Closed End Funds

Wed, 2009/09/30 - 1:29pm | Your editor


Normally at this time of year I start to worry about the tax consequences of new-buys of closed end funds. Your earnings distribution can trigger a short term gain. Now with so much tax-loss carryforwards from 2008 (the anno horribilis!) the odds are that there are enough losses in your fund to sop up the gains.

So you should only buy such funds at other times of the year, and sell them in the latter part of the year. But not this year. Read more »


Tue, 2009/09/29 - 3:18pm | Your editor

Queens reader MG added more insight into the debate over the origins of British intellectuals' support for a Jewish State in the 19th century. He thinks it is related to what young Britons were taught in school about philosophy and theology. Whether the classical texts were part of the canon determined British idenfication with their authors.

“It was perfectly normal for Lord Byron to fight for Greek Independence. Or for the British to finance Garibaldi's campaign to unify Italy.” And, he adds, “for British lords and writers to support a Jewish State in Palestine.”

If your ancient civilization had only marginal intellectual influence on British thinking – the Bhagavad Gita or the Book of the Dead or the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Koran – the British Empire would not support your right to a state of your own. Your country would be painted red on British maps, and Victoria was your empress. Read more »

Yom Kippur Notes

Fri, 2009/09/25 - 4:07pm | Your editor

    There will be no issue Monday, Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement) is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. when God seals our fate for the coming year. On Rosh Hashanah (New Year) it is written; on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
    On Yom Kippur 1973, Israelis noticed military vehicles driving in the streets and reserve soldiers were called from synagogues to duty. At 2 PM sirens sounded all over Israel. It was under attack!
    The Yom Kippur war came as a surprise, a joint attack against Israel by Egypt which crossed the cease-fire lines in the Sinai Peninsula, and by Syria which attacked along the Golan Heights. The thin Israeli defense lines were annihilated by massive Arab forces. Read more »

Apologies for being late

Thu, 2009/09/24 - 5:37pm | Your editor

     The Fed remains dovish on rates despite the optimism being expressed now by the FOMC about the economy's recovery. The benchmark US interest rate at 0-0.25% was confirmed yesterday.

     Because of faster recovery and higher inflation risks, other countries may join Israel in raising interest rates. In fact, Israel may itself go for a clean 1% vs the current level of 0.75% set Aug. 24. However, because of the running Jewish holidays, and the fact that the Israeli CB likes to do its rate changes on a Sunday, I do not expect anything to happen until Oct. 18. Read more »

Jobs and Blackberries and Boppy Pillows

Wed, 2009/09/23 - 7:02pm | Your editor

     Boppy pillows for breastfeeding mothers and Blackberries to keep in touch with the world have little in common.

     Yet the vendors of both products need more Americans to work for them. Maybe we need a WPA or CCC, two New Deal programs the Obama lot are not even thinking of copying, which put people to work in the 1930s, to create new jobs 80 years later.

     This is a suggestion of a friend, IF, an 80-something-year-old life-time Liberal Democrat; she even lives on Manhattan's West Side. I live in the Silk Stocking district by the East River, mainly Liberal Republican. But IF has a point. Read more »

Green Shoots and Flying Cranes

Tue, 2009/09/22 - 4:28pm | Your editor

     New additions were announced following the quarterly review of the exchange-traded NASDAQ OMX European Government Relief Index (EUGR.Q) which became effective today. It added Heidelberger Druckmaschinen (printing presses) an Banco Popolare, an Italian bank. Here is the list.

 Aegon NV                        Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG
 Allied Irish Banks PLC          Hypo Real Estate Holding
 Banco Popolare                  ING Groep NV-CVA
 Bank of Ireland                 KBC Groep NV
 BNP Paribas                     Lloyds TSB Group PLC Read more »

Central Bank Contradictions

Mon, 2009/09/21 - 3:26pm | Your editor

Reader Tom McC objected to Frida Ghitis's Jewish New Year article on Israel's currency. He wrote: “High prices for 'stuff' is a sign of a low value for the currency. A highly valued currency would bring low prices for things.”

Frida claimed she just meant that her fistful of US dollars and credit cards was not going very far in the Holy Land. But I think both of them are missing the contradictory forces at work when the Israeli Central Bank decided to raise rates.

With the open global Israeli economy one of the few looking good these days, the CB has to keep buying dollars to prevent the shekel from appreciating. The higher shekel results from the CB's earlier move pushing interest rates to fight inflation. Read more »

L'shana Tova

Fri, 2009/09/18 - 9:54pm | Your editor

     L'shana tova. Frida Ghitis writes from Israel:

     While Israel’s economy is not growing at a break-neck pace, anyone who thinks the world is int near-depression should take a stroll down Tel Aviv’s trendy Dizengoff Road, or visit any of the always-busy markets here. In an hour the entire country will grow quiet with everyone heading home to celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The hush at sundown will break the bustle that shows Israel’s emergence from recession. But there’s catch. Read more »

Freshwater Economics

Thu, 2009/09/17 - 1:47pm | Your editor

Paul Krugman wrote a blog about the reaction to his NY Times Magazine article about what he styled "freshwater" macro-economists, numbers-mad non-east- or west-coast USA-heartland ec or biz school profs who do not study or teach Maynard Keynes' ideas and reject his theories. Because this is feeding into the virulently anti-government mood of some Americans going in for tea parties, Krugman is worth quoting. These guys criticize not just Obamanomics, TARP, bailouts, and viciously oppose Obama-care. Some also want to abolish the Fed and social security:

"The freshwater outrage over finding their own point of view criticized is, you might think, a classic case of people who can dish it out but can’t take it. Read more »

Do You Seriously Want to Be Rich?

Wed, 2009/09/16 - 2:59pm | Your editor

“Do you seriously want to be rich?” was what Bernie Cornfeld used to ask potential investors in his Swiss-based IOS, operator of funds of funds and generator of huge commissions for Bernie and and his salesmen who signed up US servicemen in Europe. It was a con. Bernie went to jail.

Now after a hiatus based on the Bernie episode, you can again buy a fund of funds in the U.S. Today Advisor Shares Dent Tactical, an exchange-traded fund was launched by Dent, under the ticker symbol DENT, on the NYSE ARCA. It will invest in whatever ETFs, excahnge-traded notes, exchange-traded currency trusts, or exchange traded commodity pools its managers think will pay off. It tracks no index and follows no allocation rules.

(When I reported from Paris for the London Sunday Times in the 1970s I contributed notes for a book the paper produced about l'Affaire Cornfeld entitled Do You Seriously Want To Be Rich?) Read more »