Comment on FCIC Report

January 30, 2011

It’s a shame that the conclusions of the FCIC report turned into yet another polarized political debate.  It’s good that the report has substantial descriptive work, since knowing what happened is often more important over the long run than knowing what one group or another thinks is the cause or the solution.

I was surprised that there was no mention of the 1998 change to the tax law that allowed serial tax-free sales of primary or secondary homes.  That allowance, amounting to $500K per year for a married couple who managed to alternate “primary” and “secondary” homes, gave small time investors (house flippers) the potential for earning the equivalent of a million dollars a year in ordinary income for buying houses or condos and throwing on a coat of paint and buying granite countertops and premium appliances.

Anyway, I just had a look at my own description of the causes and magnification of the problem and my proposed solution that I wrote back in the spring of 2008, months before Lehman, AIG, Fannie-Freddie, etc.

https://mindonmoney.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/roots-of-the-meltdown/
https://mindonmoney.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/the-blame-game/
https://mindonmoney.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/invisible-leverage/
https://mindonmoney.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/two-years-ago/

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Knife Catching 101

January 28, 2011

Maybe it’s the sense of being trapped in a bad weather pattern.

Maybe it’s the lack of progress on the next employment front.

Maybe it’s frustration with a serious after-holiday diet and exercise regimen (when the roads are clear enough to drive to the club with its lap pool).

Anyway, I got out my knife-catching gloves today, and started to position some stocks that I would like to own now to write calls on later.

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Breaking My Silence

January 25, 2011

I had decided to quiet down while negotiating for a new position.  After all, I might end up competing with or joining a company I was talking about.  That’s still true, but an article from Bloomberg just has to get more notice.

I was very skeptical about the impact of the robo-signing scandal, and about the wild claims that the MERS registration system made foreclosure impossible for tens of millions of delinquent borrowers.  So far, at least, I was right that banks weren’t going to “eat” hundreds of billions in losses for what amounts to administrative sloppiness.

This time I am ringing the alarm bell.

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Cleaning House

January 11, 2011

I never intended to provide investment advice, and I hope all readers recognize that fact.  I did share what I was doing, and why, while I felt comfortable doing that.

Since some may have followed me into trades, I think I should let you know I’ve taken profits in SNTA and losses in FAZ.  The positions are not completely liquidated, but for anyone that followed me into those positions, I felt it was the right thing to do to let you know when I was getting out.

Also, the last of the Elan I bought during the selloff last summer (on the first leg down) will get called away next week, and I’m inclined to leave it that way, given the new oral MS treatments coming on line and the sale of their other properties.  Another that looks like it will be called away is IOC, and I don’t know yet whether I’ll go swimming again in that shark-infested bay.

Still no word on the new job front, so relative silence will continue.