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Showing posts from January, 2007

How many candidates?

What are there now? Sixteen? Seventeen? Huckabee in, Kerry out I think brings us to 18.

Let's try: Republicans: Guiliani, Romney, McCain, Huckabee, Hunter, Brownback, Gingrich, Pataki, Thompson and Hagel.

Democrats: Biden, Clinton, Vilazon, Kucinich, Dodd, Obama, Edwards and Richards

On the Democratic sideline is still Al Gore - who probably could be a serious challenger to Hillary. And, while I've included Guiliani on the other aisle side, and I think he has a real chance to win, I now question whether he wants it. He certainly hasn't lept in full force, and one has the sense that the train is leaving the station.

Richards brings a good resume to the race, and from a distance, seems to have done a nice job as Govenor of New Mexico. However, announcing the formation of his committee on the same day as Hillary may prove to be a portent. I would say she currently has a 40:1 journalist entourage advantage. If they aren't following you around, they aren't writing about you…


Making my (almost last) trip from Conshocken to Leesburg last night, I again noticed the speed traps on Highway 15 in Maryland - immediately north of Fredricksburg.

You were warned.

Whether the economy II

Oil today below $52 per barrel. There are few things that can be more positive for the economy than that.

Flip side - weak earnings report last night from Intel; terrible earnings from home builder Lennar this morning.

Historically, weak housing plus weak homebuilding equals recession. Not clear now, with export markets booming, unemployment still very low (probably a lot of the construction workers now out of work are illegals, so they don't show up in the unemployment numbers), and still attractive interest rates, along with rising financial assets from the recent market run.

My bet - the Goldilocks economy.

Life and death II

New developments. First, it now turns out that a part of the life extension showing up in the data is a dramatic reduction in breast cancer. And even more thought-provoking is the possibility that the cause of the reduction is the decision by millions of women to stop taking hormone supplements, which have been widely prescribed for decades for menopausal symptom relief, among other indications.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has come under considerable attack in recent years. If this new trend in reduction in new cases of breast cancer continues (it is likely that this new result will cause even more women to stop HRT or never begin) then we'll see another jump in life expectancy.

In an unrelated story, sales of resveratrol, a health food store product supposedly capturing some of the medicinal benefits of red wine, have zoomed after studies showed longer life in rats taking the product. Do not discount the odds of living well into your nineties....

Sarbanes-Oxley - New Developments

There are a number of significant new developments in the world of Sarbanes-Oxley. First and most important is litigation: Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which seeks to have Sarbanes-Oxley ruled unconstitutional.

I'm a long way from a constitutional scholar, but it seems to me that the Free Enterprise Fund is making an excellent case. They make several points in their case, including that the PCAOB can levy fees and fines on its own - which is a power traditionally reserved for the legislature. As an example, the IRS - which many of us would argue is insanely powerful - can't raise taxes - Congress must legislate a tax increase. PCAOB can raise fees on all public companies at will.

This is course will take years to work through the courts - but may prove to be the fatal shot.

A more near term change comes from the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, which points out that Sarbox has imposed massive costs on the economy, and a regulato…