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Posted by On Feb 26, 2009

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Snapshock is coming to town!!



Posted by StarryGift On Mar 20, 2009


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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Michael Hiltzik: One hundred years of Peter Drucker

The basic text I used for the lessons from the oeuvre of Peter Drucker, the subject of my last column for calendar 2009, is "The Essential Drucker," a 2001 digest of Drucker's writings dating to 1954, selected by himself. It's as good an introduction as exists to the clarity and breadth of this social philosopher and trenchant thinker on management.

It has been well said of Drucker that much of his work boils down to common sense. That's true as far as it goes, but it's also a testament to how resistant to common sense business leaders can be. They're confronted every day by countervailing forces: political and economic ideologies, pressures to make a quarterly number, the influence of one's own stock option grants. 

Drucker was always very good at showing the limitations of classical economics as a management tool. Milton Friedman could talk about maximizing shareholder value as the one and only purpose of the corporation; Drucker's response would be, properly, that nothing in that principle would tell a CEO what his business did or how to make it grow. That's because Friedman's contention was directed at the wrong end of the business chain. "Securities analysts believe that companies make money," Drucker once wrote. "Companies make shoes." Milton Friedman never taught a CEO how to make more profitable shoes; Peter Drucker did.

The column begins below.

The mark of a truly revolutionary thinker is that his revolution has to be fought anew in every generation. 

That?s the case with Peter F. Drucker, whose teachings on business management retain their startling wisdom four years after his death at the age of 95 and seven decades after the publication of his first book ? the first of 39.

This year was the centenary of Peter Drucker?s birth. It wouldn?t be right to let the year expire without reviewing how his ideas apply to business today.

As is true with every revolutionary thinker, Drucker?s most enduring ideas contradict conventional wisdom. That?s why business leaders need to relearn his lessons every few years, and that?s why his insights seem perennially fresh.

Read the whole column.

-- Michael Hiltzik

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What?s in Your Wallet?


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Get a Dog


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Chasing Value: 2010 -- #7 Archer Daniels Midland

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How hungry are you? The world is becoming hungrier all the time and Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) seeks to fill that need.

It is one of the world's largest processors of oilseeds, corn, and wheat. It turns corn into syrups, sweeteners, citric and lactic acids, and ethanol to fill your tank too. ADM also produces wheat flour for bakeries and pasta makers; cocoa and chocolate products for confectioners; animal-feed ingredients for farmers, and malt for brewers. It operates one of the world's largest crop origination and transportation networks, through which it connects crops and their markets across the globe.

Continue reading Chasing Value: 2010 -- #7 Archer Daniels Midland

Chasing Value: 2010 -- #7 Archer Daniels Midland originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Wed, 30 Dec 2009 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Netflix weak today -- sell before 2010?

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Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) is trading down today. Looks like investors aren't in the mood for the stock just before the new year begins. At the time of this writing, shares of the online DVD-rental concern were off by nearly 3%.

Kind of sad, when you think about it. Netflix is up big on the year. It was a great story of capital appreciation: buy the dips, and you made out. Whenever you thought the company was about to head into a downturn, it ended up proving you wrong. When things seemed just absolutely awful, like they did back in the first quarter, Netflix was resilient in the face of financial adversity.

Continue reading Netflix weak today -- sell before 2010?

Netflix weak today -- sell before 2010? originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Wed, 30 Dec 2009 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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How To Game Cap And Trade, Destroy Jobs, Make Money, And Provide No Environmental Benefit

Shell Game

Conceptually, carbon credits are fine and could have potential, but their current application is horribly flawed.

Metal Miner highlights how Cap & Trade can be gamed whereby it destroys developed nation jobs and doesn't protect the environment either.

The example of Corus’ Redcar plant is a case in point. The plant was closed because key clients reneged on long term contracts and the 3m ton facility was left without enough sales to cover its costs. European steel producers receive about 2 tons of carbon credits for every ton of steel produced. Closure of Redcar will mean Corus will reduce its carbon emission by the equivalent of 6m tons of carbon emissions.

But Tata, Corus’s owners, are rapidly expanding steel production in India where it could receive hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the Clean Development Fund by building new plants that are less polluting than existing Indian plants (not less polluting than Redcar you understand, just less polluting than older plants in India).

As we have written recently elsewhere, the Indian steel industry is set to more than double production to some 124 million tons a year by 2011-2012. Even environmentalists must see this is a disaster for the reduction of carbon emissions. It merely transfers production from western steel mills where steel is produced in a carbon constrained environment to a non constrained market

Thus carbon credits can be gamed so that they pay for companies to shut down factories in developed nations and simply rebuild them in developing ones. Even if the new factory isn't more efficient than the one shut down back in the developed nation. It apparently just has to be more efficient than older local plants in the developing country.

Read the full article at Metal Miner

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What Really Happened To Tiger Woods That Night (And Since)*

tiger woods elin

UPDATE 2: Wait, maybe retired sportswriter Furman Bisher actually does operate the site purporting to be his.  Then why did he publish this story?  Maybe he believed it?  Maybe he published it as a joke (he doesn't sound like he's joking).  Maybe he was bored?  In any event, we still think this story is likely closer to the reality than the official ones.

UPDATE: Nice!  We assumed the story might be fake AND that the "sportswriter" who published it might be fake.  But we did not assume that the sportswriter might be real and that someone might have created a whole fake web site pretending to be him.  Live and learn.

EARLIER: A self-described retired sportswriter named Furman Bisher has supposedly published a supposed fourth-hand account of what happened between Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren the night of Tiger's accident--as well as what has happened since.

Bisher appears to think the account is accurate. 

We have no idea whether it's accurate, and it's possible that the entire thing is fiction. The story does at least fit more of the the facts than the official ones do.  And, in any event, we do not regret the 90 seconds we spent reading it.

The key points:

  • Elin hit Tiger with a 9-iron inside the house, breaking a bone in his face and almost knocking out two of his teeth.

  • Tiger ran from the house. 

  • Elin chased him, swinging.

  • Elin smashed the windows of the car, contributing to the crash.

  • Tiger flew to Phoenix the next day for emergency surgery on his face.  He is still recovering from this surgery and won't be seen in public for another month.

  • The couple are undergoing full-time marriage counseling and want to stay together

  • Rachel Uchitel is in Palm Beach, near Tiger's boat, but she's not staying on it.

  • Tiger is staying in Bay Hill, where he hits balls at night.

Interestingly, "Bisher" seems dumbfounded by the amount of attention paid to his story, which he says was intended to be read only by a handful of friends.  (A reader suggests that this itself is just another bogus detail designed to give the story cred).

Here's how it begins:

The following is a legitimate message I received from a trustworthy journalist I have known for years. It’s the Tiger-Elin incident finally put into reliable form, and I send along for no purpose other than to present the picture in its clearest form. —Furman Bisher

Forwarded story:

I have a Member who lives 10 houses down from Tiger in Isleworth. As we know Tiger’s agent is Mark Steinberg. My Member plays golf and is real good friends with another IMG Agent; who is very good friends with Steinberg and they share the same office. This information came from the other IMG Agent to my Member, and then to me today, and according to them is up to date as yesterday when my Member left Orlando.

On Thanksgiving Day, after he and Elin and the family had turkey dinner, he spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch watching football and texting Rachel. After each received and sent text message he would clear his message box to rid himself of the evidence. Sometime in between there, one of his Orlando buds called him to see if he wanted to get together at the Clubhouse to play poker with the guys, to which Tiger said yes. Tiger left the house around 7:30 to go play poker, and left behind his cell phone….and one message he had forgot to delete from Rachel.

When Tiger returned home around 11:30 -12 that night, Elin confronted him about the text message in the phone, and the started a heated discussion to its regards.

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Tax Laws Encourage Euthanasia In 2010

A lifetime friend Dave writes: "Because Congress is populated by venal idiots, the estate tax expires on January 1, 2010 only to rise again on January 1, 2011. So rich old people everywhere are deliberately engineering their lives to end during the next calendar year"

With that backdrop, please consider Rich Cling to Life to Beat Tax Man
Starting Jan. 1, the estate tax -- which can erase nearly half of a wealthy person's estate -- goes away for a year. For families facing end-of-life decisions in the immediate future, the change is making one of life's most trying episodes only more complex.

"I have two clients on life support, and the families are struggling with whether to continue heroic measures for a few more days," says Joshua Rubenstein, a lawyer with Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in New York. "Do they want to live for the rest of their lives having made serious medical decisions based on estate-tax law?"

The macabre situation stems from 2001, when Congress raised estate-tax exemptions, culminating with the tax's disappearance next year. However, due to budget constraints, lawmakers didn't make the change permanent. So the estate tax is due to come back to life in 2011 -- at a higher rate and lower exemption.

To make it easier on their heirs, some clients are putting provisions into their health-care proxies allowing whoever makes end-of-life medical decisions to consider changes in estate-tax law. "We have done this at least a dozen times, and have gotten more calls recently," says Andrew Katzenstein, a lawyer with Proskauer Rose LLP in Los Angeles.

Of course, plenty of taxpayers themselves are eager to live to see the new year. One wealthy, terminally ill real-estate entrepreneur has told his doctors he is determined to live until the law changes.

"Whenever he wakes up," says his lawyer, "He says: 'What day is it? Is it Jan. 1 yet?'"

Under current laws in effect until the end of this year, the size of the exemption is $3.5 million per individual or up to $7 million per couple. The tax is slated to disappear entirely on Jan 1.

But estate planning in 2010 will be complicated by a new twist: a complex tax on capital gains that will affect a broader swath of taxpayers. The estate tax is scheduled to return in 2011 at a 55% rate with an exemption of slightly more than $1 million.

"I've been practicing for more than 30 years, and never has the timing of death made such a financial difference," says Dennis Belcher, president of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. "People have a hard enough time talking about death and addressing estate planning without this."

The situation is causing at least one person to add the prospect of euthanasia to his estate-planning mix, according to Mr. Katzenstein of Proskauer Rose. An elderly, infirm client of his recently asked whether undergoing euthanasia next year in Holland, where it's legal, might allow his estate to dodge the tax.

His answer: Yes.
If you are wealthy, please don't die in 2009. Hang on for another day.

Then, if you are terminally ill but with some time to live, consider moving to Holland where euthanasia is legal. Such is the idiocy of US tax law.

My Stand? I am all in favor of the right to die. However, I am opposed to laws that make it enormously tax advantageous to kill yourself (or for that matter someone to kill you).

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

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How California Went From Top of the Class to the Bottom

California was once the world?s leading economy. People came here even during the depression and in the recession after World War II. In bad times, California?s economy provided a safe haven, hope, more opportunity than anywhere else. In good times, California was spectacular. Its economy was vibrant and growing. Opportunity was abundant. Housing was affordable. The state?s schools, K through Ph.D., were the envy of the world. A family could thrive for generations.

Californians did big things back then. The Golden State built the world?s most productive agricultural sector. It built unprecedented highway systems. It built universities that nurtured technologies that have changed the way people interact and created entire new industries. It built a water system on a scale never before attempted. It built magnificent cities. California had the audacity to build a subway under San Francisco Bay, one of the world?s most active earthquake zones. The Golden State was a fount of opportunities.

Things are different today.

Today, California?s economy is not vibrant and growing. Housing is not affordable. There is little opportunity. Inequality is increasing. The state?s schools, including the once-mighty University of California, are declining. The agricultural sector is threatened by water shortages and regulation. Its aging, cracking, highways are unable to handle today?s demands. California?s power system is archaic and expensive. The entire state infrastructure is out of date, in decline, and unable to meet the demands of a 21st century economy.

Indications of California?s decline are everywhere. California?s share of United States jobs peaked at 11.4 percent in 1990. Today, it is down to 10.9 percent. In this recession, California has been losing jobs at a faster pace than most of the United States. Domestic migration has been negative in 10 of the past 15 years. People are leaving California for places like Texas, places with opportunity and affordable family housing.

California?s economy is declining. Those of us who live here can all see it. Yet, Californians don?t have the will to make the necessary changes. Like a punch-drunk fighter, sitting helpless in the corner, California is unable to answer the bell for a new round.

Pat Brown?s California ? between 1958 and 1966 ? crafted the Master Plan for Higher Education, guaranteeing every Californian the right to a college education, a plan that has served the state very well. That system is threatened by today?s budget crisis and may be on the verge of a long-term secular decline. California was a state where people said yes, a state where businesses could be created, grow, and prosper. Some of these businesses were run by Democrats, others Republicans but all celebrated a culture of growth and achievement.

Today?s California is a state where building a home requires charrettes with the neighbors, years in the planning department, architects, engineers, and environmental impact studies ? we built the transcontinental railroad in three years, faster than a builder can get a building permit in many California communities. People here dream of a green future but plan and build nothing. There?s big talk about the future, but California now turns more and more of our children away from college, and too many of our least advantaged children don?t even make it through high school.

Once, California was a political model of enlightened government. Now it?s a chaotic place where everyone has a veto on everything; a state where people say no; a state where business is wrapped up in bureaucracy and red tape; a state our children leave, searching for opportunity; a state with more of a past than a future.

Some things have not changed. California?s physical endowment is still wonderful. The state is blessed with broad oak-studded valleys, incredible deserts, magnificent mountains, hundreds of miles of seashore, and an optimal climate. California?s location on the Pacific Rim situates the state to profit from growing international trade with the dynamic Asian economies. California didn?t change, Californians changed. Californians have forgotten basics that Pat Brown knew instinctively.

How did California get to this point? How did it move from Pat Brown?s aspirational California to today?s sad-sack version? What did Pat Brown know in 1960 that Californians now forget?

First thing: Pat Brown knew that quality of life begins with a job, opportunity, and an affordable home. Other Californians in Pat Brown?s time knew that too. His achievements weren?t his alone. They were California?s achievements.

It seems that California has forgotten the fundamentals of quality of life. Instead, the state has embraced a cynical philosophy of consumption and denial. The state?s affluent citizens celebrate their enjoyment of California?s pleasures while denying access to those less fortunate, denying not only the ticket, but the opportunity to earn the ticket. At best California offers elaborate social services in place of opportunity.

Today, too many Californians don?t rely on the local economy for their income. For them, quality of life has nothing to do with jobs, opportunity, or affordable homes. Many see the creation of new jobs as bad, something to be avoided. They see no virtue in opportunity. They have theirs, after all. It is their attitude that if someone else needs a job, let them go to Texas; if people are leaving California, so much the better.

They see someone else?s opportunity as a threat to them. Perhaps the upstarts will want a house, which might obstruct their view. They see economic growth as a zero sum game. Someone wins. Someone loses.

This type of thinking is unsustainable. Opportunity is not a zero sum game. It may be a clich�, but it is true, that if something is not growing it is dying. Many of the things that make California the place it is are not part of our natural endowment. The Yosemite Valley is part of the state?s natural endowment, but the Ahwahnee Hotel is not. Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, the wine countries, and California?s many other destinations were made possible and built because of economic growth. Will California add to this impressive list in the 21st century?

Not likely. Today, we are not even maintaining our infrastructure. Infrastructure investment?s share of California?s budget has declined for decades. In Pat Brown?s day California often spent over 20 percent of its budget on capital items. Today, that number is less than seven percent. It shows.

Pat Brown also knew that with California?s natural endowment, all he had to do was build the public infrastructure and welcome business, business will come. Too many today act as if they believe that business will come, even without the infrastructure or a welcoming business climate. Indeed, many Californians ? particularly in the leadership in Sacramento ? seem to think that business will come no matter how difficult or expensive the state makes doing business in California. This is just not true.

California needs to embrace opportunity and economic growth. It is necessary if California is to achieve its potential. It is necessary if California is to avoid a stagnant future characterized by a bi-modal population of consuming haves and an underclass with little hope or opportunity and few choices, except to leave.

Bill Watkins is a professor at California Lutheran University and runs the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, which can be found at

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