Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Big money turns are happening all around the world. For example, Cisco just purchased a WiMax company. Up until now, Cisco was not a player in the WiMax market and did not feel the need to be there. The problem for Cisco is that WiMax is proving to be the key to the rapid coverage of huge areas of Brazil, India, China and other developing nations. The growth in telecoms and Internet services in developing countries is huge and quick because there is no competition from a previously built fixed wire system.

The standardization of WiMax protocols is causing the system to spread at a rapid pace even in the USA. Sprint and ClearWire are just two of the early USA leaders. Google has inked a partnership deal with these guys and because Google has purchased billions of dollars of fiber optic capacity and telephone nodes, the speculation continues that Google could build out a nationwide WiMax supplemented Internet/Phone system in a hurry. My guess is that the next big Google move will be to start a VOIP system. Much of the system is already in place. Adding the 700mz TV spectrum, the stuff that goes through walls, would give Google the ability to cover the whole country quickly. The big phone companies are dug in deep and a country wide network would cost billions so several partners may be involved. Even Apple has expressed an interest in buying spectrum. Google will attempt to remain the software provider and let others sell the hardware and the service.

Since Google became public, the stock has risen from $85 to $650+. During that time, Apple has gone up twice as much. I believe Apple is over valued but it certainly has momentum. I continue to hold shares in accounts and inside QQQQ, QLD and other funds. If I had enough money to buy all of Apple, I would buy Google instead and invest the other half in something else. This statement may sound silly but I have used this logic to great advantage in the past. For example, when I suggested buying CAL at $6 per share, I wrote that LUV at $17 per share was dramatically over priced. I said that if I had the money to buy all of LUV that I would buy CAL, AMR, UAUA, DAL and NWA instead and invest the remaining 9 Billion Dollars elsewhere. Since that time, LUV has gone nowhere and CAL has gone up from $6 to $36. Even today, those who do not understand the situation are over paying for LUV while the growth in international traffic is huge.

Back to the big mobile turn, Google's purchase of Jaiku shows us once again just how much change is in store. Jaiku has the potential to automate everything from your address book to your photo album. It is kind of a Twitter on steroids. Give your teenage child a Jaiku phone and you will know his location, to whom he is talking, see the world from his camera lens and keep records of all his activities. It sounds like a spooky big brother deal but those who like it are crazy about it. Coworkers have found Jaiku to be a huge time saver; notes and contacts are automatically shared across the network. Husbands who stop for groceries access the list prepared by their spouse and automatically leave the message that the shopping has been done. Put a Jaiku on a child and he will not get lost for long.

The big turn in the Internet is that it will go mobile big time over the next several years. Buy the QQQQ's and hang on for the ride. Ideas are coming hard and fast. I did not buy more VM Ware when it was spun off from EMC but I have enjoyed the ride since EMC still owns 86% of the stock. It is impossible to see which of the big firms will produce the next winner. Ebay is babying another fascinating purchase and Amazon is selling high dollar goods rapidly while the pundits keep talking about the consumer being tapped out.


Understanding what most others do not understand is the path to BIG MONEY. The REALLY BIG MONEY TURN is close at hand but most investors expect the dollar to continue to fall.

The really big money turn is that the value of the US Dollar relative to most other world currencies is about to climb rapidly. The brief history of the dollar is that it was very weak in 1986 and again in 1995 just before those mid cycle turns, once the dollar turned, it climbed and climbed and climbed some more. In the latest cycle, it peaked in the year 2000 just as the average American went "all-in" during the Internet bubble. Since that time, the dollar has fallen and fallen some more and it is now at about the same level as it was in 1995. In the year 2000, one could buy a Euro with a dollar and get back about 20 cents in change. Today, one needs $1.42 to buy one Euro. The consequences are huge. The reason US manufactured exports grew at the huge rate of 16.1% over the past year is because our goods are now very cheap. If you do not believe that the dollar is down, take a trip to London and be sure not to forget your American Express Card. The exception has been the Japanese Yen. Japan is the other major exporter of capital goods. China, on the other hand is at the other end of the see saw. China is the ultimate labor intensive goods producer. Even so, in the past year, the Chinese Yuan has appreciated against the dollar.

How many .27 basis point interest rate moves are enough to slow this country down? The Chinese government is tightening the screws. The coming slowdown in China will not be a bust. Still, if growth were to be cut by half or two thirds, the demand for commodities will be curtailed. The big turn in commodity prices is at hand. Prices will not collapse but the relative performance of high tech companies which use commodities will far out do the performance of the resource companies.


The dramatic slowdown in the US housing market, which has taken down the price of lumber and which is pushing down of the price of other materials, is giving US Central bankers the motivation to cut short term interest rates. A cut in short term interest rates will stimulate the US economy. The strong growth in the US will increase the demand for dollars. As the dollar increases in value, it will create its own demand for more dollars because foreign investors are paid a bonus when US investments go up in dollar terms. The US and Japan make the most sophisticated capital goods products. Now that the recovery is over, it is capital goods producers that will benefit from future economic growth.

During the past 5 years, the carry trade has been a big winner for the big investment banks and the hedge funds. These investors borrowed Yen at very low rates of interest and swapped for other currencies in order to earn higher rates. The problem is that the big turn is also here in regard to the Yen. The Yen is the other currency that will appreciate dramatically over the coming years. The big turmoil in the financial markets for the past couple of months have been the result of the unwinding of the carry trade. The sub-prime mess is not nearly as big a problem as is perceived. Indeed, the largest of all mortgage lenders, Country Wide, announced today that it will provide refinancing for sub-prime loans.

Let me put it this way, on my way around Winston-Salem today I counted dozens of commercial projects underway. The construction includes everything from office buildings, manufacturing facilities, health care facilities, bridges, roads and restaurants. Yes, housing construction has fallen 48% !!!! since the peak of January 2006, however, even now housing construction is about double the units that were built during the 1993 slump! Adjust for size and features and the down turn is not nearly as big as it looks. About 35% of new houses being built today have three car garages, extra baths and even home theaters. I visited a three-bedroom three-bath Parade of Homes property this past Saturday and was surprised to see that it had three car garages on either side. In my book, it takes a boy with toys to want a 6 car garage home. Now, do not tell me that a recession is at hand. Housing construction has fallen dramatically but the current 6 and a fraction % home mortgage rate makes homes far more affordable than the last time oil prices were at $80 per barrel, at that time mortgages were priced at 15%! With more people at the prime age to upgrade to a larger home, I expect the housing market to turn up strong within a few months. TURN, TURN, TURN, TO EVERY THING THERE IS A SEASON!

THE BOTTOM LINE IS that investors should recognize that the coming turn in the dollar will mean that US stocks will generally out perform international stocks. It is time to under weight international stocks. The second half of the business cycle is a time when big cap growth will generally out perform small cap value. By the end of the cycle, the big mutual funds will be crowded into fewer and fewer big cap stocks. In other words you can get a jump on the crowd by buying IBM and GE. You will not make as much with these in the short run but they will keep on moving up for several years.


There is now enough new tar sand oil flowing from Canada that two pipelines that historically carried oil from the Gulf Coast to the mid west have been reversed. This situation will continue until the large refinery in Illinois and the large refinery in Indiana are upgraded, the permits have already been approved! If the new refinery planned for South Dakota is constructed, it will be fed by yet a new pipeline from Canada. This new Canadian oil will be a significant factor among many that will cause the turn around in the price of oil.

OPEC having pledged to increase production by 500,000 barrels per day effective November 1 has jumped the gun. High oil prices are apparently causing cartel members to cheat by several hundred thousand barrels per day. In addition, production increases keep coming from Angola, Canada, Brazil and a large number of places that are hard to spell or hard to find on a map. Another place where the pipeline flow is being reversed is between Kenya and Uganda. Once again this is probably a temporary condition. After big discoveries in Uganda, several of which are just across the border from Kenya, Kenya is eager to get in on the goodies. A Canadian major has just signed contracts to explore the area. A few billion barrels here and there and you eventually get to that marginal price break.

The cross currents are incredible. The US congress is about ready to give up on its latest and craziest energy bill. Yes, if the bill were to pass, the wealthiest of corn farmers would get about 100 million dollars more in subsidies. This time the subsides would be paid for by increasing the tax on oil companies. Duh! we need more oil so lets tax the production of it more? The good news is this bill is another that cannot get past a Bush veto. In the meantime, the UAE government has issued $2 Billion in bonds in order to help with its purchase of Canada's Prime West Energy. The turn is certainly here when a middle eastern country is borrowing money to buy oil assets! I suppose the bonds were sold at a discount to avoid the payment of interest but the move is still significant.


It is hard to see the progress toward a solution to the Iranian "problem". However, the US, Russia and Iran are currently doing a triple tango. The US has signaled that it will delay the construction of the European Missile Defense System if Russia will help stop the Iranian Nukes. Russia has signaled Iran that it will support Iran militarily if Iran will stop making the hard dangerous stuff. The leadership of Iran has done the a two step. The grand leader has undercut the power of the public leader. Stay tuned. A settlement would reduce the oil risk premium by $10 to $20 per barrel!


The war in Turkey is now 23 years long. More than 30,000 Turks have been killed. Most Americans do not even know about the war. I suspect that the recent big public brouhaha was carefully timed for political and economic reasons but this does not matter. The key point is that peace is finally a possibility. The semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan is enjoying relative peace and prosperity. Oil producers from around the world are beating a path to the countries door. The leaders of Iraq have quickly "outlawed" the rebel PKK factions that have been fighting the Turks. Iraq will join the Turks in putting down the rebellion. Of course, some of the Kurds within Turkey will continue the fight but the pressure to end the madness is coming from all sides. Turkey and Kurdistan are both middle east success stories. Turkey has a large and growing economy. In a show of support, the US has given Turkey several surplus war ships.

By the way, the source of much of the international information is Stratfor. You should sign up for a trial subscription if you are interested in international affairs. Some of the tech information is from GigOM which is a free Internet service.


The democratic congress continues to find itself in a very deep hole. The problems keep piling up. Yesterday, Hank Paulson wrote a letter saying how important it is to get the AMT fix done promptly. If Congress does not act very soon, about $75 Billion of tax refunds to the public will be delayed. The cut off for reprogramming IRS computers is upon us. Last year, a few refunds were delayed and the recipients were not happy. The problem is that there are currently about 20 million people effected by the AMT for the very first time. In addition, there are other tax breaks that must be extended as a part of the same bill. Trent Lott and John Kyle are starting to have lots of fun while pushing democrats to act.

The latest proposal is to allow the democrats to suspend their pay-go rules, provided that they will give Republicans equal amounts of tax breaks. In other words, the democrats can patch the AMT for one year to the tune of about $65 Billion if $65 Billion of the Bush tax cuts are extended. Oh what a tangled web?

Democrats have vowed to try to pass the SCHIP $35 Billion increase one more time. The interesting thing is that if they are successful, they will need to find about $100 Billion of tax increases to offset the combination of the AMT and the SCHIP! Oh what a tangled web?

The pending bills include approximately 13,000 earmarks. The total value of these earmarks is around $9 Billion Dollars. This is enough money to double fund SCHIP this year. It really seems that the democratic congress is between a very hard rock and very hard place. As a person who believes that free trade is the foundation of prosperity, it pains me to know that the subsidies for wealth corn farmers is the reason that other nations refuse to purchase our agricultural products. I can't blame the other nations but the actions of republicans and democrats in congress to hurt the nation in exchange for political contributions from the special interest is shameful.

Believe it or not, the federal budget that should have been passed well before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, may be passed as an omnibus bill around November 16; not the way to run a railroad! The process for passing an omnibus bill is for a relatively small group of people to sit down and edit thousands of pages in the matter of a few days. The final vote will be made by 535 people who have not even read the final product. Shameful indeed.

Good News Good News Good News

I do not want to end on a negative note so here are a few pieces of good news.

1) The moderate leader Bhutto is still alive. We will all know that change is in the air if this woman is elected to lead Pakistan.

2) Real wages in the USA have increased at an average of 3.7% for the past two years. Let the good times roll! The prosperity phase of the business cycle is at hand!

3) While there will be lots of "bad economic news" surfacing over the next few weeks, this "bad news" is good news as it will confirm that "Big Ben" will cut US interest rates again. The average return of the average stock has been 19% in the year after the last 8 first interest rate cuts. That 19% figure hides the rotation effect. Many stocks will rise 50% or more over the next year.

4) CAL signed contracts today that will save the company another 100 million per year. UAUA soared on great earnings and on its progress toward outsourcing high cost service. UAUA is also one of the airlines that is considering selling its frequent flier program.