December 7, 2010 – Los Angeles Strategy Luncheon Review


1) Los Angeles Strategy Luncheon Review.  Even though I grew up in Los Angeles during the fifties and sixties, visiting today feels like a trip to an exotic foreign country. It's as if the city was destroyed in some terrible war and rebuilt in a hodgepodge way, as Tokyo and Berlin were after WWII.  Most of what I remember fell victim to the developer's bulldozers decades ago. The land inhabited by the orange groves and horse ranches of my youth are now overrun with high rises, strip malls, and fast food joints. Only Philippe's, home of the French double dip sandwich, lasts forever, the same sawdust still on the floor as when my dad first took me there for lunch in 1956. The manager there recognized me and kindly pulled me out of the one hour wait for a repast in the kitchen. It is true that you can't go home again.

I knew the luncheon at the Los Angeles Athletic Club was going well when those at the gathering next door, held by a down market competitor, complained that we were laughing too loudly. Now that the markets are solidly in '˜RISK ON' mode, there was much discussion and debate on the triggers and timing of the next bout of '˜RISK OFF.' I am aiming for the end of Q1, 2011, when Ben Bernanke announces that quantitative easing has been such a success that he is ending the program early. The bond trading desks will see this coming first. Maybe that is what the surge last week in the TBT, from $34 to $37, is telling us?

I performed my ritual dump on the residential real estate market, as always. It is such a soft target. It is really like sneaking up behind a disabled person in a wheel chair, tying his shoe laces together, and getting a laugh when he tries to stand up and falls on his face.

Kevin from Anchorage, Alaska won the prize for the greatest distance traveled to the event, some 3,701 miles, according to Mapquest. He also scored highest on the pop quiz, getting eight out of ten right. As one of my 'early adopters' and longest running readers, no doubt the huskies on his dog sled team are wearing Gucci muckluks by now. Spend your Zimbabwean dollars wisely.

That night I went to the spectacular, futuristic, Frank Gehry design Disney Concert Hall to catch Beethoven's 5th Symphony, one of my favorites. The next morning I was awoken at my beachfront Hermosa Beach suite by a volley ball class, instructed by six foot tall Viking hotties, so I went surfing with the dolphins.

On the way home, Interstate 5 was punctuated by signs every few miles by libertarian farmers demanding 'Nancy Pelosi, Hands Off Our Water,' threatening armed action if enormous federal subsidies are not extended. There is so much that is deeply wrong with this country.  However, the split pea soup at Andersen's in Santa Nella was perfect as always, and I bought two cases to take home.

My next strategy luncheon will be held in Chicago, Illinois on Tuesday, December 28.