Monday, April 27, 2015

Time Out -- April 27, 2015 -- Nothing To See Here -- Idle Rambling

Maybe it's the drizzle and overcast conditions. The weather has been dreary the entire three days I have been back in North Dakota. I started the day -- at about 5:00 a.m. in a great mood. Futures were up and then at 6:00 am. -- just before leaving the house, I heard an interesting comment on the market on CNBC.

I don't watch television as a rule but my dad has cable. My dad doesn't watch television either but he doesn't watch it for reasons other than why I don't watch.  But when I visit him, I find myself surfing the channels a bit.

I saw the last 46 laps of the NASCAR race yesterday, and perhaps five minutes total of the five or six NBA basketball games that must have been aired. I saw someone win the PGA tournament -- or at least I think he won -- they were running the credits and signing off even as the tournament continued. Sort of tells me how important the tournament was to begin with.

So, I'm not sure if I should blog today or not; the comments could be quite schizoid. On the one hand, I couldn't be in a better mood seeing what the market is doing, but yet my irritation with "something" -- I don't know what -- may affect my blogging.

My hunch is that with the cup of coffee and the opening of the market, I will gradually find myself in a better mood.

Yesterday, my dad and I visited Alexander -- just south of Williston. We always go to Alexander at least once when I visit, to have breakfast at the town's cafe. Without question, I can say that it's my favorite US cafe for breakfast. We came in from the north, but because I missed the turn ended up taking the brand new MDU/Knife River bypass around the west side of Alexander and then came into the town from the south. There was not one truck moving in Alexander. Last year, there would have been a hundred trucks going through downtown each hour. Now, with the Bakken slowdown and the bypass, not one moving truck in Alexander. There were two 18-wheelers parked in front of the cafe.

Alexander will return to its pre-boom days, I suppose, which in the big scheme of things, is good. The best thing: the old-timers will still know about the cafe in Alexander.

Alexander's Country Cafe

The semis were parked outside when we arrived; they had departed by the time we were finished with breakfast and filmed.

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Fishing

Last evening, I took my 93-year-old dad out "for a ride" north and east of town. One of the highlights of the evening was to stop and talk to the folks fishing the Little Muddy about six miles north of the city.

I met a 30ish-year-old man and his son Mark. Mark said he was in third grade; a most outgoing young boy. He was having the time of his life; they actually had caught one northern pike; others had also caught northern pike and they were were simply having a grand time. On an earlier occasion Mark lost his entire pole to a three-foot carp; his dad retrieved it through Russian ingenuity.

Mark spoke perfect English; there would be no reason to note that except his father had an accent I couldn't quite make out. It turns out he was from Russia. I did not explore that any farther except to note that he loved the Williston area. I told him North Dakota could be tough. He shrugged.

Mark is in third grade; reads at the 9th or 10th grade level; the school tested him. He says the school told him he read at the 9th or 10th grade level, but didn't know for sure what level. I would have loved to have spent more time talking with them but I didn't want to interfere with the father-son fishing experience.

Mark's dad said his wife is doing a great job with the boys reading. The other boy, at home, four years old, began reading at three years of age. The family checks out 45 to 50 books each week from the local library. Mark says his elementary school doesn't have any more books for him to read, and the Williston public library is pretty much out of books for him to read. My hunch is he needs to move into "adult" literature that is age appropriate, if that makes sense. Shakespeare, for example. One only runs out of books when one has read all of Shakespeare, all of Homer, all of Yahweh, all of Jane Austen, all of Harold Bloom, all of Daniel DeFoe, all of the Bront√ęs.

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The Market

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment or financial decisions based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here.

This is quite incredible. Every day I look at the list of companies increasing their dividends. For the past six months, the list has about three to six companies. Today, about 25 companies, perhaps a few less. It's an incredibly long list. And some of the names are quite surprising.

Of course, we all know that Apple will be increasing their dividend by 15% when it's announced, and they will also announce a new share buyback plan. Just a hunch, but trust me on this one. Again, this is not an investment site; don't make any investment or financial decisions based on what I post at the blog. This site is for entertainment purposes only. If interested in the truth visit the Huffington Post or MSNBC.

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Greece

Greece wasn't even a headline story today. I had to google Greece to see what was going on. Greece was supposed to default on April 9th, then that was moved to April 24th, and then to the end of the month (April 30th) and now it is said that the day of reckoning has been pushed another four to six weeks.

Now it turns out that the "day of reckoning" may not even be a day of reckoning any more. LOL. I'm starting to understand why the Greeks love the beach so much. Why worry.

Forbes has a very, very interesting take on this. First of all, a Greek default doesn't necessarily mean that Greece is kicked out of the Eurozone. Second, and this is most interesting, everyone says that it is impossible for Greece to ever repay its debt. In fact, not true. From the linked article:
By any normal measure this is simply too large and will never be repaid. 175% of GDP as the stock of debt to be repaid, well, it won’t be and that’s that.
However, that’s not quite the right way to look at it.
The actual weight of a debt load depends not purely upon the stock of it, but the terms of it. What’s the interest rate on it and what’s the term: when must the capital be repaid.
And looking at it this way it’s a lot lower than you might think.
The interest rates on almost all of it (except the short term Treasuries issued by the Greek government recently) are low, there’s payment waivers on much of it for up to a decade and the capital repayments stretch out as much as half a century. It’s entirely possible for Greece to repay this sum: if they actually want to. The immovable object meeting the irresistible force is that Syriza are insisting that the total be reduced and the Eurogroup is insisting that it not be. The Eurogroup would almost certainly go with some changes in the terms, lowering the real burden, but Syriza want that cut in the principal amount.
I love how that paragraph begins: "By any normal measure...." -- I think this is why guys like Warren Buffett don't seem to be worried about US debt. If we've been wrong about a basket case like Greece all this time, the US has nothing to worry about.

I'll bet Greek debt has been sliced and diced into so many small bits that not one creditor has much tied up in Greece. For many creditors, I wouldn't be surprised if the debt is less than a rounding error, and no one will be harmed if the creditor simply "forgives" the debt. 

If there's no one in the forest to hear it, does a falling tree make a sound? If Greece defaults and it's not reported in the media, will anyone know?

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Apple Page

Speaking of earnings, which we weren't, Apple reports today, after market close. Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment or financial decisions based on anything you read here or think you may have read here.

Apple / Discover Card also announce that Discover Card will become part of the Apple Pay family

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ObamaCare

This is pretty cool. Radio announcement -- major hospital chain in Las Vegas, elsewhere -- emergency rooms are giving their "patients" pagers so folks can go back home, wait in the comfort of their home, while waiting to be seen in the emergency room. I can't make this stuff up.

For me, I've always advised folks to make an appointment with their physician even if they don't need the appointment. Then twenty-four hours before the appointment, if you don't need the appointment, call the clinic and reschedule for two weeks later; rinse, and repeat. You will always be guaranteed an appointment with your physician every two weeks. If that isn't often enough, after your next visit, before leaving the clinic, ask to have a follow-up in a week and do the same thing. In fact, some entrepreneur will probably come up with an Apple Watch app in which the wear taps the app to automatically cancel/reschedule clinic appointments.

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