January 31, 2008

Fingerspitzengefühl my foot!

I said I'd report back on NYT today. They announced feeble results with the usual lower ad revenues as their business migrates to Craigslist and elsewhere. I'd forecast a positive surprise. The stock slumped 8% immediately. Then, lo, it clawed its way back up to flat by the close. Rallying on bear news,eh? It won't take long for that signal to reach the conscious minds of the bozos* who shorted NYT down here and below. Duh! It's an asset play! And by the way the NYT endorsed the 2 most probable Nominees, both of whom know how to return a favour. Slimy, yet satisfying.

*Some of these bozos are identified here. It figures.

Mad Money, Mitt Romney

I like Jim Cramer. When he sits down and stops yelling, he's a terrific communicator of how markets work. Here he is in show-biz mode:
This unrelated clip shows Cramer at his best and baddest giving a masterclass on market manipulation:

January 30, 2008


Mick wonders sometimes what he's doing wrong: ..
Some people seem to make the big bucks in their spare time while vigorously pursuing extracurricular activities. I have a tough time finding a day to go skiing.
8 days ago I wrote that the New York Times is 'a lying, treacherous, cowardly thing' and placed a long spread bet on its stock at $14.30. The stock's up 13% so I'm letting the bet run. The timing was pure luck really, but I fantasize there's some fingerspitzengefühl to it. In the spirit of voodoo economics I hereby pre-announce that tomorrow's earnings report for the NYT group will contain a positive surprise to boost the stock towards $20, where I'll close the position. Of course I thought Florida would do that for Romney. Ay caramba! I'll report back tomorrow.

January 29, 2008

McCain wins Florida

If the nominee is McCain, America and the world are in for a bad few years, probably with the Clintons. I think then the best outcome will be Presidents Clinton followed by Romney in 2012 when he'll have better recognition and may start as the front-runner. I'm suffering from sense of humour loss. I'm queasy at he thought of Giuliani endorsing this mean-spirited, small-brained, beltway-bound, old man. Presumably Giuliani will run as VP. Ay caramba!

January 28, 2008


The admirable Powerline Blog has commentary which consistently refutes McCainism on substance, yet strokes the fellow like an errant puppy. I think they've been schmoozed up the wazoo to bring them to a contorted compliance. Here John Hinderaker. my favourite, on McCain on the report by John Fund that McCain said that he might not appoint a judge like Sam Alito who "wore his conservatism on his sleeve."
Absent more information, I'm inclined to take McCain at his word, as he certainly supported Justice Alito's nomination and, like all or nearly all of the Republican candidates, has held up Roberts and Alito as model nominees.

For the rest of the call, the Senator was his usual charming self.
The previous day Paul Mingeroff wrote in Powerline:
McCain’s twisting of Romney’s words came during the same week that McCain falsely implied that he had not denigrated his own expertise in economics. Indeed, the smear on Romney may have been part of an attempt to change the subject from the economy, and to deflect attention from McCain’s past admissions about his level of knowledge in this area.

That says McCain is a liar. John Fund stands by his story, so why prefer the word of a liar? Presumably because he stroked you and you admire his heroism as a young man. Well, Mr Hinderaker, the conservative worldview is both tougher and more tragic than that. Get a grip.

Making money out of misery contd.

6 days ago I wrote that the New York Times is 'a lying, treacherous, cowardly thing' and placed a long spread bet on its stock at $14.30. Today the stock went up 9% to $16.07 thanks to the news that a couple of funds have bought 4.9% of the stock and are massaging the egos of the Sulzbergers (who control the voting stock) with a view to reshaping the group's asset base and financing, but not the the voting rights. This subtler approach may well succeed where Morgan Stanley's attempt to enfranchise the B stock crashed against the family's self-importance. Pinch Sulzberger, what is that tolling bell?

Barracking Barack

One steely-minded conservative blogger:
..when I look at the man, I see a charming, gifted politician who happens to be black...I like the guy..
Another steely-minded conservative blogger:
I dunno, I must be missing a gene or two. Everybody, including even some conservatives, is telling me what a fine uplifting orator Barack Obama is. All I see is great gusts of hot air. When he says something that actually has any semantic content, either it is just false, or else it is naked socialism.
This steely-minded conservative blogger: I'm with John Derbyshire. Obama is an alien designed by artificial intelligence to win the nomination by charm and the stupidity of crowds. He's a real threat. If he can beat the Clintons, he can certainly beat McCain who looks and sounds unattractive, but, as crucially, lacks a clearcut political philosophy.

January 27, 2008

Pants on fire

The polls for the Florida Primary have shown Romney moving up to and maybe past McCain, but it on paper it can go either way. Then McCain said Romney wanted a timetable to leave Iraq, a charge easily smashed in the blogosphere and then boomeranged back with quotes from the Straight Talker that, if anything, he wants to threaten the Iraqis with US withdrawal if benchmarks aren't met to which the Dem reaction at the time was:
"We Catholics call that an epiphany," said Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., who is sponsoring the main Democratic resolution opposing the troop buildup.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said: "I called for that . . . several weeks ago. I'm glad that John McCain agrees with me.
So far, so self-destructive for McCain. But the kind of coverage below from CNN's legal analyst will be seen everywhere and may turn Florida into a debacle for McCain. I predict that soon will be discovered some dirty trick against McCain thought to originate from the Romney camp.

January 26, 2008

The hard part for Romney..

..is to beat McCain. Hillary Clinton will be easy. Romney hit the mother lode when he cited " the idea of Bill Clinton back in The White House with nothing to do." My first thought was of a red-faced, white-haired, wheezy, old lecher with a quadruple heart bypass getting a blowjob in the Oval Office from a woman who is not his President. But even less of a vote-winner may be the realization that President Clinton disapproves the 22nd Amendment.
I think since people are living much longer . . . the 22nd Amendment should probably be modified to say two consecutive terms instead of two terms for a lifetime.

January 25, 2008

I will wash myself in £50 notes.

I've been adding to my bet on Romney for President. My original bet was £1,000 at 20-1 and I've added to this at 12-1 and 8-1 . My last tranche (£5,000 at 8-1) moved the odds 5 minutes later to 6-1. I'd win about $140k were Romney to win in November. I'm not sure that Romney will win. I am sure that the odds are attractive.

Simplify the nomination to McCain or Romney, then, absent other data, Romney's chance of winning both races is 2-1 against, but a bookie needs an edge so should offer worse odds, eg Hillary is offered at evens. The odds against Romney, then, seem way out of whack, unless you believe McCain is the front-runner (I don't...no base,less money,old age) or that Giuliani stands a chance (I don't...no fire, no money) or that a Democrat would be favoured in the General Election (I don't...Romney would humiliate Hillary or Obama on Presidentiality and policy, especially Iraq).

Now there is definitely a slug of wishful thinking in my opinions. I shudder at the thought of McCain, Hillary or Obama as President and admire Romney, but, as a wizened speculator, I'm used to allowing for my own biases and building in surplus odds to overcome them. Even at 6-1, this is one seriously mispriced bet. My theory is that the MSM have belittled Romney as both a conscious and sub-conscious enactment of their own biases and fears and their mood music has wafted into the ear of 'experts' and out the other ear into the shell-like of betters and bookies. My bet exploits that pathology. Long live conventional wisdom!

The train is about to depart..all aboard

John Hawkins:
Mitt Romney (winner): Mitt was very good tonight. He got off the best lines, said a lot of things that were pleasing to the conservative ear, emphasized that he was an outsider, and fortunately he didn't get beaten up a lot (He's not very good on the defensive). This was a very good debate for Mitt Romney in a crucial debate, before what looks to be a very close Florida election.

January 22, 2008

Making money out of misery

The New York Times slithers on to a bonfire of its vanities. Recent outrages include depicting Iraq vets as pre-disposed to murder when they return home. In fact journalists are more pre-disposed to murder. I dunno, I'm pre-disposed to favour the class of people who volunteer to defend my freedom, but I'm also pre-disposed to despise the class of people who are pre-disposed to libel the class of people who are pre-disposed to defend my freedom.

And that's why I've just bet that the New York Times' stock price will go up from $14.30 with a stop at $12.30. It's a 'catch a falling knife' kind of bet as can be seen from the graph. The NYT market cap. has been murdered since the invasion of Iraq, down more than 70%.

The Times has deep-seated negatives:

1. It is a lying, treacherous, cowardly, unlearning thing.
2. It has shallow pockets.
3. The Sulzberger family controls the voting stock.
4. New media like Craigslist are taking the Times' traditional revenue streams.
5. Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal has the Times in its crosshairs.

But most of this is priced in. It also has positives:

1. The brand, which is mixed in with New York's brand. After all it is the leading paper of the leading country in the world. In other businesses that cachet could be worth billions.
2. The content: its site is very decent and much of its reporting is worthwhile. It's archive may be worth hundreds of millions.
3. The property: eg the new Renzo Piano HQ right opposite the Port Authority bus station and virtually on Times Square is probably the best recent skyscraper in America.
4. The equally ugly sister: I doubt the Boston Globe's value is less than zero.

Here's a nice piece of speculation
that Google might buy the Times.

Time to make the call

Mitt, good morning. Now's the time to call Fred. "Fred, I like your debate performance and your persona. We agree across the board on the broad strokes of policy. We're on the same side splitting the conservative vote. That risks Florida giving unstoppable momentum to your friend John. Then conservatism is finished for the foreseeable future. I want you on my side. What will it take?"

January 20, 2008

A rainbow casts a shadow

A dark thought of a GOP Rainbow Coalition just cast a shadow on my morning. To whom might a McCain-Huckabee alliance appeal in the Republican party ? Let's see..

Older vets

When Huckabee exits there's scant reason for Pro-Lifers and Evangelicals to lean to McCain unless the alliance is an explicit teaser for a McCain-Huckabee ticket. If there's a stop-the-Mormon faction, it would vote McCain post Huckabee and sans Huckabee, but more Evangelicals might be attracted by Romney's upright life and social conservatism.

I like Fred Thompson except that he lacks executive credentials, but as VP on the ticket (McCain's or Romney's) I'd question his energy for a campaign. I'm perfectly happy with Presidents and VP's with low energy levels - actually it's a good thing; give short speeches, get the big things right, down a cognac, smoke a cigar, go to sleep. Romney/Thompson would be an amusing double-act as a Rainbow Coalition of ascetics and bon viveurs.

Here's Thompson addressing Michael Moore:

Now I feel better.

January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer

Rest in peace.

The Rude and Uglies

Mitt, good morning. Here's why you can be President and I can't: you could refrain from kicking Glen Johnson in the teeth when he sneered at you from his throne on the floor. You have nice teeth, by the way, but I notice from the Johnson video a slight roundness of the shoulders which doesn't match the heroic hair. Pad up, man! Think Buzz Lightyear. Watching it again, maybe if you had kicked his teeth out, you'd have won the Nomination on the spot and probably stopped Iran in its tracks too.

I do enjoy how you lure the Rude and Uglies to puff themselves up with self-importance to the point where they go pop. Here's an oldie but goldie:

January 16, 2008

Michigan Primary: bet by bet

It's 25 minutes before polls close. As well as $2,000 on Romney for President at 20/1 I have $500 on Romney for Nominee at 15/2.

The odds have shortened to 12/1 for President and are not available for Nominee presumably while exit polls are becoming public.

On Drudge I'm reading Romney 42%, McCain 30% for 0.59% of votes in. Woohoo!

Ow! Now its 35%/32% for 4.38% of votes. I should be in bed. It's nearly 2am in London.

Fox calls it for Romney. Paul Mirengoff at Powerline writes:
So who is the front-runner now? There is none.
@ 2 golds,2 silver
@ most delegates
@ most votes
@ most money
@ Limbaugh hates McCain and Huckabee for nominee
@ Conservatives hate McCain and Huckabee for nominee
@ Giuliani's done nothing to date (and I suspect his health)
@ Thompson's done nothing. (But would make a good running mate. Note he's starting on McCain now, but he's fairly gentle with Romney).

Paul Mirengoff has his head where the sun don't shine.

Now it's 40%/30% for 20% of votes. Time for bed. Mick makes a good point - Nevada's next alongside S.Carolina. That's worth 34 delegates against SC's 24. Bed! bed!

January 15, 2008

Fairly Super Tuesday

It's a big day:

1. Michigan Primary Day - there's plenty of positive and negative momentum at stake. Down, McCain! You've been the most effective anti-conservative influence in the country for years. Were you a Democrat, you might have done some good. You're like a male stripper at a rugby club night out - right man, wrong party. Down, mighty McCain, down in the hole!

2. Macworld 2008 Keynote - this year's virtuoso session with Steve Jobs. I saw him in London in the early 90's giving a 2 hour NeXT demo and was impressed by the assurance of this man who'd been fired from Apple mark 1. [As an aside, the original World Wide Web system was developed on a NeXT machine.] The big rumour for today is that il miglior fabbro will announce an ultraportable, the Airbook, dispensing with dvd drive, spinning hard drive, ethernet conection, but using flash memory and wifi only.
Drool.. Note the wing shaped profile..oooh. Turn on a fan, tip the Airbook to a slight angle of attack and it will sit in space 6 inches above your knees. Cool. What it needs is a decent docking station...an iMac minus its innards with a slot at the top to drop in the Airbook.

January 13, 2008

I will wash myself in ten pound notes

If Romney wins the Presidency, I win about $40,000 as I bet £1,000 on Romney at 20-1. Since then Fred's eviscerated Huckabee:
..and now McCain's getting his clock cleaned by Limbaugh, Levin, and Santorum. Romney took his heaviest fire weeks ago and really that boils down to a single idea - that he's a flip-flopper (oh, and a Mormon). The flip-flop meme echoes the 2004 case against Kerry, which worked pretty well because it's true, but
Michigan Democrats should vote for Mitt Romney, because if Mitt wins, Democrats win. [says King Kos]
Democrats view Mitt Romney as weak? They're fooling themselves....Democrats will try to run the same "He's a flip-flopper" campaign that we successfully destroyed Kerry with, but there are some key differences here. John Kerry flipped, flopped, and flipped again. Mitt Romney has consistently shifted rightward throughout his career. John Kerry was an ugly, boring, dull, unlikeable man. Mitt Romney is an intelligent, articulate, likeable Conservative. Let Kos plan, it'll only hurt their chances in November.
Add that Romney's a Governor, Kerry's a Senator; Romney made his money, Kerry married his; Ann Romney is an asset, Teresa Heinz Kerry was a liability; Romney's right, Kerry's wrong. No contest.

In a long campaign substance has a way of working it's way through to the public consciousness despite the msm's bs, so my politics still boil down to "bet on the Mormon."

January 12, 2008


By what rationale do political opponents get to vote for the Republican or Democrat Nominee in some states ? In a tight race, as this may be on both sides, it's possible that the decisive votes for each party's nominee will come from the other side ! I hereby claim copyright to the comic and sinister possibilities of a plot based on this idea.

The last days of the Roman Empire

The full faith and credit of the United States ain't what they used to be and depend on my children and yours to honour our debts. I love my children, so making them pay for my fecklessness can't be bad. I feel the love. They'll feel the IRS tickling their collar. So pay no heed to the rating agencies or the comptroller general, after all our children will have learnt this life lesson from us: stick it on the next generation.

Back in London

Christmas present - a daughter is studying with Martin Amis and gave me a signed copy of my favourite novel :The view from my room at dawn:

January 09, 2008

What we know we know

One candidate..

..has most delegates to date
..has most votes to date
..has the most money
..isn't balding
..is a governor not a senator
..has self-control

but facts are deceptive as the Boston Globe points out in a news report:
Mitt Romney, unable to refocus his message and prove his authenticity to New Hampshire's fiercely independent and fiscally conservative voters, yesterday suffered a second defeat in six days, leaving his presidential campaign strategy in tatters.

January 07, 2008

Musing on the New Hampshire Primary

As I watch this stuff and measure my perceptions against others', I have to admit that I'm an outlier. I just can't see how anyone, anyone cannot see what a phony McCain is, how old he acts, how snide his speech, how fake his smile. "My friends" spoken by McCain is just emetic. But I still tell myself I'm a prophet of The Wisdom of Crowds once the crowd digests the key information. The pack attack on Romney has divided him from the pack. The Romney/Huckabee-McCain interactions seemed those of adult to adolescent. So I forecast that many independents in NH will surge to Obama, others will be turned off McCain (and Huckabee) and conservatives will vote Romney. My wonkish interest exceeds that of the average primary voter, but I sense that this will be an upset for Mitt that will catapult him to the Nomination. If not, at least I'll better understand the lack of correspondence between The Wisdom Of Crowds and the wisdom of Mark. Eheu.

P.S. Now a Rasmussen poll taken after Saturday's pack attack but before Sunday's debate shows Romney catching up to a statistical tie with McCain. But note:
Rasmussen Markets data shows that John McCain has an 85.6% chance of winning in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney is given a 16.5% chance. The numbers referenced in this paragraph are from a prediction market, not a poll. RasmussenMarkets.com is a “futures market” that harnesses competitive passions to becomes a reliable leading indicator of upcoming events. Using a trading format where traders "buy and sell" candidates, issues, and news features, the markets correctly projected both Obama and Huckabee as the winners in Iowa. We invite you to [..] add your voice to the collective wisdom of the market.

I'm gambling on the Mormon

I just got odds of 20-1 against Romney to win the Presidency. Maybe the UK bookie hadn't seen this from last night:

January 04, 2008

Iowa, my 2 cents

Hillary was repudiated across a broad spectrum on a heavy turnout. That's prophetic. Romney was beaten by an identity group voting en bloc against the grain of its main policy preoccupation, illegal immigration. That's a special case.

This is a good test for Romney, which I think he'll pass. Don't flail, show good humour, stay loosely presidential, rack up respectable scores in many states, let the reality of Huckabee or McCain concentrate conservative minds. That will do it in the absence of another capable, across the board conservative. There's no reason to take cues from the liberal media who fear and loathe Romney and want to brand him loser.

The odds against Romney winning the Presidency are 16-1. I'll take a piece of that. Compare 15/8 against Obama.