February 26, 2008

1) Yesterday's 182 point rally in the last 30 minutes came from Standard & Poor's  announcement that it would maintain  bond insurer MBIA's AAA rating. They indicated they might downgrade the company later. This shows how backward looking and useless these ratings are as MBIA's bonds are already trading at B- levels. Is MBIA really the same credit as GE?

2) Wheat went up a staggering 25% yesterday as Kazakhstan announced it would restrict exports to head off domestic shortages. Wheat is now up 400% YOY. Every major wheat producing area outside the US is now in a drought.

3) The US announced it would support gold sales by the International Monetary Fund. The price went down $10 immediately then shot up to a new high of $954. In a normal market gold would have dropped 10% on this news, so it shows how strong the demand for gold is.

4) The producer price index for January came in at 7% YOY, the hottest number in 23 years. More ammo for the stagflation camp.

5) Natural Gas rocketed to $9.36, a two year high. It's up 25% in a month and is going higher.

6) Google announced that its pay per click revenues were down 7% in January. The stock got slammed 8% down to $449, a 52 week low. They are obviously feeling the absence of the Foggy Bridge Wine Cruise!

7) Home foreclosures leapt 57% in January YOY. Banks are taking possession of 90% of these, indicating that they have negative equity. Another 220,000 homes got late payment notices that month.

8) CNBC has an interesting interview with Sam Zell who made the following points. He is selling the Chicago Cubs but splitting them off from Wrigley Stadium which has valuable unused naming rights. He says that there will be no recession, just a slowdown because most of the current problems are confined to Wall Street, not Main Street. He expects housing to start recovering in the Spring!?

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