Showing posts with label stock market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stock market. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

And cue the SEC in three . . . two . . . one. . . .

I'm not a corporate lawyer, and I don't play one on the Internet, but I have been around long enough to know when something doesn't smell quite right.

And David Sokol's sudden resignation from Berkshire Hathaway when he was in the running to become Warren Buffett's successor doesn't smell quite right. Especially after he loaded up on stock in a company he then prodded Berkshire to acquire.

There isn't a bunch to this Associated Press story this afternoon, but I'm betting there will be a lot more in short order -- especially if the feds actually start doing their job for a change:

Buffett said Wednesday that he received David Sokol's resignation letter late Monday, and noted that it came as a surprise. Buffett said Sokol, who had been serving as chairman of Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy, NetJets and Johns Manville units, indicated that he wants to spend more time on philanthropy.

Buffett said he learned earlier this month that Sokol bought nearly 100,000 shares of Lubrizol stock before recommending that Berkshire buy the chemical company. Buffett said he doesn't believe those stock purchases were illegal, and didn't ask Sokol to resign.
YEP, there's more to this. And somehow, I'll wager it all leads back to Sokol's famous arrogant streak.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Are you not the Fed? Save yourself and us.

Our nation's financial system is teetering on the edge of something. Something most assuredly not good.

Many think the stock market is about to respond accordingly. Try to avoid walking on Wall Street sidewalks today, but if that isn't an option, wear a hard hat and keep an eye on upper-floor windows.

From Bloomberg this early a.m.:

U.S. stocks are on the brink of the broadest bear market in four decades as investors ignore the strongest buy signals in almost 20 years.

The retreat by all 10 industries in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index pushed the measure down 18 percent since its Oct. 9 record and 12 percent since the start of the decade. The plunge resembles declines in the 1970s and 1930s, the two worst periods for U.S. equities in the past 80 years. The last six times the index has fallen by 20 percent, only once -- on Black Monday in 1987 -- has the sell-off been so encompassing.

``I tend to agree with the fellow who says, `Hey, this is the greatest financial crisis since World War II,''' said Jean- Marie Eveillard, 68, who runs the $21.3 billion First Eagle Global Fund in New York. The fund, which has returned an average 15.2 percent each year this decade compared with a less than 0.1 percent annualized gain for the S&P 500, has about 25 percent in cash and gold, more than its holdings in U.S. stocks. ``Investors who take the attitude that the economy will be slow in the first half and then it will turn around, they're probably dreaming.''

The declines have left companies in the S&P 500 trading at the cheapest levels in more than 18 years to forecast profits, while valuations versus 10-year Treasuries are the lowest in at least two decades. Investors aren't acting on the traditional buy signals in the midst of the worst housing slump since the Great Depression, $200 billion in bank losses tied to mortgages and the bailout of Bear Stearns Cos. last week by the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase agreed today to buy Bear Stearns for about $240 million, less than a 10th of its value last week.

WHAT DOES it all mean? I don't know (apart from Probably Nothing Good), being that I am not an economist, and I don't play one on TV.

But I do have a question for you.

If it all falls apart -- the American economy and America's weatlth as a nation, that is -- who are we? Who are you?

Why are we?

And if any of the answers differ from what they were when we were all tap dancing atop our economic "bubbles," what does that say about us? Or, more specifically, about what we value?

Just asking some hard questions for hard times. That all this is coming to a head during Holy Week may not be an accident, because it's just too damned appropriate.

As we begin yet another commemoration of Christ's Passion, death and resurrection this week, we were reminding members our Catholic church's youth group Sunday night of one important thing: If you don't know suffering, you don't know Jesus.

Not really, you don't.

Such an alien concept in our spoiled, crass, vapid and gilded age. Could be our operating conceptualization is in for a big recontextualization, and we're going to have a big "come to Jesus" moment.

If we're lucky.