday morning. First time claims fell from 387,000 to 386,000 … right in line with expectations. Job creation and the employment/labor situation here in the US will be the central theme of the Presidential election we’re heading towards.
We also got the final revision to 1Q 2012 GDP, which was unchanged at 1.9% growth, which is far less than we need to see for a true economic recovery. The anemic first quarter pace of GDP growth was a step down from the October-December period’s 3.0% increase. It also reflected a slightly less aggressive accumulation of inventories by businesses and a slower pace of investment in equipment and software than previously estimated. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of US economic activity, increased at a 2.5% rate in first quarter, rather than the previously reported 2.7% pace. There are signs that consumer spending slowed in the second quarter, with retail sales falling in April and May.
Tomorrow marks a BUSY end to the trading week, as most eyes will be focused on the economic summit over in Europe. And here in America, there are a bunch of economic indicators … with core PCE, personal income, Chicago PMI, and consumer sentiment figures all being released tomorrow.
~ After Years of False Hopes, a Sign of a Turn in Housing
~ Trouble Signs Remain in GDP, Jobless Claims Fall Slightly
~ JP Morgan Trading Loss May Reach 9 Billion
~ European Summit to Test New Alliances Amongst Leaders
~ Obamacare: What Happens When Supreme Court Decides?
~ Heat Advisory for NE Ohio Today: Temps in Mid-90’s
~ Madoff’s Brother to Plead Guilty in Criminal Fraud Case
A lot of people I talked to were disappointed by the finale of season five of “Mad Men”. Not I, said the fly. I thought it was very well done.
I think one thing people need to put in context is that executive producer Matt Weiner has always generally been writing this show one season at a time. And while he has yet to write seasons six and seven (which will be the final two seasons), to me he approached season five much more as the first 12 of the final 36 episodes, as opposed to trying to cram conclusions to all the story lines into season five.
“Mad Men” is a brilliantly written show that develops characters better than any show possibly ever, and for astute fans, leaves all sorts of clues and foreshadowing out there. For example, we pegged in this space that it was pretty obvious that they were intent on killing off a major character this season, which ended up happening with Lane. I think they dropped another one in the finale with Don & Megan. Take what Don said to Peggy in the finale after their chance encounter in the movie theater. “That’s what happens when you help someone. They succeed and move on.” Then, at the end of the episode, Don finally succumbs to helping Megan get an acting role, before heading over to the bar, ordering an old fashioned, smoking a cigarette, and being hit on by a cosmopolitan swilling gal … the biggest of what many fans of the show considered excessive cliffhangers.
I thought this was another great Draper season. He continues to evolve as a person, continues to become more aware of his flaws, yet … there’s still no real evidence that he really is a better person, and the show constantly teases his potential regression to the version of Draper we saw through most of season four leading into his shocking decision to propose to Megan. The rotting tooth in the finale was clearly a metaphor, pounded home by the scene where Draper (wracked with guilt over Lane’s death) saw an apparition of his brother, who told him “the tooth isn’t the only thing that’s rotten”.
End of the day, one of two things happens with Don & Megan next season: her acting career takes off and that eventually takes her away from Don. Or, as her mom said, she is “chasing phantoms” with her designs on becoming an actress, and she will be unable to deal with that and handle being a Betty Draper housewife. Either way I think the Don/Megan marriage is in for a rocky season six.
Final takeaways from season five …
- I just can’t get enough of seeing Pete Campbell get punched in the face, which delightfully happened several times this season. The scene in the hospital ward with his former friend from the train’s wife gave us further insight into the Pete psyche as he talked about “his friend” with the woman, who had lost her memory of Pete. Will Pete get the apartment in Manhattan next season? Will the guy from the train tell Trudy what happened? Will Pete’s professional career at SCDP continue to ascend, or will his personality flaws get the better of him?
- Peggy’s inclusion into the finale told us all what we expected: she will not be happy at her new job and will remain an integral part of the show going forward. Peggy has really evolved into Don’s new “Anna Draper”, someone he respects immensely and will always have a soft spot for. They could go SO many different ways with the Don/Peggy story line.
- The Draper sell scene in episode eleven was one of the best ever. “You’re happy with 50%? You’re on top, and you don’t have enough. You’re happy because you’re successful… for now. But what is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything; I want 100%. You’re happy with your agency? You’re not happy with anything. You don’t want most of it; you want all of it. And I won’t stop until you get all of it.” OUTSTANDING!
- And how about Roger’s classic lines before, and then after that scene? Before – “You gonna tell me what you’re gonna talk about, or is my look of surprise part of the sales pitch?” And then after – “I’ll buy you a drink if you wipe the blood off your mouth.”
- Interesting season for Roger, who became almost a joke professionally, got divorced, and started getting into mind-altering drugs. A lot of ways they could go with his character as well. Another classic Roger line in the finale, after crank calling the Draper house to talk to Marie’s mom – ”Marie, this is Roger Sterling. And that’s all the French I know.”
Quote of the Day …
“It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” ~ Gerard Patrick Roeling
Insane Fact of the Day …
Birth control pills designed for humans will also work for a gorilla.
It’s almost as if we’ve missed nothing this past month. The European debt crisis is still weighing heavily on the markets, with no resolution in sight. It’s like the problems with the economy domestically here in America: there are just aren’t any good solutions out there. This is why the markets and investors are very unenthused about a summit meeting of European leaders later this week in Brussels.
Stocks are at almost exactly the same levels they were at a month ago. The Dow closed at 12,534 yesterday. After the disastrous May jobs report in early June, stocks tanked … with the Dow dropping down to about 12,000 before rallying all the way back to 12,800 a week or so ago before selling off last week and this week to settle in at its current level.
Yesterday was a positive day for stocks, primarily due to housing related data. The Case-Shiller home price index was very encouraging yesterday. It showed a 1.3% gain in home prices nationally, the first monthly increase in home prices in America (according to this index) in almost a year. Even more encouraging was the fact that 19 of the 20 major markets tracked showed increases, with only Detroit showing a decline. And Detroit almost shouldn’t even count. J
Almost any and all stocks that are tied to housing (energy, home builders, electronics, etc.) showed very nice lifts yesterday … as the Case-Shiller report is the latest in a round of very encouraging developments for the housing market here in America. New home sales are showing very significant increases. Refinance activity is strong due to record low interest rates and the expansion to the HARP program last December. There has NEVER been a better time to buy a home than right now given where affordability and interest rates are at.
We’ve said it from day one. Fixing housing is the first very tough step towards an actual, real economic recovery in this country. With a little help from Europe (thanks Europe!), the Federal Reserve led by Big Ben Bernanke has done an excellent job using the tools at their disposal to help keep borrowing costs very low. The Fed and Big Ben deserve a lot of credit for commandeering fiscal policy since the financial meltdown of ’07-’08. They haven’t been perfect, but I think most people underestimate the gravity of the task they faced four years ago.
~ Mortgage Applications Fell 7.1% Last Week as Refinancing Slowed
~ Case-Shiller: Seven Months of Price Declines Come to an End
~ Market’s Expectations for EU Summit are Low
~ Wall Street Analysts Give Cautious Nod to Facebook
~ The Day Ahead: Last Day of Indecision Before Bond Markets Must Begin to Decide
~ Best Buy Founder Said To Be Considering Buyout
~ Cleveland Developers Win Tax Credits to Bring 111 Apartments Downtown
~ Lower Expectations Drag Down Consumer Confidence
First things first. Some outstanding positive press for First Federal of Lakewood. First this piece in the Plain Dealer a couple weeks ago.
And then yesterday in Crain’s, a feature story on the bank’s growth as a residential lender these past few years. I’ve been here for just under four years. The bank has added around 130 employees over that period of time, most of those coming in the residential lending division. It really is a great story and it’s nice to see the local media outlets finally picking up on it.
On a more depressing note, our Indians are struggling. They’ve lost 8 of their last 13, including three in a row, where they’ve scored one run per game and been outscored 22-3. The starting pitching has been inconsistent. Eww-baldo has been more up and down than Fasuto Carmona’s age. Derek Lowe has been generally outstanding, but we all remember what happened to the aging pitcher last year in the second half. Josh Tomlin showed last night that if he is not perfect with his command and location, teams that can hit the long ball can make him look really bad. And the fifth starter spot has been a mess. Justin Masterson has really come around though. He’s gone 20 innings without allowing an earned run and will look to stop the bleeding for the Tribe tonight as they take on the Evil Empire in New York.
As bad as the Indians could use another starter, they need a right handed batting left fielder worse. Left field has been a train wreck all season for the team. And there are veterans out there that are available. In order of preference, Josh Willingham on Minnesota (who we could have signed this offseason), Carlos Quentin on San Diego, Carlos Lee on Houston, and Alfonso Soriano on the Cubs. It will take a couple prospects and picking up the majority of the salaries on these guys to get a deal done. Ownership has constantly talked about a willingness to spend when a window is there. The window is here. This division is horrible. We’re half a game out of first. We have no right handed bats, the team is 5-15 when facing left handed starting pitchers. The time is now to make an aggressive move after three very passive off-seasons.
Well, LeFraud James got his championship. While it was inevitable, it was still painful. The organization is still better off he’s gone. It never would have happened here for him. And the franchise is better off with Kyrie Irving and the run of high draft picks they’re now right in the middle of. More on Thursday night’s draft the next couple days here in The Dish.
Read two really books on vacation, including one that was one of the best books I’ve ever read. The Analyst – by John Katzenbach. What a book! Read it and thank me later, that’s all I’m saying. Also read Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child, a fun read, especially if you are familiar with the streets of Manhattan Island, where most of the book is set.
How about the run for the Kent State Golden Flashes baseball team? Outstanding stuff. The 21 inning marathon win against Kentucky to get to the school’s first College World Series ever. Then coming back after a loss to knock out the top seeded Florida Gators.
Not sure who you’re going to vote for in this year’s Presidential election? You’re not alone. With the economy badly limping, 25% of voters are still torn between Obama and Romney. Here’s a good, quick quiz on the issues from today’s USA Today that will let you know who you line up with more ideologically.
I’ll get to my thoughts on how the 5th season of Mad Men finished up in tomorrow’s Dish. As well as the new HBO show, The Newsroom, which premiered Sunday night to a lot of hype.
Quote of the Day …
“Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the house in blackjack.” ~ Adam Carolla
Insane Fact of the Day …
In 2011, the five most common names given to American baby girls were Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, and Ava. For boys they were Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Liam, and Jacob. Fifty years ago in 1961 the most common baby names for girls were Mary, Lisa, Susan, Linda, and Karen. And for boys they were Michael, David, John, James and Robert.
Long time readers of The Dish know I have swung and missed on my share of economy/market predictions over the last ten years. But I haven’t missed on much the last couple years. Before we delve too deeply back into the day to day grinds of the market, let’s recap some of the more macro themes we’ve seen evolve as spring has ended and summer has begun …
Mortgage rates hit new historic lows, 30 year fixed rates close to 3.50% – As predicted, continued uncertainty in Europe coupled with a stalled US economy making a QE3 more likely has pushed mortgage rates to levels a lot of people said they could never go. Near 3.50% on 30 year fixed rates.
US economy and job growth has stalled – The May #’s were U-G-L-Y, ugly. Only 69k jobs added to the economy. Unemployment rate up to 8.2%. Weekly first time unemployment claim #’s since then haven’t been good either. The US economy and job growth has hit the proverbial wall, and there is not much left to do about it. Fed has fired about all their bullets. Government stimulus didn’t work and will not happen again in 2012 with Congress so divided and an election looming. It is what it is.
Home sales at two year highs – Despite an economy that hasn’t really improved, the housing sector has a little bit. Home price affordability has never been better. Interest rates have never been lower. Homes sales have been picking up. New home sales were up 7.6% in May over April, and up 19.8% over last May. Encouraging stuff.
HARP 3.0 coming? – Another easy one to predict. Economy has hit the wall, Fed close to out of bullets, and still hundreds of thousands of homeowners out there that didn’t act irresponsibly that can’t refinance for various reasons. Who is going to be the Congressman that votes against this one? Congress can’t agree on anything, has got nothing done … this one could go through though. This would still be through Fannie and Freddie. Think NO delivery fees (some still exist on 30 year fixed rate HARP loans, most borrowers forced to pay feel equal to 0.75% of loan amount), think appraisal waivers on all loans (saving borrowers $350 and making more loans go through), and possibly lesser reps and warrants to refinancing lenders on higher LTV loans and potentially a toss out of the “had to be sold to Fannie/Freddie before May 2009” rule.
~ Obama’s Election Year Housing Push Shows a Pulse
~ New Home Sales at Highest Point in Two Years
~ Think Tank Measures FHA Progress
~ Gas Prices Falling as 4th of July Holiday Approaches
~ Facebook Adds COO Sheryl Sandberg as their First Female Board Member
~ EU Could Rewrite Eurozone Budgets
~ Samsung Caught Off Guard By New Smartphone’s Popularity
~ News Corp Considering Splitting Into Two
Big series starts tonight for the Indians, as the Detroit Tigers come to town for three games. Let’s be clear – despite the Tigers early struggles, the Indians potential path to the playoffs will go through Detroit. The Indians (23-18) presently have a 2.5 game lead over the White Sox (21-21) and a 3.0 game lead over the Tigers (20-21) with the season now squarely at the quarter pole.
Tonight specifically is a big game, as the Motor City Kitties will send their top two starters to the hill (Justin Verlander and Doug Fister) on Wednesday and Thursday. Tonight is the first of NINETEEN games that the Indians and the Tigers will play this season, and every one of them is big. After sweeping the Tigers last April, the Tribe ended up losing THEIR LAST TEN games against the Tigers last season, adding salt to the wound of their late season swoon.
We all remember last year’s 30-15 start and then subsequent collapse. This year’s team to me is much better built to last. But they will never win the 87-90 games necessary to make the playoffs unless they start to get better production from their top two starters, Justin Masterson and Ewww-baldo Jimenez.
I’ll be there tonight. I can’t wait.
It will be interesting to see the fans reaction to Chris Perez if he gets brought into the game tonight. Perez created a firestorm of controversy locally when he made the following comments to the media after a dominant nine-pitch save on Saturday night:
“I’m tired of getting booed at home. So I figured I’d throw some strikes today. You can quote that. I’m here — I’m here to win. I’m here for my teammates, and I want to bring a championship to Cleveland, to do my job and help the team win. I think I do a pretty good job of showing that on the field. I don’t think I bring any undue attention to myself. I’m out there for the team. In big wins, I get excited and I’m like a kid again, because it’s fun.
They booed me against the Mariners when I had two guys on. It feels like I can’t even give up a base runner without people booing me. It’s even worse when there’s only 5,000 in the stands, because then you can hear it. It [ticks] me off. I got two guys on, yeah, my release point was all over the place, but really? I’ve got two guys on. They haven’t even scored yet and you’re booing me? You’re saying, ‘Get this bum off the mound.’ Come on. The mock standing applause just adds to it. You see their true colors. It doesn’t bother me; it [ticks] me off, I don’t think they have a reason to boo me.”
My take: Perez has every right to be mad. His comments don’t bother me. The guy has been one of the most valuable pitchers in all of baseball this season, and has been near flawless since his performance in the opener. You gotta be an idiot to be booing this guy right now.
Attendance will pick up as school lets out and the weather is more consistently nice. But it has been EMBARRASSING to this point, bottom line. Even with strong weekend attendance of nearly 30,000 a game … the Indians are DEAD LAST in attendance in baseball, and are a LONG WAY from 29th place.
We’ll get more into my thoughts on why this has been the case in a future Dish.
Quote of the Day …
“CNN’s ratings hit a 15-year low this week. In fact, things are so bad at CNN, Wolf Blitzer started renting out ‘The Situation Room’ for birthday parties.” ~ Jimmy Fallon
Insane Fact of the Day …
The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.
BIG bounce back day for stocks yesterday. Dow jumped 135 points, breaking a string of six straight losing sessions. NASDAQ rose 68 points, the S&P jumped 20 points.
No real news – just bargain shoppers buying in a beaten down market.
Facebook shares plummeted 11% to close at $34.03, well below their $38 IPO price. A lot of people are saying that Facebook’s offering price was too high and too many shares were sold to the public, hurting the stock’s performance out of the gate. Facebook’s troubles could crush enthusiasm for all the companies set to go public later this year. It could also lead to changes in the IPO process. At the end of the day, biggest thing was just that it was bad timing for Facebook. Tough market to IPO in right now … with the issues in Europe and stalled growth here domestically. I wouldn’t buy stocks with Brent Hinz’s money right now.
Could be another positive day for stocks today as well. No new Europe headlines, Best Buy posted really good earnings this AM, and we’re waiting on existing home sale data at 10 AM that is expected to be up from last month. And it should. Rates have never been lower, affordability has never been better. We get new home sale data tomorrow morning. Durable goods orders and jobless claims data on Thursday. Consumer sentiment on Friday.
Here’s a prediction to end with: The Dow Jones touches 11,000 before it touches 14,000.
~ As Facebook Stock Struggles, Finger Pointing Begins
~ Analysts: Stocks, Euro to Stay Pressured by Greece
~ The Day Ahead: Weekly Momentum Still Building Towards Wednesday
~ Banks Braced for Fresh Ratings Cuts
~ Study: Apple Still Dominates the World’s Top Brands
~ Botched Facebook Stock Trades Draw Regulatory Review
~ Toledo, Cleveland Casinos are Study in Contrast
Check out this text message sequence between my neighbor and I yesterday morning …
Me: Whatchu got going on today?
Neighbor: Nothing. Beautiful outside. Elevated levels of family and kid chaos over here this morning.
Me: Same here. I got a plan.
Neighbor: What’s that?
Me: My backyard, 1 PM. Your kids and my kids keep each other occupied. Your wife talks to my wife. Also becomes socially acceptable for us to enjoy bottled beverages on my patio all day and listen to Indians game.
Neighbor: Wow! Sounds perfect. You come up with that plan yourself?
Me: Nope. Google.
We’ve got a shot at a Triple Crown winner heading into the Belmont Stakes on June 9th. In a race that was a virtual carbon copy of The Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another raced from behind to beat pace-setter Bodemeister. I’ll Have Another now has a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Eleven horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown since Affirmed in ’78. All eleven have lost at Belmont, the longest of the three Triple Crown races. Here they are:
2008 Big Brown
2004 Smarty Jones
2003 Funny Cide
2002 War Emblem
1998 Real Quiet Real
1997 Silver Charm
1989 Sunday Silence
1981 Pleasant Colony
1979 Spectacular Bid
SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER ….
Just three episodes left of “Mad Men” after last night’s episode, titled ‘Christmas Waltz’. And we continue to get more and more clues about how the writers may end this season.
Five minutes into the episode it was obvious: Lane Price and Harry Crane storylines would fuel much of the show, which disappointed me at first – both are relatively uninteresting characters. The episode came together nicely though.
Let’s start with Lane. I think this episode may have been the beginning of the end for him. We found out he owes the UK $8,000 in back taxes. Then he forged Don’s signature on a check to himself after advancing money from a creditor to pay everyone in the firm Christmas bonuses. Later in the show we find out that Mohawk Airlines is suspending their advertising – and the partners will forgo their bonuses so the employees can still receive them. Uh oh Lane.
On to Harry – this whole storyline this week was all about one last appearance for old friend Paul Kinsey and giving Harry’s character an episode of development. That’s one thing “Mad Men” is fiercely committed to, developing all the main characters throughout seasons, even the ones like Harry that viewers could care less about. I don’t think anything else needs said about the odd Hare Krishna story line.
Let’s get to the good stuff. Don Draper and Joan Holloway. That scene between them in the bar was one of the greatest in show history. Both characters are so cool and confident. They’ve been two of the alpha dog characters on the show since day one, yet have had very few intertwining story lines. It’s impossible not to cheer for those two to end up together, even though it would create carnage and end badly. The part where they were talking about the man in the bar, with Joan clearly looking at him but talking about Don. The look on Don’s face driving the Jaguar home at high speeds. The eerie scene when he gets home to Megan, so familiar to similar scenes with Betty when that marriage started to circle the drain. The flowers he sent to Joan when she teased him about never getting flowers from him. Outstanding.
Some final quick analysis …
- It now seems apparent; the bid to win Jaguar’s business will be what the last three episodes and season finale center around.
- All shows like this need fresh new characters. Lane Price’s days are numbered and he is likely to be replaced next season with a fresh face.
- The Don/Joan thing is likely to go nowhere further, we couldn’t be that lucky. Total teaser they threw into what writers had to know would have been an otherwise “meh” episode featuring Lane and Harry storylines.
- Don cannot handle Megan not being in the office. He needs that rush, and the whole arts industry … it’s clear he’s not a fan. Draper is incapable of staying happy; it’s the overriding theme of the show. I still feel like he doesn’t enter next season married to Megan. The Draper character is FASCINATING.
Quote of the Day …
“If the other guy is getting better, then you’d better be getting better faster than the other guy is getting better … or you’re getting worse.” ~ Tom Peters
Insane Fact of the Day …
50% of the United States population lives within a 500 mile radius of Columbus, OH.
As is the case annually, the week before Memorial Day is one of the lighter weeks for economic releases of the year. No news today. Existing home sale data tomorrow, new home sale data Wedns, jobless claims and durable goods orders on Thursday. Consumer sentiment Friday. And some treasury auctions. The bond markets close early on Friday (2 PM EST) and are closed all day Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.
The markets will trade primarily off of Europe this week as investors try to gauge Greece’s commitment to the Euro Zone and any and all other headlines related to the European debt crisis.
G8 leaders meeting in Camp David over the weekend strongly supported keeping Greece in the euro zone, and vowed to do whatever is necessary to battle financial turmoil while revitalizing their economies. Greek voters return to the polls on June 17 after the mixed results of a May 6 parliamentary election left no party able to put together a government. Strong support for anti-austerity parties has stirred fears that Greece won’t meet pledges it made in return for its second bailout, potentially leading to its exit from the shared-currency project.
Also, an informal meeting of European Union leaders is set for Wednesday. New French President Francois Hollande said he would press for the introduction of euro-zone bonds, though most feel that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to continue to resist calls to mutualize the region’s debt.
US stocks has their worst week of the year last week. Despite the much anticipated IPO of Facebook’s stock on Friday (it closed up $0.23 in its first day of trading), the Dow shed 73 points to close the week at 12,369 … far off the psychological 13,000 mark the index hovered around for most of the last few months. The Dow has now declined 12 out of the last 13 trading days, the longest streak of its kind since 1974. It’s now down 6.4% for the month after taking a weekly hit of 3.5%.
~ The Week Ahead: Europe Could Rattle Market’s Cage
~ Fed President Lockhart: No Need for QE3 Presently
~ Facebook Stock Facing Crucial Week after Modest Debut
~ Ohio’s Unemployment Rate Down, but Manufacturing Losses Concern Many
~ Stock Futures Higher as G8 Wants Greece in Euro
~ This Week’s Calendar: Light Data, Treasury Auctions, Holiday Weekend