How the GOP (Nearly) Stole Christmas
If not for Barry Lou Who, those evil tax-hikers might've gotten away with it.
Your must-read of the morning is today's WSJ editorial.
Here's a taste, but click over and read the whole frustrating thing:GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.
The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.
Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.
The Obama White House likes to bemoan the fact that their only material weakness is that of messaging (odd for an administration that sold itself to the American people on its sole, ostensibly sufficient talent of oratory aptitude), that if the slow-witted populace - impervious to endless primetime addresses - could only wrap their minds around the genius of the wildly unpopular policies being foist upon them, surely we'd all come to recognize the current President ranks among the top 4 of all time.
If this episode (i.e. a significant political battle being won handily by the White House, despite the lack of any meaninigful underlying policy substance and requiring that the President play diameterically against type) is any indication, I'd say they've got their silky-smooth-messaging-obscuring-utter-lack-of-solutions groove back.
Deciphering the Imponderably Crummy Job Market
The president's offered a number of explanations for the 9ish-percent unemployment rate that's plagued nearly his entire tenure - his dastardly predecessor, natural disasters a world away, Arab uprisings, Congressional stalemate, and other "bad luck" that make it unfair to grade his performance on the same curve as other presidents, all of whom saw uninterrupted goepolitical smooth sailing and a Congress under bicameral control of the president's party for far longer than the mere two years Obama enjoyed.
But what if - stay with me - there's an explanation for this worst-of-any-modern-"recovery" job market that doesn't require the coincidence and conspiracy of several unrelated man-made and natural tormentors?
Time Person Of the Year Pick 'Em
More indulgence than the rag probably warrants, but this is low hanging blogfruit.
You'll notice on the magazine's website that the first 3 unofficial nominees are all Occupy Wall Street characters (the 1%, the 99%, and the "anonymous" tent-dweller who hopes his Guy Fawkes mask does truly make him as clever, worldly, and hiply anti-establishment as he imagines). And yet no nod to the ubiquitous OWS tent city rapists? An unexpected oversight.
I think (of the 30+ candidates offered), the serious contenders are Gabby Giffords, Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Paul Ryan, and "Arab Youth Protestors". Not "serious" in the sense that they're necessarily the most deserving of an "award" that seeks to identify the most news-influencing individual, but "serious" in the sense that Time is most likely to name them. None more so than AYPs. If they were to name Mohamed Bouazizi individually, it might be a decent call. But Time seems to be favoring these collective and/or abstract "persons" lately.
The collective who should win, but won't (because it would return some of the luster on loan to the President), is of course Seal Team 6.
Who's your pick (both for most likely to win and most actually deserving)?
Update: Oh, Time editors, you've outdone yourselves. An abstract "person" representing two collectives. Arab Youth Protestors and Idle Hipster American Protestors share in the honor.
Trump Becomes Latest To Bail From Trump Debate
He attributed Romney's stagnation and Gingrich's rise in the polls to their respective ostensible cowardice and courage regarding participating in his ring-kissing ceremony.
Presumably, he renders the same judgment unto his own reluctant bowing out.
Either that or he bathes himself in grandeur and seductively dangles the lingering possibility he might treat us to his own candidacy...
The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate scheduled for December 27, 2011. It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate. The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!
I would like to thank Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for having the courage, conviction, and confidence to immediately accept being a part of the Newsmax debate. I believe this would not only have been the most watched debate, but also the most substantive and interesting debate!
With bin Laden Dead, Economy Healed, Earth Cooled, and Man Redeemed, Lady Obama Confronts Grander Challenge
It's headlining Drudge, it must be important.
FoxNews.com Live 9-10
I'll be on FoxNews.com Live Monday morning from 9-10. Topics TBA, but likely to include the GOP debate, headlines out of Europe, and the state of the economy.
If you miss it live, you can catch a replay at the link until Tuesday morning (dial the reel back to 9:00:00).
Update: Here's a clip.
Weekend Open Thread
Europe says it has no bond-buying bazooka: market tanks. Most of Europe agrees to a fiscal coordination "plan": market soars. If you just stayed home Thursday and Friday, you'd find things basically unchanged.
Is everything fantastic or terrible at the moment? I'm losing track.
(I think we're back to saying it's fantastic. It's Friday, what the hell, let's go with that. But remember...)
Scott Cole Shows Us Love On CNBC
Scott, congrats once again on your spectacular finish and your enviable winnings. And many thanks for the shout out!
Cole, the second-place winner, also focused on ETFs and Australian and London stocks. “There’s a tremendous amount of luck in this," said Cole, whose been trading for 17 years. Cole said he also discussed strategy with trading enthusiasts including Flip Pidot, author of the Suitably Flip blog.
Archive: CNBC Portfolio Challenge 2011
CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge - The Results Show
Today's the day. Last chance to submit your predictions for the 1st and 2nd place winners. Anyone in the house who may be in contention (or felt like they were close but aren't at CNBC studios today) and isn't gagged by the network, feel free to post your ending portfolio values so we can try to zero in on the winning threshold and narrow down the contenders. As you know, my money's on Cole and Chamblee as 1 and 2.
Pam should be able to help us sort things out with her diligent leaderboard archiving work.
I'll update this post with any notable data points and the results when announced.
Update: Gary Lewis wins the million, Scott Cole drives off in the car. Congrats to both. Scott, when you're back online, fill us in on some details.
Archive: CNBC Portfolio Challenge 2011
Market Ignores Downgrade Watch For EFSF, All of Europe
We're just officially pretending things like this aren't happening now, yes?
Unlike magical mortgage bonds, the EFSF is expected to take on the credit rating of its worst-rated constituent. I confess that I fail to grasp how the fund is supposed to lever up a billion to one (or whatever turns out to be necessary to cure a continental solvency problem with liquidity injections) when even Germany is likely to get dinged and France could get lowered two notches, worse even than we stateside deadbeats.
I'm not sure we've learned the right lesson from the ratings agencies' failure to handicap widespread home loan defaults. We seem to be trying to convince ourselves that that failure means they're always wrong, rather than that they're just not very good at seeing through the gauzy, superficial appearance of creditworthiness when faced with complex, often circular financing vehicles. This time, even they're seeing through the gauze and we're writing off their opinion as meaningless.
Maybe instead of learning to "do the opposite of what S&P says," our takeaway should've been that "a borrower's creditworthiness is at least as bad as S&P says."
Monday Market Open Thread
The MPDC is over, and yet, the markets have found a way to soldier on. I would've been looking at a sizable loss at today's open, with futures pointing to another triple-digit jump for the Dow as investors continue to take the bait that Merkel and Sarkozy might this time really and truly come up with a way to save Europe. Any traders in the house looking to swap strategies and ideas about how to play this rally, the comment thread is yours.
To get the ball rolling (and to recall a fake money favorite), FAZ is looking to open down 5% at around $38.50. That's down from nearly $55 over Thanksgiving. Anyone see a better short-term speculative play on the prospect that the world hasn't been so wholly cured in the last ten days?
FoxNews.com Live 9-10
I'll be on FoxNews.com Live Monday morning from 9-10. Topics TBA, but likely to include the GOP horse race and the new jobs numbers.
If you miss it live, you can catch a replay at the link until Tuesday morning (dial the reel back to 00:00:00).
Update: Whoops, no I won't. Scehduling snafu. I'll be back next Monday at 9.
As we count down the hours to the end of the Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge, I want to invite any interested traders to stick around after it wraps up and participate in an ongoing community trading initiative. A few readers have already indicated interest, so while I don't yet know exactly what form it will take, this would be a good time to kick off a discussion to see 1) who's interested, 2) what everyone would like the focus to be (real-time sharing of day-trading strategies, story stocks, knowledge sharing about charting and technical analysis methods, fundamental analysis), 3) what features people want to see (real-time chat, ability to post/share charts and other graphics, integration with Stocktwits, guest posting for longer-form research and analysis, a community feedback system whereby traders offering the most helpful/profitable insights are awarded higher scores by their peers), and 4) any special skills you might like to contribute to the effort (web design, coding, technical analysis, etc.).
We certainly have more than a few gurus in the room with various areas of expertise, many of whom have been very generous with their insights. Building on that would help make this an instantly valuable community of real-time trading collaboration.
For now, let's use the comment thread to this post as a forum for kicking around ideas and connecting with other interested participants. I'll begin to pull a list together and will update as things begin to come into focus.
CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge - Friday, Week 10
Bonus Bucks for Friday, December 2 (the ones posted Thursday night).
1. According to Ilian Mihov, a professor of Economics at the INSEAD business school, Italy will have to refinance what percentage of its total debt in 2012.
2. What major government official told a news conference on Thursday that the United Kingdom is preparing itself for a wide range of European financial crises?
B. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King
3. According to a new report, how many days delinquent is the average housing loan in foreclosure?
A. 631 days
No leaderboard update, though the totals as of Wednesday's close are available in yesterday's post.
Best of luck to everyone on the final day of trading (especially to those readers/commenters who are on the cusp of clinching that $1 million or the Maserati).
Thanks for all your comments and trading insights. Don't be a stranger after the contest wraps up. Blogging will get back to normal after Friday, though I'll be posting updates as we begin to get results, and I'm sure the more prolific commenters will continue to weigh in.
And although the official leaderboard is vanished, anyone who wants to update us with their final totals (weekly and/or overall), please feel free to submit them in the comments. I'll update this post with any notable ones.
Update: Well, that about does it. Be sure to check out the comments where readers are sharing their final results. At least one from our flock (Jane Chamblee, who I earlier predicted would win the Maserati) made it to the top 10. Who else got the call?
The results will be announced on CNBC on Wednesday.
Archive: CNBC Portfolio Challenge 2011