Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Mary Beth Schad of EllieandOllie.com and her husband Jim
Martha Stewart's Dreamers into Doers
"We can finally talk about it! Back in June, Ellie&Ollie entered the Dreamers into Doers contest found in Martha Stewart's Living magazine. In August, the phone rang and it was someone notifying us that we had been chosen as one of the 11 finalists in the contest! Needless to say, my jaw dropped, yet I couldn't stop smiling and of course I wanted to tell EVERYONE! However, the rules requested that we keep this little secret to ourselves until the end of October. This was going to be a long two months...
In October, my husband and I were flown to New York City. We were treated like royalty from the moment we stepped off of the plane. Between Talbots outfitting the finalists, Bank of America matching our prize money, attending the TV show, being honored at a formal Gala, meeting Carole King, seeing her perform, and our amazing accommodations, we weren't sure life could get much better. Everyone was so gracious and congratulatory to all of us. We had to stop and thank THEM from time to time as they were the ones who had selected the winners, and they were the ones who were honoring all of us. New York is truly a great city. I have a new spot in my heart for it, it's culture, and it's people.
Speaking of people....up to the moment we arrived in NYC we were excited for ourselves and what we were experiencing. It dawned on us that we were going to meet 10-20 other people who had been chosen just like us, and we knew each of them would have a unique story as well. It is so easy to get caught up in your own self-importance and daily routine that it's easy to develop a myopic view of the world. But, when you are surrounded by the types of people we were with, it humbles and inspires you. We cried over some of the stories we heard, laughed at others, learned some things along the way, and made some new friends. I've told each of them I was coming to visit....so I hope they are ready! Each of these women was inspirational and passionate towards their businesses, causes and their lives in general. There are wonderful people in this world, and it was so nice to meet a whole group of them!
Finally, we would like to thank Martha Stewart and all of her staff who worked so hard to pull the entire week together. We would also like to thank Talbot's for the beautiful (and free!) clothes as well as Bank of America for their generous contributions. Without all of their combined efforts and support, none of this would have been possible.
Ellie&Ollie will do it's best to make you proud you chose us as a finalist."
Go support these folks! Cookies are great!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
From Bill Fleckenstein of Fleckenstein Capital this week!
Barf went the Merrill bullIt's a lesson that hit hard. Witness the subprime fallout behind the company's sobering third-quarter earnings report. Merrill wrote down about $5.8 billion of $14.2 billion in what's known as super-senior subprime assets -- the stuff that's supposedly above AAA and bulletproof.
When asked on the conference call if everything was marked where it could be sold, there was no answer, leaving folks with the idea that there was plenty of stuff still marked to model. And you can be sure that if Merrill Lynch has this problem of potentially mismarked paper, so do all of the brokers and probably some of the big banks. This is a huge deal. (Memo to nonbelievers: The problem is spreading, it has not been discounted and it has not been contained.)
Thursday, October 25, 2007
American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage index for September declined 2.3% from a year ago, ATA said late Thursday.
The downturn followed a 0.9% year-over-year gain in August, and the September index was up 1.5% measured from the previous month, ATA said.
The index’s reading was 111.6. Year to date, the truck tonnage index was 2.2% lower than the same time last year.
The not seasonally adjusted index fell 10.6% from August, to 107.4, ATA said.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the reading points to continued softness in the trucking industry, despite the month-to-month increase. Although the 1.5% gain was the biggest monthly increase since February, Costello noted that he expects tonnage to remain choppy in the foreseeable future, a trend that began several months ago.
“Nearly all economic indicators suggest continued sluggishness for the trucking industry in the near term,” Costello said. “September’s reading points to a lackluster 2007 fall freight season, which traditionally starts in mid- to late August and peaks in October. We are sticking with our economic forecasts that point to below trend growth for the overall economy and truck tonnage.”
ATA calculates the tonnage each month based on reports by its member trucking companies.
And on a related note:
The OPEC Sec General stated that OPEC members are free to sell oil in currency other than dollars; Iran and Venezuela already do.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO
AP Business Writer
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
NEW YORK (AP) -- The calculus of living paycheck to paycheck in America is getting harder. What used to last four days might last half that long now. Pay the gas bill, but skip breakfast. Eat less for lunch so the kids can have a healthy dinner.
Across the nation, Americans are increasingly unable to stretch their dollars to the next payday as they juggle higher rent, food and energy bills. It's starting to affect middle-income working families as well as the poor, and has reached the point of affecting day-to-day calculations of merchants like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 7-Eleven Inc. and Family Dollar Stores Inc.
Food pantries, which distribute foodstuffs to the needy, are reporting severe shortages and reduced government funding at the very time that they are seeing a surge of new people seeking their help.
While economists debate whether the country is headed for a recession, some say the financial stress is already the worst since the last downturn at the start of this decade.
From Family Dollar to Wal-Mart, merchants have adjusted their product mix and pricing accordingly. Sales data show a marked and more prolonged drop in spending in the days before shoppers get their paychecks, when they buy only the barest essentials before splurging around payday.
"It's pretty pronounced," said Kiley Rawlins, a spokeswoman at Family Dollar. "It seems like to us, customers are running out of food products, paper towels sooner in the month."
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said the imbalance in spending before and after payday in July was the biggest it has ever seen, though the drop-off wasn't as steep in August.
Monday, October 22, 2007
IMF chief warns dollar may suffer 'abrupt fall'
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, warned Monday there are risks of an "abrupt fall" in the dollar, linked to a loss of confidence in dollar assets.
"There are risks that an abrupt fall in the dollar could either be triggered by, or itself trigger, a loss of confidence in dollar assets," Rato told the IMF board of governors.
He also appeared to suggest that Europe could take steps to temper the strong appreciation of the euro.
"There is a risk that exchange rate appreciation in countries with flexible exchange rates -- including the euro area -- could hurt their growth prospects, and that in these circumstances protectionist pressures could worsen," he said on the final day of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.
The outgoing IMF managing director spoke as the European single currency hit a new high of 1.4347 dollars and global equity markets tumbled amid growing fears a US housing-related credit crunch could pitch the world's biggest economy into recession.
"The uncertainty ... comes from downside risks that are much higher than they were six months ago. The turbulence in the credit markets is a warning that we cannot take the benign economic environment of recent years for granted," he said.
"We still do not know the full effects of the decline in the housing market and the subprime problems of the US economy. Further disruption in financial markets and further falls in housing prices could lead to a global economic downturn."
A crisis in the risky US subprime mortgage sector, where loans are given to homebuyers with poor credit histories, erupted this year as borrowers defaulted on mortgages amid rising interest rates and a sharp slump in US housing prices.
The spillover of the US credit crunch into global financial markets roiled stock markets worldwide in August and although they have recovered somewhat, the uncertainties of the extent of the credit problems continues to weigh on investors.
Rato warned that a downturn would exacerbate other risks that already exist in the world economy, citing some emerging economies' reliance on capital inflows and the potential that central banks may not curb rising inflationary pressures.
"Some emerging economies that have relied on external financing to fund large current account deficits could be tipped into crisis by a combination of reduced demand for their exports and tighter financial market conditions," he said, adding that those developments would also worsen the prospects of low-income countries.
"And there is a risk that central banks may falter in fighting the inflation which has been spurred in some countries by higher oil and food prices."
Rato told the governors of the 185-nation financial institution aimed at fostering global financial stability that it was imperative to take action to avoid such a calamitous downturn from global imbalances.
"All of these risks make action on already agreed policies more urgent," he said.
"Major economies need ... to take supporting policy actions," said the former Spanish finance minister, who is stepping down nearly two years before the end of his five-year mandate.
His successor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former Socialist finance minister of France, takes office on November 1.
In an apparent reference to recent pressures from France and other members of the 13-nation eurozone on the European Central Bank to take action to curb the euro's sharp appreciation, which is weighing on eurozone exports, Rato said: "Policymakers need to respect the independence of central banks and support their vigilance on inflation."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This particular thread started on blog because IMF has openly said there is reason for another 15-20% fall in dollar, and G7 meeting failed to deal with falling dollar over the weekend...Turkish Parliament has also given permission for Turks to go after the Kurds in northern Iraq...rumor also has it that the UK tangled with Iranians in Iraq today (not confirmed that I know of)...
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Headliner over on Drudge
NEW YORK - Oil prices surpassed $90 a barrel for the first time Thursday as the falling dollar drew new foreign investors and speculators to dollar-denominated energy futures.
Light, sweet crude for November delivery hit $90.02 in electronic trading Thursday evening before returning to around $89.60. Earlier, prices had risen $2.07 to settle at a record $89.47 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Bank of America down
Jobless claims way up!
Japanese paying for Iranian oil in Yen ( RIP Petrodollar hegemony)
Double Hindenburg Omens
Housing starts way down
And then theres the dollar:
Someone was trying to convince me the "credit crunch" was contained...me thinks not!
Oil - $89.66/bbl
Dollar - 77.52
Gold - $768.70
Grinchmas is right on track...as is $3/gal by Thanksgiving!...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Its Second Saturday here in McKinney and the show tonight at Galleria d'Arte is Fran Reisner's photographs of Tuscany alongside Carrie Garner's oil sculpture interpretation of the same...Quinten Hope Trio on the porch...
Upstairs at Aristeia Gallery see works by Eric Gioia, Kathy Kromer, Jeanene Stein, Mirtha Aertker, and Debbie Paulsen...
Later have some Sushi or a drink at the MeSo Lounge...good time gauranteed!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Saturday we had some great fun here at the Gulch shooting images that reflected a time long since past...the 50's...A series of images done with Jackie and Melissa remembering the good old days...A time of "Cold War", the days of Vargas pin-ups in Playboy magazine, hot rods, and the birth of Rock and Roll... Black and white photographs were "in"...Politically the country was divided over the need for a Korean conflict... Economically there was a feeling of promise in the air... Young men had wet dreams about Sophia Loren, and old men watched John Wayne on black and white TV's...Elvis was "the King"! This was a much simpler time...
EXIM Bank of Korea to Sell $1 Billion of U.S. Bonds, People Say
By Denise Kee
Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Export-Import Bank of Korea, a state-run bank, plans to raise $1 billion in its biggest bond sale, according to three people familiar with the sale.
The five-year bonds are likely to be priced today to yield 1.2 percentage points more than U.S. Treasuries of a similar maturity, according to the people, who declined to be identified before an official announcement. The Seoul-based bank hired ABN Amro Holding NV, BNP Paribas SA, Merrill Lynch & Co and Morgan Stanley for the sale, according to an e-mail to investors today.
EXIM Bank of Korea is selling the bonds after ICICI Bank Ltd., India's second-biggest financial services company, raised $2 billion of notes on Sept. 26, a sign that investor risk appetite is returning to the Asian credit markets.
The EXIM Bank of Korea's bond sale ``should clear the path for the other policy banks there as well as for the lenders in India and Indonesia,'' Brett Williams, a director of Asian fixed-income research at BNP Paribas, who is based in Hong Kong, said in a note to investors today.
The U.S. Federal Reserve cut the benchmark rate for overnight borrowing by half a percentage point to 4.75 percent on Sept. 18, and brought stability to credit markets roiled by losses in securities linked to U.S. subprime mortgage loans.
EXIM Bank of Korea's biggest bond issue outstanding of $1.1 billion was raised in two portions, $700 million in November 2002 and $400 million in May 2003, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bank is paying about 1.27 percentage points more than U.S. Treasuries for the bonds.
The bank last sold U.S. dollar bonds in August, raising $100 million, according to Bloomberg data. The zero-coupon bonds were priced at 98.38 percent, Bloomberg data show. The sale was arranged by BNP Paribas.
Moody's Investors Service rates the bank Aa3, the fourth- highest investment grade. Standard & Poor's ranks the bank A, the sixth-highest investment grade and two steps lower than Moody's.
Last Updated: October 9, 2007 21:29 EDT
Alcoa missed, International Paper warned, Chevron warned, Toyota warned on domestic (Japanese) sales after already warning on US Sales. The bad news is starting..... and no, the market won't like it. Be careful if you intend to play what looks like a parbolic blow-off - we could fail here literally at any time and that failure is likely to come completely without warning in the form of a huge gap downward.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 6:03pm BST 03/10/2007
Vietnam is planning to cut its purchases of US Treasuries and other dollar bonds, raising fears that Asian central banks with control over two thirds of the world's foreign reserves may soon join the flight from US assets.
The Saigon Times said this morning that the State Bank of Vietnam was abandoning the attempt to hold down the Vietnamese currency through heavy purchases of dollars. The policy is causing the economy to overheat, driving up inflation to 8.8pc.
Vietnam, which has mid-sized reserves of $40bn, is seen as weather vane for the bigger Asian powers.
Together they hold $3,575bn of foreign reserves, over 65pc of the world's total. China leads with $1,340bn, but South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and even Thailand all built up massive holdings.
The concern is that once one or two members of the region jump ship, it could set off a broader scramble. None of them want to be the last one left holding a devalued asset. Vietnam's central bank said this week that it would move "gradually" to a floating currency.
Separately, the gas-rich Gulf state of Qatar announced that it had cut the dollar holdings of its $50bn sovereign wealth fund from 99pc to 40pc, switching into investments in China, Japan, and emerging Asia.
The move is intended to increase long-term returns for future generations, but it can easily be seen as a vote of no confidence in US economic management.
The drastic shift by the Qatar Investment Authority is a warning that petro-dollar powers with some $3,500bn under management may pull the plug on the heavily endebted US economy -- which needs to suck in the majority of the world's savings just to stay afloat.
"OPEC and Asia have been the two blocks funding the US current account deficit," said Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas.
"Vietnam is a relatively small country but it is symptomatic of Asia. The entire region is seeing inflation move up as a result of mercantilist policies of holding down their currencies with 'dirty floats', which are designed to help their export sectors. They need to change monetary policy, " he said.
There have been reports that China is already pulling out of US bonds to fund its new sovereign wealth fund. Foreign central banks slashed holdings by $32bn in the last two weeks of August. We will not know which country was responsible the Treasury's TIC data is released in November.
Japan also has colossal reserves, now near $914bn, but it is does not face the same inflationary threat as the rest of Asia, and is in any case an intimate military ally of the United States.
It is likely to coordinate its dollar policy very closely with Washington for geo-strategic reasons.
Saudi Arabia set off jitters in the currency markets last month when it decided not to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve, raising doubts about its commitment to the Saudi dollar peg. But it too has strong political reasons to stick with America.
Kuwait has already abandoned its peg, fearing that its economy would overheat if it continued to import America's loose monetary policies.
Separately, Iran said it would soon refuse to accept dollars for its oil exports, preferring to be paid in a "more credible currency".
It already receives 65pc of payments in euros and 20pc in yen, but insisted that the remaining 15pc in dollars entailed an excessive risk of devaluation.
The demarche is largely policitcal, since oil is a fungible commodity and the currency markets are highly liquid.
However, if a number of OPEC suppliers began demand long-term futures contracts in euros instead of dollars, this would have an impact over time.
“From Camera to Canvas” - A Collaborative Art Exhibit Debuts at Carrie Garner’s Galleria d’Arte
Join us as we embark on a new endeavor at Galleria d’Arte. “From Camera to Canvas” is a collaborative exhibit that combines the talents of Carrie Cameron Garner and Fran Reisner. The exhibit debuts on Saturday, October 13, from 7pm to 10pm at Carrie Garner’s Galleria d’Arte located at 115 South Kentucky Street in downtown McKinney at the old Collin County Prison.
Fran Reisner, a Frisco resident, is a national award-winning master photographer and photographic craftsman, who lives by her philosophy of doing what you love, loving what you do, and doing it with passion. “From Camera to Canvas” will spotlight Reisner’s latest series of photographs taken from recent trips abroad. The perfection and preciseness that Reisner commands from her camera are evident in each of her exquisite photographs. Visit Reisner’s website (www.franreisner.com) to learn more about this consummate professional and her numerous honors and awards.
A believer in painting the beauty that surrounds her, Carrie has created oil painting interpretations of Reisner’s photographs. Carrie’s painting technique, known as oil sculpture or 3-D oil painting, lends itself to bold expressions and vividly colored paintings. The sculptural sections of the painting are created with a palette knife and are formed with pure archival quality oil paint. Once applied, the oil forms a thin “skin” to which a layer of glaze is applied, forming a special coating that protects the paint while giving the sculpted areas the appearance of mouth-blown glass.
The juxtaposition of Reisner’s crisp and sharp photographs to Carrie’s dimensional and textural paintings is both unusual and interesting. This exhibit is guaranteed to pique your interests in both oil painting and photography.
The Quinten Hope Band will provide the perfect accompaniment to the evening’s celebration of the arts and community. Co-sponsors or the event are A Twist of Lime, BLING!, Cadillac Pizza Pub, Market Square Antiques, MeSo Wine Lounge, and Poppy’s Garden Café. Be sure to join us for this new and exciting venture at Galleria d’Arte.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
5 hours ago
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran has slashed the use of the dollar in payment for its oil exports to 15 percent, an official said on Tuesday, amid growing pressure from arch-foe the United States on its financial system.
The vast majority of transactions for oil from OPEC's number two producer are now being carried out in euros, said Mohammad-Ali Khatibi, deputy head of the National Iranian Oil Company in charge of marketing.
"Iran is selling about 85 percent of its oil in the non-dollar currencies," Khatibi was quoted as saying by state television.
"Currently, about 65 percent of the oil sale income is in euros and 20 percent in yen," Khatibi added.
Japan, which purchases 20 percent of Iran's crude oil, has recently agreed to pay for the crude oil in yen, he said.
He also said that the remaining sums being paid in dollars, about 15 percent, are going to shift to "other creditworthy currencies".
Khatibi also cited the United Arab Emirates dirham as one other possible currency for use in oil transactions.
He said the main reason for the move was fluctuations of the dollar on the currency markets and the depreciation of its value since 2004.
Iran had previously announced that 60 percent of its oil transactions for export had been switched into euros.
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, has massively cut down its dependence on the dollar in the face of US pressures.
The United States has been seeking to make international banking transactions harder for Iran, as another tool to pressure Tehran into backing down over its controversial nuclear programme.
Several European banks have drastically cut business with Iran as a result of US pressure.
However despite problems with inflation and unemployment at home, Iran's economy is being helped by revenue windfalls from current high crude oil prices.
Iran's foreign currency reserves held in banks abroad have risen by 37 percent over the past year to the equivalent of 65 billion dollars as of the end of June 2007, the central bank said in September.