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The Stingy News Quarterly (Q2/2009)

New @ Stingy Investor

Timing Temptation
"Buy-and-hold investing is a crock. That's what many investors are saying these days and, after a bruising bear market, it's not hard to understand why. If only they had sold at the top and bought back at the bottom. Problem is, getting the timing right is much easier said than done."

Income 100: Summer 2009
"The good news is the top income stocks - those rated A - outperformed the Canadian Dividend ETF by 7.1 percentage points and they bested the S&P/TSX Composite ETF by a whopping 15.6 percentage points."

Even when down, bet on the best
"As the illustration shows, four of the current 10 "dogs" have yields above 6%: Merck & Co. Inc., Verizon Communications, AT&T Inc. and E I Du Pont de Nemours and Co. Even after massive cuts to their dividends, Pfizer Inc. still yields 4.38% and General Electric Co. 3.24%. Based on current data, Norman Rothery, founder of,would eliminate Alcoa Inc., Bank of America Corp, G. E. and JP Morgan Chase and Co. from the list. They would be replaced with Caterpillar Inc., Chevron, Home Depot Inc. and J&J, after which Rothery's updated list of 10 dogs would sport an average yield of 4.9%. Berkshire Hathaway owns G. E. and Kraft Foods Inc., while Pfizer and Home Depot Inc. are favourites of other prominent value investors. However, Rothery prefers to look farther afield than the Dow."

Stingy Investor Tip Sheet

Summer Dogs
A look at the Dow Dogs for the summer.

Value's Downside Risk
An examination of the downside risk of U.S. P/B portfolios.

Real Bear Markets
A look at U.S. bear markets in both nominal and inflation-adjusted terms.

The Markets on Flu
A look at the market's reaction to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

The Best Stingy Links

Stingy Links: Academia

Case closed
"This article provides conclusive evidence that the U.S. stock market is highly inefficient. Our results, spanning a 45 year period, indicate dramatic, consistent, and negative payoffs to measures of risk, positive payoffs to measures of current profitability, positive payoffs to measures of cheapness, positive payoffs to momentum in stock return, and negative payoffs to recent stock performance. Our comprehensive expected return factor model successfully predicts future return, out of sample, in each of the forty-five years covered by our study save one. Stunningly, the ten percent of stocks with highest expected return, in aggregate, are low risk and highly profitable, with positive trends in profitability. They are cheap relative to current earnings, cash flow, sales, and dividends. They have relatively large market capitalization and positive price momentum over the previous year. The ten percent with lowest expected return (decile 1) have exactly the opposite profile, and we find a smooth transition in the profiles as we go from 1 through 10. We split the whole 45-year time period into five sub-periods, and find that the relative profiles hold over all periods. Undeniably, the highest expected return stocks are, collectively, highly attractive; the lowest expected return stocks are very scary - results fatal to the efficient market hypothesis. While this evidence is consistent with risk loving in the cross-section, we also present strong evidence consistent with risk aversion in the market aggregate's longitudinal behavior. These behaviors cannot simultaneously exist in an efficient market."

Termination of investment management firms
"We examine the selection and termination of investment management firms by 3,400 plan sponsors between 1994 and 2003. Plan sponsors hire investment managers after large positive excess returns but this return-chasing behavior does not deliver positive excess returns thereafter. Investment managers are terminated for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to underperformance. Excess returns after terminations are typically indistinguishable from zero but in some cases positive. In a sample of round-trip firing and hiring decisions, we find that if plan sponsors had stayed with fired investment managers, their excess returns would be no different from those delivered by newly hired managers. We uncover significant variation in pre- and post-hiring and firing returns that is related to plan sponsor characteristics."

Identifying overvalued equity
"An overvaluation score (O-Score) that combines proxies for earnings overstatement, prior merger activity, excessive stock issuance, and the manipulation of real operating activities, identifies firms with one-year-ahead abnormal price declines averaging -27%. Finally, we propose a model that integrates various attributes of managers' behavior and predicts accounting restatements associated with fraud."

Stingy Links: Accounting

Honest man emerges from banking crisis
"With so many top executives complaining they can't figure out what their companies' assets are worth, the real wonder is that more corporate directors haven't quit rather than certify financial reports they don't understand."

Back to square one?
"After intense pressure from lawmakers and some factions of the financial industry, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) voted on Apr. 2 to make it easier for corporate management to value assets on their balance sheets with less regard for market prices. The board, which sets U.S. accounting policy, was cheered on by the banking sector and pressured by Congress. The move may make life easier for financial institutions, letting them ride the markets' gyrations with less risk that regulators will demand they raise funds or face closure. But at the same time, it could well cloud investors' insight into how well the banks are really doing. And some observers worry the new rules will also give banks less incentive to cleanse their balance sheets by getting rid of risky assets through the Treasury's new auction program, unveiled late last month."

Stingy Links: Behaviour

The secret of self-control
"Angela Lee Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, is leading the program. She first grew interested in the subject after working as a high-school math teacher. 'For the most part, it was an incredibly frustrating experience,' she says. 'I gradually became convinced that trying to teach a teen-ager algebra when they don't have self-control is a pretty futile exercise.' And so, at the age of thirty-two, Duckworth decided to become a psychologist. One of her main research projects looked at the relationship between self-control and grade-point average. She found that the ability to delay gratification - eighth graders were given a choice between a dollar right away or two dollars the following week - was a far better predictor of academic performance than I.Q. She said that her study shows that 'intelligence is really important, but it's still not as important as self-control.'"

Capitalism and the cheating ethic
"But when real neutral observers - a book agent, an editor at a newspaper, the paper's readers - no longer blanch at outright deviousness so frankly told, society has lost the mechanism that restrains its citizens from widespread cheating. That's exactly what happened in the mortgage meltdown, when untold numbers of applicants, their brokers, real estate agents and assorted others openly discussed how to collude in obtaining mortgages through fraudulent means without stopping to consider the implications for society as a whole. And without the slightest sense of embarrassment, apparently."

Bankers would rather work for $0.00
"Sometimes asking someone to do something for nothing is more powerful than paying them."

A little cheating costs a lot
"Behavioural economists are having a field day with the market meltdown, as traditional cost-benefit analysis and self-interest give way to more penetrating insights about how people can be systematically wrong - and how small acts can lead to broader failures."

So you want to be the next Warren Buffett?
"The way I see it, there are really only four sources of economic moats that are hard to duplicate, and thus, long-lasting. One source would be economies of scale and scope. Wal-Mart is an example of this, as is Cintas in the uniform rental business or Procter & Gamble or Home Depot and Lowe's. Another source is the network affect, ala eBay or Mastercard or Visa or American Express. A third would be intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks, regulatory approvals, or customer goodwill. Disney, Nike, or Genentech would be good examples here. A fourth and final type of moat would be high customer switching costs. Paychex and Microsoft are great examples of companies that benefit from high customer switching costs."

Why we think it's OK to cheat
"Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it's OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we're predictably irrational -- and can be influenced in ways we can't grasp."

Tis better to have bet and lost
"Regrets always have a bitter taste, and those involving gambling tend to linger more than most. But a new paper argues that worrying about regrets may be costing you money."

Would you wear a serial killer's sweater?
"So, would you wear a serial killer's sweater? No blood spatters or anything. Heck, let's even say it has been dry cleaned. Psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist Bruce Hood has been known to brandish a cardigan belonging to the serial killer Fred West in the lecture hall. West tortured, raped, and murdered at least 12 women. Of course, a moment's reflection will reveal that his sartorial choices probably had nothing to do with his grisly hobby. And there's no possibility of catching serial killer disease from his sweater, right?"

Stingy Links: Bonds

The rise of the "empty creditor"
"One key economic assumption is that people act to preserve their economic interests. Those who have lent money to troubled companies, for example, generally prefer the company remain solvent; otherwise, they can't get paid back. Similarly, lenders to troubled firms frequently favor swift, out-of-court restructuring deals, in which they swap debt for stock, instead of pushing companies into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That's because companies in Chapter 11 can languish there for years and waste scarce company assets on huge fees to lawyers, consultants, and accountants. But if a lender or creditor believes it can profit more from a complete failure.i.e., if it has an insurance policy that pays off only in the event of utter devastation - that creditor might be more inclined to push a company toward bankruptcy."

Zombie loans give life
"Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. are also amending revolving loans to zombie borrowers on the brink of default and others with debt ratings that are among the worst. Lenders are betting the economy will improve enough to keep companies from adding to the $1.4 trillion of writedowns and losses by the world's largest financial institutions since the start of 2007."

A great year in just five months
"The market for risky high-yield, or junk, bonds has gone from ridiculously cheap to just cheap with remarkable speed. The Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II index has narrowed from a wide yield margin of 2,100-plus basis points over Treasuries with comparable maturities in February to 1,232 basis points through Thursday. Back in June 2007, the yield margin was a mere 241 basis points. (A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.)"

Stingy Links: Books

Praise for Peter Bernstein
"Peter Bernstein aimed for large targets, and gave broad and convincing evidence of how markets worked. He only erred in letting Modern Portfolio Theory and Keynesianism affect him. With that, I hail Peter Bernstein, regretting his demise. He will be missed, as few of us had such global vision of markets as he had."

The fat tail
"In their entertaining new book, The Fat Tail, Eurasia Group investment strategists Ian Bremmer and Preston Keat observe that while banks likely spent $8 billion on credit-risk software in 2008, most spent 'far less energy on the assessment and management of political risk.' It's easy to make the argument that banks and businesses of all stripes ignore risk of the policy variety at their peril."

Stingy Links: Brokers

Can you trust your financial advisor?
"Judging by the 86 comments underneath the clip, many Canadians don't trust their financial advisors and more than a few have been burned by them. With an estimated 100,000 of them in Canada alone (counting insurance agents, stock brokers, financial planners and mutual fund salespeople), I've no doubt there are a few bad apples out there. Even so, my personal experience of interviewing hundreds of advisors over the four years I wrote the Post's Advisor Post column was that 95% of them are highly educated, competent professionals who are paid fairly to do a tough job."

Stingy Links: Buffett

U.S. economy in "shambles"
"In a live interview on CNBC today, Warren Buffett said there has been little progress over the past few months in the "economic war" being fought by the country. "We haven't got the economy moving yet." While the economy is a "shambles" and likely to stay that way for some time, he remains optimistic there will eventually be a recovery over a period of years."

Buffett less bullish than you think
"Somebody could have said: 'Your children and grandchildren will live better than you' in 1932, and that would have been reason to buy stocks, as well as reason to be nervous."

The master of money
"There is now a long shelf of books about Warren Buffett, but this is the first time he has gone to any trouble to add to it. Reportedly Buffett now regrets his decision--he has apparently put some fresh distance between himself and his official biographer. If so, it's not hard to see why. Alice Schroeder is a former Morgan Stanley research analyst, able to understand and to explain Buffett's money-making, but she declined to confine herself to the business at hand. She has sought to describe Buffett's psychological landscape as clearly as his financial one. For the reader, the results are pretty terrific--there are not a lot of 838-page narratives that leave you wanting more--but for Buffett they are no doubt upsetting."

Buffett on Wells Fargo
"In the end banking is a very good business unless you do dumb things. You get your money extraordinarily cheap and you don't have to do dumb things. But periodically banks do it, and they do it as a flock, like international loans in the 80s. You don't have to be a rocket scientist when your raw material cost is less than 1-1/2%. So I know that you can have a model that works fine and Wells has come closer to doing that right than any other big bank by some margin. They get their money cheaper than anybody else. We're the low-cost producer at Geico in auto insurance among big companies. And when you're the low-cost producer - whether it's copper, or in banking - it's huge."

Back-to-basics with Warren Buffett
"Most of what Mr. Buffett said was basic and obvious - and was roundly ignored during the period leading up to this mess. 'Leverage is what causes people real trouble in this world,' Mr. Buffett said. 'You don't want to be in a position where someone can pull the rug out from under you or, emotionally, where you pull it out from under yourself.'"

Woodstock for capitalists 2009
Live blog from the event.

Berkshire's decline spurred by derivatives
"Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders have a chance this year to do something that's rare among the Sage of Omaha's followers: count their losses. "

Stingy Links: Crime

More brazen than Madoff?
"In a year of fabulous frauds, the one that glitzy Manhattan attorney Marc Dreier has been charged with is in some ways the most fabulous of all."

Stingy Links: DRPs

Grocery giant offers investors a sweetener
"Grocery giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd. announced a new dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) yesterday that allows shareholders to use their dividends to purchase additional shares in the company at a 3% discount, a day after releasing impressive first-quarter profits. Loblaws follows Royal Bank of Canada, which sweetened its DRIP in February by offering a 3% discount and Bank of Montreal which announced a 2% discount."

Stingy Links: Debt

My personal credit crisis
"At any other time in history, the idea of someone like me borrowing more than $400,000 would have seemed insane. But this was unlike any other time in history."

The road to bankruptcy
"At the end of his book's harrowing account of mortgage mistakes and credit card crises, Edmund Andrews writes: "While our misadventure had certainly been more extreme than those of many other Americans, our situation was not all that unusual." And indeed the book reads like the story of an American Everyman, easily sucked in to the alluring world of easy credit as he struggled to blend a new family. The terrifying implication is that it could happen to you--to anyone who leads with their heart and not their head. But en route to that moral, it turns out the story has been tidied up a little. Patty Barreiro, Andrews' wife, has declared bankruptcy twice. The second time was while they were married, a detail that didn't make it into either the book or the excerpt that ran in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine."

Stingy Links: Disaster

Seasonal hurricane forecast
"The Colorado State team has done a good and honest job at looking at and sharing their own accuracy over time. There is a recent paper published by Klotzbach and Gray sharing the forecast accuracy since 1987."

Stingy Links: Dividends

S&P 'dividend aristocrats' dwindle
"The aristocracy is under siege. Standard & Poor's annual list of companies that increased payouts for at least 25 years is in danger of falling below 40 for the first time since 1992 after slumping profits forced executives to conserve cash."

There's hope in those dividends
"Companies that have managed to increase their payouts in this tough economic climate may be a good target for a time-tested conservative investment strategy: buying shares of solid dividend-payers."

Stingy Links: Dorfman

Due for a comeback
"Some of the nation's best and most famous investors -- Warren Buffett, David Dreman, Ken Heebner and William Miller -- had hideous years in the bear market of 2008. I refuse to believe, though, that people with a long track record of investment prowess have suddenly become stock-market eunuchs."

Conoco, CBS, U.S. Steel are bargains
"Seven percent of all stocks sell for less than eight times earnings and also have total debt that I consider reasonably prudent (less than stockholders. equity). There are 171 stocks in this group. From among those 171, here are half a dozen that I think hold considerable investment interest now."

Duke, Allstate, Dow ace book-value test
"With a nasty recession raging, 20 percent of all U.S. stocks with a market value of $250 million or more are selling below book value. This group includes household names such as Duke Energy Corp., Allstate Corp., Dow Chemical Co. and Time Warner Inc."

Stingy Links: Dreman

David Dreman exits unbowed
"There are few celebrity mutual fund managers any more. Fund groups prefer to promote themselves rather than a manager who could leave to start a hedge fund. In an age when holding on to assets is the way for a fund family to profit, they may well prefer a fund that sticks close to its peers. The new fund managers plan to own more stocks, with less concentration in any one stock, and a broader definition of value investing. They are far less likely to stand out from the crowd."

Stingy Links: Economy

Exit ahead? not so fast
"Notwithstanding the so-called green shoots that appear to be popping up in various series of economic statistics, other numbers show things to be withering, if not rotting outright. What's more these data are not seasonally adjusted or otherwise fudged. They're tax receipts, and nobody pays taxes on phony, phantom jobs or earnings."

A lost decade for jobs
"Without a decade of growing government support from rising health and education spending and soaring budget deficits, the labor market would have been flat on its back."

Stingy Links: Funds

Are funds pawning shares at your expense?
"Your fund should lend out your securities, but the proceeds should go to you. And fund managers should reinvest the collateral only in absolutely safe securities. The current system, where they keep half the gains and stick you with all the risks, has got to go."

The manager who gave back his fees
"The mutual fund industry is going to hate this. Investors will be angry that they don't see more of it. Unhappy at the returns he has generated for clients, money manager Francis Chou is refunding almost all the management fees collected by his Chou Europe fund since it opened for business in September, 2003."

Stingy Links: Government

Ghost cities may be bulldozed
"The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature."

As GM goes so goes California
"Though the country has rightly focused on the mortgage mess, retirement obligations still loom as a daunting obligation. Thanks to plunging stock markets, which have decimated retirement accounts, they are more pressing than ever."

One nation, under banks
"The spectacle of Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson running roughshod over Kenneth Lewis and his minions at Bank of America Corp. raises a pivotal question for all Americans: Is the U.S. a nation of laws, or a nation of banks?"

Why Bridgewater won't participate in PPIP
"The only way the plan can work is if the investors buy the assets at low prices, the banks sell them at high prices, and the taxpayer covers the difference. Dalio is worried that, eventually, taxpayers will figure that out."

Chrysler and the Rule of Law
"Fleecing lenders to pay off politically powerful interests, or governmental threats to reputation and business from a failure to toe a political line? We might expect this behavior from a Hugo Chavez. But it would never happen here, right? Until Chrysler."

No bond safe from Obama
"Bondholders have a new risk to contend with -- the Obama administration's policy of 'shared sacrifice.' The government's approach to the bankruptcies of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC illustrates how this new, unstated policy works: Bondholders are told to give up legal rights, and cash, as part of a government-mandated tradeoff that favors a politically connected special-interest group. The big threat is that this policy will extend to all bonds, including Treasury and municipal debt, not just corporate obligations."

The wail of the 1%
"In a witch hunt, the witches have feelings, too. As populist rage has erupted around the country, stoked by canny politicians, an opposite rage has built on Wall Street and other arenas where the wealthy hold sway. Its expression is more furtive and it.s often mixed with a kind of sublimated shame, but it can be every bit as vitriolic."

The climate-industrial complex
"Some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming. This is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets."

The need for failure
"First, the very notion of "too big to fail" is dangerous. It suggests that there is an insurance policy that says, no matter how risky your behavior, we will make sure you stay in business. It encourages banks to get bigger (or more interconnected), and it subsidizes risky behavior."

Dangerous toys, strange bedfellows
"Overnight, a bunch of cheerful believers in good government found themselves on the wrong side of a do-gooding law. Under the terms of the new rules, their lead-free, hand-crafted toys were now illegal until proven clean."

The peril of 'buy American'
"It's not surprising that Democrats in Congress could not resist adding a 'Buy American' provision to the fiscal stimulus bill earlier this year. It might seem sensible (or at least politically useful) to ensure that taxpayer dollars would be used exclusively to support American jobs. But as states and municipalities start spending stimulus money, the idea is starting to look as counterproductive as it should have looked from the beginning. It is sparking conflict with American allies and, rather than supporting employment at home, the 'Buy American' effort could ultimately cost American jobs."

Stimulating trade wars
"If you thought "buy American" provisions were a thing of the past, think again. Canadians are bellowing and U.S. companies trying to employ Americans are shutting down. Someone didn't think this through."

Soak the rich, lose the rich
"Here's the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states."

California's economy: too big to fail?
"Though few experts think California will default on its debt - following the example New York City set in 1975 and Cleveland in 1978 - the mere possibility is troubling for the credit markets. "If California truly defaults, I am sure it will shake the faith of bondholders and noteholders in the overall municipal finance system," says Dan Boyd, senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. "That would undoubtedly lead to higher issuance costs to additional state and local government loans.""

Pulp nonfiction
"Thanks to an obscure tax provision, the United States government stands to pay out as much as $8 billion this year to the ten largest paper companies. And get this: even though the money comes from a transportation bill whose manifest intent was to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, paper mills are adding diesel fuel to a process that requires none in order to qualify for the tax credit. In other words, we are paying the industry -- handsomely -- to use more fossil fuel." [From the unintended consequences file ...]

Geithner's gift to Wall Street
"Imagine if you were not really in the market for a house but the government came along and said that it would finance 94% of a home's purchase price with a mortgage rate of less than 3%. Still not interested? Wait, Uncle Sam has some additional sweeteners: if you do the deal and buy the house for only 6% down, you also get the equivalent of rental income every month to the tune of at least an annualized yield of 10% of the purchase price. But wait there's still more: if, say, after two years, you decide you don't want the house any longer, you can just walk away from it. No need to pay the balance of the mortgage (it won't affect your credit rating), and you can keep the rental income received to date."

Stingy Links: Graham

Take Benjamin Graham's advice
"It is sometimes said that to be an intelligent investor, you must be unemotional. That isn't true; instead, you should be inversely emotional. Even after recent turbulence, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up roughly 30% since its low in March. It is natural for you to feel happy or relieved about that. But Benjamin Graham believed, instead, that you should train yourself to feel worried about such events."

How the small investor can beat the market
"I think that sometimes as value investors we spend too much time trying to emulate our idols, rather than take advantage of the opportunities that are available to us because of our small size. Greenblatt and Pzena's article affirms the idea that small investors do have an advantage, mainly in the area of net-nets where most securities are small, under followed, and often mispriced."

Stingy Links: Health

Another blow for angioplasty
"There's a powerful logic to the argument that people will live longer and have fewer heart attacks if their clogged arteries are repaired with a procedure called angioplasty. Most commonly, the arteries are widened with a tiny balloon threaded through their blood vessels, then kept open with slender mesh tubes called stents. The logic has turned this medical procedure into a huge - and profitable - business. Each year in the U.S., more than 1.2 million angioplasties are performed, at a cost of more than $25 billion. The cardiologists who open arteries love the sense that they are warding off death, and patients "think the angioplasty saved their lives," says Floyd J. Fowler Jr., president of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making. But the data show that doctors and patients are wrong."

Live your best life ever!
"She has the power to summon the most learned authorities on any subject; who would refuse her? Instead, all too often Oprah winds up putting herself and her trusting audience in the hands of celebrity authors and pop-science artists pitching wonder cures and miracle treatments that are questionable or flat-out wrong, and sometimes dangerous."

Prostate cancer screenings
"I probably have prostate cancer. There's no need to feel sorry for me -- so do about half the men my age (I'm in my mid-50s). We doctors have learned this from microscopic examinations of the prostates of men who are autopsied following an accidental death. And the older men get, the more likely it is that they have prostate cancer. Autopsies of men in their 70s have found that about 80% of them had the disease. I almost certainly won't die from prostate cancer, however. The lifetime risk of prostate cancer death for American males is only about 3%. So, although the prevalence of the cancer may sound alarming, 97% of men will die from something else."

Stingy Links: Indexing

Just buy everything
"Ideally, you would have poured money into these funds when markets hit a multi-year low on March 9, but investor timing is notoriously horrible, Rothery said, noting that investors lose between three and five percentage points or more a year from trying to time the market. "They would have been better off, if they're index-oriented, to just stick with an index and go to sleep.""

Currency hedging
"For the 12 months to June 4, XSP lost 35.6 per cent and the S&P 500 gave up 31.6 per cent. Over the past three years, XSP's cumulative loss of 30.8 per cent was about five percentage points worse than the index."

Investors are getting killed in ETFs
"A new analysis by Vanguard Group founder John Bogle indicates that investors are generally making poor decisions when buying and selling exchange-traded funds."

Know what you own
"While the rest of the investment industry (open-end and closed-end funds) comes under consistent scrutiny, the ETF industry to-date has largely escaped a hard look. However those times just might be changing."

Is Vanguard sailing in uncharted seas?
"What on earth was Vanguard thinking? That is what investors in Vanguard Group, the nation's largest mutual-fund company by assets under management, have been asking ever since Vanguard emerged as one of the bidders for the iShares family of exchange-traded funds last month."

Nine basis points!
"Has anyone noticed that Pimco, as of yesterday, is offering (now higher-yielding, lower-priced) short-term U.S. Treasuries at an expense ratio of 9 bps (0.09%)?"

Shorting leveraged ETFs
""Rebalancing on a daily basis is beneficial if a market trends. You're going to end up with returns greater than two times, you're going to get a compound effect. You'll see returns going up and compounding daily," Atkinson says. "There have been periods where we've seen four to six times the index return over a one year period because the market was generally in one direction. We're giving you two times the leverage, but you never lose two times the exposure. We're reducing the exposure as the market moves against you.""

Stingy Links: Klarman

Seth Klarman letters
"Seth Klarman's letters from 1995-2001."

Stingy Links: Management

The irrational pursuit of growth
"Why are so few companies opposed to sucking cash out of a business and returning it rather than reinvesting it at sub-par rates of return?"

How self-made titans launched
"Yet for entrepreneurs who have truly creative ideas, unrelenting devotion and oodles of ability to execute--but who may not have fat trust funds to lean on--there's reason for hope. Scan the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people and you'll find moguls from startlingly humble origins."

How David beats Goliath
"David's victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time. The political scientist Ivan Arreguin-Toft recently looked at every war fought in the past two hundred years between strong and weak combatants. The Goliaths, he found, won in 71.5 per cent of the cases. That is a remarkable fact. Arreguin-Toft was analyzing conflicts in which one side was at least ten times as powerful - in terms of armed might and population - as its opponent, and even in those lopsided contests the underdog won almost a third of the time."

CEO leverage vs corporate leverage
"We find that firms behave remarkably similarly to how their CEOs behave personally when it comes to debt financing and leverage. We compile a comprehensive sample of home purchases and financings among S&P 1,500 CEOs. Debt financing in a CEO's recent home purchase is used as a revealed preference of the CEO's innate personal tolerance for leverage. We find a strong and robust positive relation between personal and corporate leverage. A one standard deviation (34 percentage points) increase in CEO personal leverage is found to be associated with 20 percent higher corporate leverage for the median large public U.S. firm. This relation is found to be significantly stronger for firms with weaker governance, suggesting that sorting and endogenous matching of CEOs and firms does not entirely explain our evidence. Our results have implications for our understanding of corporate capital structure decisions and suggest more generally that an analysis of CEOs' personalities and personal traits can convey important information about the financial policies of the firms they manage."

Success on the side
"In the early days, Paul Buchheit, employee number 23 at Google, was focused on Web search like most other engineers. But like many other restless, smart workers, Buchheit also enjoyed hacking away at random stuff during his free time. What makes Buchheit different is that his Friday afternoon time was unusually productive: He conceived the initial prototypes for Gmail, the popular email program now used by millions of people, and AdSense, which is responsible for most of the company.s billions. AdSense is the technology that displays relevant ads on the right-hand side of the search results page."

The management myth
"The thing that makes modern management theory so painful to read isn't usually the dearth of reliable empirical data. It's that maddening papal infallibility. Oh sure, there are a few pearls of insight, and one or two stories about hero-CEOs that can hook you like bad popcorn. But the rest is just inane."

Hanging tough
"One way to read these studies is simply that recessions make the strong stronger and the weak weaker, since the strong can afford to keep investing while the weak have to devote all their energies to staying afloat. But although deep pockets help in a downturn, recessions nonetheless create more opportunity for challengers, not less. When everyone is advertising, for instance, it.s hard to separate yourself from the pack; when ads are scarcer, the returns on investment seem to rise. That may be why during the 1990-91 recession, according to a Bain & Company study, twice as many companies leaped from the bottom of their industries to the top as did so in the years before and after."

Stingy Links: Markets

2008 Harvard indicator: Sell
"For many years I have been keeping track of a rather esoteric but nonetheless generally accurate long-term indicator of the US equity market: the percentage of Harvard MBA graduates choosing careers in Wall Street and related market-sensitive fields. If 10% or less of the year's class take market-sensitive jobs (which I identify, using the Business School's current reporting categories, as investment banking, investment management, hedge funds, sales & trading, venture capital, private equity or leveraged buy-outs), that's a long-term .Buy. signal. If 30% or more do so, that's a long-term .Sell. signal."

Bonds: Why Bother?
"It's now well-known that stocks have produced negative returns for just over a decade. Real returns for capitalization-weighted U.S. indexes, like the S&P 500 Index, are now negative over any span starting 1997 or later. People fret about our 'lost decade' for stocks, with good reason, but they underestimate the carnage. Even this simple real return analysis ignores our opportunity cost. Starting any time we choose from 1979 through 2008, the investor in 20-year Treasuries (consistently rolling to the nearest 20-year bond and reinvesting income) beats the S&P 500 investor. In fact, from the end of February 1969 through February 2009, despite the grim bond collapse of the 1970s, our 20-year bond investors win by a nose. We're now looking at a lost 40 years!"

The panic of 1825
"This was the birth of central banking as we know it. The Bank of England had accepted the role of maintaining orderly markets and financial stability in a crisis. Why? Because the prices of financial assets are too important to be left to the market when it is panicked and when letting prices reach market levels will mean unemployment for hundreds of thousands in 1825, or tens of millions today."

Why I fired my broker
"With his 401(k) in ruins, our correspondent visits investment gurus, hedge fund managers, and a freakish Arizona survivalist with one question in mind: How can the ordinary investor recover?"

Monsters, Inc.
"Amid the blizzard of economic data that the government puts out every week, last Tuesday's report analyzing G.D.P. industry by industry got little notice. But it contained one very interesting piece of data: in 2008, for the first time in sixteen years, the finance and insurance industry shrank. Since 1980, this sector's share of the economy has grown by almost half. Now, apparently, the worm has turned."

Obituaries offer short-sale tip sheet
"What they found from their worldwide study of 8,191 companies and 122 sudden deaths since 1973 was a 1.7 percent decline in geographically connected firms, meaning those companies headquartered in the town in which the politician was born or lived."

Goldman Sachs TARP repayment pressures rivals
"A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sale of stock to speed repayment of $10 billion in government money will pressure other banks to follow suit or risk appearing dependent on federal support"

Risk-management pioneer
"Investing has yielded a few stars so famous they are known by first name. Warren Buffett is one. Peter L. Bernstein -- the economist, investment consultant and prolific author who died on June 5 at 90 -- was another."

25 Years to Bounce Back? Try 4.5
"An investor who invested a lump sum in the average stock at the market's 1929 high would have been back to a break-even by late 1936 - less than four and a half years after the mid-1932 market low."

How cheap is the market?
"On February 25 I published an op-ed piece in the .Wall Street Journal' entitled, "The S&P Gets Its Earnings Wrong." In that article I said that, although the S&P weights each individual's stock by its market capitalization to compute the return on the S&P 500 Index, no such methodology is used to compute aggregate earnings of the index. As a result, the billions of dollars of losses racked up by, say, AIG, whose market value is extremely low, is added dollar for dollar to the earnings of the profitable firms, such as Exxon Mobil, whose market value is more than 20 times larger. I maintained that S&P's methodology gave far too much influence to firms with big losses and low market values, and thereby gave a distorted valuation to the S&P 500 Index."

The Liquidity Premium
"Value tends to outperform growth over time. We've shown that less-liquid stocks outperform more-liquid stocks. In this section, we examine how liquidity interacts with value and growth."

Don't blame the elite
"The truth is that markets stumble upon prosperity. New ideas are constantly being tried out. Most of them are bad, but that is fine, because markets ruthlessly eliminate bad ideas. A few of them are good, and that's enough, because good ideas spread fast in a market system. In the language of biology, markets are evolutionary environments that select very powerfully for wealth-creating organizations. They attract the smart people to the right places, magnify their good qualities and smother their failures."

FFH AGM Slides
Slides 26 to 31 and 33 are particularly interesting.

U.S. gas fields go from bust to boom
"Huge new fields also have been found in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. One industry-backed study estimates the U.S. has more than 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be pumped, enough to satisfy nearly 100 years of current U.S. natural-gas demand."

The unreliability of beta
"In summary, stock betas calculated from historical data vary considerably over short intervals, across calculation methods and across data sources and therefore may be of little or no value as an investment tool."

Poking holes in a theory
"In the last decade, the efficient market hypothesis, which had been near dogma since the early 1970s, has taken some serious body blows. First came the rise of the behavioral economists, like Richard H. Thaler at the University of Chicago and Robert J. Shiller at Yale, who convincingly showed that mass psychology, herd behavior and the like can have an enormous effect on stock prices - meaning that perhaps the market isn't quite so efficient after all. Then came a bit more tangible proof: the dot-com bubble, quickly followed by the housing bubble. Quod erat demonstrandum."

Why Harvard is bad for Wall Street
"The bright young things from Harvard Business School are making their way to Wall Street in droves. Some 26 percent of the HBS class of 2004 took stock-market related jobs, up from 23 percent of the class of 2003. I guess that means it's time to sell."

Stingy Links: Montier

Efficient markets theory is dead
"The efficient markets hypothesis, or EMH, is the financial equivalent of Monty Python's dead parrot. No matter how much you point out that it is dead, the believers simply state that it is just resting. In part this is testament to the high degree of inertia that academic theories enjoy. Once a theory has been accepted it seems to take forever to dislodge it."

The dead parrot of finance
"Montier's charge sheet is a lengthy one. He says EMH has left us with a long list of bad ideas that have influenced the investment industry. These include an obsession with benchmarking, the capital asset pricing model, risk management etc."

White swans, revulsion, and value
"Current market conditions, dire as they are, represent not a black swan but a predictable surprise. Unfortunately, behavioral impediments in human nature made most investors unwilling or unable to see this predictable surprise. But despite the uncertain state of today.s markets, the investment environment holds many opportunities for value investors who focus on the long term." [Only free for CFAs]

Stingy Links: Munger

Charlie Munger's words of wisdom
"A lifetime of practicing what he preaches has made Munger a billionaire: Good businesses are ethical businesses, he tells us. A business model that relies on trickery is doomed to fail."

Legal matters with Charles T. Munger
"Charles T. Munger is a man of many interests, much like his hero Benjamin Franklin. Self-taught in a range of disciplines, he's a strong advocate for interdisciplinary education saying, "If I can do it, many people can." A student of physics and mathematics before entering law school, he left his mark on the legal profession early in his career by co-founding Munger, Tolles & Olson in 1962 - a firm that is today consistently ranked at the top of its field. Now an icon of the business world, he joined forces with Warren Buffett in the mid-1960s - leaving law to become vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and a partner in one of the most successful firms in the world."

A conversation with Charlie Munger
"Charles Munger presented the Institute's 2008 DuBridge Distinguished Lecture in Beckman Auditorium on March 11. Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a business partner of Warren Buffett, and one of the richest people in the United States, was joined in conversation by Caltech's Tom Tombrello, chair of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy, and Kenan Professor and professor of physics."

Munger favors ban on credit swaps
"Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Vice Chairman Charles Munger said he supports an outright ban of credit- default swaps to prevent speculators from profiting on the failure of companies."

Stingy Links: Real Estate

Down and out
"British and American consumers have been obsessed with the idea of a house as their main store of wealth, regarding it as a combination of cash cow and pension plan. But the idea that we can all get rich by buying and selling each other.s houses was always an illusion. Maybe it will die out for a decade or two."

Housing is not coming back
"The entire world is hoping that housing is about to "recover" and re-ascend its glorious bubble-era heights of valuation. But it's not going to happen."

Spat over historical trends
"For now, Mr. Lawler says, the government does a better job with its monthly index of pricing for women's undergarments than it does with housing."

A 3rd wave of foreclosures
"The next group of Americans to lose their homes seemed to have good credit and affordable loans. But those families have been walloped by the recession."

Problems with housing data
"Housing is at the epicenter of the financial crisis. Home values affect wealth, personal consumption, and the need for further write downs in "legacy" (formerly known as toxic) assets. We would love to have good data about housing. Forget it. Nearly all of the housing series are flawed with significant discontinuities or conceptual problems. No matter what the data report, there will be plenty of opportunity for pundits to dispute the results for the next year or so."

U.S. homeownership by age group
"Back in 1985, the homeownership rate declined significantly after people turned 70. However, more recently, the homeownership rate has stayed above 80% for those in the 70 to 75 cohort, and close to 80% for people over 75. I expect the homeownership rate to remain high for the boomer generation too."

The housing crisis isn't a crisis
"His research has revealed three distinct types of housing markets--and only one of the three shows real signs of distress. Even then, that distress is only in a limited number of areas."

Return to 0% down
"The days of home buying with little or no money down may be back - this time thanks to Uncle Sam."

Fannie Mae creates housing mirage
"Give money away. That was a solution to the housing crisis mortgage giant Fannie Mae hit on last year. Faced with growing numbers of homeowners unable to make mortgage payments, Fannie decided to fund loans to borrowers that were instant losers."

Job losses push mortgages to foreclosure
"In the latest phase of the nation's real estate disaster, the locus of trouble has shifted from subprime loans - those extended to home buyers with troubled credit - to the far more numerous prime loans issued to those with decent financial histories."

Stingy Links: Stocks

Why capital structure matters
"My belief -- first stated 40 years ago in a graduate thesis and later confirmed by experience -- is that capital structure significantly affects both value and risk. The optimal capital structure evolves constantly, and successful corporate leaders must constantly consider six factors -- the company and its management, industry dynamics, the state of capital markets, the economy, government regulation and social trends. When these six factors indicate rising business risk, even a dollar of debt may be too much for some companies."

Why you should be long the NYT
"The Times is the greatest journalism brand in the world. Journalism is going through a period of intense, painful consolidation, at the end of which there will be many fewer competitors, leaving the ones who survive with extraordinary market power and more cultural influence than they have today. The Times will unquestionably survive because it is the best, which will make it an incredibly profitable enterprise. In fact, I'd wager to say that the worse things get for the media industry generally, the better things get for the Times."

Paper money
"In other words, the newspaper companies that have failed wholesale were essentially set up to fail by inexperienced managers who believed piling huge amounts of debt on businesses whose revenues were shrinking even when the economy was growing was a shrewd means of value creation."

Investor exits and leaves puzzlement
"I've seen my share of odd moments during annual meetings, but until Thursday I'd never seen a grown man cry during one. O.K., maybe 'cry' is a bit of an overstatement for what happened. Still, it was pretty startling when, in the middle of his speech to Target Corporation shareholders, William A. Ackman, the hedge fund manager who had waged an expensive, high-profile proxy fight against the company, suddenly choked up and stopped speaking. He wiped away a tear."

Cash-rich firms
"One way to look at stocks is to view each share as a claim on a company's future earnings. But another way is to view each share as a claim on a company's assets. During times like these where markets for many assets are either frozen or slow-moving, liquid assets deserve a premium. So companies with high levels of cash and little or no long-term debt are well worth a look."

Stingy Links: Taleb

Swan song
"But the failures of the Niederhoffers and AIGs do not translate to a validation of Taleb-style catastrophism because these two approaches turn out to be linked. They are mirror images. In noncatastrophic times, the Niederhoffers and AIGs make money consistently and quietly and then end up losing it conspicuously and painfully. The Talebs make money rarely, amaze everyone because they do it when everybody else is getting killed - and so make it easy to forget about years of steady losses. Over the long run, the anti-catastrophists often do fairly well (if they don't get too greedy and make bets that cost them all their money in even a small market drop). But it is the catastrophists, a la Taleb, who look smarter. If you're always planning for crisis, you look like a genius when it does come."

Stingy Links: Taxes

Tax fantasies of the right and left
"At the same time, it's not a good idea to try to raise all that extra money just from households with annual incomes of more than $250,000. That may have been a winning campaign promise for candidate Obama, but it makes for lousy economic policy. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that balancing the budget solely on the backs of those making more than $250,000 a year would almost surely require pushing marginal income tax rates well above 50 percent. That's a level at which taxes begin to discourage people from working and investing. Almost certainly, it is a level that would prompt them to invest significant time and money to find new ways to evade taxes."

Unintended consequences
"The recent Ontario budget contains a massive tax grab that our Investment Partners should be aware of. The McGuinty government is proposing the harmonization of Ontario.s provincial sales tax with the federal GST. The decision to jam an additional 8% tax on the management expense ratios (MER) of your investment products is shockingly unwise and dangerous."

Stingy Links: Thrift

Austere times? Perfect
"Millions of Americans have trimmed expenses because they have had their jobs or hours cut, or fear they will. But a subset of savers are reducing costs not just with purpose, but with relish. These are the gleefully frugal."

The end of personal finance
"That our personal finances weren't fully ours to seize didn't seem to occur to many of us until recently, when the stock market plunged almost 40 percent in a mere year, housing went into free fall, and the unemployment rate began to climb perilously toward double digits. All these facts suddenly left the personal finance industry facing a conundrum of its own making. The backbone of the self-help complex is the idea that you can do it. You. Singular. But what happens when you lose your job and can't find a new one before your six months of recommended emergency savings runs out? Or a good chunk of your retirement income is in the form of a pension from your former employer - and that employer is named Chrysler? What then?"

Haggle your way to extra
"Many people might feel uncomfortable asking a store to take less than the posted price, but not Leonardelli. A professor at the Rotman School of Management, he teaches negotiating skills to business students. In his view, the recession offers a golden opportunity to get better prices and extra perks."

Big Macs and fries
"Even with glimmers of hope for the recovery, consumers are still cutting back - especially when it comes to dining out. But turning to some of fast food's biggest bargains in order to stretch your dollar in the recession may be one belt-tightening measure that could end up forcing you to loosen your buckle by a couple of notches."

Stingy Links: Value Investing

Patient Capital May 2009 letter
"We are willing to make one prediction; over the next five years long dated government securities will likely provide negative real returns. In our view, 'safe' government instruments are some of the riskiest investments available. Today three to five year Government of Canada bonds are yielding approximately 1.75% while bonds with a maturity of ten years or more are yielding 3.75%. These rates are substantially below long term averages and imply very little if any inflation in the future. We believe that the odds are very much against such a scenario."

A superb fund rebounds
"Hawkins and Cates are self-assured stock pickers, as indicated by their willingness to pile a huge percentage of Longleaf's assets into just a handful of companies. As of March 31, multimedia entertainment conglomerate Liberty Media (LMDIA) made up 14% of assets. Once-dominant computer maker Dell (DELL) accounted for 10%. Chesapeake Energy (CHK), an oil-and-gas producer, and Sun Microsystems (JAVA), which is being acquired by Oracle Corp., together made up 16%."

Mohnish Pabrai at Columbia
Last bit of a lecture by Mohnish Pabrai at Columbia [video]

David Winters interview
"Winters says the best-of-breed businesses he favors are available today not only at 'the right price', but that they're actually 'very, very cheap'"

Fairholme OID interview
"I am more optimistic now than at any time. I can't tell you whether it's going to be 31 days or 31 months or longer before our portfolio companies begin to rise from the ashes. However, I do believe they will rise."

Chou 2008 letter
"The examples show that the pricing of risk has changed 180 degrees from a couple of years ago. One can argue that corporate bonds, both investment grade and non-investment grade, are mispriced more than equities. In addition, if corporate bonds are cheap, the treasuries are in bubble territory. In our opinion, this is the worst time to hold cash and short-term treasuries unless you believe we are headed into a 1930's style depression. If you believe that you should redeem all of your Fund units."

Longleaf annual presentation
"The Longleaf Partners Funds are pleased to make excerpts from our May 7, 2009 Annual Presentation available to all shareholders online via Windows Media Player. These recorded sessions will allow those shareholders not able to attend the meeting to hear the comments and views of the Portfolio Managers."

Depression survivors weigh in
"The three Depression survivors aren't just notable because of their ages; they're good - very good. All three have been longtime successful money managers, and two were friends and students of the great Benjamin Graham. (Walter Schloss, for example, is one of the 'Superinvestors of Graham & Doddsville' that Warren Buffett referred to in his famous 1984 Columbia University speech.) Here's a summary of what they had to say"

Reflections and outrage
"I believe superior long-term performance is a function of a manager's willingness to accept periods of short-term underperformance. This requires the fortitude and willingness to allow one's business to shrink while deploying an unpopular strategy. Additionally, in the low return changing world I foresee, a well diversified mutual fund of U.S. stocks will likely have a harder time outperforming the stock averages and index funds, as a result of its higher expense ratio. A more focused strategy will be necessary to excel. If active managers continue to adhere to their old practices, we should see a contraction in the active mutual fund management universe over the next five to ten years."

Stingy Links: Whitman

Whitman buys American distress
"For us, the principal test is credit-worthiness--don't buy common stocks of companies that need continuous access to capital markets. Or where customers or counter-parties can discontinue relationships at little or no cost."

Stingy Links: World

Argentina: The superpower that never was
"A short century ago the US and Argentina were rivals. Both were riding the first wave of globalisation at the turn of the 20th century. Both were young, dynamic nations with fertile farmlands and confident exporters. Both brought the beef of the New World to the tables of their European colonial forebears. Before the Great Depression of the 1930s, Argentina was among the 10 richest economies in the world. The millions of emigrant talians and Irish fleeing poverty at the end of the 19th century were torn between the two: Buenos Aires or New York? The pampas or the prairie? A hundred years later there was no choice at all. One had gone on to be among the most successful economies ever. The other was a broken husk."

The incredible shrinking economy
"To lose one decade may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Japan's economy stagnated in the 1990s after its stockmarket and property bubbles burst, but its more recent economic performance looks even more troubling. Industrial production plunged by 38% in the year to February, to its lowest level since 1983. Real GDP fell at an annualised rate of 12% in the fourth quarter of 2008, and may have declined even faster in the first three months of this year. The OECD forecasts that Japan's GDP will shrink by 6.6% in 2009 as a whole, wiping out all the gains from the previous five years of recovery."

Hasta la vista, forests. Wood is the new coal
"Wood is becoming a hot commodity in a new low-carbon world. Power companies are burning more trees because the renewable fuel can be cheaper than coal and ignited without needing permits to release carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming."

A tale of two depressions
"Our Great Recession is every bit as global, earlier hopes for decoupling in Asia and Europe notwithstanding. Increasingly there is awareness that events have taken an even uglier turn outside the US, with even larger falls in manufacturing production, exports and equity prices."

The story of 9 failed currencies
"Rare are those instances in which entire economies are disrupted to the point - typically as a result of rampant inflation, or hyper inflation - that an entire form of currency is discarded, reformed or replaced. But it does happen."

The great ethanol scam
"More than one major transportation-based industry in America besides Detroit is on the ropes. For the fourth time in our history the ethanol industry has come undone and is quickly failing nationally. Of course it's one thing when Detroit collapsed with the economy; after all, that is a truly free-market enterprise and the economy hasn't been good. But the fact that the ethanol industry is going bankrupt, when the only reason we use this additive is a massive government mandate, is outrageous at best. Then again, the ethanol lobby and refiners have a solution to ethanol's failure in America: Hire retired General Wesley Clark as your point man and lobby the government to increase the amount of ethanol in our fuel to 15%. The problems with that proposition are real - unlike ethanol's benefits."

Renewable energy - our downfall?
"The government, under pressure from a disparate confederation of environmentalists and greens, have agreed to press ahead with a host of renewable energy sources, including wind, tidal and wave power. Yet, despite the vast sums of public money that will be allocated to these projects and the fundamental enormity of the decisions that have been made, there has been very little in the way of open debate on the subject. Like many aspects of today's governmental system, the powers that be appear to have made a decision about future energy production based upon image, spin and the number of votes the policy will capture, while ignoring the basic truths and science that should be the foundation-stone of any policy. Nobody has even debated the absolutely fundamental question of whether any of these energy generation systems actually work."

Getting real on wind and solar
"Why are we ignoring things we know? We know that the sun doesn't always shine and that the wind doesn't always blow. That means that solar cells and wind energy systems don't always provide electric power. Nevertheless, solar and wind energy seem to have captured the public's support as potentially being the primary or total answer to our electric power needs."

Energy myths and realities
"I'm going to try to do something that seems impossible these days - and that's have an honest conversation about energy policy, global warming and what proposed 'cap and trade' regulation means for you, the generation that will have to live with the consequences of the policy choices we make. My goal is to inform you with easily verifiable facts - not hype and propaganda - and to appeal to your common sense."

Buy an S.U.V., save the planet
"Scientists and engineers are racing to develop technologies that will improve fuel economy and perhaps replace gasoline altogether. This is certainly to be applauded. But there may be an easier and more effective way to help wean ourselves off foreign oil and fight global warming. Interestingly, it involves not 21st-century technology but 28th-century technology - as in 28th-century B.C.E."

What if global-warming fears are overblown?
"His most controversial argument is that the surface temperature readings upon which global warming theory is built have been distorted by urbanization. Due to the solar heat captured by bricks and pavement and due to the changing wind patterns caused by large buildings, a weather station placed in a rural village in 1900 will inevitably show higher temperature readings if that village has, over time, been transformed into small city or a suburban shopping district, Christy says."

Great Right North
"Too often in the United States, Democrats reject cuts in taxes and spending because they consider them Republican causes. Yet in Canada, center-left governments implemented many of the reforms that made these impressive numbers possible. Perhaps we have something to learn from those "socialists" to the north."

Frugally Yours,
Norman Rothery
ISSN 1499-2787

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