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Deathly afraid for the market. No more.

Trump won’t become President.

That’s my conclusion from last night’s “debate.”

Without a nutcase in the White House, we can go back to “business as usual — picking stocks by their intrinsic value.

I feel “up.” The market does too.

Wells Fargo has become the cockroach stock I predicted.


The Department of Justice has issued subpoenas to Wells Fargo over the opening of millions of fake accounts at the bank.

The stock is plummeting. I’m guesting it will pass through its apparent “floor” — see the three bottoms this year — and go much lower. Here’s WFC this year:


 My brain says it’s a handsome short.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns a potful of WFC. He clearly got snookered by the amiable CEO John Stumpf. And there’s a lesson her for all of us:

When buying WFC, Buffett clearly did a lousy job of his due diligence, He should have been checking low level bank managers and customers. Wells Fargo practices have been among the most dishonest of any major bank. Blind Freddie could easily (and quickly) have learned about WFC’s creation of fake accounts and selling of customer houses it didn’t own. Heck, all you needed to do was google “Wells Fargo stole my house.” See my column here.

Buffett is in a delicate situation. This is from a September 23 posting by the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch:

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is famous for his “front-page-of-the-newspaper test.”

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, he described it, simply, as not doing anything he would be embarrassed to have written up on the front page of the newspaper. To encourage ethics over profits, he tells his managers: “Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

So far we haven’t heard from Warren and his ruthlessness. I’m guessing he’s seething at Wells Fargo and furious with himself. Maybe’s he’s lobbying for Stumpf to be fired and to give back the $200 million.

Cramer was another one who snookered by Stumpf. I haven’t heard an apology out of him for his enthusiastic endorsement of Wells Fargo.

Clearly, both Cramer and Buffett wanted to believe that Wells Fargo was a wonderful company and Stumpf helped them along by telling them whatever they wanted to believe.

Valuable lesson for all of us.

For the MarketWatch piece, click here.

New financial fees: 

+ The Bank of America has sneaked in a $1.50 a month fee on its MasterCard account. Watch your credit card accounts for sneaky new charges. I’m closing this account today.

+ Santander Bank has begun a $3 a month charge if you now receive “a paper statement fee.”

+ Goldman Sachs has doubled down on some fund fees, explained in the tiniest of footnotes.

Harvard invests awfully. This is an amazing story:

Harvard University’s nation-leading $35.7 billion endowment suffered a 2 percent loss on its investments in fiscal 2016.

Harvard University reported that its endowment fund saw a loss of 2 percent, or $1.9 billion, on its investments for fiscal 2016. It’s the single largest annual decline since the financial crisis. The news comes after several years of poor returns calling into question the fund’s investment strategy.

The university’s endowment, totaling $35.7 billion, is still the largest in the nation. (The University of Texas and Yale fill out the top three university endowments.) But the value of its assets dropped 5 percent year over year — down from a record $37.6 billion in 2015 when the portfolio earned 5.8 percent.

“This has been a challenging year for endowments and clearly these are disappointing results,” Paul Finnegan, chair of the Harvard Management Co. board, said in a statement. (The 2016 Annual Endowment Report can be found here.)

The medium-to-long-term performance trends show the endowment underperforming key benchmarks.

As the Boston Globe reports:

“For the 12 months ended in June, Harvard’s 2 percent loss compared with a 2.3 percent gain in a hypothetical portfolio of 60 percent global stocks and 40 percent global bonds. If the money had been invested just in the US stock market, it would have gained 5 percent…

For 10 years, Harvard reported a 5.7 percent annualized gain, compared with 6.9 percent for a 60/40 portfolio of domestic stocks and bonds.

Over five years the difference is even bigger, with Harvard at 5.9 percent and the US markets delivering an annualized gain of 8.9 percent.”

Harvard Management Co. has been hampered by leadership turnover. It is searching for a CEO after Stephen Blythe, a former Deutsche Bank bond trader, resigned in July after only 17 months on the job, as the Globe reports. HMC has had three investment chiefs in the past 11 years.

One of the questions facing Blythe’s successor will be whether the university maintains its approach of managing its money internally, rather than farming out the job to the best managers it can find on the outside as its Ivy League rival Yale does.

Harvard appears sobered by its portfolio’s past performance. In his closing remarks in the Annual Report, interim chief executive Robert A. Ettl writes,

“As we enter fiscal year 2017, the investment landscape continues to be full of uncertainty. With a backdrop of slowing growth and rich valuations, endowment returns could be muted for some time to come.”

This story came from here.

I can’t think of a single reason I’d want Donald Trump as President.

And last night’s “debate” did nothing to change my mind. I heard nothing that appealed including his tax cuts, which I would benefit handsomely by.

In recent days I’ve been reading, mulling and watching to figure my reasons for finding him so ill-suited.

I agreed with the Economist’s conclusion on last night’s debate.

Those who switched on this debate thinking that Mr Trump is not qualified to be president will not have changed their minds. Those who began by thinking that Mrs Clinton is a dangerous socialist who should be locked up will have seen nothing to change their minds. But what did the 10-20% of voters who tell pollsters that they are undecided, or planning to vote for a third party, see? They saw one candidate who was well-prepared and a bit rambling, and another who was downright weird at times. 1-0 to Mrs Clinton.

I agree with this recent New York Times editorial. It neatly summarizes all my feelings about Trump:

Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President
Donald Trump is a man who dwells in bigotry, bluster and false promises.

When Donald Trump began his improbable run for president 15 months ago, he offered his wealth and television celebrity as credentials, then slyly added a twist of fearmongering about Mexican “rapists” flooding across the Southern border.

From that moment of combustion, it became clear that Mr. Trump’s views were matters of dangerous impulse and cynical pandering rather than thoughtful politics. Yet he has attracted throngs of Americans who ascribe higher purpose to him than he has demonstrated in a freewheeling campaign marked by bursts of false and outrageous allegations, personal insults, xenophobic nationalism, unapologetic sexism and positions that shift according to his audience and his whims.

Now here stands Mr. Trump, feisty from his runaway Republican primary victories and ready for the first presidential debate, scheduled for Monday night, with Hillary Clinton. It is time for others who are still undecided, and perhaps hoping for some dramatic change in our politics and governance, to take a hard look and see Mr. Trump for who he is. They have an obligation to scrutinize his supposed virtues as a refreshing counterpolitician. Otherwise, they could face the consequences of handing the White House to a man far more consumed with himself than with the nation’s well-being.

Here’s how Mr. Trump is selling himself and why he can’t be believed.

Despite his towering properties, Mr. Trump has a record rife with bankruptcies and sketchy ventures like Trump University, which authorities are investigating after numerous complaints of fraud. His name has been chiseled off his failed casinos in Atlantic City.

Mr. Trump’s brazen refusal to disclose his tax returns – as Mrs. Clinton and other nominees for decades have done – should sharpen voter wariness of his business and charitable operations. Disclosure would undoubtedly raise numerous red flags; the public record already indicates that in at least some years he made full use of available loopholes and paid no taxes.

Mr. Trump has been opaque about his questionable global investments in Russia and elsewhere, which could present conflicts of interest as president, particularly if his business interests are left in the hands of his children, as he intends. Investigations have found self-dealing. He notably tapped $258,000 in donors’ money from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses, according to The Washington Post.

A straight talker who tells it like it is?

Mr. Trump, who has no experience in national security, declares that he has a plan to soundly defeat the Islamic State militants in Syria, but won’t reveal it, bobbing and weaving about whether he would commit ground troops. Voters cannot judge whether he has any idea what he’s talking about without an outline of his plan, yet Mr. Trump ludicrously insists he must not tip off the enemy.

Another of his cornerstone proposals – his campaign pledge of a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim newcomers plus the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants across a border wall paid for by Mexico – has been subjected to endless qualifications as he zigs and zags in pursuit of middle-ground voters.

Whatever his gyrations, Mr. Trump always does make clear where his heart lies – with the anti-immigrant, nativist and racist signals that he scurrilously employed to build his base.

He used the shameful “birther” campaign against President Obama’s legitimacy as a wedge for his candidacy. But then he opportunistically denied his own record, trolling for undecided voters by conceding that Mr. Obama was a born American. In the process he tried to smear Mrs. Clinton as the instigator of the birther canard and then fled reporters’ questions.

Since his campaign began, NBC News has tabulated that Mr. Trump has made 117 distinct policy shifts on 20 major issues, including three contradictory views on abortion in one eight-hour stretch. As reporters try to pin down his contradictions, Mr. Trump has mocked them at his rallies. He said he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations that displease him.

An expert negotiator who can fix government and overpower other world leaders?

His plan for cutting the national debt was far from a confidence builder: He said he might try to persuade creditors to accept less than the government owed. This fanciful notion, imported from Mr. Trump’s debt-steeped real estate world, would undermine faith in the government and the stability of global financial markets. His tax-cut plan has been no less alarming. It was initially estimated to cost $10 trillion in tax revenue, then, after revisions, maybe $3 trillion, by one adviser’s estimate. There is no credible indication of how this would be paid for – only assurances that those in the upper brackets will be favored.

If Mr. Trump were to become president, his open doubts about the value of NATO would present a major diplomatic and security challenge, as would his repeated denunciations of trade deals and relations with China. Mr. Trump promises to renegotiate the Iran nuclear control agreement, as if it were an air-rights deal on Broadway. Numerous experts on national defense and international affairs have recoiled at the thought of his commanding the nuclear arsenal. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell privately called Mr. Trump “an international pariah.” Mr. Trump has repeatedly denounced global warming as a “hoax,” although a golf course he owns in Ireland is citing global warming in seeking to build a protective wall against a rising sea.

In expressing admiration for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Mr. Trump implies acceptance of Mr. Putin’s dictatorial abuse of critics and dissenters, some of whom have turned up murdered, and Mr. Putin’s vicious crackdown on the press. Even worse was Mr. Trump’s urging Russia to meddle in the presidential campaign by hacking the email of former Secretary of State Clinton. Voters should consider what sort of deals Mr. Putin might obtain if Mr. Trump, his admirer, wins the White House.

A change agent for the nation and the world?

There can be little doubt of that. But voters should be asking themselves if Mr. Trump will deliver the kind of change they want. Starting a series of trade wars is a recipe for recession, not for new American jobs. Blowing a hole in the deficit by cutting taxes for the wealthy will not secure Americans’ financial future, and alienating our allies won’t protect our security. Mr. Trump has also said he will get rid of the new national health insurance system that millions now depend on, without saying how he would replace it.

The list goes on: He would scuttle the financial reforms and consumer protections born of the Great Recession. He would upend the Obama administration’s progress on the environment, vowing to “cancel the Paris climate agreement” on global warming. He would return to the use of waterboarding, a torture method, in violation of international treaty law. He has blithely called for reconsideration of Japan’s commitment not to develop nuclear weapons. He favors a national campaign of “stop and frisk” policing, which has been ruled unconstitutional. He has blessed the National Rifle Association’s ambition to arm citizens to engage in what he imagines would be defensive “shootouts” with gunmen. He has so coarsened our politics that he remains a contender for the presidency despite musing about his opponent as a gunshot target.

Voters should also consider Mr. Trump’s silence about areas of national life that are crying out for constructive change: How would he change our schools for the better? How would he lift more Americans out of poverty? How would his condescending appeal to black voters – a cynical signal to white moderates concerned about his racist supporters – translate into credible White House initiatives to promote racial progress? How would his call to monitor and even close some mosques affect the nation’s life and global reputation? Would his Supreme Court nominees be zealous, self-certain extensions of himself? In all these areas, Mrs. Clinton has offered constructive proposals. He has offered bluster, or nothing. The most specific domestic policy he has put forward, on tax breaks for child care, would tilt toward the wealthy.

Voters attracted by the force of the Trump personality should pause and take note of the precise qualities he exudes as an audaciously different politician: bluster, savage mockery of those who challenge him, degrading comments about women, mendacity, crude generalizations about nations and religions. Our presidents are role models for generations of our children. Is this the example we want for them?

The article can be found here.

The Jewish congregation in Toronto rewards its Rabbi.

A Jewish congregation in suburban Toronto honors its Rabbi for 25 years of service by sending him to Hawaii for a week, all expenses paid. When he walks into his hotel room, he finds a beautiful nude woman lying on the bed. She greets the Rabbi with, “Hi, Rabbi, I’m a little something extra that the President of the shul arranged for you.”

The Rabbi is incensed. He picks up the phone, calls the president of the synagogue and shouts, “Greenblatt, what were you thinking? Where is your respect? I am the moral leader of our religious community! I am very angry with you and you have not heard the end of this.”

Hearing this, the naked woman gets up and starts to get dressed.

The Rabbi turns to her and asks, “Where are you going? I’m not angry with you.

Harry Newton, who has intelligent friends who slept through last night’s debate. Such superior intelligence. I envy them. I’m not watching any more Presidential debates. I’m going to the movies. I believe The Magnificent Seven is pretty good.