It is ALL GOOD at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario right now. Our Cleveland Indians are playing great baseball. Winners of four straight, the Tribe (22-16) now has a four game lead over second place Detroit (18-20) in the AL Central. The Tigers come to town next week for a three game series Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Someone tell me again why no one is going to watch this team? The attendance has been embarrassingly low.
The most encouraging part about this start is that the Tribe has done it without really anything from their top two starters, Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. The back end of the rotation has been fantastic though. Derek Lowe (6-1, 2.05 ERA) would win the Cy Young if the voting was today. And Jeanmar Gomez (2-2, 3.75) has been very good as well, showing he belongs in the bigs, throwing a heavy ball with a lot of movement. The bullpen has been great as well.
Also love Shin-Soo Choo in the leadoff spot. He and my man The Kipper at the top of the lineup give the Tribe some real flair up there that they haven’t had for a while. The offense has been on a ROLL since Acta made the move, scoring 25 runs on 42 hits during the current four game win streak. And in general, the teams approach at the plate has been MUCH better this season. They’re striking out less, walking more, and are 3rd in all of baseball with a .341 on base percentage.
The Flor … errr … Miami Marlins come to town tonight for a three game set. It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years since the Indians lost to the Marlins in the World Series. Of all the disappointments, all the heartbreak as a Cleveland sports fan over the years … nothing was as brutal as that.
I remember the night like it was yesterday. At Scalpers Bar & Grill in Mayfield Hts. Grover goes to Jaret Wright on three days’ rest instead of the vet Chuck Nagy, which paid off. Tribe leading 2-0 all game. Marlins get one back on the Bobby Bonilla HR in the 7th, but the Tribe still with a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the 9th. Mesa blows it. Marlins tie it. Nagy comes in to pitch the bottom of the 11th. Bonilla singles. Tony Fernandez botches Craig Counsell’s tailor made double play ground ball; Bonilla goes to third on the error. Then Edgar Renteria lines one off Nagy’s glove that goes up the middle for a World Series winning single. Heartbreak.
I remember sitting on the floor of the bar for what seemed like an hour afterward. In shock. We were winning all game. And were so close to what I had been waiting my entire life for. I remember thinking in my head late in that game how I would celebrate. Who would be the first person I’d call? And how good it would finally feel to see one of the teams I live and die for win a championship.
Fifteen years later, I’m still waiting.
Speaking of teams from Miami that I loathe, LeQuit and the Miami Heat all of the sudden find themselves down 2 games to 1 to the Indiana Pacers. Game two was classic LeQuit. Missed two huge free throws late and then passed away the game winning shot opportunity.
LeQuit is a psychiatrist’s dream. The guy just has something wrong with him. From lobbying for less minutes at the most important time of the year, to getting pushed around all series, to continuing to treat the ball like a live hand grenade late in games … it’s just fascinating watching him come unglued when all the chips are in the middle of the table. Him leaving, us getting Kyrie Irving as a result = blessing in disguise.
The 137th running of the Preakness Stakes takes place on Saturday, and after much debate, my pick to win the race is going to be Went The Day Well, who will open at a 6-1 favorite to win the race. Winner of his last two races going into the Derby, this horse got bumped out of the gate in the run for the roses, falling ten lengths back early before running an immaculate final furlong to rally to a fourth place finish.
Winner of the Preakness is almost always a horse that ran in the Derby, as six of these eleven horses have. I’d be shocked if any horse other than Went The Day Well, Derby champ I’ll Have Another, odds on favorite Bodemeister, or Creative Cause wins the race.
Official prediction: Went The Day Well (win), I’ll Have Another (place), Tiger Walk (show).
Quote of the Day …
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” ~ Jack Welch
Insane Fact of the Day …
The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
Been a wild week on Wall Street. And it’s sure to be a wild finish today. Amid much hype, Facebook (FB) shares will start trading today at 11 AM. More on that in a minute.
The situation in Europe continues to wreak havoc with the global financial markets. Political turmoil in Greece has increased the likelihood that the Greeks could leave the 17 country Euro Zone, a move that could have dramatic impact throughout Europe and the world’s financial markets. Depositors are pulling money from Greek banks, and if Greece was to leave the EU, you could see similar runs on banks in other European countries. Also not helping matters? Ratings firm Moody’s delivered downgrades to 16 banks in Spain yesterday. While it wasn’t a big shock, the timing was bad. That news coupled with the chaos in Greece, the run on their banks … well; let’s just say the situation in Europe has never been more tenuous.
It has not been a good May for US stocks, and this week is likely to end as the worst week for US stocks in 2012. The Dow Jones has lost close to 1,000 points this month, and has shed close to 500 points this week alone. This is the correction I’ve been predicting for a couple months now. Bottom line: with the continued chaos in Europe and a weak labor market in the US and 2% economic growth … stocks were overpriced. Earnings have been good but companies aren’t hiring or investing. Increased profits have come due to cuts and productivity increases. That can only last so long.
The good news in all of this?? Mortgage rates are at record lows!!!!! And homes have NEVER been more affordable. There has never been a better time to buy a home, and HARP 2.0 has allowed a lot more homeowners to refinance. This is all very good for the economy. When people buy homes that have to buy stuff to put in them. When people refinance their rate lower, that frees up additional money for them to spend on other things.
Lastly, Facebook stock hits the market today. It will open at a price of $38 a share and trading is expected to be FRENETIC when it hits the markets at 11 AM EST. The social networking giant is on track to sell 421 million shares as part of the offering, roughly 60% of which are coming from insiders and other existing shareholders. The deal will raise Facebook around $16 billion in proceeds, and value the company at more than $100 billion. Should be very interesting to watch the early trading on this one, especially given all the aforementioned uncertainty in the markets right now.
~ Investors Brace for Facebook Debut on Wall Street
~ Facebook Stock to Open at $38, Trading Starts Today at 11 AM
~ World Markets Sink on US, Europe Worries
~ G8 Leaders Look to Head off Euro Zone Crisis
~ Facebook $16 Billion IPO Seen as Fuel for Strategic Deals
~ Some Local Banks Offering Online Only Savings Accounts
~ NAHB, NAR Agree: Homes Have Never Been More Affordable
Back in the saddle. Some quick hits …
Happy belated Mothers Day to all the moms out there. There is no tougher job. I work a lot, I work hard, and I battle 480 two times a day. An entire week of that is much easier than one day alone with my kids.
Welcome to Cleveland gambling. We’ve been waiting for you.
I’d thank Dan Gilbert, but the real thanks should go to all the politicians that bankrupt the state so badly that the voters finally said “uncle” and approved it on the ballot after several failed attempts. “Alright, alright!!!! You win!! We’re broke! Open the stupid casinos!”
Speaking of gambling, I’ve been getting a slew of happy texts and e-mails from Dish readers that profited off of my Kentucky Derby prediction that “I’ll Have Another” would win the run for the roses. At 16-1 odds to win, a $2 bet paid $32, and a $10 bet paid $160.
The influx of flowers, cigars, candy, gift cards, and tickets to sporting events has been a little too much for me to handle. Going forward, all gifts should be sent to Crystal Zimmerman here in Lakewood for processing. Same drill next week after I pick the winner of the Preakness in Friday’s Dish.
(If Dodd or Frank are reading this … that’s just a joke, FYI)
Browns defensive Phil Taylor tore his pectoral muscle and will likely miss the entire 2012 season. Even though it’s a HUGE loss at one of the most vital positions on the field, I’m relieved. It’s good to get the annual, crippling, hope-deflating, major off-season injury out of the way early this year.
When asked for comment, Pat Shurmur made a confused look and went back to coloring in his coloring book. Mike Holmgren angrily shouted “We’re still going 12-4 this year!!! And don’t come crawling to me for playoff tickets when we do!!!”
SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER …
It’s seemed like each of the eight episodes of “Mad Men” so far this season have all had heavy prevailing themes. This week’s? Jealousy. Betty jealous of Megan’s youth, Betty jealous of her and Don’s relationship, Pete jealous of his train buddy Howard’s wife, Peggy jealous of Ginsberg, Don secretly jealous and slightly threatened by Ginsberg … and so on.
Last Sunday’s episode was the slowest and weakest this season in my mind, but the season as a whole has been fantastic, and I’m holding true to my prediction that we get a big, shocking finish over the final four episodes. The show has been teasing death ALL season. Every episode. And again this week when Megan commented on the “Killer Smog of 1966” (really happened) by saying … “keep the windows closed, that smog can kill ya.” There have been no deaths of major characters through four seasons of Mad Men. It really seems like one is coming.
So who is the show going to kill off if you buy into my theory? I think the incessant foreshadowing of Pete Campbell’s demise is a red herring. It seems too obvious. The best bets in my mind are Roger (back on his game, seems very happy, likely possibility for that reason) or Megan.
Part of what has made Mad Men so great is the Don Draper character, and how he has responded to the heaping helpings of adversity (Dick Whitman past, divorce from Betty, demise of the old ad firm, professional problems) … and it seems like the writers are getting ready to throw Don another curveball.
The four episodes that preceded this most recent one may have been the greatest four episode stretch in show history. There are four more left. I’m expecting it to be an amazing finish.
Quote of the Day …
“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” ~ Mark Victor Hansen
Insane Fact of the Day …
Two-thirds of the world’s eggplant is grown in New Jersey.
Mortgage rates are near record lows. Seems like I’ve said that hundreds of times over the course of the last 7-8 years, but right now, legitimately, mortgage rates are about as low as they’ve ever been. The most credit worthy borrowers right now can get 3.75% for 30 years fixed with zero points paid. And if you’re an originator that cannot offer those rates today, please visit this link.
I’ve been saying it all year. I feel like rates are going to push even a little lower. This mess in Europe isn’t going away, which is going to spur even more foreign investment in American fixed income debt like mortgage bonds. I feel like the labor market here in America has stalled, and that is going to push more US dollars away from stocks and into bonds. Inflation is still muted. Our mortgage debt and bonds are still backed by Big Brother, which soothes potential investors. And the Fed has turned more bearish.
We’ll start to get back into more of the daily grind of the daily economic numbers and climate tomorrow, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the “$2 billion trading error” made by JP Morgan Chase last week. It’s terrible news for the financial industry here in America, which is already crippled by regulation. As is often the case when people who do not know a business make the rules for that business, they’re going to take one rogue incident and use it to broadly punish financial institutions all over the country.
The financial industry here in America CLEARLY needed more regulation, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. But where it’s gone is making it difficult for lenders to lend. Try getting a small business loan these days. Or a commercial loan with anything less than a massive down payment and years of profitability. And the costs of all the added regulation is being passed along to borrowers in the way of higher fees, lower rates on savings accounts, and for most non-FFL lenders, higher rates and fees on loans.
It’s one of the things that is inhibiting growth here in America, but few politicians have the will to make that argument right now. No one wants to be the guy that is lobbying for less regulation in a climate and a country where the vast majority of Joe Americans think all people that work in finance are evil because of a few bad apples.
~ Retail Sales Edge Up, In Line with Projections, Inflation Flat
~ JP Morgan’s Dimon to Face Calls to Split Top Roles
~ Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino Now Open to the Public
~ First Merit Cutting 338 Positions, Closing Branches
~ Facebook a Fad? CEO: 900 Million People Can’t Be Wrong
~ Euro Zone Economy Avoids Recession, but Split Grows
~ Home Depot Sales Miss Expectations, Shares Fall
~ Stock Futures Point to Rebound as Bank Stocks Rise
~ Freddie Mac: Refinancing Homeowners Pick Shorter Terms, Fixed Rates
~ Federal Data Shows Airlines On Time at a Record Rate
Daily Dish is going to be on hiatus for a week. Will return one week from Monday. Some quick hits to take us into the weekend …
The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow at 6:20 PM. My pick? “I’ll Have Another”, who goes out of the 9 hole at 12-1 odds to win the race. Winner of two straight races (including the Santa Anita Derby), been great in practice this week, great pedigree, and he’s a big strong horse that finishes well. And what a great name! I’ll go with this prediction: I’ll Have Another (win), Gemologist (place), and Perspective (show).
There are few things better in sports than when the field at the Derby rounds the final bend and the announcer screams “AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY GO AT THE DERBY!!!!!!!!!!!!” It’s almost as good as Bruce Buffer up on his tippy toes screaming “IT’S TIME!!!” before a huge UFC main event.
God I love sports.
Sadly, I will miss The Derby live this year. I coach my son’s 7U coach-pitch team, our first game is Saturday at 6 PM. I’ll be out on the hill checking my Blackberry between pitches at about 6:25. Unless any of my parents are reading this, in which case I’ll be checking the Blackberry just to make sure the game is on pace to finish on time. J
How bout them Indians! With their win over the Evil Sox last night, they now have won their first four road series of the season. The Tribe stands at 13-10 on the season and leads the AL Central by 1.5 games over the 12-12 Detroit Tigers heading into their weekend set against the 17-8 Texas Rangers.
Hopefully the Tribe will get a nice crowd downtown tonight. Elite opponent in town, good guys in first place, gorgeous weather, fireworks after the game … there is ABSOLUTELY no reason not to head downtown and watch some baseball tonight.
In related news, I am developing a SERIOUS man-crush on Jason Kipnis.
Unfortunately I won’t be at the Tribe game tonight. My daughter turns 4. Her request for her birthday night? Dinner at her favorite restaurant, the Winking Lizard. The one by me in Macedonia has a real lizard there, the popcorn machine, some video games … and of course, the mini corn-dog platter. With 30 draft beer handles, hundreds of TV’s, and very good “bar food” … it’s one of my favorite places as well.
For the party tomorrow afternoon, she requested a Barbie theme. My pleas for a Jason Kipnis themed party were immediately dismissed.
The Avengers also opens tonight. And the reviews have been OUTSTANDING. 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is rarified air. My son is dying to see it. His art teacher has a bit part in it. With many of the scenes filmed in Cleveland and many Clevelanders with roles as extras, it’s a very cool thing for the city, and great to see the film getting so much love from the critics.
Some other weekend notes. Today is National Star Wars Day. “May the fourth be with you.” Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo. And Floyd Mayweather Jr. fights Miguel Cotto tomorrow night.
And the weather is GORGEOUS here in Cleveland! Enjoy the weekend everyone. Dish will be back a week from Monday.
Quote of the Day …
“But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!” ~ Otter, from ‘Animal House’ (1978)
Insane Fact of the Day …
On average, a 4-year-old child asks 437 questions a day.
Another bad jobs #.
US economy only added 115,000 jobs in April. Expectations were 160,000-170,000. Job growth in the last two months has been cut almost in half compared to the winter months of December through February, suggesting that businesses have turned cautious again. And also suggesting that those month’s #’s were artificially inflated due to milder than normal winter weather in the US.
The national unemployment rate actually went down from 8.2% to 8.1% this month though. Don’t even get me started on the validity of the national unemployment rate. The more reliable U6 employment report, which includes disgruntled workers that have stopped looking for jobs, and people who want full time but have been forced to take part-time work … shows a 14.6% unemployment rate for April. THAT is reality, not 8.1%. 14.6% is like one out of every six people. The labor market in America is still very weak.
Softening the blow a little this morning, job growth was revised modestly higher for both March and February. The increase in employment in March was revised up to 154,000 from an initial reading of 120,000. And the gain in February was revised up to 259,000 from 240,000.
Stock futures are down slightly. Mortgage bonds are up slightly. Even though the # failed to meet economist expectations, I don’t think it was a big miss from market expectations.
Bottom line – businesses are still VERY cautious. If you look inside the #’s for this month, 62,000 of the 115,000 in job gains were temporary employees. While those could lead to full time jobs, it’s more evidence that the people actually running businesses are not as confident in the future of the economy as the investors that have run the Dow back up over 13,000. You add on top of that the massive amount of legislation, regulation (needed more, but what has been done is WAY over the top) on businesses these last few years … increased health care costs, threats of tax increases to MANY small business owners who are in a higher tax bracket … and if any of this surprises you, well … it shouldn’t.
~ Another Bad Jobs #, Only 115,000 Jobs Added in April
~ April Retail Sales Shows Shoppers Spent Less
~ Samsung’s New Galaxy S Phone Raises Heat on Apple’s iPhone
~ Facebook Practices Its IPO Pitch on Wall Street
~ B of A: Downgrades Could Require Billions in Collateral
~ Europe Stocks Fall
Cedar Point opens up a week from Saturday. And there’s a new wrinkle this year at The Point – the ability to pay more to reduce wait times in lines of the parks most popular rides. Depending on what day you go, and how many you buy, visitors to Cedar Point will be able to purchase Fast Lane Passes, which will cost $30-$55 in addition to the regular price of admission ($45-$52).
I’m totally torn on this. It seems unfair on some level, but man is it frustrating to have all those awesome rides there … and to have to pick 2-3 on the weekends because lines are two hours long. The new feature will also be great for people who come in from out of town to visit the park, and want to experience many of the amazing thrill rides there.
Some other new Cedar Point features this year …
- Luminosity, a new nighttime show, will debut Friday, June 8. The show will feature human performers, plus fireworks, special effects, lasers and more. A stage is being erected near the Iron Dragon and will showcase dancers, acrobats, aerialists and others.
- Dinosaurs Alive! will feature 50 animatronic dinosaurs scattered throughout Adventure Island near the back of the park. The roaring, moving prehistoric beasts will range in size from 6 feet to more than 30 feet. The attraction will require an extra charge, $5 on top of park admission.
- Dragster H2O is a new racing slide at Soak City, Cedar Point’s water park. The six-lane slide pits riders on mats racing to the bottom and should be ready Saturday, May 26, when Soak City opens for the season.
Ewwww-baldo. OUCH! This guy is a MESS right now. No clue where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. And where it ends up is either wildly out of the strike zone … or straight, waist high, and right out over the middle of the plate for opposing hitters to pummel. The Indians immediately need to concoct an injury for this guy and get him on the DL. And then get him in a room with Draper.
Took the poor guy seven tries just to throw his empty Gatorade cup in the dugout garbage can after mercifully getting pulled from the game.
Quote of the Day …
“Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.” ~ Michael Corleone, from ‘The Godfather’
Insane Fact of the Day …
The mask worn by Michael Myers in the original “Halloween” was actually a Captain Kirk (from Star Trek) mask painted white.
Another bad jobs # this morning.
Every month on the Wednesday before the big national jobs report (first Friday of every month), we get the ADP Private Employment Report, which is a measure of national private hiring that provides some clues as to what the Labor Department’s April jobs estimate, which includes information on both private- and public-sector payrolls, will show later this week.
The # was expected to come in at +160,000 for April, and it actually came in at +119,000. Also, last month’s # was revised down from +209,000 to +201,000. The number of jobs added was the fewest ADP has reported in seven months. Stock futures fell after the report was released.
Expectations for Friday’s national employment report are that the national unemployment rate will remain at 8.2% and that the US economy added 160,000 jobs in April. If we get another # that comes in below expectations, it will be close to official: the US labor market has officially stalled after better than expected job growth this winter. And the market will start beating theirs drums more loudly for a third round of quantitative easing.
Yesterday stocks rose off of a manufacturing report that came out stronger than expected. Dow rose 65 points, closing at 13,279 … its highest close since late 2007.
~ ADP: March Private Sector Jobs Rose Just 119k in March, Below Expectations
~ Mortgage Purchase Applications Rose Last Week
~ After April Showers, Will May Stocks Flower?
~ Bulls Roll the Dice, Hoping for More Good Economic News
~ Principal Reduction Conflict Escalates Between Congress, FHFA
~ Five Suspects Arrested, Charged with Trying to Blow Up Cleveland Area Bridge
~ Blackberry Maker RIM Unveils Prototype of New Smartphone
~ Flood of Americans to Give Up Citizenship to Avoid Taxes
~ Euro Zone Unemployment Hits Record High
The Indians get back at it tonight as they travel to Chi-town for a three game set against The Evil Sox. And it’s been Road, Sweet, Road for the Tribe so far this year … as they’ve posted a 7-2 mark away from home, averaging six runs a game. Johnny Damon will be in uniform for the good guys, as will Shin-Soo Choo, who is returning from an injury. Which means we all get a break from watching Shelley Duncan swing and miss curveballs by two feet. And that beard of his … has gone from tough looking to annoying.
Speaking of hard to watch, Ubaldo Jimenez toes the rubber tonight for the Tribe. This guy is a MESS right now. His mechanics and command are just awful, and you never know where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. This is a major problem for the Indians … and it doesn’t look like the problem will be going away anytime soon. Luckily for the Indians, Derek Lowe and Jeanmar Gomez have been much better than expected. Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin have up and down. There’s not much to pick from at AAA. Let’s hope Fausto Carmona Hernandez Heredia is making traction on working through his VISA issues down in the Dominican.
In addition to playing poorly at home, the Indians attendance has been a HUGE disappointment so far. The team ranks dead last in attendance, far behind 29th place Seattle, at an announced average attendance of 14,486. However, having been to three of the 11 home games, I can tell you right now … actual butts in seats is about 60% of that number.
Was there Friday night with the little guy. Amazing game, won it in the bottom of the 9th. Just flabbergasted that there weren’t more people there. Weather wasn’t that bad (about 50 degrees), Friday night, elite opponent with a mega-superstar in town. It was student ID night as well. And that ballpark … is just gorgeous. Such a great place to watch baseball. Probably about 10,000 actual people there. An astute Dish reader pointed out this morning that the awful Baltimore Orioles drew 38,000 for their game Sunday. Indians announced attendance the sane day was 15,000.
Unlike with the Browns, who have the never-ending support of the fans despite decades of comical incompetence … this town has just become very fair-weather with the Indians. With all non-Browns sports – if there is a winner, the fans will come. But unless they are convinced of that, they’re staying away. Many fans feel like the Indians are not financially committed to a winner, made worse by the fact that the Tigers are spending like drunken sailors despite being in a similar sized market. Others are just disenchanted by the sport, not helped by honest but deflating comments made by team officials about the Indians realistic chances of contention given the financial framework of MLB.
It’s a shame. Because that is a beautiful ballpark. And this is such a likable baseball team. For my money, there is nothing I would rather do on a spring or summer night than watch baseball there.
Alright, this is terrifying:
SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER
Parents and children were the theme of Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, #7/12, titled “At the Codfish Ball”. Megan and her parents, Sally and Don, Peggy and her mom … even Henry Francis’s mom and Ken Cosgrove’s stepdad made appearances. We didn’t get the plot development I expected Sunday night, but it was another very solid slow burn episode that built up to a good finish, and moved along many of the interesting plot lines they have going right now.
My thoughts on the episode …
- After last week’s call-out by Bert Cooper, complete with insinuations that his love life is impacting his professional prowess, I had predicted that Draper would rise up and score a big account for Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price (SCDP). I was kinda right, the Heinz account was salvaged. But it was Don’s wife Megan who was most responsible for bringing home the bacon. It will be interesting to see where the writers take Megan’s professional ascension and how it impacts Don.
- Roger Sterling is back on his game. Great scenes this week with him and his ex-wife (who is his real wife in real life) and also with Sally Draper at the awards benefit.
- The writers are going out of their way to make an already likable Peggy Olson even more likable, which makes me question their motives for doing so (see my predictions below). Her handling of the dinner with her boyfriend Leather Coat Abe, the strife with her ultra-conservative mom at dinner, the interactions with Joan, and how she was genuinely happy and effusive in her praise of Megan after landing Heinz – all were excellent scenes. The Joan/Peggy dynamic in particular is an interesting one. Joan was flat out evil to Peggy as she ascended in the firm. Joan has now developed a level of respect for Peggy and the hostility is all but gone.
- Creepy Glen (Matt Weiner’s son in real life) is back! And creepier than ever. While Sally Draper has stayed relatively the same size and gotten cuter, Creepy Glen has added 30 lbs, a five o’clock shadow, and a deeper voice. Let’s just pray for Sally’s sake that they are just using him as a bit part to help illustrate Sally’s evolution as a young woman as opposed to the two of them having any long term future together. Sally’s reply to his “How is the city?” question was classic as she channeled Travis Bickle and said “Dirty.”
- Big thanks to the writers this week for terrifying me and all other men with young daughters by showing Sally in makeup and go-go boots. The gal that plays Sally Draper is a fantastic child actress. While it’s not clear that Betty Draper Francis will not play a large role in this season, it’s also obvious that Sally will be featured in main storylines this year, which is good for the show. She’s great, and the whole pre-teen gal growing up in the sixties with a dysfunctional family story line is an interesting one.
- Was I the only one that noticed a total “Godfather” theme to this episode? Remember, Matt Weiner was one of the main writers for “The Sopranos”, which was rife with Godfather symbolism. The music in a couple different spots was Godfather-esque. The awards banquet had a lot of visual similarities to Connie Corleone’s wedding from the original Godfather. And there was a line about people being “lined up with envelopes of cash like at an Italian wedding”.
- Prediction Time for the end of this season:
- Roger and Joan end up together.
- Peggy ends up leaving the firm to join another firm (Duck?) or to start her own thing, taking Cosgrove with her. The her and Leather Coat Abe thing will also fail miserably as her professional life continues to progress.
- I’m still predicting something bad happens to Megan, causing Draper to go off the deep end.
Quote of the Day …
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~ Vince Lombardi
Insane Fact of the Day …
A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.
Yesterday put a capper on the month of April. It was a bizarre month. The European situation was up and down. European economic data released in April caused investors to question whether weaker European countries will be able to successfully grow their economies while putting in place required austerity programs. Stocks ended April in pretty much the same spot they were at when March ended. While first quarter earnings releases generally bested expectations, and the market priced in a better chance of a third round of quantitative easing, weaker than expected employment and GDP data prevented stocks from moving higher in April.
Mortgage rates moved a little father downward in April. The best available 30 year fixed rates was about 4.00% to start the month, and is now in the 3.80%-3.85% range. And there have been some encouraging signs from the housing market in April. For us personally here at First Fed of Lakewood, over 75% of all new rate locks in April were on purchase transactions … and it’s not like we’re not writing refinances with rates so low. I expect this momentum to continue. Rates are at record lows, home prices are very affordable, and the credit parameters are starting to slightly loosen to more sane levels. I expect new and existing home sales locally to best expectations in May, June, July and August … which should stabilize home values, and get them on their way back to actually appreciating. If home values haven’t hit the bottom, we’re VERY close. And that’s the first time I’ve ever made that prediction, unlike most economists … who have predicting “we’ve hit the bottom” for two years now.
This morning we get data on construction spending and the ISM Index (a national survey of purchasing managers which covers such indicators as orders, production, employment, inventories, delivery times, prices, export orders, and import orders) at 10 AM EST.
But of course, the big event of the week is Friday’s April jobs report … and these monthly releases just get more and more important as the Presidential Election looms in November. Nothing will have a bigger impact on who is running the country the next four years than the health of the American labor and employment market.
~ Dallas Fed President: Fed Has Done Their Job, Time for Congress to Do Theirs
~ Jobs Could Stay at New Sluggish Level for Now
~ Whether Investors Sell or Stay, Economic Data Key in May
~ Another Weak May? Don’t Be So Sure
~ US Auto Sales Up as Toyota Wins Back Buyers
~ Cleveland Spring Weather in Reverse: April Colder Than March for First Time in 50 Years
~ Berlin Insists on Euro Zone Austerity
~ Has Apple Become the Market?
I was not a huge fan of the Browns draft last week. Most Browns fans seem to be happy, but this town always is after a draft. Browns fans are just dying for a reason to feel good about the team after the last 20 years of misery. If you take off the rose colored glasses and look at most of the national “report cards” of the Browns draft, just about all of them either list the Browns as one of the “losers” of draft day, or give them a grade in the B- to D+ range.
Every team gets better during a NFL Draft. It’s impossible not to. Here are my thoughts on Arrogant Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert’s third draft in Cleveland:
- Trent Richardson is a very safe pick that fills a big hole. However, it’s a hole the team created themselves when they allowed Peyton Hillis to walk away to Kansas City for a one year, $3mm contract. The Browns also had to give up three draft picks in the hours leading up to the draft in order to move up a spot to make sure the Vikings didn’t trade the pick to someone else.
- The Brandon Weeden selection at #22 was a TOTAL panic pick. After getting outmaneuvered for RG3, with immense pressure growing to win THIS YEAR, and with the team falling off the Colt McCoy bandwagon … you can be sure this pick was 100% Mike Holmgren. Holmgren knows that if this team does not win at least games this season, his boy Shurmur will be forced out, and Holmgren has already said “this is the last coach I hire here”.
- Everyone knows my thoughts on Colt McCoy, who will now be dealt in a sell-low situation for the Browns because they don’t want to have to deal with drama at the position. I could not be a bigger advocate of bold moves to bring in a potential franchise QB. But while I do feel Weeden has a much better chance to evolve into a B+ QB in this league than McCoy, will he be better this season, as the Browns are banking on? Just because Weeden will be 29 in the fall doesn’t mean he can walk in and play today. To me it’s less about age and more about game experience when it comes to QBs adjusting to the next level. The size of the pass rushers and DB’s. The speed of the game. For a guy coming out of a spread offense in college that played against no defenses, that’s a tough transition. Especially with no WR’s and a bunch of question marks on the offensive line.
- Weeden has the size and the arm to play in this league, just as Derek Anderson did. And the bad part of the Weeden scouting report also sounds very DA-esque: bad footwork, locks on to guys, struggles to go through his progressions. The history on Big 12 QB’s is awful. As is the history on guys that come out of school at advanced ages. No one had a first round grade on this kid, including the Browns, who panicked and took him when the Titans took Baylor WR Kendall Wright off the board two picks before them. They could have taken one of the stud offensive linemen at that pick and still easily got Weeden at #37.
- I would not have traded three picks away to move up to #3, as there were other solid options there (or a trade down) and I liked the second tier of RB’s in this draft and feel the position is devalued in today’s NFL. I would have taken OT Reilly Reiff at #22 and WR Stephen Hill at #37, and instead used all those picks they dealt to get back up into the top part of round two to roll the dice on Weeden or one of the other second tier QBs. And I would not sell low on McCoy and just give him away. He’s not minced meat. He has value.
- To me it was absolutely and totally unacceptable for the Browns to come out of this draft with just one 5’10 wide receiver with small hands, a small wing span, and limited college production. They have NOTHING at the position. Greg Little can’t catch. Josh Cribbs has shown for five years straight now that he can’t play the position. Slo-Mass should be in NFL Europe. I am completely flabbergasted that the Browns completely ignored the WR position in free agency AND the Draft. They are setting their new QB up to fail.
- One cornerback taken and it was in the 7th rd. Also totally unacceptable in a league where passing the ball and stopping the pass are paramount, and the Browns struggle to do both. And not one pass rusher. Who’s gonna get to the QB on this team off the edge? Frostee Rucker? Juqua Parker? Two inside linebackers and two defensive tackles?
- They needed a right tackle; we’ll see how Schwartz’s career pans out against the other more generally higher rated O-Line prospects that were on the board at #37.
- The pick of DT John Hughes in the 3rd round was generally viewed as one of the biggest reaches in the entire draft, as almost all scouting services had him ranked as a guy that wouldn’t even get selected. The ESPN commenter’s didn’t even have any tape on him, and were horrified at the selection. They could have easily got the guy later, and passed on several WR’s or CB’s that had high grades.
- The Browns completely abandoned upside, and drafted guys that they feel can help now, even if their chances of becoming elite core guys is much lower. There is a lot of pressure on this team to win now, and they drafted accordingly.
Thoughts coming tomorrow on last night’s episode of Mad Men … and also our Cleveland Indians.
Quote of the Day …
“He couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the C and the T.” ~ Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker ‘Hollywood’ Henderson, talking about then Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw
Insane Fact of the Day …
John Lennon’s first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.
A busy week last week. Both mortgage bonds and stocks rallied, which you rarely see. Both are banking on more federal stimulus right now. And nothing the Fed said last week discouraged the growing market sentiment that we may see a third round of quantitative easing sometime this summer.
In stark contrast to the Fed statement released in March, Wednesday’s Fed statement caused almost no reaction. The content was little changed from the prior statement. In recent weeks, Fed officials have repeatedly expressed that current monetary policy is appropriate for the existing economic conditions. The statement and press conference provided no reason to change the consensus view that there is a high hurdle for Fed officials to either provide additional easing or to begin tightening in the near future. Unexpected events such as sustained weakness in the labor market or severe troubles in Europe might prompt the Fed to ease further, while a surge in inflation could lead to early tightening.
Stocks bullied forward last week, with the Dow closing Friday’s session at 13,228. That is right around the high water mark we’ve seen. We’ve closed slightly higher than this a handful of times the last couple months, but essentially, stocks are at their highest levels right now that they’ve been at since late 2007/early 2008, when all hell broke loose on Wall Street. It’s a good climate for stocks right now. Earnings for the 1Q have been better than expected, some of the domestic housing data has been trending the right way, and the disappointing jobs data means a QE3 could be coming.
The climate has been good for bonds as well. The continuing drama in Europe (Standard & Poors downgraded the ratings of 16 major Spanish banks last week) continues to make the safety and security of US bonds appealing. And the Fed has continued to reaffirm their commitment to bond buying to replace assets that fall off their balance sheet, which the bond markets like.
Friday of this week, we get April jobs data. We’ve had two really bad months of jobs growth, and April isn’t expected to be much better. Projections from most economists are that the US economy added about 160,000 non farms jobs in April, and that the national unemployment rate will stay at 8.2%. The market will be sharply focused on this # this week, and its release at 8:30 AM EST on Friday has major market moving potential.
There’s also a bunch of other economic releases this week. Core PCE, personal income, and Chicago PMI this morning. Construction spending and the ISM Index tomorrow. The ADP employment index and factory orders on Wednesday. Jobless claims, productivity data, and the ISM services index on Thursday. And the big jobs # to end the week on Friday.
~ Goldman Sachs: US Likely Only Added 125,000 Jobs in April
~ World Stocks Gain on Hopes of New Fed Stimulus
~ US Stock Futures Point Lower to Cap Off a Tumultuous April
~ The Week Ahead: Manufacturing Data & the Employment Situation
~ Downtown Cleveland Parking Tightens Up Due to Casino, Other Projects
~ Barnes & Noble, Microsoft Team Up on Nook, College Businesses
~ US/China Talks May Yield Little Progress
~ Student Loan Debt Becomes Political Hot Potato
What the heck are the Browns going to do Thursday night? It’s hard to say. With needs everywhere, three picks in the top 37, public pressure mounting on The Holmgren Regime due to a lack of results, and the organization (even though they won’t admit it) smarting from being unable to move up in the draft to land a franchise QB … anything could happen.
Here’s what I think they’ll do: take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne #4, take a WR at #22, and then the best available running back/right tackle at #37.
Here’s what I wish they’d do: trade down. And I’m not one of these nuts that advocates trading down every year. They’re going to be sitting there at #4 with the top running back, wide receiver, and defensive player (Claiborne) all on the board. There should be people willing to move up. And I’m not ga-ga over any of those guys. If I was the Browns, I would look to either add another #1 next year (help them land the QB in next year’s draft) or to try and turn “three of the top 37” picks into “five of the top fifty”. They need A LOT of help offensively.
The fans want Trent Richardson. The only pick that would upset me would be Justin Blackmon. I feel like you can get a receiver just as good as him down at #22.
Someone sent this link into my e-mail. The top selling condiments in America. Hellman’s Mayonnaise = #1, and by a wide margin. Here’s the most recent official top ten list (2010 totals), listed by total sales revenue:
1. Hellmann’s Mayonnaise: $401M
2. Tostito’s Salsa: $286M
3. Heinz Ketchup: $278M
4. Best Foods Mayonnaise: $175M
5. Kraft Miracle Whip Mayonnaise: $163M
6. Kraft Mayonnaise: $159M
7. French’s Classic Mustard: $88M
8. Kraft Mayo: $79M
9. Pace Salsa: $74M
10. Hunt’s Ketchup: $73M
Hellman’s being #1 surprised me. The margin by which they are #1 surprised me even more. And I was floored by the overall dominant presence of mayonnaise in general. My Lord. We Americans love us some mayonnaise. Just don’t take away our guns or our mayonnaise … and it’s all good.
I’m more of a mustard guy personally. Like with hot sauce, always have 3-4 different bottles in the fridge. Always a bottle of Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard. Always a bottle of some kind of normal yellow mustard for when mustard lightweights are over the house. And these two right now as the others …
Quote of the Day …
“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” ~ George S. Patton
Insane Fact of the Day …
There are 2,610 lobbyists for every one senator in Washington D. C.
BUSY day for the markets. Case-Shiller home price data gets the party started at 9 AM EST. We get consumer confidence and new home sale data at 10 AM. Treasury auctions off some 2-year notes after lunch. Apple releases earnings after the closing bell. And all the markets are just generally on edge ahead of tomorrow’s Fed announcement and subsequent presser from Big Ben Bernanke.
As predicted, it was a pretty quiet day yesterday. Stocks sold off right outta the gate and then traded flat, with the Dow falling below 13,000. News about the European debt crisis continues to drive stocks up and down. Bonds edged a little higher in seeming anticipation of the Fed starting to hint a little more tomorrow at the possibility of a QE3. The two day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins this morning and culminates tomorrow afternoon with the 12:30 policy statement release and a 2:15 press conference held by Bernanke.
The earnings release calendar is also loaded today. The highlight? APPLE. Who reports after the close. Amid some concerns over this earnings release, Apple’s stock has suffered one of its worst falls … dropping from $644 a share to $577 over the course of the past two weeks. Most recently, rumors of a chip shortage that could delay the release of iPhone5, which is expected to launch later this year, has affected the stock price. Expectations are that Apple sold 31-32 million iPhones in the quarter, and 12-13 million iPads. They sold 37mm iPhones in 4Q 2011, and 15.4mm iPads.
~ World Stocks Rise Ahead of Federal Reserve Meeting
~ Wall Street’s Economic Outlook Slipping Closer to Fed’s Pessimism
~ Mortgage Rates Lowest Since February to Begin Potentially Volatile Week
~ Three Hidden Costs of the Foreclosure Crisis
~ Pressure Rises on Apple for Earnings Beat Tuesday as Market Wobbles
~ Ohio Offers Tax Amnesty Program for First Time in Six Years
~ Facebook Reports Lower 1st Quarter Net Income
~ Mortgage Insurer’s Quarterly Report is a Litany of Troubles
Mission accomplished for the Indians this weekend. By taking two of three from the Oakland A’s, the Tribe finished off their nine-game road trip through Kansas City, Seattle, and Oakland with a 7-2 mark. After starting the season 1-4, the Indians are now 8-6 on the season, just behind the 10-6 Tigers and the 9-6 White Sox in the AL Central.
With the entire pitching staff having been very inconsistent thus far, it’s been plate discipline and clutch hitting that have keyed the Indians to this point. The Tribe is batting a woeful .242 as a team through 14 games, but has the 4th best team on base percentage in all of baseball at .345, and have scored the 7th most runs in the league. And with runners in scoring position and two outs, the Tribe has the second best batting average in the league (.292) in those spots, and is slugging a whopping .542.
I can’t believe the Cavaliers regular season is still going on. Evidently they can’t either. The team slogan was recently changed from “All for one, one for all” to “Make it stop”. I haven’t wanted to see something end so badly since “Friends” was on the air. Watching Omri Casspi and Samardo Samuels play out the string makes the last few insufferable years of Ross and Rachael seem pleasant by comparison.
Three more losses left. The Cavs CAN NOT win any of these games. If they come through and lose them all, chances are likely they will end the season with the fourth worst record in the NBA and be positioned well for the NBA Draft Lottery.
Another dominating performance from Jon “Bones” Jones Saturday night at UFC 145 as he cruised to an easy unanimous decision over former mentor Rashad Evans. Next up for Bones will be a fight against Dan Henderson in late summer/early fall. After he pummels Hendo, there’s no one left. He’s cleaned out the division. Talk will turn towards 185 lb champ Anderson Silva moving up to 205, or Jones possibly moving up to heavyweight. I see both as unlikely, at least in the next 18 months or so.
SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER ….
I think we’re heading towards what most fans will consider the greatest season ever of “Mad Men”. Last night’s episode, titled “Far and Away Places”, was once again outstanding as the writers and producers continue to lay the groundwork for what is likely to be a very dramatic finish to season #5. Last night’s episode focused on three separate relationship-based plot lines: Peggy’s relationship with her job and her boyfriend Abe, the Roger & Jane Sterling marriage, and the impending Don & Megan Draper train wreck.
Let’s start with Peggy, one of the true fan favorites on the show thanks to the outstanding writing and development of her character. It was a tough episode for Peggy. She melted down in the “Draper Room”, lost the Heinz account, and incurred the wrath of her boyfriend, who accused her of being married to the job. So what does she do? Sucks down three fingers of scotch, plays hookie from work, and then is unfaithful to her boyfriend. Sound familiar? Yes – she’s turning into a female version of Don Draper, which the writers went out of their way to make painfully obvious this week.
The Roger/Jane storyline was outstanding this week. What brilliant writing! So many times with successful hour dramas, you see the writers start to mail it in as you get 3-4 seasons into a show. The brilliant and smart writing and storylines are what set Mad Men apart. They could have gone so many different ways with ending the Roger/Jane marriage. How they did it was perfect. The two of them laying on the floor in an altered state of mind, saying the things to each other that almost all married couples want to say, but won’t or can’t. Roger waking up the next morning feeling like it was divine intervention, already having made up his mind to end it. Jane trying to pretend like it didn’t happen. Then this classic capper – Jane: “It’s going to be expensive.” Roger: “I know.”
Finally, Don & Megan. We continue to get foreshadowing of a bad ending to their marriage. Me personally, after last night, I am convinced it ends very badly. The show continues to draw sharp contrasts between Megan, a modern woman focused on her career, and his ex-wife Betty … two very different women. They continue to draw parallels between Megan and Dr. Faye from last season, with the irony being that Don chose Megan over Faye because he feared Faye would be what Megan has become. And they continue to remind audiences that Don is just relationship-challenged, and as Faye famously told him at the end of last season, “only likes the beginnings of things”.
To me, last night set up what should be an amazing finish to the season. The creepy/threatening tone to the Don/Megan fights, the professional call-out by Bert Cooper at the end of the episode – it’s positioned the season where Don is at the brink both professionally and personally.
It will be fascinating to see where they take it. My prediction is that the firm will go through some major strife, and Don will rise up and be the hero … all while his personal life spirals out of control, potentially due to the writers killing off Megan.
Quote of the Day …
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” ~ David Brinkley
Insane Fact of the Day …
If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33.
Today should be a quiet start to what will be a very important and potentially volatile week for the markets.
We’ve got a Fed meeting, which will culminate with Wednesday afternoon’s FOMC announcement, member forecasts, and a Bernanke press conference right after the announcement. And while there are no economic releases today, the rest of the week is peppered with them: the Case-Shiller national home price index, new home sales, and consumer confidence tomorrow. The Fed and durable goods orders on Wednesday. Jobless claims and pending home sales on Thursday. The first look at first quarter GDP will come out on Friday as well as consumer sentiment. And there will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
With regards to the Fed, for about the 100th straight meeting, there will be no drama as to what they will do with interest rates: they’ll leave them be. Rates have not changed since summer of 2008. However, things have soured a little bit with the economy since the last meeting. We got a very ugly March jobs report and weekly first time unemployment claims have risen … pointing to a potential stall to the American economic recovery. And inflation has ticked up a little bit. For this reason, investors are waiting with baited breath for this week’s policy statement from the Fed, and the press conference Bernanke holds on Wedns afternoon is sure to include some much more pointed questions from press row related to a potential third round of quantitative easing.
Bernanke’s tune hasn’t really changed on this, even though the markets interpretation of it has. Big Ben has continued to hint that the road to recovery would be rough and that the Fed is poised and ready to act if it is. When the economic #’s were rosier earlier this year, the market almost totally discounted a third round of QE, which caused mortgage bonds to sell off and 30-year fixed mortgage rates to rise from around 3.75% to 4.375%. Now … the best I can decipher, we’ve got about a 50% chance of a QE3 priced into the bond markets.
I don’t expect the Fed’s public policy stance to change much Wednesday, as the March statement already reflected their cautious stance on the US labor market. I expect the Fed to leave their policy statement just about the same and I expect them to reiterate guidance for the Fed funds rate to be kept exceptionally low until late 2014. The drama will all be in the Fed’s revised economic projections, and how Big Ben chooses to address some very specific questions related to the potential of a QE3 that are sure to be hurled at him in the Wedns afternoon press conference.
~ The Week Ahead: Slow to Start, then FOMC & GDP
~ Half of Recent College Grads Underemployed or Jobless
~ Ohio Unemployment Rate Dips Again in March
~ Apple Stock Continues to Fall; Next Stop $500?
~ NABE Survey: US Companies Step Up Hiring Plans
~ ECB Official: Spain Doesn’t Need More Aid, Just More Time
It continues to startle me the difference between little boys and little girls. I’m no idiot, I knew there’d be differences when I had kids, but at least mine – they’re polar opposites. I’ve got a dainty, measured, cautious, high maintenance, girly-girl soon to be four year old daughter … and an all-boy, petal to the metal at all times, already in love with Selena Gomez, that can rattle the Indians entire batting lineup six and a half year old son.
The stark contrast was on display last Sunday. Its 10 AM, all of us lounging around, clicking between Sportscenter and iCarly all morning. Kids starting to get restless and torment each other. I say, “Who wants to get dressed and go outside while daddy cuts the lawn?”
You woulda thought I told them we’re going to Disneyworld. “Outside? Now? Yes! Let’s go!!!!! Outside! Yes!!! Come on!” Like they were caged animals being set free.
I go outside and start the lawn mower. Son comes down in shorts and his Nike “dry-fit” t-shirt. Kid is already in a full sweat as he gives me the story (for about the 7th time) about how these shirts don’t let sweat escape and how cool they are. Then just starts running sprints up and down the driveway to exert some of his pent up energy.
Daughter comes down about ten minutes later. In a pink dress with pink tights on underneath it (it was 70 out). Talking about how she needs more clothes. About ten seconds later Nick blasts her in the leg with one of his high pressured water guns. She starts bawling and holding her leg like she’s injured. And storms back inside to remind us that its Chloe’s world and we’re just living in it.
So far so good on the Indians nine game road trip. Last night’s thrilling, come from behind, ninth inning win over The Wedge-bot and the Mariners pushed the Tribe to above .500 for the first time this year at 6-5. A sweep of the Royals in KC. Two of three in Seattle over the Mariners. And now off to Oakland for a weekend set against the A’s.
Two of three this weekend would be immense. The team would be 8-6 before heading back home next week for three more against the Royals and three against Albert Pujols and the Angels.
The baseball season is an emotional roller coaster that takes you up and down with it all season. At 1-4, it felt like the sky was falling. Right now? This seems like a team that can win 90 games and go to the playoffs. Reality is likely somewhere in the middle. But winning streaks are very fun.
Big night for fight fans tomorrow night. Jon “Bones” Jones (15-1) takes on “Suga” Rashad Evans (17-1-1) at UFC 145 Saturday night for the light heavyweight title. It’s the biggest MMA fight in about a long time. Jones stormed on the scene at UFC 126 with an impressive win over Ryan Bader, and has since battered former champions Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, and Lyoto Machida heading into this one. This win would make him a huge star, even more so than Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre, who along with Jones comprise the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
Rashad is no chopped liver, and is also considered one of the top fighters in the UFC. Making this one even more interesting? Rashad brought Jones up in the sport. The two were former training partners and very close friends, with Rashad playing the role of Jones’ mentor in his early days in the sport. They always said publicly they were too close of friends to fight. After winning the belt, Jones told a television interviewer he would fight Evans if UFC president Dana White ordered him to do so. Evans felt betrayed and that led to an acrimonious split. The feud between the former friends has gotten uglier as this fight has approached.
Should be a good one.
Quote of the Day …
“I broke a mirror in my house. I’m supposed to get seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.” ~ Steven Wright
Insane Fact of the Day …
The elephant is the only mammal on the planet that cannot jump.
Another roller coaster week for the markets should come to a pretty quiet end today. There’s no economic news on tap. We continue to get earnings releases, and solid results from McDonalds, GE, and Microsoft have given the stock markets a positive tone in pre-open futures trading this morning.
Stocks went berserk early in the week off of a strong retail sales # for March, perceived stability in Europe after a Spanish debt auction was positively received, and very solid earnings reports on Monday and Tuesday. Then stocks lost many of those early weeks’ gains the last two days amid some not quite as rosy earnings data and another disappointing jobs # yesterday morning. Also yesterday morning, an April gauge of manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region came in worse than expectations, as did existing home sale data for March.
Through all this, bonds, particularly mortgage bonds … did not see the same volatility. This is a good sign for all the people that want to see mortgage rates remain at these historically low levels. What this illustrates is that mortgage bonds (which fuel mortgage rates) are priced correctly right now. Despite 30 year fixed rates being in the high 3’s, there are still ample buyers of the pools of these mortgages at these yields. And that if the economy does stall this spring/summer, we could see 30 year fixed rates in the mid 3’s. You couple that with homes that have never been more affordable, a purchase market that’s really heating up, and a continued relaxation of the restrictions on some of the government refinance programs … and for the first time in close to half a decade, we have a chance of some real recovery to the housing market. A return to normalcy, where people’s homes will once again start appreciating 1-3% a year.
~ Existing Home Sales Fall Nationwide, But Not in Northeast Ohio
~ Fears Rise That Economic Recovery May Falter in the Spring
~ Cleveland Area Banks Say Commercial Borrowing is On the Rise as Confidence Creeps Back
~ Dan Gilbert Shares His Vision for Cleveland Casino with State Panel
~ Great Earnings, But So What? Investors Have Other Worries …
~ NBC/WSJ Poll: Signs Point to a Very Close Presidential Election
~ McDonalds Posts Earnings in Line with Expectations
~ Spanish Bond Yield Again Above 6%
~ March Loan Statistics Detailed in Ellie Mae Report
The NFL Draft starts one week from today. What are the Browns going to do? They have picks #4, #22, and #37.
I’m not in love with any of the options at #4. Trent Richardson is going to be a good back, but I just don’t feel like any running back is worth that high of a selection in today’s NFL. Protect the passer, throw the ball, and rush the passer. That’s the recipe for success today.
The fans here overwhelmingly want Richardson based on the polls I’ve seen. If we stay at #4, I’d be fine with the pick given how safe Richardson is and the fact that we have absolutely nothing at running back. I’m not a huge Justin Blackmon fan. To me, to take a receiver that high, the player has to have Larry Fitzgerald/Calvin Johnson levels of upside. I’ve heard GM Tom Heckert likes Blackmon. I’d jump all over tackle Matt Kalil if the Vikings pass on him at #3. Your offensive line would be set for the next half-decade. Offensive guards are always available in free agency.
There’s holes everywhere on the Browns offense. Outside of left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack, the Browns do not have another offensive player on their roster that would start for many (any?) other teams in this league. Seeing as how the Browns whiffed badly on the opportunity to get a big time quarterback, my preference would be for them to trade down. I would do everything in my power to turn “three picks in the top 37” to “five picks in the top 50”. I would add a right tackle, a running back, at least one receiver, and look to add pass rushers and cornerbacks. But end of the day, especially given the fact they don’t want to sign free agents, this draft has to be used to primarily add offensive players that can be a part of the long term picture here.
I wouldn’t waste a 2nd or 3rd round pick on a quarterback. They will have to find a way to add that piece next season.
Our old friend Delonte West is back in the news today. He got fined $25,000 for giving Utah’s Gordon Hayward “a wet willie”. Check out this great action shot of it!
Only Delonte. I’ll forever love that guy. No player was ever more candid here. And he is a quote machine. Check out this latest one, after visiting the Dallas Zoo for the first time a few weeks ago:
“Well, I think they noticed as soon as I came into the zoo my natural animal instinct, you know what I mean? I got a chance to eat with the lions, you know? They had Lamar playing with the penguins, but they needed me for the more animalistic-type of things, carnivore-type of things. So, I also had a chance to give birth to a baby cheetah today and I’m just overwhelmed with the experience to be amongst my own and my peers.”
Delonte, who grew up in the mean streets of Washington D.C., was then asked if he had any pets or visited the zoo as a youth. Hilarity ensued:
“I just ran out in the woods, whatever I could find take it home as a pet. I had a pet raccoon once. No, I took my few field trips to the zoo, but like I said, I think we’re getting ready to go see some of the lions and gorillas, my own kind and hopefully we can have a nice bonding experience and they will accept me as the pack leader.”
Quote of the Day …
“I can’t understand why people are frightened by new ideas. I’m frightened by old ones.” ~ John Cage
Insane Fact of the Day …
“Almost” is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
Jobless claims data came out this morning. Amid expectations of a total around 375,000 … the actual number came in at 386,000. Additionally, last week’s total was revised up from 380,000 to 384,000. The four-week moving average rose to 375,000 … that’s the highest it’s been in four months. While we still need more empirical data to establish any trends, it’s really starting to seem like we’re hitting the proverbial job growth wall that we’ve been predicting since earlier this year.
Yesterday was a predictable retreat day for stocks after the big gains on Monday and Tuesday to open the week. The Dow shed 83 points to finish just above the 13,000 mark. The earnings data that came out yesterday was a little less rosy overall than the first couple waves. IBM and Intel in particular disappointed yesterday. And everyone is waiting with baited breath for Apple’s earnings release nest Tuesday. Apple stock has been all over the board this past week, falling over $50 a share Monday before getting most of that decline back the last two days. So far though, overall, first quarter earnings season has still been received positively by investors. And stocks just continue to be very volatile in general given the up and down situation in Europe, and the fact that US lawmakers cannot agree on anything related to fiscal policy.
With jobless claims data already out today, the market is still waiting on a couple more economic releases this morning. March existing home sale data, as well as the Philly Fed’s regional activity index are both set for release at 10 AM EST.
~ US First Time Jobless Claims Total 386,000 in Latest Week
~ Obama and Romney Have November on the Mind as They Visit Cleveland Area
~ Bank Earnings: More Questions than Answers About Sector’s Recovery
~ Huntington’s Profits Up 21% as Commercial Loans Increase for Eighth Straight Quarter
~ PNC’s Profit Slips, But Loans Jump with Purchase of RBC Bank
~ B of A Profit, Revenue Top Forecasts; Shares Jump
~ Spain Issues $3.2 Billion in Bonds, Demand Solid
~ Sanctions? What Sanctions? Iran Keeps Oil Flowing
~ Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland Appears Set to Open as Planned on May 14