Sunday, September 27, 2009

You Should Check Out the Intelligence Squared Debate Series on Bloomberg

Read about Intelligence Squared in a recent NYTimes article and coincidentally caught a broadcast of it last night on Bloomberg. Wasn't bad. I won't kid myself and suggest (or hope) that this will have any huge influence on the rest of TV news coverage of important issues, but it's a nice alternative nonetheless. I hope they keep it going.

By the way, my personal boycott of CNN / Fox News / MSNBC is somewhere past a month now. Maybe longer. Feels great, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Charting the S&P 500 & GDP Growth

Yesterday I took a look at the relationship between the S&P 500 and the unemployment rate. This morning I wanted to look at how the S&P and GDP figures align (or don't align) over the years. Again, I didn't quickly find the charts I was looking for, so I created my own.

Using S&P data from Yahoo! Finance and GDP data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, I looked at two things:

- Plotting same year S&P 500 growth and GDP change
- Plotting current year S&P growth and next year's GDP change

I guess the difference here is whether you think the market is reflecting current mood / environment or is it anticipating what lies ahead. It's probably some combination of both. How's that for illuminating and actionable insight?

Some stats here that I perhaps knew but never quite processed fully until looking at this is how the years after big drops really do snap back.

1974: down 29.7%
1975: up 31.5%

2002: down 23.4%
2003: up 26.4%

2008: down 38.5%
2009 YTD: up 18.3%

Again, these charts will be most legible if you hit the "full" setting in the player below.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Charting the S&P 500 & Unemployment Rate: 1980 - 2009

This is what I did with my Saturday.

Hearing both a lot of debate about the merits / feasibility of a "jobless recovery" and chatter on CNBC about people feeling anxious regarding the sustainability of the stock market's ongoing rally, I wanted to look at a correlation between unemployment rates and the S&P 500 over the past big unemployment spikes / recessions. But I could not quickly find any charts making this connection. So, with historical S&P data from Yahoo! Finance and unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I put together my own chart, which is embedded below.

The only way it will be remotely legible is if you hit the "full" setting on the slideshow player. You can also download it, too. I've spent more time putting it together than analyzing it, but here is what I'm seeing at first glance:

- The early 80s period and the early 90s period are rather similar
- The degree of the moves in the early 00s period are substantially greater than the two earlier periods
- In all three of the prior periods, the Low (L) in the S&P was seen before the Peak (P) of that period's unemployment rate.
- After the Peak (P), the S&P didn't really dip back to test the lows much

We've seen a pretty dramatic recent low in the S&P (March '09) and unemployment seems to be nearing a peak / plateau period. Does this bode well for the S&P in the near term and intermediate future?

I'm also including a base version of the chart without all my add ons.

Monday, September 07, 2009

24 Hours in Utah for a World Cup Qualifier


While I would have preferred to check the Costa Rica game in DC, squeezing a recreational Wednesday night trip into the work schedule is tough. So if I wanted to see a qualifier, Sandy, UT on 9/5 was my best shot.

View from the SLC airport was about what you would expect, I guess. Kinda brown, kinda mountainy.

Welcome to SLC

After checking into the Hotel Monaco and dropping our bags we still had ~4 hours until kickoff. So we wandered out and soon found the Red Rock Brewery. Our criteria were beer, food and some TVs. Check.

Beer #1 @ red rock brewing co.
A Blonde Ale

Prosciutto wrapped caprese @ red rock brewery
Prosciutto wrapped caprese salad

Dude looks like a lady
Dude with a pretty unfortunate hair style

Pre-game was successful, now it was time for the game. Asked for a cab at the Monaco, wound up in a van with Chafer, who became our handler for the rest of the day.


Trip to the stadium was relatively quick, leaving time to roam about, survey the tailgating scene and try to offload the extra pair of tickets I had purchased thinking for sure I'd be able to flip them and cover the weekend's beer expenses with the proceeds.

Not quite.

Rio Tinto Stadium holds 20,000 for soccer. Announced attendance at the game was 19,000 but it looked like less than that actually showed up. And at least one third of the crowd was wearing the royal blue of El Salvador. Net: not the best environment for trying to sell extra tickets. But during our stroll we were approached by a woman brandishing a turkey baster who offered us a "gin shot that tastes like lemonade". Would have been rude to refuse such a hospitable offer. And it did somewhat soften the blow of eating the cost of those extra seats.

Fortified, we headed in.

We started w/ the "large" f...

Took me a few shots to realize that the camera on my phone was on the low quality / low res setting. Sweet.

US vs El Salvador

Nice place to see a game. Just too bad the SLC metropolis couldn't come support the squad.

US vs El Salvador

These guys were representing, though.

US vs El Salvador

Our seats were decent, a few rows behind the El Salvador bench.

US vs El Salvador

Could have done without the super enthusiastic high school soccer player behind us shouting out "MAN ON!" and "WATCH THE SWITCH!" and "COME ON BECKERMAN, THIS ISN'T MLS, SHOW 'EM WHAT YOU GOT!". But the view was solid.

Place emptied out quick enough.


So it was time to meet our man Chafer for the ride back to the Monaco.

And there he is.

I actually took a more in-focus version of this, but honestly, this one is probably an appropriate representation of how things were feeling.

Chafer was solid. On time and had the cooler stocked with Coors Banquet, as we requested. At least, as we requested once we were advised that our choices were pretty much mainstream domestics. When in Utah, do as the Utahans do.


So we asked Chafer for some nightlife suggestions. He offered a few, but the first one we got to was Lumpy's.


Standard pool table scene downstairs. Not so standard bar service. Bartender had to ask his colleague what a Black Russian was. Should have aborted the order right there.

Lumpy's in SLC

After a few unimpressive games we ventured upstairs, which turned out to be the right move.


All the TVs you could possibly want.


Just skip the mixed drinks and stick with beer.


Think I stopped taking pictures at this point. Until I got to the airport and saw this evidence that some Utahans do indeed have a sense of humor.

Some SLC souvenir store humor