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Here at Oakshire Financial, we consider ourselves the cowboys of commerce. With greed and corruption running wild through the veins of Wall Street, we pride ourselves on cutting through the nonsense and bring our readers into the fold. Bourbon & Bayonets features financial and investing advice & analysis, insight, information, stock market commentary, and investment tips on all aspects of the financial and economic arena.
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Choose Life! (MO, XOM, FB)
It’s not a comfortable topic to discuss at the best of times, and certainly not in polite company. But it’s become topical of late and because it has relevance to the world of finance and markets in general we feel it’s worthy of a word here.
The subject is suicide.
Yes, friends, suicide. And it’s no joke.
There have been a rash of bankers and other high-ranking financial types (among others) who’ve taken their lives as of late and our feeling is this is anything but coincidence.
Blame it on growing work demands in a world of tightrope performance pressures. Blame it an increasingly alienated citizenry, whose social time is now spent with virtual friends instead of the real, flesh and blood variety. Blame it on the material culture that we inhabit, that focuses exclusively on one’s cash hoard, social standing or notoriety at the expense of matters of the heart and spirit – and you have reasons aplenty to figure why people opt for the most desperate act of all.
A New Financial Reality?
- January 25th – Tim Dickenson, communications director at Swiss Re AG.
- January 26th – William Broeksmit, 58, senior executive at Deutsche Bank AG.
- January 27th – Karl Slym, 51, managing director of Indian carmaker Tata Motors.
- January 27th – Gabriel Magee, 39, of JP Morgan, London.
- January 30th - Mike Dueker, 50, chief economist, Russell Investments.
- February 6th - Richard Talley, 57, Founder, American Title Services.
- February 12th – Ryan Henry Crane, 37, JP Morgan.
- February 18th - Li Junjie, 33, JP Morgan, Hong Kong.
- February 19th – James Stuart Jr, National Bank of Commerce, CEO.
- March 12th – Edmund Reilly, 47, trader at Vertical Group.
- March 17th – Kenneth Bellando, 28, Levy Capital Partners.
- April 5th – Peter Schmittmann, CEO of ABN Amro (and his wife and daughter).
- April 6th – Juergen Frick, 48, CEO of Bank Frick & Co. AG (murdered).
We’re genuinely sorry for the families and friends of these individuals, who certainly must be distraught but we also have to warn that we believe this phenomenon will not be passing in nature. In short, it’s going to get worse – and potentially a lot worse.
It’s a function of our current reality. One of the primary themes of the times in which we live is suicide. Whether it’s financiers, or a nation’s finances or the very nation itself, the drive to self-incinerate seems to be growing and it’s reaching into corners we never imagined could be associated with such a trend.
Quit blowing smoke!
Without getting too far off base, let’s just make a few general statements by way of introduction and flesh them out further in the weeks ahead.
Our purpose here is to focus on investing and money.
- The tendency toward suicide is a phenomenon small investors will experience most palpably with their finances. That is, the will to lose everything, to blow up financially, to bet it all on a single horse, or to go to Vegas or binge for a fortnight, is a drive that will overtake even the sanest of individuals – particularly when other aspects of their lives are temporarily out of sorts.
Rise in housing starts, Yahoo! (YHOO) preps for new IPO and China’s economy misses expectations
Markets were heading higher on Wednesday morning after housing starts rose in March. The Commerce Department announced that groundbreaking on new homes was up 2.8% last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 946,000. There was a large revision of February’s data to show a gain of 1.9% instead of the previous 0.2% decline. Despite the gain in March, starts still missed economists expectations of a 973,000 gain. This shows that there still may be underlying weak data as the numbers still missed despite the improving spring weather. Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James, said, “Given the weather, housing is still disappointing.” When compared to last year during the same time, starts were down 5.9%. This is the largest year over year decline since April 2011. A report released yesterday showed that homebuilders were still downbeat on the near-term progress for the sector. The information released by the National Association of Home Builders said that the index was up to 47. However, readings below the 50 mark indicate that more builders are viewing building conditions as poor. David Crowe, chief economist with NAHB, said, “Headwinds that are holding up a more robust recovery include ongoing tight credit conditions for home buyers and the fact that builders in many markets are facing limited availability of lots of labor.”
Shares of Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) were trading up over 7.5% after the company posted their quarterly results that showed a push in the Asian market and a gain in advertising revenue. The company is gaining the majority of their revenue in China’s Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan. They hold a 24% stake in Alibaba and it is about to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Some analysts are projecting the value to reach about $100 billion. Some of the most positive reports from analysts even place the I.P.O. valuation at $200 billion, which would be the largest I.P.O. in American history. Alibaba’s profits came in at $1.4 billion during the fourth-quarter, which is over double what the company did during this time last year. During the first-quarter, Yahoo! (YHOO) posted net income of $312 million, or 29 cents per share, on revenue of $1.13 billion. This time last year the company reported net income of $390 million, or 35 cents per share, on $1.14 billion in revenue.
In worldwide news, China’s economy slowed to a pace not reached in over 18 months. Their economy grew at a 7.4% rate for the first-quarter of the year. The National Bureau of Statistics said that it was slightly above economists projection of 7.3% but it still was lower than the 7.7% during the last quarter of 2013. China’s economy has not had growth this slow since the third-quarter of 2012. Sheng Laiyun, from the National Bureau of Statistics, said, “The slowdown of China’s economy is a reflection of a transformation of the economic mode. There is no fundamental change in the improving trend of China’s economy. The economy is still moving steadily towards the expected direction.”
That’s all for today.…
Retail Sales jump, Citigroup (C) posts unexpected profit and General Motors (GM) saga continues…
Markets were headed higher on Monday morning after retail sales hit their highest level in a year and a half. The Commerce Department reported that sales were up 1.1% in March, a level not seen since September of 2012. The March data surpassed economists expectations of a 0.8% increase. They also upwardly revised February’s data by 0.7%. The upward movement for the index was partially attributed to a large 3.1% gain in sales of automobiles and parts dealers. This was the biggest advance for the sector since September of 2012. When taking auto sales out of the equation, retail were still up 0.7%. There was also a large rise in sales at building material and garden equipment stores of 1.8%. Not all data was positive though. Sales were down 1.6% at electronics and appliance stores and gas stations sales were down 1.3%. Retail sales account for one third of consumer spending. Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, said, “The consumer is on the move and the warmer weather is improving attitudes and sales.”
Shares of Citigroup Inc. (C) were trading up over 3.5% after the company reported profits on smaller than expected losses during the first-quarter. The company said that there was 4% rise in profits after posting a smaller loss in their troubled assets sector and bigger profits in their core trading and lending business. Net income was up to $4.15 billion, or $1.30 per share. This was higher than the $4.00 billion, or $1.29 per share, this time last year. This surpassed the $1.14 per share that analysts had been expecting. The world’s third-largest bank said that their net loss from the troubled assets portfolio, which is held by Citi Holdings, eased from $798 million this time last year to $292 million this quarter. Their core business, Citicorp, recorded an 8% loss in net income and a drop of 5% in revenue. The decline was partially attributed to a drop in revenue from bond trading and mortgage lending. Citigroup also announced that during the first-quarter they were investigating a $400 million loan fraud case in their Mexican subsidiary. Mark Corbat, Citigroup CEO, said, “We reduced our deferred tax assets more than any other quarter since the crisis and drove Citi Holdings closer to break even.”
Shares of General Motors Inc. (GM) were trading up higher after hundreds of pages of documents from the recall saga are beginning to be sorted through. The latest is that the company has shown over 10 years of failure to respond to auto-safety complaints. Their current CEO, Mary Barra, has spent her first three months in her role dealing with the fallout from the recall fiasco. The company will announce their quarterly reports on April 24 and may report their first loss in over four years. This may be a reality when counting in the losses it will incur to recall the nearly 7 million cars and trucks for varying defects. The company’s decline on Friday was their biggest drop since March 11, when the first report arose that the U.S.…
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