Monthly Archives: May 2011

Stocks fall because commodities fall?

US stocks lower as commodities slide

This is what Main Street will not understand. Commodities, overheated, fall and stocks are sliding as well. There is not much sense in this theory. Gold is a more or less useless investment, except for those that have it. The oil companies will have less profit, but everyone else has an advantage of falling oil prices.  Are stocks falling because so called market makers are at work?

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US trade gap widens. Is that a bad thing?

US trade gap widens – Marketwatch 05/11/2011

Exports rose – Meaning US goods are bought elsewhere

Import rose – Meaning people spend money.

In the current situation this doesn’t sound bad to me. We should take a look at this as a glass half full, rather than half empty, or even worse as some do.

Long live the housing crash?

Housing and jobs are the two biggest problems in the US economy. Both have their origins in the financial crisis caused by the banks with speculating on ever rising housing prices and greed. As we all know, that kind of business practice derailed the US economy and many others worldwide. Not only that, but millions of people and families found themselves in heart-breaking crisis.

Today, nearly 5 years after the crash of the housing market, the organizations causing the crisis, are on the way to write profits again, while Main Street America is still suffering. Families and individuals are in a fight for their home for years and as it looks like, will continue to suffer from the fallout for years to come.

Years ago, when the mortgage bubble was pumped up, a mortgage was available for almost everyone. Banks, motivated by certain Wall Street firms, wrote loans to everyone with the desire to own a home, financially sound or not did not matter. Today, things have changed. Banks, while regrouping from incredible losses  with government help hesitate to lend. The entire housing market is actually only accessible to a small percentage of the American population. This is one of the reasons why the housing market will not reach levels of 2000 to 2006. Currently the market and its prices, with some exceptions, is stuck on levels of the 80’s and early 90’s. Another reason why housing is not taking off sometimes soon is the job market. As housing, the job market was hit by the financial crisis with millions of people losing their job and their life line and others working jobs that bring only in a fraction of the income from before the crisis.

With the “newly acquired knowledge” by the banks, that homeownership requires very sound financial circumstances, the banks cut out more than the half of the population from buying a home or keep the home that they already possess. While many, due to job loss, were not able to keep up with payments and found themselves in foreclosure procedures, those that could avoid losing the home right away, are now unable to refinance their homes. With 30% of mortgages under water, this is a fact that will increase the numbers of foreclosures in the future. This will bring prices further down and will create further problems for the market.

As it stands, for the housing market to improve, years will go by. In order to reach levels of before the crisis, people need jobs and banks need to get back to lending. Not only to those that are able to put down 20% of the buying price, but also to those that don’t have the funds for a significant down payment. This can only be accomplished with government help. If the government will not step up and deliver programs for those that don’t have a certain level of wealth, the housing market will have to take the hit and accept the fact that only few can buy and that housing will become a market of buying for the rich and renting for the poor. While this can bring some sort of stabilization for the market, it will not significantly improve the market, at least not for years to come.

What should be done? A program for those that have their mortgage “under water” would clearly relief the market from pressure. This would require the banks to modify or refinance those loans that can be served by the homeowners. While this is not the case for all of the 30% of mortgages under water, it is possible for a big part of it. In the past, so called “Arms” were extended by the banks with very low credit and down payment requirements. While in the mean time the value of the attached homes went down, the accounts are not past due. The owner can’t sell, doesn’t have a down payment and sufficient credit for a refinance and the property is going into foreclosure. There is no reason why such loans shouldn’t be refinanced.

Looking at the misery in housing it should also be considered, as a moral responsibility of the banks, that banks cashed in on tax payers money to save themselves. It is now time to give back and at least save those that have been good and only need refinance, and that is a quite a number of loans. Maybe just a drop, but nevertheless support for the limping housing market. Moving on with none or limited flexibility by the banks will only cause more damage and will create a “walk away” attitude with many borrowers. One thing is for sure at this point, not everything that can be done to soften this crisis has actually been considered. One is wondering about the sense of the bailout. Was the bailout a substitute for lost profits, or was the taxpayers money given to solve a problem? 

For the last time El Clasico – Barca winning marathon against Real

It is over! The El Clasico Marathon of the past 18 days is over. The winner is, FC Barcelona. While Real was able to snap the Copa del Rey from Barca, the overall winner of the marathon was Pep Guardiola’s team. Championship in the league and semi final win in the Champions League are the positive results from the last almost three weeks.

Barca is a sensational soccer team, there is no question about that. The way they play soccer is remarkable and a player such as Lionel Messi makes every soccer fan smile. The way how they move the ball through their opponents defense is just staggering and is very difficult to defend. It is also a fact that they have an awesome coach in Pep Guardiola. If at all, he is not much less magic than “The Special One” Jose Mourinho. All this is the common opinion about Barca and is available to read and watch in the press and on TV all over the world. It is a correct display of what is going on.

So, with that I hope I made it clear that I agree with the fact that Barca deserved to move on to the final in London. I say this, because I have a few other things to make clear, that are also facts and should be considered while evaluating and judging these four games.

Let’s start with a few things regarding to soccer overall. The word possession was all over the reporting. In the Copa del Rey final, Barca had completed well over 600! passes while Real ended with a number in the 160’s. Real, not Barca, won the game. This should give everyone a clear understanding on how valuable possession really is. It is no secret that you can win soccer games with much less possession than your opponent. Possession was about the same in all games, Barca had the ball, Real was defending, the over all results in game wins is tied. Each won one game and we saw two ties. Forget possession if you don’t have players like Barca has. It is a fact that you can control a game by defending. Does that look good? No, but you can do it.

Soccer, like many other ball sports, is a game of offense AND defense. Both style’s are based on one major characteristic, patience. On both sides, the players are waiting for opportunities to score or win the ball. Barca moves the ball all over the field, sometimes just with 2 or 3 yard passes, and is waiting until somewhere a defender loses patience and an opening occurs. With players like Messi, Xabi, Iniesta and all the other artists, I don’t mean that in a bad way, this is the way to go. Real, and all the other top teams in Europe, cannot keep up with Barca on that level. Therefore, they have to seek their opportunity somewhere else. Real defended well, and, they had their opportunities. To say otherwise is proof for not understanding what happens on the field or wearing a Barca hat.

If you are a coach these days and you are unfortunate and must play Barca, what are you going to do? Play them out? Not much chance. You must defend. And you must do that very well, otherwise they will score a sack full of goals. In order to win, you must wait for your chance to score. As Real clearly demonstrated, and has accomplished, the chance will come. Do you need some luck in order to have a chance? Take a guess! Would you go on the field expecting Barca will have no chance to score?

On the Real side, there is a lot of complaining about the referee’s. While for the most part it is all nonsense, I agree with some of that. For the Champions League games there were two major decisions that clearly were of disadvantage to Real. In the first leg, Pepe saw a red card for a stupid foul. It was dangerous play in an area where it was not necessary, but a red card, please. There was not even much contact. In the second leg Real scored a goal. There was nothing wrong with that goal. Disallowed for a foul by Cristiano Ronaldo who went down during a “high speed” attack and on the way down fell into Mascherano’s legs. None of the Barca players was complaining about that scene, just the referee saw a foul.

Yes, these are just two scenes over two games, but those, not Barca’s ball movement, decided the semifinal. Not sure how that would have ended in the second leg, if Real’s goal would have been allowed. There would have been some excitement, that’s for sure.

Barca is an excellent soccer team, the best in their way of play. However, they are beatable. It will happen again.

Pole Dancing is Top Athletic Performance

By chance, while reading a news website, I saw a link to a video about pole dancing. Nosy as I am, I thought let’s take a look at this. What I saw made me watch that video with an open mouth. Not for the reason you might think right now. Yes, I do admit that a pole dancing video is of immense erotic expression, but it took not more than 3 seconds to understand that this is high performance athletics.

Currently there is a discussion going on on whether pole dancing is a sport or not. I think the discussion is a waste of time. The answer is a clear yes. I was a professional athlete myself (soccer) and at one point in my life, many decades ago, I was in outstanding shape. However, I would have never been able to put a performance up such as these pole dancers do. And I bet, there is not a single guy in professional soccer, football, basketball, hockey or baseball that is able to come close to such physical abilities. With that said, you have the answer why pole dancing is a sport. No discussion needed.

Not only since recently, many fitness studios are offering pole dancing as a class and there is a good number of interested people, male and female. That is a clear indication that the sport is on the right way and is growing. Hopefully pole dancing will succeed and will be acknowledged as more as the first, or old, impression. The athlete’s deserve this.

The most of us are guilty to judge pole dancing by its perception in public, including me. At least I was, until I gave it a real thought. Sexual expression or motivation? Well, maybe some of the athletes in pole dancing have that in mind and want to show off their impact on others, but which other professional athlete doesn’t? Look at the pro’s in other sports, some of them believe they are the greatest erotic presentation since… who knows what. There are countless athlete’s that are followed by a screaming crowd, just because they can run a whole into a wall. If that is legitimate, then pole dancing should be acknowledged as well, no question.

I think it is going to be a ridiculous discussion until, at one point, this sport will be seriously established, without the unnecessary side link to a strip club or worse.

Check this video from YouTube:

The joy of researching the health benefits of sex

This sounds very interesting. What’s the readers opinion?

The joy of researching the health benefits of sex

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Quick Post: Sony hacked again

Sony needs a few new people in IT. Send resume.

Sony suffers fresh security breach

Quick Post: Eric Abidal for return after liver surgery

This is outstanding news and should brighten up the day tomorrow for Barca, Real and every soccer fan in the world.

Eric Abidal return?

The Wing Bar – Brooklyn, NY

For friends of wings, like me, this is a hot recommendation. I have been visiting the wing bar for almost two years and have never been disappointed. Over the past 13 years I lived in different cities in the United States and have tried many places for my once or twice a month wing feast. When I moved to NYC I was of course looking for a place to satisfy my monthly wing needs. It took me a while until, by chance, I stumbled into what I was looking for.

The Wing Bar is located on Brooklyn’s Smith Street. The bar itself is mostly crowded and more than once I had to eat my wings standing somewhere in a corner where my 6’4, 230 lbs frame just barely fitted in. In the summer time, the beer garden is a great place to visit. To my surprise, while always busy, that beer garden has not been over crowded very often. The beer garden is awesome and offers a kind of idyllic place, just like Brooklyn is itself. If you hang out with friends and you look for a place to have a couple of beers and ability to have a conversation in a great environment, this is the place to go. If you don’t like wings, there is a lot of other stuff, such as burgers and others. If you are not hungry, the drinks are, compared to all the fancy places in NYC, cheap, and, good.

Staff is exceptionally friendly, and savvy, and I have never seen them stressing out over anything. The combination of wings, friendly staff, location and the beer garden makes The Wing Bar a major favorite of mine. Keep it up!

The Wing Bar, 275 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231, Phone: 718-237-2728