Trading alert

Wed, 2017/09/27 - 2:34pm | Your editor

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Driving Ladies

Wed, 2017/09/27 - 1:20pm | Your editor

The big winners on the Saudi stock exchange after it was decreed that there is nothing in Islam which prohibits women from driving cars turn out to be auto insurance, car dealers, and car leasing firms listed in the Kingdom like Budget's local arm United International Tranportation, which rose 4% and insurance firms, although the Saudi index fell today.

One of my pals among reporters when I lived in Europe was Hilfra, the Liverpool-born lesbian editor of a petrochemicals newsletter who regularly went to Riyadh as part of her beat. The publisher paid a fortune in taxi bills for her coverage of Saudi moves downstream.

I will toasted Hilfra when I next get to El Vino's in London. She was a pioneer in moving to the East End in London and my husband and I stayed with her and her partner in their converted school-house in Bow. Her influence and that of our nephew got us to buy a flat at Mudchute Manor.

I never had a Saudi woman friend but I did get to know an Egyptian Muslim with chilldren at the French school our daughter went to in Washington. This poor lady was convinced that the Koran said women were intellectually inferior to men.

Today the durable goods orders rose by double the consensus forecast mainly thanks to plane sales, up 1.7%. But pending home sales sank further in August, down 2.6%, vs a forecast of -0.5%, and mortgage applications sank in tandem.

More for paid subscribers follows from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Israel, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Bermuda, Denmark, South Africa, Cuba, Canada, and Brazil. We also have a new stock pick.

Thanks to all who signed the petition to get Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to provide data and freezes for customers whose credit card accounts were hacked without charging for it.

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China Internets Issues

Tue, 2017/09/26 - 1:31pm | Your editor

Facebook faced a bigger crackdown than the Chinese internets we wrote about yesterday. Rather than fines for allowing Chinese to post obscene or politically incorrect commentary on the web, Beijing has simply blocked all messaging using WhatsApp, owned by Facebook. Unlike the Russians who seem to have used to site to spread propaganda or disinformation, China has simply banned WhatsApp entirely.

Lotte has hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for its supermarkets in China. The South Korean chain has suffered from a Chinese boycott because of Seoul's acceptance of US anti-missile systems to protect it from the North. China's policy here is ambiuous as its the barriers to Chinese tourist visits to South Korea which has cut the inflow.

More on China's crackdown follows for paid subscribers along with news from Switzerland, Spain, South Korea, South Africa, Poland, Mexico, Japan, Israel, Bermuda, Australia, Argentina, and a few other places.

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Credit Cards, Telephones, and Politics

Mon, 2017/09/25 - 3:12pm | Your editor


Your editor decided to capitulate and subscribe to FIOS to get her phones up and running but it turns out you cannot transfer lines if they are out of service. To transfer our land lines I have to pay the current phone company which is not providing services and then wait for it to give me a refund. But paying refunds is something they tend not to do even when promising refunds in the past for less than total outages. I think I need to start a phone company to be better able to squeeze and cheat my customers.


Anyway, my attempts to move my phone business to get fiberoptic was squelched because the FIOS supplier cannot transfer the lines without the cooperation of the current carrier which wants to be paid to provide this.


Another outrage: after being told by Equifax that my personal information is at risk—along with that of about half the adult population of the USA, I am being asked to pay for monitoring my account. I am probably going to get a credit back here too but I hardly think Equivax is any more reliable than my phone carrier. I just signed a petition against the fee. If you want to join me, link to


*Angela Merkel is aiming for a rather unnatural Jamaica coalition after the German poll yesterday, combining her CDU-CSU black minority seats in the Bundestag with both the Environmentalist 'Greens' and the Liberal Democrats (gold). The 2 smaller parties disagree about emigration and farm policy, and the greens want less policing and more cannabis. But the trio are against air pollution and diesel cars.


Japan's PM Abe meanwhile has called a 'snap election'


More today from Spain, Russia, Oman, Mexico, Israel, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Denmark, China, Chile, Canada, Britain, Brazil, Australia, and Argentina. My blog is late because I was yelling at telephone companies and Schwab which keeps locking me out of my account.

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Sunday Tables

Sun, 2017/09/24 - 1:47pm | Your editor

Another earthquake, magnitude 5.9, struck off the west coast in Tonala, Chiapas State, an area near the Guatemala border subject to earthquakes and hurricanes. It is also Mexico's poorest region, with a large Mayan population, visited last year by Pope Francis. It also was where the Zapatista uprising of 1994 began.

As is my practice, today I posted updated tables at but once again there was a problem. The weekly closed-end fund tables and the 13D filings pages in my copy of Barron's delivered to my home Saturday were both greyed out with ink from the printer and were mostly unreadable, requiring that I go online to individual fund sites to find the net asset values we report. Also I got two copies of the innards of the Sunday NY Times and no copy of the Financial Times. As the FT is printed on pink paper it doesn't look like the NY Times so even if the delivery men are illiterate (as I suspect they are) they also appear to be colorblind. Delivery of Barron's is by a different company.

Then just to add to my frustration the brokerage I use, Schwab, again blocked my access because it doesn't have my eldest child's correct middle name. Using a cellphone your voice is not your password because it doesn't sound the same as on a land-line.

I think it is becoming harder to deal with routine work lately. I wonder how many of you would feel I was slacking if I only prepared performance tables monthly?

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Friday File

Fri, 2017/09/22 - 1:23pm | Your editor


It takes one to know one. Scandal-ridden Wells Fargo has upgtraded Equifax, the hacked and disgraced credit rating agency, to buy.

Notices of private corporate actions filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission were hacked by what may have been insider traders. Many years ago our ADR Guide quarterly publication was hacked from the Library of Congress by the securities regulators and the IRS in violation of our copyright (why we filed with the Library.) I found it too much trouble to try to deal with the Feds and stopped publishing the guide which I still use for ADR ratios and the like.

Microsoft hit me with a blockage of my desktop password when I signed in after the Jewish holiday, requiring that on this hectic catch-up day that I spend time hopping from computer to computer. Now it is merely cutting me off every 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile the phone repair has been rescheduled for Sept 28. Welcome to Ouagadougou.

Connectivity, which used to be the bright spot in Century 21 is now becoming a black hole.


So today's blog will consist mostly of one-liners unless more is needed like reporting deals.

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Jewish New Year Cometh Amidst Disasters

Wed, 2017/09/20 - 12:54pm | Your editor


The most important thing is that our contacts in Mexico City are all well. I checked with Eduardo Garcia who runs and with Maria Eugenia Pichardo of Mexican Equity & Income Fund. Both report that their entire staff and relatives are accounted for and unhurt although Maru reports that walking down 22 flights of stairs in her office building was a novelty.

The Bolsa was not closed and wobbled a lot because the economic impact of the quake was not yet clear.


*VA reader CP added to my coverage of medicare pricing, pointing out that the Veterans Administration can negotiate low prices for pharmaceuticals because it buys in huge volumes. However its formulary doesn't include the newest drugs. Meanwhile the rules for Medicare D specifically enjoin the drug program for seniors from negotiating lower prices, giving “a real gift to big pharma.”


It doesn't look like the latest GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare has wings, but we need to be aware that the US system still is based on deals which are bad for patients. Medicare D is means tested and the monthly fees for those of us who planned for our retirement are going up by about 35% in 2018. Meanwhile Bernie Sanders is boosting single-payer Medicare for all on Friday on facebook.


US markets are focused on the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting this afternoon when analysts expect more information on how fast the Fed will unwind the bond and mortgage-backed securities purchases it made after the Global Financial Crisis. However a rate hike is now considered unlikely given the hurricanes but, just in case, Wall Street is cautious.


We are cautious and are taking part profits at two Asian high flyers in our portfolio. In fact this requires that we lower our risks with 3 stocks, discussed below for paid subscribers. And we sell a northern neighbor stock too.


No blog tomorrow. Middle Eastern markets, starting with Israel, close for 4 days for the New Year so we will begin with Israel today. Happy New Year 5778 to you all and a hope for less dramatic weather, a more stable earth, good health, prosperity, and peace on earth.

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On Toys and Treats

Tue, 2017/09/19 - 1:39pm | Your editor

When my grandchildren were younger a top feature of their visits was to take them to Toys R Us near Times Square, where the very exciting flagship store was located, full of clowns and free adventures. The payback for the company was that the kids clamored for presents which their indulgent grandma bought, at least when they were suitable or affordable and not too fragile or faddish.

Now a decade later with three grandchildren certified as superior teenagers, two of them learning how to (uh oh) drive, and the other two making rapid progress toward the pattern of sleeplessness and arrogance and Bar Mitzvoth required, the shop is no longer a destination when they visit.

We also did the same thing when they came to London, hitting Hamley's on Regent Street, a much older toy emporium which survives. The thing I remember most vividly from there is the total panic with which our eldest grandchild, then 5, reacted to the stuffing machine at the Build A Bear stand in the store.
The bankruptcy of Toys R Us is also poignant for a victim of its selling formula. You visit an internet toy vendor solo without having to deal with the demands of the recipient kiddies. Amazon strikes again.


We have news today from Brazil, Britain, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Finland, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Spain, and Nevada  including more about treats for kiddies below.

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Taking Off

Mon, 2017/09/18 - 2:37pm | Your editor

My headline is a triple entendre for paid subscribers. I cannot resist a pun.

Greetings from Calcutta-on-Hudson. Today is the day the 2nd team from Verizon is expected to come and relink our land lines. We have another promise for Wednesday. But the odds seem high that the new Jewish year of 5778 will begin (Wednesday night) before our lines are restored after a sewer fire.

One of the annoying side-effects of this mess is that my ability to get into my brokerage account is limited because apparently my voice doesn't sound the same with the cellphone as with the landline, so it cannot act as my (haha) password.

That doesn't mean the stupid system at Charles Schwab is not also responsible for the lack of linkage, because of course I know my eldest child's middle name and my password, as I am descended from a famous Schwabian rabbi. My password  I changed last night when I finally could get through to a Schwabian human being rather than being subject to a repetitive recording of the stock market news—of last Friday!

I only learned from Jack last night that I couldn't re-set my password to an earlier one, because at the Schwab Park Avenue office I was not told. I was also not told that I was supposed to add the number code from my Symantec device after the password, rather than in a separate box as I had leanred less than two months ago when I opened my account. As is often the case the folks from customer service are not informed by the technology guys about rule changes. Clients are on their own if the techies are left to make rules without oversight.

Anyway, I wrongly blamed Equifax's for my woes on Sunday in a headline. It wasn't them. It was VZ and SCHH. Which does not mean I am going out to buy EFX stock as one writer suggested on this morning. All the bad news has not yet hit the fan there. And I sold half my Verizon because I suspect their failure to repair our landlines is to force us to switch from copper to fiberoptic (as a building, not individually) or to boost our use of our cellphones (also from VZ) even when not on the move.


*The problem with Team Trump is that they are ill-informed. A NY Times article reports that in the meeting of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi Trump had them briefed by the White House cabinet secretary, John Kelly Kelly kept suggesting that a border wall is needed because Mexico faces the collapse of its security and policies. Kelly, Trump's former security secretary who has been promoted, claimed there is a parallel with Venezuela's formerly populist Maduro government if Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wins the next election south of the border. He thinks the Great Wall of the Rio Grande is needed to stop more immigrants getting across and bearing new “dreamers.” Chinese food was served.


Now that I can see my account I note that strong gains are showing from shares from the Argentina, Australia, the UK, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, India, and Israel (plus the USA). The US stock is AT&T which was tipped today by Ben Reynolds on the website, a fave of seekers of free advice.  Reynolds is a very young men with a beard to make him look more serious who owns and edits free monthly blog Sure Dividends, aimed at seniors. There is other news from Brazil, Hong Kong, South Africa, Ireland, and Switzerland, and a few other places which also are homes of declining shares.

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Equifax Mess

Sun, 2017/09/17 - 1:27pm | Your editor

Doing my tables today was a horror because my brokerage account locked me out although of course I know my password and my eldest child's middle name. So I decided it must be because of Equifax having allowed access to peoples' passwords and social security numbers. I cannot visit my local broker again until tomorrow when they open, and as a result the Monday blog will be late. If you just had a lazy Sunday you too may have a surprise logging into the sites you usually use.

Anyway, by dint of grit I got my tables up at more or less normally but without being able to check the market prices with a real borkerage account. Visit and be impressed by my ability to get information on the web.

More for paid subscribers follows. Join them and gain with our picks.

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