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Archive for October 2008

Bush League Politics

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Actuary meets pollster: I don’t project the same hopes that McCain campaign handlers are said to dream as lurking in the tightest of the polls to come out in the past day or so from Pennsylvania, a so-called “statistical tie” which puts Obama at 47%, McCain “only” 4 points behind at 43%, with supposedly more than enough slack for catching up among the 9% undecideds. Let’s let the wider margins of other polls suggest that we can lock up Obama’s 47% in this one, then give McCain the benefit of the doubt by granting him his 43% here despite other polls showing him lagging further. Then let’s call the missing 1% rounding and another 1% out of the 9% votes likely to swing over to Barr or Nader. If only 2 out of the remaining 8 remain undecided to the bitter end, declining to vote at all, then McCain need to get 5 to Obama’s 1 out of the leftover 6 just to gain a tie. 5 to 1?!? That’s supposed to look like a sunny prospect?

Some TV commentators hint that voters who remain undecided so long into this election after the deluge of media from the Obama campaign must indicate sufficient residual doubt to push the majority of those undecided votes into McCain’s column. That I find very highly dubious. I’ve seen and heard from way too many Republicans who have gone through much the same process that first turned me into a hesitant McCain supporter, then into one who planned to simply abstain from voting altogether, then finally into deciding to cast a vote against the abject void of leadership and outright dirt being displayed by the GOP this year. So yes, many of those undecideds may have strong doubts about Obama, doubts that McCain and Palin’s smear tactics might even convert into fears strong enough to keep the voter from casting a vote for Obama. But as long as the McCain campaign persists in virtually 100% negative campaigning without offering any concrete plan for dealing with the current economic and social issues, those undecideds are not going to vote for a hole in the air. At best, from McCain’s perspective, they simply won’t vote; but that doesn’t win him Pennsylvania.

I sincerely believe that if the American system of government permitted a “None of the Above” option on the ballot and had a workable process for interim government (i.e., not even another single day of the Bush Administration) until a candidate could actually win a true majority, then this year would be a year when voters would send both major parties back to the drawing board. Whether or not that belief is actually true among all registered voters, certainly it is a prevailing opinion among any remaining undecideds that neither candidate is winning their approval. But if those “None of the Above” undecideds are finding cause to doubt and fear Obama, don’t look for them to just shrug and vote for a “trust-me” blank page that has failed to sufficiently distinguish itself from the failed policies of its predecessor. Or if a few are influenced enough by GOP demagoguery to fear Obama enough to vote against Obama in similar spirit as I’ve voted against my own party in going with Obama, don’t expect it to be in numbers of the order of 5 to 1.

I would rather pay a little higher tax on a higher profit than a lower tax rate on lower profits.

Victor Hammel, CEO of J.C. Ehrlich,
a pest-control company based in Reading, PA

As a general rule of thumb, my own profession tends to be economically conservative and lined up politically pretty much the same. But starting about four years ago, I found more and more actuaries at conferences and other business meetings speaking openly of disaffections with where the GOP was headed. We are not socialists, nor are we liberal. But we do expect leadership and positive action toward realistic goals. And although certainly not to speak for the profession in general, I have been hearing from hundreds who are no longer hearing what they want to hear from their traditional party. So seek instead to form a moderate coalition with someone whom they know not to be boogeyman caricature the McCain campaign has degraded itself into painting Obama as.

I am not alone. I know of many just like me, Republicans who would have given almost anything to have a reason to vote for McCain, but instead only have been muddied up by despicably ignorant attempts to keep us from voting for Obama. And for every one like me whom I personally know, there are thousands more. Not un-American. Not Marxist. Just seeking solutions that are MIA from the McCain campaign. When he loses, it will be because he lost voters like me. Pushed us away.

Bush League: Below good standards, not good or incorrect. Pitiful, poor, terrible, awful, bad, sucky.

Urban Dictionary

Pretty accurate characterization of the campaign that Bush’s would-be successor has run.

bumper sticker [] - jourbeau

Written by macheide

31 October 2008 at 4:16 pm

Posted in jourbeau

Treat Me to a Trick

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Which part of Halloween are you looking more forward to: Trick (1) or Treat (2) ?


Response: 1 You can’t reach an old dog with new treats.

Whereas we’ve seen enough monsters, goblins, ghouls, zombies, and other abominations wallowing in the grave the GOP is digging itself into this year to last us a lifetime of Halloweens.
//] - strawpoll

Written by macheide

29 October 2008 at 4:45 pm

Posted in strawpoll

Low Gas Price!

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I’m told that up the street I could have done a few cents better, but $2.14 per gallon for my gas is still a very nice change over the $3.90 I was shelling out just 4 months ago.

//] - abelian

Written by macheide

29 October 2008 at 3:50 pm

Posted in abelian

only have ice for you

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i have an itch where i can’t scratch without revealing my secret contortionist moves

echoing a meme from susan

bumper sticker [] - not me

Written by macheide

29 October 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in not meme

On Calling a Bottom

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By Election Day, I think we’ll be happy if 12k would serve as reasonable target to climb back up to.

aftermath (5/20, after the Dow closed at 12828.68)

Well, here we finally are, just around the corner from Election Day. And yes, we would be happy, indeed quite surprised, if we could realistically set a 12k Dow as any reasonable target to climb back up to. At the time, just before Memorial Day, nobody else I was reading in the business press or watching on the business TV channels was breathing a word about the market even dipping into the 11s, much less far enough so to consider 12k a “happy” target to reach for.

I’ll tentatively set my expectation for the market within the next 18 months to steer downward toward 10k.

aftermath (5/27, after the Dow closed at 12548.35)

The biz press & TV were still talking like the Dow’s loitering in the 12s was but a temporary lull, with some prognosticators pointing up to 15k and even beyond. I had already given up on expecting to see 13k again, and felt that we were headed lower, far far lower. I anticipated seeing sub-10k levels by early 2009, but gave my prediction an 18-month horizon just to be on the safe side of the intermediate term of my expectations.

I expect us to be between 10k and 11k by September.

aftermath (7/24, after the Dow closed at 11349.28)

Technicians were scurrying around with their charts, all pointing to perceived bottoms, at that time none of them calling for numbers below 11k. I had already started talking about how long I thought it might take to find the sub-10k floor I still did not see anywhere near. I felt the market would continue drifting slowly down down down, but verbally did sketch out how equities might drop like a rock if and when other selling – such as that from hedge funds or 401(k) plans – might join the on-going pension plan selling in some sort of panic.

Before we reach the end of 2008, I expect the Dow to dip below 10k.

aftermath (9/4, after the Dow closed at 11188.23)

As close to the precipice as we stood at Labor Day, at that point there still were no TV or newspaper analysts daring to point further down. Whereas I couldn’t see anything that would give us any sustained climb, and only pointed vaguely at the next four months just to hedge my bets. I didn’t believe it would take very long to drop below 10k. Just, outside of the panic I’d briefly sketched out mid-summer, I didn’t expect it to fall quite so dramatically.

So then, where do we go from here?

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Written by macheide

28 October 2008 at 6:18 pm

Posted in calls & puts

Not Quite

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When attempting to gauge the pension funding damage done so far by the credit crisis and market turmoil, “not quite” getting it right can lead to analysis very badly wrong.

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Written by macheide

28 October 2008 at 5:17 pm

Posted in άctuary

Pack It In

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Written by macheide

28 October 2008 at 4:16 pm

Posted in pollster