Sunday Tables Posted

Sun, 2015/11/29 - 1:27pm | Your editor

The tables have been posted on our website. Paid subscribers can view all 3 files but pre-subscribers are only allowed to view the closed positions, because our current advice is what we earn our living with. To more easily view the spreadsheets use the "printer-friendly" button even if you don't intend to print. Read more »

Results and Toxicity

Fri, 2015/11/27 - 12:53pm | Your editor

Wall Street is on a half holiday today with huge spreads on relatively illiquid stocks going into the weekend. The market will close early and some of the catch-up from what happened yesterday while we were sitting at the groaning board will not take place until next week.


The big news today is from Asia: China's stock market took a 5.5% hit after a the heads of three leading state-sector brokerages were hauled off to the pokie by investigators for various involving stock trading and and derivatives. On the one hand, the government now owns about 7% of the outstanding shares of the exchanges of Shenzhen and Shanghai. On the other hand, it wants free markets to take their orders from Beijing. Karl Marx predicted that the contradictions of capitalism would lead to its demise. He was probably right about China. Read more »

Breaking Bread Together

Wed, 2015/11/25 - 7:20pm | Your editor

The pre-Thanksgiving newsletter did not go out for some reason, perhaps related to traffic jams on the Internet. Here it is again:


When we lived in Paris we got to know the Arab League rep there, Mo (Mohammed) Tarbush. He used to grouse about the popularity of hummus bi tahini: “Not only did the Jews steal our land; they also stole our food.” My theory is that the ancient Israelites probably ate the mixture of chickpeas and sesame seeds alongside their neighbors. It was common across the Levant as far north as Greece and Turkey before it became a supermarket staple. But I never confronted Mo as he was a great source of information.

Now I am cheered up to discover that an Israeli store-owner will give a 50% discount at his popular joint, known for its good hummus, to any table where Jews and Arabs are dining together.

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Hummus bi Tahini

Wed, 2015/11/25 - 1:30pm | Your editor


When we lived in Paris we got to know the Arab League rep there, Mo (Mohammed) Tarbush. He used to grouse about the popularity of hummus bi tahini: “Not only did the Jews steal our land; they also stole our food.” My theory is that the ancient Israelites probably ate the mixture of chickpeas and sesame seeds alongside their neighbors. It was common across the Levant as far north as Greece and Turkey before it became a supermarket staple. But I never confronted Mo as he was a great source of information.

Now I am cheered up to discover that an Israeli store-owner will give a 50% discount at his popular joint, known for its good hummus, to any table where Jews and Arabs are dining together.


As I will dine tomorrow at the home of a strongly anti-Zionist relative, I figure that breaking bread together must be a good idea. I'm also feeling more like giving thanks because those involved in Turkey shooting down a Russian jet appears to be trying to cool tempers down. Everyone is fearful of World War III.


More today from Israel, Egypt, Spain, Britain, Australia, India, Canada, Mexico, and Germany.

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Turkey and Turkey Day

Tue, 2015/11/24 - 2:24pm | Your editor

After promising not to bite it,  the scorpion rides on the turtle's  back across the water. But then the scorpion bites the turtle despite his promise, so they will both drown. The poisoned turtle cries: “Why did you kill us both?” The scorpion replies: “This is the Middle East.”

Things are now getting complicated there. Thanksgiving may be suspended this year if there is a big Brussels-style lock-down in my city. We were going to go to Brooklyn relatives for a family feast. But now I want to warn my hostess:

Don't get up at the crack of dawn Thursday to roast that turkey now that Turkey (the country) has shot down a Russian jet. Turkey is a member of Nato and says it warned the Russian jet 10 times before taking it down with a missile for apparently violating its borders. The pilots parachuting out may have been shot by Syrian Turkmen  who were being bombed by the Russians who were supposed to hitting ISIS, not others.

Becky, check on the latest news before you light your oven to make sure we are not in World War III.

I don't want to give thanks for the worst confrontation between a Nato country and Russia in half a century. Nor do I give thanks for having been spared (along with my elderly Paris friends) from the horrific attacks on youngsters celebrating the start of the weekend.

As for Brussels, we lived there early in our journalistic careers, if in nicer areas than Molenbeek. In Sterrebeek where the official language was Flemish I had to learn a little routine before switching to English or German at the butcher, the baker, and the garage. French was completely forbidden. A country which cannot overcome the gap between its existing traditional language groups can hardly deal with people of different languages and religions.

Both Erdogan and Putin are masters of the art of bluster and misleading their people. So the threatened confrontation may not occur. If they kiss and make up I will even eat marshmallow-coated sweet potatoes But it is certainly too soon to give thanks. At this stage, I am not sure that Black Friday won't really be black.


On military matters, thanks to all the readers who backed my tirade against revisionist views of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton. I was asked for the source of my gossip about Baron von Steuben, whose descendents in the US, like the Du Ponts, became rich capitalists. The Steubens suppressed revelations of their ancestor's sexual peccadilloes back in Germany. He was probably not a baron but he did have military experience needed by the American revolutionaries.

Steuben (whether gay or a child molester) helped our Revolution. He taught Washington's men how to fight in squares. The front row would fire and then kneel to reload their muskets while the second row fired. Then the front line would stand and shoot while the second row reloaded. Repeat.

The Americans, used to fighting Indians and French frontiersmen, had not learned this war craft earlier. Lafayette, who volunteered at age 19 with the rebels, had never actually fought in a battle in Europe having missed the last war. He didn't know basic drill. I learned all this stuff about Lafayette and Steuben from Sarah Voyelle's book Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, a great read.


Now for the stock market. While war is said to be good for shares, it is not panning out today. Oily stocks are up along with gold, but little else. If you haven't yet bought into Israeli shares, today is the day for it. Israel has good unofficial relations with both Turkey and Russia and may act as an intermediary to defuse the situation.


Today the upward revision of Q3 GDP failed to boost markets. We report from India, Colombia, Mexico, Britain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Brazil.

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Update on Terrorism Sequels

Mon, 2015/11/23 - 2:40pm | Your editor

European stocks fell on the realization that terrorism is not going away. I predict the death of the open-borders Schengen accord, which allows free border crossing within a group of EU countries once a foreigner has crossed the border with the rest of the world at any one of them. Americans in Europe will have to keep their passports handy as they cross borders. And more inspectors in silly uniforms will have to be hired, which may help cut unemployment and boost inflation. '

In the end these trends are good for the European economies. Except for the tourism, luxury goods, and hotel sectors soon to be abandoned by anti-bureaucracy-minded Americans who want to kill the state sector beast without putting their own lives at risk.


Before I realized that my real life's vocation was journalism, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship funded my MA in history. So I am appalled that the US president with the strongest academic credentials ever (although Dwight D. Eisenhower came close) is about to be removed from naming rights at Princeton University. Before he converted it the NJ, Ivy League outfit was only Princeton College, without graduate schools. My daughter-in-law's dad told us about the de-Wilsonization scheme at dinner in Boston.

Undoubtedly Wilson was a supporter of segregation, a century ago normal behavior for southerners. He was also a mistaken idealist believing that World War I could be a war to end all wars, when it turned out to be only a overture for World War II. He was an internationalist of the sort the USA has never accepted before or since who tried to get our country to back the League of Nations, a precursor of the UN. And being a male chauvinist he did not support American women's suffrage although after his stroke Mrs Wilson effectively ran the country for some months. Tsk tsk.

Retroactively imposing current day political-correctness rules on past US leaders sets dangerous precedents. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison owned slaves (other presidents probably did too but I only sure about the Virginians.) Jefferson also had a part-black underage slave mistress.

Lincoln was no abolitionist when he was trying to unify the country during his election campaign.

Ronald Reagan raised some taxes and negotiated deals with the evil empire despite current-day myths to the contrary. He also violated his marriage vows, as did Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and other inhabitants of the White House, not just Bill Clinton. For this in the 1960s Nelson Rockefeller's political career crashed. The rules change over time.

The German military man who helped the American Revolution, Baron von Steuben, was either gay (okay) or a child-molester (not okay) why he had to leave Europe under a cloud and bring his useful experience to George Washington.

Princeton is not the only US university with suspect endowments. Try Brown, Harvard, Yale, Columbia (initially King's College which tells you who started the place), and the University of Virginia, founded by Jefferson.


More for paid subscribers today from Cyprus, Egypt, Britain, The Netherlands, Israel, India, Panama, Cuba, Switzerland, Spain, Florida, and Canada.

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Yield Stocks

Fri, 2015/11/20 - 10:28am | Your editor

As I am off to Boston soon, you are getting a short blog today. My younger granddaughter is playing Cossette in a staging of Les Miserables, which we are going to see.

Congratulations to Michael Smookler for winning the Lilith auction for a free sub to this newsletter.

We have important news about ecology and Alzheimerar's disease for our readers. We have news from Britain, Israel, Switzerland, Germany, China, Brazil, India, France, and Mexico today.

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Special Yield Fund Update

Thu, 2015/11/19 - 4:44pm | Your editor

As I will be in Boston on Sunday I will not be updating the tables as is my wont. So to keep up with my moves in closed end funds there is a special table that paid subscribers may view showing our yield position changes. It can be viewed by paid subscribers at

Forecasts for 2016

Thu, 2015/11/19 - 2:41pm | Your editor

Moving toward the New Year means it's forecasting time. There are a dozen things one can already know about 2016 today. First of all, it will be a US election year which means policy will not be clear in many major areas as candidates jockey for support. Britain, which will vote on whether or not to stay in the European Community. With a new leftist head of its Labour Party and the threat of the nationalist UKIP party on the right, the Conservative government will also have to walk a fine policy line.

We know there will be higher US interest rates probably as soon as Dec. This will hurt the competitiveness of US manufacturing. Even in sectors like cellphone and internet technology or the sharing economy where we now lead the world, foreign copycats and rivals are coming up fast.

The election year means that US firms are unlikely to gain any respite from tax crackdowns or any reform of the often disabling impact of how Uncle Sam calculates what they owe.

It also means that Americans living abroad—whom I consider a national asset—will face continued harassment by tax regulators and obstacles to their having a normal financial and banking life. FATCA is stupid, but it is not going to be repealed in an election year, if ever.

The drop in US retail spending already discernible in the runup to Thanksgiving and Christmas may continue into 2016 as interest rates rise in this country, pushing up the price of US made goods and services, but playing into the hands of importers of cheaper foreign goods. What America makes will be less appealing at the very time when shoppers face higher costs of credit too. Retailing is also a problem in other countries like South Africa. And in the US and other countries the Amazonian competition looms large.

To continue to generate growth under these conditions, I expect that there will be more spending on the needed updating of infrastructure and electric generation next year and beyond, in the US, Britain, and many emerging economies.

In a US-UK election year continued focus on the appalling record of bank cheating of customers in the run-up to the global financial crisis means they will need more money for capital ratios, fines, and internal controls just at a time when the most lucrative business lines have to be restrained. But some finance sectors and some countries should avoid the worst of this crackdown.

The other demonized sector also deserves some of its ignominy: pharmaceuticals. Price-gauging against the sick and the government programs to cover their needs is scandalous. This will also color the election campaign in this country as people discover how much more insurance will cost them next year as a result of the evil-doers.

The global risk of terrorism will increase if only because criminal Islamist men are tempted to copycat other criminal Islamist men who have gained notoriety. While the Ten Comkcular. (The only unhedged prohibition against murder is the Hansel and Gretel situation: Muslims are never allowed to kill their children, a useful rule given the ancient world's habit of child sacrifice, which misled even Abraham-Ibrahim, the founder of monotheism who was ready to sacrifice both Isaac and Ishmael.)

The likely continuation of ISIS and its fellows means European and North African tourist destinations will lose clients to supposed safer places, affecting airlines, hotels, and economies overall. No Pyramids next year! No Black Sea cruise! Flying anywhere will be a hassle after the Russian plane crash everyone agrees now was a terrorist act.

One lovely destination is newly opened to law-abiding Americans: Cuba. Latin America and the islands (not just Castro's) will get some of the tourist business lost by Russia, Turkey, and Egypt.

A related issue is global energy dependence, not only on the Persian Gulf monarchies, but also Putin's Russia. How these countries will be viewed as the US election campaign gets going is beyond my power to guess. But I have a few ideas here too. The global alignment is definitely in flux.

It is likely that the problems of the left-behind under-educated white American males will become a campaign issue. They are dying at a record rate mostly from self-destructive causes ranging from smoking, and drug addiction, to suicide.


I forgot to mention that Volkwagen has a long way to go winning back customer confidence.


More for paid subscribers follows from around the globe in partial answer to the forecast trends I expect. Including one stock buy now for next year's trends. There will be a truncated report to paid subscribers tomorrow because I am heading to Boston to see my younger granddaughter perform on stage. Today's news is from Israel, Ireland , and India (but not Italy), Britain, Germany, and France, Egypt and Mexico, plus Colombia, Panama and the USA (for Cuba),

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Malkiel and Me

Wed, 2015/11/18 - 4:08pm | Your editor

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee appears to be ready to cut interest rates next month according to October 27 minutes published today. We wrote on strategies for a higher yield environment over the past few issues. Yesterday we said to buy emerging market bond funds.

Adding emerging markets to a global portfolio could reduce risk, while the capital Capital Asset Pricing Model data suggests emerging markets could yield attractive long-term returns, Burton Malkiel wrote on ThinkAdvisor today. I wrote about the appeal of some vehicles for buying emerging markets debt yesterday without waiting for support from the renowned author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street. But I am glad he likes the same sector.

An emerging market country I like to invest in is Mexico. Today Dow-Jones reported on a study published by the Bank of Mexico, its central bank: Read more »