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There is optimism in the air. Mama mia.

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Stock futures rise on optimism after Italian bond auction results in much lower interest rates

NEW YORK — Wall Street is set to open higher Wednesday after two successful Italian bond auctions raised hopes that Italy will be able to roll over billions of euros of its debt this year.

Dow futures rose 0.2 percent at 12,244, while S&P 500 futures moved up 0.3 percent to 1,263.40. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.2 percent to 2,290.75.

The Bank of Italy said the average yield on its €9 billion ($11.8 billion) six-month offering was 3.251 percent, half the 6.504 percent rate it had to pay at the equivalent auction last month. In an auction of two-year bills, the yield fell to 4.853 percent from 7.814 percent last month.

The news pushed up stock prices across Europe. The euro was flat at $1.3069.

In France, the CAC-40 rose 0.5 percent to 3,119, while Germany’s DAX was up 0.1 percent at 5,893. The FTSE index of leading British shares gained 0.6 percent at 5,546.

Favorite parent of the year. Riding the New York subway with baby in backpack.

Favorite news of the year. A portrait of Kim Jong-il was displayed during the procession through the streets of Pyongyang, North Korea  on Wednesday.

The administration attributed the heavy snow fall  to  “heaven’s grief” over Kim Jong-il’s death.

Kim Jong-il who died of a heart attack on Dec. 17, left behind a country gripped by chronic food shortages but armed with nuclear weapons and a dynastic 27-28 year old successor (his son). No North Korean can live in Pyongyang, the capital, unless your political credentials check out.

Harry Newton who is not creative this morning, except for finding some funnies. See you tomorrow.  We’ll start to look at what we learned in 2011. Any ideas?


  1. Janable says:

    This year the market was lead by news and economic events from the EU. Where can someone find when the EU events are scheduled like we have here on

  2. Pahowley says:

    I don't know that we've learned anything, but the lesson that should be obvious is that government is not only not the answer, but is the problem, and one very very hard to stop or change. Washington is corrupting and highly addictive. Same for New York, California, Illinois and even at the city and municipal level. Corrupting.

    One correction would be a requirement that all laws and regulations apply equally to politicians and that any benefits applied to them applies equally to every tax paying citizen and must be financiable. Good luck, Pete.

  3. Fderfler says:

    “What have we learned?”  
    Harry, I have been privileged to watch several friends struggle to grow/maintain their fortunes. These very smart people all have one thing in common:  They think that Knowledge –> (yields) Wealth.  What I have learned from watching and from my time inside the Beltway is: The K –> W  equation is very weak.  It works about as well as chance.  Other equations are:   Information –> Wealth   Power —> Wealth and, of course, Information –> Power  and Power –> Information. Note that seldom does Knowledge(K) yield EITHER Power(P) or Information(I)   The relationship is too weak. Until the 1990s, the world inside the Beltway was ALL about “P” and Wall Street was all about “W”. People inside the Beltway used “P” to yield “W” at the end of their careers, but in a quiet way.  Some “W” people moved through government in order to gain “P”, but it was more genteel.  What changed?  1. Interconnectivity  The “privileged class” evolved and integrated with greater mobility and interconnection.  2. The end of WWII morality.  It's no news that Vietnam, Watergate, etc led to the erosion of even the façade of fair play, hard work, etc.  3. Greed… (references: the 1987 movie “Wall Street” …  Boesky… Milken) 4. Personally, I would add “too many law school graduates”, but that assertion probably muddies the water, so consider it dropped. (although I fully believe it to be true)     The strength of the formula that yields wealth by combining power + Information (P+I –> W) is now self-evident.  (Ref:  Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Al Gore, etc.)   These people get away with what amounts to insider trading because the P in their equation is so strong.  The most “successful” men I have studied –men who tried as hard as you–  worked much more on the side of “P”.  They had some money and then they ferociously backed winning political candidates and rode the gravy train to the pig trough.  Not that they were particularly happy or healthy. My take-away for the year and the decade is that no matter how hard you try, Knowledge does not reliably yield wealth.  Knowledge might yield happiness and a good life, but it has only a weak relationship with wealth.  Sadly, if wealth is what you want, then you must seek Power, Information, and probably both.   Unfortunately, it is bitterly true that today the “Perfect Investment” you are searching for might be your Congressman.

  4. Riprock says:

    Three years with the smartest man in the world at the “helm” and we have decended to even lower levels, perhaps we need a change, because “if we keep on doing what we've been doing then we'll keep on gettin what we been gettin”  DR

  5. Stepen says:

    If a 0.6% rise is considered to be optimism, is what followed (a 0.9% drop, a 50% larger move than the 0.6% rise) considered to be despair?

  6. The last cartoon may be based on an old joke (there are no new ones) that is set at either Grossinger's or the Fontainebleu.

    A rich lady was driven to a fine hotel in her Rolls Royce. As she was met by the attentive hotel staff she told one bell boy to carry her suitcase, another to carry her son's suitcase and the third to carry her son. This last bell boy enquired, 'What's the matter lady, can't he walk ? ' The lady retorted, 'Yes, he can, but thank God he doesn't have to !'