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The Stingy News Quarterly Q2 2003

Top Stingy Links

Notes from the Berkshire Hathaway and Wesco Annual Meetings
http://www.tilsonfunds.com/brkmtg03notes.html
http://www.tilsonfunds.com/wscmtg03notes.html
http://www.tilsonfunds.com/brkwscnotes.html

The Best Of Stingy Links

Stingy Links: Accounting

Don't forget the fine print
"If you fail to read the footnotes in a company's filings, you're not getting the whole story."

False profits
"Due to some accounting rule changes, income trends may be more fanciful than real."

When a skeptic says, 'Buy!'
"To determine whether to pick or pan a stock, Meyer usually starts with the proxy statement. "I want to see that management owns a lot of stock and has modest salaries by industry comparisons," he says. "I also don't want to see any self-dealing or related-party transactions where the CEO owns an airplane the company leases from him." It was in Tyco's proxy that Meyer first became suspicious after reading that former CEO Dennis Kozlowski received a $65,000 fee to serve on the company's board."

Angst & Young
"It was HealthSouth's accountant. And AOL's too. E&Y says it did nothing wrong. So why's it changing so much?"

Honey, I shrunk the profits
"Brown says that a year ago corporations were still thinking in terms of the letter of the law, not the spirit of what they should be doing. No more. "It's amazing where we're at, but I feel comfortable saying I think corporations at some point are being unduly conservative." Given the year we've been through, we might be able to live with that."

Stingy Links: Bonds

Awaiting inflation
"These veterans know that the bond market's reputation for absolute safety is undeserved. After all, there are plenty of instances in history where bond investors were fleeced. Investors lent money to the US government to finance World War II at rates of 2.5% for terms of between ten and twenty years in length. By doing so, they committed themselves to a 2.5% return on their money on the eve of a massive period of inflation. Those investors who held these bonds for the duration suffered major losses as inflation ate away at their savings."

The 'safe investments' that backfired
"Some savers are about to lose all of their original investment because of an apparently safe saving scheme - the so-called high income bonds."

Short memories, deep pockets
"If the American economy falls back into recession, corporate spreads and defaults will obviously rise. The really troubling question for investors is whether they will do so if the economy picks up and interest rates rise to more normal levels. Either way, corporate bonds at current spreads look expensive. And so does Russia."

Bonds away
"Investors have been rushing headlong into fixed income, but there are plenty of pitfalls to watch out for"

Know when to yield
"Go ahead and buy your own corporate bonds, but make sure you're not overpaying your broker"

WorldCom's bankrupt argument
"Moravus, 29, who bought 1,000 shares at face value after the WorldCom acquisition, noted that WorldCom repeatedly said that the MCI QUIPS had a prior claim on MCI assets relative to other WorldCom debt. Because much of what is valuable at WorldCom appears to be at MCI, that promise would seem to indicate that the MCI debtors would be relatively secure even in a bankruptcy reorganization. But that isn't how it worked out after WorldCom collapsed in a wave of accounting fraud."

Stingy Links: Brokers

Most brokerage stock picks underperform S&P500
"The study, which analyzed data from quarterly surveys prepared by Zacks Investment Research and published in The Wall Street Journal, found that the average compounded quarterly return for recommended stocks was 2.17%, with the S&P 500 performing marginally better at 2.26%. The study also found that the variability of recommended stock returns is greater than the S&P 500."

Putting the Pump in 'Pump and Dump'
"Here's a chart showing the 35 stocks that regulators allege were the subject of deceptive research, and the firms that peddled the research on those stocks to unsuspecting investors. Also included is an example of the kind of emails regulators used to build their case against each firm. These and other emails are expected to provide ammunition for disgruntled investors in arbitration claims and class-action lawsuits."

When "sell" means "buy"
"According to a recent study, in 2000 and 2001, "buy" recommendations from Wall Street analysts underperformed the market by an annualized average of more than 7%. That, in itself, isn't news to burned investors. But more interestingly, their "sell" recommendations outperformed the market by an annualized average of 13.4%. In plain terms, the stocks that analysts told people to avoid actually outperformed the ones they were bullish about by an average of 20.5% per year."

Wall Street's trust fund is tapped out
"How naive we were. In the just-announced global settlement, the enforcement bodies alleged that some big banks had been paying one another to issue positive "research" about clients. The banks didn't admit or deny the allegations, though news accounts quoted industry insiders acknowledging the practice."

Stingy Links: Buffett

2003 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting
"This is not a transcript. No recording devices were allowed at the meeting, so this is based on many hours of rapid typing, combined with my memory (egads!). I have reorganized the content of the meeting by subject area. All quotes are Buffett's unless otherwise noted. Words in [brackets] are my comments or edits."

Buffett's speech stressed solid business
"Buffet told students his three keys to success in business are intelligence, energy and integrity."

Buffett says CEOs overpaid
"'It's always invigorating,' Mr. Eisner said. 'They make things sound very clear and very simple, which, of course, it is not.'" Humm, how much does Eisner make?

Buffett: Do as I say, not as I did
"When Warren Buffett launched his latest campaign against excessive CEO pay, he first anticipated an inevitable question: how has Buffett's own record been on this issue? "Not so good," was his answer."

Buffett hits back at Greenspan
"Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, has unleashed a further blistering attack on the use of derivatives by banks, arguing that the complex financial instruments could pose significant risks for the health of the global economy."

How to buy into Buffett on the cheap
"Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway shares may be a lot cheaper than they look. Meantime, here are two intriguing alternatives for investing just like the legend."

Warren Buffett's profits soar
"Investment guru Warren Buffett has confirmed his legendary ability to back the right businesses by doubling his company's profits."

Stingy Links: DRPs

On-line brokers make DRIPs easy
"A few years ago, the typical on-line brokerage customer would have had as much use for a dividend reinvestment plan as an Avril Lavigne fan would for a box of Perry Como records. Now, with on-line brokerage clients evolving from frenzied speculators into prudent investors, DRIPs are a perfect match."

Stingy Links: Derivatives

Why Freddie's mess matters
"The turmoil and shake-up at mortgage giant is raising fears of deeper problems. Here's a guide to the central issues and concerns."

A dangerous offer
"What is Wall Street thinking? After being pummeled for selling bum stocks to investors, the big firms are now trying to peddle arcane and little-regulated credit-derivatives products to Main Street (yup, the same type of stuff that Warren Buffett recently called financial "weapons of mass destruction")."

Stingy Links: Dreman

Earnings shortage
"Euphoric profit forecasts have driven the market up far too high--especially for Nasdaq 100 stocks. A closer look at them is sobering. Go for value."

Quite the Contrarians
"You can see why it's cool to be contrarian: Fund manager David Dreman tracked market opinions of experts going back to 1929, and found that the consensus was wrong 77% of the time."

Stingy Links: Fun

Want a little something EGTRRA?
"It's tax time. I know this because I'm staring at documents that make no sense to me, no matter how many beers I drink."

Anyone can be fooler of the world
"HG Wells came up with the idea first: invent a fancy machine, step inside, press a few buttons and before you ask what the time is, you're drinking tea with the ancestors."

'Time-Traveler' busted for insider trading
"But the fact is, with an initial investment of only $800, in two weeks' time he had a portfolio valued at over $350 million. Every trade he made capitalized on unexpected business developments, which simply can't be pure luck."

Corporate Babble
"The first was a recall notice released by Ford, which informed the world of potential steering problems with some of its pick-up trucks and Expeditions. How's this for a diagnosis? "In the small number of these vehicles in which the intermediate steering shaft yoke was not properly installed, the result ultimately may be a disconnection of the intermediate steering shaft from the steering gear." The Babbler assumes that means the steering wheel has all the responsiveness of the free-spinning ones mounted on those little kiddie cars outside of grocery stores. But don't worry; it's only a "high-mileage durability issue.""

A reason to be lazy this summer
"After writing a book (My Job, My Self, Routledge, 2000) that established once and for all that we are what we do, Al Gini decided that we work too much."

Blue food blues
"'Simply put, they're not what a potato is supposed to be.' This is how H.J. Heinz pitched Funky Fries -- the weird chocolate-flavored and blue-colored fries -- to the world last year."

Stingy Links: Government

Convict leasing in Alabama
"In the early decades of the 20th century, tens of thousands of convicts -- most of them, like Mr. Cottenham, indigent black men -- were snared in a largely forgotten justice system rooted in racism and nurtured by economic expedience. Until nearly 1930, decades after most other Southern states had abolished similar programs, Alabama was providing convicts to businesses hungry for hands to work in farm fields, lumber camps, railroad construction gangs and, especially in later years, mines. For state and local officials, the incentive was money; many years, convict leasing was one of Alabama's largest sources of funding."

Good money after bad
"America's Congress has voted to give the beleaguered airline industry more than $3 billion in aid, ostensibly to help it through the war in Iraq. But the airlines' problems predate the conflict and will continue long after the fighting stops."

The suits inside the battledress
"Is collusion between government and big business increasing in America?"

Is the tax cut for real?
"Polls suggest that only 45 percent of the public backs the tax bill signed by President Bush, which means that a majority are against it, indifferent, or confused. Now, we can dismiss the idea that people don't want tax cuts. After all, if people wanted to pay taxes, we could just make them voluntary and be done with it. They are called taxes because people are being forced to pay for something they would otherwise not pay for. Asking people if they want a tax cut should be like asking if they want less mugging."

$20 bill gets a facelift
"The $20 bill got a facelift Tuesday, complete with new colors, a new number arrangement and a new background, in the government's latest effort to thwart counterfeiters."

Bring back the guild system?
"All of these examples of genuine exploitation amount to one of many reasons that free-market economists hold the beliefs that they do. The greater the scope of state activity, the greater the potential for each pressure group to use the state apparatus for its own enrichment, at the expense of the rest of society. Since the benefits that accrue to such pressure groups from their political agitation are sizable and concentrated, while their costs are dispersed and hidden, the tendency over time is for more and more of this kind of activity to go on at the expense of the ordinary person."

The joy of looting
"Victory celebrations are inevitable but dangerous. They rejoice in destruction, not creation, cheer violence, not cooperation, herald the doings of mass armies, not the creativity of individuals, and glorify the actions of bureaucrats and politicians, not the productivity of society and enterprise."

Liberation begins at home
"The war against Saddam was at least partly about freeing the Iraqis, so why are Americans' right to speak their minds being trampled?"

Stingy Links: Grant

Reaching for yield
"People believe that bonds are inherently conservative. Not so. They are conservative at a price, and these aren't the right prices."

Deflation cure sickens dollar
"The Federal Reserve is acting as if the U.S. were facing Japan-style deflation. With the CPI up 3%, the real problem is in the other direction."

The money printers
"Fearing Japan-style deflation Greenspan's Fed is buying Treasurys with dollars it mints for that purpose. Bondholders and other creditors should beware."

Stingy Links: Gross

Shaq attack
"A retired money manager who shall remain anonymous, confided to me on his way out the door, "I still love to invest, I just grew tired of the business of investing." Of course the considerable stack of chips he was lugging to the cashier on the way out of the casino gave him the luxury of such profundity, but he illuminated a valuable distinction. Investing and the business of investing are not always the same."

Stingy Links: Law

Justice, Tobacco, and Retroactive Law
"John Ashcroft's minions are trying to gain a new source of government revenue by again looting U.S. tobacco companies-and further destroying the U.S. Constitution in the process. It is not enough for the U.S. Government to be waging war against Iraq; it must also continue to war against Americans as well."

Madly off in all directions
"There is only one thing that provincial securities regulators in Canada can agree on--to disagree."

The $50 billion card game
"In a mammoth lawsuit, seven million stores accuse Visa and MasterCard of ripping them off with debit cards. Can they win?"

Fat chance
"As we observe the current frenzy of lawyers preparing to sue McDonald's and Burger King-and even suing Kraft Foods, the maker of Oreos-for allegedly causing their clients to suffer from obesity, we cannot help but wonder what lunatics have taken over the U.S. legal system."

MCI shareholders jump the payout line
"The SEC wants to impose a half-billion dollar penalty on the telecom giant and use the money to compensate investors. Creditors will howl."

Director finds no road map on route to disclosure
"Ms. Urquhart had every intention of being an active director. Her unsuccessful efforts to get fellow directors to address what she considered a hornet's nest of problems at the Aldergrove, B.C., company took her on an odyssey well beyond the boardroom. She has spent the past two years writing innumerable letters, making phone calls and travelling back and forth from her home in Mississauga to British Columbia, navigating her way through the courts and Canada's patchwork securities regulatory system. It seems that just about everyone wanted her to go away."

Stingy Links: Management

Executive pay: labor strikes back
"Call it the revenge of the battered shareholder. Across Corporate America, proxy resolutions aimed at curbing CEO pay are winning unprecedented victories. Most are sponsored by union and public pension funds, which are capitalizing on investor ire over fat pay packages at poorly performing companies. So far, they've scored more than two dozen majority votes on issues such as golden parachutes and expensing stock options, vs. two last year. "Shareholders are saying, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore,"' says shareholder activist Nell Minow."

The latest way to hide millions
"Think CEO pay is out of control? Wait till you see what these guys get when they retire."

Firms pay taxes on fraudulent earnings
"It is unclear what real or perceived benefits managers of these firms believed were generated by overstating earnings. Our estimates of taxes paid on overstated earnings suggest that at least some managers believe the value---to the firm or perhaps mainly to them personally---of overstating earnings is substantial."

Stock options aren't the only option
"Tech companies are panicked at the FASB recommendation to drop options, but they shouldn't be: Better incentives exist." How about a regular cash salary?

You're fired. Here's your $16 million.
"Multimillion-dollar severance packages for lousy executives are more than just outrageous. They also provide critical clues about a company's board, its stock and its future."

Have they no shame?
"Their performance stank last year, yet most CEOs got paid more than ever. Here's how they're getting away with it."

Shareholders unite to expense options
"Investors are mounting spirited campaigns to make tech companies cost out their options. Congress and regulators should pay attention."

The incredible shrinking consultant
"That question is one that McKinsey, BCG, and Bain will have to grapple with over the next few years as they try to prove to clients that they're still relevant--and not, in the words of one West Coast CEO, a bunch of 'beefed-up MBAs with big egos who charge a lot to tell executives what they should already know.'"

We're (still) in the money
"Corporate scandals and falling share prices have forced companies to rethink their executive-compensation schemes. And yet, bosses are still being paid sums that many shareholders consider indefensible: in America, top-level compensation actually rose last year."

Have fat cats had their day?
"British and American shareholders have begun what looks increasingly like a sustained revolt against excessive executive pay."

High on the hog
"So, you'd think with all the investor lawsuits flying around these days, the "heads I win, tails you lose" approach to executive pay would be over. Well, don't bet your sagging portfolio on it--at least not yet. While the downward spiral in stock prices prompted some Canadian compensation committees to cut the pay of corporate chieftains in 2002, many executives saw their compensation increase--despite loud lobbying from securities regulators, corporate governance advocates and outraged institutional and retail shareholders."

EDS: 'Executives Don't Suffer'
"A fired CEO leaves with millions; the rank and file get four weeks' severance."

Live and learn: Honest Ed
"Free enterprise is the best form. It gives the man on the street the advantage--we're all fighting for his money"

Stingy Links: Markets

Peer pressure keeps the pros gambling
"Worried about missing the rally? Worry instead about the money managers who risk your savings to keep up with the pack."

National economic planning: will it fly?
"As Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek have argued, one intervention would generate unintended consequences that would require further intervention. Since we each see directly into our own minds alone, politicians and bureaucrats cannot predict the complex myriad of reactions that their plans for intervention will instigate. As people react and adjust to government policies, and these policies become more complex and comprehensive, we would move towards comprehensive economic planning, socialism, and tyranny."

Getting stretched
"If you look at earnings under generally accepted accounting principles, the S&P 500 is trading a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 31.4, up from 27.5 at the end of March. Before 1998, it had never been above 30. If you are a kind and forgiving person, you can use pro forma earnings -- the numbers that companies post before charges for stuff like plant closings, layoffs, and the like. On that basis, the S&P's P/E is 19.7, a level rarely seen before the gaga years of the late 1990s."

Can stocks defy gravity?
"That's what Wall Street wants you to believe. Don't buy it. The best minds say the market will rise, but it won't soar."

Nobody wants you when you're down and out
"As big a drop as that was, a Standard & Poor's study of the S&P 500 found that stocks lose an average of 11.7% in the days leading up to removal from the index (see chart). Canadian stocks weren't included in that study. But as S&P cut more than 70 companies from the Toronto index over the past year for failing to meet minimum listing requirements, it wasn't unusual to see prices drop between 15% and 20% in the two weeks around the time of deletion. A short time later, many recouped some of their losses."

Longtime bear not changing his negative attitude
"Bubbles disappear completely. Showing graphs of different bubbles versus their trend lines, Grantham points out that every bubble is symmetrical. If prices rise 100 percent, 200 percent or 300 percent over their trend, bursting the bubble ends with a retreat that goes back to the trend line. Then it continues and goes below the trend line."

Stingy Links: Munger

The psychology of human misjudgment
"And I came here because behavioral economics. How could economics not be behavioral? If it isn't behavioral, what the hell is it? And I think it's fairly clear that all reality has to respect all other reality. If you come to inconsistencies, they have to be resolved, and so if there's anything valid in psychology, economics has to recognize it, and vice versa. So I think the people that are working on this fringe between economics and psychology are absolutely right to be there, and I think there's been plenty wrong over the years."

2003 Wesco annual meeting
"Why do people come? Partly, I'm sure out of respect for the long-term record of compounding money at high rates. But also there's the cast of mind that helped create the record. I'm very sympathetic to people who share our twists of mind. If you're Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, you're lonely. The whole of academia, business and economics believe a lot of things we don't believe at all, and conversely don't believe a lot of things we do believe."

Stingy Links: Stocks

Old raiders never die--they just get even
"Oscar Wyatt lost a ton of money on El Paso. Now he's trying to throw the bums out. And he just may succeed."

The Martha mess becomes a monster
"With Stewart's indictment, the big question hanging over her company and investors is: Will they have to get along without her?"

Pension plans face $225-billion shortfall
"Canada's public and private pen-sion plans are facing a collective funding shortfall of $225-billion - an amount roughly equal to 20 per cent of the nation's gross domestic product - new estimates com-piled by three major benefit con-sulting firms show. Closing that funding gap will require billions of additional dollars from plan sponsors and perhaps employees, the research warns. It puts the extra funding demands at 2 per cent of GDP annually over the next 15 years, provided there are no further gains or losses."

It pays to inspect annual reports
"Next, we come to the real guts of the annual report -- the consolidated balance sheet, statement of earnings and cash flows, plus the all-important notes to the financial statements. Here's a brief explanation of each"

Why AOL's accounting problems keep popping up
"The online giant created ad 'revenues' out of thin air. Now, it's got scandals!"

Credit bureaus exposed
"The companies that determine your ability to get a loan have dabbled in everything from handbags to animal husbandry. Scared yet?"

Sour dough
"Great Canadian Bagel was once the hottest chain in the country. But its business plan went stale fast--and many franchisees were left holding the bag."

Tender trap
"Lorne Albaum's TRC Capital gives companies and shareholders a run for their money."

Tripping over pension shortfalls
"Underfunded plans have led companies like US Airways into bankruptcy and will compromise others' credit ratings and spending plans."

10 stocks the insiders are still buying
"The people who know their companies best are mostly selling into the rally, but those who follow insider trades say some are still snapping up shares."

The limits of bankruptcy
"Some say the most efficient way to bring down capacity is to allow the industry to consolidate. With two or three giant airlines competing to fly just about everywhere, each might be able to make a consistent profit, they say." Humm, see Air Canada...

Tear up the earnings rule book
"Forget apples to apples. Earnings reports now compare mangos to mandarins, making this quarter's numbers more confusing for investors than ever. Let's look at Nortel and Qualcomm to see why."

How to thrive when prices fall
"Deflation has hit certain industries hard. But some companies are turning falling prices into a chance at reinvention."

eBay's scary stock-option specter
"First, consider the $127 million "error" in its earlier reports. Then consider what its earnings would be if it has to expense options."

Tech trouble ahead
"Technology stocks have been cruising ahead of the market lately. But watch out. We found four to dump--before the happy trails end."

Songs in the key of Steve
"Steve Jobs may have just created the first great legal online music service. That's got the record biz singing his praises."

Tobacco stocks live to fight again
"Shares of "Big Mo" surged from January 2000 through mid-2002, while the rest of the market was tanking. On Wednesday they were back in the limelight, leaping almost 10 percent to $38.30 after a Florida appeals court threw out a record $145 billion punitive damages award against the industry."

Shortchanged
"The Baby Bells may have bilked consumers out of billions by inflating the cost of their networks. Regulators seem content to overlook the matter."

Shoddy building in the housing boom?
"Millions of new homes have gone up over recent years -- and so have complaints and class actions charging defective workmanship."

From scrap to Slinky
"The making of an old-fashioned toy from scrap metal offers a lesson in how technological advances have helped revolutionize business. It also illustrates some shortcomings."

3 Best Buy rivals look like better buys
"The electronics giant dwarfs its competitors. But its stock sells at a premium, while competitors Tweeter, Ultimate Electronics and particularly Circuit City look like deals in comparison."

Fannie's future is still bright
"A storm of controversy at sibling rival Freddie Mac has dragged down shares of Fannie Mae. Now investors have a chance to profit."

The accidental CEO
"She was never groomed to be the boss. But Anne Mulcahy is bringing Xerox back from the dead."

Stingy Links: Taxes

Taxpayer, beware!
"Washington will soon be taking back a good chunk of that new tax cut. How? By using the sneakiest trap it's got: the Alternative Minimum Tax."

Stingy Links: Trusts

Horse sense
"In today's low interest rate environment, income trusts are being sold to risk-averse investors who are shying away from low-yielding GICs. Many of the recent issues have been of volatile businesses that are unsuited to the income trust structure. So once again there is a mismatch between the risk preferences of the investing public and the innate characteristics of many income trust investments."

Stingy Links: Value Investing

True believers in Value Investing
"In William Browne's office is a framed photo of a young Bill Gates, sitting on an airplane reading The Intelligent Investor. That America's richest man had been studying Browne's favorite book brings a smile to the face of the Tweedy, Browne Global Value Fund manafer. The book's author, legendary value investor Benjamin Graham, was once a Tweedy, Browne client."

Strong selling point
"A company's P/S ratio is simply its market value divided by total annual revenue. A company with a low P/S ratio is experiencing one of two types of selling: the good kind, when it moves more product to pump up the "S," or the other kind, when investors dump its stock, driving down the "P." Either way, if the ratio gets low enough the stock may be a bargain, or at least worth a look."

Patient Capital Management Q1
"Our long-term focus leads to low transaction costs and is tax efficient. These benefits are very tangible and go directly to your portfolio's bottom line return. A very low turnover strategy such as ours is beneficial in many other ways. We do not spend much time on the phone executing transactions. This allows us to focus on analyzing companies and searching for value instead of monitoring the minute-by-minute movement of stock prices. Our investment philosophy allows us to run Patient Capital very efficiently."

Tweedy, Browne Annual
"Favorable or unfavorable historical investment results in comparison to an index are not necessarily predictive of future comparative investment results. In Are Short-Term Performance and Value Investing Mutually Exclusive?, Eugene Shahan analyzed the investment performance of seven money managers, about whom Warren Buffett wrote in his article, The Superinvestors of Graham and Doddsville. Over long periods of time, the seven managers significantly outperformed the market as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average (the "DJIA") or the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index (the "S&P 500") by between 7.7% and 16.5% annually. (The goal of most institutional money managers is to outperform the market by 2% to 3%.) However, for periods ranging from 13 years to 28 years, this group of managers underperformed the market between 7.7% and 42% of the years. Six of the seven investment managers underperformed the market between 28% and 42% of the years. In today's environment, they would have lost many of their clients during their periods of underperformance. Longer term, it would have been the wrong decision to fire any of those money managers."

Stingy Links: World

Down and out in white-collar America
"Professionals have never had a tougher time finding a job. It's not just the economy; the rules of the game are changing."

The perils of a weak dollar
"Yes, there could be a big upside. But it risks economic warfare and `beggar thy neighbor' policies. That's political trade, not free trade."

Painful side-effects
"While the SARS outbreak seems to have peaked outside China, its economic effects continue to ripple across Asia and beyond."

How SARS is strangling Hong Kong
"This usually vibrant city that's so dependent on its service sector and hundreds of thousands of small businesses is turning into a ghost town."

Only the weak survive
"Despite various protestations that the strong dollar policy is the same as it ever was, it's pretty clear that the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve are happy to see the greenback's decline."

Germany's euro test
"Whatever the economic arguments for Britain's joining the euro, the case for Germany's quitting looks stronger. The idea that Germany will do it is, of course, the stuff of fairy tales. However, the country's present predicament also has a fairy-tale feel, with the ECB in the role of the wicked witch who lured Hansel and Gretel into her gingerbread home with the aim of eating them. In the story by the Brothers Grimm, Gretel pushes the witch into the oven. In the real world, Germany is being roasted, and risks living unhappily ever after."

Good Morning, Indonesia
"Indonesia has issues: separatism, terrorism, governance, corruption. No wonder foreign investment has been fleeing the country in recent years."

Bullishly Yours,
Norman Rothery
ISSN 1499-2787


 
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