[CNBCfix Fast Money Review archive, February 2010]
[Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010]

Karabell: How does one
actually short China?

Thursday, Zach Karabell guested on the Larry Kudlow show (with Simon Hobbs pinch-hitting as host) and addressed the recent drumbeat by some (namely Jim Chanos, who was not named in this segment) that China is a bubble.

Karabell said he finds the concept of taking the other side of the China trade "so misplaced as to be difficult where to begin. I mean, 1) I don't really know how you short China. We can't buy real estate in Guangdong."

He added, "China equities are more fairly valued than a lot of global equities right now."

He said recent headlines are more evidence "it's U.S. banks and European banks we ought to be worried about, not Chinese banks. ... They've got plenty of money to recapitalize their banks plus there's nobody calling the loans."

We were excited to see long-absent-from-"Fast Money" Dan Fitzpatrick also turn up on this program, saying the U.S. would like China to appreciate its currency, but no one should expect that to happen. Karabell said if people really want it to happen, they should stop complaining about it or demanding it.

Dr. J in FT

Jon Najarian tells the Financial Times that the BATS system entering the options world might have an advantage in securing large institutions' option orders: "They don't have to develop a whole new Rolodex or hire somebody to get this done," said Najarian.

[Friday, February 26, 2010]

Good show, Melissa

Melissa Lee definitely had the hair thing going on Friday.

We assume CNBC has a top-notch hairstyling staff for all its stars and perhaps guests too, and Friday they and Melissa knocked one out of the park. Long, wavy, bouncy. Lee was beaming about "Fast" returning to regular CNBC on Friday, "where it belongs." Hopefully she's going to parlay it all into a night on the town.

Nearing XOM conversation

A comment about ExxonMobil almost — almost — was elicited from "Fast Money" on Friday when Luke of Raleigh, N.C., e-mailed a question to the crew about the "disconnect" he sees between the price of oil and oil stocks. Joe Terranova said "Backwardation is in the marketplace" and he recommended the USO as one of the "better plays" now.

And instead of an XOM conversation, we heard more about Goldman Sachs, including extended commentary from Gary Kaminsky in which he said he wasn't on either side of GS and utterly failed to identify any kind of trade when Melissa Lee correctly asked him a good question about doing so. "Watch and see if the revenues develop," Kaminsky said. Helpful.

Guy Adami at least acknowledged that GS hasn't just tumbled since December, but has been cratering since October. But again he pointed to $160 as some magic number for longs.

Tim Seymour argued with Kaminsky that if there's any kind of M&A, Goldman Sachs is still going to be the destination for companies, regardless of what governments are carping about.

"Fast Money" will talk itself blue over $80 billion market cap Goldman Sachs trading from $190 to $155 but will hardly say a word as $307 billion market cap ExxonMobil crumbles $80 to $65 (and still dropping) during one of the best years (or 10-month stretches) in stock market history on top of the drop it had already made from its $95 all-time high a year prior. We're sure that's a sign of something; we just don't know what.

We're just the amateurs here. We see FCX crumbling over 6 weeks. We see AMZN and GOOG plunging throughout 2010. We see GS and C (this writer is long C) in a free fall since October, JPM down more than 10% since then. XOM has been in a free fall since 2008.

On the flip side, there are Ford, Teva, La-Z-Boy (this writer is long LZB), Cliffs. And still with impressive yearlong charts are Apple and Broadcom and mayyyybe Cisco, merely plateauing in 2010. Does that mean this is a bull market? Which side sounds like a stronger hand to you?

Extra points from Joe Terranova

It may be the end of February, but Joe Terranova is playing football with the stock market.

He said his strategy is that "Everyone's basically wrong," which Guy Adami suggested was the " 'Seinfeld' trade."

"You basically give up field goals and you score touchdowns," Terranova said. "There is no momentum this year."

But Pete Najarian disagreed with that on some level with Teva and Mylan. "I think there's still momentum there," said Pete, who also said he wishes he was still in CLF, and don't we all, given that it's only up about 40% in a couple weeks after cratering in January.

Dennis Gartman said he would go into next week with a "lean to the short side, modestly," adding he was short Ralph Lauren.

Brian Kelly said next week, he would "be short the S&P 500."

Olympic curling preempts
‘Options Action’

Mike Khouw supplied the "Options Action" this week. He said to play bearishness in the S&P, he would buy the April $110 SPY puts for $2.75 and sell the April $100 SPY puts for 65 cents, giving him a profit below $107.90.

Tim Seymour said right here at the VIX is a "terrible place to sell volatility."

Broadcom and burgers

Guy Adami said in light of the CKE Restaurants sale, he somehow thinks Jack in the Box could go higher, though he said he could hardly tell you what it does or where it is.

The most interesting part of his take, which he didn't say much about, was that the market could be pricing in a higher offer for CKR.

Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor (not the Orioles lefthander) didn't say he was bidding for CKR, but he did gush about how great the cell-phone-parts world is, saying his company is working to reduce the cost of smartphones worldwide. Melissa Lee questioned what this would do to margins. "We could actually make more," McGregor asserted, because of the expanding market for the phones and the features they would have (you know, that whole unlimited pool of cell phone buyers out there that will constantly rise inversely with any decrease in average phone sales price theory that drives every bullish commentary on AAPL, RIMM, NOK, PALM, MOT, etc.). But he conceded, "We do see some seasonality in margins."

Tim Seymour was asked for a trade. You guessed it. "It's Nokia."

Kaminsky can’t believe some
bullish on Spain’s economy

Traders found some divide Friday on the European situation, although it's getting to the point where everyone has a little nuance to it that is making the whole conversation one big argument.

"Greece has to get bailed out," said Brian Kelly, who said he is getting long NBG, CS and DB. Tim Seymour pointed to Banco Santander and, when Melissa Lee asked to "connect the dots" again, downplayed the chance of an extreme euro decline to parity with the dollar.

That brought a question from Gary Kaminsky, once again on the Fast Line. "Why would a weak euro be good for the Spanish economy," Kaminsky asked, almost incredulously.

"Because they are an exporter," Seymour said, and a declining euro is maybe the best way of making its debt cheaper. Most importantly, he said, "People have priced in armageddon," and thus the ultimate "Fast Money" question is addressed, is everything we're talking about already priced into the stock, or even priced too much.

Todd Gordon: Can short FCX

Todd Gordon, like Guy Adami, is skeptical of FCX these days and talked of the $75-$76 level. "Look for FCX to trade lower," Gordon said. He also said "the 505 is technically significant" for Google while Joe Terranova made a numerical joke we didn't understand.

"I think gold's going much higher," Brian Kelly said.

Pete Najarian said HOLX is hopping.

Dennis Gartman, hearing of Vikram Pandit's $128,000 salary, said "He's still overpaid."

Gary Kaminsky unloads
on mainstream media

Gary Kaminsky, on fire pretty much all of 2010, is so on fire at the moment that Mel Lee led off Friday's "Halftime Report" with Kaminsky even though Gary wasn't even on the set, but only taking part on the Fast Line.

And then Lee went back and back to him, while Steve Grasso and Pete Najarian were left to count the house of the barren NYSE/Euronext floor.

Lee asked Kaminsky about the rising euro. "Well, it's another example Melissa of why you've gotta be ahead of the Wall Street Journal," Kaminsky said. He then suggested there might be a "cartel" trying to take the other side of the trade "to try to create a traditional short squeeze tug-of-war."

Nevertheless, "I think the trend in the euro continues to be lower, and it's based on fundamentals."

He refused to be buffaloed on his favorite trade of late, the EPV. "I'm gonna continue to stay long that ETF. I don't get scared out by a day or two," he said. "The European economies are gonna continue to collapse."

Lee helpfully pointed out an EPV "caveat," namely that "the amount of money in that ETF is smaller than a small-cap stock."

But the Garymeister (we dislike "Skee" and are grasping for the right term) saved his biggest fireworks for Tim Geithner, after Lee said she thinks there's "perhaps a breach of a fiduciary duty on the part of AIG."

"I can't even believe that the mainstream media has given Tiny Tim a pass here," Kaminsky said, to hearty chuckling from Pete Najarian. "If he's an analyst — we know he can't pay his taxes — if he's an analyst here, and he's giving this kind of guidance in terms of AIG's business, man, has he missed it. I'm shocked that the mainstream media has not focused on this today; I think it's a disaster."

The odd thing is, that comment essentially places Gary ahead of the mainstream media such as the WSJ, which was just what Gary was advocating moments earlier. (See CNBCfix note below on the Geithner subject.)

He was hardly done. "I think Berkshire today is nothing more than an index fund. It got too big," Kaminsky said. "You wanna own the market, you can own Berkshire. It's an index fund now."

Kaminsky also offered a too-long pairs trade of buying Deckers and shorting Crocs.

Pete Najarian said "There is no investing in AIG, it is strictly trading."

Dennis Gartman said he wasn't alarmed by the euro rally because it's the last day of the month, it's not a huge rally, and a lot of people are booking gains.

Joe Terranova said those believing in a strengthening euro story should consider the FXA, FXC and FXF.

Steve Grasso basically took part in the show merely to say there's only been 400 million shares changing hands at the NYSE. "They're not trading today," he said.

Some rumors are false.
Others might not be.

We regularly hail the journalistic potential of the "Fast Money" panelists.

Friday, Dennis Gartman asked Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco one of the best-explained, most honest and gentlemanly tough questions you'll ever hear.

Gartman said, "I'm short of a lot of the steel companies," and because he prefers to short the ones who have already reported, he said to DiMicco, "I'm actually short of you. Tell me why I shouldn't be short."

DiMicco's answer — and we sympathize with him or any CEO who gets this question, because CEOs generally aren't traders with the market sophistication to adequately answer that &mdash was, "I'm a long-term guy. ... The economy stinks. We're not doing the right things to get it turned around. We're fiddling while Rome is burning."

But he said NUE responds to situations like this. "These are the times that we shine ... build for the future, build our earnings base," DiMicco said.

"We're in a rough economy, it's not a pretty picture out there," he said. And he partially addressed the Moody's downgrade, saying "if we do dig into our cash it'll probably be for acquisitions," not operations.

Melissa Lee asked DiMicco about CMC acquistion rumors. "Our policy, Melissa, is not to comment on false rumors. Um, well maybe I should say, our policy is not to comment on rumors."

Steve Grasso asked DiMicco exactly what the government should be doing. "The first thing you gotta do is stop scaring the bejesus out of the private community," DiMicco said, before rolling out a four-point plan that more than ate up the remaining time.

"Somebody give him an amen," said Joe Terranova.

Gartman said he remembers doing trades for DiMicco's company at NC&B, when he was handling "short-term money-market instruments."

Afterwards, Gartman summarized the DiMicco conversation. "That was a very interesting interview. You gotta like a guy who's that plain-spoken. All trading is a study of people's propensity to do something," and given that interview, Gartman feels less of a propensity to short the stock.

Nobody can dislike Dan DiMicco, but we'll try to apply the logic meter to some of his comments over the weekend.

Pete is nice to Melissa

Pete Najarian told Melissa Lee on Friday the surging Coke volume is a combination of Berkshire, and "it's a combination of your, uh, great documentary you did on Coke."

Pete also talked about heavy call activity in JDSU, reminding viewers the stock was "almost a Lazarus trade."

Wary of nat gas

Dennis Gartman said Friday "There is a lot of natural gas out there ... more than adequate supplies."

But Joe Terranova warned, "Don't play it from the short side. Look at that weather outside, hurricane season's coming."

The Geithner reaction

Our little commentary just a day ago on Tim Geithner and his supposedly pending resignation might've been wrong — or it might've been exactly right.

Our point was certainly defensible, that quietly since late January, we haven't heard a word on "Fast Money" or elsewhere that Geithner needs to go or the markets want Geithner to go. He seems like a convenient scapegoat whenever there's an issue with bank losses, then quietly fades into market irrelevance.

Then just hours after that point is made on this site, Gary Kaminsky and to a lesser extent Melissa Lee unleashed the first anti-Geithner rhetoric we've heard in about a month regarding Geithner's assessment of AIG.

So, maybe Josh Rosner will come back to the show and there will be renewed talk of Geithner being ousted. But Kaminsky might've actually only reaffirmed our point when he complained the "mainstream media" is giving Geithner a "pass," which to us sounds translatable in Washington speak to "no need to make a change."

At least Kaminsky is keeping alive the Geithner-didn't-pay-his-taxes theme, which we are fairly certain historians someday will find astounding when researching how this person was put in charge of the IRS.

[Thursday, February 25, 2010]

Guy Adami calls Jared Levy’s
RIMM bull case ‘ridunculous’

Jared Levy announced Thursday one of the more startling trades in recent "Fast Money" history: Going long RIMM and ignoring AAPL.

"This is the key," Levy said. "RIMM already is in the kung fu grip of 170,000 organizations around the world. 475 carriers in 160 countries."

First Karen Finerman challenged the notion that Apple hasn't made similar or better inroads. Then Guy Adami openly scoffed. "You can't tell me that RIMM and Apple are comps; they're not even close," Adami said. "I mean, it's ridunculous (sic) ... I think RIMM at 70 is a short."

Levy, unfazed, said let it be ridunculous. "In the smartphone business, Apple's a one-trick pony," he said.

WYNN boasts something
that GOOG cannot

You know how politicians tend to be skilled at slinging the b.s., and it can actually be entertaining listening to them at times.

Sometimes that happens in business too, as was the case Thursday when Steve Wynn made some pronouncements on the WYNN conference call that savvy listener Scott Nations relayed to "Fast Money" viewers. (Um, those would be CNBC World viewers since "Fast" got bounced by championship curling again on the regular network.)

Wynn said, according to Nations, "the only solution for Vegas is to call Dr. Kevorkian." Nations added, "He made the point that they are now more of a Chinese company than an American company."

Uh-oh. That last sentence reminds us of the "Fast Money" glory days, which were basically 2007, when the panelists, including a certain independent oil-trading kingpin, were regularly touting how great Macau was going to be for the gambling industry and even names like Melco were a steal. That didn't exactly end well.

Zach Karabell has made the point that "The failure of these New Economy players in China is in stark contrast to the success of brick-and-mortar companies." Does a casino qualify as "media," or "brick-and-mortar"?

Watching "Fast Money" all the time, one might get the idea that the Chinese people do nothing but stash copper, consume coal, speculate on real estate, and gamble.

From upper left to lower right

Guy Adami said Thursday of Goldman Sachs, "This stock has completely underperformed since December."

Goldman traded in the mid-$160s through much of December, so maybe a $10 dip since then while the S&P has remained practically flat.

Not a huge collapse for GS, certainly nothing like what Freeport-McMoRan "accomplished" in a couple weeks in January.

The reason we were puzzled by Adami's comment is that the real disaster in banks started in October. Goldman then traded in the $190s; Citi was near $5. It is true that Adami does regularly mention the GS $190s level. But traders seem fixated on this $160 or $150 resistance/support level nonsense.

This is where we really admire Dennis Gartman's advice. In the end, it's a simple game, so keep it simple. Many big banks have been flat-out dogs for 4 straight months, and there's no sign of any positive catalyst. They don't kill anyone in the course of a few days or a week, but people who owned in early October and continue to hold are getting bled to death. It's true C has had a mini-resurgence over 2 weeks (this writer is long C), but it's been on a steady death march since October.

Anyway, we agree with Adami that GS is a troubled stock. We disagree that $150 or $160 means anything other than arbitrary way stations en route to a bottom that still doesn't seem like it's here yet.

What happened to those calls
to oust Geithner?

Remember those all-important AIG/Fed congressional document hearings?

Didn't think so.

Actually, back on Jan. 26, Josh Rosner predicted on "Fast Money" that Geithner would not last the year, citing evidence that the New York Fed chose to "mislead" the TARP inspector. Then Daniel Clifton suggested Chris Dodd or Jon Corzine as market-friendly replacements. Gary Kaminsky said Jan. 29 the Dow would jump 200-300 points if Geithner was ousted.

Somehow we don't think we've heard a word about this supposedly important subject since, despite the headwinds dogging the markets this month.

Cortes finds his mojo

Steve Cortes, who spent much of 2009 defending the "new normal," says "I am bullish on the S&P. I am bullish on risk assets in general here."

Cortes spoke on the regular "Fast Money" Thursday after an appearance on the "Halftime Report." His theory on Europe's problems is that "the whole calamity in my view was exaggerated." As a result, he has discovered diminishing relevance of the euro-yen cross and found winners in European banks that stopped plunging with the euro.

Cortes also said he dislikes overcrowded trades and now "I think the dollar's very extended" and due for a fall.

"I think The Killer has had a killer call here," said Tim Seymour. We can't stand the nickname, but every time we hear it, we're inclined to reach for "Decade" and put it on.

K-Fine: A year ahead

The European "crisis" (if that's what it is) has started to bore us a bit on "Fast Money," but you know what, the situation is starting to provide some decent television.

Decent, in the sense that panelists are staking out positions very much at odds with each other in the type of big-picture disagreements you rarely see on the show.

Gary Kaminsky and Dennis Gartman are firmly in the Europe-sucks-right-now camp. (That's our attempt at hip terminology, not theirs.) Gartman said Thursday he's "scared" of what might happen and repeated his ongoing theory that after Greece, it'll just trickle down to other countries. "I think the European Union itself is in jeopardy of dissolving over time," Gartman said.

CNBCfix flashback: Few probably remember, and she's not one to gloat, but Karen Finerman suggested at the end of 2008 during "Fast Money" new year predictions that there was a chance — a small chance — that the EU could "fall apart."

Guy Adami has also been regularly suggesting that the U.S. markets will feel Europe's troubles.

Steve Cortes, a noted contrarian, obviously disagrees, and has allies (to some extent) in Tim Seymour and Brian Kelly. Karen Finerman, somewhere in the middle, questioned Gartman Thursday about the possibility of a comprehensive solution such as what the Fed did in February-March 2009. Gartman said American taxpayers won't bail out Greece. Tim Seymour pointed to the IMF but he said that's run by American voting rights, so there's politics there also.

Seymour warned that Kaminsky's hot pick, EPV, is a "very small ETF," and Guy Adami noted its volume has been sky-high, so it could be due for a pullback.

Looks 31

We're not quite sure what the answer was, but we agree with the question: Tim Seymour asked Pete Najarian almost incredulously Friday, "How is the VIX down today ... if (Europe is) falling apart, how can the VIX be going down?"

"There was some stuff to buy today," said Karen Finerman. "I actually bought a little bit of Google today," which at this time can't exactly make the same claim as Wynn Resorts (above).

Dennis Gartman was finding more than just gloom and doom in Europe, saying if you want to get into the energy space, "coal looks awfully, awfully cheap to me." He also spoke of retail having troubles in the "middle of the barbell."

Melissa Lee at one point referenced "Garanimals."

Karen Finerman defended the M&A activity level. "There's a lot out there," she said.

Karen turned 45 on Thursday.

‘I didn’t ask ... because it had
nothing to do with business’

Gary Kaminsky, on the phone as Thursday's "Fast Money Halftime Report" commenced, pronounced the other side of the Atlantic in free fall.

"I think Europe is collapsing," Kaminsky said.

Steve Cortes, however, disagreed, and said there is "overreacting." He pointed to the euro-yen cross. "I don't think it's nearly as relevant as it used to be," he said. "European banks are trading relatively well," he added, mentioning Santander. "Generally I try to avoid European STDs," he joked, but the European banks have distanced themselves from the euro fall. He said he likes gold for a couple of reasons.

Guy Adami said "There's never just one cockroach" and praised Kaminsky's pick of the EPV, saying "I think it goes back to 27.56."

Jon Najarian added, "Kudos to Gary, this is a great call." But he said U.S. markets are going to feel whatever happens. "There isn't a disconnect here. If Europe's going down, we're going down too."

Brad Hintz came on the show and said a lot of things about Goldman that we weren't really sure added up to anything, other than one might expect a "less-buoyant" revenue line given some of Goldman's publicity and potential Greece problems.

Guy Adami referenced the Frankie Pentangeli/Michael Corleone conversation about "Your father did business with Hyman Roth, etc." Pentangeli was the replacement character for Clemenza, whose actor, Richard Castellano, wouldn't agree to do the sequel. We always get kind of a chuckle at how clueless Kay sounds when she asks, "What really happened with Pentangeli, Michael?"

[Wednesday, February 24, 2010]

Don’t expect to see
Barry Ritholtz on ‘Fast Money’

Onetime frequent Larry Kudlow guest and CNBC pundit Barry Ritholtz writes that he's now "persona non grata" at CNBC.

He says there was an issue with some "really obnoxious" but deleted blog comments, then "I started asking not to be booked with really dumb guests." As a result, "With Dylan gone, I dont (sic) hear from Fast Money."

He also notes in the comments section, "I like Becky (Quick) — she is the smartest person on the network — and Steve (Liesman) is a decent guy (albeit way too sympathetic to the Fed folks he covers)."

Karabell downplays
risk of China implosion

Zach Karabell tells Daily Finance that predictions of a Chinese property or other bubble meltdown are overblown and based on traditional models that aren't relevant. "Nobody is calling in the loans, and there is not leverage in the typical way we would think about these things," Karabell says.

[Wednesday, February 24, 2010]

Dr. J: 10% short-selling rule
is sensible approach

Jon Najarian delivered a very straightforward explanation of the planned new 10% rule on short selling.

"It will still take weeks and weeks or months before it goes into effect," he said.

Karen Finerman asked a couple great questions about whether the 10% move is limited to one day. The answer is no. "If it moves 7% today and it falls 3% more tomorrow, the way the wording for this rule came out, that would be the 10% move," Najarian said. "It would be triggered, and there would be a ban on short-selling in this name."

"Right now there is no uptick rule, hasn't been one since 2007," Dr. J said. "Of all the dumb fixes that I've seen, this one seems to make the most sense."

Melissa Lee pins golden years
on the S&P 500

Melissa Lee spent a portion of Wednesday's "Fast Money" (on regular CNBC, not CNBC World) explaining to the regular Joes that she's in touch.

"I'm sure all a lot of you (sic) out there are, are in this, uh, Vanguard S&P 500 index fund. If it makes you feel any better, I'm in it as well in my retirement fund," Lee said.

"Besides you, I don't think any of the four of us are in it," Joe Terranova said.

"Probably- even in your retirement fund?" Lee asked, surprised.

The theme of the conversation was that passive management doesn't work. "You have to seek alpha at all times," said Joe Terranova.

Adami predicts more mail
from gold bulls

Guy Adami rarely if ever passes up a chance to zing his least-favorite precious metal.

"Gold hasn't performed frankly, and I know I'll get the mail, but it hasn't," he insisted Wednesday.

This site has no opinion on gold, but we do find it curious that Adami will often say gold can crush longs in a day while regularly talking about owning (as well as shorting) a name like FCX. In a span of 3 weeks in January, FCX fell 26% and the GLD fell 7%.

Joe Terranova said his latest trade is "Short gold, long oil."

Peter from North Idaho e-mailed a question for Karen Finerman about buying RIG on the dip. Karen called it a "significant miss" and said "I would wait, I wouldn't buy it yet."

"I actually bought some Joy Global today," said Pete Najarian. Brother Jon said "I am long CROX," of course, because of the options activity. Karen said "That was one of my worst trades of all time."

Oh, what a feeling

Value investor Karen Finerman, who looked smashing and was beaming Wednesday in scarf and brown turtleneck and new hairstyle, suggested Toyota is also attractive here. Karen said it's a "premier name in the world" whose drop in market value is probably overdone. "I think that it probably gets a little bit better from here — in the short term. A trade for me," she said.

Brian Kelly breathed a sigh of relief, saying he feels the same way. Only difference is that Kelly said he would get out at $71, whereas Karen said she probably wouldn't bolt until it falls through $70.

So let’s get this straight:
You’re trying to make money?

American Tower CEO Jim Taiclet was on the receiving end of a rather strange question from Melissa Lee.

Lee asked, "How committed are you to keeping that profitability high because that's another reason why so many people are in your stock."

Taiclet said, "Well, we're very committed to it."

Imagine that. A CEO very committed to keeping profitability high.

Gary Kaminsky, who likes the company, called in while Taiclet was on the air. "This is in the sweet spot, and has the wind at its tail," Kaminsky said.

Makeup calls

Carter Worth spent some time on "Fast Money" Wednesday outlining, of all things, a Treasury trade.

"We're looking for 5.25 on the 30-year bond," Worth said. "I think it's sooner rather than later," he added, suggesting 4 to 6 months.

Specific to stocks, Worth first called Estee Lauder a short vs. Avon as a long in a pairs trade. Then he pointed to the XLP. "We think it breaks out right here," he said. But perhaps more interesting, or controversial, as he put it, is his bullish outlook on regional banks. He says they've done well, and he sees "quite a bit more to go."

Took barely 18 hours

A day ago, Karen Finerman spoke of buying more JPM, and we pointed out that someone says this on "Fast Money" just about every day.

Sure enough, half of a day later on the "Fast Money Halftime Report," in a show that lasted a mere 7 minutes because of preempting Bernanke testimony, Brian Kelly was saying, "I like the names like a Citi or a JPMorgan ... I do think there's a lot more room to run."

"I like Deutsche Bank," said Tim Seymour, who called it "absurd" that some are assuming M&A activity will be down with so much cash on corporate balance sheets.

Gary Kaminsky was able to tout the competitive advantage of American banks, but unfortunately that's about all he got to talk about.

Anthony Scaramucci, a famous investor of Skybridge Capital and seemingly nice guy profiled a couple years ago in a David Faber program called "Untold Wealth," was asked by Melissa Lee about a possible deal to buy Citi's fund-of-funds business but couldn't/didn't say much. "We are seeking to become one of the leading alternative-strategy investment thinkers as well as investment managers," Scaramucci said. "I'll give you a call if something changes."

Scaramucci said a couple times he was happy to be on the show, and would probably make a better guest than a lot of others, so maybe they'll bring him back. Tim Seymour didn't seem too excited by his comments, but whatever.

Now there’s a ‘Web Extra’
for the ‘Halftime Report’

Because most of Wednesday's show got wiped out by Ben Bernanke, traders cobbled together a little "Fast Money Halftime Report Web Extra."

Tim Seymour, maybe a bit edgy, was arguing copper with Joe Terranova but really got into it with Brian Kelly's assertion that China is putting on the brakes. "What do you mean slowing," Seymour demanded, pointing to statistics indicating otherwise.

Seymour said "We love copper" for long term but conceded there is short-term turbulence. Terranova said it's fine to like it long-term, but "right now the market ... cannot handle 3.30 in copper." Kelly said he's short on copper.

Gary Kaminsky praised a good call by Terranova Tuesday on FCX's market role: "Joe hit it — this is an ETF of copper," Kaminsky said.

Melissa Lee sounded thrilled to say the 5 p.m. show is on CNBC, not CNBC World.

[Tuesday, February 23, 2010]

Gartman: Euro caught in
‘very dangerous circumstances’

The hottest trade on Tuesday's "Fast Money" was definitely Karen Finerman's sleeveless or near-sleeveless red top. Consider it a buy.

The way Dennis Gartman was talking, you'd think he'd have gobs of trades. "I think there's a lot more downside for the euro; I think the euro's in very dangerous circumstances right here," Gartman said.

One trade apparently was shorting the Swiss franc, because the government is doing the same, but the way the question and answer were phrased, we couldn't tell for certain if he was bullish or bearish on it.

He then sort of struggled to identify short positions he would take in his wheelhouse, which is commodities. He suggested sugar, then "copper, probably."

Tim Seymour said "This sounds like, you know, get the bottled water, get the canned food, get the guns," as Gartman protested. Seymour said Brazilian currency is the place to look for appreciation. Gartman said "got no problem with that."

Toyota, summon the bullpen

Guy Adami on Tuesday used some of that terminology employed by banking chiefs in 2007 and 2008 that ultimatedly made people wince.

Adami said Toyota looks to be "just in the first inning" of its recall-related problems, in terms of investigations, sales demand, value of its used cars and perceived future sales declines.

Dennis Gartman said he's long Ford but apparently with a very tight stop. He praised the chart and thinks the stock could break out from here. Adami said it's a great stock and not richly valued but Tuesday probably isn't the day to chase.

Tim Seymour said the Toyota debacle shows that the U.S. government hasn't really improved its oversight of auto recalls since the Ford Explorer problems of a decade ago, but he unfortunately attributed the problem to "Goodyear" tires rather than Firestone.

If the data aren’t working,
question the data

We were waiting for Karen Finerman on Tuesday to scoff at the Consumer Confidence number ... and she did. Sort of.

"That's a number that I never put a whole lot of stock in," Karen said. "However, the magnitude of that surprise, does make me take note."

Because the number was not in line with other similar reports it usually tracks, "I think people are questioning the validity" of the data, said Tim Seymour, and Karen indicated Doug Kass feels the same way, but then again, he recently was telling the world early this month he was net long for the first time in months.

Melissa Lee noticeably raised her eyebrows when talking about "God's gift to the world, the iPad."

Gary Kaminsky has hit a home run recently with EXPD. "This is one of the few companies that can grow organically," Kaminsky said Tuesday. He said he couldn't call it the best-run company he knows because a lot of CEOs would bicker, but it's certainly one of the best.

Good call, but ...

Jared Levy delivered one of the smoothest arguments we've heard recently from the dreaded Prop Desk, but unfortunately he totally failed to answer Guy Adami's very relevant question on why IBM's multiple would suddenly expand at this time.

Levy simply answered, if earnings grow, "I think we could see this thing easy at a 14 multiple, which puts the stock at 150-plus."

Levy's case for IBM was fine, though really there wasn't a specific catalyst other than his view that the company doesn't need an improving unemployment rate to succeed.

World’s greatest stock: JPM

When we weren't admiring Karen Finerman's clothing (this is one site you won't find Tony Kornheiser-Hannah Storm-esque commentary), we were thinking about one of her sentences that has become quite common: "I bought more JPMorgan today."

Seems like we hear that sentence just about every day on "Fast Money," usually from either Karen, Joe Terranova or Pete Najarian.

It would make more sense to us if the same people were regularly saying "I bought more Apple today." Or Freeport-McMoRan. Or Priceline. Stocks that have delivered in recent years. The truth is that JPM hasn't done anything in a decade. Its glory was the late '90s. In the 2000s, it has been outperformed by BAC and WFC. It has yet to overtake its Y2K highs.

The argument for it a year or two ago was that Jamie Dimon was buying all these great assets like Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual on the cheap. In a year, it's been about a double. BAC, which got Merrill Lynch, was about a quadruple.

We're not pros. We don't quibble with pros' bullish forecasts for JPM. We just can't figure out why the "Fast Money" gang trips over each other daily to buy JPM shares. What do they expect to get from it that they don't get from other names. For a decade, the stock hasn't delivered. The periods when it does deliver, others deliver better. Dennis Gartman always talks about keeping it simple, buy the stuff that's going up, sell the stuff that isn't. It sounds to us like a number of "Fast Money" traders are inventing a thesis that really doesn't exist. (This writer has no position in JPM.)

Essentially correct, it turns out

We always try to be as diligent as possible about identifying any errors, glitches, blunders, whoppers, catastrophes, etc., on this site.

Maybe too diligent. We corrected ourselves (see below) for saying Monday that Gary Kaminsky was short LULU when in fact he owned LULU puts, as he did say on the air. But we just relistened to Monday's "Halftime" (not exactly best use of our time, admittedly) to figure out why we wrote it that way and realized that Mel Lee indeed said Kaminsky was "essentially short" by owning the puts. Somehow in all the commotion, we just heard the word "short" and zoned in on it and missed the "puts" part. But in this case, not much of a difference.

Hopefully, no one got too hung up about it.

Guy Adami didn’t note
they ‘stole’ Phelps Dodge

Freeport-McMoRan CEO Richard Adkerson was Melissa Lee's special guest on the "Halftime Report" Tuesday, but after listening to Lee's incredibly long introductory statement/question involving China and other subjects, Adkerson must've thought he was on "Charlie Rose."

Adkerson says China is important but things will start looking good when the U.S. and Europe bounce back. Meanwhile, the "Chinese government has done a really remarkable job in, in, in maintaining their economy in rapid periods of growth," Adkerson said.

Adkerson didn't want to guess about the momentum trading frequently involving his company's stock. "I'm probably not a great guest to have on 'Fast Money' show," he joked.

Joe Terranova said you know what, "Freeport-McMoRan has become a copper ETF."

Terranova unleashes bear case

Tuesday was Joe Terranova's day to sort of "own" the "Fast Money Halftime Report" desk.

Taking a pessimistic approach to stocks, Terranova said, "I definitely think this is a change in momentum."

He was still touting the oil-$90-before-$60 trade, but wasn't seeing much good in copper. "The last two days of copper, there is nothing but selling in this tape," he said. And, "If you wanna play one commodity from the short side, it is gold."

Guy Adami said he thinks the trade now is perhaps identifying some specialty retailers with high valuations and "get short some of these names."

We got a chuckle when he talked about his opinion that Goldman Sachs would trade down to $150 and uttered our all-time favorite "Fast Money" cliche, "Don't be a hero."

[Monday, February 22, 2010]


We said in Monday's "Halftime Report" review that Gary Kaminsky was short Lululemon.

According to CNBC.com disclosure, he actually owns LULU puts.

A similar approach, but different trade.

CNBCfix regrets the error.

Navellier: BIDU could double

Louis Navellier, described by Melissa Lee as the "king of momentum investing" (we thought that was Jim Cramer), delivered on Monday's "Fast Money" an eye-opening forecast for a well-known search engine.

Not Google, but Baidu.

"I think the stock could double this year easily," he said. That would be a remarkable feat given where the stock began 2009.

Karen Finerman asked Navellier about the momentum play on AMT (the stock, not the increasingly middle-class tax-bite that Larry Kudlow and others like to harp on), saying "valuation's really stretched."

"The momentum would be over when their revenue per tower, uh, starts to moderate," Navellier said. But he said American Tower's revenue is higher than its peers and growing.

Navellier sounds like people used to sound like in those glorious 1990s. "This is the best earnings in my lifetime," he said.

Kaminsky: Last week’s
optimism dwindling

Gary Kaminsky, now a staple at "Halftime," told the regular show Monday that the market gains of last week might go away.

"It looks as though a lot of big orders that were around on desks for much of last week, uh, seem to have disappeared," Kaminsky said. "Uh, which leads people to believe that maybe what we saw last week was somewhat of a melt-up into expiration, and that there is now um, you know some further concern that last week wasn't a major turn in the markets but really a melt-up into expiration because these orders have not resurfaced today."

Joe Terranova asked if all the money that went in to fixed income last year would move into stocks. "It's gonna be stocks moving from other stocks into new names, not bond money into stocks," Kaminsky said.

ExxonMobil: The stock
nobody talks about

Something we've noticed recently about stocks: ExxonMobil is really struggling.

It's also occurred to us that while the "Fast Money" crew will talk about nowhere stocks like Yahoo and Intel until blue in the face, the word "Exxon" probably hasn't been uttered on the show in months. (Maybe it has, but we don't recall.)

The point here isn't that Exxon is a great stock — just the opposite. The five-year chart is an utter disaster, the P.E. remains above its peers, and it's trading below the moving averages, with a price around its 2005 level.

Rather, the point is that this is a massive free fall for a legendary money-printer that has typically tracked the S&P 500. Two steady years of decline. Down about 30% from its all-time high. A terrible 2009 while everything else was scorching. All during what remains a long-term bull market for energy.

We're not Dennis Gartman, but undeniably this chart is broken. But look at the 10-year, 20-year, 30-year. That makes us wonder, how broken could XOM possibly ever be?

We did a quick chart check of the Dow 30. Only one name, according to the charts, is below its price of 12 months ago.

That's correct, ExxonMobil.

We're not pros. The only perception here is that something's out of whack. Either Exxon is signaling something still massively wrong in this economy ... or it's trading at a level that, for a low-beta name, will seem jaw-dropping in a year or two.

Maybe the "Fast Money" gang will bring it up sometime.

(This writer has no position in XOM as of this writing, but is considering it.)

Oh sure, he’s bound to reveal his
takeover targets on ‘Fast’

Pete Najarian spoke about the options activity in CMC, explaining there are always takeover rumors. Karen Finerman questioned why, if these rumors are always out there, would someone be plunging into some near-term options.

Melissa Lee saw the conversation as a way to promote an upcoming show. Lee said Nucor is one of the companies thought to be interested in CMC, and NUE CEO Dan DiMicco (the guy who actually told a Pennsylvania town hall forum recently the middle class has been "destroyed") was going to be on the "Halftime Report" this week. "We will ask him specifically about this rumor," Lee said.

Joe goes conservative on JPM

Debbie Weinswig told "Fast Money" viewers she "absolutely" still considers Nordstrom a buy.

Will Landers made another bull case for Brazil, saying it's not export-dependent and "things are just booming."

Joe Terranova, who has a habit of stating some event a couple days away is going to be a real bellwether, said Ben Bernanke's speech Wednesday is a big one. He said he took some JPM off the table, only because "I am operating this year as everyone gets it wrong." Melissa Lee, though, actually called Brian Kelly the "resident contrarian."

Lee mentioned Monday she read the New York Post. "If it's in the Post by the way it has to be true," said Tim Seymour.

Kaminsky: Greece reminiscent
of a bad American company

Gary Kaminsky has been skeptical about the goings-on in European banks, and Monday on the "Fast Money Halftime Report," he cranked it up a notch.

"When I read the Goldman Sachs thing about what they were doing for Greece off-balance sheet, and again, not to create a scandal here, but I read this thing and it reminded me of Enron," Kaminsky said. "All of this off-balance-sheet financing, and this may be the tip of it, we don't know."

Tim Seymour didn't see it quite so dramatically. "These were fundamental assets in play," Seymour said. "I, I think with Enron, we were talking about a house of cards, and I think you've got apples and oranges."

"I think that's a fair point, we should keep our heads cool-" Melissa Lee said, helpfully.

"I'm not trying to make an apples-to-apples comparison," Kaminsky said. "I'm simply trying to say, is this the beginning of other off-balance-sheet financing mechanisms that we will find out about."

Google: More smartphones
for everyone

Melissa Lee asked Google exec Vic Gundotra about reports Google's goal is to drive smartphones below $200.

"It's absolutely our goal to make smartphones as broadly available as possible," Gundotra said, in an agreement of sorts, but insisted Google is doing it all in partnership with carriers and others.

Lee asked for a stock catalyst, and the best Gundotra could do was to say everyone's getting a smart phone and doing mobile search. "2 to 3 years ago, smartphones were a very small niche category," he said. "That has completely changed. The average soccer mom today has a smartphone."

"Our search traffic has gone up 5 times just in the last 2 years, and we see that trend accelerating," he said.

Tim Seymour asked about the constraints on bandwidth.

"We think the problem will largely be solved by these carriers in the next year, uh, just as demand continues to rise," said Gundotra, ever the optimist.

"Got Google, Apple, Qualcomm, love 'em all, but particularly the Google," Joe Terranova said.

Either a ‘smooth ride,’
or a ‘rocky road’

Melissa Lee introduced Lululemon chief Christine Day by rattling off a strange question about stock price.

Lee called the impressive chart action since March "scary" and said the stock has "49% short" interest and then said: "It sounds like you have your work cut out for you if you wanna give your shareholders a smooth ride, otherwise it sounds like a rocky road ahead."

Day was a fine guest but could hardly talk about anything, other than to say U.S. customers only have about 2 years of familiarity with the product as opposed to 5 years in Canada.

"I love the company, and I love the products," said Gary Kaminsky, who is short and has been bearish on the company for a while, but "I think they have saturated the market in terms of, their available customer profile."

Terranova: Look at BAC, JPM,
but not GS just yet

Gary Kaminsky said Monday on the "Halftime Report" that Europe is making U.S. banks look good.

"The problems in Europe have made investors around the world feel more comfortable that at least what they've got in the United States is, they've got some stability," Kaminsky said.

He couldn't find the more explosive way to play that, however. "I'm short Europe through uh, through the ETF EPV," he said. "I was not able to borrow the shares on that European, um, uh, bank-only holding company."

He said European banks are dealing with a "dramatic slowdown."

"Well, as much as I wanna disagree with Gary, uh, I don't totally," said Tim Seymour.

Mike Khouw said one place to look might be stronger U.S. regional banks, who can jump on the weaker regionals and make "significant accretive acquisitions. He said he also spotted activity in April 50 calls in the BKX.

Joe Terranova said "consumer credit quality is getting better," and people should look to buy JPM and BAC, but "it's not yet time to buy Goldman Sachs though."

Terranova said, "I'm a much better stock trader than I am option."

[Friday, February 19, 2010]

When does Terranova sleep?

Brian Kelly was sounding Friday on "Fast Money" like the stock market casino just dealt him 11. "This morning I actually doubled down on some of my positions in Citigroup and JPMorgan," Kelly said. (This writer is long C; so are Guy Adami and Jon Najarian per CNBC.com disclosure.)

Kelly had a good showing on the real desk, freed from the absurdity of the Prop Desk. He said it's possible there's a "seismic change" under way in the dollar. And, reminded that he liked Google several percentage points above where it now trades, he said "I'd probably get back into it here."

Joe Terranova said the Fed move, among other factors, has left the stock market in a "sweet spot for equities."

Terranova went on to tell another story about trading oil at "3:30 in the morning." He said there has been "unusual buying interest," and the bouncing happened when "April crude oil gets down to $78."

Bottom line from Terranova on oil, as before, don't short it.

"If there is a bubble out there I believe it is in Treasurys," Terranova said.

Iuorio outnumbered

Things could've gotten a little heated — but didn't — on "Fast Money" Friday when Jim Iuorio e-mailed in an argument to Todd Gordon's Treasury forecast.

Gordon said, "I think this inflation expectation is way overblown ... I think we have one more push higher maybe up to 4.1, 4.2 in the 10-year rate, before yields start moving lower again."

Iuorio e-mailed later with a what-if-China-unloads-everything scenario that you've heard about a million times (including "The McLaughlin Group" this weekend from Pat Buchanan, who claims China is already uninterested in buying). Gordon said don't believe it. "They're not selling bonds," mumbled Joe Terranova in agreement.

Toning shoes: Sounds like
a great Valentine’s gift

Robert Samuels of Oppenheimer joined "Fast Money" Friday to talk about a product that probably a few guys would've liked to known about before Feb. 14.

But not Jon Najarian, who seemed quite knowledgeable about toning shoes.

Apparently, the shoes can be bought in many styles, and wearing them helps tone calves and the all-important butt.

Mel Lee called them "God's gift to women."

Guy Adami got to tell Lee, "You did an unbelievable job this week, I mean you went 24/7."

Lee reminded viewers that the show is obviously pushing to read more e-mails while in progress. "We said we read them, we actually do," Lee said.

Samuels, by the way, was actually supposed to talk about a Tiger trade, but mostly just pointed to mall shoe stores such as Finish Line.

Hint: Not ‘A Serious Man’

Famed movie critic Roger Ebert and his inspiration were the subject of a poignant Esquire interview that got a lot of attention recently, but it was his Oscar commentary — "I can't remember a year when it seemed easier to predict the Oscars" — that got our attention.

Have to disagree with that one. The easiest year to predict seemed to be 1998 (for films of 1997), in which "Titanic" ruled.

That year, "Titanic" defeated:

"As Good as It Gets"
"Good Will Hunting"
"L.A. Confidential"
"The Full Monty"

We won't give away Ebert's best picture for this year's ceremony; you'll have to click the link.

We'd like to send Melissa Lee a Fast Message asking Dr. J or The Negotiator if they're still high on IMAX, given that "Avatar" might be starting to fade and Oscar season is nearly over.

Dr. J goes geopolitical

Jon Najarian wasn't quite in his usual groove on the "Fast Money" set Friday.

In fact, he was quiet as a mouse for seemingly 15 minutes, until he started talking about Iran getting missiles from Russia or something like that.

He also went off on a strange tangent criticizing Steve Liesman for taking a winter vacation to Boston.

But Dr. J did make a call on the VIX ("I think it does bounce a little bit") and, apparently on a first-name basis, said "Meredith" might be wrong about the banks because they might have some "extreme" trading opportunities to make cash.

Guy Adami pointed again to Jefferies and Raymond James as the financials to look at, citing that ever-popular Barrons article.

Mike Gurka: Still 0 for 2010

Mike Gurka is a knowledgeable, good pundit. But when he talked about China on "Fast Money" on Friday, we had no clue what he was talking about.

Which would be consistent with his other appearances this year.

Randy in Sarasota e-mailed a question that Melissa Lee read on the air (remember, they read all viewer questions). He asked if cash that had been going into bonds, e.g. from China, would start moving in to equities. Traders didn't seem that convinced there's a bullish equity call there.

Melissa Lee introduced a lengthy segment on some kind of business analyst, Ranjay Gulati. Gulati apparently is famous for discovering that Best Buy was a store for males, that women didn't like to shop there, but once it figured that out and instituted the Geek Squad, it secured its existence, unlike Circuit City, which is gone.

That somehow led to a segue for Jon Najarian (see, we said he didn't have the smoothest day) to explain why he likes Netflix, Amazon and Priceline.

Guy Adami reminded people Frank Blake's doing a great job at Home Depot.

How bad is Dell?

Gary Kaminsky and Joe Terranova have recently dueled over DELL. (They haven't actually dueled, but one has been recommending buying it, the other recommends selling it.)

We noted a couple days ago that Michael Dell returned as CEO three years ago, Jan. 31, 2007. Out of curiosity, we looked up DELL and other stocks, then and now:

HPQ — $42.31 then, $50.79 now
MSFT — $29.07 then, $28.77 now
INTC — $19.20 then, $20.82 now
AAPL — $85.73 then, $201.67 now
GOOG — $501.50 then, $540.76 now
IBM — $93.79 then, $127.19 now
DELL — $24.22 then, $13.47 now

Jon Najarian did note, in the "Fast Money Final Call" Friday with Simon Hobbs, that Dell might be OK as long as it stabilizes around $13, but he doesn't see explosive potential there.

Seems like the correct call on Michael Dell's return was to go long AAPL, short DELL.

Trading with Patty

Patty Edwards made an appearance with Erin Burnett and Vince Farrell on "Squawk on the Street" Friday morning, discussing "comfort" stocks.

Sounds like Patty is dealing with a cold. In a scratchy voice, she made the case for a certain cozy chairmaker.

"In the case of La-Z-Boy, not only have they been cutting costs, but they have been stealing share from some of the higher brands," Patty said. "If you look at FBN ... they are getting decimated because people are trading down to La-Z-Boy."

But is LZB a buy? "It's trading at 14 times, and I think that, uh, there's more to come there," Edwards said.

Sold. (This writer is now long LZB.)

We've seen Patty successfully outduel the valuation critics on retail names, and if she says "there's more to come there," we're definitely paying attention.

(Note: That helpful text on the bottom of the CNBC screen did say that Patty actually "would love" to pick up LZB between $11.50 and $12, and the price Friday was notably higher than that, another sign this site can't really trade its way out of a paper bag ... but what the heck...)

The conversation with Edwards and Farrell also involved Tempur-Pedic and Select Comfort, with Tempur-Pedic drawing praise. "If you think about it, the folks who were buying this stuff, just glad-handing everywhere, are now feeling a little less secure, but they're feeling more secure than they were, say, a year ago," Patty said.

Schiff: ‘Take the opposite
of what Goldman is saying’

Melissa Lee might've been dazzling in red dress, but the tandem of Gary Kaminsky & Peter Schiff stole the show on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Friday.

For the first time, Schiff showed up as an actual "Fast Money" panelist. The bottom line admittedly was a lot of the usual sloganeering, but he managed to put some pop in the lineup. Lee's challenge is to get him to talk about things besides gold and the dollar.

Schiff made the most contrarian call possible on Goldman Sachs' post-Fed-move calls of adding discount brokers and homebuilder DHI.

"I think it's more likely you want to take the opposite of what Goldman is saying because that's what they're probably doing," Schiff said. "I never trust when brokerage firms upgrade each other."

We have no idea if he's right — although it sounds pretty good — but it did crack us up.

"And how could you possibly say buy a homebuilder unless you're trying to unload a lot of shares yourself," Schiff added. "I can't think of a worse business to be in right now than building homes."

"Peter, I finally found something I agree with you on," said Kaminsky, apparently referring to just the homebuilder comment.

Schiff: If you own Treasurys,
‘you will lose a ton of money’

Kaminsky and Schiff first got into it after an impressive showing by BlackRock's fixed-income guru Curtis Arledge.

"The market is already building in about 50 basis points higher in the 10-year Treasury," said Arledge, who said higher rates might not be happening as fast as some think.

Kaminsky, proving to be a savvy interviewer, asked Arledge, "When will we see the Fed raise the Fed funds rate?"

"You know, my personal view is not this year, early 2011 perhaps," Arledge said.

Schiff apparently was incredulous at any prediction showing moderation in Treasury yields. He asked Arledge, "Would you loan any of your money to the U.S. government for 30 years at these rates?"

"Yes I would, I actually would, I think it's, uh, one of the most liquid markets," Arledge replied.

Eventually, Kaminsky said, "The trade here, believe it or not, is BlackRock, the best-managed asset manager in the world."

"I like that, and I think Curtis did a phenomenal job explaining the situation right now," said Joe Terranova, and he was correct.

"I disagree," Schiff said. "Just listen to me on this. Do not buy long-term U.S. Treasurys, if you own them, sell them, you will lose a ton of money in government bonds. The government has two options: They can default or they can print, either way it's gonna be bad."

Kaminsky couldn't contain his frustration. "Peter, if you don't wanna own dollars, you don't wanna own euros, you only wanna own gold, I think, you have to have some assets in some other commodity other than gold-"

"I do," said Schiff. "I own stocks all around the world. I own commodities all around the world."

Schiff even admitted at one point, "I own Potash myself, I own it for clients." Of course, on Jan. 22 he said he didn't want to name any holdings because the last time he did, "I got a call from the regulators."

Arledge, we learned, has a B.S. in electrical engineering from Princeton, 1987.

Guy Adami says frozen pizza
is ‘pretty good right now’

Guy Adami made an interesting observation Friday on the "Halftime Report" in a segment with Domino's Pizza chief Patrick Doyle.

"Now you go to the supermarket, and in the frozen food aisles, you can get some pretty good frozen pizza right now that I gotta believe is making a dent in what you guys are trying to do," Adami said.

We're not opposed to frozen pizza — we've probably got some in the freezer — but we don't really see it as an alternative to the real stuff that gets delivered, whether it's Domino's or whatever.

"Frozen pizza's better than it was 10 years ago," Doyle said with faint praise. "They had a period of growth; the growth you're seeing from frozen now is really more from price than it is from unit volume."

Terranova: Someone’s buying oil

Gary Kaminsky said that while the market's reaction to the Fed hike might've been impressive, "I don't see any deals being priced, I don't see any companies coming public. ... Capital markets are not functioning optimally yet."

Peter Schiff said, "I think gold is looking for an explosive move to the upside and it could happen very soon," actually not the first time he's said something like that.

Joe Terranova is apparently staying awake all night trading oil. "Someone institutionally has been an aggressive buyer of oil over the last week," he said.

"I still think it's a currency phenomenon," Schiff scoffed.

Kaminsky's Final Trade: "Continue sell Dell."

[Thursday, February 18, 2010]

Fed rate hike: One scoop
Gasparino didn’t have

Peter Schiff told the "Fast Money" crew on Thursday the Fed's emergency-loan rate hike is merely a "cheap way of trying to pretend that they're gonna get aggressive, that they're getting hawkish."

Schiff said the dollar might briefly rise, but this is no long-term fix. "Interest rates need to be much, much higher," Schiff said.

Guy Adami and Steve Grasso both said they thought the market was surprised by the timing of the Fed move; Grasso said the floor was expecting this to happen in March.

Karen Finerman said "this does not change my view of the banks at all."

Carter Worth cited the Fed hike as evidence supporting his long-standing theory that 2010 is going to be a remarkably flat year of trading.

Brian Kelly reasserted his bullishness on European banks, a steep contrast with Gary Kaminsky, who mentioned earlier in the day he is trying to short them. "I see that as kind of a binary trade, uh, with a singular result," Kelly said, meaning the worse the situation is, the more likely the banks will get a bailout.

Phil LeBeau said analysts he talks to aren't fully assured the worst is all out of Toyota and don't want to buy the stock unless it creeps down to $64-$67. Guy Adami said Ford seems like the winner in this, long-term players can buy it now but traders should wait until it possibly drops to $10.75.

Kendall Hunt, CEO of VASCO Data Security, said the reason his stock fell in afterhours is possibly that "we uh, guided conservatively on the operating earnings."

Steve Grasso on the "Web Extra" said traders used to refer to RadioShack as "Rash."

Kaminsky trying to short
European banks via ETFs

Gary Kaminsky on Thursday delivered the most interesting "Fast Money" trade of the week, on European banks.

"I'm trying right now to short," Kaminsky said. "There is an ETF that came out in January and curiously, I can't even borrow the shares, so I'm trying to borrow shares in the symbol EUFN."

He added, "Right now, I am long the ETF EPV, which is being double-short leverage of the European markets. Much like I wanted to be short the Nasdaq in January, that's the play, that's the way I want to play this right now."

Why is Karen repeatedly
touting Citi’s valuation?

It seems like something is up with Citigroup. But we're not sure why.

(This writer, like gobs of other human beings, is long C.)

We're curious, because Karen Finerman used part of her tiny little bit of time calling in to the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Thursday to basically repeat the same point she made yesterday on Citigroup's steep discount to tangible book value.

"You have basically a call that's not set to expire anytime soon on a big collection of assets," Karen said, using that options analogy we still don't get. When does it expire?

As of Wednesday night, per disclosure, she doesn't even own the stock.

It's not quite the amount of gushing viewers heard from Karen late last year about Google, or perhaps even recently about CVS. But Karen seems fascinated with this name, so that can't be such a bad thing for C longs.

Gary Kaminsky said, "The plain vanilla closet indexes will be buying this stock when it's north of 5."

Later in the day, Meredith Whitney spoke to Maria Bartiromo on the floor the NYSE and slammed just about all of the bank stocks, predicting at least another 10% down from these levels. When Bartiromo asked about C trading at $3 and change, Whitney agreed it was not expensive but said nothing will be able to move the massive amount of float for a long time, and that Citi does have remaining good businesses, but they're embedded within a lot of problems.

Icahn wants to push,
not control, Lionsgate

In a very pause-laden, stumbling interview Thursday, Carl Icahn talked about Amylin and Lilly and Lionsgate and basically indicated he's not hell-bent on securing any particular combination.

Most newsworthy, if that's the correct term, was his "correction" of Gary Kaminsky's pointed question about possibly taking "control" of Lionsgate and his interest in possibly managing it. Icahn said he's not seeking control and respects Canadian resistance to U.S. investors taking control of companies. Kaminsky astutely observed later that if people are in the stock on Icahn takeover prospects, "what I just heard is, that's not the plan." Guy Adami agreed but said as an intellectual-property play it's an attractive stock.

Guy Adami, Joe Terranova and Mike Khouw discussed gold. "If I'm long here, I'd be taking some profits in this trade," Adami said.

Terranova said, "Of the three commodities we're talking about, copper, gold and oil, you can wake up one morning and gold is the one commodity that will absolutely implode on you in a downside move." (Sigh) We've argued this point several times now (this site is neither pro-gold nor anti-gold) and just don't believe that statement has been true for at least 10 years, but whatever.

"That's a great point," Khouw said, referring to Terranova.

Why CNBCfix congratulates
Charles Gasparino, and why
the ‘Fast Money’ crew and other
CNBCers should do the same

No doubt there were some smiles in Englewood Cliffs this week when the news broke (by TVNewser) that Charles Gasparino was bolting CNBC.

We have (basically) never met, and don't know, Gasparino. He was perhaps our favorite CNBC personality. We put him 2nd on our stars of CNBC bio page.

He's a tough guy, without question. Probably a lot of corporate flacks can't stand him. Probably a decent number of CNBC on-air personalities, or CNBC guests, can't either and cringed at doing segments with him, although we have no direct knowledge of that, just the same speculation as everyone else after witnessing a few on-air scraps.

The truth is that Gasparino brought a lot of life to CNBC. He is possibly the greatest ambassador of old-school journalism on today's multimedia stage, trained in print (as were many CNBC stars) and vehemently defending the highest reporting standards established for decades.

The once-massive relevance of nonpartisan journalism marked by quiet bylines and the evening news and gentle point-counterpoint on cable TV is rapidly fading away. Much of print is slowly dying. Fox News is overwhelming CNN, Olbermann is reinvigorating MSNBC, TMZ.com scooped the world on Michael Jackson.

The news business — astoundingly, actually, and perhaps ironically — loved to consider itself a community service back in the day it was massively profitable. Now it's not particularly profitable, the only survivors are going to be the ones who treat it like an actual business, and traditional journalism needs a few champions in this new environment.

Remember in "The Poseidon Adventure," when Gene Hackman points to the top and tells the skeptical passengers "Maybe by climbing out of here, we can save ourselves"? There are countless great journalists whose papers or TV stations/networks are running out of money to pay them. Many will just sink with the ship. When they're gone, it'll be Gasparino still standing amid the chaff.

Now, why should CNBCers be applauding? Gasparino just boosted their leverage significantly. David Faber was undoubtedly helped. While the network might've shrugged at the departures of Liz Claman and Margaret Brennan and Rebecca Jarvis, there are (by our count) about 6 or 7 female anchors it would fight to keep.

Proponents of business TV Darwinism should be happy also. The bar is now raised at CNBC. Gasparino suddenly makes Fox Business a serious option. It looked like FBN was throwing in the towel when it brought in Imus; Henry Blodget even said so in August. Doesn't look that way anymore.

‘Fast Money’ in the
mainstream media

Jon Najarian urges a government review of the options activity prior to the Terra deal this week in a Reuters article. "This activity suggests to us and our models that someone had advanced knowledge of this takeover bid by Yara International. If I were the regulators, I would examine who bought calls and puts one week ago and see whether it was just good timing or something more," Najarian said.

Saving the best for last, L.A. Times writer Barbara Demick quotes Zach Karabell among a collection of Chinese experts on the tension in U.S.-Sino relations: "If it's a marriage, it's a 19th century marriage — a marriage of convenience for which there is no easy way out," Karabell says. "We can be miserable and we can have affairs, but at the end of the day, this is where we make our bed."

"Zeke," who kind of leads the league in this category, also tells amNY on an unfortunately white on blue/black Web page that in putting pressure on Iran and North Korea, “The U.S. doesn’t need China’s support, it needs its lack of opposition,” and while China will ultimately revalue the yuan, “They’re not going to do it as fast as we want.”

[Wednesday, February 17, 2010]

Don’t have CNBC World?

We're getting some inquiries about this "CNBC World" stuff.

Honestly, American viewers don't need another version of CNBC. (In our opinion, we don't need five versions of VH-1 either, although expanded Cinemax seems to work.) According to the Web site, CNBC World is available in 22 million U.S. homes, so you're probably less likely to have that than CSPAN3.

Anyway, if the decaffeinated half-hour "Halftime Report" isn't enough for you, know that "Fast Money" is conducting business as usual at 5 p.m. Eastern during the Olympics on CNBC World. If you don't see it on your cable TV grid, you probably don't have it or can't get it. In that case, we suggest looking up the video online (you miss the fist-bumps that you catch on TV when they cut away to commercials, but not much more).

We looked around a bit on the Web and found several blogger entries criticizing NBC's overall Olympic coverage and the tape-delay factor, but nobody complaining that Cramer and "Fast Money" have been preempted/moved for two weeks.

Beijing, Taipei, Melbourne,
Hong Kong, whatever ...

Marc Faber's much-ballyhooed interview on "Fast Money" turned out to be the most plain-vanilla caution you'll ever hear.

The most exciting part was figuring out where Faber was phoning in from. First Melissa Lee said Bangkok, then after Faber corrected her, she said "Shanghai," then he corrected her again, to what we believe is Chiang-Mai — a city in northern Thailand we had honestly never heard of until this episode. (And obviously, a financial hot spot.)

"I think the issue for 2010 is, to what extent China will slow down," Faber said. "In general I wouldn't buy Chinese stocks here."

Tim Seymour said it sounded like Faber was suggesting a strategy that if followed might include shorting something like Chinalco.

Oh, and "I would be a seller of long-term U.S. Treasurys on any rebound," Faber said, despite the fact Seymour kept chuckling about his "10-year" references.

Joe Terranova soberly said it sounded like Faber was talking about a theme of "inflation, inflation, inflation, with a chance of possible hyperinflation," and it's kind of odd he mentioned that so soberly, because he seemed downright aghast when Peter Schiff suggested a similar theme a month or two ago.

Another go-round on C

Karen Finerman took up a point Melissa Lee made on her behalf at "Halftime" about Citi.

"Citi is trading at a significant discount to hard-book value, not just their stated book value, their tangible book value," Karen said.

She cited this as the reason so many "whales" are supposedly in the name.

Tim Seymour said the "whales" are merely doing the math, adding up the sum of the parts of the business, and concluding it's worth more than what they paid.

But it's worth noting these purchases were occurring in the fourth quarter, when Citi was higher than it is now, so these investing greats quite possibly have lost money on it.

"I think Timmy's right," said Joe Terranova. "I think what they're betting on is breaking up the company."

Steve Grasso says HPQ
can ‘never execute properly’

Steve Grasso on Wednesday decided to rain a little bit on the parade of HPQ, often a favorite pick among the panelists.

Steve Grasso said that "top holders" he deals with "always get frustrated with this name ... they never execute properly, they're always left out of the dance," he said.

Karen Finerman, in lovely cream-colored top, practically screamed, "HP????!!!!!!?????"

Tim Seymour also disagreed with Grasso and complimented Mark Hurd. "I think he's actually in the dance," Seymour said. "I'm not sure what else they can do."

Joe Terranova suggested investors "might get a little more bang for your buck with Dell."

Melissa Lee referred to the Toni Sacconaghi curious DELL-as-a-call-option theory from "Halftime" and repeated that it has a lower valuation but unlike HPQ is "much more of a turnaround story."

Grasso said competitors tend to get a bigger pop out of the H-P earnings story than HPQ does.

A trade that can blow up

Tim Seymour said he would've expected better action in the uranium names over the president's nuclear-plant announcement, but it appears "we're still in pipe-dream land" in terms of adopting a pro-nuclear power emphasis.

Steve Grasso concurred, pointing to Cameco and saying "The stock doesn't believe it.

Joe Terranova scoffed a couple times during the discussion, then explained why: He bought the first contracts Nymex launched in uranium. "I will never, ever, invest in anything around uranium again," Joe said.

Grasso: When liquidity returns,
markets go south

Karen Finerman said Google's stockpile of cash is too much, and should be put to better use. "Pay the money out guys," she said, perhaps indicating a call for a healthy dividend, although we would note that Microsoft did that in the early 2000s and the stock still never went anywhere.

Steve Grasso said volume is the issue in the stock market, the bulls always do well on light-volume days, but heavy-volume days bring sellers, and he predicts a "rude awakening" once liquidity comes back, presumably after the Chinese holiday.

Analyst Brian Nagel came on to say "I think Home Depot's a $37 stock," but Steve Grasso said it's "still too risky to be buying homebuilders at this point." Karen Finerman said if you believe in the homebuilding sector, you might want to buy what's been one of the biggest dogs, Hovnanian.

Tim Seymour complained that one of the problems in Europe is that "Nobody's paying taxes in Greece."

Karen said "I need a stent really for dealing with my Boston Scientific position."

Jason Trennert offered a bullish case for the general market, saying companies are cash-rich and 40% of the stimulus will be spent this year. But he wasn't wildly enthusiastic over his No. 1 name. "My top pick is probably Baker Hughes," he said. "I like playing the commodity space."

If C is an ‘option,’
when does it expire?

We're not sure if it's the humdrum holiday week, or trying to cram a regular show into an extended midday "Halftime Report," or the panelists all being in different places and not sitting around the table with their "Fast Money"-logo laptops and cups of Starbucks nearby.

But they aren't finding a whole lot to talk about regarding the stock market this week.

Wednesday, the most exciting subject we came up with was Citigroup's valuation.

(This writer is long C. But that's hardly a big deal, because practically everyone with a Schwab/E*Trade/TD Ameritrade/Scottrade/etc. account owns some Citi shares somewhere.)

The most interesting point was made off-camera by Karen Finerman, who made a "very, very salient point" in the "Fast Money" morning conference call, according to Melissa Lee.

Finerman's point — which she has suggested in several terms on "Fast Money" previously — is that the book value of C is $4.15, and thus is trading around 80% of that.

(Actually, we thought Karen's point either yesterday or last week that BAC and C will basically trade together was equally salient.)

Brian Kelly said he was pleased to hear yesterday the whales are buying it and suggested "3.15 seems to be support."

Gary Kaminsky wasn't dismissing the C trade, but seemed skeptical that the business outlook justifies it, for the whales or anyone else. "I guarantee you that every one of these guys is looking at this as an option, not as a fundamental story yet," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky's one of many who refers to C as an "option." We don't quite get that. It would make sense in terms of one of those tiny biotechs that trades for about $1.23, has some kind of drug review coming up, and it's likely the stock will either rise or fall 75 cents in a day. Citi's a viable long-term business, especially with the government backing it up, and it's going to trade like most banks for basically forever.

Everyone owns it because they figure at some point it'll be worth $5 or $10 and so, over time, it's really can't-miss.

Price when Dell returned: $24.22.
Price Wednesday: $14.11.

But Citigroup wasn't the only stock being described as a call option on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Wednesday.

Melissa Lee said, "Tony Sacconaghi, who we had on the show yesterday, said Dell is basically a call option because of valuation at which it trades."

That's a new one. A company with $61 billion revenue is now a "call option." (Actually, it's not a call option, but a sucky stock owned by this writer last year.)

Michael Dell just completed his third-year anniversary of his second act as Dell CEO.

"I truly believe Dell, the Street is underestimating the potential there," said Joe Terranova. Good luck, Joe.

Kaminsky finds ‘evidence’
Europe is in spiral

Bill Fleckenstein never got into specific trades, unfortunately, other than gold. But he said, "Trying to make money in housing, given what's transpired in the past, is sort of like picking up quarters on the freeway. I mean, why would you want to bother?"

Brian Kelly said copper looks overheated. "This morning I put my money where my mouth is, I sold short some FCX, I sold short some copper," Kelly said.

Tim Seymour said copper is dicey, but "Demand for some of the commodities in China is still alive."

"I think the dollar gets stronger," Kelly said.

"I don't think that gold is that exciting," said "Skee," Gary Kaminsky. "I continue to believe as recent as last night, some evidence that I got, European economies are continuing to weaken, European businesses are having a very tough time getting credit. I think the dollar will continue to strengthen."

Kaminsky also said the amount of parties working on the Walgreens-Duane Reade deal is a sign the "M&A business is starving."

Joe Terranova continued to pound the table on oil. "I think that everyone right now is underestimating the geopolitical concerns," Terranova said.

[Tuesday, February 16, 2010]

Terranova’s PSA:
‘Don’t be short energy’

The regular version of "Fast Money" Tuesday on CNBC World, or for American types, online-only, featured Joe Terranova sounding bullish again.

(Note: That doesn't sound like a very exciting way to lead this report, admittedly. The alternative is to write about all the "whale watching" panelists were doing with all these unbelievably tremendous 13-F filing disclosures of stocks bought by people like John Paulson and Warren Buffett probably two months ago or more. We'd rather sit through a "Gigli" sequel.)

Terranova thinks the S&P is headed to 1,105 or 1,110, and he added some more technology to an overweight position. At the end of the show, he offered what he called a "PSA" from the oil pits, saying "Don't be short energy" because something is going on.

Traders didn't trip over themselves to proclaim Tuesday's action a new bull rally, though the mood was positive. A couple panelists said they expect light trading all week which is probably a good sign for prices. Steve Grasso wasn't convinced of long-term strength; "all these up days have been on very light volume."

International viewers must've loved Brian Kelly's horrid cliche: "It's the $2.6 trillion question — what happens if China slows?"

Kelly answered his own question by suggesting a short of TAO, the Claymore Chinese real estate index, as well as shorting EJ. Karen Finerman said "it spooks me," this "idea of a Chinese ETF real estate short." Tim Seymour said there could be setbacks in China, but nothing that's going to fall off the cliff.

Todd Gordon said he was refining his next big resistance level for FCX to $78.30.

Hintz: BAC won’t have to
repossess the Parthenon

The makeshift, Olympics-induced half-hour "Fast Money Halftime Report" wasn't exactly smooth sailing Tuesday.

We found more interesting material around lunchtime from Erin Burnett and Jim Cramer questioning whether 3-D movies are really going to catch on to Bob Pisani being absolutely flabbergasted several times that one company could own 30% of U.S. malls.

On the lackluster "Halftime Report," traders could barely make a call on anything, despite the raging market, and with everyone in a different location, the usual banter was gone.

It took forever to get to Gary Kaminsky, who looked like he was interrupted on a ski trip and unfortunately had to deal with time-delay videoconferencing.

"The situation in Europe is bad, and it's getting worse," Kaminsky said. "So what you see today in terms of the dollar and the euro is a short-term phenomenon. I think the dollar will continue to strengthen." Kaminsky predicted the euro and market would go south on Wednesday.

Tim Seymour and the others were more bullish. "Well the risk trade's back on," said Seymour, who has correctly nailed a bounce in X recently. "The commodity story has had M&A behind it over the last couple of days."

Jon Najarian pointed to Guy Adami's $75.50 level in FCX. "If we get there, and violate through to the upside, then you could have a very good trade there," Najarian said. He reiterated his thoughts on the commodities markets, "this is demand-driven, this is not the dollar trade anymore."

Seymour mentioned CCJ as a play on President Obama's nuclear plant announcement. Seymour said there is bipartisan support for nuclear energy, "this is not a flash in the pan."

Brian Kelly continued to tout European banks. "In the euro, I think you have a tradable rally here," he said.

Guest Brad Hintz rattled off a ranking of U.S. bank exposure to Greece. "The issue on this is not one of, will Greece default and they're going to lose money; it's rather the mark-to-market," Hintz said.

But, he said, "I guess I'm not worried, that, uh, Bank of America, is gonna have to, uh, going to have to take possession of the Parthenon."

Seymour said, unlike Gary Kaminsky (negative on European banks) and Jon Najarian (long some European banks but taking profits), "I think Barclays does actually look pretty good" because it didn't take a bailout.

Ara Hovnanian was given an opportunity to deliver a couple soundbites as to why his stock has lagged. He said his company's cash position is good, not by traditional metrics but the current standards, its debt is long term, into 2016, "plenty of runway space." He said "we're sitting in a very liquid position."

He added, "We are uh, building right now, way, way under, uh, inherent demand for housing."

Jon Najarian talked about Autodesk, which apparently had a big block trade and something to do with complimenting James Cameron. "I think this is a great play going forward," Dr. J said.

Brian Kelly was asked about Whole Foods but sidestepped that one. "If I'm gonna get into this space, I wanna be in something like a Supervalu, which hasn't moved that much," he said.

Nice guy Dave Barger of JetBlue really didn't have much to say, but we learned Gary Kaminsky had booked a JetBlue flight last week and was impressed by the service. Melissa Lee asked Barger about the potential for any partnerships or combinations. "There certainly could be," Barger said, not terribly convincingly.

Jon Najarian "loves" JetBlue but doesn't own the stock. "I love JetBlue because, uh, he's a great operator. I thought Neeleman was too but he got caught with that storm. I own American Airlines, that's the only domestic I own right now," Najarian said. Kaminsky reiterated a point from 2009 that airlines might not trade on fuel so much as capacity and pricing power, which makes them more attractive.

Viewers of CNBC World will be treated to a longer "Fast Money" this afternoon.

Jeff Macke defends
Goldman Sachs

We just became aware of an interesting PBS NewsHour segment last week on Goldman Sachs, featuring a sidewalk interview with Jeff Macke. "Listen, I'm not saying that they're necessarily doing my god's work, but as far as they're concerned, they're doing financial gods' work," Macke says.

Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers is credited as the "first to uncover the practice" of Goldman betting against mortgage-backed securities via AIG instruments.

We put an embed below. Macke, described as an "investment adviser," speaks a few minutes into the segment, and at the conclusion:

A little FAQ, plus a 2010
‘Fast Money’ scorecard

Just to try to avoid the appearance of dead air — all right, we admit it, we just like writing things about "Fast Money" and things that are barely tangential to "Fast Money" too — we've been trying to flood these holiday (i.e., CNBC-lite) weekends with updates on "Fast Money" panelists' picks.

But aside from the fact it's really hard to judge whether something like "um, yeah, I'd buy it here, maybe" constitutes a "bullish" call (there are sites that evaluate this, God bless them), we also don't have the inclination to analyze picks so much as TV performance.

But we do have some thoughts, and also a few FAQs for those regular "Fast Money" inquiries we get. So, here goes...

Guy Adami: Steady as a rock through the (so far) disastrous 2010 market, correctly remaining biased bearish, offering quality long trades, one disaster (long QCOM), gets to say "How ya doin'?" to Melissa Lee at the beginning of each show, much to our envy.

Karen Finerman: Recommended GOOG practically at the top, also has been hailing BAC on the way down. In top form as the logical conscience of the show, seemingly asking our questions when dubious statements are heard. Looks fantastic. Haven't noticed the triple-hoop earrings recently.

Joe Terranova: Cold as ice, sadly; almost every announced trade feels like a disaster. Impressively remains rarin' to go each show, but still too many illogical arguments, such as Alcoa (2.13 per Google finance) being low-beta stock.

Mandy Drury: More, please.

Tim Seymour: Commentary, more than stock picks, seems too much over the map; one day China data looks great, another day China is scaring people, etc. Best moments are challenging extreme skeptics such as Peter Schiff. Too many bad hair days in 2010.

Pete Najarian: Now basically a daily VIX magnet (Zzzzzz), show mojo seems to be too correlated with coal stocks. Hurling the $500 Nokia phone on floor has run its course. Lost some of his zeal for inside-biotech thoughts. Laughs at (sigh) absolutely everything.

Jon Najarian: Too much recent focus on AAPL, but has gotten impressive traction from late-December call on homebuilders RYL and KBH. Understandably, like Pete, part of his job is to talk options, but daily volatility predictions get stale fast.

Gary Kaminsky: Rapidly emerging as Mr. Excitement, doing daily battle with anyone bold enough to advocate something that sounds like a closet index. Unflinching takedowns of even business giants such as Warren Buffett, Michael Dell. Best work has been as scoop reporter. Perhaps tiny bit thin-skinned, but has displayed sense of humor.

Dennis Gartman: Show's premier guest pundit, the weather vane on the commodities markets. Seems to speak for exactly as long as Melissa Lee wants, almost always addressing the topic in question. A slight tendency toward repetition, but don't we all.

Steve Grasso: Easily one of the show's most useful pundits, mastered ability (probably from "Power Lunch" experience) of quickly explaining where the floor money is going or not going and what the S&P level to watch is. Fine sense of humor, but seems capable of blurting one of those jokes that produces an apology from Melissa Lee moments later.

Melissa Lee: Wardrobe unimpeachable, getting stronger and stronger at questioning guests.

Jared Levy: We said once last year, might be the Sandy Koufax of "Fast Money" if he could ever bring the curveball under control. Wants to tell a story at every opportunity. Down-to-earth factor needs some seasoning.

Patty Edwards: Mall-walk reports should be a daily staple of the show. Making the most of what has been limited time. Occasionally makes a stock call with a bit of a 'tude, tells it like it is on Twitter.

Brian Kelly: Can't help rooting for him, but doesn't do good enough job of selling the trades, maybe he has too many of them.

Mike Khouw: Rooting for him too, but the opposite of Brian Kelly. More and more, we notice useful and well-thought-out commentary on options and stocks situations, but often ends with what viewers can do, not what they should do. Maybe could use some pre-show caffeine?

Bill Strazzullo: One of our favorites, perhaps just because it all seems so old-school, though we have no idea whether it is or not. Katie Stockton might argue, "he's just doing the same thing I am."

Zachary Karabell: Steadfast on the buy-what-China's-buying trade, risks pigeonholing as a one-trick pony. Valued commentary on broader business issues too often left on table. Intellectual humor remains nice upgrade from the ham-n-egger material often heard at 5 p.m.

Michelle Meyer: Somehow, according to both our recollection and the video list at CNBC.com, has not appeared on CNBC since Dec. 22.

Matt Nesto: Continues to do fine work when playing it straight; known for overreaching for cheap gags while guesting on "Fast."

Carter Worth: Sense of humor can be slow-developing, but it does exist. Almost every trade is delivered in some kind of a monotone. Still probably the best at adequately explaining the finer professional points of chart-watching.

Rick Santelli: An effective pundit, but sometimes when he talks bond auctions and interest-rate projections on "Fast Money," we have no idea what he's talking about. Needs another angle besides the tired "rates should be higher" campaign.

Todd Gordon: We can't say we're terribly excited here about the forex world, so we can't say his reports have done much for us, but he has had interesting things to say about Google and the S&P 500 recently.

Dani Hughes: Where have you been lately?

Mike Gurka: Given us virtually nothing to write about this year, unfortunately.

Jim Goldman: Has plenty to offer, but too often recently merely serving up glowing tech giants' earnings reports from conference calls.

JJ Kinahan: Delivers as much useful commentary per moment as anyone, just doesn't get to talk enough.

Trish Regan: If only she'd do some guest "Fast Money" appearances.

Steve Cortes: A quote machine, who surprisingly hasn't been on to our knowledge in 2010 as evidence has accumulated (not convicingly, but somewhat) in favor of his "new normal" thesis.

Mary Thompson: Who wouldn't gush over that traditional look that is so pretty; occasionally makes a "Fast Money" appearance for breaking news.

Peter Schiff: Logging plenty of free airtime while coincidentally running for Senate, regularly losing logic debates to Tim Seymour.

Jeff Tomasulo: Pretty good pundit who too often remains in "let's-wait-and-see" mode. Has mentioned golf, always a positive sign.

Scott Redler: The chart guy who's too dry, at least until he got into it with Tim Seymour over spin class.

Maria Bartiromo: Looking better in recent months.

Brian Stutland: A little too much inside options stuff for our tastes, but not bad with general market or stock calls.

Katie Stockton: Same as Scott Redler, except she hasn't gotten into it with Tim Seymour over spin class. (Still disappointed Dan Fitzpatrick remains on hiatus, btw.) Needs to commit to reaching the next level, expand repertoire, get invite to 5 p.m. show.

Greg Troccoli: Absent in 2010, to our knowledge.

John Roque: Long time, no see. Same for Louise Yamada.

Charles Gasparino's status with CNBC (updated): Incredibly, Saturday we posted this item saying we had no indication Gasparino was fired or his status had changed at CNBC despite not being on-air since Dec. 2. Rather, we chalked it up to a book project. A day later, TVNewser reports Gasparino is indeed bolting CNBC for Fox Business (ugh), with an announcement expected this week. Like they say, news happens.

Karen Finerman and "boyfriend" Carl Icahn and "hot" Jamie Dimon: Karen Finerman regularly refers to Carl Icahn as her "boyfriend" and Jamie Dimon as "hot" apparently because she likes and respects the work they do. Karen is married to someone else and has even spoken about it on a "Web Extra."

Tim Seymour and "jail": That was a joke recently by Tim that lingered for about a week; poking fun at his knowledge of rap, and his upbringing in Scarsdale, N.Y., which, um, is not exactly considered a low-income community.

Guy Adami and Debbie Downer: Melissa Lee is the one who introduced this term to the show; Guy happened to be the one adopting it with regularly bearish pronouncements since last fall or earlier. Debbie Downer is an old "Saturday Night Live" character and not an actual person.

The fist-bump: They do it around the horn just about after every commercial break.

Melissa Lee and "boyfriend" (we get inquiries on this daily): Like Sgt. Schultz, we know nothing, absolutely nothing. Of course, we hope someone is taking Mel to some of those great restaurants every night in those hot clothes.

What exactly is spin class?

A couple days ago, Tim Seymour and Scott Redler sparred (jokingly) over spin class.

We wondered what the heck it was. According to Wikipedia, spinning is a high-intensity exercise using a stationary bike.

Now you know, and so do we.

[Friday, February 12, 2010]

Kaminsky vs. Finerman:
Did Warren Buffett flip-flop?

Few subjects on "Fast Money" have visibly irritated Karen Finerman the way Gary Kaminsky's comparison Friday of Warren Buffett and the 2000 Internet companies did.

Melissa Lee introduced the story of Berkshire's purchase of BNI and inclusion into the S&P 500 and ran a month-ago clip from Becky Quick .

"Well this is a flip-flop," Kaminsky said, singling out what he described as three instances of Buffett backpedaling — issuing B shares, splitting B shares, and something about emphasizing a AAA rating.

"It sort of reminds me of some of these technology companies in 2000," Kaminsky said, "when, when JDS Uniphase, for those that remember, said we'll do any deal we see, as long as we can do it with stock. I just, I don't know if we're gonna look back five years from now and say, did, did Warren Buffett finally succumb to the closet indexes, split the stock, care about going into the S&P 500, and what does that tell you. I don't know if this is gonna be pivotal in five years, but it certainly feels strange."

Karen looked aghast. "I don't think that his doing the deal and issuing those shares and needing to split them, that wasn't something that he was flip-flopping on the fundamental issue of wanting to have lower-priced shares," Karen said. "That was to accommodate Burlington shareholders, or Burlington management who negotiated the..."

"Karen, Karen, this was a guy-" Kaminsky tried to interrupt.

"Splitting the shares is not the same as making an acquisition that's expensive or not," Karen persisted. "Splitting the shares is purely a mathematical thing. You're not changing the earnings, you're not changing the balancing. You're not changing anything."

"But what does it tell you-" Kaminsky said.

"Doing the deal, if you're saying the deal is expensive, that's a different-" Karen said.

"What does it tell you that he had to go back from one of his paramount go/no-go criteria in order to do this deal? Did he feel such a pressure to do a deal-" Kaminsky said.

At that point Melissa Lee jumped in, agreeing with both but siding with Finerman. "I think that's a good point Gary because I do think that it's a flip-flop," Lee said. "But I tend to agree with Karen in terms of, I would find more trouble with the fact, that he did a deal with Burlington Northern, issued stock, which many people say was undervalued, and that's exactly what he pooh-poohed Kraft about."

"THAT's the issue," Karen said. "But the whole issue is the value of the stock. Not whether you buy it at a tenth of a share, a fiftieth of a share, that's totally irrelevant at the end of the day. If the, if the deal's expensive, then, then, then that is a flip-flop."

"Yeah," Kaminsky said, either conceding defeat or acknowledging the end of the argument.

Finerman & Kaminsky,
like oil & water Friday

One reason Karen Finerman and Gary Kaminsky might not have been on the same wavelength regarding Warren Buffett is because they were positively discombobulated in opening remarks.

"If we did not have global coordination on zero-percent interest rates after September 2008, there wouldn't even be this artificial recovery," Kaminsky said, in a lengthy point about expecations of higher interest rates. "How do we know there's a recovery?"

"You're saying he's gonna risk raising rates, Bernanke is gonna risk raising rates and threaten any economic recovery," Karen asked. "I'm not saying yes or no, I just wanna make sure that I understand what you're saying."

But Kaminsky didn't really have a chance to respond, because Joe Terranova jumped in on Karen's side and said "I'm looking at John Chambers, who's telling you right now, the landscape that he sees in the corporate world has never been better." (And John Chambers probably told us that in his Southern drawl in his uncharacteristically bullish commentary during that amazing Cisco earnings report recently, right.)

Kaminsky eventually did sort of agree that Karen's suggested premise was correct, that Bernanke eventually must raise rates to maintain credibility on the "global stage." He added, "He can't stay at zero-percent interest rates forever."

Getting down to business
with Guy Adami

While Gary Kaminsky was going toe-to-toe on just about any subject Friday, Guy Adami sensed things were getting a little carried away.

At one point, Adami said, "It's a great conversation, but this show has been predicated on what's the trade, so let's get away from daytime, and let's try to get a little back to 'Fast Money,' and the trades are things that have been working continue to work." He said those would include Raymond James and Jefferies — "that's where you wanna be."

Adami said the "cocktail's telling you the market wants to go lower," and by "cocktail," we didn't write this all down, but it's something about China, Greece, bank taxes. (To us, it's only as complicated as FCX and GOOG getting slammed in 2010.)

Adami noted that Ingersoll-Rand had a "big miss," and "guidance was, for the year, was miserable."

Regardin China, Adami said, "Joe makes the point, they are not tapping on the brakes, they are stepping on the brakes." He offered two ways to trade FCX. For longs, "Wait for a close above 75 and a half." But he said one can short as well right now with a stop at 75 and a half.

We still can't figure out what Adami has against the word "daytime," but then again, we can't figure out what N.Y. Post reference Brian Kelly was making to Adami's dining habits either.

‘Fast Money’ stars
wake up early

Joe Terranova, who at some point said he probably had a lot of "Fast Fire" candidates, admitted he sent Melissa Lee an e-mail at 5:30 a.m. Friday when he saw the China news.

"I could tell you were reaching for the Pepto Bismol," Lee said.

Terranova said "quantitative easing is actually working," but he said given the state of the markets, oil is the only commodity worth playing right now.

Charles Kantor of Neuberger Berman came on the "Fast Money" set essentially to tout Visa, and also Enbridge, a name Guy Adami finds appealing.

Gary Kaminsky said he finds the market in a "downward trend since October." He suggested, "Corporate bonds is (sic) a way you can make money in a rising interest-rate environment if you're in the right names."

Melissa Lee had nothing to do with CNBC's SI Swimsuit Issue promotions, but maybe there's a chance we'll see her modeling the Hoodie-Footie Snuggle Suit?

Maybe not.

Early start for Patty

If you were disappointed as we were that Patty Edwards wasn't on "Fast Money" Friday, you can catch Patty doing a brief segment of "Squawk on the Street" with the venerable Mark Haines and upstart Simon Hobbs. (At least for the time being, you'll initially see the ad for the Hoodie-Footie Snuggle Suit.)

We always like that shot of the Seattle skyline in the background at Patty's studio.

Patty was describing the state of the retail consumer and said "Things are still fairly subdued. It looks like people are still continuing to shop in the discount modes, and they're really not spending on the big-ticket items."

That was convincing enough for co-guest Stephen Gallagher, of SocGen, who said he had "not much of a debate with your, the previous commentator there."

Haines seems positively befuddled about the findings in electronic benefit cards, which Patty patiently explained to the viewers.

2 conclusions to Kaminsky’s
point about GS in 2008


It seemed the toughest call for Gary Kaminsky Friday on "Fast Money" was deciding whom he wanted to argue with more, Karen Finerman or Brian Kelly.

Kaminsky squared off with Kelly over whether European banks are a buy based on the pending Greece bailout.

Kaminsky says no. "When dilution is the solution, you're not at the bottom," he said.

Kelly argued that backstopping the banks is a positive sign.

Kaminsky disagreed. "Backing that is done at the government level for the companies that actually have to facilitate the movement of capital, it'll cost them more money. Simply put."

"I don't know, it worked out for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and JPMorgan!" Kelly scoffed.

"Worked out?!" Kaminsky retorted. "Look where, look where Goldman Sachs is today compared to where it was in 2008!"

We did. And that's a mixed bag if ever there was one.

According to Yahoo finance, GS' 2008 peak was made the first trading day of that year, Jan. 2, at $215.05.

It bottomed at $47.41 on Nov. 21.

If Kaminsky had said 2007, which some point to as the beginning marked by the Bear Stearns fund collapse, the plus-$200 GS values would make his point much less ambiguous.

So it all depends on whether we're in the November 2008 stage of this Greece crisis, in which case you probably want to be buying, or the January 2008 stage of the Greece crisis, in which you probably don't want to go long.

Jimmy Iuorio e-mailed in a response to the show, essentially backing Kaminsky. "The euro should tank no matter what path they choose," Iuorio said. Kelly said he disagrees with Iuorio on gold.

Eventually, Kelly said, "Gary we still love ya on this side of the river."

(Note: There were more references to Carl Icahn as Karen's "boyfriend." This is a term of endearment Karen uses for Icahn; she is married to someone else.)

Thankfully, he did not say
‘it’s deja vu all over again’

Zachary Karabell showed up Friday on "Fast Money" and proceeded to stomp right through the China bears' arguments.

At one point, for a trade, he said "Buy Cisco. You know, that industrial buildout in China is also a technology-routing industrial buildout."

Whew — we feared for a moment he was going to say, "Buy Cisco — those Ellen Page commercials where the Lunenburg Academy kids do teleconferencing with the Chinese schoolkids both in daytime even though they're 13 hours apart are really convincing."

Karabell said to ignore the bubble talk.

"It's not a bubble I say," Karabell said. "There's a level at which my deja vu is having deja vu about this dicussion about is China now gonna head for a hard landing. We had this discussion in 2005, we had it in 2006, you all just referred to the rate increases in 2007 which had no discernible effect on the overall arc of China's intense economic growth although it did lead to some moderate cooling in areas of the country where it was inefficient. So, you can have pockets of inefficiency with an overall growth story that remains intact. And I think essentially what the bears are doing is they're applying a kind of Internet bubble/U.S. housing bubble model to a country where it makes absolutely no sense to apply that model."

Karabell said he's in Dennis Gartman's camp (we didn't know Gartman had a camp on this subject) on the purported Chinese real estate bubble, saying it's a very low-debt population and while some may be flipping condos, most people are renting apartments.

Joe Terranova asked about the household debt ratios in China. "It may be zero, plus a little. I mean, there is very few credit cards," Karabell said. "Certainly doesn't matter for a U.S. investor unless you're planning to go move to Shanghai and buy condominium units."

As for trades, Karabell invoked a term that journalists hate. "I'm still 'buy what China buys as an economy'," he said, "especially in light of the fact that the bears keep pooh-poohing it." He noted that Guy Adami might not be on board with FCX below $75.50, but then there is VALE, a "good opportunity to get in to Vale at like 25, 26."

Other names he added: "I like Fluor a lot ... Fluor doesn't have any issues ... China Mobile is getting interesting ... SINA ... Wu Mart, it was not named Wu-Mart coincidentally."

Melissa Lee joked about the title of Karabell's recent book, Superfusion (followed by extended phrasing), but the Funniest Person on "Fast Money," Karen Finerman, said "Just flows right off the tongue."

Bill Strazzullo,
back with a vengeance

Bill Strazzullo, one of our favorite chartists if not the favorite chartist of CNBCfix, sketched out some troubling scenarios for bulls on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Friday.

"I don't think you can stick a fork in the March rally and say it's over, but we see our first evidence here that we may be putting in a top," Strazzullo said. He also said, "On the way down, I think you probably have more risk in the Nasdaq than you do in the Dow and S&P."

And, there was this on the XLF trading below $14: "It's a negative sign for the market as a whole."

So what's the trade? "I'm a seller from 1,076 to 1,084 in the March S&P, put a closing stop above 1,094, look to take profit at 1,050," Strazzullo said.

JJ Kinahan also was paying attention to the XLF, saying there were "big buyers in the February, and the March 14 puts, very aggressively," but as you've heard Pete Najarian say a million times, that can be either a good or bad thing.

Steve Grasso said people were turning to tech on Friday only because they don't trust other sectors and feel tech is the strongest or safest. Grasso said, "China's closed next week; I'm a seller of this market until we trade above 1,100."

Tim Seymour wasn't really going to any extremes Friday, but did say, "China's not the problem today" — it's the rest of the world, notably Greece and Europe. "China's not slowing down," he added. "I don't think the market really knows how to factor the, the China demand on copper. There's no question they're stockpiling."

Scott Redler, who didn't have a chance to debate Tim Seymour about spin class, was actually sounding bullish. "Now the market seems to be buying bad news," Redler said. "I continue to be a buyer as long as 1,060 holds, that's my short term floor in this market."

[Thursday, February 11, 2010]

Buy now! Coast is clear!

All it took Thursday was a 100-point day in the Dow to ignite the "Fast Money" Momentum Machine.

Monday, the price action was "horrible," Dennis Gartman feared a "lot more" than a 10% correction, and you'd think the world was about to end.

By Thursday, suddenly everything was looking like a raging buy ... Commodities are suddenly "supply and demand — buy it," according to Jon Najarian. "Guidance on demand for coal to China is still incredible," according to Tim Seymour. "The ag trade I believe is coming back," according to Joe Terranova. RIMM's 3% gain was an "unbelievable trade" that "blasted" through $68 and for AAPL the "path of least resistance" is to $205, according to Scott Redler, who said Google could be the next tech name to be so unbelievable. "I think the correction is still gonna happen, but I just think for the next couple days you might see some, uh, clear sailing," said Guy Adami, in response to a Debbie Downer question from Gary in Memphis.

Melissa Lee, new hairstyle.
Karen Finerman, new outfit.

During a "Fast Money" episode of virtually nothing but inside jokes and relentless market optimism, viewers did not hear anything about what they probably wanted to hear most — how Melissa Lee came up with that sexy new hairstyle.

Brian Kelly said he knows where Guy Adami eats because he reads the Post's Page Six, a reference that escapes us. Guy Adami for some reason kept trying to call Scott Redler "Greg Lemond." Redler mentioned using "spin class" to unwind and said "you guys should try it," which drew jeers from Tim Seymour, prompting Redler to make a joke about Seymour and Terranova delivering punches in tutus or something like that.

Guy Adami did a segment on the ultimate insidery trade, Cablevision, with references to the Dolans and MSG and the Rangers that skated by most viewers.

The only person to deliver actual humor was the Funniest Person on "Fast Money," Karen Finerman. After Christopher A. Zook in Texas trashed commercial real estate and explained how he was "substantially short," Karen cracked wise on Debbie Downer by suggesting the moment be called "Debbie Does Dallas." Then as others snickered, the camera caught Karen beaming. Beautiful.

Apparently the "Fast Money" brass is making another push toward viewer questions, and the e-mail bin is running a bit dry, because Melissa Lee reiterated again Thursday that "We do read all those messages out there."

Hints of Debbie Downer

Alas, there was actually some pessimism on "Fast Money" Thursday. Not, of course, for Melissa Lee's royal blue top over smart black skirt, but for a few select sectors in the stock market.

Christopher A. Zook slammed commercial realty and said upcoming earnings will struggle to meet whisper numbers. Scott Redler pointed to ongoing lethargy in financials. "We rallied today, but it lacked punch," he said, explaining that if Goldman Sachs gets to $160, it could take the whole market higher.

The discussion on Greece was uninteresting and repetitive, but Tim Seymour did say instead of the "P.I.I.G.S." terminology, "The nicer term is the Club Med economies."

Realizing why we hate the
Ellen Page Cisco commercials

Amusing that during an episode in which Brian Kelly touts Sysco, viewers also hear from Cisco, in the form of one of those Ellen Page commercials.

We really don't have an opinion on the effectiveness of the commercials, only that the Chinese classroom hookup seems a stretch on many levels.

But Thursday it suddenly hit us why these commercials are unlikable. At the end of each, there's a very snarky-sounding woman's voice that says "The new community. See it. Live it. Share it. On the human network. Cisco."

It's hard to get any cuter than Ellen Page. But we don't like snarky around here.

Gordon sees possible
‘vacuum’ in FCX

The most exciting part of Thursday's "Halftime Report" was Dennis Gartman calling Melissa Lee "Michelle."

"As long as it's not an insult, I'm OK with it," Lee said.

Otherwise, Gartman said, "I would not tell anybody at this point to come in and sell the euro short ... you'll get a bounce ... the euro is clearly oversold at this point."

Mike Gurka said some people who have shorted the euro are still hanging on, "they feel there's more room out there."

Jon Najarian told Lee, "I never thought the sovereign debt was as big a deal, and that's what I said on your show last Thursday night in fact."

Guy Adami said Europe is a "slippery slope," and Thursday's rally is a "natural bounce off an oversold market."

Todd Gordon attributed the commodity rally to the "floor" that's under the euro now.

Melissa Lee pointed to a "conundrum" between the dollar and commodity trades such as X. Guy Adami called the market action a "relief rally" and said Todd Gordon would have more details on FCX, which is looking better, but "I won't get bullish until it closes above 75 and a half."

"Guy, you can be my wing man any time," Gordon said. Gordon said if FCX can reach $74, which it did later, "we might have a nice little vacuum move up to around 80."

Jon Najarian said he expects to "test down to the low-20 numbers for the VIX next week." He likes the casinos.

Guy Adami predicted the market would "fizzle out" into the close but said Karen Finerman will be back on the set after taking the red-eye from California.

[Wednesday, February 10, 2010]

‘Greece is the word’ is heard
all the time on CNBC now

Dennis Gartman on "Fast Money" Wednesday offered a frightening forecast.

"I think that, the high, the best of the commodity market is behind us," Gartman said, adding there are "very difficult circumstances ahead."

He did say he probably wouldn't short copper at this point, and that oil is still subject to supply disruptions, and the fact there was "almost a coup in Nigeria today" went way undernoticed by the market. (He also said Nigeria produces the world's best crude oil.)

Gartman said "I'm long dollars, Australian and Canadian dollars. I'm short euro, I'm short Sterling, on a cross basis."

Gartman said not to expect a statement from Germany or the EU on Greece Thursday, but that Germany and France must agree on some resolution. "There'll be some sort of a bailout," he said.

Tim Seymour again railed against the derivatives element to the Greece problem, calling it "very scary territory ... It's shocking this market's not regulated."

Gartman said if there's no bailout, it's a problem, but assuming there is a bailout, that's a problem too. Steve Grasso decided "it doesn't sound like there's a bull scenario here ... It's a negative-negative."

Terranova is absolutely right

Dennis Gartman wasn't just negative on commodities Wednesday, but banks.

"I find it difficult to be very bullish on the, on the, the uh financials at this point," he said, because with all the regulation signals sent by Washington to Wall Street, "they don't know what is actually going to happen."

Later, Steve Grasso said, "I don't think this market can move effectively higher without the financials. I know it did in the fourth quarter."

We found that highly interesting, not only because it conflicts with an ongoing argument from Zachary Karabell, but because virtually no one on "Fast Money" in 2010 bothers to note that all the big financials peaked in early October.

Traders seem convinced that the Obama tax and "Volcker plan" converged to suddenly sink the banks, when in fact they were dogs in the fall while names like AMZN, GOOG, AAPL, BTU were speeding ahead.

Joe Terranova was asked to defend JPMorgan. Terranova said every day you show up to trade, there's a risk.

Presidential politics
with Bob Pisani

"Fast Money" traders were talking Wednesday about the Obama administration's impact on banking stocks, and Bob Pisani made sure we weren't going to get another Gasparino-Lee "community organizer/borderline socialist" event.

"He is the clouds (sic) in the financial world," said Pete Najarian.

"I wanna emphasize, you're not making political statements here," Pisani quickly jumped in.

Evidently not. Apparently.

"You see him on television, traders sell the market," said Steve Grasso, referring to the president, not Pisani.

Pisani later, during "Pops & Drops," exhibited some rookie mistakes with the script when he declared a pop for what sounded like "Dubai-yuh," making us think he was referring to the Dubai emirate.

In fact, he was referring to George W. Bush, and apparently isn't too familiar with the nickname "Dubya."

Grasso apparently
already had a TV

Pete Najarian said Wednesday the lack of volume was the most telling indicator of the stock market, it "just wasn't there."

Steve Grasso said traders are the only ones playing, "slower money guys ... aren't really into this market now."

Grasso also said, "It's 1,060. That's the 150-day moving average in the S&P. That's what everyone is watching right now." His conclusion: "This market is poised to go lower."

Gary Kaminsky placed a phone call to the set and talked about his three-point plan for a bull market recovery. One of those elements, expectation of higher rates, may be in the works, but Kaminsky noted M&A and a healthy IPO market are seriously missing.

"Nothing changed on interest-rate policy today, and the market's reaction was appropriate," said Tim Seymour.

Steve Grasso said on the "Web Extra" that GLW benefitted from pre-Super Bowl TV buying and ran up into earnings and is now a short. Tim Seymour asked Grasso if he made it back from Wal-Mart with his TV in time to watch the game. Grasso said a thought crossed his mind as far as a reply to that, but it's supposed to be a family show.

Pete plays Debbie Downer
with 2 viewer questions

Bob Pisani said Wednesday that "nearly 10% of the S&P 500 have raised their dividend in the last two months." Pete Najarian said Pisani did a "phenomenal job" of pointing that out.

Tim Seymour continued to insist of X, "It's a broken stock, but it's been overdone." Joe Terranova gave Seymour what we consider a mostly undeserved hard time about BIDU.

Pete Najarian talked about Internet search data and said "You gotta be excited for bing."

Pete also ended up on the receiving end (he wasn't a receiver in the NFL, but linebacker) of two viewer e-mail questions.

Chris in California asked about ETFC. "I don't know that that would be my favorite name," Pete said, even though he later said "love the name," but too many issues. So he's not recommending, but he loves the name.

Irene in New York asked about Under Armour. Remember in the early days of "Fast Money" when Jeff Macke and Jonathan Vilma did that ridiculous stare-down over UA? Pete said that while UA is "starting to get more competitive," NKE is the stock that "continues to perform," and UA might be best-advised to get out of the shoe business.

For those eager to know
how the Aussie trade worked

Todd Gordon said he didn't want to use the term "dumb money," but he recommended currency traders "wait for the bounce in euro to get short."

As for himself, he said, "I prefer to be short the Australian dollar," and he spent the evening Twittering about how the aussie "exploded."

Joe Terranova said because so much is happening with Greece, the best advice is "staying away from the dollar trade."

ETF expert Tom Lydon made an appearance basically not to discuss ETFs so much but pin a direction on the dollar. He said of the UUP, "more money's flowing in, I think it's going higher." Joe Terranova asked for ETF plays on corporate bonds, and Lydon touted HYG.

In case you were wondering
about orange juice futures...

The "Fast Money Halftime Report" Wednesday felt like one of those days when you're struggling to get a decent reception with your car radio on the highway, and eventually stumble onto some talk show somewhere, only to quickly lose it but not feel really too broken up.

Technical glitches abounded. There were hardly any trades for about five minutes, unless you count Jared Levy's examination of the orange juice "pennant" chart, which Bob Pisani noted doesn't do viewers much good because they're not going to rush out to the grocery store and profit by buying orange juice, prompting Levy to clarify that "if anything you'd be selling them."

Levy, however, did say he likes Mosaic, ConAgra and ADM. "I believe the whole market is trading a lot on technicals," he said. He offered a specific trade on MAR, "I'd be doing a 24/20 bull-put spread .. I believe it stays above 24."

Brian Kelly said of the markets, "I think you're just looking at a relief rally," and buyers have to be very selective. "You can't just get long beta in this environment."

Joe Terranova said while it might be possible to play copper from the short side, "Oil and energy, I think you gotta stay long with it."

Tim Seymour said VALE looks long-term good, but "in the short term I'd stay short." He would add, "dollar's going higher."

Scott Nations said not to get excited about Fed remarks. "There's nothing new here."

[Tuesday, February 9, 2010]

A suggestion
for Sarah Palin

We noticed Sarah Palin has been in the news this week for something fairly silly: writing notes on the palm of her hand.

Palin remains very popular to some and a butt of jokes to others.

Would the jokes cease if, perhaps, Sarah Palin were to declare that, under her watch, Goldman Sachs, Citi, etc., can do whatever they want with their bonuses, but there would be no more bank bailouts?

This site is not endorsing nor rejecting that position. That's the deep end of the political commentary pool, and we're not swimming there.

Rather, a healthy debate on the subject would be a nice change from the Bush-Obama administration that taps the spigot of endless government involvement from Wall Street to Kandahar.

Trading model

Melissa Lee looked great in her gray dress over white blouse. But given that Tuesday seemed to be Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Day at CNBC, we were hoping Lee might "bottom-line" the conversation by perhaps posing on the "Fast Money" set in her bikini.

Didn't happen.

Hey, don't blame us for thinking about it. The show airs Victoria's Secret footage all the time. Ratings would've been off the charts. But maybe it's a little bit over the top.

‘Copper is like
the Madoff moment’

Commodity analyst David Threlkeld delivered on "Fast Money" Tuesday a scary copper scenario.

Threlkeld predicted a crash from the roughly $3 a pound it fetches now, to $1 a pound, based on Chinese excess. And he even invoked Bernie Madoff.

Melissa Lee asked how Threlkeld gets a 2 million-ton oversupply.

"Basic simple analysis," Threlkeld said. "And that is that, last year copper consumption in China was 5 million tons, Chinese copper production was 4 million tons, their imports were 3 million tons.

"I'm saying that copper is like the Madoff moment," he added. "The only difference between a Ponzi scheme and a market bubble is the market bubble has a product."

Melissa Lee, visibly skeptical throughout, asked, "Who then is the Bernie Madoff who's making money off of this?"

"Don't assume it's the Chinese that, that are holding it," Threlkeld said. "One can ship copper to China, retain ownership, put it in bonded warehouse..."

Tim Seymour was roaring disagreement. "Even if China is stockpiling copper, it's coming out of the market," he said.

Lee asked Threlkeld for a $1 catalyst, and timeline. "I do not know what triggers it," he said. "It might indeed happen this year."

"That's so far out on the edge of where anybody's predicting copper to be," Seymour said.

Terranova: Government
won’t let Dow fall 3,000 points

Melissa Lee decided to serve up a double dose of Debbie Downer Tuesday, conducting a short session on Dow Theory chartist Richard Russell's prediction of a 3,000-point drop.

Not surprisingly, the panelist who finds Russell's prediction most interesting is the one who defends his credentials the most.

"This guy's been writing Dow Theory letters since 1958, it's the oldest service continuously written by one person in the industry. And he's been right a number of times so don't discount him completely," said Guy Adami, who noted other bears have pointed to resistance at the 10,722 level. "A lot of people think this is going a lot lower. We'll see. I don't think it's going that low, but I'm sort of in his camp."

Everyone else was shaking their heads.

"Absolutely not. We are clearly recovering, this isn't armageddon like it was last year," said Joe Terranova. Terranova even invoked a mysterious, presumably governmental, team in charge of such problems. "Plunge Protection Team — I believe in the Plunge Protection Team, they would never let that happen," Terranova said.

Pete Najarian managed to recommend people buy puts if such a scenario seems unfolding while scoffing at the prospects of said scenario the whole time. "Broken clock is right twice a day, Guy," Pete said.

"You just got broken-clocked on national TV," said Tim Seymour, who evidently "bottom-lined" the discussion.

We have no opinion on 3,000 points; that's way beyond our expertise. We find it odd, though, that others such as Dennis Gartman have recently predicted "a lot more" than 10% and not gotten such flak. The truth is that the stock market of 2010 is, so far, a disaster. (This writer is long SDS.)

Seymour: Individual nations
can do bailouts, not the EU

Tim Seymour offered some helpful facts about the EU on Tuesday.

"The rules are, that the ECB cannot bail out a single member country. Uh, an individual EU member could," Seymour said.

But he cautioned that if Germany backs Greece, "The market is then gonna go after Portugal and Spain."

Joe Terranova was in traders' no-man's land. "Yesterday's performance was horrific," he said, and despite Tuesday's recovery, "I don't think you can establish a sentiment either way."

Tuesday’s Prop Desk disaster

Viewers know the "Fast Money Prop Desk" has virtually become a joke. Tuesday, it didn't take long for the snickering, as Mike Khouw couldn't even begin talking without an audio glitch that forced Melissa Lee to cut him off and move on.

Outlined against a blue-green set ...

About the only thing more uninteresting than the "Fast Money" coverage of Disney's earnings was the CNBC promotion of it. Pete Najarian said something about buying some shares in advance, and it was kind of flat, but he wasn't expecting this to be an explosive type of trade or anything. Then Dr. J did the remote thing with headset that just looked plain Goofy.

And did we really need to see the earlier videotape of Pete making some kind of DIS statement?

Pete was equally indecisive about put-buying in PBR; explaining people were buying the puts, but he wasn't sure if they were bullish bets or bearish bets. Tim Seymour defended the name, saying "Petrobras is rarely this cheap."

Joe Terranova for whatever reason felt compelled to tell a very uninteresting story about getting stopped out on oil futures, calling it "beyond frustrating."

Melissa Lee read a viewer question from S-S from Florida asking Joe Terranova about Ford's ability to gain from Toyota's troubles. Lee, by the way, is obviously skeptical of buying TM here, evidenced by her eagerness to make the "Ford was down 23% a year after the Firestone thing" point again. Terranova said instead of F, look at JCI.

"I didn't think the action in the banks was that impressive," said Guy Adami.

Tim Seymour said BIDU might have some air in its post-close gains, "The volatility in this name is insane."

Henry Cisneros dropped by for a chat about housing. Guy Adami asked, metaphorically, about letting forest fires burn and allowing the forest to heal on its own. Cisneros said when you do that with housing prices, a lot of people get hurt. Cisneros described "Fast Money" as "Melissa and the Four Horsemen."

Todd Gordon looking
for short opportunities

Melissa Lee on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Tuesday introduced Zach Karabell as "sort of the international guy" and asked for a statement on Greece.

"Big picture, I don't think Greece is gonna default any more than Dubai was gonna default in the fall any more than it mattered whether Iceland defaulted eight months ago," Karabell said. "But obviously the credit markets get a little bit worried about these things, because, they, people raise some cash and the equity markets are a nice piggy bank for panicked credit markets. Which means, in my view, if you believe in the fundamentals of a lot of corporate earnings, which I do, and that the global growth story is intact, which I do, you use this as an opportunity to get in because Greece is not going under."

It seemed like it took forever for Melissa Lee to get to Patty Edwards, and when Lee finally did, she prefaced her question with a rather curious qualifier.

Lee said consumer discretionary names are in Edwards' "wheelhouse," and if the market has "turned the corner" and the correction is "off the table," would Patty be delving in to those names.

It seems here that if the market has turned the corner and the correction is done — quite a leap to make at the moment — shouldn't one be buying anything high-beta?

Anyway, Patty said under those circumstances she would indeed be going long select names. "I like the dividends. I like the safety of things like Coca-Cola and McDonald's, getting what, 3% just to hold 'em," Edwards said. "Some of these big uglies are actually going to have a, a winner in the beauty contest."

Todd Gordon on the other hand is using rallies an opportunity to go the other direction. "I'm actually starting to go towards the short side," Gordon said. "About 10,097 is my first upside level, then we go up to 10,133. ... if we can get a move up to this level, I'd like to get short."

Brian Kelly, who delivered fine commentary but was given so much time on the phone that we barely heard from Patty Edwards, was in Gordon's camp. He called the market gains a "relief rally" and said of the euro boost, "I don't think it's sustained." He said Greece is problematic even if the dollar amount isn't enormous because "the only way to get out of this problem is either to print euros or cut spending."

Pete Najarian for whatever reason was asked to comment on Goldman Sachs, as though there's a daily commitment to say something about Goldman Sachs. Pete said GS is in a "trading range." He said financials in general remain jittery. "The second anything negative in the market comes up you can see that volatility spike," he said.

Zach Karabell, who looked skeptical during Kelly's comments, said people who were looking to the Eurozone or financials for market leadership have been looking in the wrong direction anyway, and this is "noise" obscuring opportunities in other more promising areas.

Todd Gordon pointed to Spain and Portgual, "This thing is not done yet."

Lee asked Kelly to "bottom-line this for us."

Pete Najarian was a rosy optimist on BTU, pointing to the ongoing China story with coal, copper steel. "Will that continue? A lot of folks are saying yes," Pete said.

Tim Seymour said on the "Fast Money Final Call" with Maria Bartiromo that people need to be careful around Tuesday's rally; he doesn't think Germany can necessarily bail out all of these Eurozone countries that need it, and he thinks there are other headwinds in the market besides Greece.

[Monday, February 8, 2010]

CNBCfix: As verbatim as it gets

Zach Karabell is quoted in a Barron's blog item about the holdings of China Investment Corp.

But take the word "quoted" with a grain of salt.

Barron's cites CNBC's Lee Brodie quoting Karabell as saying: "I’d buy what China is buying as a economy rather than buy what China is buying as an investment corporation."

We noted (see below) Karabell actually said he would "buy what China is buying as an economy, not buy what China is buying as an investment corporation."

Big difference? Not really, unless you count the fact "a economy" managed to slip by both the CNBC.com editors and the Barron's crew who obviously were in cut-and-paste mode and didn't bother to watch the actual segment and accurately quote Karabell as we do here all the time.

We sometimes think it's a little rough to include in this review all the "um, uh, I-I-I, you know" mumblings uttered on live TV. The fact is, that's what they say. Would they prefer we just type in what we think we recall them saying, or think they might've said, or just cut-and-paste from some other site probably doing just that?

Who knows, maybe when we start getting paid, we'll figure out how to do this thing.

Can’t live with ’em,
can’t live without ’em

Zach Karabell tackles the growing tension between the United States and China in another Time article, but honestly, there aren't a whole lot of new points made here.

How come Goldman Sachs stars
don’t appear on ‘Fast Money’?

Something about "Fast Money" has been gnawing at us for a little while.

We're fairly certain that no analyst from Goldman Sachs has ever appeared on the show, at least in 2009-2010.

Nor, to our knowledge, has anyone from Morgan Stanley.

The same is almost true for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. But BAC/Merrill "clean technology" expert Steve Milunovich did pay the show a visit Aug. 20. There may been others that we overlooked in a quick check.

Citigroup, on the other hand, can't seem to get enough exposure on "Fast Money." It's Mark Mahaney, Kimberly Greenberger, Jim Suva, Debbie Weinswig, etc. At least that's some small return on your TARP investment.

Kaminsky on AMZN, again

Gary Kaminsky on "Fast Money" Monday revisited a point we recalled carping about in October, and again in December.

"You know, I tried to make a point in the fall about Amazon that I think did not get directly, I didn't explain it correct, which was that Amazon was a stock, that late in 2009 it was impossible for money managers to initiate a new position in Amazon," Kaminsky said. "You couldn't say to your clients, 'Well, I'm gonna buy Amazon here, I've missed it all year.' Amazon has underperformed on a relative basis, and it's performed that, you know, an absolute basis, the last eight weeks. I don't understand the whole valuation on the company, like Karen does, has said many times, but, this is a stock that now, you've gone through this two-month period, where if you didn't own it, you can somehow rationalize now why you want to get into the name. So if it does stabilize technically, you may want to think about initiating a position here because it is not over-owned ... this is not over-owned the way it was in the October-November meltup."

We didn't recall the specific original point, so we looked at the archive.

Kaminsky on Oct. 23 said, "If you do initiate a position right now, you better have some great rationale as to why you missed it for the last year." That day, AMZN soared about $25 to close at $118.

The part about explaining to clients, Kaminsky obviously has far more expertise in that department than we do (zero). What we didn't, and still don't, understand is why it matters whether a fund manager owned the stock prior to Oct. 23.

If you're the client, and you're so in-tune with this stuff that you're A) keeping tabs on what your adviser has not owned all year and B) are disgruntled that he's suddenly plowing into AMZN on Oct. 23, then C) shouldn't you just be managing your money yourself after D) congratulating said manager for making you money on a trade you dislike?

In fact, if the fund manager did buy on Oct. 23, that was a great call, because it jumped another 5% the next day and hit $145 in early December, a monster gain for six weeks.

Again, we're not pros, but we have to disagree with Kaminsky's point Monday that "late in 2009 it was impossible for money managers to initiate a new position in Amazon." Obviously, many of them were; the stock still traded at $142, right near the 52-week high, on Dec. 29.

Kaminsky's points on Amazon have also clashed with his colleagues', who regularly claimed in the fall that the market would continue to rise on "chase for performance" and not stall over reluctance to initiate new positions in winners.

We think the terms "over-owned" and "under-owned" are also dubious, but we have no qualms about Kaminsky's bottom-line point, similar to Guy Adami's, which is that Amazon might be trading around a good level to get in, even though our (amateur) gut thinks it'll test the south side of triple digits. (This writer has no position in AMZN.)

Collins Stewart plays contrarian

Guy Adami had a more specific, immediate point about Amazon on Monday than Gary Kaminsky.

Melissa Lee noted that Collins Stewart raised its AMZN price target to $150 based partly on the Kindle.

Adami pointed to Amazon's roller-coaster ride and said "these are just not buy and hold names, you gotta be clever."

He mentioned the $113.82 recent low on Feb. 1 and said he wished it had touched $106, but nevertheless, "that appeared to be sell-side capitulation," and "that's as good a point of reference as I've seen in Amazon over the last couple months."

Doesn't sound like a trade recommendation with the most conviction behind it, but there you go.

Melissa Lee watched the
Super Bowl, but where?

Melissa Lee said Monday she found the Google Super Bowl ad "staggering" — and not really in a good way.

"If they ran this ad in 2000, it would've been up to date. It didn't highlight any of Google's latest, greatest new technology, it's old-fashioned search at an old-fashioned PC. It wasn't even a mobile search. I mean that was just staggering to me," Lee said.

But the bigger story here was how Gary Kaminsky saw an opening to wrap this particular ad into his own thesis involving Google's competition from Apple.

"This may be stretching it a bit," Kaminsky said, "but maybe, maybe, Google is so concerned about maintaining their dominance in their core business of search that they actually wanted to use this as an opportunity to remind people with all the new things they're trying to do, that they've got this core competency. ... I continue to believe that, what's happening with Amazon, and what's happening with Apple, I've said it now for a month, it's all about disintermediating search and having customers come directly to them."

Tim Seymour briefly discussed how the China market could be non-explosive for GOOG. "Google can be fine in China at 20% but people expecting that to be their market need to now count on India," he said.

Guy Adami liked the Google ad, but Pete Najarian scoffed. "It puts you to sleep."

The daily ‘Prop Desk’
train wreck

The latest dubious moment from the "Fast Money Prop Desk" occurred Monday when Brian Kelly and Melissa Lee debated on-air over whether the euro was declining or finding a bottom.

Chart evidence seemed to support Lee, but Kelly insisted it was settling, with Asian buyers, over the last few minutes. He pointed to the dollar on the .DXY chart and said "I can see it pull back to 78 on this."

Whatever "this" is, we're not fully certain.

Later, Kelly said that in delivering a tip on the health of the U.S. economy, "I'm giving away the recipe for the secret sauce here."

He said the secret is lumber futures, doing great since the last quarter of 2009, and mentioned PCL. (He also mentioned this "secret" trade Nov. 18.)

Guy Adami said Lennar must've gone up Monday because Kelly was buying it "on the lumber futures he was smokin'."

Gary Kaminsky got a question from a Houston viewer, Barry, who wondered why homebuilders are getting bid up while banks are struggling. Kaminsky said he didn't have a good answer, that people like to plow into an "early cyclical name" such as a homebuilder six months before a recovery really happens.

This is why symbols are best
left to the graphics guys

Maybe Brian Kelly just isn't ready for big-time "Fast Money."

Kelly actually offered a perfectly sensible "pairs trade" in the video game sector. "You wanna buy Akamai, AKMI (sic), and sell GameStop, and the reason why, is AK, Akamai, they make the products and the pieces on the software that make downloading better and faster. GameStop sells your packaged-good product."

It was Guy Adami who astutely noted on-air that the symbol Kelly went out of his way to mention should've actually been AKAM.

Not surprisingly, Pete Najarian said AKAM options "are very, very cheap right now."

Wendy yes, Karen no

Dennis Gartman curiously returned to the "Fast Money" set after his opening commentary to talk about how he shorted Pepsi a while back, how it's done quite well, and he's finally reached the point where he's going to unwind it and short Coke instead.

Pete Najarian discussed Medivation for a while, a "binary" type of trade according to Melissa Lee, and we really don't know anything about it, maybe it'll go up or maybe it'll go down.

Analyst Steven Halper came on to discuss drugstores, specifically CVS, a huge favorite of Karen Finerman, with a positive outlook. Gary Kaminsky asked about the CVS overlap with Walgreens. Halper said about 40% of their markets overlap.

Guy Adami actually touted a lousy movie, "Perfect World." He said "go rent the movie, Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood. ... Finerman knows it because she's in the movie business."

We were puzzled. We don't recall seeing any evidence that Karen has done anything in Hollywood. We looked up IMDB.com, sort of the bible of this stuff (and also an Amazon product, we think), and saw no movie credits, producer or otherwise, for Karen, unlike her sister.

Dennis Gartman: Expect
‘a lot more than 10% correction’

Dennis Gartman issued a very somber market forecast on "Fast Money" Monday.

"I think we're in for a lot more than a 10% correction," Gartman said. "I fear what's coming. It doesn't make me happy to say that."

Guy Adami concurred that was possible. "If Goldman closes below 148, then I think you're in full bear-market mode," Adami said.

Gary Kaminsky has been in this camp. "The redemptions in equity funds continue," Kaminsky said Monday. "The cash on the sidelines ... it's not coming in to stocks."

Pete Najarian said Friday's bounce was really a "lot of short covering." On the plus side, Najarian said, the VIX indicates there's "not really a lot of fear right now." He said he doesn't see any reason to rush in to financials such as GS, XLF, JPM, and that "you wanna be away probably" from those names.

Tim Seymour said "Friday was a case in point" that the government perhaps only cares about 10,000 Dow and 10.0% unemployment.

Kaminsky touts CVS, WAG

Gary Kaminsky stepped up to the plate Monday afternoon on the "Fast Money Final Call" with Maria Bartiromo, and repeated a thesis regularly heard by "Fast Money" viewers.

In January, "there wasn't much cash on the sidelines," Kaminsky said. "The compelling reasons aren't there" for being in equities.

He has mentioned Walgreens in the last couple of weeks, and Monday added a Karen Finerman favorite, CVS, which had a big day.

"They've been able to get bigger, while the mom and pop stores have suffered," he said.

Kaminsky said those names probably won't go up if the general market climbs, because they are not high-beta. But he thinks there's low chance of that.

We realized, watching football highlights all weekend, Kaminsky resembles late Kansas City Chiefs legend Hank Stram.

‘Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are ya? It’s a free market ... and you’re a part of it’

Zach Karabell sounded like the ultimate free marketer during a remarkably plain-vanilla "Fast Money Halftime Report" Monday.

Karabell was asked by Melissa Lee about China Investment Corporation's list of stock picks, which he said wasn't particularly helpful, but not because of government ideology.

"Hey I'm happy to follow the advice of a communist country, an autocratic country, a democratic country, a free flow collective, a Monty Python-governed society, as long as it works, so I, I really don't care that they're communists," Karabell said.

Karabell said he would "buy what China is buying as an economy, not buy what China is buying as an investment corporation."

Waffling was on the menu for Monday's panelists. "I'm seeing actually a lack of commitment on either side," said Jon Najarian, who added, "I think we wait on the financials."

Joe Terranova said JPM seems like something he'd like to buy, but it's "incredibly unknown right now in the financial space."

Todd Gordon couldn't seem to make up his mind which direction the stock market was going. "I wanna target that 1080 level," he said. "We need to wait for the close."

Karabell described it as "good" that a bunch of market leading sectors have been bludgeoned in 2010. "I think it's a good sign that those names which have been leading the market most of last year have corrected," he said, but those looking for a short-term pop should realize "the next month is gonna be tough for catalysts."

Karabell said he dislikes the semiconductor ETFs because it lumps in the specialty names with the mass market names, who have different outlooks.

(The headline on this entry comes from Gordon Gekko, not Karabell or anyone on this edition of the "Fast Money Halftime Report.")

Pete called it

We didn't bother to mention it Friday, perhaps because this site's own football picks have been horrid.

But Pete Najarian essentially picked the Saints to win the Super Bowl.

"Who dat, keep an eye on those Saints," Najarian said Friday in the "Final Trade" segment. "Drew Brees and the boys, they can do it."

Joe Terranova was then heard to utter, "Go Colts."

[Friday, February 5, 2010]

‘Fraction’ meant 9/100th

Gary Kaminsky was purportedly buzzing in to "Fast Money" on Friday to explain what the market needs to turn bullish.

Before that happened, he got a bit of a gift from Mary Thompson.

Thompson's breaking news report on Lloyd Blankfein's $9 million bonus gave Kaminsky a chance to crow about a point he made Monday, under the guise of attributing it to Melissa Lee.

"Let me give us a little kudos," Kaminsky said. "I think on the 'Halftime' we said point-blank, that it was gonna be a fraction of that ridiculous hundred million dollars for Goldman, so, so those that were watching "Fast Money" knew this news, if it's gonna make a difference to Goldman, they knew this on Monday, so let's, let's give ourselves (myself) a little credit there."

Lee wasn't terribly impressed with that. "All right let's get back on point on the markets Gary, what are you seeing so far."

"I'm just giving you credit Melissa, Happy Friday," Kaminsky said, semi-cracking us up.

"Actually it was your call Gary, so kudos to you," Lee said. "Let's get back on point though."

Not only was it Gary's call, but it was Lee who rightly tried to get him to adequately define "fraction" for the purposes of his report, but that didn't happen.

Actually a "Fast Money" chart explaining Kaminsky's points for the key elements of a bull run summarized it best:

1. M&A activity
2. IPO secondaries stabilize
3. Fed starts chatter about tightening

Kaminsky isn't impressed with activity in the first two elements, "This week alone there was two very sloppy secondaries in the master limited partnership space."

Joe Terranova said he disagreed with Kaminsky that the highs are put in for the year.

"I continue to think the dollar's gonna move up," Kaminsky insisted. He said Friday had a nice bounce, but "This is not the beginning of another leg up."

Why don’t we all try to be
as smart as Goldman Sachs?

Karen Finerman questioned the timing of the Goldman Sachs bonus news.

"The timing, 4:57 on a Friday night," Karen said. "They're in the middle of the worst P.R., you know, nightmare."

Guy Adami jumped in. "Instead of vilifying Goldman Sachs, why don't we all try to be as smart as the people there and ramp up our game? Put that on your headline tomorrow," Adami said.

We did.

Terranova recommends
high-beta next week

Joe Terranova sounded ready to plunge back into the commodities field next week, perhaps Tuesday.

"The high-beta names that were liquidated this week, those are the names that next week ... you take a look at those names," Terranova said. "High beta is the play for next week."

Pete Najarian was skeptical. "Those charts have been broken," Pete said.

Then Pete impressively acknowledged his dabble into those X calls this week. "Got my face torn off on those pretty quickly, it took one day, all of one day, those things got cut in half," Pete said.

He wasn't too high on FCX at the moment, "that's stuck in no-man's land."

Karen Finerman noted the plunge in copper. "That's one of the most dramatic moves I, I think we've ever seen in a month, extraordinary," Karen said.

Todd Gordon said to look for some short-term upswings. "I'm looking for a bounce in the euro, and also a bounce in the S&P to get short," Gordon said.

Guy Adami concurred. "The worm has turned, where now you're in the sell-rally mode instead of the buy-dip mode," Adami said.

Melissa Lee trotted out her favorite recent cliche. "Joe connect the dots for us then, are we gonna see copper move much lower?"

Terranova said, "I think the selling pressure has abated in copper."

Maybe it’s a tough question

Melissa Lee read a viewer question from Mike in Austin, Texas, on Friday. The question was to Joe Terranova, asking Joe how he calculates his stops?

We thought it was a good question. Terranova merely said when you see a storm coming like Thursday morning, and your overweight long positions, then you go underweight until the storm passes.

Not the most useful answer. But Melissa Lee capped it with, "you've got your answer."

Karen really likes CVS

Footage of Karen Finerman's speech at Bill Ackman's Harbor conference was shown. Karen, who wore sleeveless hot pink, touted CVS, saying "we believe there's 50% upside from here."

Guy Adami said Karen, who was called "Finnerman" jokingly by Melissa Lee, has the "best arms in the business."

Will Mutual Fund Monday
go 17 for 20?

It doesn't get much better than gorjus Trish Regan doing the "Fast Money" lead-in as Maria Bartiromo's sub for "Closing Bell," then immediately into "Fast Money," getting a breaking news report from Mary Thompson in brown turtleneck.

Karen Finerman, in elegant pinstriped vest Friday, said she was "pretty optimistic" about the last hour of trading. She said it looked like "people were looking for a reason to get on board."

"Volatility dropped 10% in the final hour of the day," Pete Najarian said.

Joe Terranova said he was optimistic, but "I wanna wait until Monday or Tuesday" before plunging back in.

Guy Adami was playing it coolly. "You really have to see the price action on Monday" to verify if Friday marked a reversal, he said. "Monday will be the test" of whether Pete's 16 out of 19 Mutual Fund Mondays percentage will be improved.

Karen Finerman said "the noise is quieting" over the political attacks on banks, and that she bought some "overdone" JPM. "It's attractive here," Karen said.

Why isn’t gold rallying?

Karen Finerman noted Friday there has been "worldwide panic" in the markets, but gold has dropped. "If that's not the gold bull case, you know, it's hard to really know what is," Karen said.

Mike Khouw said he'd be buying the April $100 puts in GLD for $3 and selling the $95 puts for $1.50.

Karen recalls Vioxx disaster

Toyota had interesting price action Friday.

"As a value investor, there is a magnetic pull for me towards Toyota because so much value has been been lost," said Karen Finerman. But, there's a catch. "I go back to Vioxx Merck," Karen said. "It got a lot worse before it got better."

Doug Kass, apparently inspired by the close Friday, e-mailed "Fast Money" with a bullish call. "These market fears are overblown," Kass said, downplaying the "panic" at the end of the week.

International investor Will Landers of BlackRock said look for emerging market babies getting tossed out with the bathwater. "Fundamentals are so strong in emerging markets, that investors are gonna come back, and come back quick," Landers said.

Guy Adami noted "The Gap hasn't had positive comps since I was in high school." But he now looks favorably at the stock.

Pete Najarian said there was "very heavy activity" in Gilead, "February 47 calls, 49 calls, there was a call spread being done here ... 50 cents for a $2 spread."

Katie Stockton
connects the dots

Panelists on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" were slinging around averages the way McDonald's slings burgers.

Melissa Lee wasted little time in asking Katie Stockton to "connect the dots."

Stockton says she sees downside risk to the 200-day moving average, which would be "right around 1,020 right now." Stockton said "I think the breakdown is significant." Referring to Thursday's selloff, she said, "We saw down volume to up volume reach 35 to 1, which is pretty unheard of."

"I felt confusion yesterday out of clients, not the fear, and I think that's what you have to look for," said Steve Grasso.

Scott Nations agreed things could still get worse. "It looks like the VIX is now going to break above the 200-day moving average," Nations said.

He said he's seeing a "huge buyer of the UUP Jan 24 call ... 100,000 options."

Scott Redler offered a ray of optimism, saying he agreed with Grasso but that people might be getting close to capitulating to fear, and if so, "look to get involved."

Grasso said a popular stock, FCX, was gaining for a couple reasons, a Barclay's $120 price target and a bare-bones assessment of $2.50 copper that is well below the $2.80 now. "It ran off that Barclay's note primarily," Grasso said.

Katie Stockton mentioned Fibonacci in discussing the .DXY, saying if it breaks above 80, that "would suggest a target of 84."

Stockton said $72.50 is a key support level for Toyota, and if it broke that, she'd look for the upper $50s.

Grasso concluded in bearish mode. "Too many dominoes, the S&P wants to get down to around a thousand," he said.

The PajamaGram people, who are advertising relentlessly at CNBC.com, have a new product, the Hoodie-Footie Snuggle Suit.

[Thursday, February 4, 2010]

Annnnnnnnngie baby,
you’re a special lady...

The train wreck that is the "Fast Money Prop Desk" continued to barrel out of control Thursday in a manner not unlike the image from "The Namesake."

It was Brian Kelly engineering chaos this time when he announced "I saw this item on the uh, blogs. It was really lighting up the Internet."

Kelly explained that the article was from a publication in Greece, and he had to have some lawyer friends translate it. Somewhere in the article was mentioned Greece's "secret debt of 40 billion euro."

Kelly was thunderstruck that there could be 40 billion euro more debt in Greece's closet, and he started comparing credit spreads of Greece and Spain with Lehman Brothers of September 2008.

Melissa Lee was the first to find this dubious (if not absurd). "How can you compare sovereign spread vs. corporate," Lee said. "Is that fair?"

"Why not, they both owe money," was Kelly's head-scratcher.

Karen Finerman was floored. "No but a corporate, a corporate buyer can't just issue or tax, a government can," Finerman said. "Lehman can't print Lehman dollars to pay off Lehman debt..."

Karen was smiling. The exchange left us somewhere between dumbfoundedness and LOL. Jon Najarian took care of that moments later when he cracked us up majorly.

"That same newspaper had a story about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and visiting a space alien," Najarian said.

Melissa Lee then said — and you just know she was about to say "connect the dots," but caught herself at the last moment — "let's bottom-line this."

"Bottom-line" as a verb.

Likin' it.

"The bottom-line trade is safety," said Kelly, who recommended dollar long against euro.

Reliable buddy Steve Grasso admirably came to Kelly's defense. Grasso said he thinks Kelly's point is that "Lehman was to the stock market as Greece is to every other country."

Karen Finerman sort of scoffed at Kelly's euro bearishness, pointing to "enormous" declines already. "Hasn't this already occurred," K-Fine asked somewhat rhetorically.

Rick Santelli wasn't terribly impressed by Kelly's finding either.

"We were looking at that on Tuesday," Santelli said. "There's a zillion of those types of stories out there."

Trillion-dollar clichés

Joe Terranova opened Thursday's "Fast Money" with a longer narrative than usual.

Terranova said that a couple weeks ago, he called five market players he knows. Four of them told him the noise at the time about bank plans and possible Chinese tightening was "just a correction." But one of them, Mr. X, "told me it's a 'game-changer.' What does that tell you? It tells you it is very difficult at times to follow the crowd."

Um, got it ... we think.

If you didn't quite get that, or understand why the market cratered, you're hardly alone.

"I really didn't know what to make of today," Karen Finerman said.

"Fiction has to make sense. This didn't make any sense," Jon Najarian said.

Steve Grasso summarized it as, "There was a lot of fear on the floor today." Unfortunately, when Karen Finerman asked him why a lot of the negative noise in recent weeks suddenly culminated in a huge selloff Thursday, Grasso resorted to, "that's the trillion-dollar question."

Guy Adami phoned in, apparently hosting a 5:30 p.m. dinner, and repeated his "Halftime" commentary on the general market. "I think it's got a lot of room left on the downside," he said. "Tomorrow's not the day to go bottom-fish."

While Karen Finerman said she still sees good stocks amid all of this noise, Steve Grasso countered that "two-thirds of the stock market moves with the overall trend," so even perfectly good names can get caught in the landslide.

Joe Terranova noted what we think has been the most underreported element of this on "Fast Money," much worse than the tech selloff, that commodities have been getting "obliterated."

Jon Najarian offered a ray of hope, saying that some concerns about China reflect hoarding of materials, but electricity is something you don't create to not use, and a BlackRock panelist from a recent forum said "their electricity production, up 20% in the quarter" in China.

Melissa Lee read a question from John in Boothbay, Maine, who asked for an ETF that would play the dollar long against the euro. Joe Terranova offered the obvious answer, the UUP, noting it's weighted not just by the euro but a basket.

One good hedge

Early on Thursday's "Fast Money," Jon Najarian expressed this point about the jobs report: "We get a good report tomorrow, we could go right back to the upside, not huge, but we could see a recovery of half the loss we had today."

Later on during the show, Dr. J expressed this point about the jobs report: "I think this could be the surprise to the downside tomorrow."

No, those statements don't literally conflict, but...

It’s just emotion
that’s taken us over...

Joe Terranova and Steve Grasso conducted a curious little exchange Thursday over the fuel of the stock market.

"What drove the market today was emotion," Terranova said.

"Emotion always drives the market," Grasso said.

"Emotion was certainly higher today than any other point in the last couple weeks," Terranova said.

"It always is on the way down," Grasso said. He said he tends to get hit up with messages about market direction, and Thursday, "I had by 9:35 150 IM's hitting me, flooding me."

Terranova modestly said when the market speaks like this, "you move from overweighting, as I mistakenly did yesterday in technology, to underweight position."

Grasso said, "1,035 is what guys are thinking about now."

Today’s scorecard:
Finerman 1, Santelli 0

Rick Santelli delivered a mini-speech Thursday that went a little bit over our heads, something about how the feds around the time of Lehman's collapse enacted short-selling restrictions, but market players always find a way to get around it, and wouldn't stiffer margin requirements for CDSes be a better solution because the CDSes are the shadowy unregulated market killer.

We liked Jon Najarian's historical parallel.

"Enrico Fermi, or, uh, uh, Einstein, Oppenheimer," Najarian said. "These guys were creating the atomic bomb. The financials guys, Rick, have done the same thing with these credit default swaps except they have much less of a clue than those guys had, and they almost, of course, ended the world."

Dazzling Karen Finerman, who should be regarded as a possible successor to Katie Couric but probably makes more money, asked the perfect question. "Rick, let me ask you something," Karen said. "So who do you think has this exposure where they think they have protection but they really don't."

"Well I think a lot of the investors that are pushing some of these markets..." Santelli said.

Melissa Lee interrupted. "Big banks, Rick? Investors meaning big banks?"

"Sure, big banks, hedge funds, I think there's many big players involved in these games," Santelli said.

So first Santelli said it was "a lot of the investors," then when prodded says it's the "big banks," which means the real answer is "nobody significant."

5-year plan, and counting

Melissa Lee conducted a late-in-the-show interview Thursday with Sara Lee CEO Brenda Barnes.

Karen Finerman asked the best question. She told Barnes her stock is "intriguingly cheap," but asked why competitors have better margins.

Barnes responded, "We've been on a major plan over the years to increase our margins," and what more do you need to hear, except it involved some strategic restructuring and global expansion, etc.

In fact, we just learned from Wikipedia that Barnes has been SLE president since 2004 and CEO since 2005.

Five years ago, the stock was about $25. Thursday, it was $12.32.

Perhaps as a result, Barnes was added to Jim Cramer's "Wall of Shame" on June 11, 2009.

Would’ve liked to hear
Peter Schiff explain this one

Karen Finerman had one of the better lines of the day, though not as good as Jon Najarian's Brangelina-alien comment. Karen in the "Pops & Drops" handled YUM and said "It was a little more like Yuck today."

"Gold looks broken right now," said Joe Terranova.

He said he likes STLD but would wait to buy on the next dip.

Jon Najarian spoke of casinos and said, "I like MGM, and I like Wynn a lot."

Todd Gordon e-mailed in that Cisco didn't meet his technical level, and he sees a test of $22 coming. Maybe, but "that's one of 'em you buy," insisted Jon Najarian.

The "Fast Money" graphics gremlins still don't know how to spell the "g" word that describes the VIX. On Thursday the screen bottom showed this: "MARKET FEAR GUAGE SPIKES ABOVE 25 ON GLOBAL FEARS"

Sorry, Joe. Seriously.

We hate to do this. We absolutely hate to do this.

And it could be argued that singling out this particular trade is unfair, because we don't single out every trade.

True. But we would keep tabs on every "Fast Money" trade if we somehow had the time. At some point, "get a life" enters the equation.

And so, we usually only keep score on individual "Fast Money" trades that enter our consciousness in one way or another. When we're aware of a doozy, we must say so.

The last person we want to flag for things like this is Joe Terranova, because he's a stand-up guy and has noted several rough trades in the last couple weeks.

Just Monday, Terranova recommended Ralph Lauren (RL). He said "love Ralph Lauren ... Technically it has not broken down, it's holding above the 50-day moving average."

That day, it closed at $83.14.

Tuesday, it rose $2.53, so good call.

Until Wednesday, when, on a day the S&P trickled down only 6 points, it plummeted a ghastly $7.16 — a result we didn't even know about until seeing Wednesday's "Web Extra."

"Ouch. The party's over, obviously," Terranova said. "Move to the sidelines.

Gary Kaminsky made a joke on Wednesday's "Web Extra" that had them hollering, saying the SEC worker found to have made a lot of attempts at viewing porn was trying to download "Debbie Does Securitization."

Just another reminder to check out the "Web Extra."

‘Greece is not gonna bring the global economy to its knees’


All it took was a 200-plus-point selloff Thursday to deliver a dandy of a "Fast Money Halftime Report" featuring the best bull-bear clashes of the year.

First — and we hesitate to start with laughs on such a miserable day — we can't ignore the comedy delivered by swaggering Melissa Lee, who was LOL-funny with this little question to Jon Najarian.

"Uh, Dr. J, last night your brotha talked about U.S. Steel," Lee said. "How are you feeling about those names today amidst the slaughter?"

Dr. J, ever the pro, defended brother Pete (who, um, really was sort of picking a bottom it seems, despite his denials yesterday) by stating there's a big difference between going long the stock and merely taking out an "option spread at 1/10th of the valuation of the stock or less than that even."

"That's being a pro-active investor," he said, "instead of somebody who just sits back and wonders what happened."

(Editor's note: No shame in being one of those somebodys who "just sits back and wonders what happened," we've experienced that many times.)

Jon Najarian, as is usually the case, was market agnostic. "These technicals have been exactly what the market's trading off of," he said, finding the "1,070 area very critical." He said if that breaks, which it later did, the market would see 1,050. He equated the action to "people running around in a firecracker factory, as Rick Santelli would say, lighting matches."

Carter Worth, on the other hand, ignited our Logic Meter with the use of one word.


"We desperately need this to be happening, that uncorrected eight-months, nine-months, ten-months in a row off the March low, this is, this is what you need in order to keep things at least somewhat healthy," Worth said of the correction. "We're looking for 1,050, and we think that will be the point at which, uh, there will be some buying interest that emerges, if you will."

Zach Karabell seemed to be on board with that. "The global story, and I know I sound like a broken record in hammering on this, but it is the story of the past year, that propels you into this market," Karabell said. "I totally agree with Carter, this is absolutely necessary, we should've seen this correction, but now is not the time to go, 'OK, another leg down,' I mean, Greece is not gonna bring the global economy to its knees."

We'd love to ask a mathematician who has zero interest in the stock market exactly how or why a selloff is considered "healthy" for stocks. Our interpretation of this comment is that it is a pro-buyer comment as opposed to a pro-holder comment. In other words, if you've been on the sidelines, a drop from 1,120 to 1,050 is definitely "healthy," you have a presumably better chance of your stocks rising once you buy them at the lower level. But if you were holding stocks at 1,120, how is it ever "healthy" to lose 9%?

As for "necessary," we wonder, necessary for what? For the market to go higher? It almost feels like that Vietnam cliche, needing Greece to destroy the market in order to preserve it, or something like that.

We're not philosophers. We'll think about it some more. Apparently the conclusion is that Portugal and Greece and Spain troubles are healthy for your net worth.

Mel Lee, looking great by the way, wasn't done with the chutzpah. She challenged Karabell on FCX. "If you told me to buy on the dips about six months ago, we'd be exactly where we are today. Are you not concerned that this stock is sort of rangebound?"

"This is where we get to, is your time frame a two-week timeframe, so you're buying Freeport at 66 because you hope it goes to 72 next week, or you're doing what I'm doing, which is yes, you're doing short-term trading around a position, but you're doing it for a longer-term thesis," Karabell said.

He said he didn't think China would cut back "enough" to thwart the Asian growth story.

Tim Seymour, on the other hand, called in from Moscow sounding like he was really taking the Roubini-Taleb commentary to heart. "The markets are really going after the weak players," Seymour said. He said he heard the panelists talk about FCX and X, but he would stay away. "These things are broken, and I don't think you run in and you buy these stocks at these levels."

In other words, longtime "Fast Money" viewers should remember the handy tip, "Don't try to be a hero."

"Any conference where Nouriel Roubini and Nassim Taleb are speaking is a panic-inducing event," Karabell countered.

Guy Adami said he thinks the market is heading lower, but you can quickly make money because it goes down faster than it goes up, and you have to be willing to be short. "You don't have to play defense," he said.

Speaking of some of his favorite tech names like WDC and AKAM, Adami said, "you're trying to pick a bottom right now, I don't think you can do it."

"We think Cisco's quite fine," said Carter Worth, who said most of the marquee tech names had taken the medicine by now.

[Wednesday, February 3, 2010]

Discussing AIG, Eric Dinallo
says ‘casino’ four times

On "Fast Money" Wednesday, New York Attorney General candidate Eric Dinallo pointed to the Commodity Futures Modernization Act as the enabler of the disaster that became AIG.

"It was the law in 2000, that basically made derivatives completely unregulated," Dinallo said. He said the CFMA enabled "pseudo-gambling" that happened "without capital behind those commitments." He said one side of AIG was a regular insurance company with typical reserves; "the other side was basically a casino without the proper capital behind its bets."

Guy Adami asked Dinallo a great question, "Who should've seen AIG coming?"

Adami said the AIG products division started in the mid-1990s, and "these guys were printing money for years ... has the system been broken all along?"

Dinallo didn't give a very good answer. It boiled down to a "quirk" in the law he said needs to be changed immediately, making it so "these companies get to pick their regulator."

Dinallo was trying to be complimentary, it seemed, but sort of damned the Paul Volcker plan with faint praise. "I think Volcker has made a really good first step in getting a debate about proprietary trading," Dinallo said.

As for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal targeting the $100 million in AIG bonuses, "It's really not a great opportunity to sort of tear up those contracts because then people are gonna question the validity of a contract," Dinallo said.

Under questioning from Melissa Lee, Dinallo said 1) a distinction needs to be made about AIG employees who ran the system and those who unwound it, 2) if denied the money, some workers would go elsewhere and then sue, and 3) there is a problem with the terminology.

"They're really not bonuses, right, it's the problem," Dinallo said. "They're basically contracts that were done to keep the people there to unwind the book because they shut the business down a couple of years ago."

According to this story by the Hartford Courant, Blumenthal's letter is "late," because "AIG paid them anyway," according to a company source, and Ken Feinberg had already deemed these payments "grandfathered" in.

We found it curious that doing a general Web search of "Eric Dinallo," the top Google hits are from May and August 2009 with headlines suggesting he is considering a run for attorney general, whereas there exist many articles from mid-January from basically all the New York publications indicating his plans. But Google is great.

Not everyone can be
Chuck Schumer

This point is undeniably risky.

Gary Kaminsky on Wednesday, in the discussion with Eric Dinallo, reiterated something we agree with — that the people in D.C. don't really "get" how Wall Street works.

"I don't think the guys in Washington that are going to come up with regulation really understand how the capital markets work," Kaminsky said. "There will be some regulation, it will be to appease populism."

Dinallo concurred in a nice way so as not to offend politicians. "It is hard to understand what derivatives really do," he said.

This follows Karen Finerman's tirade last week in which she claimed she was "embarrassed" for Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch after he criticized Tim Geithner and apparently mentioned the "2 cents on the dollar Bear Stearns bailout."

(Deep breath) ... The last thing we want to do is defend congressmen. But the reality is they can't, and shouldn't, be expected to be as knowledgeable about the financial markets as the people on "Fast Money."

Most of them haven't worked at Goldman Sachs; many probably don't even have a Schwab or Ameritrade account and few have probably ever bought options protection on U.S. Steel shares like Pete Najarian was advocating Wednesday.

And no matter how much Dylan Ratigan (who has slightly gone off the deep end of the trading pool on this subject) badgers them on MSNBC, someone like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz can't honestly be expected to know why HMO stocks started rising with the prospects of a health-care deal when even the best "Fast Money" traders won't guess as to where those stocks are going.

Yes, lawmakers should have expertise on subject matter handled by their own committees. But when it's 5 p.m. and the hearing is over, they've got to hear pitches and answer questions on things like the new highway in their district, whether they support a health care plan, why we've still got troops in Iraq/Afghanistan, can they hold a fundraiser for Scott Brown or Martha Coakley, etc. They rely on aides to give them talking points, and most of these aides likely haven't spent much of their career with Todd Gorton on "Prop Desk."

In bailout hearings, lawmakers are trying to figure out, as is everyone else, what they should be caring about in all of this.

And if they turn to "Fast Money" for guidance, they're going to be confused. We know traders hate the fact Citi was forced to sell PhiBro and some other "crown jewels." Would they prefer the government never backstopped Citi? (This writer is long C.) Dylan Ratigan seemed to be leading quite a disgusted group in that October 2008 episode when the market collapsed after the House initially failed to approve TARP. One sometimes gets the impression that the "Fast Money" consensus is the government didn't bail out the banks enough (i.e., Lehman) and any bailouts should be free money with no strings. Then we hear the point recently from a certain CME correspondent that the government could've let all the big banks potentially fail because we don't know the consequences would've been bad.

So yes, congressmen questioning Geithner should know the Bear Stearns deal was $2 a share, not 2 cents on the dollar. Mistakes like that are probably not as bad as Jimmy Cayne and Dick Fuld's 30-to-1 leverage. No one on "Fast Money" has ever mentioned being embarrassed for those two.

Kaminsky of course is right. They don't really know what they're talking about. It can't be helped. Unless, as Dinallo says, we want the banks to choose their own regulators.

Should ‘Fast Money’ mention
it airs Ellen Page CSCO ads?

We're fans of Jim Goldman, usually, and dislike finding fault.

But he sounded like he was witnessing Larsen's perfect game in his excitement over Cisco's earnings report Wednesday.

"I have never heard language like this from John Chambers, using words like major improvement, a significant acceleration, a dramatic recovery," Goldman said.

Longtime CNBC watchers know that analysis of John Chambers' tone is one of the network's sorriest cliches, four times a year. Gary Kaminsky gets it.

"I don't really wanna go after Jim Goldman here, but, you know, I've heard John Chambers a lot more bullish than that," Kaminsky said.

Pete Najarian was pounding the table on CSCO. "It's a growth company again," Pete gushed.

Guy Adami sort of shrugged. He said it's a good report, and that the advantage for Cisco longs is that the stock has already sold off in recent days, but "this is no better than what Intel said" before it sold off the next day, and not "that much better" than what people expected. As an alternative, he said "IBM is a name you might wanna take a look at."

Todd Gordon, on the "Prop Desk," said CSCO might be up afterhours, but "We need to get a good move above 24 into tomorrow's open to keep this thing going."

Kaminsky, who in January had trumpeted big tech as a short, said the Cisco report "is a change" in trend.

According to the Cisco call transcript, analyst Tal Liani of Bank of America Merrill Lynch said "If the stock market is not going to reverse on these results tomorrow then we do have a problem."

None of the analysts on the conference call asked about the effectiveness of Cisco's Ellen Page advertising campaign.

One of the biggest duds
in ‘Fast Money’ history

With all the buildup Melissa Lee gave to the segment with Barron's stock-picking champ McAdams Wright Ragen, we almost felt like it was going to be better than Larsen's perfect game.

Instead, viewers got a train wreck.

Paul Latta of McAdams Wright Ragen was supposed to identify some stellar picks for 2010, including a pick of the year.

First, he and Lee spoke briefly about Amazon, with this being Latta's best argument: "It seems like the death of the Kindle is greatly exaggerated."

Then Lee said "You also, Paul, like a, a pick that is Gary's pick here on the desk, Verizon."

We knew, as most regular viewers probably did, that that statement was inaccurate. "I'm actually on the other side of Verizon," Kaminsky clarified, asking how the stock would get on the radar of a Pacific Northwest firm. Latta said part of the stock selection process has no geographical boundaries.

VZ is a "bit of a contrarian pick," Latta said. "There is a structural as well as a cyclical, cyclical component to that," he added, in yet another underwhelming argument.

Then, Lee cut to a commercial before delivering the promised pick of the year, which turned out after the break to be Campbell Soup, but without Latta to explain it.

Like we said, train wreck.

This segment on Barron's rankings reminds us of our post last weekend about Louis Rukeyser, who annually held a stock-picking contest for his panelists, then celebrated the winners at year-end. Sometimes winners would do well again the next year; other times they finished at the bottom.

Gartman: Lot of damage done
to ‘broken’ metals stocks

Dennis Gartman maintained his negative stance on commodities Wednesday.

"I think a lot of damage has been done particularly to the metals stocks," Gartman said. "The most important stocks, the ones that go into the making of, of automobiles, the making of refrigerators, have all been broken ... the dollar's getting stronger.

"I'm buying stocks that are dependent upon lower commodity prices," he said.

Joe Terranova, bullish on crude, told viewers "Do not lose sight of where oil may go." Gartman disagreed, "I actually feel fairly comfortable being a seller of crude, the contango's still very high."

Nevertheless, Gartman agreed with a recent Gary Kaminsky recommendation, SU.

"We're actually buying Suncor, and selling crude oil against it right now" after SU had the "tarnation" beaten out of it, Gartman said. "If you're going to own an oil company, I think that's the one to own."

Melissa Lee asked Gartman about GS and GE. "I was actually short a little bit of" Goldman Sachs, Gartman said. "It didn't feel very good, got out of it just yesterday." General Electric looks better. He said he would "tend to be a buyer of GE, tend to be a seller of Goldman Sachs."

He closed with a preview of Thursday's Gartman Letter. (We've often wondered, if he wakes up at 1 a.m. to write it, what kind of hours does he keep.) "I think the euro has a long way to go down," he said. "I would be short against the Canadian dollar, I would be short against the Australian dollar."

Buns of steel

Pete Najarian, who regularly warns viewers not to try to pick bottoms, was gushing about options activity in X on Wednesday. "Today an incredible amount of upside calls," he said. "They're buying February 47 calls, February 49 calls," he said. But he asserted: "This was not a bottom-picking on my part."

Pete said he did some "piggybacking" on the Steel Dynamics call-buying.

Guy Adami said he thinks a name like FCX, which fell back Wednesday after two big days this week, should be sold into these rallies.

Joe Terranova, who bought FCX on Friday, said "I did sell most of my position" but insisted there is still opportunity in the mid-$60s.

Chambers’ tone not enough
to get Kaminsky long QQQ

Melissa Lee read a question from David of Portland, Ore., who asked if Gary Kaminsky was now actually thinking about getting long the QQQ.

"I did cover that short, um, middle of last week, and I'm sort of neutral in the sense that, I wanted to be short the Nasdaq as an index as we discussed it because of what I saw the closet indexes doing," Kaminsky said. "I am not gonna be going long any technology names right now. However, I don't think you're gonna make money shorting them, that was January's trade, that trade is over." (This writer is long QID.)

Joe Terranova named Dell once again as a tech stock he likes. "I disagree with Dell," Kaminsky said. "Dead man walking."

"You can sell me some back in the green room," Terranova cracked.

More than 1 way to crash

Joe Terranova and Gary Kaminsky had a couple good one-liners about Toyota.

"The question now becomes of Toyota, what's more dangerous, driving the actual vehicle or trading the stock right now," Terranova asked rhetorically. He said the stock has "way too much risk."

Kaminsky poked fun at Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's gaffe about not driving Toyota cars but taking them to the dealers. "How do you get 'em there if you don't drive 'em there?" Kaminsky asked.

Kaminsky spoke of Lululemon as a short opportunity. "I like the shirts," he said, but "the stock is priced to perfection." He also reiterated a previous call on WAG despite a tough selloff.

Todd Gordon, tracking Akamai action in the afterhours on the "Prop Desk," said he was "getting a headache," yet another unpleasant effect of this dubious feature.

Melissa Lee declared, "This is the first time I think live technical analysis has been done in the afterhours session."

‘Fast Money’ in the news

Dow Jones Newswires this week turned to Patty Edwards for analysis of the amount of restructuring in the retail sector. "Last year was one of bankruptcies that wiped out entire species. This year we will see culling of the herd," Patty said.

A blogger was impressed with the TradeMONSTER show in San Francisco. "Guy Adami was his usual refreshingly honest self and Jon Najarian was so wrapped up in a particular trade example that it practically took a cane to yank him from the stage. ... What impressed us most was the audience. They were an active group of investors that displayed a particular sense of savvy we aren't used to seeing at such investor events. For example, Mr. Adami was peppered with questions about the economy, including some particular digging-in on comments and actions from Paul Volcker, which led him into a brief talk about the current state of political rhetoric and the effect it's bound to have on investors. The crowd ate it up."

Redler sees GS short

Scott Redler on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Wednesday said it may be time to play the recent GS bounce in the opposite direction.

"I will look for a short-term short in the 160 to 163 area in Goldman Sachs," Redler said.

Melissa Lee — she's either doing this to amuse herself, or entertain us — used her favorite phrase in asking Redler to make a broader call. "So let's connect the dots," Lee said, asking Redler if a reversal in GS would mean "markets will turn, not too long from now."

Redler said one can draw that conclusion. "I'd lay some shorts out there" around 1,115, he said.

Jared Levy, whom we haven't seen for maybe a couple of a weeks, phoned in and said "I think the initial bearish reaction to large financials was overdone." In the options pits, he said, "We're seeing a lot of downside put-selling ... I believe that we're not gonna see major sweeping legislation in the financials." He added, "In Goldman Sachs, I like selling the February 155/150 put spread."

Joe Terranova said copper's crumbling is a bad sign. "Risk off in the commodity trade," he said. "Heavy selling pressure has entered the entire commodity space."

"There's always gonna be some kind of a technical breakdown," shrugged Mike Gurka.

Brian Kelly, citing the ISM, said the "inventory cycle might be ending here," and he'd be a seller of the coal names.

Melissa Lee made a couple of interesting automotive observations. She said that for those trying to play Toyota on the bad news, a year after Ford's Firestone troubles in 2000, that stock was down 23% about a year later. She also said short interest in Ford has doubled since September.

Terranova said the car play is JCI. And, "here you can own Pfizer," he said.

[Tuesday, February 2, 2010]

Did we tick Gary off?


Gary Kaminsky indicated on "Fast Money" Tuesday he apparently noticed some feedback over his Monday "Fast Money Halftime Report" commentary on Goldman Sachs — and he didn't exactly sound thrilled.

"For those that don't think I understand fractions, 90% is, is nine-tenths," Gary told viewers Tuesday.

First, let's be real. Our presumption is that "Fast Money" personalities probably get their public feedback from viewer e-mail, not sites like this. We hope they check us out every day, and maybe some of them do, but this place isn't exactly nytimes.com; "Fast Money" panelists are busy, and we figure they probably leaf through whatever "Fast Money" e-mails pertain to them as soon as the show is over (if they even do that) and then quickly move on with their lives.

Put another way, we doubt Gary was referring to our own report on "fractions."

But just in case he was, or just in case our readers think he was ...

We posted (see below) this headline:

MLee fails to get Gary Kaminsky
to define ‘fraction’

This site certainly never stated, nor implied, that Gary didn't understand fractions. And if this site somehow is actually the source of his on-air beef, then it needs to be noted that Kaminsky misstated what we actually posted.

Kaminsky said Monday the Blankfein bonus would be a "fraction" of $100 million. We noted that. But Melissa Lee asked Kaminsky a perfectly reasonable and very good question, and so we wrote this: "Melissa Lee asked Kaminsky whether a 'fraction' would mean something like 70% or 5%, but Kaminsky wouldn't clarify."

Certainly nothing there that should put us in the "Fast Money" crosshairs.

Obviously, the term Gary heard through the grapevine was "fraction," and he didn't have anything more precise than that. That's fine, it's still a good report. So in our opinion he should've just said to Lee, "I can't give you a precise number, I will just tell you that I'm hearing it will be a fraction of the $100 billion." Lee's question wasn't only fair, it was obligatory ... surely Kaminsky will admit there's a huge difference between a, say, $60 million bonus and $7 million bonus.

We did do a Google search for "Gary Kaminsky fraction" and couldn't find any relevant hits. Maybe this is the only site that brought it up. In the event Gary noticed it or saw occasional negative press about his commentary on this site and wonders what kind of jokers are putting this stuff out and was responding in kind, it is true we were fairly critical in the fall. Hey, we're reviewing a TV show. If we don't understand someone's argument, or it clearly didn't work as a trade, it's our obligation to say so. In January, we've basically been hailing Kaminsky's calls every day. And if he's bugged by "fractions" complaints, shouldn't he be more irritated by colleagues who joked on-air that he was "crazy" to think there's no money on the sidelines?

Hopefully constructive point: Kaminsky needs to better define "disintermediate," a term he used again Tuesday, in terms of what Apple is trying to do to Google.

CNBC gets Ackman interview;
BGP holders get a gift

It wasn't until the end of Melissa Lee's interview with Bill Ackman on "Fast Money" Tuesday that we understood why Ackman came on the show. "We've not done a great job promoting it, or advertising it," Ackman said of the Harbor Investment Conference that is Wednesday. "We filled up to this point only half the room."

Lee acknowledged the conference in introducing Ackman, but first told Ackman she had to "pepper you with some, uh, market questions first, so I hope you'll, uh, play game with us."

Lee chuckled, but anyone long BGP soon realized this would be more than a "game."

Lee said of Border's, "the speculation out there is that it is going to go bankrupt at this point; what do you see?"

"I think it's a very low-probability event," Ackman said, explaining why he would ditch a Barnes&Noble position in favor of Border's. "Much more attractive risk/reward" with BGP, he said, and "the industry may consolidate, the two companies may become one."

The gain in BGP on these remarks was so big (50% initially, according to Google finance), Lee had to report it later on the air.

Karen Finerman said in fact she shorted BKS on Tuesday, "I couldn't help myself." From what we could tell, BKS didn't move noticeably after-hours.

The Harbor Investment Conference benefits the Boys and Girls Harbor, which sounds like a fine charity, apparently benefitting children with social services. Karen Finerman and Whitney Tilson are scheduled to speak.

Ackman noted the lack of promotion for the event despite the fact gazillionaires are involved. If you tend to think the site you're reading looks fairly hideous by Web standards, as we often do, note that the Harbor Investment Conference site really is no better, and they presumably pay people to put it together.

Speaking of when this site
is ahead of the show ...

Guy Adami on Tuesday's "Fast Money" brought up this horrible fun fact about television.

"I didn't watch it, and Pete didn't play in it. But you see, this is the biggest Pro Bowl ratings in the last 25 years," Adami said. "12 million people watched the Pro Bowl, I mean that's nuts."

He's right. It's nuts. Fortunately Adami didn't watch. We covered this in Monday's report. Pro Bowl ratings undoubtedly went up because they played it before the Super Bowl, when everyone is still excited about football and is grasping for something.

It remains an atrocity of competition and an affront to real football, providing nothing but injury risk, dubious contract goal achievement and pro-wrestling-caliber entertainment minus anything resembling drama.

Keeping tabs on Karen & GOOG

Analyst Colin Gillis spoke to "Fast Money" Tuesday about his flat outlook for Google, saying its present valuation is about right and to be wary of "estimates that are gonna be coming in too rosy."

Karen Finerman unabashedly went on the record again on GOOG. "I've been wrong so far, I would buy it right here, I think it's attractive," Karen said.

‘All My Children,’
‘Judge Judy,’ pairs trades

Gary Kaminsky made a refreshingly blunt stock critique Tuesday. "Exxon is boring," Kaminsky said, after Guy Adami had outlined a possible trade in the stock.

Kaminsky singled out another name, more than once on the show. "Over the next five years, Suncor is gonna grow their, their average production per barrel faster than any of the other majors," Kaminsky said.

Adami, apparently annoyed by the implication he sees XOM as anything more than a trade, made this curious statement: "If you want an investment thesis, we can do daytime TV and knock ourselves out."

Aren't they already doing daytime TV?

Kaminsky said one reason he's skeptical of industrials is that "There's been basically no M&A since early December."

Just what we need, day 3
of Richard Shelby tomorrow

Apparently the mysterious Paul Volcker plan is still a hot topic on Wall Street, to the point where "Fast Money" panelists were once again discussing skeptical comments by Senator Richard Shelby.

Karen Finerman found Shelby's disdain reassuring. "I think it's definitely a good thing for financials."

Guy Adami said the two-day gains were fine, but "I still think rallies need to be sold."

Gary Kaminsky said Washington can be hopeless. "The more you listen to these people talk in Washington over the last two weeks, the more you recoganize and realize that they don't really understand what's going on. They don't know what the difference is between proprietary trading, many of 'em. They don't understand what really caused the financial crisis, which was securitization."

Guy Adami speculated as to what colleague Karen Finerman might be thinking. He said K-Fine probably thinks BAC is a $30 stock, but would sell it at $25.

Kaminsky, who briefly sounded as though his mike had fallen on the floor, said of Goldman Sachs, "If they could take out that Buffett 10% paper in some way, that would be extremely positive, and that would be very good for the stock."

Rick Santelli talked up taxes this time. Kaminsky said, "The yields on the tax-free bonds are relatively attractive, much more so than the taxable bonds right now." Kaminsky and Santelli carried on a mini-debate over bonds and whether the government would bail out California as quickly as it bailed out Wall Street, a discussion that was too lengthy.

Brian Kelly said "I wanna start selling short China," but he resorted to dreadful cliche that you can't really take seriously, "the trillion-dollar question at this point..."

Kelly: Homebuilders look good

Sometimes, life gets in the way of one of our favorite pastimes, which is posting commentary of CNBC's "Fast Money."

Thus it seems like ages since Tuesday's "Fast Money Halftime Report" aired, but in fact it was far less than 24 hours ago.

We normally try to crank this stuff out just as fast as we watch it — partly to be first with the news, partly just to get it out of the way — but it's not always possible.

Brian Kelly was offering perhaps the most provocative trades Tuesday. He said it was little known that on Christmas Even, the White House approved unlimited funding for Fannie and Freddie. As a result, "I like Toll, I like DHI, I like Hovnanian," he said, "the whole sector in general."

Todd Gordon said "that D.R. Horton chart looks pretty good."

If you were fortunate to have bought FCX on Friday, as Joe Terranova did, you're having the greatest February of all time. Nevertheless, Pete Najarian said Tuesday, "I don't wanna jump on the bandwagon just yet" in Freeport.

Patty Edwards said of the markets, "On a longer-term basis, I think we could be going higher." She acknowledged headwinds facing stocks but said maybe investors were fading them too much in January.

She said of the bank plan — we think the Volcker one, though we've sort of tuned out the specifics — "This thing is probably not going to go through."

JJ Kinahan said put-buying in the VIX actually suggests the (two-day) rally could continue, and it's interesting how the "Fast Money" tone has changed remarkably since last week.

Todd Gordon pointed to that 1,100 S&P level and said the next test would be 1,120, but "The nature of the price action is not encouraging to me." He would add, "Toyota looks a little sickly to me."

[Monday, February 1, 2010]

Karen Finerman:
Smoking hot in red

Karen Finerman has obviously been shopping, and not at TJ Maxx.

K-Fine showed up Monday on "Fast Money" in a striking bright red turtleneck we've never seen before. The shoulers featured a bit of an edge over the sleeves. (Sorry, this is the last place to go for fashion explanations.)

We were so impressed, we made it the lede item for Monday's report.

We won’t let anyone raise
price of reading this page $5

Karen Finerman was stunned to learn that Ron Burkle wants a big stake in BKS.

"I'd be terrified to be in Barnes&Noble right now. The only reason I'm not short is that I think Borders Group goes under, and that's a short-term pop for Barnes&Noble," Karen said. "I don't get it, I absolutely don't get it." But Karen warned of several triggers for a short squeeze, "you are playing in the deep end of the pool if you short this."

Remember when the kids in "Caddyshack" played in the deep end of the pool? We just couldn't resist mentioning that.

Guy Adami said the stock needs a couple days or so to run, then you can play it safely in the opposite direction. "This is gonna be a tremendous short trade, I am convinced of it," he said.

That was interesting enough. But the conversation got even better when Amazon's Macmillan deal was brought into the mix.

Melissa Lee quoted Mark Mahaney, who apparently is able to contact "Fast Money" in progress, as submitting this statement: "For 9.99 best-sellers, Amazon was losing about $5 a book. Now it could make $4."

That raised eyebrows here, given the AMZN selloff. Lessee:

1. Amazon was previously paying $15 for best-sellers, and selling them for $10.
2. Amazon now maybe pays $11 for the same best-sellers, and sells them for $15.
3. This is a bad thing.

Got it.

"They'll get more off of these 14.99 books than they would've gotten under the prior 9.99 pricing," Karen Finerman agreed. "However, it does show that their stranglehold on the e-book space is not anymore, you know, we've seen, we've seen actually another competitor now. So, that changes the dynamic dramatically."

It took a Macmillan snit this weekend to realize there is "actually another competitor"?

Of course, we "get" the big picture. Amazon wants to sell the biggest titles at $9.99 as an incentive for people to buy the Kindle. Macmillan wants to preserve long-term pricing power of e-books.

But perhaps Mahaney has self-interest in pointing out midway through a "Fast Money" episode that Amazon can now start making $4 a book after losing $5 a book. On Dec. 17, a day AMZN traded at $128, according to this Barron's summary, he upped his AMZN price target to $170 with this comment: “The Kindle has definitively established itself as the iPod of the book world."

Guy Adami said "I still think there's further downside" in Amazon. But he offered a ray of light to the longs, based on the day's reversal and inability to break down to his magic $106 level. "This is the first time that I've seen a clear-cut trade in Amazon in quite some time," he said.

Melissa Lee was Debbie Downer par excellence, saying that Amazon's longtime meal ticket of packaged media has been "going down relentlessly year after year after year," questioning how valuations could remain so high.

What did Jim Cramer
say about AAPL??

If you can't get enough of Chris Matthews weekdays, you can always watch his Sunday pundit show that tends to feature more b.s. than what the public generally gets from the politicians.

Jim Cramer, who is an excellent guest on these Sunday talk shows, made a startling comment to Matthews.

"Apple iPad, this new one, it's gonna be the biggest device in history," Cramer said.

(No, this isn't a "Fast Money" item, but we're tossing it in as a bonus.)

Pete talking himself
out of Mutual Fund Monday

The real "Fast Money" show Monday reiterated a lot of points made in the "Halftime Report" regarding the banks, but at least brought in Josh Rosner via phone to discuss this mysterious "Volcker plan" that is either being dismissed or entertained by Senator Richard Shelby.

"There's still no real details except in Volcker's head," Rosner said. "I think it's more politics than policy."

A model of consistency, Joe Terranova was just as bullish on the banks at 5 p.m. as he was midday and insisted the market in general has been beaten down with a lot of bargains. "You wanna own things on these pullbacks," he said.

Guy Adami said he sees Terranova's point, and there was a rally Monday, but he thinks the market has entered a phase where you don't buy dips, but sell rallies.

Basically whenever the Dow goes up more than 50 points, Pete Najarian will say something like "Volatility is so cheap, now's your chance to get puts and protect yourself!!!"

Monday, he didn't disappoint. But moments after talking about how cheap the protection is and trumpeting the continuation of "Mutual Fund Monday," he expressed serious skepticism about the market's gains. "Can we hold onto it, I'm not so convinced that we can."

Melissa Lee couldn't get three minutes into the show without asking Pete to "connect the dots" on volatility and bank stocks, etc.

Elsewhere, there was a "Halftime Report" rerun on the Lloyd Blankfein $100 million bonus story appearing on the FT Web site, with Gary Kaminsky offering precisely the same information he offered hours earlier.

"I hear it's gonna be a fraction of that," Kaminsky said of the bonus, saying Goldman might choose buybacks or a dividend increase, which is kinda the story Charles Gasparino broke about, oh, three months ago. Kaminsky called the article on the FT Web site "one of the dumbest reports I ever saw."

At one point during "Fast Money," the FT people, like Mark Mahaney, e-mailed in a note that the Blankfein story wasn't an FT story, but a MergerMarket (which we had never heard of until this report) story posted at FT.com.

"I love that the FT's watching 'Fast Money'," said Karen Finerman.

"That's the headline. FT watches 'Fast Money'," said Guy Adami.

Kaminsky said if you want to go long something like GS, do a pairs trade against it. "I'm not constructive on the market, I'm still concerned," he said.

Guy Adami said of Blackstone, "I do think it goes a lot higher from here."

Trading the news (update)

Zach Karabell said something at "Halftime" Monday (see below) about the U.S. government that's worth a longer look.

"The whole year is just gonna be senators and congresspeople talking. They're not actually gonna do anything because none of them really want to," Karabell said.

The comment occurred during a discussion of the Volcker "plan" and banks. Whether Karabell meant "not actually gonna do anything" for all big issues, or just banking, we're not sure.

We've heard the president, at the State of the Union and in this curious Q&A with Republicans on Friday, complain that the opposition is merely trying to block things instead of solving things.

This strikes us as silly, for this reason:

Maybe the real reason you couldn't pass a health-care bill with overwhelming majorities in Congress is because there is just not enough popular support for it.

It is true the public wanted change in 2008. People were tired of bad headlines from Iraq and Afghanistan, tired of soaring gas prices, alarmed by their 401(k) drops and horrified by the plunge in their real estate.

They were not tired of the 2008 tax rates. And they were not tired of their health plans, which have not sunk our economy as some have bogusly predicted for decades when instead the culprits were home prices and Internet stocks.

Yes, it would be great if everyone was insured. The truth is that most people — not all, of course, but most — have a health plan they like or accept and don't really want to change it. Isn't it odd when a president insists he needs this bill of massive, precedent-setting change, yet every time he talks about the subject, the first thing he says is if you're happy with your plan, you don't have to change.

To borrow Karabell's line, we think that while there is some segment — clearly a minority — that believes the health-care system is an outrage and a public option is a must, the majority of public and Congress are not sold on this and really don't want to change it. The votes are not there. Thus a half-hearted, watered-down compromise, accomplished only by serious arm-twisting and buying and evidently undone by one simple state election, that gives no one what they really want except a legislative "victory" they can crow about, seems like a shallow way of governing.

If Sarah Palin tweeting about death panels or some unknown guy winning a Massachusetts election is enough to derail whatever this legislation is, then clearly it wasn't meant for the big time.

As for Wall Street pay packages, that kind of outrage runs 3,000 miles wide and maybe half an inch deep. If people need a special tax on Lloyd Blankfein to feel good about the world when driving home at night, that's news to us.

Most people would find our government infinitely more productive if it just caught bin Laden and brought our troops home.

Terranova: Oil $90 before $60

Joe Terranova made an oil call Monday.

"90 before 60, I believe that's where oil is going," Terranova said. But "don't own the USO, it's too tied to the contango play."

Pete Najarian talked positively about BP, but Mike Khouw, running the "Prop Desk," had a trade in mind, pointing to Exxon's earnings and saying "names that are highly correlated ... British Petroleum, Royal Dutch, basically tracked Exxon today." Essentially, he said, "You can still do some overwrites, because the implied volatility that already came out of Exxon hasn't come out of those two names yet."

Melissa Lee said "I was playing catch-up over the weekend" when reading about the Toyota impact on CSX. Guy Adami reminded viewers of his good call on the rails when the Buffett BNI thing was announced.

Khouw offered a gold trade, using too many words to make the point "Options in GDX look cheap" compared with past relationships to GLD.

AFC 41, NFC 34

Melissa Lee on Monday trumpeted this statistic from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "During midterm election years, the average intra-year correction is 20%. 20%. Isn't that an amazing statistic?"

"Lot of time left," said Guy Adami.

Pete Najarian spoke briefly about Cephalon, but then said he really wanted to highlight the incredible options activity in Intermune. "Over 50,000 contracts by noon, 35,000 of them on the call side," he said, apparently predominantly the March 17.5 calls. "Volume was off the charts."

Joe Terranova said "love Ralph Lauren ... technically it has not broken down, it's holding above the 50-day moving average."

Mike Khouw became the latest captain of the "Prop Desk" unable to find any significant afterhours action in a breaking-news subject, which on Monday happened to be Google and Microsoft.

Sad but true — apparently Jane Wells and Patty Edwards have admitted watching at least part of the Pro Bowl Sunday. Not sure about Jon or Pete Najarian.

The Pro Bowl is as illegitimate as the most recent elections in Venezuela, and football purists won't watch it.

One to write down

Some people who watch the news from time to time may question what makes a person qualified to be a political pundit on television.

Andrew Sullivan, a regular in the Chris Matthews universe, dispensed this bit of wisdom Sunday: "I think this is a battle of nerves, right now. And I think if Obama and the Democrats keep their nerve, they're going to be fine. If they lose it, it's over."

MLee fails to get Gary Kaminsky
to define ‘fraction’

The crew on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Monday offered varying approaches to the blockbuster news that Richard Shelby criticized one of President Obama's bank plans.

Joe Terranova declared big banks to be big buys.

"I think somewhere out there a bunch of Democratic incumbents breathed a sigh of relief about all this," Terranova said. "Yes, JPMorgan's a buy, Bank of America's a buy, the XLF is a buy, Goldman Sachs here, great levels to get into it. Morgan Stanley, great levels as well."

To put it kindly, Melissa Lee introduced the show with what could be characterized as a lack of context. In the intro she noted the possibility of an "Obama bank plan stumble" and then said Senator Richard Shelby just recently said he "opposes this rule." And we sat there wondering, what the heck rule are we talking about??

Jon Najarian said certain banks are already gearing up to exit that holding company protection, "the writing is on the wall," and "I think Mr. Shelby or Senator Shelby is exactly right to say what he's been saying."

Apparently speaking strictly of financials, Zach Karabell said Monday's action amounted to the "last two weeks reversing," and he had little enthusiasm for trading the news. "People trading the news is one of the great foolhardy moves, although if you do it daily, I suppose you can make money," he said. "Nothing's gonna happen in Washington, so why bother?

"The whole year is just gonna be senators and congresspeople talking. They're not actually gonna do anything because none of them really want to," he added.

Lee then clumsily tried to pit Karabell vs. Terranova, but Karabell said he was merely talking about trading the markets on specific news. Terranova, on the other hand, said "I gotta make some money this year and most people do as well trading. ... I think there's tremendous opportunity in the marketplace right now."

Lee took a phone call from Gary Kaminsky on the story out of London that Lloyd Blankfein was going to get a $100 million bonus. Kaminsky called the story "dumb" and said it was probably leaked by a competitor, although if it was truly "leaked" as opposed to "invented," then there might be some truth in it.

Kaminsky said it was "probably a buying opportunity here" because Blankfein would only be getting a "fraction" of $100 million, "nothing like a hundred million."

Melissa Lee asked Kaminsky whether a "fraction" would mean something like 70% or 5%, but Kaminsky wouldn't clarify.

Todd Gordon said of GS, "I believe the key breakdown was around 167, 168," and he doesn't think the stock can rally back that high.

Gordon said he think the S&P can rally back to 1,100, perhaps 1,120, before falling again. Jon Najarian agreed, saying he thinks there could be more trouble before options expiration this month but that he sees the S&P short-term climbing to 1,100. "Most of these are short-term trades," he said.

Melissa Lee correctly singled out Joe Terranova's impressive FCX purchase on Friday. Terranova said he sold some of it Monday because of "Mutual Fund Monday" concerns (in other words, sounds like he might be concerned Monday's action is a fluke). But Zach Karabell also hailed FCX. "I bought Freeport," Karabell said. "Freeport was down 20%; I think you definitely should've been in last week, and you certainly could be in today."

Todd Gordon and Jon Najarian warned that AMZN is approaching some support levels, "critical support nearby," Gordon said.

‘Fast Money’ in mainstream,
non-mainstream media

Who better to turn to for analysis of Microsoft option activity than Dr. J, Jon Najarian. Reuters did just that on Thursday, saying Dr. J (they didn't call him that) reported the most active February call strikes were the out-of-the-money $31 and $30 strike prices. Notably, Reuters describes optionMonster as "a Web information site."

Last week, Zach Karabell penned a little essay on "Our Not-So-Great Recession" at the Atlantic, writing, "what’s most striking about the world isn’t how much things have changed as a result of the crisis but how little."

China Daily, um, not always using perfect English grammar, highlighted Karabell's recent article in Time, saying he "refuted two of Google’s excuses about its failure in China, and implied an ongoing shift of world economic balance."

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