These past weeks that I have been ill, I have answered more of the calls than I usually do; and we received at least 20 (twenty) telemarketing calls from obvious India(n) origins. The first few I just politely said I was not interested, but then I became fascinated in that I could not understand them. Please help me here: I want to sell a product to a consumer and I hire telemarketing people who my ultimate customer can not understand? This makes no sense. One of these callers, I didn’t even understand what she was trying to sell me. The others, large sections of the conversations were completely incomprehensible. Yes, I know that usually Arnold is incomprehensible, but not this time. I understand that the costs are less in India. That’s fine. As a businessman, saving money may make sense, but how can it make sense when your customers don’t understand the sales people? It would seem to me (but, what do I know), that it makes more financial sense to use Americans to sell to Americans so that the language, slang and euphemisms would be understood, and the sales vs. costs would probably be better. Many people I know have been complaining (for years) about call in centers for technical support or sales, that they can not understand the Indians; and Arnold was never sympathetic until now. This just does not make sense.
Another thing is bothering me! For those of you who have been following the Bernie Madoff case: The trustee Picard had sued the estate of Jeffry Picower for $7.3 billion. This $7.3 billion represents the total payments to Picower over a 20 plus year period. Apparently some of the money was from investment results and some from fees (commissions). The widow Picower agreed to pay back the entire $7.3 billion. This is truly amazing because Jeffry Picower would have had to pay income taxes on that income; which would presumable have averaged at least 20% or about $1.5 billion and Jeffry Picower donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charities. So at least $2 to $2.5 billion would have been spent, yet the widow Picower was able to return the entire amount to the bankruptcy trustee. If the widow Picower wants to she should write a book about how her late husband or she or whomever was able to pull this off in the second to the worst investment climate in last one hundred years.
The “deal” with China for which President Obama excitedly took credit was $45 billion over 10 years or so, so maybe $5 billion a year. That does not even account for one week of Chinese sales to the United States. And Boeing sales can even be canceled, as maybe many of the sales that were made. Not a particularly good outcome. Why can’t China open its markets to the same markets that the United States has opened to them? If not, we should place the same tariffs on them as they place on us.
The latest offense, insulting and totally outrageous comment from the far left (it would appear to be former Congressman Allan Grayson’s replacement for outrageousness) is Congressman Steve Cohen (D) Tennessee. He compared the Republican Party to the Nazi’s because the Republicans want to repeal healthcare. For this instance let us assume that the Republicans repeal heath care. How many millions of people have the Republicans thrown into Concentration Camps? How many millions of people have the Republicans killed by gas? with guns? How many millions of people have the Republicans starved and forced to work twenty hour days? HOW MANY STEVE?
As a Jew, I am so angry about these outlandish comments. President Obama correctly calls for civility and here a congressman from his own party makes these kinds of inflammatory statements. I do not even know who will oppose Congressman Cohen for re-election in 2012, but I personally intend to make the maximum contribution to his/her campaign.
In the past week the major undercurrent has been whether Congress will find a way for states to file for bankruptcy. The 50 states have a purported $2.5 trillion (yes that is with a “T”) pension shortfall, but personally I believe it is closer to a $5 trillion pension deficit. And the states need to reduce expenses substantially because 49 out of the 50 states are running deficits for 2011. It would seem inevitable that the states will want to reduce the amounts that they owe the bondholders, reduce the interest rates, cancel pension plans and abrogate union contracts. The big problem will be, how will the states borrow money in the bond market after default? And if the states can not borrow money in the bond market after filing for bankruptcy, then how will states function?
The DJIA is still not having a correction. Maybe we will skip the correction and continue higher and then fall.
Gold is heading down towards my target of $1290.
Oil is down to the mid 80’s. I had expected oil to move higher first, but it is correcting now.
Interest rates are still in the 4.55% range on 30 year Treasuries, and should continue to rise.
The dollar has been moving around, but still has not fallen significantly.
Real estate pricing appears to be falling again in many markets. We should see a further drop of about 20% nationwide, but every market is local.
The economy continues to appear to be treading water. The large companies are generally doing better and the smaller companies generally are doing worse.
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