« September 2007 | Main | November 2007 »

Holiday Book Shopping

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 08:30 PM
in Books

Its not even Halloween Thanksgiving, and all these articles about Wal-Mart Stores (they said they cut prices on 15,000 items this week, 20% more than a year earlier) has me already thinking about getting an early jump on Christmas shopping.

I've only just begun thinking about some gifts, when i came across these few books that look intriguing;


To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios:

Pixar_2 Wired had a killer review of this, which would be perfect for my movie loving friends with children: 

"To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios is not that book. Instead, Karen Paik and Leslie Iwerk's coffee-table retrospective — packed with concept art, storyboards, and other fanboy fodder — tells a gleaming rags-to-riches story with the happiest of endings: How, in 1984, computer whiz Ed Catmull, whose underappreciated computer division at Lucasfilm cracked the problem of computerized motion-blur — then the holy grail of animation — hires John Lasseter, sensing that the Disney washout's storytelling chops could take the fast-developing medium to a new level. How, two years later, Apple exile Jobs hands Lucas $10 million for Catmull's embattled group, then lets it stumble along as a failing computer company until it scores an Oscar in 1988 for Lasseter's short, Tin Toy. Five of the top-grossing films of all time follow, and Pixar grows into The Toy That Ate Disney."


Ralph Lauren:

RlToo expensive to buy for yourself, yet not so outrageous as to be inappropriately exhorbitant.

The perfect choice for that certain teacher of Fashion Illustration and Design . . . especially if its your wife, who I am betting won't read this far down to know I am talking about her!   ; )

Amazon Description: "Unlike many designers, he is not known for a single signature look, but rather for his sweeping dreams of American living. Over the course of his career, the images of luxury, adventure, and beauty that he created have come to define American style. In this visually stunning book, Lauren speaks candidly for the first time ever about himself and his art. In part one, we get to know the designer through never-before-seen pictures of him in private life and with his family, living the lives he designs for. In his own words, we hear about his life, work, and inspiration. . ."


Speed, Style, And Beauty


A random clicked defined -- from the above book, I somehow managed to click and click again and found this gorgeous looking photo book of Lauren's impeccable auto collection.

This book has my car pal Jan's name written all over it (he's done appraisals for Lauren, and raves about the collection).

Publisher's Description: "Bugatti and Bentley, Alfa and Aston, Mercedes and McLaren--these are not merely cars, they are some of the most exquisite automobiles ever assembled, selected by Ralph Lauren, one of the most foremost designers of our time. This breathtaking volume, which accompanies a major exhibition at the MFA, Boston, features 29 of these wonders--from such unparalleled masterpieces as the 1930 Mercedes Benz "Count Trossi," the 1938 Alfa Romeo Mille Miglia, and the 1938 Bugatti Atlantic Coupe to marvels from Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, and eve a Ford "Woody"--each of these vehicles is beautifully and lovingly photographed and presented with authoritative elegance."


Write it When I'm Gone

Ford_2 I am not that much of a presidential history buff, but this one looks interesting: What is described as "an extraordinary series of private interviews" this book was composed over the course of sixteen years. The twist was this stipulation: they were not to be released until after President Ford's death:

"In 1974, award-winning journalist and author Thomas DeFrank, then a young correspondent for Newsweek, was interviewing Vice President Gerald R. Ford when Ford blurted out something astonishingly indiscreet related to the White House, came around his desk, grabbed DeFrank's tie, and told the reporter he could not leave the room until he promised not to publish it. "Write it when I'm dead," he said-and that agreement formed the basis for their relationship for the next thirty-two years."

Sounds intriguing to me . . .


Clapton: The Autobiography


I'm a big Clapton fan, and I'd be lying if i didn't say I wasn't the tiniest bit interested in his life of debauchery: It is, after all, a tale of Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll.

This has a winter vacation beach read written all over it.

The  last Rock-n-Roll book I read was So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful Of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummer's Life -- it was a very fun read -- probably a lot lighter than Clapton's . . .   

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 08:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post


Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 05:30 PM

I got your wall-o-worry right here:


Daryl Cagle. Cagle Cartoons

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 05:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

Headline of the Day

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 04:15 PM

Amazing, but true:

Inflation was low because oil prices surged
In GDP math, sometimes one plus one equals zero
By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch

Pretty crazy stuff . . .

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 04:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack (0)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

Fake Fed Statement Generator

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 01:30 PM

While we await the Fed statement, my friend Paul, who has been stuck somewhere in Canada, has created the "fake Fed Statement generator."

Its classic econo-geek work by someone who appears to have gotten stuck in one too many airports:


Fake Federal Reserve Release
Release Date: October 30, 2007

For immediate release

The Federal Open Market Committee decided to increase its target for the federal funds rate by 75 basis points to 5 1/2 percent.

The Committee is desperately afraid that a more accommodative than usual stance of monetary policy, coupled with screwy underlying growth in analyst salaries, is providing marvelous support to economic activity. However, the relaxation of balance of payments concerns has moderated gold prices, moderated earnings upgrades, and lowered, generally speaking, debt markets. These developments, along with the uncertain stance of monetary policy and ongoing whizzy change in the price of Nebraska real estate, should foster decreased economic stability over time.

Although the timing and extent of that decline remains uncertain, the Committee perceives that over the next five minutes or so the upside and downside risks to the attainment of sustainable growth are not balanced. The Committee believes that, taken together, the balance of risks to achieving its goals is weighted toward ass-kicking growth for the foreseeable future.


Click Fed Chairman Bernanke Ben to create another fake FOMC release!

Ben-in-a-Box Fed Statement Generator ®


Awesome! Thanks for the afternoon laugh, Paul.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

I Call "Shenanigans" on GDP!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 11:33 AM


At the risk of sounding shrill, I am compelled to point out the quantum bogosity of this 3.9% GDP number: It is highly dependent upon a rather suspect reading of Price Increases/Indexes for Gross Domestic Product: The Price Deflator rose a much less than expected .8% vs expectations of 2%.

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, federal government spending, equipment and software, nonresidential structures, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.
The slight acceleration in real GDP growth in the third quarter primarily reflected accelerations in PCE and in exports that were partly offset by an upturn in imports, a larger decrease in residential fixed investment, and a deceleration in nonresidential structures.

Price Indexes for Gross Domestic Product was an astounding low 0.8% (Table 4). In other words, this report benefited as much from higher inflation as it did from true growth.

I obviously take issue with that (as Crude Oil crosses $94 for the first time).

To highlight the impact that this 0.8% price gain had on the reported REAL GDP: that 0.8% gain matches a level last seen in 1998; prior to that, the previous deflator gain of .8% was n 1963.

Peter Boockvaar of Miller Tabak observes that "with the dramatic upturn in energy prices and other commodities, the decline in the Price Deflator is obviously unsustainable. The consensus today for Nominal GDP was 5.1% and came in today at 4.7%, thus weaker than expected. Q3 GDP was fine , but not as good as the headline report reads."

The average of the price index since Q1 2004 to Q2007 was 2.98, ranging froma low of 1.7% to a high of 4.2%. Thus, if the deflator matched consensus, it would have generated a GDP of 1.9%; if it was at its recent 3 year average of 2.98%, GDP would be ~1%.

I suspect that a more accurate GDP reading would be somewhere in between . . .


GDP Price Shenanigans!


Chart courtesy of Bloomberg




Economists React: GDP Growth ‘Not Built to Last’
October 31, 2007, 10:16 am

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack (1)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

GDP, Durable Goods

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 07:00 AM

Consensus for Q3 GDP is 3.2%; the consensus range was from 2.5% to 4.0%.

I am on the low end of the range, but given how an under-reported inflation number enhances GDP, a higher data point would not surprise me.

NT's Asha Bangalore  notes:

"Durable goods orders fell 1.7% in September, following a 5.3% drop in the prior month. The 38.7% drop in orders of durable defense items was the major cause for the drop in durable  goods orders.  Excluding defense, bookings of durable goods increased only 0.7%. Orders of  non-defense capital goods rose 4.4% in September after a 12.2% decline.   

The more troubling issue is the fact that both orders (-8.4%) and shipments (-1.1%) of durable goods are weak on a year-to-year basis."

A few of Asha's more interesting charts as we await GDP at 8:30 this morning:


Orders and shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, the less volatile
component of durable goods, also send a similar message:


Wilting Durable Goods Orders - Precursor of More to Come?
Asha Bangalore
Northern Trust, Global Economic Research October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 07:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (46) | TrackBack (0)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

A Tale of 20 Cities

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 05:00 AM

Time's Justin Fox goes color crazy on this version of the Case/Shiller Housing Index:


Wheee! Look at all the petty colors!


The real estate bust in all its many colors
Justin Fox
Time, October 30, 2007 2:55

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 05:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (1)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

Going Postal on PR People

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | 04:16 PM

I LOVE what Chris Anderson did!

I have been hounded by PR 'tards ever since this blog started generating real traffic. (See PR Weenies: Go Away!)

So it is with great pleasure that I am pointing to Wired's Editor-in-Chief, Chris Anderson, who went postal on a group of PR 'tards who have been inundating him with crap email:

So fair warning: I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I'm interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that (I love those emails; indeed, that's why my email address is public).

Everything else gets banned on first abuse. The following is just the last month's list of people and companies who have been added to my Outlook blocked list. All of them have sent me something inappropriate at some point in the past 30 days. Many of them sent press releases; others just added me to a distribution list without asking. If their address gets harvested by spammers by being published here, so be it--turnabout is fair play.

There is no getting off this list. If you're on it and have something appropriate to say to me, use a different email address.

He also lists ALL of their email addresses, for the benefit of email spam harvesters.. . . tee hee

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

Loan Performance by State

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | 02:00 PM

In light of the recent fall in Home prices, as reported by the Case Shiller Index, why don't we see what areas have under-performing loans? That might give us some insight into which areas of the country are suffering pricing problems.

LoanPerformance HPI puts together "comprehensive home price indices" and median sales price datasets cover 7373 zip codes, 956 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA), and 640 counties in all states and District of Columbia—representing 30-plus years of repeat sales transactions and more than 45 million observations.   

Here is their index in map format, which tracks changes in mortgage performances -- the Redder states are getting worse (more delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures), while the green states are improving (less dd&f) over the prior 12 months.



Now let's compare that with the actual regional price changes:


Pretty interesting . . .



Loan Performance via Felix Salomon Market Movers

Property Derivatives via TFS Derivatives Corp

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (1)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

Home Price Fall For 8th Consecutive Month

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | 09:40 AM

No surprise here: The Case-Shiller Home Price Index fell yet again.

Through August 2007, prices of existing single family homes across the United States. The index of 10 U.S. cities fell 5% in August from a year ago -- the biggest drop since June 1991 (a decline of 6.3% in April 1991 holds the record). It is the 21st consecutive month of decelerating returns.

Here's Shiller on the details:

“At both the national and metro area levels, the fall in home prices is showing no real signs of a slowdown or turnaround,” says Robert J. Shiller, Chief Economist at MacroMarkets LLC. “Year-over-year and monthly price returns are continuing to either move deeper into negative territory or are experiencing persistent diminishing returns. There is really no positive news in today’s report, as most of the metro areas are showing declining or vanishing returns on both an annual and monthly basis. Only two metro areas – Denver and Detroit – showed improvement in their annual returns and even those were reports of slightly less negative numbers.”

Doesn't look quite like a bottom just yet.


Treasury Secretary Hank "Strong Dollar" Paulson has finally come around. After making several prior, premature  calls for a Housing bottom, I give credit to Paulson, who has now clearly changed his tune:

"The figures reinforce the view among Federal Reserve officials and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that the housing slump has further to go. Near-record inventory levels suggest sellers will continue to lower prices, posing a threat to consumer spending because homeowners will have less equity to borrow against.           


"This is really the No. 1 risk: a sustained, sharp decrease in home prices really squeezing consumers,'' said Meny Grauman, an economist at Scotia Capital Inc. in Toronto."           

As Keynes stated, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

Indeed . . .


Further Weakening in Home Prices
S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices
October 30, 2007

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Fell 4.4% in August
Courtney Schlisserman
Bloomberg, Oct. 30

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)
de.li.cious add to de.li.cious | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post

Recent Posts

December 2008
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      


Complete Archives List



Category Cloud

On the Nightstand

On the Nightstand

 Subscribe in a reader

Get The Big Picture!
Enter your email address:

Read our privacy policy

Essays & Effluvia

The Apprenticed Investor

Apprenticed Investor

About Me

About Me
email me

Favorite Posts

Tools and Feeds

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Subscribe to The Big Picture

Powered by FeedBurner

Add to Technorati Favorites


My Wishlist

Worth Perusing

Worth Perusing

mp3s Spinning

MP3s Spinning

My Photo



Odds & Ends

Site by Moxie Design Studios™