July 14, 2008

Bank Failures - How to Avoid Exposure

With the failure of IndyMac over the weekend, concern about the safety of your savings is of paramount importance in many people's minds today. I will try to help answer any questions that any reader may have to help you make a decision on what actions, if any, one should take.

Remember, your deposits are insured up to $100,000, but there is no standard process on how one can get access to their money, even that less than $100,000 in the event of a failure. But at least you know that you'll be getting it all back! Here is a quick and dirty check-up that you can perform on your bank:

Go to http://www.bankrate.com/brm/safesound/ss_home.asp and plug in the bank(s) you are considering. Check the rating and then read memorandum for the particular bank. There is almost certainly a 4 or 5 star local bank within driving distance and probably within a few miles.

To give you an example of what to AVOID, look at IndyMac Bank. Prior to them going bankrupt, they had been given the worst possible rating and they had a negative ROI! The average for the whole industry the first quarter this year was .7%. Typically, 1% is considered "good." IndyMac was -7.0%. Not -0.7% but -7.0%! This was a big red flag.

Then go to http://www.bauerfinancial.com and check the rating they gave the bank as well. Sometimes the ratings will differ. But my thinking is if the bank in question has a high rating from both then that is a good sign while if it has a low rating from both then that is a bad sign.

July 12, 2008

Been a Long Time......

I know it's been a long time. What's someone to do when there's only so many ways that I can continue to tell investors to conserve cash and stay on the sidelines? So why am I writing now? Well, something has changed. I'm detecting panic and desperation and investors actually throwing in the towel and leaving the market in disgust. This is an important tell because at market extremes - the crowd is usually wrong (the crowd is actually usually right at most other times). So what am I looking for? I don't know. We could get a wash-out where the market washes out the last holders-on. But there are lots of investors just like me (on the sidelines waiting for this event) which decreases the likelihood of this happening. Probably, a little more likely is that the market's volume just dries up though and the market then starts rallying. Nothing spectacular, mind you. Just some days where the market slowly starts ambling up. What sectors should do well? Historically, coming out of a bear market, the sectors that do well are the ones that are already doing well - energy, commodities, agriculture AND the sectors that have been doing the worst - financials, real estate and homebuilders. From the best performing sectors, you can pick names out of Investors Business Daily, or just invest in the ETF's to avoid the exposure of a single company getting hit with bad news. I'd go the ETF route. If you have not already noticed my comprehensive ETF Locator, take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with it. Posted on March 14, 2008 at 5:04 PM on this blog. Good Luck.

June 7, 2008

Which Financial Companies Are In Trouble

Who Has More Level 3 Assets and LOTS MORE Level 2 Assets Than Capital?

New accounting rules allow for trading assets to be divided into three levels. Level One assets are the most liquid assets and therefore the easiest to price. They make up less than a quarter of most firms' assets. Level Two assets make up the majority of firms' assets but rely heavily on the firms' assumptions about things such as interest rates because they are far less liquid than Level One assets; according to regulatory filings by the five largest U.S. brokers and largest money center banks, there are more than $4 trillion in Level Two assets on their balance sheets. Finally, Level Three assets are the least liquid of the firms' trading assets and therefore are valued using what are called "unobservable inputs."

Level Three assets include real estate, mortgage-backed securities, private equity investments, etc... The three magic words that make an asset a Level 3 asset are "no observable inputs." This means that they are very difficult to price, and sometimes also, very difficult to sell. Think ENRON and how they created assets that THEY got to price because there was no market to derive a market price for - well, maybe not that bad.

Recently there's been such deterioration in all types of mortgages that more and more assets are finding their way into this Level 3 category. Ten companies as of the end of Q1 2008 now have more Level 3 assets than capital. You can find them on the linked spreadsheet in order of the worst to the.... er, ah, .... not as worse (as a % of total shareholder equity).

I'm sure that you'll notice something strange in this list, too - the presence of a-traditional financial sector companies. There's insurance companies - maybe no great surprise, but an airline? Full Disclosure - I HATE Northwest Airlines - not as an investment in this case, but as an airline that has some crappy customer service.

Now, Level 2 assets are defined as: "Assets that have quoted market prices for similar instruments in active markets, quoted prices for identical or similar instruments in markets that are not active, and model derived valuations in which all significant inputs and significant value drivers in active markets." Huh? This sounds like it might encompass a WIDE range of assets - from those that can actually be priced almost exactly to those that will be priced by with a little more accuracy than Level 3 Assets. These assets are growing quickly - that's what happens when entire securities markets disappear and there are capital allocation problems, such as now. Also on my spreadsheet, I have included columns on the prevalence and concentration of these Level 2 assets.

The introduction of FASB 157 on November 15, 2008 is fast approaching. The November 15th date isn't a drop dead reporting date, it's simply a date of implementation going forward regarding the recognition of fair value. Whether this "matters" remains to be seen. Many of these disclosures won't "hit" until next year although, according to a study from Deloitte, only six percent of companies (across a wide range of industries) have assessed how FASB 157 will impact the valuation of their assets and liabilities.

I think that before this time, it would be prudent for every investor to make sure they understand what their investments consist of. I'm not just talking about avoiding those companies that I detailed, but to re-examine your holdings and make sure that you don't end up with a real ugly surprise. Bear Stearns didn't need to wait until after FASB 157 to blow up. And from the looks of things, there are some companies VERY close to having a Balance Sheet that looks as bad as Bears (e.g., Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley with Goldman's and Lehman's not too far behind).

Did you also notice that J.P. Morgan was not in the top 10 list of Level 3 Assets? Maybe we now know exactly why J.P. Morgan was the entity "chosen" to acquire Bear.

Acknowledgment due Minyanville for the excellent analyses that I've basically combined and copied.

April 22, 2008

You Gotta Love That Verbiage + Dual Purpose Post

I need to correct my post from April 17, 2008 @ 10:50 a.m. I had written about the retraction of the lines of credit for Talbot's by 2 of their banks - HSBC and Bank of America. After talking to one of my bank contacts familiar with the particulars of this event, this is just Talbot's specific and not a new development in the global corporate lending market. Apparently Bank of America has been waiting for an excuse to put the hammer down on Talbot's and they got just that opportunity. HSBC for some unknown reason at this time decided to dog-pile them. But this event actually brings up something VERY relevant for all debtor companies (and this IS a new global corporate lending development). This is NOT the time that you want to go to your banking group to request an Amendment or an Extension.

The banks are taking this opportunity to "correct the pricing" (this is the verbiage that you gotta love) of deals. The banks are now taking the stance that the deals that were done, most likely pre-2006, were "not correct" in their pricing, fees and covenants. Forget that was the market-based, demand/supply environment which dictated the pricing. It was "incorrect". I wonder how this logic would go over in other forums, or let's just invert the positions? To any corporate debt holder, when the cycle sweeps back to a buyer-friendly cycle again (and these debt deals always swing back and forth as far as bank favorable or borrower favorable), try going to your bank and ask them to "correct" the erroneous pricing. Uh, huh. The only way the corporate borrower will get new pricing is to re-do the whole deal - which will cause a major "fee event" (also some great verbiage coined by lawyers involved in such deals because EVERYONE gets more fees - bankers, borrower lawyers, lender lawyers, accountants, Rating Agencies, etc...).

The banks that emerge from this mortgage-security induced debacle are going to be stronger than ever. Sure, I think that we'll lose some of the lesser banks - the good ones will get bought and merged, the bad ones may have a more ominous future. One of those banks that i do think will come out of this strong is JPM. The have both sides of the corporate capital markets, with top notch investment banking for equity deals and public/private debt deals and a tremendous banking side for Bank Lines of Credit and other traditional corporate banking products. And it also doesn't hurt them that they essentially have a government-backed deal for the purchase of Bear Stearns.

March 26, 2008

Permanent Home for Financial Links

As some of you have no doubt noticed, I am permanently putting the links to the financial websites off on the right side of this blog. This should make it much more convenient to access them. If you have not done so already, check out some of these links. They offer a wealth of information and may very well end up being frequently visited sites for your trading and investing endeavors.

March 17, 2008

A New Rant - People Asleep at the Wheel

Where were the Audit Committees, CFO's and Risk Managers at ALL of these companies at the start, and more importantly, before the mortgage-related security mess got started? Where were they at Bear Stearns, and every investment banking house for that matter? Where were they at the banks that have written off hundreds of billions of dollars, thus far? Where were they at the Rating Agencies? Where were they at EVERY institution that purchased any single mortgage-related security? And, where are they NOW at the corporations that have their cash balances invested in money market mutual funds that are just littered with mortgage-related securities THAT AREN'T CASH OR CASH EQUIVALENTS? That's a bomb just waiting to go off.

The biggest, baddest risk of them all and EVERY single Audit Committee, CFO and Risk Manager, and all of their minions ignored it. Forget the fact that the Rating Agencies never should have given the mortgage-related securities investment grade ratings. EVERY entity has the fiduciary obligation to examine what they are getting themselves into regardless of the rating. What does this say about the quality of individuals that comprise the Board of Director's Audit Committees, or about the quality of a firm's CFO (or the CEO that hired him) and what does it say about the entire profession of risk management? It says that too many entities subscribe to the notion that there's safety in numbers (i.e., the old everyone's doing it so it must be OK) and that there's a severe shortage of unique, critical thinking about items that the corporate fiduciaries should be looking at. It says that entities spend entirely too much time on feel good measures like Sarbanes-Oxley crap that is totally worthless (sure didn't help one iota here), but is costing billions and billions of dollars. If you have lost money in an institution because of this mess and get the opportunity, go to the Annual Meeting. And in the Q and A session, if they are brave enough to have one, ask the Board members and Officers these questions. Then watch them squirm and come up with excuses, if they don't ignore your question as being overtly hostile and not pertinent.

March 16, 2008

What Can Be Done To Help The Current Economic Condition

I have been saying for some time that the essentials that the government should be doing are: 1) instead of allowing companies to trade-in their mortgage related securities for Treasuries, guaranty a percentage of any "bundle's" (mortgage securities are bundled up into a variety of different instruments, but the form shouldn't matter) value - say 80%. This will: a) immediately start up the market for them to start trading again; b) it will put in a floor for the value of the securities; c) reduce the amount of write-offs that the holder's of the securities will need to make; and most importantly, d) allow the MARKET to work through this mess instead of having the government guaranty EVERYTHING on a piece meal basis. 2) Immediately cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. Ignore the populist rhetoric about this allowing the rich to get richer - it's wrong! We are in a global economy and the US tax rates are uncompetitive compared to the other major world powers - and several of them are socialistic and communistic. Lowering the corporate tax rates will: a) immediately strengthen the US dollar; b) jump-start our economy - this will allow corporations to: i) increase employees pay; ii) reduce product costs; and iii) increase capital investment; and c) be non-inflationary. Lowering interest rates has weakened the US dollar and is going to put us in a time of stagflation - where we have the economy weakening, but prices going up; 3) make permanent the Bush tax cuts that are due to expire. Increasing taxes now will absolutely put our economy in the crapper - for years; and 4) reduce government spending - the American people need to grow tired of the government always working on only one side of the tax and spend equation. Enough with dickering with tax policies, cut spending. There is absolutely no additional governmental program that is needed. Our problem IS that we have too many government programs now, that are little more than social experimentation. Let the politicians feed their egos and pander for votes some other way. I am tired of them constantly trying to interfere in my life. They are, and always have been the problem, never a solution. And for some new politician to come around and act like they will make things different makes me want to vomit.

I've been asked if I'm making any money in the current environment. My wife and my 401(k)'s are in all cash - every bit of them, and they are up 1 - 1.5%. My trading account is about 2/3 in cash and the rest I've been buying, shorting and what have you. My best purchase was gold and silver. Anyway, this market has been so volatile, both ways, that my investment account is flat - 0%. It just proves what I've said all along - in a bear market, both longs and shorts get killed. Were it not for the gold and silver, I'd be significantly down - probably 4 - 5%. Of course, this is a lot better than the broad market year-to-date averages - S&P (12.27%), Nasdaq Composite (16.58%), and Russell 2000 (13.46%). When we emerge from this, you are going to be in such better shape than those people not as fortunate to have went to cash. This is an example of when 20% for them will be 25% for you. Let me explain - you are Investor A and another party is Investor B. You both had $100,000 at the beginning of November 2007 before we went to cash. You have kept your $100,000 intact, but Investor B has lost 20% and now only has $80,000. Let's say that this is the end of the bear market, now and over this next year, the market goes up 20%. Investor B will get 20% on his $80,000 or $16,000 for a total of $96,000. You will get 20% on your $100,000 or $20,000 for a total of $120,000. You have made the equivalent of an extra 5% on your money ($20,000 compared to $16,000) because you were smart enough to get out of the way of the bear. And it just keeps being more lucrative for you as time goes on, because you kept your investment intact while everyone else got a big bite taken out of their money.

ETF Locater - All

Here are the ETF Locater Trees that I have been working on. ETFs are great instruments. They can give an investor instant access to a business sector and remove the volatility of an individual company within that sector. They allow investors to go short, long or 2x short and long positions - whether for a market sector or a market index. Because most of them are passively managed, their expense ratios are a fraction of that of an actively managed mutual fund. They are very useful at times of market extremes as an investor can also utilize them to place an immediate bet at market extremes without the guess-work involved in picking a company or companies that are going to bust loose.

There are 4 slides in the Power Point presentation. The first slide is the one page of all of the most common and actively traded domestic and foreign ETFs (and ETNs), and several that, although not necessarily very active, are needed to complete a category. Also included are the most common ETFs for domestic Fixed Income Instruments, REITS, Commodities, and Currencies. This first slide should be all that 95% of the people need.

The second slide is the comprehensive list of ETFs for the US financial sectors and indices, exclusive of any domestic ETF from Vanguard, ValueLine, Rydex, Claymore, Morningstar, Morgan Stanley and WisdomTree, or those using the FTSE RAFI and AlphaDEX indices. For the most part, when there are multiple ETFs in a given category, the first one listed is the most popular and therefore the most widely traded. Be careful about picking a fund that has a very small asset size. They will be subject to movements uncorrelated to actual market movements. Also included on the slide are the comprehensive ETFs for domestic Fixed Income Instruments, Municipal Bonds and REITS.

The third slide are those domestic ETFs that are
from Vanguard (also includes their 5 international ETFs), ValueLine, Rydex, Claymore, Morningstar, Morgan Stanley and WisdomTree, or those using the FTSE RAFI and AlphaDEX indices. Some people just prefer to deal with a known entity for their ETFs. That, and there just wasn't enough room on the second slide to put all of this information on one slide!

The fourth and final slide has all of the International and Country Specific ETFs, in addition to those for Foreign Currencies, and all of the Commodities. The Commodity ETNs are broken out and a description of an ETN is provided.

I think that you will find these reference sheets to be vary valuable. I tried very hard to ensure that there were no errors and to be as comprehensive as I could, but if you find an error, please let me know so that I can correct it. One last thing - there were a couple of ETFs that just didn't have enough daily volume to be included here. They will probably be shut down and did not merit inclusion in this presentation.

To download the Power Point slides with this information that will print out more legibly, click on the title "ETF Locater" title or the ETF Locater picture to be redirected.

March 14, 2008

Updated Financial Links

One of goals on this blog is to bring value to the readers. I plan on doing this by creating more reference materials like the ETF Locater tree and through my Financial Links. As I update my Financial Links with more sources, I will republish as I think it is a pain for the readers to constantly refer to the Blog Archives to see the changes. I will also denote any new additions by an asterisk (*) right before the description. To answer a couple of questions on my blog, I prefer the charting services of Stock Charts (http://stockcharts.com/index.html). This is one area that I will also recommend that, if you are a frequent trader, to upgrade from the free service and buy the Basic Charting package for $9.95/month.

What are the best technical indicators? There is no doubt at all about the best technical indicators - price and volume. That's it. It's fine to become educated about Bollinger Bands, money flow, MACD, and a few others, but consider them secondary indicators and don't let them obscure you from the primary indicators of price and volume. I will write more about these primary and secondary indicators in the future.

And now, my updated financial links:

DJ SECTOR CHARTS - http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/industry/bigcharts-com/default.asp?bcind_compidx=&bcind_period=ytd
MARKET INDEX CHARTS - http://stockcharts.com/def/servlet/Favorites.CServlet?obj=msummary&cmd=show,iday[Y]&disp=SXA
POINT & FIGURE CHARTING - http://www.dorseywright.com/

BARCHART - http://www2.barchart.com/
BESPOKE INVEST - http://www.bespokeinvest.typepad.com/
BLOOMBERG - http://www.bloomberg.com/intro3.html
COMPANY SLEUTH - http://www.companysleuth.com/
COMPUSERVE - http://webcenters.netscape.compuserve.com/pf/default.jsp
GLOBAL FINANCIAL DATA - http://www.globalfindata.com/ (global macro data - P/E ratios, div yields, market caps, etc.)
GOOGLE - http://finance.google.com/finance
INTERNATIONAL SECURITIES EXCHANGE - http://www.iseoptions.com/
INVESTMENT HOUSE - http://www.investmenthouse.com/
INVESTORS BUSINESS DAILY - http://www.investors.com/default.asp
MARKETWATCH - http://www.marketwatch.com/
MINYANVILLE - http://www.minyanville.com/ (alternative to thestreet.com)
MORNINGSTAR - http://www.morningstar.com/
*NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE - http://www.nyse.com/
QCHARTS - http://www.qcharts.com/ (cleaner data at a slight expense)
REUTERS - http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks
SEEKING ALPHA - http://www.seekingalpha.com/ (includes conference call links)
SMART MONEY - http://www.smartmoney.com/pf/?nav=dropTab
STANDARD & POORS - http://www2.standardandpoors.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=sp/Page/HomePg
THESTREET.COM - http://www.thestreet.com/
VALUE LINE - http://www.valueline.com/
WSJ-ONLINE - http://www.online.wsj.com/mdc/page/marketsdata.html?mod=2_3000 (updated every 2 minutes)
YAHOO - http://finance.yahoo.com/ (data adjusted or unadjusted for splits)

ANNUAL RETURNS - http://www.amateur-investor.net/Weekend_Market_Analysis12_28_02.htm (Dow)
*BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS - http://www.bea.gov/
*BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS - http://www.bls.gov/
DISCOUNT RATE - http://www.globalfindata.com/
http://www.lexisnexis.com/infopro/zimmerman/disp.aspx?z=1704 (reliable data from 1914 to 2003)
THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD STATISTICS - http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/ (Releases and Historical data)
*FED STATS - http://www.fedstats.gov/
FRED II DATABASE (ST. LOUIS FED) - http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/ (GDP components, pop. and employment data, exchange rates, inflation indices, etc…)
* THE STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES - http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/

THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH - http://www.nber.org/cycles.html (dates and duration of business cycles and expansions)

MONEY CHIMP - http://www.moneychimp.com/
STOCKS - http://stocks.us/
INVESTOOLS - http://www.investools.com/
INVESTMENT TOOLS - http://www.investmenttools.com/

ALAN M. NEWMAN'S STOCK MARKET CROSSCURRENTS - http://www.cross-currents.net/monthly.htm
BARRY RITHOLTZ'S THE BIG PICTURE - http://bigpicture.typepad.com/
BEN STEIN - http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/bio/yourlife/ben-stein
BRIEFING.COM - http://briefing.com/Investor/Index.htm
“THE COMING ECONOMIC UNRAVELING" - http://www.financialarmageddon.com/2008/02/still-at-the-fo.html
CROSSING WALL STREET - http://www.crossingwallstreet.com/
CYCLE FORECASTER - http://cycleforecaster.com/index.html
FINANCIAL SENSE - http://www.financialsense.com/
FORD EQUITY RESEARCH - http://www.fordequity.com/
JOHN MAULDIN'S THOUGHTS FROM THE FRONTLINE - http://www.2000wave.com/gateway.asp
LBR GROUP - https://www.lbrgroup.com/index.asp?page=Login&afterlogin=page%3DMembers
MERRIMAN MARKET ANALYST - http://www.mmacycles.com/index.php
SCHAEFFER RESEARCH - http://www.schaeffersresearch.com/Default.aspx
SHARK INVESTING - http://www.sharkinvesting.com/
STOCK MARKET MENTOR - http://www.stockmarketmentor.com/public/main.cfm
TRADING PSYCHOLOGY WEBLOG - http://www.brettsteenbarger.com/weblog.htm
WISER ADVISER - http://www.wiseradvisor.com/university-article~artId~699~title~covered-call-options.asp

The 10Q Detective – http://www.10qdetective.blogspot.com/
24/7 Wall St.
- http://www.247wallst.com/
AARON TASK - http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker
THE ALEPH BLOG - http://alephblog.com/?page_id=13
BILL CARA - http://www.billcara.com/
CHEAP STOCKS - http://stocksbelowncav.blogspot.com/2007/01/stretching-definition-of-netnet-wake-up.html
DAILY OPTIONS REPORT - http://adamsoptions.blogspot.com/
EVANESCENT RAMBLINGS - http://www.verylittlepicture.blogspot.com/
FUTUREPATH TRADING - http://www.futurepathtrading.com/LBRblog/default.aspxGARY SMITH - http://www.hedgefundmgr.blogspot.com/
JOHN LANSING - http://blog.trending123.com/2008/02/introduction_to_market_indicat.html
THE KIRK REPORT - http://www.thekirkreport.com
MARKET TALK WITH PIRAHNA - http://marketstockwatch.blogspot.com/
MAXOUT SAVINGS SHOW - http://www.maxoutsavings.com/the_next_phase.html
MICHAEL SHEDLOCK’S (MISH’S) - http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/
MODERNGRAHAM - http://www.moderngraham.com/
NAKED SHORTS - http://nakedshorts.typepad.com/nakedshorts/
THE OPTION CLUB - http://www.theoptionclub.com/
THE PERPLEXED INVESTOR - http://theperplexedinvestor.blogspot.com/
RANDOM ROGER - http://www.randomroger.blogspot.com
THE REAL RETURNS - http://www.therealreturns.blogspot.com/
REV SHARK'S AMAZON BLOG - http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A1KRIEWIJZLT01/ref=cm_blog_blog/102-6930566-9226503
ROGER EHRENBERG - http://informationarbitrage.com/
ROGER NUSBAUM - http://randomroger.blogspot.com/
STOCK BREAK-OUT BLOG - http://visualtrader.blogspot.com/
TECHNICAL INDICATORS FOR MOMENTUM STOCKS - http://alphatrends.blogspot.com/
TRADER FEED - http://www.traderfeed.blogspot.com/
TRADER MIKE - http://tradermike.net/
WORLD BETA - http://worldbeta.blogspot.com/

BARRON’S - http://online.barrons.com/public/main
CNBC - http://www.cnbc.com/
DRUDGE REPORT - http://drudgereport.com/
*INVESTORS BUSINESS DAILY - http://www.investors.com/
*WALL STREET JOURNAL - http://online.wsj.com/public/us

*BUSINESS 2.0 - http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/
*BUSINESS WEEK - http://www.businessweek.com/
*CHIEF EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE - http://www.chiefexecutive.net/ME2/Default.asp
*CFO MAGAZINE - http://www.cfo.com/
*THE ENTREPRENEUR - http://www.entrepreneur.com/
*THE ECONOMIST - http://www.economist.com/
*FINANCIAL TIMES - http://www.ft.com/home/us/
*FORBES - http://www.forbes.com/
*FORTUNE - http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/
*INC. - http://www.inc.com/
*KIPLINGER – http://www.kiplinger.com/
*MONEY - http://money.cnn.com/
SFO - http://www.sfomag.com/homefeaturedetail.asp?ID=-1587695919&MonthNameID=May&YearID=2006
*SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES - http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/home
*SMART MONEY – http://www.smartmoney.com/
TICKER SENSE - http://tickersense.typepad.com/

ANTI-INVESTMENT ADVISER - http://www.sanfran.com/content_areas/home/view_printable.php?story_id=1507
IRRATIONAL OPTIMISM - http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=476981

ABNORMAL RETURNS - http://abnormalreturns.com/
*CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE - http://www.freepint.com/gary/crs.htm
*FINANCIAL DATA FINDER - http://www.cob.ohio-state.edu/cgi-bin/DB_Search/db_search.cgi?setup_file=finance.setup.cgi
*FOREIGN GOVERNMENT’S AGENCIES LISTINGS - http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/foreign.html
INSTANT BULL - http://www.instantbull.com/
*LEGAL WEBSITE DIRECTORY - http://www.lexisone.com/legalresearch/legalguide/states/states_resources_index.htm (LexisNexis® Research for Small Firms
*MAGPORTAL - http://www.magportal.com/
*NEWS DIRECTORY - http://www.newsdirectory.com/
*UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN - http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/
*US GOVERNMENT AGENCIES LISTINGS - http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml
YAHOO! BOARDS - http://messages.finance.yahoo.com/mb3?s=%5EDJI

*BANK RATE MONITOR – http://www.bankrate.com/brm/default.asp
BANKRUPTCY DATA - http://www.bankruptcydata.com/researchcenter2.htm
*BENCHMARK MARKET DATA – http://www.markit.com/information/home.html
CALENDAR RESEARCH - http://www.calendarresearch.com/
CANSLIM - http://www.canslim.net/what.htm
*THE CHICAGO BOARD OF OPTIONS - http://www.cboe.com/
*CNN MONEY.COM - http://money.cnn.com/data/markets/dow/
COMMITMENTS OF TRADERS - http://www.cftc.gov/marketreports/commitmentsoftraders/index.htm
COMMODITIES - http://www.globalfindata.com/
CORPORATE FINANCE - http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/ (data sets useful in corporate finance and valuation; Excel models for Financial Planning)
DAILY EVENT CALENDAR - http://thestreet.ccbn.com/earning.asp?client=thestreet
ETFs - http://www.proshares.com/ (ProShares ETFs (normal, inverse, double inverse, etc.))
http://www.proshares.com/funds?products=98616&fundType= (Pro Shares ETFs (short/ultra short))
ETF DISTRIBUTIONS - http://www.proshares.com/funds/distributions
FUTURES DATA - http://www.turtletrader.com/hpd.html
F/X - http://www.currencyshares.com/?gclid=CKal2rulspECFQMCkgodu1bsOQ
HEDGE FUND DATA - http://www.hedgeindex.com/hedgeindex/en/default.aspx?cy=USD
HISTORICAL STOCK PRICES - http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=03&b=6&c=1983&d=08&e=5&f=2005&g=d&s=%5Edji
HOT TRENDS AND STOCKS AT ALL-TIME HIGHS - http://www.wallstrip.com/
INDEX CHANGES - http://www.nasdaq.com/reference/nasdaq_100_changes.xls (Nasdaq 100)
http://www2.standardandpoors.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=sp/Page/IndicesIndexChangesPg&r=3&b=4&s=&ig=&i= (S&P)
http://www.russell.com/us/default.asp (Russell 2000)
INDEX SITES - http://www.cboe.com/micro/IndexSites.aspx (concentrated information on related CBOE products)
IPO DATA - http://www.iporesources.org/
*INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE - http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/
INVESTOR’S INTELLIGENCE - http://www.investorsintelligence.com/x/default.html# (pay site)
THE "LAST" STOCHASTIC TECHNIQUE - http://stockcharts.com/school/doku.php?id=chart_school:trading_strategies:the_last_stochastic
PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT - http://www.hedgefolios.com/
PROGRAM TRADING - http://www.programtrading.com/
*SEC DATABASE - http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/webusers.htm
SHORT INTEREST - http://quotes.nasdaq.com/asp/MasterDataEntry.asp?page=ShortInterest
STOCK BASHERS PRIMER - http://messageboardfools.com/bashers.htm
STOCK BUYBACK INFORMATION - http://buybackletter.com/
STOCK LEMONS - http://www.stocklemon.com/
STOCK PATROL - http://www.stockpatrol.com/
STOCK SCANNER - http://tal.marketgauge.com/PHSFree/MktScans.asp?c=FND
TRADING HALTS - http://www.nasdaqtrader.com/Trader.aspx?id=TradeHalts
*TRADING TACTICS - http://www.hardrightedge.com/default.htm
WHISPER EARNINGS NUMBERS - http://www.whispernumber.com/signIn.jsp?source=quotes.jsp
WIKIPEDIA - http://www.wikinvest.com/

INDICATORS AND ANALYSIS - http://www.stockconsultant.com/consultnow/basicplus.cgi?ID=sample&symbol=CCRT&71318#ttop
OPTIONS CALCULATOR - http://www.cboe.com/framed/IVolframed.aspx?content=http%3a%2f%2fcboe.ivolatility.com%2fcalc%2findex.j%3fcontract%3d496D898D-D64B-42B5-9B72-2BE60648E7D1&sectionName=SEC_TRADING_TOOLS&title=CBOE%20-%20IVolatility%20Services
PIVOT POINT CALCULATOR - http://pitrading.com/pivot_points.htm
STOCK PRICE CALCULATOR - http://www.smartmoney.com/pricecheck/index.cfm?story=worksheet

ART INVESTING - http://web.artprice.com/start.aspx?l=en
"BEST" HOME PAGE - http://www.ceoexpress.com/default.asp
*CALCULATORS - http://www.martindalecenter.com/Calculators.html
CANCELING HOME-EQUITY LOAN - (23,435 different calculators!)
CANCELING PMI - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/pmialrt.pdf
CAR (USED) BUYING - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/usedcarc.htm
CAR LEASING - http://www.federalreserve.gov/regulations/cg/regmcg.htm
COOLING OFF RULE - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/products/pro03.pdf
CREDIT PRACTICES RULE - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/crdtrul.shtm
CREDIT RATING DISPUTE - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fcrasummary.pdf
CURRENT MORTGAGE RATES - http://mortgage.chase.com/pages/purchase/crq_p_landing.jsp
FREEWARE - http://www.freewarefiles.com/
FINANCIAL CALCULATORS - http://finance.yahoo.com/calculator/index
MORTGAGE DISCRIMINATION - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea08.pdf
MORTGAGE MINUTE GUY - http://www.mortgageminuteguy.com/townhall/
PORTFOLIO TRACKING - http://clearstation.etrade.com/
RETIREMENT ISSUES - http://www.aarp.org/money/financial_planning/
RIPOFF REPORT - http://www.ripoffreport.com/searchresults.asp?q1=50&q2=Texas&q3=&searchtype=1
RIPOFF REVENGE - http://www.ripoffrevenge.com/
TAX GUIDE FOR INVESTORS - http://www.fairmark.com/refrence/index.htm
UNDERSTANDING WARRANTIES - http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/warranty.htm
FLASH BLOCK- https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/433

March 12, 2008

Are We There, Yet? Are We There, Yet? Are We There, Yet?

First, I'd like to apologize for not posting earlier. But I have an excuse! One, I've been getting my tax forms in order and have needed to correct 2 previous year's forms. And two, I've been working on getting the 2nd part of my ETF Locater/Tree completed, which I will post here as soon as I am finished. I think that it will be a VERY useful reference material and worth the wait. And three, not much has changed in the market and there just isn't a need to keep saying "Stay in Cash!". Yeah I know we just had an up 400 point day and that's nothing to sneeze at. But before it means anything, we need to have a follow-through day. The market today, although down was still very palatable given that digestion of yesterday's action was imperative. This move is definitely something to be watching. However, there are still some solid negatives out there - first and foremost of which is the fact that we have not had the fall-out news of the deterioration of money market accounts, and all that implies which I first wrote about in my Investment Letter sent out on November 12, 2007 (see Blog Archives). So for now, as far as I'm concerned, the bear is as big and bad as ever and there remains the potential for some terrible days and weeks ahead. DO NOT LET YOUR GUARD DOWN. You are better off by missing the first few days when we emerge from the bear market than to participate in every fake-out that the bear markets give. I am not comfortable advocating short selling either. Bear markets maul both longs and shorts (you don't think that there are some shorts hurting from that up 400 point day? Especially when people can now buy leveraged short ETFs, effectively getting exposure to 2x the market movement in a sector?). The best thing to do now is research some stocks that are potential leaders when we emerge from the bear market. These are NOT recommendations, but some stocks I am currently investigating that might fall into this group include: BOLT, CRDC, VDSI and ZOLT. One other stock that has huge potential as a special case is CHS, but I need to research a bit more. But it looks like a cash generating machine - they just need to temper their growth plans.

I will try to post more frequently, with shorter posts. Best of luck to you all.

February 28, 2008

ETF Locater

Trying to find the correct ETF can be frustrating and time consuming. I have created a easy-to-follow chart to assist in this process. This covers most domestic ETFs and if the cases where there is more than one ETF in a particular category or sub-category, the ETF listed first is generally the most common. Another presentation slide which includes international securities and currencies will be forthcoming. To download a Power Point slide with this information that will print out more legibly, click on the title "ETF Locater" to be redirected.

February 18, 2008

How Subprime Really Works

This is the best and simplest explanation that I have seen on how the Subprime issue got started and how it became a problem:

click on Post Title to launch slide show

This "cartoon" has been floating around Wall St. for a few days and does the very best job of explaining how the subprime mess got started. Read it and get rightfully indignant. Not to beat the dead horse (right before I start beating the thing again), but in the whole course of events, as a financial person, I expect every bit of questionable activity in that slide show to take place UNTIL the Rating Agency part. They are the "protectors" of the investors. They are to be beyond reproach (hell, that's how they market themselves and their ratings have been a mainstay for the integrity of the entire credit market of the United States). One expects a certain amount of "used car salesmanship" from mortgage brokers and investment bankers and even the lenders. But the Rating Agencies are supposed to step in at the end and bring some sanity into a bond deal by rating crap as ... well, crap. I have seen the slow deterioration of the Rating Agencies during my 25 years in the private sector. Unlike, say a FASB which has always maintained an almost adversarial (too adversarial at times) relationship with private business, the Rating Agencies have gradually cozied up more and more with private business, especially the investment bankers. When an entity has a new debt issue, the issuing company PAYS Moodys and S&P to rate the thing. How much pressure does this cozy relationship that they've established with the investment banking firm that's underwriting the bond issue come into play, now? Don't answer - that was a trick question.

I'm afraid the Rating Agencies failure has set us up to have the government regulating bond ratings - one of the only ways to make a bad situation worse. Just imagine in this environment ratings being determined based upon totally subjective criteria - geographic location, gender, age, religion, and other demographics, etc... - in addition to also being sold like the current system apparently allows (don't forget to slip your Congress critter something to get your investment grade rating and to get the deal streamlined!). A thorough investigation of the Rating Agencies need to take place immediately and those analysts/managers/directors/executives who ultimately signed off on the investment grade ratings need to spend a few years in the jail, getting remedial math tutoring, in between dates with Bubba and shower-time fun and hijinx. (It would be poetic justice that those that did the screwing get on the receiving end of some of the same treatment that they meted out).

I'm also afraid that until the culpability of the relevant parties (i.e., the Rating Agencies) has been ferreted out and the total extent of the damage has been exposed,and a minimum course of action proposed to fix the current problem, that the performance of the US stock market is going to be mediocre at best. The integrity of the US capital markets has been seriously damaged. And if nothing more happens, we may eventually get lifted out of this current down-trending market - when investors feel that all of the bad news has been fully discounted by bond and equity prices. And this will last just as long until the next bomb goes off - which will definitely happen until there is some systematic change in the process.

February 14, 2008

Follow-Up Investment Advice Letter sent January 18, 2008


I have been asked several times if the worst is over and, if so, what actions to take and offer the following take on the market.

I hope that you all were able to lighten positions since my e-mail on November 12, 2007. The S&P 500 Index closed around 1,439 that day and today it is down to about 1,320 for a loss of around 9%. Most other broad market indices have suffered more damage – the NASDAQ composite is down over 10% and the Russell 2000 Index is down 14%. It’s not been very pretty. What’s done is done, though and several commentators are prodding people that it’s time to get back in the market now. I’d like to at least present a counter argument to that for you to consider before committing your hard-earned retirement and investment funds to this market.

Bear markets are insidious creatures – and the evidence is becoming clearer that a bear market is exactly what we are in right now. Bear markets “invite” investors back in by providing tantalizing bounces up – only to cut the investors off at the knees. Bear markets aren’t that easy for shorts to play, either. Those sharp bounces up can shake people out of their “shorts” really quick. Besides, it’s outside of the norm for most people to be short in the stock market so this is just a bad position for almost everyone to be in. So, one of the biggest danger in a market like this is to be too trusting when we do bounce. Many, if not most, market players are anxiously hoping that this very ugly recent action is just some sort of temporary blip that is going to be quickly forgotten as people realize that things really aren't that bad. The thinking is that with the Fed ready to make big rate cuts and Congress working with the president on fiscal stimulus, we should be right back on track very soon. While that is possible, it isn't the smart bet. This market is broken and we're now in a downtrend as almost EVERY indicator that I’ve looked at supports. Trends are stubborn things that don't come to an end easily. All you have to do is consider the move we made since the fall of 2006. Despite growing worries and concerns during that period, the market just kept on going straight up -- until this past fall. Despite a few blips along the way, the trend was steadily to the upside and was not derailed even by the first major subprime news back in August.

The stock market’s fall since around November 12, 2007 is historically unusual in its quickness and severity – but not as unusual when you look at how corrections have happened in the last couple of years. And that means we are likely to see some relief bounces -- especially as news of fiscal and monetary policy hits. It is very important to have a game plan in mind as to how you are going to deal with the action. Without a doubt, there are going to be those who will declare that the worst is over and that it is time to buy. They will be the most convinced right around the time the bounce starts to fade. Your No. 1 concern should be to avoid being sucked into that. Be ready to unload some longs (if you have not already done so) and to put on some shorts (if that is your style). In my e-mail, I presented a hypothesis about what will be one, if not the primary cause, of the market being so risky – the permeation of non-investment grade mortgage-securities into investment grade money market accounts and the resultant reclassification issues in 4th quarter corporate financial reporting, which will shock the market and depress corporate earnings. The most disconcerting thing to me at this point, is that I have heard nothing about this issue or how the market that trades those mortgage-security “bundles” is going to get re-started. At a certain point, all bad news, known or not known is factored into the market. The market has exhausted itself going down and all sellers have sold regardless of any more news to come out. I don’t think we are there yet and so news like that I alluded to in my November 12th e-mail can still shock this market down – down a lot.

One of the easiest things to do in a difficult market like this is let hope that things will improve, driving you to be too optimistic when we do have a bounce, especially a big one. Stay skeptical about the health of the market even if do enjoy a few good days. Those who were in the market during the bear market of 2001-2002 will recall how frustrating and dispiriting it can be to be hopeful every time we have some brief flurry of positive action. Those of you old enough to remember the bear market of the 70’s should really be in tune to what can happen.

I don't want, and I hate to sound too negative -- there will be good opportunities, in the future, to make money in this market -- but you have to be very careful to keep our emotions in check and not to be too positive until there is very good reason for it. If you do not have the luxury of having instant access to the stock market and business information, your best course of action is to continue to wait before you commit any additional money to this market. We are in a downtrend, and that needs to be respected. Don't start thinking that the worst is over. One of the things that really has been killing this market lately has been the incessant talk by government officials and Fed members. They all want to show how concerned they are and how ready they are to jump into action, but nothing happens. We end up with a lot of talk that is immediately discounted and renders the actions that they plan to make impotent. There is no real appreciation of the psychology that is at work. This is a market and economy that need reassurance, and that will only come when there is some real action – some extended POSITIVE action in the market.

The US stock market is a wonderful thing. Several companies and industries have stronger Balance Sheets than they’ve ever had, and have sufficient cash balances and capital structures to ride out any recession. Other countries still flock to the US markets in times of turmoil. There is still a decreasing supply of US stocks due to fewer IPOs, stock buy-backs and stock buy-outs. This market will always provide you opportunities to make money – provided you are patient in times like these and preserve your capital to take advantage of the better times to come.

I’d like to mention that several thoughts on this market that I’ve mentioned above are also espoused by James “RevShark” DePorre who has just published a book - Invest Like A Shark (How A Deaf Guy With No Job And Limited Capital Made A Fortune Investing In The Stock Market). I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

Best of luck to you all,


Investment Advise Letter sent out November 12, 2007


I wanted to let some of my friends know that I have taken a rather radical investment stance for the time being and explain why. I have put almost all of my money in the basic money market accounts/cash accounts offered at the various brokerages. This decision is a difficult one, but one that I feel is warranted because of some of the fall-out from the sub-prime/CMO/CDO mess. Let me elaborate: Mortgage originators (the companies that finance house purchases) sell mortgages individually and in bunches to various other companies. If the mortgage has not been bundled together in a security yet, it is now bundled by these buyers. These are then sold to other entities, including money market account managers and they can either exist as one big mortgage security or be a part of a security with mortgages, bonds, other fixed income securities and other debt securities which are then available for individual consumers like you and me or corporations to purchase to earn interest income on available cash balances. These mortgage securities allowed the money market funds to pay a little more interest which everyone has been seeking in this relatively low interest rate environment.

The huge potential problem that I see right now stems not from the fact that these mortgage securities are worthless, because in reality they're not. But there is absolutely no one out there that wants to buy these securities at ANY price because they just don't know what the proper valuation is for them. And if private industry won't buy the CMOs and CDOs, the only one left to do something is the government. Maybe someone smarter than me will come up with a different line of thinking than this, but this is not unprecedented – this is kind of what happened in the S&L crisis from the 1980’s and more recently, albeit on a much smaller scale, from a few years ago with an investment called Auction Rate Securities. I just don't know what else can happen the problem is distributed so widely right now. This problem should never have gotten this big, but this is what happens when a normal market which buys and sells investments just evaporates. In this whole mess, I find the greatest fault in 2 places: 1) the demagogues in government who made it sound like every person had the right to live in a nice expensive house, regardless of their ability to actually PAY the monthly mortgage payment and all of the other costs that go with owning real property; and 2) the rating agencies (Standard & Poors, Moody's, and Fitch) who get paid to properly rate the creditworthiness of securities but who have NEVER been out in front to alert investors on ANY really bad investments. If private industry had any faith in the rating agencies, they would accept the CMO and CDO's ratings as being truly indicative of their risk and there would still be a viable trading market for those securities. But since private industry has no faith in the rating agencies, the ratings on the CDOs and CMOs aren't worth a plugged nickel.

I found an interesting web site that has a lot of articles that are saying the same thing (although much more eloquently) that I am saying along with a lot of other information on this subject: http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/nystrom/2007/1107.html This article was dated last Wednesday. I hope you read some of the articles and get a better appreciation of my concerns right now.

I always evaluate the risk and return equation for any investment that I make. Right now, I’m not so sure that the stock market is adequately compensating investors for the risk that is out there right now. At the end of the year, if there is still no market for these mortgage securities, lots and lots of companies are going to have to write them down to zero and take a hit to their the P&L Statement. Even if those companies later manage to sell those investments and not realize any real loss, they can never offset the loss they had to previously show at the end of the year because of some weird Accounting Rules. Additionally, at the end of the year when these companies are forced to dig into their investments and see if they may be holding any of these mortgage securities, they may be in technical default of their Credit Agreements and other debt agreements because they will no longer be considered a “Cash Equivalent” which is another Accounting Rule.

I really hope that I am wrong about all of this. However, if I’m not, the situation could get really ugly really fast. The market is already weak and if this would happen and maybe some other unforeseen situation like another terrorist attack, there could be a mad rush for the exits. I am willing right now to forego missing out on any potential end-of-the-year or other rally to remove my exposure to this mess. I wanted to plant this seed in my friend’s minds so that you can also evaluate your level of risk tolerance and exposure and talk to another financial advisor if you so deem. I also urge everyone to read some of the articles on this situation. This is very unusual and I think merits some serious attention in order to protect your financial assets.

A good thing to come out, if this worst case comes to pass, is that there will be some EXCELLENT investment opportunities in the future that we will have the capital to take advantage of. Also, as soon as I hear something that lets me think that this temporary disruption in the market caused by the sub-prime mortgage mess is over, I’ll let you know. Like I said earlier, I hate doing something like this and I don’t recommend this action lightly, but this is a very unique and unusual situation that I don’t want to blow up in our faces.

Let me know if you have any questions.


Response to a blogger about Moodys now coming out to downgrade mortgage security debt

Moodys is not a dog that's been let off its leash.

It is a mangy cur that has been hiding in the shadows because it has soiled the entire house. They have not been doing much of anything for as long as they can to avoid the scrutiny over why bundles of crap were given the highest bond ratings available. Especially Moodys, moreso than S&P, because they tout themselves as having a more holistic approach to their ratings methodology - encompassing macro and micro economic events, decision trees of probabilities and other academic exercises which all seem like so much hogwash now. Plain and simple - S&P and Moody's engaged in organized crime where they SOLD those high investment grade ratings to their friends, business acquaintances and cohorts in the investment banking industry . And along with selling those ratings, they sold the American economy and consumers down sh** creek with no paddle. And NOW they want to come out like a watch dog? You're about 4 years too late, chumps.

January 1, 2008


1. You are a GUEST on this blog - act accordingly. Respect Dave K. and any other poster on this blog. Don't expect the blog to change to suit your idea of what the contents should be.

2. I will occasionally provide specific information on individual companies. HOWEVER, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DOES THE INFORMATION PRESENTED HERE EVER REPRESENT A RECOMMENDATION TO BUY OR SELL STOCKS. Do not expect me to provide an ongoing detail of any of my personal trades or those made in and/or by me in any of my accounts. Not only is it tacky behavior to expect free services from a business-person, but I do not have the time to provide such a FREE service to an anonymous crowd (blog readers). In addition, there are specific SEC and other regulatory agency rules and regulations regarding what are and are not allowed in this regard and I have no intention of EVER violating ANY of them.

3. Any posts are fair game to be challenged, but try to buttress your posts/opinions with empirical facts, not subjective feelings. A challenge to your idea is not an attack on you personally. You, as the poster, have to differentiate. It is hard to read voice inflection, etc.., in comments, so take it all with a grain of salt. Blogging and commenting are great for developing thick skin.

4. Avoid ad hominem arguments. An ad hominem argument is a logical fallacy that involves replying to an argument by addressing the person presenting the argument as a basis for the argument being incorrect, as opposed to pointing out a flaw in the argument. The gist of an ad hominem is that it's an attack on the person rather than the argument. Don't attack the person. If you disagree and you must get your thought on record, do it in a civil way. Don't go after people. If you must respond, talk about the idea presented.

5. Bombastic comments designed to inflame other posters and draw attention to you should be avoided. Any attack on a blog is a public attack. You can look stupid, no matter how 'valid' your point may be.

6. Bravado and braggadocio about your trading prowess, returns, and wealth are signs of immaturity and will also generate bad karma for your future trades. In a related vein, the constant hyping of your holdings should also be avoided. If you are not aware of what constitutes posting your trades and what constitutes hyping, err on the side of silence. If you feel you must resort to this and the aforementioned bravado, go over to the Yahoo! message boards which are rife with similar losers and you'll feel right at home.

7. Cries about market manipulation, political agendas, whining that the Fed (or whoever) is corrupt, etc... ad nauseum, are often nothing more than an excuse for bad trades and the dialogue gets old fast. Don't bore the other posters.

8. Avoid cursing and comments with sexual connotations. There are ladies and gentlemen on this blog who don't appreciate that talk. When you write, keep in mind that your personality and your reputation are reflected in your words.

9. Write something of value and brief posts are usually better. This blog has grown significantly over the months. Don't be putting chaff out there that keeps bloggers from seeing the gems. If there is an article that you think is relevant, post the link instead of cutting and pasting the entire article. Exceptionally pithy posts may be worthy of a COMMON CENT$ Recognition Award.

10. If you're a poor typist and/or grammatically challenged, use a spell and grammar checker before posting. Read what you type. You have time to think it through!

Bottom Line: All that personal attacks, inappropriate and immature comments do is bring this site, its purpose, and the dialogue to a screeching halt. It chases off the people who have been coming here, helping to build it up and prevents new comers from wanting to even hang around, let alone get involved. If that is your intent, then get your own blog.