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Archive for July, 2010

Flushing Money Down the Toilet

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 31st, 2010 2:02 PM |

concept of flushing money down the toiletAre government stimulus policies and programs, which merely increase our ever burgeoning national debt, nothing more than throwing good money after bad? Many people believe so. Let’s navigate and and address that topic and others.

To this point at Sense on Cents, I do not believe I have ever addressed the topic of population growth in terms of overall economic growth. Well, I guess we truly do learn something new everyday.

Global population growth rates (note: not the actual population) have been steadily declining over the last 40 years. What does this fact mean in terms of our overall economic engine, global growth, and domestic deficit spending? Pimco’s Bill Gross addresses these topics in writing his August commentary, Privates Eye:>>>> (more…)

Darrel Issa (R-CA) Looks to Restore Transparency and Accountability to the SEC

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 30th, 2010 4:08 PM |

Earlier this week, the SEC informed Fox Business News that it would not comply with a request for information based upon SEC Financial Regulatory Law H.R. 4173. Fortunately, some people in our country still care  about transparency, accountability, and integrity. To this end, thank you to a friend of Sense on Cents for sharing this recent release:

It brings the SEC back under the Freedom of Information (FOIA) Act after the Dodd-Frank financial reg bill provided them with an exemption.


Rick Davis Goes Inside the GDP Report

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 30th, 2010 11:18 AM |

The equity markets are flat so the 2nd quarter GDP report must have been properly priced into current valuations. Perhaps, but I would neither go that far nor would I be so brazen as to say that the markets are wrong in how they trade. Markets are never wrong. The market is the market. All this said, let’s navigate with Rick Davis inside the 2nd quarter report and the prior revisions.

July 30, 2010 – Inside the New GDP Numbers:

On July 30th the Bureau of Economic Analysis (‘BEA’) released its “advance” estimate of the annualized growth rate of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (‘GDP’) during the 2nd quarter of 2010. Per their report, the GDP grew during the quarter at an annualized rate of 2.4%, down from 3.7% in the 1st quarter of 2010. Several points from the report merit comment: (more…)

GDP Revisions Make 2nd Quarter Report Suspect

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 30th, 2010 9:14 AM |

2nd quarter 2010 GDP was just released and registered growth of +2.4% versus consensus expectations of +2.6%. Slightly weaker than expected, and we can all move on perhaps? Not so fast.

1st quarter GDP was revised from its supposed final reading of +2.7% to a newly revised 3.7%!! So the economy was that much stronger in the 1st quarter than previously thought that the 2.4% 2nd quarter reading is actually not all that bad. Again, not so fast. Let’s continue to peel the onion a little further.   (more…)

Fox Business Highlights Need for SEC Transparency

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 29th, 2010 12:33 PM |

Kudos to Fox Business News for leading the charge within the financial media on the need for real transparency at the SEC. FBN’s Adam Schapiro was just on chatting with Stuart Varney on this very important topic. Listen to Adam, and ponder his comments in light of the Madoff and Stanford travesties that took place literally right under the nose of the SEC. (Clicking on the image will bring you to the Fox Business News website, and the video clip will begin to play automatically.)

Who is the SEC protecting?


Transparency at the SEC? Why Would They Want to Do That?

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 29th, 2010 7:10 AM |

Is the SEC’s Inspector General David Kotz looking for a new job? How about SEC Head Mary Schapiro? Is she also looking for a new job?

Why do I ask? Is America aware that the new Financial Regulatory Reform bill, recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, will effectively close the doors and shut the blinds at the SEC in terms of people being allowed to gain access to information? Why and how do situations like this happen? Let’s navigate.

Fox News highlighted this travesty yesterday in writing, SEC Says New Financial Regulation Law Exempts It from Public Disclosure:

So much for transparency. (more…)

How’s Robert Rizzo Doing?

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 28th, 2010 1:56 PM |

How might an individual earning close to $800k as a city manager live?

Let’s learn more about former Bell, CA city manager Robert Rizzo. The Orange County Register recently ran a little expose on Mr. Rizzo, Check Out Home of $800,000-a-Year City Manager:

Robert Rizzo, the city manager of Bell, is taking a lot of heat after the Los Angeles Times reported he’s pulling down a whopping $787,637 a year — apparently the highest paycheck for a city manager in California.

The Bell City Council is reported to be seeking his ouster, according to the newspaper. (LD’s edit: He did resign!!) The L.A. District Attorney’s office is looking into the hefty salary.

It turns out that Rizzo lives in Huntington Beach. I couldn’t resist the question: What’s his house like?

Check it out. What do you think?  I was expecting something more lavish. Overlooking  the ocean or the harbor, perhaps. Or both.

Rizzo’s home  isn’t on the market, but Zillow “Zestimates’” it at $883,500 — pretty close to the clutch annual salary. The tax assessor valued the house at $903,000 last year, according to public records.
By the way, Rizzo, 56, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving near his house in March. A neighbor called police after Rizzo crashed into a mailbox.

“He is accused of being so stumbling drunk, the officer had to stop administering the field sobriety test,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, the Orange County District Attorney’s chief of staff.

She said Rizzo’s blood alcohol level was at .28, which is three and a half times the legal limit.

He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on drunken driving charges.

But back to real estate: There’s another home on the street not too far from him that’s on the market right now with an asking price of $1,100,000.

I think it still has a mailbox.

Is it safe to assume that Rizzo was the highest paid city manager in the nation? Who knows in these days of municipal malfeasance. In regard to Mr. Rizzo’s job, “nice work, if you can get it!!”

You can’t make this stuff up, beyond that I will reserve comment.


The Cost of Doing Business

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 28th, 2010 7:15 AM |

It takes money to make money.

Simple business principle, correct? A basic, fundamental business tenet, right?

Well if the money it ‘takes’ is used to pay inordinate fines and penalties resulting from management’s willingness to jeopardize reputation and principle in pursuit of profit, what does that say about the business enterprise itself?

Will the $550 million fine recently imposed on Goldman Sachs fundamentally change the manner in which Goldman engages clients and operates its business? I have chuckled more than a few times upon reading that Goldman’s mortgage employees involved in the structuring, trading, and sales of the securities at the center of this entire debacle will have to undergo continuing education type classes. These classes are truly nothing more than a ‘check the box’ perfunctory exercise. Honestly, I would love to be a fly on the wall during these classes as I am sure some of the material covered and accompanying discussions would provide real comedic fodder. (more…)

Startling Statistics Speak Volumes

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 27th, 2010 1:05 PM |

Thanks to a good friend of Sense on Cents for sharing an array of truly startling statistics about the distribution of wealth in our nation today. These stats are embedded in a recent article which ran at Yahoo Finance entitled, The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Let’s review the statistics first and add comments later:

•    83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
•    61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
•    66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans. (more…)

Continuing Consumer Contraction Points to Accelerating Double Dip

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 27th, 2010 6:10 AM |

2nd quarter earnings are certainly coming in stronger than expected, and our equity markets are having a solid rebound this month. Are these earnings reflective of real underlying strength in the economy or corporations that are now operating more efficiently?

Has our economy hit a soft patch? Is it declining? Are we rebounding from a recent downturn? Might we experience a real double dip?

The initial reading of 2nd quarter GDP is due this Friday. To say that it is highly anticipated would be a huge understatement. Consensus expectations for 2nd quarter GDP are running between +2.5% and +3%. Recall that the final 1st quarter report registered a +2.7% reading.

A Sense on Cents favorite has a decidedly different view of 2nd quarter economic activity and the subsequent GDP. (more…)

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