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video

It’s all about expectation: B of A needs $34 b but stock is up

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Yahoo Tech-ticker

Disclosure: I don’t have BAC shares. I think, long term (I mean really long like 5 years) BAC is a good call option for US economy recovery. I don’t agree with Henry Bloget on this aspect: I think Ken Lewis is the right man for the job.

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401k and Personal Finance Business

My view on Credit Cards: from both sides

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(Update 23Apr09) It seems Obama administration is going to make credit card more consumer friendly (marketWatch). So are they going to socialize the credit card: I mean, you and me (i.e., honest guys) pay the credit cards on time each month, will bail out the deadbeats, after we bailed out the Wall Street ??? We know the credit card companies (the wall street) are not charities. This thing looks more like dumber and dumber.

(Original) Yesterday I mentioned credit card when talking about recurring revenue. Credit card is the live blood of our consumer society. Like commerical paper for business, we (consumers) use (more precisely borrow from) credit card for our daily purchases. At the end of each billing period, we either pay off the whole balance or pay the minimum payment (not recommended from personal finance perspective, but so many people do this nowadays. The customers who carry balance (and pay >10% interest) also contribute the profit of credit card companies. But it appears now credit card companies started to upset their best customrers, amid the credit crisis.

Business
American Express (NYSE: AXP) and Citibank (NYSE: C) pay customer to go away

JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) charged monthly fee to customers, then gave refund under pressure from NY AG Cuomo (CNN Money story).

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Master Series

Questions for Warren in this year annual shareholder meeting

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Also collected here.

1. Why invest in Utilities? Does not Utilities need a lot of capital, what’s the difference between Utilities and the original Berkshire (BRK.A, BRK.B) textile business? You did explained in your letter that utilities can deploy capital for a decent return. And I read this old article “Why Buffett is buying utilities” from MSN money (Jim Jubak). Do you agree some of what Jim said?

2. Why keep American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Moody (NYSE:MCO)? Don’t we see the permanent demage of consumer credit, and the rating companies? How about Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC)? Why not sell all Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) shares (noticed you did sell half last year)?

3. Derivatives. There are a lot crititics on this, and you have explain this very well in the shareholder letter. But, as I read “Poor Chariles Almanack”, Charile is much more cautious on derivatives, and its systemantic risk (chain effect of credit risk form counter parties). What’s your comments on over the counter derivatives market in general?

Will add more questions when it pops up.

Disclosure: I sold my remaining BRK.B share yesterday. No positions on the other stocks being mentioned.

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Economy

Dow 5,000?

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I remember years ago (in dot com era) there is a book named Dow 36,000. Obviously that predication was a laughing stock becaue Dow crashed in year 2000. No I am not trying to make a fool of myself, my title Dow 5,000 is merely to reflect today the Dow and S&P dropped to 12 year low again (source: bloomberg).

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Investing

Friends don’t let friends buy BAC

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(Update Feb 5) It appears BoA CEO Ken Lewis bought additional 200,000 BAC shares yesterday (source: bloomberg).

(Original Feb 4) Today Bank of America stock (NYSE: BAC) fell below $5 the first time since 1990s. The company was in trouble earlier this month as the loss from Merrill Lynch turned out to be much bigger then originally thought. There are lots of talk about the potential nationalization, as the rumor also hit another big troubled bank, Citi group (NYSE: C). Some retail investors got excited about the “appears cheap” price, and they bought into the stock and hoped for a big profit in near future.

Don’t !!! Although the insiders of BoA, including its CEO Ken Lewis, bought a bunch of stocks on Jan 20 when the stock dropped under $6 briefly (and around the same time, JP Morgan CEO Jemy Dimon bought JPM stocks), the insider buy looked more like the “confidence showing stock buyback” nowadays. Note in the good old days, companies bought back stocks because they felt the stocks are really cheap. Nowadays many companies bought back stocks to prop up stock price, or to offset the excessive stock awards to its employees. This “Ken Lewis” smelled more like a show to me, just like the Obama’s blaming Wall Street excessive bonus (before he hand out another round of carrots to banks soon).

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Stocks

Banking crisis?

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It seems the financial crisis has been more like a banking crisis these days, with the RBS virtually nationalized by the British goverment, and Citi and Bank of America increasingly can not stand on its own. The No. 1 and No. 2 US banks according to market cap, J.P.Morgan (NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), are also under pressure today, both hovering around $20 and $15, respectively.

RBS telegraph uk
(Source: telegraph.co.uk)

Of course this all happens today as the new US president sworn into office. It appears to me the market does not like the stimulus package proposed by Obama team, or the uncertainty around it? Plus the controversy around his treasury secratery pick. All this bring uncertainty to the market, and we know the market does not like uncertainty.

What will we go from here? Will all the big US banks taken over by the federal goverment? It seems unlikely because this country lives or dies on the private business or entreprenuership. With goverment controlling large banks, it will be like (dare I say) China.

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Stocks

My thoughts on Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)

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Bank of America is back in the news because they asked and got $20 billon from US govement, to back the loss from Merrill Lynch acquisition.


(Source: Yahoo Tech-ticker)

Personally I like Bank of America, ever since I became their customer serveral years ago. Two benefits of being BoA checking acct cosumer: 1) Their branch and ATMs are all over the country; 2) In addition to that, since I travel to China once a while, I like the fact I can withdrawl Chinese Yuan (RMB) from China Construciton Bank (CCB is BoA Chinese partner), without transaction fees. CCB is also a large bank in China and their ATMs can be found in many places.

Now to the investing of BoA (NYSE: BAC). Did I say investing? With the stock price of BoA approach to $7, it seems to me it’s more and more like speculating. I remember someone (Jim Cramer?) once said any bank stock traded under $5 is speculative.

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Stocks

AIG IS too big to fail

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At least that’s what Fed chairman Bernenke and Treasury secretary Paulson think, and the congress and president agree with them. But how about the shareholders and we the tax payers? The AIG shareholders are almost wiped out (slightly better than Fannie and Freddie), and the price tag is $85 billion for now.

So summary, the price tag of recent big financial firms fallout.