Parisian Family Office, CEO. Began Wall Street, 1982. Founded investment firm, CHIPPEWA PARTNERS, Native American Advisors. Active Trader. White Earth Chippewa Tribal member. Was NYSE/FINRA arb. Conservative, raised on Great Plains reservations. Pureblood, clot-shot free. In a world elevated on a dopamine binge, this is his take! Written from MT Ghost Ranch on the Yellowstone River, TN farm Pamelot or San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, CASA TULE'. Always been, will always be, an optimist.
Friday, December 25, 2009
U.S. Uncaps Support for Fannie, Freddie
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Treasury said it would provide capital as needed to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the next three years, effectively opening its checkbook to the government-controlled companies in a bid to reassure investors in their debt....
from the Washington Post
U.S. promises unlimited financial assistance to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac
Friday, December 25, 2009
The Obama administration pledged Thursday to provide unlimited financial assistance to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an eleventh-hour move that allows the government to exceed the current $400 billion cap on emergency aid without seeking permission from a bailout-weary Congress.
The Christmas Eve announcement by the Treasury Department means that it can continue to run the companies, which were seized last year, as arms of the government for the rest of President Obama's current term.
But even as the administration was making this open-ended financial commitment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disclosed that they had received approval from their federal regulator to pay $42 million in Wall Street-style compensation packages to 12 top executives for 2009.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Christmas came early this year. Shoulder to shoulder with my youngest son watching him down his first deer was another memorable moment in 2009. Jordan made a great one-shot kill on a beautiful animal this morning and the Parisian family will eat venison all year long. We love all the animals we harvest, from antelope to deer to elk!
We are thankful for the bounty the Creator provides and I am a blessed man to hunt in the company of my sons. When a man can hunt WITH his sons, he usually never has to hunt FOR his sons down the road!
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Monday, December 21, 2009
On Saturday morning, Mr. Harry Reid threw out the 2,100 page bill that the worlds greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new "managers amendment" that was stapled together in covert partisian negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what's in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning!
The rushed secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that "reform" has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state.
A huge number of "leaders" are looking at this bill as being so large and convoluted than no one can truly understand it. It is scary, it is wrong, it is a lie.
Americans sit and stand idly by hoping their health improves. It won't. Great health is a personal matter and it is up to America to take care of their health. America will get what they voted in. One big lie.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
But with the Senate health legislation, the term is particularly apt, as the majority leader, Harry Reid, aims to have a vote by Christmas Eve on a bill festooned with decorations.
They include these:
The “Louisiana Purchase,” as it is being called, a provision for Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who obtained an extra $300 million in Medicaid funds for her state.
The Hawaii exemption, a measure that allows the state to keep its own health care system.
A break on the excise tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans for people in the 17 states where premiums are the highest. (The measure was initially intended to apply to the 10 states with the highest premiums, a Senate aide said, but some other senators wanted in and the number was bumped to 17.)
An increase in federal money to cover a Medicaid expansion in Nebraska, home to Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat. Massachusetts and Vermont also won more money to expand Medicaid, but at much lower levels.
While Mr. Nelson held up the bill for an anti-abortion provision, he won various other items for his state, including an exemption from the insurance tax for Mutual of Omaha. But the abortion language to which he agreed infuriated some abortion opponents when it was made public on Saturday, threatening the entire bill all over again.
Supporters of the bill say these sugar plums are a small price to pay for the votes to pass landmark legislation that will result in most Americans having health insurance, many with subsidies, and will end some of the insurance industry’s most discriminatory practices.
But these ornaments are mere baubles compared with some of the neon measures that some lawmakers and lobbyists have fought to keep out of the bill.
Most prominent was the demand by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, that leaders drop two provisions that the insurance industry and big business had been lobbying vociferously against.
One, of course, was a government-run insurance plan, or public option, which would have competed with private insurance companies. The other was an expansion of Medicare to include some people ages 55 to 64, a change hospitals and doctors fought because it would have meant taking care of more patients at lower Medicare rates.
Insurers also beat back an attempt to strip the industry of a partial antitrust exemption that it has long enjoyed.
To achieve these goals, the lobbying campaign has been lavish, even by Capitol Hill’s inflated standards.
Spending totals for the year will not be known until mid-January. But in the first nine months, health care lobbyists spent at least $396 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the influence of money on elections and policy.
Because the lobbying intensified in the fourth quarter as both the House and Senate prepared their final bills, the year-end total is likely to shatter the previous record for money spent on a single issue in a single year.
Perhaps not surprisingly, that record was set just last year, when health care lobbyists spent $486 million in anticipation of the legislative action this year.
“If spending this quarter remains on pace with the first three quarters — just on pace — lobbying in the health care sector will obliterate the high-water mark that it set last year,” said Dave Levinthal, a spokesman for the center.
But even those figures do not give the full picture of the cash funneled into lobbying on health care in 2009.
For example, the center’s health care figures do not include lobbying by the insurance industry. Mr. Levinthal said the center could not isolate the amount the industry spent only on health insurance, as opposed to other forms of insurance.
Nor do the figures include spending by groups like the United States Chamber of Commerce, which has multiple issues pending before Congress but led the effort to kill the public option.
And they do not include the $170 million that all sides have spent so far this year on television advertising.
Some of the lobbying, especially in the early days, was done on behalf of remaking the health care system. But over all, more has been spent against it. Because Democrats control both houses, they have received more money than Republicans.
The insurance companies were probably among the merriest of industries last week. Because the legislation mandates that everyone buy insurance, those companies stand to gain 30 million new customers — and there will be no government plan to compete with.
But the drug companies were certainly joyful, too. So far, they have kept intact a deal with the White House to bar the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada and elsewhere. In exchange, the they agreed to give up $80 billion over 10 years through discounts and rebates.
Some Senators fought the pharmaceutical deal, noting that $80 billion represents only about 2 percent of the $3.6 trillion that Americans are expected to spend on drugs in the next 10 years. But the Senate effectively voted last week to keep the drug pact in place.
The pharmaceutical industry has spent more money by far than any other on lobbying in the first nine months of the year, laying out $199 million. That is also the single highest figure that any industry has ever spent on lobbying in a nine-month period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Citizens who do not normally pay attention to Congressional gift exchanges may have been galled at the process, particularly with the health care of the nation’s citizens and one-sixth of its economy at stake.
But they will see more maneuvering in the weeks ahead, as lobbyists seek to ensure that the measures they kept out of the Senate bill will also be excluded from the final bill that the Senate produces in conference with the House.
On Capitol Hill, decorating the Christmas tree is always in season.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
10. They want it passed yesterday before you find out what is in it.
9. They hide the truth about the bill instead of bragging about it.
8. The voters have read the bill, the representatives have not, but they vote for it anyway.
7. Congress doesn't want any part of the legislative master plan they have for our lives.
6. They threaten any business or politician that opposes the bill.
5. It is too big to read, has words that are too big to understand, and creates 111 new bureaucracies that are too big to succeed or get rid of.
4. It punishes, taxes, penalizes, or potentially bankrupts everyone it was meant to serve: patients, elderly, doctors, hospitals, taxpayers, employers, and state governments, but by all means protects trial lawyers.
3. The community organizer- in-chief gets upset when communities organize to protest his bill.
2. They call anyone opposed to their bill - even grandmothers-Astroturf, Nazis, racists, or mobsters.
1. Compulsory enrollment, or else $250,000 in fines, and up to 5 yrs in jail. That proves they know you wont like the bill.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
No? Didn't think so!
Bottom line. We've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency...the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember!
It was very simple...and at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate.
The Department of Energy was instituted on 8-04-1977.
TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.
Hey, pretty efficient, huh???
AND NOW IT'S 2009 -- 32 YEARS LATER -- AND THE BUDGET FOR THIS "NECESSARY" DEPARTMENT IS AT $24.2 BILLION A YEAR. THEY HAVE 16,000 FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND APPROXIMATELY 100,000 CONTRACT EMPLOYEES; AND LOOK AT THE JOB THEY HAVE DONE!
THIS IS WHERE YOU SLAP YOUR FOREHEAD AND SAY,
"WHAT WAS I THINKING?"
Ah, yes -- good ole bureaucracy.
AND, NOW, WE ARE GOING TO TURN THE BANKING SYSTEM, HEALTH CARE, AND THE AUTO INDUSTRY OVER TO THE SAME GOVERNMENT?
HELLOOO! Anybody Home?
In 2010, if you are going to find a partner you can trust to help you get on track, you’re going to have to find a firm that doesn’t have a hidden agenda, someone whose only business is managing wealth, not selling insurance or financial products.
Our approach is a million miles from what Wall Street has become. We are privately held. We are not investment bankers or brokers. We don’t answer to a parent company or a government mandate.
Chippewa Partners is a privately owned fiduciary firm, founded in 1995 that is controlled by the professionals who are actively involved in all facets of the firm.
For us it all begins with our clients. When our clients win, we win. You need a firm who puts their clients’ needs first and understands that success is measured by meeting long-term performance objectives. Our business is not one of commissions and churning. We think that investors who still use stockbrokers to manage their retirement assets should reexamine their conflicted advice and hire a fiduciary investment manager instead of a salesperson.
Ask yourself, how do you know if you can trust the advice from your current financial advisor? Do stockbrokers work for you or against you? The answer might surprise you.
Under what's called "the Merrill Lynch rule," stockbrokers are allowed to work against the best interest of their customers. By contrast, an independent fee-only investment manager who does not work for a brokerage firm has what's called "fiduciary duty." That simply means they must do what's best for you. Surprisingly, most investors are very misinformed on this point. Today, your stockbroker is only required to recommend buys and sells that are suitable for you, not necessarily in your best interest.
A study by the Wall Street Journal found that roughly two-thirds of investors thought stockbrokers had to work for them. If you do business with a stockbroker, you do so at your own risk. As a common example, if a broker puts your money into a bond fund, that broker can legally look for the most expensive option available in the many bond funds in the market.
So be sure you know what most investors don't -- that stockbrokers help themselves first and you second. Brokers are far more concerned about their income than your outcome.
We know that financial advice should be objective, personal and unbiased. As a Registered Investment Advisor we are fiduciaries. We are an exclusive Fee-Only advisor and will always avoid the conflicts that are inherent with brokers. Our investment counsel is objective and we have no potential for conflict-of-interest with commissions. This allows us to serve as a trusted fiduciary firm.
Listening to the firms founder, Dean Parisian speak about Wall Street is like Henry Markopoulos talking about Bernard Madoff to the SEC. As a veteran arbitrator for the NYSE and NASD for over a decade he knows Wall Street chicanery inside and out. He knows what’s deeply wrong with the sales culture and utterly rejects that part that stands in perpetual conflict with the needs of investors. Few areas of the securities world exhibit as clearly the relationship between a broker and a customer. Brokers succeed by extracting the highest possible fees. Customers of brokerage firms succeed by paying the lowest possible fees. Brokers succeed with short-term churning of positions. Sensible investors evaluate every statement from their broker with unabashed skepticism.
Never forget, the economic role of a client for a brokerage firm is to enrich the broker. Stockbrokers are trained to sell investments that generate huge fees and commissions and typically have an agenda other than your financial welfare. The full service offered by full-service brokers generally impairs a customers odds of investment success. Full service includes demonstrably worthless research. Full service encompasses clearly irrelevant broker advice. Full service costs materially more and the bottom line is this, investors who employ full-service brokers pay a very real something for an extremely costly nothing! When a sophisticated provider of financial services who runs a bull across the flat-screen every weekend stands toe-to-toe with a naïve consumer, the all-too-predictable conclusion resembles the results between a heavyweight champion and a ninety-eight pound weakling. The brokerage firm customer loses in a first-round knockout.
The interests of Wall Street are not aligned with those of investors. The SEC makes it very clear; investors should never let their guard down with brokers who have a sales agenda. Do you really want to trust your retirement to a broker-salesman? As an arbitrator Mr. Parisian censured many stockbrokers and knows that investors often confuse a sales pitch with impartial investment advice.
Do you think Harvard University, Bill Gates or Warren Buffett use stockbrokers to increase their net worth and protect their assets? Not a chance. The simple answer is they engage unbiased investment managers. They engage Registered Investment Advisor fiduciary firms to manage their assets. So should you.
Always, always question your dentist. I would think 90% of the time it isn't about your dental health, it is about their income. Put that in your mouth and grind on it!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
There aren't many of these warriors left. They, and all veterans of American wars, deserve our utmost respect and, if you're lucky enough to know one, maybe a handshake, a warm smile, and a thank you.
I for one am very grateful to those that have served and would like to extent my personal warm wishes and a thank you to those who were there in the Ardennes 65 year ago.
Monday, December 14, 2009
It has nothing to do with helping the average American only a massive power grab by the Democrats. This fiasco will be the largest tax laid at the feet of the average American taxpayer.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Every last one of these bums should be voted out.
CMT has ordered eight episodes of “Runnin’ Wild … From Ted Nugent,” which premieres in 2010. Each episode will feature Nugent instructing competitors on one of what he calls the “Big Five of Survival,” including the psychology of survival, shelter, water, fire and food. Competitors face an obstacle centered on that skill and then try to survive while Nugent and his son Rocco hunt them down.
Needless to say, Goldy survived … just as she always does.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
On the other hand you have Moody's set to destroy Dubai's rating, even as Nakheel bonds take out all time bottoms, and as Dubai CDS surging once again to 605bps, 58 wider from yesterday. Just released note from Moody's pointing out it is about to kneecap Dubai government-related issuers.
DIFC, December 09, 2009 -- Moody's Investors Service has placed the ratings of government-related issuers (GRIs) in the UAE on review for possible downgrade. This includes all GRI's that are owned by either the federal UAE government, or the government of Abu Dhabi. The review was prompted by a need to re-validate, and possibly reconsider our support assumptions following Dubai's recent decision to explicitly segregate its direct obligations from those of its GRIs, following which a decision was subsequently made to pursue a debt restructuring at Dubai World.
The ratings under review currently benefit from very high implicit government support assumptions and assume that even in most potential stress scenarios the government will not make a distinction between servicing its direct obligations and those of its state-owned companies.
Issuers whose ratings were placed on review for downgrade include the following:
- Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) issuer and debt ratings: Aa2 / on review for downgrade. The Prime-1 short term ratings were affirmed.
- Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) issuer and debt ratings: Aa2 / on review for downgrade. The Prime-1 short term ratings were affirmed.
- Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) issuer and debt ratings: Aa2 / on review for downgrade
- International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) issuer and debt ratings: Aa2 / on review for downgrade. The Prime-1 short term ratings were affirmed.
- Emirates Telecommunications Company (Etisalat) issuer ratings: Aa2 / on review for downgrade
- Dolphin Energy (Dolphin) long term debt rating: Aa3 / on review for downgrade
- Aldar Properties (Aldar) issuer and debt ratings: A3 / on review for downgrade
As part of the review process, we will continue to engage in discussions with the respective government officials and issuers regarding their policies and positions on each of the issuers to assess whether these ratings continue to be positioned appropriately. Assuming that we conclude that support assumptions should remain high, we would only expect moderate adjustments to ratings, though it could be multi-notch in particular where baseline credit assessments are low. Moody's will also be publishing a Special Comment in the coming days outlining the criteria we are applying in determining the support assumptions as part of the review and to provide broader guidance to the market on the key areas of focus. We expect to conclude the review over the next three months.
Moody's last rating actions on each of the names placed under review was on 17 October 2007 (TAQA, assignment of provisional guaranteed bond ratings), 27 April 2009 (Mubadala, assignment of bond ratings), 1 October 2009 (TDIC, assignment of bond ratings), 27 April 2009 (IPIC, initial rating assignment), 22 July 2008 (Etisalat, initial rating assignment), 29 July 2009 (Dolphin, assignment of bond and bank debt ratings), and 19 May 2009 (Aldar, assignment of bond ratings).
In the battle of the two worst predictors of anything, the question who ends up right may have well become moot.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
One is a native Indian from the Sarcee Reserve; another is a cowboy on his way to Lethbridge for a livestock auction. The third passenger is a fundamentalist Arab student, newly arrived at the University of Calgary from the Middle East .
Their discussion drifts to their diverse cultures. Soon, the two Albertans learn that the Arab is a devout, radical Muslim and the conversation falls into an uneasy lull.
The cowboy leans back in his chair, crosses his boots on a magazine table and tips his big sweat-stained hat forward over his face.
The wind outside is blowing tumbleweeds around, and the old windsock is flapping, but still no plane comes.
To break the silence, the Indian clears his throat and softly speaks:"At one time here, my people were many, but sadly, now we are few."
The Muslim student raises an eyebrow and leans forward: "Once my people were few, he sneers, "and now we are many. Why do you suppose that is?"
The Alberta cowboy shifts his toothpick to one side of his mouth and from the darkness beneath his Stetson says in a smooth drawl,
"That's 'cause we ain't played Cowboys and Muslims yet . . . but I do believe it's a-comin'.."
The banks were all broke. The car makers were all broke. The government budget is broke.
Dr. Elizabeth Warren needs to get on top of this but the MSM won't give her 10 seconds of air time.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
The kid may have turned the corner. I was impressed with his interview on 60 Minutes.
I was also impressed with his play yesterday down at the Georgia Dome where the Eagles kicked the living devil out of the Atlanta Falcons.
You know, there are alot of great athletes in prison. Some mighty men who had massive athletic skill, talent and ability.
They just didn't think.
Let's hope Michael Vick is thinking. And Tiger too.
Friday, December 04, 2009
This guy is on TV more than The Weather Channel.
And I get more information from The Weather Channel that helps me.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
A proposal needs five votes from the eight member Commission to become rule, but there were only four supporting the measure so the proposal failed to pass.
The bag limit for pheasants will remain at 3 daily and 15 in possession.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
The Nobel 'Peace' Prize winner is going to escalate the war and has only guaranteed the eventual loss of this war against savage and mindless forces in Afghanistan. It is a prescription for a slow hemorrhaging loss. Giving the Taliban an end-date further complicates matters by ensuring that the enemy will simply wait us out then take over in fierce fighting. You can never tell an enemy when you're going home--how would that help your team now on the ground, or the opponent knowing you have no skin in the game for the long haul. Study your history and you will see that Russia at one time had about 180,000 decent fighters in Afghanistan and they got their ass kicked.
No one has asked me but leave the rocks and mountains and opium afields alone. If you want some results use air power and save the VA hospitals from further occupancy.
If Obama wants to establish order in a drug-ridden, illiterate part of the world he would do well to start with Detroit.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
"We live in the greatest nation in the history of the world.
I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it." -- Barack Obama
Unfortunately, we are now beginning to understand what the second one means and what the first says about us.
Monday, November 30, 2009
On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone is zero. This big bull met his match over the last couple of years and this is how I found him last week. Walking up a steep incline which really doesn't reflect in the picture he looked much smaller when I first glanced at the horns. I found one of his "ivory" teeth and the carcass bones hadn't been scattered widely which is the case when bigger predators are munching on an animal. I wonder if it were a lion kill, old age, an arrow, a hunters bullet or a pack of coyotes that put him down. He was a majestic animal in his day and that bone still reflects the power and grace of bull elk.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wishing our friends and clients happiness in this season of gratitude.
Your loyalty to Chippewa Partners is much-appreciated and thank you for your trust in managing your serious retirement money.
I am taking a few days away with Hunter to replenish my spirit and will be back in the office on November 30th. Am headed to the sage and gumbo where these boys live.
The second Catholic man chirps, "My son is a Bishop. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Grace'."
The third Catholic man says, "My son is a Cardinal. When he enters a room everyone says 'Your Eminence'."
The fourth Catholic man says, "My son is the Pope. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Holiness'."
Since the lone Catholic woman was sipping her coffee in silence, the four men gave her a look and said, "Well....?"
She proudly replies, "I have a daughter, slim, tall, 38 Double D breasts, 24" waist, and 34" hips. When she walks into a room, people say, "Oh My God."
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Unemployment currently stands at 10.2%, the highest in a quarter-century. The stimulus failed and now even more people are out of work.
Rather than creating jobs, the $787 billion pork-filled spending bill has created more debt and more deficits that every American citizen has to pay for in the middle of a recession.
Implicitly acknowledging the failure of the stimulus, the Obama administration has now announced a "Jobs Summit" on December 3rd.
For an administration actively promoting the adoption of job killing health, energy, and labor legislation, holding a "Jobs Summit" is more theater while millions of Americans struggle to find work.
Consider the reco rd of the job killing politicians:
They promised us that the $787 billion stimulus would keep unemployment below 8%, but unemployment has been above 8% since February. They promised us the stimulus would "create immediate jobs," yet more than 4 million jobs have been "lost and dislocated" since President Obama signed it into law. Without reading it, they rammed through a 1,400-page energy tax in the House, which will cost each taxpayer thousands of dollars in higher energy costs and result in the loss of an estimated 1.1 million jobs per year. Without reading it, they passed a 2,000-page tax and control bill in the House and called it "health care reform", which will lead to $557 billion in higher taxes and a loss of millions of jobs. When faced with the failure to create jobs through the stimulus, they made up, yes made up, a new measurement of jobs "saved or created" that no economist takes seriously. As evidence of what they will do to deceive the public, they produced a "saved or created" report that invented congressional districts that do not exist as recipients of billions of taxpayer dollars and distorted job creation numbers by tens of thousands, all to prove that th e stimulus is working. David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, even called this "outrageous" and described the mistakes as "ludicrous." This is the record of politicians who promise new jobs and then vote for job killing legislation, record deficits and excessive government control.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The cost of the health-care bill is a huge lie. It will cost America 3 or 4 times that amount. Harry Reid is probably the worst politician to sit in our Senate. What a sad day for America when our President says the cost will be born by cutting waste and fraud in current health care delivery and then they add another $850 billion of spending. The math doesn't work America. Good health is earned. There is a price to pay for it. It's not easy. It's not pills. It's work.
Keep the government out of health care and out of auto's. We will be a better country for it. Ask any IHOP franchisee what will happen to their business if this health care bill gets passed. Small business is dead with this health care bill.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The MSM is naturally having a field day with it. Funny how these lame birds can sit back and criticize a woman who is jack smack straight up.
She would make a better President blind-folded than the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
When America wakes up and faces the economic realities it may be too late.
China will be calling the shots. And the Putin gang won't be far behind.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The signing on Armistice Day (in 1918) was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when World War I finally ended.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
My Dad, Douglas Parisian has been a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, V.F.W., for over 60 years now. Thank you Dad.
He referred to his career as a Senator, how he had signed 'YES' for every Indian issue that came to his desk for approval. Although President Obama was vague on the details of his plan, he seemed most enthusiastic about his future ideas for helping his 'red sisters and brothers'.
At the conclusion of his speech, the Tribes presented Obama with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name - "Walking Eagle". The proud President then departed in his motorcade, waving to the crowds.
A news reporter later inquired of the group of chiefs of how they came to select the new name they had given to the President. They explained that "Walking Eagle" is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longer fly.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
New Beretta Shotgun -- $1,500
Air Fare to North Dakota -- $500
Waterfowl License -- $150
Duck Inn Lounge in Marion, ND burger -- unavailable, only frozen pizza
Standing in a North Dakota slough with your 13 year old son at your side trying to harvest one of the toughest birds on the North American continent - PRICELESS
Congratulations to the Milton High School 7th Grade Feeder program. Credit goes to a smart, motivated, hard-working, hard-nosed football team, their parents, grandparents, siblings, coaches, cheerleaders, the TEAM MOM, announcers, scoreboard operators, photographers, first aid staff, water "boys", spotters, all the doctors and chiropractors who have kept the bones intact, the chain gang and phenom cheering section.
What a day it was for football at Milton Stadium!
And a tip of the hat to the Hill Grove team that we defeated 14-6. They were a great football team with a great coaching staff. They ran an option offense that was as fun to watch as any I have ever seen. The march to the championship continues next Saturday. Come out and cheer these young Eagles to another victory!
Saturday, November 07, 2009
"Few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, our first Americans," Obama said in opening the White House Tribal Nations Conference.
"I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle," he said. "So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House."
The administration invited representatives from the 564 federally recognized tribes to participate in the conference, the first White House meeting of its kind since 1994. Leaders from nearly 400 tribes attended. The event came as some American Indians are locked in a long-standing legal battle with the federal government over land royalties.
Obama said American Indians have a right to be suspicious of the government, recounting a history of broken promises and treaty violations. "You were told your lands, your religion, your cultures, your languages were not yours to keep," he said.
Obama said his administration has already helped Native Americans through the $787 billion stimulus package, which included $100 million for job creation within tribal communities, $500 million for the Indian Health Service, and nearly $500 million for various education, college and school construction programs.
The president told the tribal leaders he has made good on campaign promises to hold the summit and to give American Indians a voice in his administration. Among the Native Americans in key posts: Kimberly Teehee, a Cherokee, senior adviser for Indian issues, and Larry EchoHawk, assistant Interior secretary for Indian Affairs. EchoHawk is a member of the Pawnee tribe of Oklahoma.
Obama's efforts were received positively. "We respect you as a man of your word," said Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians.
The president signed an executive order requiring all Cabinet members to provide plans for consulting Indian tribes. He also pledged to consider Indian needs when moving forward on education and health care programs.
President Clinton issued a similar order about a decade ago, but Indian leaders said little was done to enforce it. They are more optimistic about Obama.
"It's truly a beginning," said Theresa Two Bulls, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. "I feel in my heart, there's going to be many more meetings like this."
The pervasive mentality that somehow the United States Government will do something for Indian Country that will cure quickly the ills of Indian Country is a joke.
A complete farce.
Obama and his ilk won't cure the massive diabetes issue, the rampant suicides, the gang violence, the vast numbers of illegitimate children out of wedlock, the lack of a work ethic, and surely won't break the cycle of poverty, addiction, moral courage and the suffocating absence of opportunity in Native communities. Not a chance.
It's not hard to figure out. If you go to the National Archives where every treaty between the Indians and the United States Government is stored you can see clearly that every treaty has been violated by the same government that says it wants to "help" the Indians. It is nearly 2010 and this story is getting old.
The single largest disaster, bar none, in my lifetime to our nation if it passes.
America doesn't need health care, it needs walking shoes. Lots of them.
Go to work America and stop the hideous whining of what is "owed".
There is alot of good in North Dakota. Good in alot of ways.
Still, many Americans assume that the government has a real plan for fixing the economy. I doubt many in North Dakota feel and think the government can and will "fix" the economy.
You see, North Dakotans believe you can't fix stupid.
The "something for nothing" mentality that permeats so much of society and so many Indian reservations is becoming the norm.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
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
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
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Remember this simple fact. On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone is zero.
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
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
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
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.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Enjoy the weekend. Be happy you live in America.
Thursday, October 15, 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.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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.”
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.
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.
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
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."
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 www.accenture.com.
May America never forget the sacrifices of all who served. Enjoy this read.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
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
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.
Monday, October 05, 2009
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 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
Friday, October 02, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
NORTH: College football stadiums hold 20,000 people.
SOUTH: High school football stadiums hold 20,000 people.
NORTH: Statues of founding fathers.
SOUTH: Statues of Heisman trophy winners.
NORTH: Also a physics major.
SOUTH: Also Miss America .
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..
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
And for SEC Fans:
HOW MANY SEC STUDENTS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHT BULB?
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