Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Observations from the Cornhusker State

So, I've been in Lincoln, Nebraska for almost a week now. A place where corn is growing everywhere, rain brings the smell of fertilizer, the majority of people drive red cars (this is Husker nation), and when it's football season Saturdays bring droves of Husker fans to Memorial Stadium, which then becomes the third largest city in Nebraska; a bit of trivia you can't not know if you've been here more than once (go 'skers!).
Well, the corn and soybean crops are past their prime and ready for harvest. The (national) Soybean crop is lackluster with estimates being trimmed down from August estimates. However, the Nebraska '07 corn crop is a big one and expected to be 300 million bushels bigger than last year's. So, the demand (provided some farmers can afford it) for grain bins and elevators has heated up. Meanwhile, you can't drive for very long around here without seeing a John Deere tractor, seems like it's the tractor of choice. Also, TSCO (Tractor Supply Company) is the WalMart for farmers. I gotta tell ya, for some reason I love browsing through a well-stocked Tractor Supply store, I've never had the urge to buy John Deere merchandise until I visited Nebraska. Git 'er

Monday, September 10, 2007


I'm off for a little vacation, to beautiful sunny Lincoln, Nebraska. I'm sure I'll post just as much as I have been lately. Maybe I'll even get some work done. Meanwhile, I can't pass it up this article where AAPL sold it's 1millionth iPhone, already!! That's a pretty amazing figure if you think about it. One million, $500-a piece, cell phones sold in two months! Crazy!

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Malware Sector

I came across this article while on boingboing, it's worth a read. It's like The Matrix meets Blade Runner. I'm sure there's a P.K. Dick novel out there that's just like this article. There's a movie waiting to be made out of the malware underground one of these days.

Cut Rates...Or Else!

Countrywide Financial Corp. (CFC) said later today it plans to "reduce its workforce" by 10,000 to 12,000 jobs, which is up to 20% of its current workforce. However, they say less people will lose their jobs if "the interest-rate environment and outlook for market volume outlook improve." In other words; Cut those rates and save their jobs. Shares are up over 1% after hours after losing 1.5% during today's trading session. A lot of posturing going on from politicians to CEO's to Economists to try and influence the Fed to cut rates next week.

Fear Creeps In

The August Employment report sucker punched the street today. "Employers cut 4,000 jobs in August, the first time in four years that monthly hiring contracted." That's quite a drop from the 110,000 jobs economists were expecting to be created in August. The hardest hit were the goods-producing sector (46,000 manufacturing jobs were cut), Construction cut 22,000 jobs. Meanwhile, Service industries added 60,000 jobs in August. The result of course is the major indices down over 1% across the board. I'm not sure what had more impact on the market today. Was it really the employment report? Or was it Granpa Greenspan's thoughts on the environment of fear enshrouding the markets that reminds him of the good 'ol days of '87 & '98. He was quoted in the Wall St. Journal as saying; "The behavior in what we are observing in the last seven weeks is identical in many respects to what we saw in 1998, what we saw in the stock-market crash of 1987." Ever since he's left the position as Head-of-the-Fed he's been crying for an impending recession to hit. We all know that every time he speaks the markets react, remember Feb.'07? I know everyone equates February's sell-off to a computer glitch, but let's get real.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Preventing an Angry Mob

Yesterday Apple's circus show led to the announcement that the iPhone's price would be cut by $200. You could tell a lot of sheeple out there that just had to buy an iPhone for $600 two months ago are now pissed. All those people then felt like Jeff Spicoli yesterday(and Steve Jobs would be Mr Hand) wishing they could say "You Dick!" to Mr. Jobs' face. To remedy the situation Jobs announced an offer for a $100 store credit for all those loyal followers who were duped into buying an iPhone upon it's release. I don't know if there's anything in the Apple store that you could get for $100, but you have to do something to save face.


Gold had a big move today, and so did the stocks that specialize in it. Up over $13 today to settle at $704.60/ounce.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Apple took a nose-dive just after 10:00a.m. (PST) today, as everyone sold on the news. In case you haven't checked out the Jobsfest held today check out this link on Engadget that showcases the presentation. The powerpoint presentations are enough to get you enamored with Apple's products. Some of the highlights include; a reduced price iPhone, 160Gb iPod, touchscreen 8Gb & 16Gb iPod Touch, color iPod shuffle, wifi enabled iPod...check out the engadget summary.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Solar Purifying

A link I came across on boingboing brings you to this sight
which features water containers (they hold 1 gallon) that works with the sun "to allow UV-A radiation and increased temperature to destroy pathogenic microorganisms." Pretty cool.


Following up on my previous Amero coin post I felt a natural segue would be the topic of trucks from Mexico now being allowed to cross the U.S. border. It used to be that trucks had to dispatch their cargo to U.S.-owned trucking companies at the border (Canadian trucks have no operating restrictions in the U.S.). "Under the pilot program, Mexican long haul trucking companies that have met safety, licensing, and other U.S. requirements will be allowed to operate their rigs throughout the country. Proponents say this will reduce costs and speed up shipments."
Another step, perhaps, in the integration of the NAU and giving perceived necessity for the $180-billion Trans-Texas Corridor project. Well, I guess the Trans-Texas Corridor doesn't benefit to any greater extent with the passing of the above law but it sure ties things together nicely, doesn't it?
The Trans-Texas Corridor is a pretty fascinating subject matter in itself. It seems the majority of Texans don't want the toll roads. It's perceived by some as a 'pork'-fed land-grab, and it sounds like a hotly debated topic down there in Tx. A lot of people will be displaced (good 'ol eminent domain) in the construction of this project, and the company (Cintra-Zachary) that is contracted to build (and profit from) the toll-roads have a noncompete clause in their contract stating "no alternative roads can be built within miles of either side of the toll road for 50 years without paying penalties. Many similar contracts are being negotiated that would give private companies exclusive rights to many-mile wide areas of land in Texas' highest growth areas," essentially forcing people (if they want to get around) to pay tolls.
Meanwhile, a lot of vetoes are being thrown around by the Texas Governor when bills come across his desk that aim "to protect the state's citizens from potential abuse of eminent domain...by ensuring limited use and just compensation."
In trying to figure out who benefits from the TTC project I came up with mostly privately-held entities (Cintra-Zachary). A publicly traded company by the name of Fluor Corporation (FLR) seems to be somewhat involved in the project for whatever that's worth.

The Amero??

A post put up on movethemarkets.com this weekend regarding a proposed new currency, called the Amero, piqued my interest. I think it mostly piqued my interest because I've never even heard of the proposal for a unified currency until this point. One would think that an attempt to issue one currency for Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. would have a publicity campaign behind it, so why has this been so tight-lipped? A good starting point for more information on the proposed North American Union (NAU) and it's Amero currency would be here (also contains a brief and interesting dissertation on the history of U.S. currency). One of the articles linked to in the website mentions a meeting (held back in March of '05) between the respective presidents of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada and a joint statement published announcing "the formation of an initial entity called, “The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America"...aimed at producing a North American security plan as well as providing free market movement of people, capital, and trade across the borders between the three NAFTA partners." Interesting that currently one of the top issues for dealing with our "homeland security" is by "securing our borders", via building fences/walls along the California, Arizona Mexican borders, beefing up patrols of said borders, and by reforming immigration policies, and yet this meeting sees the security of our collective countries resting in the idea of a border-less and fully integrated Union? But I digress.
Back to the Amero Coin. Currently these coins are billed as "private-issue fantasy pattern coins [that] will be struck as an annual series (until such time as it is no longer legal to do so), starting in the latter part of 2007." I assume it would be "no longer legal to do so" because that would mean the minting would then be taken over by the Federal government if the currency would be put into circulation? Orders for the coins can be made here. And the designer of the coin has designed some of the statehood quarters and is also known for designing parody coins like the New York - Defiant Finger Tower coin.
So, while it seems to be a parody coin at the moment the concept of an Amero may be slowly creeping into public attention and looking for legitimacy in a covert way. All we need is for widespread media attention on the matter. We all know how the media can give legitimacy to something.