Cisco CEO Living Off The Past?

Business Insider has an interesting chart today. The chart is comparing the stock prices of Cisco Sytems and Microsoft under their respective CEO’s, John Chambers and Steve Ballmer.

Comparing the stock price of Cisco and Microsoft

Basically, Business Insider is saying that Steve Ballmer is constantly given crap about how poorly Microsoft’s stock has performed with him as the CEO compared to Bill Gate. Meanwhile John Chambers is given a free reign and no one complains of the fact that Cisco’s stock has done even worse than Microsoft.

I would say that John Chambers is given a lot of leeway because of how he handled Cisco through the 1990’s. Back then the stock pretty much did nothing but go up, just like Microsoft. The thing is, I believe a lot of Cisco’s growth was due to acquisitions and not the organic growth of Microsoft.

And today both companies have problems because, they’re really too big to return to the stock price growth of the 1990’s. They both are huge companies and are the dominant company in their industry. I think that’s why you’ve seen Cisco buy up consumer technology companies because, like Microsoft, if they don’t do something with all their cash, they would, you know, have to give it back to the investors which they’re not going to do.

$40 Silver?

Holy crap. Silver is almost at $40 dollars.


Bloomber screenshot of the price of Silver

Talk about your inflation. I remember trying to buy silver jewelry for my wife when it was at $10 and I thought it was incredibly expensive then.


h/t Zero Hedge

Dear Jamie, Shut Your Piehole

I don’t know what’s worse, being lectured by a bailout recipient on tax policy or realizing that one of the largest bank ceo’s doesn’t have a clue about what he’s talking about and is proving his stupidity in public to boot. Regardless, Reuters has the story of our brave and intrepid ceo blasting away blithely about something he obviously knows nothing about.

“I for one have no problem, as a well-off American… paying taxes,” Dimon told the annual spring meeting of the Council of Institutional Investors.

“I think those well off should pay a lion’s share, I have no problem with that,”

I think the cover story for Bloomberg may have gone to his head. Now he believes he’s a politician who can ignore the facts as he sees fit to promote, well, I’m not sure what the hell he’s promoting.

Let’s start with some facts for the factually challenged ceo of one of the largest banks in the US. The National Taxpayers Union has stats from 2008. The top 1% of taxpayers, as measured by AGI, paid a little more than 38% of ALL taxes. The top 10% of taxpayers, again by AGI paid a little more than 69% of ALL taxes. The top 25% of taxpayers, by AGI paid a whopping 86% of all taxes.

Seriously Jamie, how much more progressive do you want or do you not know the facts?

This seems to be one of those canards that liberals seem to spout off. This country does have a fairly steep and progressive tax regime. We really do, even though you don’t want to believe the facts of the matter.

The rich, contrary to your beliefs do pay their fair share. Since you were so famously described by the NY Times as wanting all the facts, including the raw facts, you may want to take these facts and understand them before opening your mouth.

I Am In The Wrong Business

I guess I should have gone in to the consultancy business.

Despite a ballooning administration budget – already £6.6 billion a year and growing by 4.5 per cent next year – the EU spent more than £500 million on “external advice” on consultants between 2005 and 2008. Among the other consultancy items were £11,000 courses for officials on “taking notes and writing minutes” and a £44,000 opinion survey on the “working environment for Commission staff”.

Mats Persson, the director of the Open Europe campaign group, highlighted the spending of £580,000 on research into marketing fruit and a £290,000 study on domestic violence in Afghanistan.

“Far too much money is being squandered on all kinds of studies and evaluations which are either irrelevant or which cover areas that the EU should have no business in dealing with,” he said.

That is a lot of money to spend on consultants. I’m quite certain when I say this, they are definitely not getting their money’s worth from their consultants…lol

Goldman Announces Trading Losses After FinReg Passes

I find it awfully convenient that Goldman announces that they did poorly, for them, in their trading over the last quarter. I wonder if there was anything going on in the last quarter?

Losses on Goldman Sachs’s trading desks exceeded $100 million on three days during the period that ended on June 30, according to a filing today by the New York-based company with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm also disclosed that trading losses surpassed its value-at-risk estimate, a measure of potential losses, on two days.

Not only did they start losing money, but they did it while surpassing their VAR. Why, that’s pretty undisciplined for a firm that did not have a losing day the previous quarter. If I was a cynical suspicious type, I’d believe they’ve been rigging their books and now that the tide is going out against them, they want to make themselves look better.

There was that little ugliness that they’ve just finished up.

Goldman Sachs agreed last month to pay $550 million to settle a fraud lawsuit filed by the SEC over Goldman Sachs’s 2007 sale of a mortgage-linked investment.

And of course the Financial Reform bill was passed and signed into law. They were definitely a target in that and have already responded to the bill.

It’s just a funny coincidence that they all of a sudden start losing money and do so in such an undisciplined manner that it looks like they’re reporting to the SEC what they want the SEC to see. Of course this is how all public companies report, which is an issue in its own right, but it certainly does look like Goldman is making a mockery of the reporting rules and the SEC.

And no, I of course do not expect anything to happen as Goldman and the other big boys pony up a lot of cash to their lobbyists.

Fannie Mae Losses In An Ugly Chart

Take a look at the following chart. It shows the cumulative profits and losses of Fannie Mae.
Cumulative financial losses for Fannie Mae

Note that it was essentially flat a year ago and then there is that huge & massive spike in losses. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll see anything but red for the next few years. That’s unfortunate because you and I will be paying for those losses.

(h/t The Atlantic)

.htaccess voodoo

As I mentioned before, I was attempting to get a Django page up and running but was having trouble with my .htaccess file.

The kind folks over at the hosts forum was able to let me know the answer to my problem.

Directives in the configuration files are case-insensitive, but arguments to directives are often case sensitive. Lines which begin with the hash character “#” are considered comments, and are ignored. Comments may not be included on a line after a configuration directive. Blank lines and white space occurring before a directive are ignored, so you may indent directives for clarity.

The .htaccess file I had copied had comments. And the comments were the issue. Who knew. As soon as I removed the comments the Django welcome page greeted me.

Now I just have to create something with it.

The Things I Don’t Know

Since I’ve decided to try other platforms than WordPress, I believe I’ve found the Achilles Heel for any non PHP platform. It’s damned hard getting a platform set up on a shared hosting. I have a small site that I’m using that has Python. I’ve followed the instructions pretty easily and I’m screwing it up.


Damned if I know. It’s obviously something I don’t know.

The good thing is, that’s learning and soon I’ll know it. But until then, I still don’t know and still can’t get my Django site up and running. Hopefully soon.

The GOP Did Not Destroy The Economy By Itself

I’m going to go out on a small limb here and criticize one of the big boys in the financial blogging world. And I’m going to venture into politics, which I refuse to get into on this blog and will do so sparingly, if at all. Look, I realize I’m an amateur at finance. One of the reasons for creating the blog was to chronicle my venture into finance. But, Barry is wrong with his glee.

I can sum it up thusly: Whereas the Democrats have no economic policy, the Republicans have a very bad one.

The details are what makes Stockman’s take so astonishing. Here are his most important observations, of which I find little to disagree with:

I’ve pretty much stopped reading Barry’s blog because it’s become all about him. He pretty much knows it all and it’s all the republicans fault. But he’s wrong on this part. Barry knows a lot about finance. He’s showing some ignorance about politics though.

Yes the piece he is quoting from is a hit job by David Stockman, but he notes that he pretty much agrees with David Stockman on his points.

I’m sure Barry knows this but spending and tax policy is created by Congress.

Let’s go over that again. Budgets and spending are created and controlled by Congress.

The house was controlled by Democrats for more than 40 years before the Republicans came to power in 1994. Other than 1981 thru 1986, the Democrats controlled the Senate.

Other than those early years in the 1980’s, Congress was controlled by Democrats. All that spending and any tax cuts were done with the approval of Democrats. It’s a lie to say or imply that Republicans did this all by themselves. They didn’t. They couldn’t because they didn’t control Congress.

And I note, when the republicans did control congress starting in 1994, we ended up with a surplus.

I am not defending Bush. He was, from a fiscal standpoint, a bad president. However, he’s not even close to how horrible the current president is. Of course regardless of the president, spending is controlled by Congress. And the republican controlled Congress did a crappy job. And they were rewarded for their crappyness with being voted out of office, which they deserved.

It really bothers me when people who should know better, want to bash people for things they can’t do. Congress is wholly to blame for the budget debacle that we have. They have not cut spending when they should and they still refuse to do so. Neither party has shown the courage to do the right thing. They both are equally bad, from a fiscal standpoint. They have and are continuing to ruin this country with their spending plans.

Regardless of the Republican bloodletting that the NY Times is eager to see, until and unless Congress cuts spending, this country has a serious problem. Hopefully both parties can wake up before we’ve become a third world country with no future.

My Problem With WordPress

It’s really simple actually, Matt.

Well, no, Matt isn’t causing any actual problems with the software. I have problems with Matt and his running of WordPress. In case one doesn’t know, even though WordPress is open source and many people submit code and help fix it, Matt controls it. If he doesn’t like something, it doesn’t happen, even if it would be for the better for WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong. Matt, up to know, has done a wonderful job. He forked the original software and created WordPress and has made it to what it is. The problem is now Matt=Wordpress. He would like to say that’s not true but, I’ve been using WordPress for a long time and there have been all sorts of little things pop up that really show that Matt runs WordPress like Bill Gates ran Microsoft.

That sort of command is a good thing for open source projects, I believe, because it can give a project focus. It can give a project drive. The downside is that, well, if you don’t like what Matt wants, you’re shit out of luck. For the vast majority of people, and up until now, me, it’s been ok.

So what’s my problem? Here’s my problem.

After a heated debate between the founder of WordPress (Matt Mullenweg) and the creator of the mighty Thesis theme (Chris Pearson), it looks like cooler minds have prevailed with Pearson finally embracing GPL for Thesis via a split license.

There is no doubt that Pearson would have lost in court had Matt actually sued. The problem is that Matt threatened to sue in the first place. My problem with that is that he only gets like this when there is someone that doesn’t, for lack of a better phrase, bow down to Matt. This isn’t the only case. It’s happened before and I expect it to happen again. That’s really my problem with WordPress. Matt is turning into a bully and throws his weight around.

Don’t believe me?

As I said on Twitter, if there’s another premium theme you’d like to try out I’m happy to buy you a copy, just send a link and your info to my contact form. It’s better to choose a solid platform now rather than put it off until later. (Matt Mullenweg)

He was willing to cut Pearson off at the knees and threaten his income by offering this bargain. Granted a lot of people probably wouldn’t take Matt up on it but that’s the part that’s sucky. Hey, you want to go on about GPL, just sue the bastard. He had it coming. But instead, Matt decides to try and gut the guy’s business instead of focusing on the GPL issues.

And as for the GPL issues, I still don’t not believe, not agree that the GPL was ever meant to be viral like Matt and Mark Jaquith state. Both Matt and Mark are infinitely smarter about their software and it’s licensing. But I’ve been around Slashdot and Reddit enough to have read about other people who’ve had GPL issues. Pretty much they all prove, that, well, because WordPress is GPL does not necessarily make themes or plugins automatically GPL.

So how does this directly affect me?

Not at all.

I neither make plugins nor themes, for myself or others.


And it’s the but that’s the issue. Do I really want to invest any more time or effort to a platform that is controlled by one person who can decide to ruin you if he chooses? Not really. It’s not helping Microsoft, not sure why it’s ok with WordPress.

While I think WordPress has so far, been a decent publishing platform, I believe it’s time to start looking around and see what else is out there.