Saturday, July 15, 2006

Headless Wall Street Monster

Tom Wheatly - 02/07/2006 05:51 am

Here is the actual "fun site"

Richard Kaye - 02/07/2006 01:28 pm

Interesting site, though nothing there seems particularly new to me. This could be why I watch little TV. I don't think there's anything there for Paul F to object to - I'll bet he'd agree with most of the content. Ditto the Orwell shirt - the right likes Orwell (quite a bit!), they just don't like Republican administrations being referenced to him.

What changingchannels implies, but doesn't go far enough with is the current American obsession with record profits. As a small businessman (and thus a capitalist), I know you can't operate without turning a profit - you're bankrupt otherwise. But where is it written that every quarter must not merely operate in the black, but that profits must exceed the previous quarter's? Your stock loses value if you turn a steady profit that doesn't keep growing - what sense does that make? Can anyone corner someone with a business degree and explain this to me without blather?

Tom Wheatly - 02/07/2006 08:00 pm

In a word..."No"

I work with a guy doing his masters in economics, and when I say EXACTLY what you said here (as I have done) He will roll his eyes and get the condescending thing going. When I point out to him that infinite growth is a bogus concept and does not exist in nature, or that one look at a photo of the Earth snapped from the moon missions can tell you it's bunk (since the entirety of our bizzyness operations including ALL our resources and real estate fits within the field of the lens - he just shakes the "oogabooga stick" and goes into his "economic shaman " rap - the blather to which you refer! All self-referencing circular logic and a pile o' crap....

I heartily encourage you to pick up a copy (now in paperback) of "Wall St" by Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer (to which I subscribe) a BRILLIANT guy who explains the 3 card Monty table of the stock market and many of the economics concepts so miserably misrepresented by the Columbia Bizzyness School crowd.

Do the link bro' :^}

Joe Code - 02/08/2006 11:07 pm

Investors have been spoiled rotten by double-digit growth numbers during boom times. It's a headless monster that screams bloody murder when the growth spike starts to level off. Companies may be in the black with 1% growth during a recession, but the institutional investors start calling for heads to roll even before the economy starts to recover. Fund managers scream the loudest because if their funds tank they'll find themselves in a serious pickle.

When I was at Biz Clybern they had meteoric growth for 10 years. Nothing but good news. A Forbes magazine survey even voted their management the most admired in the their industry (number 5 among all industries). Then the recession of the early 90's hit and suddenly the bloom was off the rose. Biz wasn't losing money, but the meteroric growth hit a snag, which caused an avalanche of crticism from Wall St and the wholesale replacement of all the top executives. That's when the Dilbert principle kicked into high gear. It didn't matter that they were making mind-numbingly dopey decisions. All that mattered was the appearence of competence through cost-cutting and layoffs.

It's the same all over. The headless Wall St monster roars and the mindless jackoffs in charge cower in their corners and heap layoffs and other asinine measures on the alter to appease it. But nothing ever appeases the headless monster but endless growth. There was a time when managers and board members were motivated by more than just "stock holder equity" now that's the only thing that matters to any of them. It's pathetic.

Tom Wheatly - 02/09/2006 03:20 am

Ooooh, good rant! Nicely spewed! My hat is off to you chum :^}

I may add this from reading Doug Henwood - the saddest silliest thing is that the ordinary citizen investor thinks he is getting any genuinely useful information from the media on investing...Anybody who tells the warty truth about the competence of management or real state of a company's prospects is going to alienate their source of information and find themselves "shut out" of the information channels. Hence the endless drivel with nothing truly sharp, telling (or accurate) getting said - On this the regular guy is supposed to make investments and "win" like the the characters that inhabit the backrooms, boardrooms, and dealmaker soirees?

Joe Code - 02/10/2006 11:32 pm

Tom: Thanks. I must have been channeling the spirit of George Bailey. ;-)

Sounds like the White House press corp. If the former explains Enron and Worldcom then the latter explains the Iraq war.

The two methods of controlling information to the press have to be related. Obviously the Bushies learned it from their pals in the corporate world, 'cause this shit's been going on since at least the 90's.

I propose we strengthen the Freedom of Information Act and add an amendment that includes corporate boardrooms. ;-)

Tom Wheatly - 02/11/2006 09:19 am

Right you are sir! (highyooooh!)

Support the SEC rules changes that will FORCE transparency on executive/CEO compensation!!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dad's in Denial

Originally sent 12/30/2000:


Dad got released from Mt Sinai today and he and Mom had a knock-down drag-out fight on the way home. I found all this out because I exchanged Mom's Ethernet card today and decided to drop the new one off at her house. Mom came downstairs crying and telling me she was so strung out she was ready to tell him to move out. She also told this to Aunt Betsy & later to my brother Lou when they both called on the phone. I'm trying my damnest to comfort her when Dad woke up and came out of the bedroom, so I high tailed it upstairs to get out of the way while they took up where they left off. I spent the time setting up her PC to use the new Cable modem and tried very hard not to listen to the harsh words emanating from downstairs. Afterwards I had dinner with them both where we discussed anything but the current dopey situation. Mom later thanked me for coming to dinner because she said it would have been very uncomfortable for both of them had I not been there.

It seems that Dad is in denial about what went down in the last week or so and was very unhappy that Mom wants to keep him from climbing stairs and such. (We put a lock on the basement door to keep him from going downstairs and he was none too happy about that as well.) According to Mom he denied that he almost died, he denied that he needs anyone's help, he denied that there was all that much blood (never mind the twenty stitches), he denied that the other three times he fell and hit his head were as bad as they were. Basically he's incapable of admitting he needs help until he gets better and Mom is incapable of letting him hurt himself. She stresses, she worries, and she doesn't get any sleep. Dad on the other hand has never looked better; mostly we think because he spent several days in a hospital bed doing nothing but resting. When he starts wearing himself out again I hope he'll come to his senses.

That's the latest from the front. Hope all is well on your side of the country. Give our love to Ethan and I'll keep you posted.

Love, Joe

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Troubling News About My Mom

Originally sent 10/17/2005:


I don't know if anyone has told you yet, but my Mom had a heart attack from blockage in a heart artery at 1:00 am this morning. They inserted a stent and she's currently recovering in ICU. Luckily she was already in the hospital when it occurred or who knows what would've happened.

Early Saturday morning she woke up with a tightness is her chest and the feeling that she couldn't breath even though she was breathing fine. She thought it was a symptom of her cancer and she didn't want to wake my Father. Around 4:00 am she still couldn't sleep and now her left arm was numb and her left hand was tingling. This time she woke him up saying she had to go to the hospital.

My Father, being doctor/hospital phobic, told her to lay down and he would rub her back telling her that she'd be fine. This didn't work and then she suddenly had a bout of diarrhea. In the bathroom she collapsed and couldn't get up. This time my Dad dialed 9-1-1.

No sooner had he hung up the phone when the door bell ran and deciding that at this point clothes didn't matter he answered the door without first getting dressed. (I don't know what he was wearing at the time, if anything, nor did I ask.) It was the first of three policemen to arrive (he must have been driving near their house when the dispatch went out) and together they got Mom out of the bathroom and onto the bed. The whole time she's telling the policemen her symptoms and they kept telling her that she should wait and tell the EMT people when they arrived, but apparently this information didn't seem to sink in. The EMT crew eventually arrived and they got her into the ambulance. As soon as they got the IV into her arm she started to feel better and the diagnosis after that was severe dehydration.

I talked to her on the phone Saturday and we all thought she'd be home by Sunday morning, but one of her doctors wasn't signing off on the release forms. This was getting Mom riled up because after all she was just dehydrated and she hated being at this particular hospital. Turns out this doctor was a cardiac specialist and he was a little suspicious of her symptoms and gave her an EKG. Turns out a tight chest and numb arm are not symptoms of severe dehydration or ovarian cancer. They're symptoms of a heart attack.

Sunday afternoon I get a call from my Dad giving me this latest news and telling me that Mom was pretty depressed. He said that she told him she was thinking of not having treatment for her heart because she'd rather die of a heart attack then linger in hospice with cancer. So BANG on go the clothes, brush the teeth, and Donna and I went to the hospital to help lift her spirits.

When we got there she wasn't depressed at all. She was walking around animated and happy and talking up a storm. Seems Dad once again talked her out of giving up and letting medical science have another go at curing her before she starts climbing into the grave. I can't tell you how relieved I was to see her that way.

They said they were going to transfer her to the other hospital, probably Monday for a dye test and eventual insertion of a stent. (The reason for the transfer is that they do both while this one only does the dye test.) So, once again we expected her to leave the hospital, but it was not to be.

This morning I'm on my way to work when my cell phone rings and it was my Dad. This isn't all that unusual. He's called me in the car before with innocuous news, so I wasn't worried. "Where are you?" he asked and I told him. He said, "can you talk while driving?" and I affirmed that I could. (I assumed he was asking if I was using a hands-free device with my cell phone, which I was.) He then told me the same thing I told you in the first sentence of this email. At that early morning hour there was no time to wait and her cardiac doctor put together a team of people who could do stent insertion. (At that point I realized my Dad was really asking me if I could handle troubling news while driving.) True to my Dad's character he got off the phone a few seconds later and I then had to concentrate on not veering off the road while my brain tried to process this news. I should have pulled over at that point, but I wasn't thinking too clearly.

In any case that's all I know so far. I'll keep you posted as events unfold.

Love, Joe