Saturday, October 31, 2009


Halloween it is. The sugar gods are alive and well. I've never traded "sugar" the commodity but in picking up some candy at WalMart yesterday it seemed pricey.

The Halloween parties at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego were the best.

I still miss those days. Father time marches on. Drive safe tonight, kids are out.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Anyone, anywhere

If you know of a single person, just one who is employed at a JOB that has been created or saved by Federal Stimulus money please send me an email.

I doubt that such an American exists.

Great religious truths..........

During these serious and trying times, people of all faiths should remember these four great religious truths:

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people.

2. Jews do not recognize Christ as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters or the Liquor Store.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another great line...........

"Prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public Treasury." - from Herbert Hoover's 1930 State of the Union address

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bob McCann

So the esteemed brokerage honcho states that his Wall Street brokerage firm is "ripe for reinvention"........ maybe they should put stripes on all the brokers and bars around their offices.

Just wait, it's coming..........

It won't be long before fake H1N1 flu vaccines show up. You know it's coming with all the hype. So far, 1,000 deaths are attributable to swine flu while the "regular" flu kills 38,000 Americans every year.

Remember this simple fact. On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone is zero.

The dichotomy of Wall Street

"It seems like if you're honest, you are getting run out of business, while those who are corrupt, seem to thrive in this current enviornment."

Matthew Hoh

A truly patriotic American. My best wishes to you upon your exit from the United States military.

Greatest Quote Ever

"As an American I am not so shocked that Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize without any accomplishments to his name, but that America gave him the White House based on the same credentials." - - Newt Gingrich


The Afghan Taliban are hammering American troops.

For what?

The insanity of this Administration continues.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Jordan Parisian, (24) is a proud member of the 2009 undeafed Milton High School 7th Grade Feeder Football team. The team took down the Johns Creek Gladiators in stellar fashion Saturday afternoon with a 32-0 effort. The score was not indicative of the carnage that could have ensued had Milton started its first team offensive unit. The second team did awful good.......

The play-off picture looks bright with home-field advantage.

Congratulation to all the parents, siblings, photographers, cheerleaders, coaches and players.

You made everyone proud.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It is nearly 2010.......

and the SEC finally announced the start of its first Web site devoted to investor education, providing detailed information and tips on investing wisely and avoiding scams.

The address is

Better late than never.

Round Lot........

The FDIC shuttered its 100th bank today.

Many more to come. And it didn't take long.

100: Partners Bank, Naples, FL
101: American United Bank, Lawrenceville, GA
102: Hillcrest Bank Florida, Naples, FL
103: Flagship National Bank, Bradenton, FL

Bank BIF Loss Assets Loss Ratio

PR-192-2009 First Dupage Bank $59.0 $279.0 21.50%
PR-191-2009 Riverview Community Bank $20.0 $108.0 18.52%
PR-190-2009 Bank of Elmwood $101.1 $327.4 30.88%
PR-189-2009 Flagship National Bank $59.0 $190.0 31.05%
PR-188-2009 Hillcrest Bank $45.0 $83.0 54.22%
PR-187-2009 American United Bank $44.0 $111.0 39.64%
PR-186-2009 Partners Bank $28.6 $65.5 43.66%

Can you hear the tic, tic, tic get louder?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Black Monday, 22 years later.........

I remember it well. Our 6 a.m. morning meeting at the LaJolla offices of Drexel Burnham Lambert in LaJolla, with Walter J. Shaw calling the shots.

It was a day of buying by my clients. People calling in and simply saying just get me in. It was a handsome day for buyers. The hours it took to get purchase confirmations back was amazing. The dazed look on our wire operator, Robin Drake's face that day will never be forgotten. The scrolling news off of Dow Jones should have been kept forever.

I never thought about my future that day only that maybe our entire industry was finished. It was a 22% decline on 508 DOW points on 604 million shares.

By todays standards nothing more than a yawn on the volume side.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jailed Hedge Fund Honcho's.............

It turns out arrested hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam -- charged in a $20 million insider trading case -- has given big to the party in power.

Here are his largest cumulative contributions this decade, according to data from OpenSecrets:

$26,700 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
$26,200 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corp.
$11,100 to Hillary Clinton
$10,000 to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
$4,600 to Barack Obama
$2,000 to Charles Schumer

We'll see who decides to give it back or donate the funds to charity.

Watch this whole video.......

Friday, October 16, 2009

The more I think about it........

It is tiring to hear the excuses in America these days. I hate the whining. I hate the guys who think working 40 hours a week is a killer. I hate the guys who yack about their lack of health care as they fire up a smoke. I hate the welfare mentality that is alive and well (and growing). I'm tired of Goldman Sachs and their lock on finace and government. I am tired of watching Obama on television, (I always turn off th sound when I see him). I hate the phone calls that solicit from Mumbai, the eubonics in McDonalds, the lack of people in my home town greeting others, the youth on their cell phones and texting like sheep headed to a bedding ground. I hate the Democrats, I hate the Republicans. I hate liars like those at USA FOXX. I hate all the commercial development where I live. I hate all the power lines that are such a blight, in fact, the largest form of visual pollution in the country. There's alot to hate. And even more to love.

Enjoy the weekend. Be happy you live in America.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Smile or cry it's worth a try

The video is absolutely too good not to share with you. Please take a look and listen to some great thinking. It may make you think, or cry. Just don't get sick.

Montana Rifle Antelope, 2009

The Montana 2009 rifle "speed goat" opener opened under cloudy skies and cool temperatures. In fact the temp never broke freezing the entire time we were in Montana. It was a vast change from 2008 when I tagged out with stick n string and was fighting heat and grasshoppers in early September, pre-rut. This was a great hunt with a great friend and may there be many ahead of us. The 2007 EHD ("blue-tongue) carnage took so many antelope in this unit that doe/fawn tags were not being issued so were only able to take our two bucks. Maybe next year!

For those who asked about what is around my neck, I keep a range finder in one pocket and my Garmin GPS in the other to keep them handy and hold the weight off my neck. I shoot a Browing BAR .243 (why anyone would shoot anything else is beyond me for antelope and whitetails!) and used a 95 grain Hornady at 231 yards. And yes, I was splatterd by antelope blood when I field-dressed him.

WATCH THIS NOW..........

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's coming folks..........

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Late payments on commercial mortgages bundled into bonds jumped 41 basis points in September from August, the largest monthly increase on record, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The 3.64 percent delinquency rate compares with 0.54 percent a year ago [that's hmmmm 7-fold], the New York-based ratings company said in a statement today.

“After tapering off for two months, the delinquency tracker appears to have resumed an upward trend as expected,” Nick Levidy, a Moody’s analyst, said in the statement. “The delinquency rate is likely to continue moving higher over the next several months as troubles compound in the commercial real estate sector.”

Our Nobel Prize Winning Immigrants..........

By Alex Nowrasteh

Americans dominated the 2009 Nobel Prizes for the sciences. Eight of the nine winners were American citizens. What is even more striking is that five of those American winners are immigrants to the United States. Yet, in the immigration debate, the contribution of highly educated and skilled immigrants to American technology and science is often ignored.

That contribution cannot be overestimated. One quarter of American Nobel Prize winners since 1901 have been immigrants. Today, a third of all the scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley are immigrants or foreign-born. Furthermore, 40 percent of the Ph.D. scientists working in the U.S. are foreign-born. Unfortunately, our immigration laws ignore these facts.

The driver of economic growth in the modern world is knowledge, and scientific discoveries spill over into related fields to fuel further discoveries. Scientists working in research teams can quickly share insights with each other, allowing greater output. Scientists and engineers working closely together increase the speed and scope of their research. When this brain power is geographically concentrated, it boosts economic growth and technological development.

America's current immigration laws artificially limit our capacity for technological advancement. The engineers and Ph.D.s driving much of the technological innovation in Silicon Valley are overwhelmingly Indian, and a growing number of them are here illegally. According to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics, there are almost 300,000 illegal Indian immigrants in the U.S. Many of them arrived here on H-1B or student visas and have overstayed their legal residency in the hope of getting a green card.

Indian immigrant workers are generally highly skilled and enjoy high incomes. Average Indian-American households have an income 62 percent greater than the average. The skills, work ethic, and entrepreneurial spirit that make Indian immigrants such a successful group are remarkably constant throughout the community, regardless of legal status. Instead of making them jump through bureaucratic hoops, we should encourage them to live here peacefully and contribute to society.

Foreign graduate students also contribute to America's ongoing technological success. A 2005 World Bank study found that foreign graduate students working in the United States file an enormous number of patents. Additionally, a quarter of international patents filed from the U.S. in 2006 named a non-U.S. citizen working in the U.S. as the inventor or co-inventor. Many of those immigrants whom our immigration bureaucracy refuses to recognize are responsible for the rapid technological advancement of recent decades.

Ultimately, highly skilled immigrants benefit the American economy. Counting just the value of patents, scientific discoveries, and firms started by immigrants, it is clear that their arrival has paid off handsomely for the U.S. And rather than take jobs away from Americans, more people with wider skills and greater experience increase employment opportunities. The non-partisan National Foundation for American Policy reports that for every H-1B visa issued, U.S. technology firms increase their employment by five workers. In that sense, every day that almost 300,000 Indian immigrants spend in legal limbo represents a gargantuan waste of creativity.

And that doesn't even count the millions of talented individuals from China, Europe, and elsewhere who would come here seeking greater opportunity if the law would only let them. The five immigrant Nobel Prize winners came from Britain, Canada, Australia, China, and India. The number of potential Nobel Prize winners who have lost their opportunity to do research in this country is unknown. What is known is that the U.S. government has kept out millions of the most inventive, brilliant, and entrepreneurial people in the world for no good reason.

Speech Speech from J. D. Pendry - Sergeant Major, USMC, Retired

Jimmy Carter, you are the father of the Islamic Nazi movement. You threw the Shah under the bus, welcomed the Ayatollah home, and then lacked the spine to confront the terrorists when they took our embassy and our people hostage. You're the "runner-in-chief."

Bill Clinton, you played ring around the Lewinsky while the terrorists were at war with us. You got us into a fight with them in Somalia and then you ran from it. Your weak-willed responses to the USS Cole and the First Trade Center Bombing and Our Embassy Bombings emboldened the killers. Each time you failed to respond adequately, they grew bolder, until 9/11/2001.

John Kerry, dishonesty is your most prominent attribute. You lied about American soldiers in Vietnam . Your military service, like your life, is more fiction than fact. You've accused our military of terrorizing women and children in Iraq . You called Iraq the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, and the same words you used to describe Vietnam . You're a fake! You want to run from Iraq and abandon the Iraqis to murderers just as you did to the Vietnamese.. Iraq , like Vietnam , is another war that you were for, before you were against it.

John Murtha, you said our military was broken. You said we can't win militarily in Iraq . You accused United States Marines of cold-blooded murder without proof and said we should redeploy to Okinawa. Okinawa, John? And the Democrats call you their military expert! Are you sure you didn't suffer a traumatic brain injury while you were off building your war hero resume? You're a sad, pitiable, corrupt, and washed up old fool. You're not a Marine, sir. You wouldn't amount to a good pimple on a real Marine's ass. You're a phony and a disgrace. Run away, John.

Dick Durbin, you accused our Soldiers at Guantanamo of being Nazis, tenders of Soviet style gulags and as bad as the regime of Pol Pot, who murdered two million of his own people after your party abandoned Southeast Asia to the Communists. Now you want to abandon the Iraqis to the same fate. History was not a good teacher for you, was it? Lord help us! See Dick run.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Carl Levine, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Pat Leahy, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, the Hollywood Leftist morons, et al, ad nauseam: Every time you stand in front of television cameras and broadcast to the Islamic Nazis that we went to war because our President lied, that the war is wrong and our Soldiers are torturers, that we should leave Iraq, you give the Islamic butchers - the same ones that tortured and mutilated American Soldiers - cause to think that we'll run away again, and all they have to do is hang on a little longer. It is inevitable that we, the infidels, will have to defeat the Islamic jihadists. Better to do it now on their turf, than later on ours after they have gained both strength and momentum.

American news media, the New York Times particularly: Each time you publish stories about national defense secrets and our intelligence gathering methods, you become one united with the sub-human pieces of camel dung that torture and mutilate the bodies of American Soldiers. You can't strike up the courage to publish cartoons, but you can help Al Qaeda destroy my country. Actually, you are more dangerous to us than Al Qaeda is. Think about that each time you face Mecca to admire your Pulitzer.

You are America's "AXIS OF IDIOTS". Your Collective Stupidity will destroy us. Self-serving politics and terrorist-abetting news scoops are more important to you than our national security or the lives of innocent civilians and Soldiers It bothers you that defending ourselves gets in the way of your elitist sport of politics and your ignorant editorializing. There is as much blood on your hands as is on the hands of murdering terrorists. Don't ever doubt that. Your frolics will only serve to extend this war as they extended Vietnam . If you want our Soldiers home as you claim, knock off the crap and try supporting your country ahead of supporting your silly political aims and aiding our enemies.

Yes, I'm questioning your patriotism. Your loyalty ends with self. I'm also questioning why you're stealing air that decent Americans could be breathing. You don't deserve the protection of our men and women in uniform. You need to run away from this war, this country. Leave the war to the people who have the will to see it through and the country to people who are willing to defend it.

Our country has two enemies: Those who want to destroy us from the outside and those who attempt it from within.

Congratulations to Native America

Eleven American Indian students from across the United States will continue their post-secondary education with the aid of $125,000 in scholarship funding from Accenture's American Indian Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship program, established in 2004, awards funding to the highest-achieving American Indian and Alaska Native students who are pursuing degrees and careers in technology and business. Criteria for scholarships are academic excellence, leadership ability, a commitment to American Indian culture and community and proof of enrollment in a federally recognized American Indian/Alaskan Native tribe.

"Now in our fifth year, the Accenture American Indian Scholarship fund is a critical resource for American Indian and Alaska Native scholars who want to pursue high education but require financial assistance," said Randy Willis, senior executive sponsor of Accenture`s American Indian employee interest group. "We are honored to aid these 11 talented men and women who have demonstrated the aptitude and commitment to represent - and give back to - the American Indian community."

The following six undergraduate Accenture Scholars will receive scholarships toward completing four-year baccalaureate degrees:

* Monica Briggs (White Earth Mississippi Band of Ojibwe), of Minneapolis, MN, is attending Hamline University

* Millie Bigler (Creek), of Sapulpa, OK, is attending the University of Oklahoma

* Jared Boerger (Kashunamiut), of Bethel, AK, is attending the University of Alaska, Fairbanks

* Kelsey Campbell (Inupiaq), of Palmer, AK, is attending the University of Arizona

* Cole Haskins (Cherokee), of Tulsa, OK, is attending Dartmouth College

* Kody Jones (Caddo Nation), of Mustang, OK, is attending Northwestern Oklahoma
State University

The following five graduate Accenture Fellows will receive scholarships toward completing advanced or professional degrees:

* Ken Bernard (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), Minocqua, WI, is attending Harvard Business School
* Keith Candelaria (Pueblo of Jemez), of Albuquerque, NM, is attending Stanford University
* Jessica Edwin (Native Village of Kluti-Kaah ), of Anchorage, AK, is attending the University of Alaska, Anchorage
* Shynoke Ortiz (Dine - Navajo), of Albuquerque, NM, is attending the University of New Mexico
* Catherine Wiley (Muscogee - Creek) of Anadarko, OK, is attending Oklahoma Christian University

"Accenture's American Indian Scholarship Fund supports our corporate citizenship focus, which helps individuals develop their skills to improve the economic well-being of their families and their communities," said LaMae Allen deJongh, managing director of U.S. Human Capital and Diversity at Accenture. "We wish the Accenture Scholars well as they take the next steps toward the future."

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world`s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With approximately 177,000 people in more than 120 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$21.58 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2009. Its home page is


The pain of American mothers and fathers when a son or daughter is lost in the opium fields of Afghanistan I can not fathom. What is the difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam you ask? Here is an Army General who told it like it is.

May America never forget the sacrifices of all who served. Enjoy this read.

Cash for Clunkers

I’ve decided that I no longer view “the cash for clunkers” program as a total bust.

I realized that it removed 95% of the Obama bumper stickers from the highways.

Just the truth ..............

A taxpayer voting for Obama is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

CommieCare.......Let me get this straight.........

We're going to pass a health care plan written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, signed by a President that also hasn't read it, and who smokes,
with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's nearly broke.

What possibly could go wrong?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

SEC headed after Mark Cuban, AGAIN?

Let me see if I have this scenario right. You mean the SEC is going to appeal the judgement that was in FAVOR of Mark Cuban already?

Goldman Sachs front-runs every day per their trading huddle, same as Cuban reportedly did.

Cuban, was judged innocent once already.

Madoff and Stanford looted billions for years.

God help us.

Former SEC honcho talking some truth here.........

"Those who sit back and think that they can rely either on the government or rating agencies or even third party experts are making a huge mistake." - Former SEC Chairman, Harvey Pitt

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sallie Krawcheck on CNBC......

Bullshit artist. Clients are fleeing the full-service brokerage firms as are the brokers. Look at the facts Sallie. Just the facts.

And the pinheads on CNBC Power Lunch wouldn't call her on it.

Gutless media.

How the Wall Street slime operate.......from the New York Times

For most of the 133 years since its founding in a small city in Wisconsin, the Simmons Bedding Company enjoyed an illustrious history.

Presidents have slumbered on its mattresses aboard Air Force One. Dignitaries have slept on them in the Lincoln Bedroom. Its advertisements have featured Henry Ford and H. G. Wells. Eleanor Roosevelt extolled the virtues of the Simmons Beautyrest mattress, and the brand was immortalized on Broadway in Cole Porter’s song “Anything Goes.”

Its recent history has been notable, too, but for a different reason.

Simmons says it will soon file for bankruptcy protection, as part of an agreement by its current owners to sell the company — the seventh time it has been sold in a little more than two decades — all after being owned for short periods by a parade of different investment groups, known as private equity firms, which try to buy undervalued companies, mostly with borrowed money.

For many of the company’s investors, the sale will be a disaster. Its bondholders alone stand to lose more than $575 million. The company’s downfall has also devastated employees like Noble Rogers, who worked for 22 years at Simmons, most of that time at a factory outside Atlanta. He is one of 1,000 employees — more than one-quarter of the work force — laid off last year.

But Thomas H. Lee Partners of Boston has not only escaped unscathed, it has made a profit. The investment firm, which bought Simmons in 2003, has pocketed around $77 million in profit, even as the company’s fortunes have declined. THL collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the company in the form of special dividends. It also paid itself millions more in fees, first for buying the company, then for helping run it. Last year, the firm even gave itself a small raise.

Wall Street investment banks also cashed in. They collected millions for helping to arrange the takeovers and for selling the bonds that made those deals possible. All told, the various private equity owners have made around $750 million in profits from Simmons over the years.

How so many people could make so much money on a company that has been driven into bankruptcy is a tale of these financial times and an example of a growing phenomenon in corporate America.

Every step along the way, the buyers put Simmons deeper into debt. The financiers borrowed more and more money to pay ever higher prices for the company, enabling each previous owner to cash out profitably.

But the load weighed down an otherwise healthy company. Today, Simmons owes $1.3 billion, compared with just $164 million in 1991, when it began to become a Wall Street version of “Flip This House.”

In many ways, what private equity firms did at Simmons, and scores of other companies like it, mimicked the subprime mortgage boom. Fueled by easy money, not only from banks but also endowments and pension funds, buyout kings like THL upended the old order on Wall Street. It was, they said, the Golden Age of private equity — nothing less than a new era of capitalism.

These private investors were able to buy companies like Simmons with borrowed money and put down relatively little of their own cash. Then, not long after, they often borrowed even more money, using the company’s assets as collateral — just like home buyers who took out home equity loans on top of their first mortgages. For the financiers, the rewards were enormous.

Twice after buying Simmons, THL borrowed more. It used $375 million of that money to pay itself a dividend, thus recouping all of the cash it put down, and then some.

A result: THL was guaranteed a profit regardless of how Simmons performed. It did not matter that the company was left owing far more than it was worth, just as many people profited from the mortgage business while many homeowners found themselves underwater.

Investors who bought that debt are getting virtually nothing in the new deal.

“From my experience, none of the private equity firms were building a brand for the future,” said Robert Hellyer, Simmons’s former president, who worked for several of the private equity buyers before being asked to leave the company in 2005. “Plus, the mind-set was, since the money was practically free, why not leverage the company to the maximum?”

Just as with the housing market, the good times ended when the economy fell into recession and the credit markets froze. Simmons is now groaning under a huge amount of debt at a time when its sales are slowing. And this time there is no escaping by finding yet another buyer willing to shoulder its entire burden.

Simmons is one of hundreds of companies swept up by private equity firms in the early part of this decade, during the greatest burst of corporate takeovers the world has ever seen. Many of these deals, cut in good times, left little or no margin for error — let alone for the Great Recession.

A disproportionate number of the companies that were acquired during that frenzy are now struggling with the enormous debts. More than half the roughly 220 companies that have defaulted on their debt in some form this year were either owned at one time or are still controlled by private equity firms, according to analysts at Standard & Poor’s. Among them are household names like Harrah’s Entertainment and Six Flags, the theme park operator.

Executives at THL counter that Simmons was the victim of hard economic times, not mismanagement or too much debt. As proof, executives point to Simmons’s 40 percent growth in sales and its 26 percent climb in operating income from 2003 through 2007 as well as its 13 consecutive quarters of market share gains against competitors through March 2009.

Simmons’s woes, said Scott A. Schoen, a co-president of the firm who sat on Simmons’s board, are entirely caused by the “unprecedented and unforeseeable” downturn that has shaken the entire bedding industry.

“We think the work we had done had positioned the company for us to reap the financial rewards that this economic cycle has taken away,” said Mr. Schoen, gazing across a conference table at THL’s headquarters overlooking Boston Harbor.

Still, he acknowledged, “We are clearly disappointed in the outcome of this investment. Make no bones about it.”

Built Over Generations

Like other emerging industrialists of the 19th century, Zalmon G. Simmons, of Kenosha, Wis., had his hand in numerous businesses — the local bank, a telegraph company, a railroad and a cheese-box factory. He was even, for a time, the mayor of Kenosha.

Around 1876, Mr. Simmons came across a new machine that could mass-produce woven wire mattresses. The Simmons bedding company was born.

From its humble beginnings on the banks of Lake Michigan, Simmons grew to become one of the country’s largest manufacturers of mattresses. Along the way, it even sprinkled a little Hollywood pixie dust on the ho-hum mattress business, hiring Dorothy Lamour and Maureen O’Hara to plug its products.

Until the 1970s, Simmons largely prospered. Then the troubles started, and the company was soon buried deep inside two enormous conglomerates, Gulf & Western and the Wickes Corporation, for a number of years.

But in the mid-1980s, Simmons caught the attention of a new type of investor. The businesses that stormed corporate America in recent years under the banner of private equity were not always called private equity firms. In the 1980s, they were known as leveraged buyout shops. Their strategy is essentially unchanged, however: they try to buy undervalued companies, using mostly borrowed money, fix them up and sell them for a fast profit.

Because they pile debt onto the companies they buy, the firms free up their own cash, allowing them to make additional investments and increase their potential profits.

Simmons’s first trip through the revolving door of private equity came in 1986. Like the latest trip, it was not a pleasant one for employees, but the buyers did just fine.

William E. Simon, a private equity pioneer and a Treasury secretary under President Richard M. Nixon, was the man with the golden touch. In 1986, his investment firm, Wesray Capital, and a handful of Simmons’s top managers acquired the company for $120 million, the bulk of which was borrowed. After selling several businesses to pay back some of the money it had borrowed, Wesray cashed out in 1989. It sold Simmons to the company’s employee stock ownership plan for $241 million — twice what it paid just three years earlier.

The deal was a fiasco for the employees. As part of the buyout, Simmons stopped contributing to its pension plan, since the stock ownership plan shares were meant to pay for the employees’ retirements. But then the bottom fell out of the housing market and Simmons, with its large debt, stumbled. Its pensions crumbled as the value of the stock plan shares plunged.

A succession of private equity buyers came and went. Merrill Lynch Capital Partners bought Simmons in 1991 for $32 million for a 60 percent stake in the company and the assumption of its debt. Merrill sold it to Investcorp, an investment group based in Bahrain, for $265 million in 1996. Two years later, Investcorp sold the company to Fenway Partners for $513 million.

During Fenway’s tenure, Simmons released one of the industry’s biggest innovations: the no-flip mattress. Profits soared. But after five years, Fenway executives decided to cash out. By the fall of 2003, Simmons was back on the block.

Teddy Bear at the Gate

A longtime figure in investment circles, Thomas H. Lee vaulted into the big leagues of private equity with what is regarded as one of the legendary deals of all time. After founding Thomas H. Lee Partners in 1974, he grabbed headlines in 1994 when he sold Snapple, the iced tea maker, for $1.7 billion to Quaker Oats. He bought the company two years earlier for around $130 million.

But while other captains of the buyout craze — like Henry Kravis of Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts — chased giant companies in hostile deals, Mr. Lee focused largely on midsize companies and steered clear of deals where he was not welcome. The research firm Hoover’s describes Thomas H. Lee Partners as “the teddy bear at the gate.”

Mr. Lee, scion of the family that founded the Shoe Corporation of America, left his namesake firm in 2006 to start another investment company. During his 30-year tenure at THL, his firm invested in a series of big names: Ghirardelli Chocolate, Petco Animal Supplies and General Nutrition Companies, among others. And by 2003, as the buyout boom began to build, his firm had Simmons in its cross hairs.

The Deal

The fall of 2003 was little more than a blur of meetings and presentations for Robert Hellyer, the former Simmons president who is among the fourth generation of his family involved in the mattress industry. In eight weeks, the company was shown to 20 private equity suitors in the corporate version of speed dating.

The list of potential buyers was quickly whittled to three and finally to THL, whose $1.1 billion bid for the company consisted of $327 million in new equity from the firm and more than $745 million in bonds and bank loans that had to be raised from investors.

“They were good guys; very smart guys,” Mr. Hellyer said. “Their thesis was to buy a good business with good management and let them get better.”

What THL wanted from the deal was a return of two to three times its initial investment.

From the get-go, the lofty price the firm paid for Simmons and the amount of debt raised red flags on Wall Street.

The “higher debt burden will limit the company’s ability to respond to unexpected negative business developments, including economic or competitive threats or internal missteps,” analysts at Moody’s Investors Service warned at the time.

But nobody, it seems, was listening. Six months after acquiring Simmons, THL set in motion plans to take the company public. And by December 2004, THL found a way to get part of its initial investment back. Simmons issued debt that required the company to pay a hefty 10 percent annual interest rate. The proceeds were used to pay THL a dividend of $137 million. With the company’s debt climbing, Simmons executives had to aim high with new products — and pray they were right.

In late 2004, Simmons unveiled the HealthSmart mattress in a blitz of marketing.

It gave away 250 beds to the audience of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” It began a $15 million advertising campaign. It put coupons for free HealthSmart beds in celebrity souvenir bags during New York’s Fashion Week.

A mattress line aimed at combating dust mites, mold and germs, the HealthSmart featured a zip-off top that could be washed or dry cleaned. But in the rush to get the product to market, Simmons did not go through its normal research and testings, Mr. Hellyer says.

HealthSmart was a flop. Consumers did not like the mattress — they thought the zip-on cover was troublesome. Sales at the company slid nearly 8 percent in the first quarter from the previous year.

“Panic ensued. Thomas H. Lee came in and pulled the national advertising right away,” said a former Simmons employee involved with HealthSmart who declined to be named because he is still involved with the mattress industry.

THL shelved its plans to take Simmons public, and the company shook up its sales division. By the third quarter of 2005, Simmons had “one of the best quarters in the company’s entire history up to that point,” a spokesman for THL said in an e-mail message. The numbers tell a slightly different story: Net sales declined 4.8 percent in that quarter from a year earlier, and operating income fell to $25.1 million, from $25.5 million in the third quarter of 2004. Later, spokesmen for THL and Simmons clarified the statement by saying that after excluding a one-time reorganization expense, an adjusted earnings figure for the quarter was the 10th best in the company’s history.

Executives at THL say they moved quickly to put Simmons back on track.

“More than a dozen THL professionals have devoted literally thousands of man-hours to Simmons, including making over 115 visits to company headquarters and site facilities around the country,” the firm said in a statement.

The results, it argued, speak for themselves. In the following years, Simmons’s sales and profits climbed, and the company introduced several new products, including the successful premium-price Beautyrest Black line of mattresses.

By early 2007, at the very top of the credit market bubble, THL took a bit more out of Simmons. It created a holding company that it used to issue $300 million more in debt, which paid an additional $238 million dividend to the private equity firm. With that, THL had recouped its entire $327 million equity investment in Simmons and booked a profit of around $48 million. (It made an additional $28.5 million in various fees over the years.)

THL was hardly alone in undertaking this sort of financial engineering, known as a dividend recapitalization. From 2003 to 2007, 188 companies controlled by private equity firms issued more than $75 billion in debt that was used to pay dividends to the buyout firms.

Asked whether the 2007 dividend was too much for Simmons, Mr. Schoen of THL defended the deal.

“That debt financing, which clearly spelled out to the market the use of the proceeds, was extremely well received. The securities were heavily oversubscribed,” Mr. Schoen said. “Not only did we think it was appropriate, but the market did as well,” he added.

As the economy soured in late 2007, so did Simmons’s sales. The company slashed costs and cut jobs throughout 2008. But last fall, unable to meet the terms of its bank loans and debt dating back to the 2003 acquisition itself, Simmons stopped making interest payments to its bondholders. THL began talking to the banks and bondholders about how to lighten Simmons’s debt load, and put the company up for sale.

The Impact on Employees

From the start, Noble Rogers loved working at Simmons.

“There were picnics, March of Dimes walks, Christmas parties, and we always had Halloween parties. It was a really family-oriented company,” Mr. Rogers, 50, recalled. “I told my wife that this was a great place for me to work. A great place for me to retire, to make a living at.”

For a long time, it was. For 22 years, Mr. Rogers worked at Simmons, the bulk of those years at a factory in Mableton, outside Atlanta. After operating the coiler machine for the company’s Beautyrest mattress, he moved into maintenance and kept all of the plant’s machinery humming.

Over the years, as Simmons passed from one private equity firm to another, and as Mr. Rogers became president of the local union at the plant, he saw little difference on the plant floor. Then, in the spring of 2008, when the slowing economy had begun to hurt sales, Simmons laid off the night shift at the Mableton plant. And on Sept. 18 that year, it gathered employees in the cafeteria to say that the plant was closing.

“So many people were hurt because they thought this was a great company to work for and they planned on spending the rest of their lives here. Their families were here. They bought houses and cars here,” Mr. Rogers recalled. “After this happened, people were really struggling.”

Between the closings and other cuts, Simmons let go of more than a quarter of its work force last year, said its chief financial officer, William S. Creekmuir.

Mr. Rogers, who received his union-negotiated severance package of two months’ pay, said he and other union representatives had tried to get a little more for workers, particularly those who would have been eligible for retirement. Simmons had a long history of giving retiring employees a bonus of $20 for each year worked and a free mattress set, Mr. Rogers said.

“They wouldn’t give us anything,” he said.

In the months after he lost his job, Mr. Rogers nearly lost his home to foreclosure and struggled to pay his family’s bills. Mr. Rogers, who eventually landed a job at an air filter company and picked up part-time work doing maintenance at an apartment complex, said Simmons bore little resemblance to the company he once loved.

“They stopped the picnics. They stopped the Christmas parties. They stopped the retirement parties,” he recalled. “That showed you the type of people I was working for. I just didn’t realize it until the hard times came like they did.”

For now, the Golden Age of private equity is over, the financiers say. In a speech to an industry gathering last spring. Mr. Schoen said that bankers and bondholders were reluctant to lend more money to the buyout kings.

“We’re in a brave new world,” he said. “We can’t go back to where we were, at least not in this investment cycle, and probably not in my career.”

But some private equity investors are searching for profits in the detritus of the buyout bust. Simmons hopes to emerge from bankruptcy in the hands of two new private equity firms. One is Ares Management, which owns the mattress giant Serta. Under the plan, Simmons’s debt would be more than halved, to $450 million, in part reflecting the losses suffered by its existing bondholders.

Simmons and its remaining employees face an uncertain future. Some in the industry predict Ares will eventually merge at least part of Simmons with Serta, jeopardizing more jobs.

“Simmons has been a cash cow. It’s made a lot of people a lot of money,” said David Perry, executive editor of Furniture/Today. “But there’s a growing question in the industry of how many more times can this be repeated. How much more juice can be squeezed out of the orange?”

Sunday, October 04, 2009

5-0.........let's keep the momentum boys!

Picking one off in the secondary.........

Returning an interception...........

Hard cut on turf.......

Open field tackle on a great Northview player......

And the final buzzer sounds.......

Friday, October 02, 2009

The investing public.....

has no clue how to protect their money from stockbrokers.

We are still amazed the public has any money left from the salesmen they entrust their serious retirement assets too.

Jim Cramer and CIT shares

One of the most beautiful things to be shown on television will be the day that Mr. Cramer nominates HIMSELF to his own "WALL OF SHAME". If the quality of his "researched analysis" of the market and stocks he flippantly recommends were parallel to the venue of running a corporation, his scorecard would earn him an unceremonious boot (such as he frequently calls for when CEO's from under performing companies are in his cross hairs). That he has been given such a public forum from which to spout his nonsense is even a worse offense. This is the best entertainment in the world. This guy is the Jerry Springer of Wall Street.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

North versus nine, red nine, HIKE !!

Planning for the fall football season in the South is radically different than up North. For those who are planning a football trip South, here are some helpful hints.

Stadium Size:

NORTH: College football stadiums hold 20,000 people.
SOUTH: High school football stadiums hold 20,000 people.

Campus Decor:

NORTH: Statues of founding fathers.
SOUTH: Statues of Heisman trophy winners.

Homecoming Queen:

NORTH: Also a physics major.
SOUTH: Also Miss America .

Getting Tickets:

NORTH: 5 days before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus.
SOUTH: 5 months before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus, make a large financial contribution and put name on a waiting list for tickets.


NORTH: An hour before game time, the University opens the campus for game parking.
SOUTH: RVs sporting their school flags begin arriving on Wednesday for the weekend festivities. The really faithful arrive on Tuesday..

Game Day:

NORTH: A few students party in the dorm and watch ESPN on TV.
SOUTH: Every student wakes up, has a beer for breakfast, and rushes over to where ESPN is broadcasting "Game Day Live" to get on camera and wave to the idiots up north who wonder why "Game Day Live" is never Broadcast from their campus.


NORTH: Raw meat on a grill, beer with lime in it, listening to local radio station with truck tailgate down.
SOUTH: 30-foot custom pig-shaped smoker fires up at dawn. Cooking accompanied by live performance from the Dave Matthews Band,... who come over during breaks and ask for a hit off bottle of bourbon.

Getting to the Stadium:

NORTH: You ask "Where's the stadium?" When you find it, you walk right in.
SOUTH: When you're near it, you'll hear it. On game day it is the state's third largest city.


NORTH: Drinks served in a paper cup, filled to the top with soda.
SOUTH: Drinks served in a plastic cup, with the home team's mascot on it, filled less than half way with soda, to ensure enough room for bourbon.

When National Anthem is Played:

NORTH : Stands are less than half full, and less than half of them stand up.
SOUTH: 100,000 fans, all standing, sing along in perfect four-part harmony.

After the Game:

NORTH: The stadium is empty way before the game ends.
SOUTH: Another rack of ribs goes on the smoker, while somebody goes to the nearest package store for more bourbon, and planning begins for next week's game.

Nothing else in the universe comes even halfway close to the glories of
Southern football!


And for SEC Fans:


At VANDERBILT: it takes two, one to change the bulb and one more to explain
how they did it every bit as good as the bulbs changed at Harvard.

At GEORGIA : it takes two, one to change the bulb and one to phone an
engineer at Georgia Tech for instructions.

At FLORIDA : it takes four, one to screw in the bulb and three to figure out
how to get stoned off the old one.

At ALABAMA : it takes five, one to change it, three to reminisce about how
The Bear would have done it, and one to throw the old bulb at an NCAA

At OLE MISS: it takes six, one to change it, two to mix the drinks and three
to find the perfect J. Crew outfit to wear for the occasion.

At LSU: it takes seven, and each one gets credit for five Semester hours.

At KENTUCKY : it takes eight, one to screw it in and seven to discuss how
much brighter it seems to shine during basketball season.

At TENNESSEE : it takes ten, two to figure out how to screw it in, two to buy
an orange lampshade, and six to phone a radio call-in show and talk about
how much they hate Alabama .

At MISSISSIPPI STATE : it takes fifteen, one to screw in the bulb, two to buy
the Skoal, and twelve to yell, "GO TO HELL, OLE MISS".

At AUBURN: it takes one hundred, one to change it, forty-nine to talk about
how they did it better than at Bama, and fifty to get drunk and roll
Toomer's Corner when finished.

At SOUTH CAROLINA : it takes 80,000, one to screw it in and 79,999 to discuss
how this finally will be the year that they have a decent football team.

At ARKANSAS : None. There is no electricity in Arkansas

Ken Lewis and lunatics.........

Poor guy. He will be much farther than up to his ass in legal issues before all is said and done.

This cat cost his shareholders billions, fiduciary duty be damned.

Paulson and Bernanke and their bosses will cost us trillions. The truth is we have a multi-trillion dollar cover-up by banks which amounts to felony fraud on a massive scale and the slime who who have gotten us here are still in Palm Beach driving their Maserati's. It wasn't the folks in Mandaree or Porcupine that got us here.

Americans, God bless us, aren't thinking. Maybe I give Americans far too much credit for brains because we reside in a country where our Congress needs to convene to consider passing a law telling 360,000,000 people that texting while driving is now illegal, in a nation with that many clueless idiots, who can't figure this out for themselves----why,we deserve what we get shoved down our financial gullets.

A plea for America's youth............

So much for "sovereignty"................

Strange justice in Indian country
Mark J. MacDougall and Katherine Deming Brodie
September 28, 2009

Conditions in this obscure country, as reported by sources ranging from Amnesty International to a U.S. Senate committee, are appalling. One in three women will be raped in her lifetime. Half the reported murders and 72% of child sex crimes are never prosecuted. Ninety percent of sexual assaults on native women are committed by men from the dominant ethnic groups. The nation's highest courts regularly reverse convictions based solely on the defendant's race.

This country is not Sudan, Rwanda or Kosovo during ethnic cleansing. Rather, this is the state of law enforcement today on the 310 Indian reservations that are home to nearly a million Native American citizens of the United States.

"Indian Country" — the federal government's name for the 54 million acres of reservation lands in the United States — is larger than Minnesota or Utah. The layers of social ills on most reservations — alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, malnutrition and chronic disease — are a well-documented national shame. But the failure of the U.S. government to provide equal legal protection to victims of serious crimes, who happen to be Native American, is just bizarre.

As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit wrote in February of this year, in U.S. v. Cruz, "The exercise of criminal jurisdiction over...Indian country [encompasses] a complex patchwork of federal, state, and tribal law, which is better explained by history than logic." That patchwork is rooted in 19th century legislation that established the rule that serious crimes in Indian country can only be prosecuted in the federal courts. A 1978 Supreme Court case, Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, expanded that doctrine by holding that only the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) — not tribal or state authorities — may prosecute crimes committed by non-Native Americans on Indian lands. Although tribal courts operate on most reservations, their authority is limited to the prosecution of Indian defendants and to prison sentences of a year or less.

The consequences of these laws are stark. Unless federal authorities intervene, murder, rape and other felonies committed on the reservation by Native Americans may only be punished in a tribal court with a sentence of a year. Crimes committed by non-Indians cannot be prosecuted by tribal courts at all.

Felony prosecutions on Indian reservations are the responsibility of the U.S. attorney for the district in which the reservation is located. The 93 U.S. attorneys — one for each judicial district — are appointed by the president. Like the rest of DOJ, however, U.S. attorney's offices have limited resources and must establish priorities. With few exceptions, crimes committed in Indian country are rarely at the top of the list. U.S. attorney's offices in districts with some of the largest Indian reservations, such as those in Arizona and California, are also responsible for major urban and border areas. Rural offices — such as those in Alaska and the Dakotas — must allocate small staffs to vast territories.

In June, addressing the National Congress of American Indians, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli announced the first major DOJ initiative in 15 years to address escalating public safety problems in Indian country. Among other steps, he announced a listening conference with tribal leaders to increase engagement, coordination and action on a variety of tribal justice matters.

Earlier this month, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009. The act would allow tribal courts to impose sentences of up to three years and create a special office to review decisions by U.S. attorneys to decline prosecutions of reservation crimes.

The DOJ initiative and the Senate bill, although commendable, don't go far enough. Greater accountability and transparency are important, but equal legal protection for victims of serious crimes in Indian country requires more.

One immediate solution that Congress and the Obama administration should consider is a separate office of the U.S. attorney for Indian country (USAIC). The jurisdiction of the USAIC would extend to all Indian reservation and trust lands. The USAIC would have the authority to investigate felonies on Indian reservations nationwide, seek indictments and pursue prosecutions, without regard to the race of the defendant. Cases would be brought by the USAIC in the judicial district where the crime was committed, like any other case brought by the U.S. attorney for that district.

The critical difference would be that serious crimes on reservations — by Indians as well as non-Indians — would receive the same level of prosecutorial resources as an offense committed outside the reservation. At the same time, the jurisdiction of the USAIC would not be limited to violent crimes but would extend to the full range of federal offenses, including political corruption, financial fraud and narcotics trafficking in Indian country.

The treatment of native peoples is one of the darkest chapters in American history. Although nothing can be done to change that history, extending basic legal protections to residents of Indian country, equal to those enjoyed by their fellow citizens, is a modest goal.

Mark MacDougall, a former federal prosecutor, is a partner, and Katherine Deming Brodie is policy counsel, at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington.

Native American Advisors CHIPPEWA PARTNERS