Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Morning News, Views, And Links -- Part I

Active rigs: 184

RBN Energy: more than you ever wanted to know about quality of crude oil going into pipelines. Regular readers will remember the articles regarding Enbridge's decision to limit its pipelines coming out of North Dakota to Bakken crude only. This provides some of the background.

WSJ Links

I agree completely. I have not followed the Johnny Manziel story and could not care less. But I have to admit, hearing the decision did sound like something straight out of The Onion. This will make the game a must-see game; and will actually make him even more a legend in his own time.
When I first read it, I didn't believe it. I squinted at the news break. Squinted! Like Harrison Ford in the desert heat. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel suspended for the…first half of Saturday's opener.
A half! Of one game? Was this true, or a hoax? It had all the fingerprints of The Onion.
It was real, of course: The NCAA threw half the book—dropped half a hammer—on Manziel on Wednesday after completing its investigation of allegations that the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback had accepted money for autographs. Manziel denied wrongdoing, but the NCAA found "an inadvertent violation"—basically it said, What did you think all those autographs were for, dude?—so Texas A&M will sit its superstar for two quarters against the fearsome Owls of Rice.
One half. Thirty minutes. That's one "Seinfeld." Johnny Football could serve it standing on his helmet. He can sleep in. Hit the snooze button. Stay up to watch Fallon and Carson Daly.
This is the "blurb" immediately under the headline:
Radio broadcaster Cumulus Media is close to acquiring syndicator Dial Global, in a deal that is likely to shake up the radio industry's landscape and Clear Channel's dominance.
I'm not even going to read the article. I don't want my world view to be influenced by this article or by reality. But this certainly seems to have "Rush Limbaugh" fingerprints all over it. If so, one word: wow.  During my 13 years in San Antonio (just before moving up here to Grapevine-Ft Worth-Dallas area), I was just blocks away from Clear Channel headquarters in San Antonio -- I walked by it, bicycled by it, or drove by it every day I was in San Antonio. And, of course, I followed the Rush flap when he "crossed the line."

I am not going to link the stories because I really don't care (though I do invest in these companies), but it looks like the news coming out regarding Verizon, Vodafone is considered to be "colossal" by some. So, we'll see. I completely missed the story. Too tied up with the Bakken.

I like almost anything written by Niall Ferguson so this should be an interesting article, debating whether the Boston Consulting Group or Ferguson has it right, in "two views on the US trajectory." The article begins:
This study helps explain why Dow Chemical on Tuesday confirmed it will expand its manufacturing operations in Texas and Louisiana, and why scores of other companies—from Siemens to Toyota to Michelin —are expanding U.S. production, too.
The authors see the U.S. fast becoming one of the developed world's lowest-cost manufacturers, with a double-digit percentage advantage in key costs by 2015. Decline isn't part of this picture.
But first, the cold shower.
For corporate chiefs who worry about megatrends affecting business, Mr. Ferguson is a worthy Jeremiah. An economic historian and best-selling author who teaches at Harvard and is a sought-after speaker, he has long warned about sclerosis in the West. When I asked him two years ago what he would do if he ran a U.S. company, he responded: Move it to Hong Kong.
One can already see the two (Ferguson and Boston Consulting Group) are talking past each other.

I have no interest in this story, either, but it certainly has a lot of story lines, the story on increasing wages for fast food restaurant employees.  At the end of the day, we will see tectonic changes at McDonald's as they move to iPad kiosk ordering, cutting staff in half. Behind the scenes, there will be other changes, also. For the consumer, service will improve. The question is whether prices will increase. On prices, it is a win-win for the consumer. If prices stay the same, it's a win: same prices, better service. If prices increase, "we" might order "down" -- ordering small portions and perhaps helping our arteries and waist lines in the process. But this latest salvo ($15/hour) and ObamaCare will bring huge changes to fast food industry. (Assuming ObamaCare is even implemented.) Speaking of $15/hour, why don't they just ask for $150/hour?)

No links on the Syria story. I may do a separate piece on this. It would be a great poll, but I already have four polls and don't want any more. Four is excessive by three. In fact, some days I wish I did not even have the polls. But my contract requires at least one.

Under O'BamaCare, subsidies will benefit older buyers more than younger ones. Does this surprise anyone? Who are the voters in this country? This is not rocket science.

Also, under O'BamaCare: Americans will need to precisely manage their annual income, unless they want a huge unexpected tax bite

Something we already knew: the private sector shrugged of the sequester. I won't read the story because I'm sure it won't mention that at least 80% of money "cut" in the sequester has been restored; the biggest "items" hit by the sequester: White House tours, US Navy Blue Angels, and USAF Thunderbirds. Hardly a factor for the private sector, except for the hot dog vendor across the street from the White House.

Scientists shed new light on black holes. I am enjoying a "collector's item" Scientific American my wife got me the other day on quantum physics. I finally have the picture of the Standard Model (fermions, quarks, leptons, bosons) firmly planted in my mind. So this WSJ article will be fun to read. Maybe a note to the granddaughters later.

I think this is a bigger story than investors realize: the US won't challenge recreational marijuana use laws in Washington or Colorado. Do folks remember all the stories about all the trademarks held for naming marijuana cigarettes. Within my investing lifetime, we will see packs of marijuana cigarettes alongside tobacco; it will be interesting to see if mainstream corporations will risk their brand names by marketing marijuana. Think Blue Moon.

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