December 23, 2009
Featured Trades: (INTERVIEW WITH SANTA CLAUS)
1) OK guys. I get the message. Yesterday's letter elicited no less than 100 out-of-office replies. So I'm going to take the hint and disappear for a few days. It's two days until Christmas, and I haven't even put my outside lights up yet. I'll be doing my research with my little kids while watching the Princess and the Frog, and with my older kids while viewing Avatar. The mandarin oranges are ripe and due for picking, the raccoons have broken a hole through the back fence, and there's a load of firewood to chop and stack. I guess I'll take my Lionel train set out, the same steel cast one I played with myself 50 years ago, and see if I can interest my girls. I hope you all enjoy your Christmas festivities, where ever you are in the world. At last count, this letter was being read in 100 countries. My next letter will be sent on December 28, and I'll be putting out an annual asset allocation review on January 4. Until then, please enjoy the hard hitting, one on one, tell all interview with Santa Claus I conducted just yesterday.
2) I managed to catch up with my old friend, Santa Claus, the other day, before he took off on his global gift giving rounds. I have had a rocky relationship with old Saint Nick over the years, usually getting coal or potatoes in my stocking, as one who lives a feckless life might expect. But one year I found a Mercedes S600 V-12 under the tree! I ended up giving it away because I didn't like the cup holders, but hey, it was a nice thought! Things are not good at the North Pole. The cost of the software upgrade needed to switch from children's handwritten letters to email has been a killer. And what the hell is Twitter? The First National Bank of the North Pole won't let him roll over his debt because snow appraisals aren't coming in like they used to. Labor costs are rocketing. Elves used to work for a few pieces of candy cane a day, but no more. Now they want black snowmobiles with chrome wheels, big screen TV's, and Blue Ray HD players. There are rumors of a strike over health care costs, which are bleeding him snow white. The Amalgamated Confederation of Elves must be the only union that gets Viagra with their benefits, besides the United Auto Workers. And now they want free mistletoe, to boot! He's going to have to skip the unfortunate children of Afghanistan and Iraq again because Obama's budget cuts won't allow the US Air Force to provide needed fighter cover. The price of reindeer food is going through the roof, thanks to Chinese hoarding, and Donner and Blitzen are down with the swine flu. Rising costs, lower revenues, and an unruly workforce are not a good business model. Since the government forced that TARP money down his throat, the green eye shades from the Treasury have been camping out in accounting. To top it all, compliance is telling him he's being investigated for backdated stock options in Santa Claus Inc. All this while the debate rages on over whether he even exists. Tell that to the SEC! Coming on top of all the shareholder carping about his ten figure compensation package, and unlimited use of the corporate sleigh, he needs this like a hole in his head! To be honest, he would have retired by now if he had not invested so much of his savings with Bernie Madoff. Sure, it's a brave new world out there, but no one ever said being Santa Claus was easy.
'Gold does not have a heart, nor does it have a soul,' said Mama Odie, a 200 year old sorceress in the Disney film The Princess and the Frog