[CNBCfix Fast Money Review archive for November 2009]
[Monday, November 30, 2009]

‘Fast Money’ crew figures out
Michelle Meyer is scorching

If you were given a chance to be a "Fast Money" panelist for just one episode, Monday would've been the day to pick.

You could've joined the crew in dishing out compliments to Barclays Capital's Michelle Meyer, The World's Cutest Economist.

It sounds like we're maybe no longer the only ones who think so.

Joe Terranova: "Take this as a compliment, I'm not sure if you remember 1981, or if you were born yet or not..."

Karen Finerman: "I just want to second what Joe said, you do look, is this like an after-school job for you or something, you do look really young..."

Of course, TWCE talked business. "First on the fundamental front, we're looking for nonfarm payrolls to fall by 100,000, which is about half of the decline in October," the hands-clasping economist said. "And on the fundamental front, there are signs that we're seeing improving labor market conditions."

No, these are the fundamentals ... Meyer wore royal blue top that blended elegantly with the blue-white "BARCLAYS CAPITAL" background, covered by black/navy jacket, with customary pendant. Curiously, she and Melissa Lee had basically the same attire, just different colors, with Lee choosing tan jacket over navy top, with pendant.

Do we have to say anything negative? Maybe a couple of TWCE's statements were a little long, such as this: "In October there was a very large negative seasonal adjustment to the not-seasonally adjusted figures. so in November it's probable that we'll see reversal of that, and that can actually make it look like an even better report with those seasonally adjusted numbers."

Otherwise, another perfect 10.

Karen's "after-school" remark could be misconstrued by some "Fast Money" late-comers as a backhanded dig at experience, but our interpretation is 100% compliment. TWCE deftly handled Karen's ISM-employment correlation question.

Melissa Lee was a gracious host, concluding with "Thanks for being such a good sport. You're lucky to look so young."

We've been trying to get a reliable age for Meyer, but can't. Then again, we can't even get a reliable age for Melissa Lee. Finerman looks about 28, Lee about 25.

Update: Was Meyer ‘mocked’?

Another site out there, The Business Insider, likes to write about Michelle Meyer just about as much as this site does.

This brief article by John Carney and Kamelia Angelova says it all in the headline: "Fast Money Gang Mocks Michelle Meyer Over Youthful Appearance."

Hmmm ... we definitely think Joe Terranova was complimentary. We did flag Karen Finerman's "after-school" quip as maybe borderline.

But in fact Meyer has been a guest on "Fast Money" several times since summer. It's not like we've got rookie hazing going on here.

One guess? The "Fast Money" gang has noticed that sites such as this one (not the only one, but the only one to bestow a title) have accurately identified Meyer's appearance as a major draw, and were having fun with it.

Karen Finerman has about the greatest sense of humor you'll ever hear, but it does include jabs on occasion. The opinion here is that this was a dig/compliment, not a true mock.

Maybe the best way to settle it is to procure an age from Meyer. That likely won't happen at this site, but perhaps she'll confide in the Business Insider?

The beauty of Web analysis? You can read as many opinions as you want, and make up your own mind, particularly on subjects the New York Times probably isn't going to write about.

Now, if we just had a dollar for every "age of michelle meyer fast money" inquiry we got Monday...

How much longer till AMZN
drops the ‘.com’ tag like
Apple did with ‘Computer’?

Melissa Lee first told the panel Monday, "missed you all." Then she unveiled a point about monthly returns, complete with chart, that she seemed to have high hopes for.

"Over the past 100 years, December has averaged positive returns the most of any month," Lee said.

Her primary focus seemed to be on Amazon, which she managed to redundantly say twice had hit a "new record high" and also "new all-time high."

Gene Munster claimed "there's definitely more to go."

Joe Terranova, who earlier Monday said on the "Halftime Report" (see below) that AMZN could hit $160, said "You don't necessarily want to trade and invest in what the consumer's buying. You want to trade and invest in how they're buying it. That appears to be the trade right now."

Pete Najarian said Wal-Mart's Web site was actually the "best-trafficked" over Black Friday, according to a study, but that Amazon was posting a $110 average per shopper, Wal-Mart $98.

Pete said it looks like a robust shopping season, because it took him and brother Jon 45 minutes to get into a prime Minnesota destination. "People were flooding into the Mall of America and everywhere else in the country to spend some money. And the great quote of the day I think was the folks that were talking about, there was some guy on earlier today that talked about 'frugal fatigue'," Pete said.

Perhaps most astonishingly, Pete called The Buckle the "most incredible store I've ever been in."

Guy Adami, sometimes regarded as Debbie Downer, couldn't resist a dig at all of this. "The entire state of Minnesota, I mean what else goes on up there, no disrespect to the Najarian family or Minnesotaians (sic), but I mean, whoa, couldn't get in the Mall of ... that's rough, baby."

The Drudge Effect?

Melissa Lee demanded Guy Adami declare whether the Dubai situation is a game-changer.

"Because you have the moniker Debbie Downer," Lee said, "is this, is this the unforeseen event that we've all been waiting for?"

"I'm not smart enough to answer that," Adami said. "I'll say this though. I think the same people who are glib enough to say this wasn't a big deal are basically the same people in June of 2007 that said the Bear Stearns hedge fund collapse wasn't a big deal either."

The "glib enough" distinction basically falls onto just about every other "Fast Money" trader.


Karen Finerman made this point about the Dubai news: "It was out actually Wednesday during the day, and for some reason the market just didn't seem to care at that point ... I'm intrigued; I'm afraid to jump in here."

We have a theory on that. Might be wrong, but it's a theory.

We barely even knew about Dubai on Wednesday.

Thursday afternoon/evening, sometime during those wretched three games the National Football League put on for its fans, the Dubai news showed up as the lede story on — guess — a certain prominent news aggregator Web site.

Next thing we knew, overnight futures were plunging to -300 or something like that.

Bove doesn’t look like Meyer,
but he can analyze with anyone

Richard X. Bove, otherwise known as " 'Fast Money' Friend Dick Bove," said he expects two things in the 4th quarter for banks: "another round of capital raises" and a "big increase in reserves."

Bove said, "My feeling would be stay away from these stocks until the beginning of the year."

But then Bove called out some interesting names when discussing capital-raising. Bove said he analyzed the top 30 banks by assets, and only four of them would not need to raise capital "if we go to 12% capital ratio." He said those are Citigroup, State Street, Northern Trust and First Horizon. (This writer is long C.)

Karen Finerman asked about her favorite bank subject, loan loss reserves. Bove said, "We're not at parity anymore," and he said many analysts think the 4th quarter will be a "kitchen sink quarter," an ominous-sounding term we heard often — really, often — on CNBC in autumn of 2007.

Bove had mixed feelings on Dubai. "I think it's pretty clear that it's not behind us and that we have not seen the worst, you know, internationally," he said, but luckily for the U.S., "Since 1990, when the American banks lost a fortune in foreign investment, they have gone away, they just don't do it anymore."

Guy Adami briefly said there could be banks out there that are shorts in light of secondary issuances and other things and not to anyone's surprise started to mention WFC again, but cut himself off this time.

Yes, but where will
it be in January?

Goldman Sachs may have given a boost to the banks, but the "Fast Money" traders seemed unconvinced on Monday.

"You know where the XLF was in August?" asked Pete Najarian. "It was 14. You know where it is now? It's 14 and a half," Pete said, explaining that people are now buying into the volatility on financials.

A subdued Joe Terranova, who other than a quip to Michelle Meyer seemed to approach Monday's show as soberly as Al Neri handled his assignments, explained "There is no trade just yet" on the financial sector.

Guy Adami looks upon USB favorably. "Some folks saying it's a $29 stock, I tend to agree," he said.

Unrelated to banks, Joe Terranova said to watch the ag names. "On any pullback, Potash against 105, that's where you gotta buy it, Intrepid Potash, pullback against 29, you wanna be a buyer there as well," Terranova said, while the panel expressed surprise at Deere but gave MON lukewarm endorsements.

Other than a very mild description of FCX, we think "Fast Money" actually went an entire show without discussing gold.

The "Fast Money" Graphics Gremlins were at it again Monday, during a Pete Najarian comment, stating "OVERAL OPTIONS VOL."

Carter Worth fails to ignite

Chart technician Carter Worth, whose ongoing position has been that the stock market is going to resemble 2004 because it has been resembling 2003, now sees potential negativity in Justine Bateman, er, that other '80s phenom, the Nikkei.

Worth showed how the S&P and Nikkei had tracked each other for a while, but now the Nikkei is fading. "This is a little bit of a problem," Worth said.

Worth also showed a similar chart of copper and crude. The rest of the panelists seemed about as interested in this theory as Cole Hamels was in pitching Game 7 of the World Series.

Worth dispensed this nugget: "There is an old adage: A market deteriorates under the cover of strength in blue-chip stocks."

Jon Najarian says AIG puts
match Lehman, Bear ’08 activity

Jon Najarian said Monday on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" that the options activity in AIG was bringing back some bad memories.

"It's reminiscent of, uh, the same sort of activity that we saw in Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns," Najarian said. "The fact that we've got such a big surge in buying of puts, way out-of-the-money puts ... that does give you some pause."

Mike Khouw said there could be a very bold bull play here. "The equity is so heavily levered in this case," he said, "it's a really dangerous stock to short."

What's not giving anyone pause is the reported holiday traffic, anecdotal and otherwise.

"There's no reason to get off the Amazon train," said Joe Terranova. "There are price targets out there of 160, and it looks like it may get there."

Dr. J said he spent the Black Friday weekend at the Mall of America, and "it was a 45-minute wait to get into the place." He likes TJX.

People have their likes and dislikes about "Fast Money," but no one can ever accuse Zach Karabell of being Debbie Downer on the global growth story.

"The only thing that we're talking about now in terms of concerns are Dubai and AIG," Karabell said. "It's not like, what's the next shoe to drop; we're talking about the shoes that dropped a year ago. It's like picking them up and re-examining them."

Karabell made a point we don't think we've heard previously on "Fast Money" — that high-end steel is being imported by China, while low-end steel is in a glut in China.

Asked if he's buying or selling the day's close, Khouw said "Stay in it," which we think translates to "hold."

After a week of presumably refreshing vacation, Melissa Lee returned to the CNBC set. She looked great, and has done something different, we couldn't determine exactly what, just something different, a more formal look that diverted our attention from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's uniquely cut black dress. Lee did once again redundantly note a "new record" for Amazon.

[Friday, November 27, 2009]

Gary Kaminsky yawns

Nobody was less excited about the Dubai stumble than Gary Kaminsky.

"You know Simon," Kaminsky told Simon Hobbs on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Friday, "if this was the big macro event that managers have been waiting for since the March lows that was going to give them a reason to sell equity, then it's really been a non-event, it's somewhat of a yawner today."

Kaminsky, who showed off the holiday beard, added, "This is not new news, this was telegraphed over the summer that these problems were gonna exist. ... On Monday, whatever's happening in Dubai is gonna be, is gonna be off to the side."

"I wouldn't agree. I think that this is a big event," Brian Kelly said. "You gotta remember, most fund managers these days are global players, so they can get out of stocks overseas which they did the last couple days. I think it's just a bunch of traders in today trying to play the gap down. I think we could see weakness from here. ... I would kind of frame it in two different ways. I mean one is the positive scenario, where Abu Dhabi comes in, backs Dubai debt, gives them kind of a global slap on the wrist, and we all go on living happily ever after. The negative scenario is, this starts to spread. I mean the subprime crisis was supposed to be, you know, going to be contained, in the beginning as well."

JJ Kinahan suggested there's a key test in the S&P next week. "We're seeing in the EEM ... we're seeing big buyers of the December 40 puts, and the March 38 puts, so what that's telling me is that we're not quite sure what all the risk is gonna be," Kinahan said. "We traded just below 1070 in the S&P 500 future, you talk about Monday morning, I think we have to go back and test that level."

Tim Seymour, possibly a little overcaffeinated, phoned in the "Fast" line and said, "I think in the short run a lot of people were in taking profits on some shorts that they may have actually put in to the long weekend," which was fine, but everything he said after that at about 100 mph went directly over our heads.

Brian Stutland handled the obligatory VIX report. "VIX futures out to February, they're trading up at 28, and the VIX itself is only just below the 24 level, so at least future traders are expecting the VIX to continue to spike over the next three months," Stutland said.

Kelly: $1,070 key for gold

For the daily "Fast Money" gold-price discussion, Brian Kelly did the honors Friday.

"The gold trade really now is about a paper currency failure," Kelly said. "I think there's a buying opportunity here. You look at the 1070, 1080 level, that's where we broke out on gold here, so now that resistance becomes my support."

And every so often, Japanese economics are deemed important.

"I think what you're seeing is this kind of, global taking off of risk," Kelly added. "Japan has, uh, debt problems, worse than the U.S., probably not as worse as Dubai, but I mean their debt to GDP is approaching 250%, it doesn't take much of a spike in yields in Japan to make them unable to service that debt, so that would be the next area that I'm concerned about."

Don’t drive, just shop

Meanwhile, JJ Kinahan said reports from the malls are promising.

"What we've seen so far today, I was listening to a radio here a few minutes ago as I was walking over, we're seeing very, very heavy traffic," Kinahan said. "They were saying the Chicago area malls, the two biggest malls, you can't even find a parking spot."

"I continue to feel," Gary Kaminsky said, "that the 80% of people that have jobs and are working right now will be spending money, that the numbers will be an upside suprise. I've mentioned Wal-Mart, I've mentioned Best Buy, I've mentioned Bed Bath & Beyond in the last month."

Brian Stutland indicated he's not scared of any old valuation. "Take a look at Amazon in the cyberspace. I like this a lot," Stutland said. "I do own Amazon and I am short puts on them."

Simon Hobbs turned in another crisp showing despite issues with a few names, referring to "Noyberger Berman" and slightly botching the title of the show, but ya gotta like the charged-up intro: "Ohhhh, welcome to the Fast Money Halftime Resport (sic) ... A typically slow trading day has turned into a crucial one." But we kinda miss Mel Lee.

[Wednesday, November 25, 2009]

Thank you from CNBCfix

Right around the time Thursday when we're about to indulge in pumpkin pie, we're going to raise a toast to someone important:


It just so happens that after a minor September-October slump, CNBCfix has (to our surprise) smashed some of its own site-traffic records this month. But that's not why we're appreciative; those numbers can twist in the wind like Gordon Gekko after Larry Wildman buys BlueStar for $16.50.

Rather, it's that a steadily growing number of visitors are coming back at least semi-regularly to see what we've got.

One reason for launching this site was to learn more about the Web and html. Figure out how to program it, navigate it, understand what kind of content works and what doesn't.

We mulled choosing a grand topic that people obsessively Google 24/7 that would surely generate an audience, something like "American Idol."

But at the time, we couldn't even tell you what the host's name was.

So we went with the gut and chose what we really wanted, CNBC, which we watch all the time and tends to fly under the radar of the more prominent media bloggers.

The credentials of people on the network (guests as well as hosts and reporters) tend to be impeccable. Some are profoundly disagreeable, others can be wrong or foolish, but when they talk, we get it.

And nowadays, we really don't care about the html and all that, as long as we're doing journalism 24/7. We're trying to be relevant all the way from the top (strategic programming VPs) to the bottom (questioners who want to know, for example, "is darren ratigan married"). And we're gradually finding that in some tiny, niche-y way, we are.

This site, and this page, have exceeded our (admittedly low) expectations. Every click is like gravy.

It's not the Gartman Letter. But enough people are gonna click that we're sufficiently motivated to churn out this stuff as often as possible, stuff that sometimes seems (even to us, yes) almost unfathomably reportable, such as the "Woodsy Bowl." (BTW, a big tip of the cap to whichever CNBC honcho freed up our weekend by opting against a regular edition of "Fast Money" on Friday.)

We want to thank the "Fast Money" traders for putting on a good show and (at least to our knowledge) being good sports, especially the gridiron veterans and nearly Golden-Gloves participants who haven't (yet) tried to e-clothesline us about anything we've written; same for the ladies and our fashion commentaries. And of course, many thanks to the big-media pros out there who have answered some of our inquiries or just given us a nod to let us know they looked — you're forever a "Friend of the Site," even if you'd rather not be.

And as a reward for reading this far, you get our tired spiel: Dedicated to the highest standards of journalism established for decades by the nation's daily newspapers and news magazines, relentlessly posting original material, independently written, independently programmed, fighting for every click we get. We're here because you are.

Happy Thanksgiving, and happy trading.

The Gartman Rules

In what we (seriously) think is a huge benefit to viewers, Dennis Gartman discussed a couple of his rules of trading Wednesday. Those who have looked up Gartman on the Web can easily find the entire list (we think he updates it every year or so, but it's the same general principles), but it's always refreshing to revisit a couple standards on-air.

His favorite, and our favorite, is "Never, ever, ever add to a losing trade." He mentioned another one we hadn't mulled very often but seems deadly accurate: "Too many people get far too complicated."

It's like what Tim McCarver said during the Angels' catastrophic errors in Game 6 of the ALCS, when you get down to it, it's really a simple game.

Adami analyzes Schiff’s dubious
response to gold question

Rick Santelli seemingly challenged our analysis of the gold-plunge fear yesterday with this commentary Wednesday: "Stairs up, elevator down. Anybody who's traded commodities knows, boy, when these things go down, they go down hard, fast, and they take no prisoners," Santelli said.

It's true we have liked the "stairs up, elevator down" analogy we first heard from Guy Adami around the time the show launched.

Adami took a little jab at Peter Schiff, reminding viewers he asked Schiff for a scenario that would be bearish for gold. "He basically either ducked it or didn't have an answer to it," Adami said.

And what about our point yesterday that FCX plunged a lot more than the GLD in 2008? "By the way, I think Freeport Mac around 91, that was the high back in September of 08, that's where I get a little worried," Adami said, and he even told an e-mail questioner that FCX could soon be a short candidate.

Patty did her homework

Fortunately there's no regular "Fast Money" edition on Friday, or we'd have to sit through yet another analysis of Black Friday retail sales. (We know it'll happen again Monday, but that's a ways off right now.)

Wednesday the analyst was Don Binder, who said lean inventories mean buyers shouldn't expect massive clearance sales this year. "I think the consumer's gonna miss out if they wait too long this season," Binder said. He also made a bullish case for Best Buy, citing valuation and having some of their competition wiped out. "I think Best Buy is probably the most compelling story out there."

Guy Adami scoffed at the gains in JCG, which he attributed in part to short interest. "Today I think was capitulation," Adami said. "The valuations don't make sense here."

That's a fine argument to make, but one reason we're still bowled over by Patty Edwards' tremendous JCG call Tuesday (see below) is because she said her analysis was not based on looking at a P.E. ratio on her iPhone, but pounding the pavement. She said she's been visiting the J. Crew stores. A lot of times a "Fast Money" trader will lukewarmly suggest you "can" get long something into earnings, but how does it get any better than this bold call from Patty just hours before paydirt: "Mickey Drexler coming in there and turning around fashion, the thing just looks fabulous. They report after the close and I really think you can make some money if you go long before that."

Non-‘Fast Money’ news

Finally, one of those "I Am CNBC" ads aired for Mary Thompson, which we can say based on inquiries to this site has been highly sought by CNBC viewers. Unfortunately, the spot is not yet available for linking on the CNBC.com "I Am CNBC" page with all the others. She runs marathons, lived in Europe, attended Notre Dame.

Diana Olick has a new haircut.

Whaddaya think this
‘Woodsy Bowl’ is all about?

Joe Terranova declared Wednesday, without actually saying, that history repeats itself.

Those doing chart analysis will find "2009 is all about 2003. That is the template," Terranova said.

Guy Adami gave an impressive shout-out to "Fast Money" fan Regis Philbin, who apparently is undergoing hip surgery. Adami even recommended ZMH as a related trade.

Greg Troccoli was also giving shout-outs, but the recipients aren't quite as famous. "I just wanna give a shout-out to my very good friends Michael Woods and his lovely wife, Jen, who's an editorial contributor, CNBC," Troccoli said. "I know the first annual Woodsy Bowl is gonna be a resounding success and I wish I could be there with you guys."

After Rick Santelli noted that Friday is the busiest day of the year for plumbers (we think it's likely not because of the food, but because everyone is home and thus able to call a plumber), Guy Adami went off on a bizarre tangent with two words: "courtesy flush."

Adami went off on another tangent Wednesday, suddenly telling viewers to listen to "In Through the Out Door" because he just heard "Fool in the Rain" during the commercial break.

Yeah, but why did "Presence" (after "Achilles' Last Stand") suck?

Greg Troccoli said "I've got a story to tell you about dinner with John Paul Jones one night," but we never heard what the story was.


Guy Adami seemingly went so far out of his way to make a point about his age, we kinda got this creepy feeling he was actually talking about us.

Adami said he was 40 in 2003, but not 46 yet, indicating he has a birthday coming up.

If we were paranoid, we might wonder if Guy had just recently gotten a load of our CNBC Star Profiles page, which claimed up until Wednesday's show that he was born in 1964. Which can't be right, if he was 40 in 2003. (Maybe it was all that Debbie Downer stuff we said recently...)

OK, here's what happened...

Many people visit sites such as this one for the most basic celebrity information, whether someone's married, what their birthdate is, etc. Obviously, it's a staple of any bio page to list a birthday if known — and, of course, verified.

Much of the material from our CNBC bio page comes from what the CNBCers themselves say on the air. The "Fast Money" crew always talks about birthdays, so identifying the day is not a problem, and it was readily apparent to any viewer that Adami celebrates his birthday Dec. 18.

So how did we end up with 1964 as Adami's birth year? We could swear that's what Adami himself said on the "Fast Money Web Extra" that day.

Someone — we think Karen Finerman but aren't sure — asked him what year, and Adami answered as someone else spoke. We recall replaying it about five times. We figured based on college info the actual year had to be 1964 or 1965, but what he said, with someone else talking, definitely did not sound like either "1965" or "1963."

Unfortunately, while the "Web Extra" video in question apparently does linger at CNBC.com, our browser deemed it suspicious and wouldn't let us view it.

So we're unable at this time to provide a link and let you judge for yourself (as if you want to).

Anyway, with such a demonstrative on-air statement, we feel comfortable now with 1963 instead. These types of errors are bad because they might get picked up by trolling search engines and can be hard to stamp out, like Whack-a-Mole or something. It's an embarrassment to a site that takes accuracy very seriously. We owe Adami an e-pology for apparently botching this one. It was only a mistake out of effort, not carelessness.

So there's about 20 seconds of your life you won't get back, but we feel better now.

If it’s not 2003, it’s 2005

Tim Seymour suggested Wednesday on the "Halftime Report" that the consumer-spending skeptics sort of play both sides of the coin.

Rick Santelli was egging on JJ Kinahan about consumers spending more than their income or something like that. "It should distress everyone, because it's, uh, the same pattern we saw in 2005-06," Kinahan said.

"Thank you," Santelli said.

"Haven't we been crying Rick that the consumer's not been spending money in this new paradigm?" Seymour responded. "You can't have it both ways."

Keep in mind we're not trained economists here, but we always get a chuckle whenever we hear about the American consumer being in trouble, in particular recently as Meredith Whitney is repeatedly telling how there's "x billion amount of credit" being sapped out of the economy from tighter lending practices. The fact is that people in this country buy things, they like buying things, and while the level will fluctuate from time to time, they're going to continue to buy things and figure out ways to buy things, and declaring that ominous stats are going to change that behavior is like declaring a guy who says he's going to drop 20 pounds because his jeans are now tight is actually going to follow through on his plan to lose 20 pounds.

"Sacrifice" went out in the Carter administration.

For Steve Cortes, it’s a 24/7 job

Steve Cortes, who said he is "long dollar vs. Canada," says he sees an "incredibly frothy" trade for this reason: "I'm being asked how to short the dollar by lawyers and dentists on the steps of church on Sunday morning."

Cortes said the stock market has been throwing an "asset party basically this week," all except for one key commodity: crude. That's "one warning sign, I would say," he said. He also sees trouble in fine dining: "High-end restaurants, they're doing very poorly, Ruth's Chris, Morton's," he said.

Brian Kelly seemed to be trying to talk himself out of a long-dollar trade. If it gets any worse, he said he would "cut my losses short."

Guest host Rick Santelli made the mistake at least once, maybe more, of asking the panel who wants to talk rather than just calling on someone. He also did another spiel on (Zzzzzzz) Treasury auctions, and called Tim Seymour "Pete."

[Tuesday, November 24, 2009]

Patty nailed JCG

According to Google finance, J. Crew surged 7.5% on its earnings afterhours Tuesday, confirming a sensational forecast by Patty Edwards on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" just hours earlier.

We're in awe.

Quite frankly, given the timing, specificity, low-volume day and name that isn't regularly discussed, it's one of the greatest fast-money calls ever heard on the show, in our opinion. (This writer did not buy JCG, sadly.)

Karen Finerman said on the real show, "Thank God I didn't have the ... whatever ... to be short the name, which I would've been on valuation."

‘Fast Money’ should’ve given
Guy Adami the week off

Gee whiz, was Guy Adami being Debbie Downer on Tuesday, or what?

"I think the revised GDP," Adami said, "when I saw that I thought there's no way the S&P can't not (sic) be down 15 handles today ... I don't get it."

On housing, "that Wall Street Journal article just can't be good ... but there's so much shadow inventory, and there's so many foreclosures still out there..."

He's still trying to convince the market to sell WFC (he has no position per disclosure) ... "There's always the chatter, and clearly I don't know anything, we haven't gone to Wells Fargo, but clearly there's still chatter about a potential secondary there, and you know what I still think if you want a short idea in a bank, Wells Fargo has trouble at the 28, 29 level, and I think that one's worth looking at."

He complained about people buying UPS, "to me the valuations don't make sense."

He put odds of 20% on "something happening" between Israel and Iran.

He was even carping (in a very New Yorky-insidery way that probably no viewers other than those in New York or those who liked pro basketball in the early '70s would get) about former Knicks guard Dean Meminger being injured in a house fire.

Isn't this Thanksgiving week?

Peter Schiff owns a lot
of petroleum names

As usual, Guy Adami saved his greatest gloom for gold.

Peter Schiff, who we just realized slightly resembles Senator Chuck Schumer, told Adami on Tuesday, "Guy, you didn't miss the boat, climb on board, it's going a lot higher ... they're gonna be stampeding out of paper, particularly out of the U.S. dollar, to buy gold, it's gonna go straight up."

"What worries me is," Adami said, "nobody that's bullish in gold has a scenario where it can go down. There has to be, exists, a scenario where gold can go lower."

"Can it drop a hundred or two hundred dollars? Sure," Schiff said. "But I'm not worried about that. I'm looking at the long term."

Karen Finerman questioned the desk's gold bulls (that would be only Tim Seymour on Tuesday) if miners would simply produce more gold to meet this heavy demand and thus eventually saturate the market. Seymour said it might be just the opposite.

"Gold production isn't really up that much," Seymour said. "You start to see power outages, see brownouts in South Africa, that's some of the biggest production in the world, and I think actually that will spike gold even higher because in fact there will be less of it being produced."

Seymour managed to pin down Schiff on some specifics. "I am long a small number of U.S. stocks," Schiff conceded. "I own, you know, I own Chevron, I own ExxonMobil, I own ConocoPhillips, I own Newmont Mining, you know, I own, I own some agriculture names in the U.S., but most of my money is abroad."

Is gold really as dangerous
as Guy Adami says?

Something about Guy Adami's gold argument has been bugging us for a while.

And we finally were able to take a moment to make a point.

Adami regularly likes to say that he's seen days where gold falls $150 or something like that and it's just a massive stampede for the exits.

Tuesday, even Pete Najarian joined that refrain, saying "When these things drop, they drop significantly. I think, if gold were to correct, and fall back maybe 300 points at some point, I think copper will also turn as well."

It occurred to us to ask ourselves, where is the evidence that gold is more prone to crush someone any more than a stock is?

So we found these handy-dandy charts at goldprice.org. We noticed 2008 was obviously a tough year. So we looked up the GLD specific pricing and found the GLD fell from $99 to $70, or about a 29% drop.

By contrast, FCX, a stock Adami has often touted, fell in 2008 from $123 to ... um ... $16. Or, an 87% plunge.

Even mighty low-beta XOM went from 91 to 60 in about five months, or a 34% drop.

Gold also stumbled from mid-2006 into early 2007, trading in the $700 to $600 range, or a 14% decline in a couple months' time.

Beyond that, it's been a steady move up this entire decade.

The late '90s were not good for gold. It traded around $400 in 1995 and steadily dropped to the upper $200s by late 1999. But it was hardly a "crowded" trade back then, and most people were probably establishing long-term positions as some kind of hedge while a ridiculous Internet bubble was occurring. Clearly, monetary and fiscal policy is a lot more favorable to gold now than then.

Adami undoubtedly is wary of the 1980 gold disaster. However, the chart shows the parabola only took three years, from early 1977 (about $100) to early 1980 (over $800), with not a hint of correction. The chart of the present decade shows a 10-year climb, with one small correction and one big correction.

This writer has no position in gold ETFs or miners. Journalistically, we merely wonder why gold seems to be so feared among some pros. We don't see the evidence it's any more dangerous than the stocks that are touted, particularly those casino stocks of 2007 that got talked up on "Fast Money" a lot more than gold did. And if you're concerned, do what Pete does and buy puts. Why isn't Adami issuing equal warnings about Amazon? Or Priceline, which he said recently actually merits its parabolic move? Caution is always fine, but the "drop significantly" argument about gold, in relation to the stocks that are recommended on "Fast Money," measured over a 10-year span is bogus; it's like telling people to stay out of equities forever because of 1987.

Tim Seymour justifies the gold trade this way: "In this case the demand obviously is diversification." We don't get that argument either. We think people are buying it because it's going up.

In other words, no flight to safety

When he wasn't dating Debbie Downer, Adami was grilling Rick Santelli with some good questions of his own about the dollar, asking Santelli for a pro-dollar scenario. "You know it's the flight to safety," Santelli said.

"And what would create a flight to safety," Adami asked.

Here is where the initial answer is most telling.

"I think right now what would create a flight to safety is if you had issues regarding, you know, the Japanese right now, their currency's strong, but they have to issue boatloads of debt down the road, we wanna watch how their auctions go..." Santelli said.

Sounds like a strong bullish case for the dollar, wait and see how Japan does.

"What if some of the Israel-Iran rhetoric," Adami continued, "and I happen to think there might be a 20% chance of something happening between those two, in the not-too-distant future."

But "those seem temporary, the flight to the dollar if you have a geopolitical situation" said Karen Finerman. "What if the ECB starts to raise rates?"

"There's a couple ways to look at it," said Santelli. "They hurt the European economy or they help the euro currency. I think they would help the euro currency and it would be against the dollar." Santelli predicted the U.S. will not raise rates until the 2010 elections.

Please, Black Friday, end soon

Karen Finerman got yet another chance to ask a retail analyst about Saks, this time Chuck Grom. Grom said he used to be bullish on SKS but now prefers the more "mid-tier" names.

Mark Mahaney was singing the praises of Amazon. "We're looking at Amazon doing probably 30% year over year growth, that's three-zero, 30% year over year growth in this fourth quarter," he said.

Pete Najarian, though, said to keep an eye on Apple and whatever kind of tablet it might produce. "This will be competitive immediately with the Kindle," Pete said.

Karen said the market isn't really rooted in the basics. "The market wants to go higher, whether it's money on the sidelines that needs to come in," she said. "In the long term I do believe in fundamentals."

"Tomorrow it will be very light. Look for light volume again," Pete said, encouragingly.

Rick Santelli referred to real estate with a shout-out to "Diana Olick, who covers this in a sensational way."

Katie Stockton: Crude ‘projects’
to $96.50 per barrel, buy XOM

Katie Stockton was the only panelist on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Tuesday who wanted to buy the market going into the close. But it was her comment on crude that caught our attention.

"I do think that crude oil moves higher from current levels," Stockton said. "It is short-term oversold, and has a breakout in place that projects a target of 96 and a half dollars per barrel. I do think that ExxonMobil is poised to benefit from those kinds of gains in the price of crude oil."

Joe Terranova wasn't on the "Halftime Report," but he did do the "Fast Money Final Call" on Tuesday with CNBC superstar Sue Herera, and that delighted CNBCfix because we rarely if ever get to talk about Sue Herera around here. "I can't talk as fast as Melissa does," Sue said, but that's OK.

Interestingly, Terranova actually was negative on oil, but like Stockton touted XOM as opposed to higher-beta names. "In the futures space Sue, what you are seeing is contango coming back into the market. The front of the board is experiencing heavy selling pressure right now," Terranova said.

If you're interested in oil, you might also be interested in gold, and that's where Dennis Gartman comes in. "We're making new highs not for gold not just in dollar terms, we're making new highs for gold in terms of sterling, new highs for gold in terms of Canadian dollars, new highs for gold in terms of, of the euro, that's what's impressive," Gartman said Tuesday. "And I think what you're seeing is a movement of capital away from fiat currency — I sound like a gold bug and I don't like the gold bugs — but that's indeed what's going on and that's likely to continue."

Rick Santelli, showing some age with this analogy, questioned if gold could drop in a hurry if we "have 40 Ralph Kramdens trying to get through a skinny porthole." Gartman said, "I don't think it's that terribly crowded yet."

Many times we wish we subscribed to The Gartman Letter because Dennis apparently does some wide-ranging opining. Occasionally we get queries around here like "what did dennis gartman write about Bill Belichick's call," etc.

Jeff Tomasulo can be frustrating to watch, but he does do something we admire, which is maintain unpredictability. About the only thing we can say for certain is that he's never gushingly bullish. He can talk endlessly about waiting to see what the SPYders do, but then he'll drop a stunner like shorting Goldman Sachs. Tuesday, he basically called a short-term top in the market without saying as much.

"First of all, where did all the green shoots go," he said. "The last couple of trading sessions, I've been trying to keep myself awake. ... If I'm trying to tell one of my customers or a long-term investor to buy equities right now, I'd be lying to them. You cannot go long where the market has come from right now."

Patty Edwards, who also probably wonders about Bill Belichick's calls because she's a big football fan, says good things are happening at J. Crew. "Mickey Drexler coming in there and turning around fashion, the thing just looks fabulous. They report after the close and I really think you can make some money if you go long before that," Patty said.

Pete Najarian was too much in market-summary-recap mode but offered this trade: "You still look to a name like Lowe's, like Home Depot, some of the home improvement names where the valuation still makes sense," Pete said. "They aren't overpriced, yes they've rallied, but they're not overpriced right now. That's what makes those names attractive. But I do not like the homebuilders themselves, there are just too many variables."

[Monday, November 23, 2009]

Why does Fox Business exist?

If "Fast Money" honchos once used Eric Bolling's "Happy Hour" as a measuring stick, hopefully they've raised their standards by now.

"Happy Hour" is incapable of raising the bar, even though it's taped ridiculously at a bar.

Bolling was dynamite on "Fast Money" and remains highly regarded by this site. Why such a celebrated trader and excellent pundit is corkscrewing his media career into the ground with this dreck of a show is beyond us.

If we found "Happy Hour" or any Fox Business Network show to be better than its CNBC counterpart, we wouldn't hesitate to say so. We hadn't seen "Happy Hour" for about six months, when we were astonished at how uninteresting and scattershot it was. But after reading last week that Cablevision is apparently adding FBN to 3 million more homes, we decided to check out "Happy Hour" on Monday to see if there's even a remote chance these new subscribers will thank Cablevision for this "upgrade."


Bolling and co-host Cody Willard, who used to be an interesting pundit in Larry Kudlow's gang, both stumbled over their opening teleprompter lines. Then interviewing a correspondent about a no-news-day in health care legislation, Bolling uttered this doozy: "The two key issues I guess in this bill, would be, uh, number one, abortion, and number two, I guess, um, you know, there, there's a lot there, I don't want to get into all of it."

We watch so much CNBC at CNBCfix, we rarely have time for Fox Business. We're open-minded. There are good TV faces on FBN, including several such as Bolling swiped away from CNBC. It has its moments, such as Monday's "Happy Hour" appearance by gorgeous Monica Crowley, who is so good-looking on "The McLaughlin Group" she makes a visual mockery of that Eisenhower-era cast. But Crowley is a Nixonite political pundit; you'd think "Happy Hour" would be more interested in stock picks. CNBC has spent decades honing its presentation and how its screen looks. FBN isn't sure if it wants stocks, politics, personal finance or whatever Imus is. Its graphics are horrible, overloaded at the bottom, in jarring colors; the presentation screams "gimmick" to the serious business TV viewer, which is practically a redundancy.

Murdoch is a genius at many things. He was right about football, right about comedy, right about reality TV, but his business network sucks, sort of like a wannabe of both CNBC and Fox News, and "Happy Hour" is an outright embarrassment to the Fox brand.

Our guess is that Bolling's departure probably netted the rest of the "Fast Money" cast members a raise, but we have no idea whether that's true or not.

Melissa Lee on vacation

Rick Santelli announced the beginning of "Fast Money" on Monday that he's "sitting in this week for Melissa Lee, who's on vacation, a well-deserved vacation."

We do give Santelli props for giving it the old college try. Monday, there was no issue with effort. However, his timing was off. Way off. He sounded on several occasions like he wasn't even absorbing the conversation, interrupting people with unrelated subjects right when they were making a point. Plus the cuts to commercial were very disjointed. Hosting isn't really his gig, but he's done this before. He can do better.

Robert Prechter: Tumble in 2010
‘at least as big as ’08’

Robert Prechter, author of Conquer the Crash, made several interesting points about the bear case but unfortunately was twice awkwardly interrupted by Rick Santelli.

His most important commentary somehow was saved for last.

"I think we're in for uh, a very large decline in 2010. I think it's going to be at least as big as what we saw in '08. So I really recommend that people get as safe as they possibly can with their money. This is not a good time to be invested," Prechter said.

The Netanyahu trade

To think that just last week we thought Pete Najarian was reaching to justify his DELL calls by citing an analyst's year-end valuation opinion.

Monday, Guy Adami gave viewers this whopper of a rationale for his "funny feeling" that a dollar spike is at hand.

"Well I mean I haven't figured it out yet," Adami said, "although it could be geopolitical; I've heard a couple people rumbling now and you hear the guys on the floor start to talk about if something happens between Israel and Iraq (sic) or Iran, you wonder what could happen to the dollar, will there be a flight to safety. It could happen. If it does happen, the rise in the dollar will be quick and will be extraordinarily big. I think anywhere from 13 to 15%. So yes I think the dollar can go a lot lower in the next year, year and a half, two years, but I just get that funny feeling that there's something on the horizon that's gonna get this dollar higher."

Kimberly Greenberger’s
epiphany on Tiffany

Citi retail analyst Kimberly Greenberger, who looks a bit like Gwyneth Paltrow, said wealthy folks are going to have a good holiday season. "The single highest correlating factor to spending among the high-end consumers is in fact stock-market returns, with a three- to a six-month lag," Greenberger said.

"We really like Tiffany on the high end," she added. "We're not recommending Aeropostale."

Karen Finerman asked about Saks, but Greenberger said she doesn't follow Saks and would have to defer to her colleague "Deborah" (that would be Weinswig, not Downer). But Deborah wasn't on the show, so that would be difficult.

This is an interesting line from CNBC.com's "Fast Money" disclosures: "A Suit Filed by (AEO) Against Citi is Currently Pending in Federal Court."

Wonder what that one's all about.

Like many people, Joe Terranova adds an 's to a certain upscale retailer that does not actually include 's in its name: "I'm 0 for 5 in Nordstrom's," Terranova said.

Guy Adami said he's been "smoked like a Tiparillo" when it comes to ANF.

Speaking of high-end retail, Karen Finerman's sister Wendy produced "The Devil Wears Prada."

61, 49, whatever

Asking about Saks wasn't the only time Karen Finerman got a non-answer on Monday. She asked JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, "What's your strategy for 2010 for hedging your fuel costs?"

"We're looking at the forward curve, which is roughly about 30 cents more per gallon burn, so we're starting to model that into our pricing equation," Barger said. "And right now we're 61% hedged in the first quarter, 49% hedged, using various mechanisms to try and flatten out the volatility of oil. But uh, there's no doubt about it, oil's still, it's still very hard to predict its movement."

Um, we all know it's hard to predict. We think Karen's question was about those "various mechanisms" Barger is using.

Nevertheless, Guy Adami said, "If you wanna be in the airlines, out of all the names, this is the one that I would own."

For Ronnie Van Zant

Normally we gripe when traders spend precious air time complimenting each other's calls.

When Karen Finerman does it, for some reason, we like it. Maybe it's just the way she does it as an aside, an unsolicited comment.

"Pete you were all over Mutual Fund Monday, you have been for a long long time, excellent call, excellent call there Pete," Karen said.

Guy Adami said to forget Susan Boyle's new album but check out "Street Survivors" at Amazon, "Lynyrd Skynyrd's last album, in 1978. MCA." (Actually it appears to be 1977, but whatever.)

The Falcon Heene trade: Grasso
likes gold’s ‘helium balloon’

Steve Grasso and Zach Karabell sparred over the legitimacy of the gold run on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Monday.

First Karabell, using a verb that makes a lot of folks in newsrooms cringe for some reason, said "I've pooh-pooh'ed the gold trade because I think it is one of the most pure momentum trades out there."

"Of course it's a helium balloon," Grasso countered, "but that's how, that's how you make money."

Extracting a comment from Mike Khouw wasn't easy, but he did say that instead of the GLD, "maybe you could also take a look at the miners." Zach Karabell noted that FCX for example has done a lot better than GLD.

Jon Najarian announced his Black Friday shopping list: "I'm long Wal-Mart, I'm long Best Buy, I'm long Target," Dr. J said, but like last week, he said he thinks ultimately in this holiday season WMT and AMZN are the names that will put the screws to others.

Zach Karabell said that while he's pooh-poohing the big-box names, he prefers a new-economy giant like AMZN, because "they're the prime iteration of it."

Rick Santelli subbed for Melissa Lee.

[Friday, November 20, 2009]

Joe Terranova writes check
for $5,000 to Dr. J’s charity

Jon Najarian announced Friday on "Fast Money" that Joe Terranova came through in a big way for charity.

Najarian, who hosted a trading session with Mark Fisher at The Palms in Vegas to benefit Traders4kids.org, said that "because of generous people like Joe Terranova, who sent us a check for 5K, uh, we raised over 26,000 so far."

Dr. J added, "There's a lot of checks in the mail, and anybody watching can still give to Traders4kids.org" (link right here).

Traders4kids benefits the i.c. stars Foundation, which Dr. J said "trains kids for technology jobs instead of flipping burgers."

Terranova was very gracious. "Hey Jon, you and Mark have done a phenomenal job out there. Kudos to you, do it again, do it soon, because it's a great cause," Terranova said.

"We're gonna do it with all the 'Fast Money' crew next time my friend," Najarian said.

We'll add just one thing — nothing wrong with flipping burgers. It's an industry in remarkably heavy, permanent demand. For most people it shouldn't be a destination, but if you're earning your chops there, more power to you. Not everyone is meant to be a computer scientist. Life worked out pretty well for Ray Kroc.

Congrats to Terranova and his class act.

Now, we're going to enjoy a burger.

A bust from Toni Sacconaghi

Sometimes we have to consult entries farther down on this page to make sure we heard something right.

Did Toni Sacconaghi really, really say on "Fast Money" Wednesday that "Dell has considerably more upside in our mind" than HP??

Even worse, Guy Adami pressed Sacconaghi for margin forecasts. "So let's talk turkey, Toni Sac," Adami said, "18.2% gross margin, 5 and a half operating, where are you at and what should we be looking for?"

"I'm fractionally above those numbers. So I'm about 10 basis points above on both of those," Sacconaghi said.


Never again own DELL
going into earnings

If you did not own Dell Computer shares on Thursday night and Friday, you had a phenomenal week.

Trust us.

Pete Najarian, who says he's still got some now-worthless December calls, on Friday was grasping to find a silver lining anywhere, perhaps because he is listed as owning, or even recommends on air, several other names (notably Intel) linked to the computer cycle.

"Kathryn Huberty, she's been a great tech follower as far as analysts are concerned, I follow her words all the time," Pete said. "She talked about an 11 times forward P.E. right now, she said it's a little bit cheap. Temporary, short-term, she's looking for 15, 16, maybe before the end of the year. I happen to own some December calls. I hope she's right, because right now they're pretty much worthless."

Shockingly, DELL holders could've/should've unloaded in Thursday's afterhours for a lot more than they would get on Friday, which is slightly unusual given that the afterhours market tends to be exaggerated in whichever direction the stock's going.

If Dell shares were a hard drive, we'd wipe out the memory of them before proceeding on to our next trade. As always, we should've listened to Karen Finerman.

"I'd rather be in HP," Karen said, for the second time in three days, but this time wearing some chic-chic round paneled earrings that were too often concealed by her hairstyle.

‘Fast Money’ vs. ‘Sabrina’
vs. ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Maybe other places in tech are more promising. Joe Terranova said, "It does look like Google right now is positioned to go north of 600 bucks by the end of the year."

Terranova made the same point superstar "Fast Money" guest Rich Greenfield made months ago, that DTV would be a possible acquisition target. "You've gotta think that Verizon, AT&T, those names clearly, DirecTV would be a great acquisition for them," Terranova said.

Jon Najarian said he thinks retail has mostly run its course heading into Black Friday, and he'd be especially wary of a name like BBY. "I wanna be getting out of most of these," Najarian said. "The only two I'm still willing to hold are gonna be Wal-Mart and Amazon. I think they burn into the end of the year. I think a lot of the others kind of turn."

"I always think of Apple as a consumer bellwether, not a tech bellwether," Karen Finerman said.

If one types "melissa" into Google, the top two suggestions are melissa joan hart and melissa gilbert.

Karen Finerman calls herself
contra-gold indicator

"Once I get in, guaranteed, that is the top," Karen Finerman joked Friday about gold.

Steve Grasso, though, couldn't see any reason for gold derailing, given that two traditional arguments for buying (war, inflation) still linger. "What's the scenario where it doesn't run?" Grasso wondered aloud.

Karen wasn't buying that one. "Isn't that always the way though, with every asset inflation, where you can't come up with a scenario on why it can't continue, until..." Karen warned.

Even the Lloyd Blankfein
gag Wednesday was better

With some potential big decisions on health care coming down the pike this weekend, it seems like a ripe topic for Karen Finerman. Karen said "I don't have any of the HMOs right now," but she does like BCR and BDX, medical device companies. "They're trading a lot lower than their average multiple over the last five years," Karen explained.

Brian Stutland, in this Friday's promo for "Options Action," suggested playing the VIX by selling the January 24 put for $1.10. "Basically your break-even is 22.90 on the VIX," Stutland said. "Anything higher than that, you're basically winning on that trade."

Karen Finerman was correct in her analysis that the "auto-tune Geithner" was significantly overbilled. We couldn't figure out what the point was. Looks like a "Fast Money" techie got a little carried away.

Terranova seems to think
it’s morning in America

Joe Terranova figured his housing question for Nishu Sood on Tuesday was good enough for a rerun with Rob Stevenson on Friday.

Terranova asked why can't this be 1980 all over again, when according to Terranova, housing starts went from 400,000 to 800,000 despite a tough economy.

Stevenson at that time there was a "huge amount of pent-up demand," but "sitting there today, it's tough to see where the pent-up demand is."

We're wondering when Barclays Capital housing expert Michelle Meyer, TWCE, is going to return to "Fast Money" to discuss this subject.

"Toll is our favorite name within our coverage universe on a relative basis," said Stevenson, but "if I didn't have to be there, I wouldn't."

Melissa Lee nearly gave the camera one of those looks during the MRK discussion on "Pops & Drops," but she didn't.

Presidential politics
with Steve Grasso

Apparently when Steve Grasso started talking about the Queen of Talk on Friday, his "Fast Money" castmates thought they were being put on.

"I love Oprah. Oh, are we still on the air?" Grasso said.

"Really, Grasso. What do you love about her, pray tell?" asked Melissa Lee. ("Pray tell"?)

"She's a businesswoman," Grasso said. "How can you knock Oprah? What can you say negative about Oprah? Besides the point that she voted for Obama."

Ah, now we get it.

(Sigh ... gotta be careful here ... ) Here's the deal ... CNBCfix didn't think Barack Obama was the greatest candidate of all time. But for the purposes of this item, please, let's just set that aside for a moment. The election comes down to two people. Did Grasso really think John McCain was a great presidential candidate? Fine person, exceptional senator, American hero. Rooted for him to succeed. But a zero as a presidential candidate. Remember when Obama spoke in Berlin and McCain staged these events in American cities named Berlin to depict Obama as out of touch? You don't need Karl Rove to identify that as amateur-grade politics. How about suspending his campaign before the debate because of TARP, and demanding Chris Cox get fired, which might've been a good idea but seemed at the time it happened like a gimmick to distance himself from the Bush administration. And that's not even getting in to Sarah Palin, whom we actually tend to like around here but many swing voters are/were skeptical, as well as folks like Karen Finerman, who called Palin a "terrible" choice on "Fast Money."

A lot of people in our own (statistically insignificant) straw polls viewed the 2008 election as "what choice do I really have?"

So, to summarize: We're not saying people should've voted for Obama, only that we don't fault people who did.

Actually, given what Grasso said, we probably agree with him on most things, but instead of chiding the Democratic winners (for now), why not focus on identifying promising candidates whose stock much more resembles PCLN than BBI, before 2012 turns into an Obama-McCain rematch because no promising Republicans are willing to run?

Oprah, FWIW, is a little overexposed.

Dick Bove delivers a report
without mentioning Citigroup

No one articulates a point about banking better than Richard X. Bove.

"About 30% of the consumers who now do business with banks will find that the banks don't want to do business with them anymore because they're losing money with those accounts," Bove said Friday. "So my guess is that the banks will start firing their customers at as rapid a rate as they did in the 1990s. And you will see millions of people kicked out of the banking system and therefore they're gonna have to go somewhere else."

He mentioned Advance America, Western Union and Moneygram as winners.

He said those names, as well as the institutions at the top end such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Greenhill and Lazard, are going to benefit from a financing drain that is going to happen in the middle. "The regional banks are gonna be significant losers in this," Bove said. "Right now, everybody's buying the regional banks for one reason, and one reason alone, and that's because loan losses ultimately will come down as the economy strengthens."

Finally, Bove said he expects a "meaningful" dividend boost at Goldman Sachs "within the next three months."

We'd be more excited about Lazard if it wasn't based in Hamilton, Bermuda. In fact, we're curious as to how it ended up there.

Lazard, on the "History" page of its own Web site, doesn't bother to mention it is based in Bermuda. Nor does it mention this fact on its "Key Facts" page. But the "Key Facts" page does include this line: "Principal executive offices: New York, London, Paris."

Finally, after a healthy amount of Web searching turned up empty, we found our answer in the New York Times, which wrote on Jan. 19, 2005, "Lazard is to be incorporated in Bermuda, according to the filing announcing its public offering."

Lazard truly is a global company. But so are XOM (Irving, Texas), MSFT (Redmond, Wash.), INTC (Santa Clara, Calif.), CAT (Peoria, Ill.), AXP (New York), KO (Atlanta) and BRK-A (Omaha).

This would be a great question for Zach Karabell, given his views that companies are going more and more multinational, but it will probably never happen on "Fast Money," maybe "Squawk Box." If 72% of Coke's sales are outside North America, why isn't it headquartered in Bermuda? Lazard must've incorporated in Bermuda for some kind of advantage, so isn't it foolish if other companies including Berkshire are not doing so?

This article by Caroline Foulger of PricewaterhouseCoopers says, "A company can secure capital, obtain a licence and be up and running in as little as six weeks in Bermuda. ... Once there, potential tax benefits ... can make the island an especially cost-effective platform. ... Companies pay a payroll tax rather than being taxed on profit, income or dividends."

Even Goldman Sachs is based in New York City.

We don't get it. Either incorporating in Bermuda is a savvy move that everyone else is somehow missing, or Lazard did something most other companies won't touch.

Or both?

Bill Strazzullo: Take profits
before it’s too late

Bill Strazzullo told "Fast Money Halftime Report" viewers on Friday, "The bigger picture here, you should begin to step back. This is not gonna be like the period in '02 and '03 coming out of the dot-com bust, where we just go up for four or five years. The March rally is in its late innings and beginning to wind down."

[Thursday, November 19, 2009]

Did Melissa Lee really see
Fonzie jump the shark?

Melissa Lee kicked Dell on her way into another segment Thursday, saying, "If you're adding smartphones now in, in China and Brazil, it's almost like jumping the shark."

"How do you know about that? Jumping the shark. Did you see that episode?" asked Guy Adami.

"I did. I was young but I remember," said Lee.

If CNBCfix has correctly estimated Lee's age, we find it doubtful she remembers watching that episode. According to Wikipedia, the show aired September 1977.

Wikipedia claims Lee graduated from Harvard in 1995, but we've been skeptical and think it might've actually been 1994. We know her birthday is Nov. 4. So if she graduated in '94, she likely would've turned 22 or (at most) 23 in November 1994.

That means, best-case scenario, she would've been 5 years old for the shark jump.

The Jump the shark Wiki page is hilarious. Categories include "Cousin Oliver Syndrome" and "Ted McGinley." The term "Jumping the shark" apparently was coined by Sean J. Connolly in 1985. Now that would be a good "Fast Money" guest.

‘Dell’s Quarter,’ starring
Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon

Thursday night was a lousy time to be long DELL stock. (This writer is long DELL stock.)

Dell reported after the bell, "absolutely lousy whichever way you cut it," said Melissa Lee at the beginning of "Fast Money."

"I'm not sure why ... they didn't come out and preannounce this quarter," said Guy Adami. "I think it was that bad frankly."

"The problem with Dell is the diversification story. That's the problem," said Joe Terranova.

"In my mind, Michael Dell should've stayed retired," said Gary Kaminsky. "Dell in my mind is dead man walking."

"Well I just can't figure out how it is that they missed the margins by this big of a discrepancy," said Pete Najarian. "But I do disagree. I think the diversification is now just starting. ... I think they're doing the right thing."

"They've got an identity crisis here," said Jim Goldman. "This is a disaster."

Gary Kaminsky said of Victoria's Secret parent Limited Brands, "obviously not enough lingerie sold."

Adami wishes gold traders
all the luck in the world

Perhaps overdue, Guy Adami on Thursday addressed people who have noticed his avoidance of the raging gold market despite being a former gold trader himself. Adami said the gold market that exists now is different than the one he traded. "I will say this. The same people that are buying it here, the miners, the central banks, are the same people that sold it $700 ago. So my question to you is, what makes you think they're gonna be right this time?"

Iuorio’s UUP standards are low

Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Jim Iuorio continues to insist a dollar correction is at hand.

"Tim Seymour wanted to take a punch at me when I said the dollar's ready to, to correct higher. I still think that short squeeze is in the cards," Iuorio said Thursday.

"It's amazing Jim that we're talking about a correction and the beginning of a short squeeze happening with the dollar index higher by a third of a percentage point," Melissa Lee said.

"Yeah but, it's not down," Iuorio said.

Hank Paulson’s available

Guy Adami and Charles Gasparino are on opposite sides of the Lloyd Blankfein coin.

"And listen Charlie, I love Charlie Gasparino, but don't go telling Lloyd Blankfein to resign," Adami said Thursday. "I mean that guy wants, he wants that job, he can have it as long as he wants."

This is what Gasparino wrote in a thought-provoking HuffPost piece: "I think it's about time for Lloyd Blankfein to step down and resign as CEO of Goldman, and really start doing God's work by sparing the rest of us the stupidity of listening to his excuses."

Dell Computer, come on down

Melissa Lee introduced a couple new games Thursday, one of them called "Stocks 'N Slots," and if you understood what was going on in this game, you're way ahead of us. (One thing we did unfortunately understand is that CNBC is determined to incorrectly use an open quote instead of apostrophe every time it wants to shorten the word "and" to "n" in any of its graphics.) The other game was a takeoff on "The Price is Right."

Tomasulo nailed GS short

We initially mentioned this in passing in our notes on the Thursday "Halftime Report."

Later, we decided this was a pretty good call and deserves its own item.

Jeff Tomasulo identified Goldman Sachs as shortable back on Oct. 15, when it closed at $188.63. We do think it's kind of a strange choice for shorting, but gotta hand it to him, it's worked.

Glide Path Greg Troccoli has also called a Goldman short, but his on-air recommendation was much more recent.

Adami tribute to Bill Griffeth

Bill Griffeth is taking some time off from CNBC just to relax, travel, etc. Guy Adami noted this Thursday.

"I want to say goodbye to Bill Griffeth. I'm going to miss him," Adami said. "He's leaving Wednesday, Bill is a class act, and I'm going to miss him a great deal."

"Absolutely. We all echo those sentiments for sure," said Melissa Lee.

Adami says foreclosure data
is ‘catastrophic frankly’

Va va voom ...

One of the simple pleasures of operating an independent Web site is that we can post little things that the New York Times probably won't.

Specifically, that means we can comment on the racy striped leggings Melissa Lee was showing off on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Thursday. If you didn't see them, check them out on YouTube.

We wondered if others in cyberspace were thinking about it. Couldn't tell, but we did find someone who got a little extra carbonation from Lee's Coca-Cola documentary.

Who knows if CNBC stars ever see this. But when it comes to making a fashion statement, we've got your back.

Guy Adami, as he's prone to do recently, seized on Thursday's market tumble as a small measure of vindication, with more to come.

"I've been waiting for something like this for a while," Adami said.

"Debbie Downer, your time has come," Melissa Lee said.

"I don't like what's going on," Adami continued. "This foreclosure data today to me is catastrophic frankly. And people want to be euphoric. I don't get it, I think the market moves down from here."

Jeff Tomasulo, as is often the case, said he didn't have any trades until after the market does something more than it's already done.

"Well, I mean, I have to agree with Guy. It's finally, you know, kind of selling off a little bit," said Tomasulo. "But the one levels (sic) I'm gonna be looking at right now if the, SPYders get below 109, 108.50, then I'm gonna be very concerned about being long in this market, and I'll be looking to maybe short some financials and short some of the higher-beta stocks."

That wasn't the only time he was agreeing with Guy.

"I agree with Guy, that Gap is doing some good stuff, but there's better risk/reward trades out there," Tomasulo said.

Eugene Profit said Intel is a longer-term beneficiary of the computer cycle. "It might be a little bit early," Profit said.

During a discussion of Dell (this writer is long DELL), Greg Troccoli made a joke that didn't make much sense. "But I do have to make a comment. I bought Vista operating system two years ago. Do I get a credit on that? Did me no good." The others chuckled, who knows why.

[Wednesday, November 18, 2009]

Steve Liesman should’ve
left out one line

You can't help but like Steve Liesman. Even the anti-CNBC crowd out there in cyberspace respects Steve, and CNBCfix is impressed too.

But Wednesday ... Steve showed "Fast Money" viewers this graphic of average performance since March:

S&P 500: +50.5%
Bottom 30 of S&P 500 in foreign sales percentage: +51.75%
Top 30 of S&P 500 in foreign sales percentage: +100.3%

He negated his own point by including the second line.

Liesman said that based on the third line, obviously there's a huge correlation between the declining dollar and the rally. But then why is the second category also above average? Somebody outside these 60 names is underperforming for reasons that can't be pegged to foreign sales.

Liesman noted that 17 of the top 30 are tech names. But he never says what dominates the bottom 30, if there even is a theme.

Liesman even said of the bottom 30, "They track the market. Nothing to write home; nothing to really be ashamed of, it's a pretty good number."

"Nothing to be ashamed of"? They outperformed a market with a key headwind against them. It's kind of like, if the NFL average for field goal kickers is historically fairly high at 80% because a lot of guys kick in dome stadiums, and the guys who kick for the Jets and Giants in the swirling Meadowlands wind are making 82%, you would not be shorting those kickers in your fantasy league; you would be shorting the guys under 80% whether in a dome or not.

We think (and we're quickly getting the impression we mulled this more than Liesman did) the weaker dollar only helped proportionally; in other words, those top 30 names most sensitive to the dollar were affected, but then the effect tapers off into irrelevance.

Kind of like, you would most want to draft for your fantasy football team kickers playing 16 or 15 games indoors, but if it's a choice between a guy who plays 8 games indoors and a guy who plays 2 games indoors, it doesn't matter on that criteria.

Liesman could've shown a more relevant graphic by not taking top 30 and bottom 30, but instead first 30, then the second 30 (i.e., 31-60), and likely we would've seen diminishing returns and even a 50% or sub-50% handle after a few blocs. (We don't know that actually; we're only speculating based on the return he posted for the bottom 30.)

Really the only conclusion to be drawn here is that the rally has been great for tech.

Guy Adami asked Liesman what possible event could derail the dollar slide. "You know, I think a meaningful move by the Fed when it comes to not interest rates, but even the balance sheet, could shore up the trade," Liesman said.

Then Liesman added this: "If the Obama administration comes forward, watch very carefully, this February, uh, 2010 budgeting process, we'll probably get wind of it ahead of time. If they were to step forward and say, you know what, we have a plan over the next, say five years, to get the deficit under control, I think that could also help the dollar," and CNBCfix will gladly take the other side of that suggestion, because nobody is actually going to believe that we're serious about a five-year plan to get the deficit under control.

The NFL should have no domes, by the way, but those Houston Oilers sure could put on a show.

Do you actually think
Lloyd Blankfein will call?

Wednesday's "Fast Money" was kind of humdrum, like the market. Fortunately or unfortunately, the most exciting part was probably the opening clip of Melissa Lee talking about the dollar on various days.

Cynics might say this suggests the show talks about the same thing all the time. Others might see it as a cleverly veiled way of showing off Lee's recent all-star outfits and hairstyles. We liked that.

Karen Finerman asked Toni Sacconaghi whether he'd pick DELL or HPQ if he could only pick one. "Dell has considerably more upside in our mind," Sacconaghi said. "You wanna take on incrementally more risk, Dell is the name to play."

"I like Hewlett-Packard," Karen said. "You could've said the same thing a couple months ago, and HP outperformed."

Guy Adami said, "Clearly something's going on ahead of earnings" in Deere. Pete Najarian detected "five times normal volume" in Bunge options.

Melissa Lee did the air phone to her ear and suggested Lloyd Blankfein "call me" if he liked (or didn't like) the "I'm sorry" graphic.

On a subdued afternoon, Karen Finerman's funniest comment was "The exciting Web Extra." It's just the way she's so subtle about it.

Karen’s question for Tim
worth its wait in ...

Karen Finerman asked Tim Seymour exactly why people are buying gold:

"Something I don't understand. OK, so what is the gold trade? Is it inflation, is that the impetus for the trade? I mean that would seem to be the underlying most of whatever — and then you have supply-demand dynamics," Karen said. "Isn't there other ways to play it that aren't so crowded, that aren't, that that are on a much bigger base like the Treasurys, the longer end of the Treasury curve, that you won't get hit with this if, you see a massive reduction of just, you know, the retail investor leaving the gold trade."

"I totally agree," Seymour said, before not actually totally agreeing. "There's plenty of ways to play, I mean, and this is really a weak-dollar trade, but when you talk about the long end of the Treasury curve, you also have a number of people that have to own the long end of the Treasury curve. You have dedicated buyers to Treasurys that I think are gonna be in and out, and they're gonna be looking for opportunities. And as yields back up, I think people are gonna be attracted to, by, you know, a 10-year at 4%. So, I mean, I think when you're talking about gold, you're talking about a trade that is purely based upon the need to diversify."

Actually, we think it's a trade purely based upon the notion that it's going higher.

Karen said she thinks when the gold trade eventually unwinds, it could get nasty. "I'm afraid, you know, the E, the gold ETF, just look out below."

Guy Adami said, "Gold, everybody's talking about, everybody's been right, except me, that's great. But you know, Pete talks about this a lot as well, copper frankly has done a lot better than gold."

"I do think the miners are very crowded," Seymour said.

Melissa Lee conquered the recent "Fast Money" redundancy problem concerning the word "new," saying, "Gold — yes, yet another record high."

Tip: You can buy options
as well as stocks

It's safe to say Jon Najarian had an off day on Wednesday.

He just sounded a little tired on the "Halftime" show. On the real show, he discussed short squeezes and opened with this joke: "Well, uh, the safest way to double your money of course is to fold it in half."

Dr. J's point, that short interest might be best played by options, was as professional as always. He talked about using a "1 to 1 spread" if he wanted to make a bet on short squeezes in names like AMZN, PCLN, PALM.

Basically, we just took from this segment that you can trade options with much less capital, and much more defined risk, than with stocks, if you want to take a flier on something like a PALM short squeeze.

Or, you can just fold your money in half, and consider yourself wealthier.

But not as many as we used
to get for ‘Trish Regan’ & ‘bikini’

Pete Najarian suddenly got our attention when he complained about people believing he and brother Jon look alike.

"He's not a twin by the way, I keep hearing that from everybody," Pete grumbled.

If Pete thinks he hears that from everybody, he should get a look at how many inquiries CNBCfix gets about this subject. If visitors find our CNBC Star Profiles page (which they usually do), they'll find that info; but the ones who land on this "Fast Money" review page and can't navigate any further, well, that's their own problem.

Apparently, women pay a lot
of attention to these ads

There's an important health-care story going on that we didn't know much about.

Thanks to Pete Najarian and "Fast Money," we now do.

Vivus said its erectile dysfunction work-in-progress, avanafil, met a goal in a trial.

"This is a $3.5 billion industry," Pete Najarian said."They call the thing ... 'demand therapy' ... because this is a 35-minute reaction." He said those 35 minutes are key when compared to, say, the future generic version of Viagra.

And, residual problems are fewer, according to Pete. "There is very little bit involved as far as the side effects," Pete said. "It obviously opens and dilates all the vessels, that causes extreme headaches, there are a lot more side effects, this has less side effects."

The cute part of this segment was how eager Melissa Lee and Karen Finerman were to question Cialis' advertising.

"I don't get, why-" said Lee.

"I don't get that," said Finerman.

"One bathtub, not two separate baths. Anyway," Lee said.

Moments later, Lee said, "Bathtubs are in the commercial which is on TV, so that's fair game."

The fact Lee and Finerman were talking about Cialis, and not Levitra, probably answers their question.

Guy Adami tried rousing viewers into AMGN instead, but that didn't sound nearly as stimulating.

Lee eventually gets
a trade out of Doug Kass

At the very end of the show Wednesday, Melissa Lee showed a picture she took of a new "Fast Money" billboard with the slogan "Watch and Earn."

Viewers can watch all they want, but they won't earn much unless they get trades — something Doug Kass has a difficult time uncorking.

Melissa Lee, to her credit, sensed as much in introducing Kass on Wednesday, asking him to comment on Jeff Saut's bullish forecast but saying "Give us a new trade too, because that's what we're after."

Kass, however, after saying "Jeff's my buddy, friend, pal," described Saut's argument as too "linear," and wasn't exactly Quick Draw McGraw on the trading front. "Rising stock prices are intoxicating. But it's seriously different times- this time," Kass said.

Seriously different ... than what? What times, the mid-'90s or late '90s? What does that possibly mean?

Lee felt the same way. "Betting against the trend though is a difficult thing, Doug, so give us some ideas. How are you betting against this trend that we have on hand?"

Oh no. That led to this: "Well I think that it's clear if you look at industrial production for example, which rose only by 1/10th of 1% vs. the much higher consensus, that we're starting the 4th quarter..."


Finally, Kass said "Retail is a prime short-selling candidate," hardly new and not interesting and a trade that might've killed you recently had you actually done it. But then it got better: "I am long one financial stock, which you know, Bank of America, have been for probably seven or eight months. I have started to accumulate a short position in the asset managers, T. Rowe Price and Franklin Resources, which are simply leveraged plays on the capital markets," Kass said. "I expect corporations to cut back their, uh, 401 (sic) matching contributions, which is going to hurt, uh, the asset managers 'cause it's the lifeblood of their business.

So there's something you can mull, although the opinion here is that the 401(k) thing had to have been priced into stocks a year ago, right?

Dani Hughes: Women control
78% of consumer spending

Divine Dani Hughes, who had a necklace thing going Wednesday on the "Halftime Report" and should be occasionally taking a chair on the real show, was kind of talking about multi-directional trades, including gold, where she first talked about reasons for buying it, then this: "I have a contrary mall indicator for you," Hughes said. "What's been popping up all over malls is these little kiosks where you can sell your gold on the spot. That might be a contrary indicator as far as gold goes."

In terms of the economy/markets, she didn't sound fully convinced either way, though she is skeptical. "Whitney comes to mind from a couple of days ago, with a double-dip message. Things are really going to change up I think in the next couple of weeks," Hughes said. She would add, "I think we bump along sideways; I'm not expecting a good fourth quarter."

And then this fact: "Let's face it, the consumer is primarily women. About 78% of the money on the consumer side is controlled by women," Hughes said.

Jared Levy had kind of a Gerald Ford thing going with a three-piece suit. And, he couldn't resist waving a pen around in his right hand while he talked. "I like the housing numbers. I want less supply, because less supply is better for prices," Levy said. "I myself, and a lot of my traders, are a little nervous about the current level here in the S&P."

Levy also put himself in a popular "Fast Money" camp. "I'll tell ya, I am slightly scared of retail, other than the Wal-Marts, the Kohls of the world, what I call kind of the safe havens. I know Patty Edwards tends to like those names as well. That's where I'd be focusing my energy."

It never ceases to amaze CNBCfix that the panelists on a show called "Fast Money," originally billed as giving viewers very short-term trading tips, endlessly advocate Wal-Mart and Microsoft, stocks that are perhaps fine stocks but haven't done anything in 10 years and possibly won't do anything for another 10 years (this writer has no position in WMT or MSFT). It's fast money, if you've got a 75-year time horizon.

"I am long of gold and Potash right now," Levy said. (Question: If someone happens to own a junky little old gold coin, does that mean they have to disclose he/she is "long" gold? Probably not.)

Jon Najarian for some reason thinks "Fast Money" viewers also watch Jim Cramer and keep a scorecard.

Actually, a lot of them probably do.

Melissa Lee asked Dr. J about the housing stats, and "Where does that leave us ... then" in a semi-awkward opening question. "Quite frankly," said Dr. J, "it leaves a lot of focus on exactly the stocks that Jim Cramer was talking about last night. He talked about ag stocks; those are all over my screen today."

Najarian said MWW is hopping. "Very strong unusual buying activity, started like that in the first 10 minutes of trading. They're playing both the November and January calls," he said. "There's unusual call activity and it is institutional."

Woodn't you know it, Brian Kelly likes the lumber chart. "If we look at the lumber futures, it's broken out from a five-year downtrend," Kelly said. "So the way I'm kind of playing that is, I'm playing it through the timber-rich forest companies. Plum Creek, RYN, Weyerhauser ... I think it's a great play in here, especially since the downtrend has been broken."

Kelly then said that John Paulson's stake in the gold market is not only bullish for gold, but perhaps very bearish for everything else. "In the charts, gold's obviously in an uptrend. But in terms of John Paulson, I don't know if anybody else is a little bit frightened," Kelly said. "I mean you've got a guy who called the housing market bust now starting a fund that invests in gold, and gold is really only good unless everything else goes under. So, you know, it concerns me a little bit to hear that; I'd probably buy some gold on that news."

Melissa Lee was wearing sneaky red (crisp blouse) and black (skirt) with hoop earrings. For the third time in three days, she redundantly referred to a "new record high" in gold.

[Tuesday, November 17, 2009]

OptionMonster Vegas event
helps i.c. stars Foundation

Jon Najarian, presenting Mark Fisher, is hosting a trading seminar Friday at the ghostbar at The Palm to benefit the i.c. stars Foundation, a charity that, according to optionMonster, is "dedicated to helping inner city kids break out of dead end jobs by teaching them technology skills so they can become leaders of tomorrow." For more information, here is the link.

Baseball by the ounce

Rising CNBC star Simon Hobbs guest-hosted Tuesday for Melissa Lee on "Fast Money" and more than held his own, even though he referred to those pop-up waffles as "ee-go's," prompting a biscuit joke from Karen Finerman.

Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova are pro-gold. "Simon, right now someone needs to tell me why this trade is not (sic) gonna change. I think we're in the 3rd inning on gold," Seymour said.

Hobbs said nothing about hosting Wednesday, so we can only assume MLee will be back.

Everyone’s gotta eat

Karen Finerman said liquidity, i.e., money on the sidelines, is driving the market, even if Simon Hobbs continued to make the circular-logic argument against a sustainable stock rally. "Fundamentals at the moment don't really seem to matter," Karen said.

"It's a chase for performance," said Pete Najarian, who referred a couple times to Mondays being big days for the market in recent weeks.

Tim Seymour said ag was getting a boost because "grain prices are going higher," and "the M&A bid in the ag space is alive and well." He also touted NUE as his final trade, saying "Higher steel prices are being passed on." Joe Terranova said "I got long" Potash.

If fundamentals don’t matter,
why is Wal-Mart a winner?

Simon Hobbs refereed a very good "street fight" between Karen Finerman (WMT) and Joe Terranova (AMZN). Terranova probably made the best point, that AMZN will do better if this remains a healthy bull market, although he also referred mysteriously to Amazon blowing away its competition and we weren't sure exactly what competition he meant. But Karen seems correct that the sustainability of the difference in valuations can't stand forever. Hobbs declared Karen the winner.

Up 6% in a week,
‘defying gravity’

Pete Najarian saw raging options activity Tuesday in three names, beginning with Ann Taylor. "It was November, the 15 strike," Pete said. Joe Terranova joked that now that it's near Thanksgiving time, Pete would be making a trip to Victoria's Secret. Simon Hobbs said to Terranova, "You're obviously looking forward to it." But there wasn't an underwear discussion this time.

(We were disappointed Karen Finerman didn't talk about the big gain Tuesday in her favorite name, Dress Barn.)

Pete also pointed to the KRE, saying "December 22 and a half calls, extremely active." Finally, he mentioned DTV. "This is an incredible stock that just continues to defy the laws of gravity and goes higher and higher. November 31 calls today, December 31 calls today, extremely active."

The guy who really called DTV but wasn't credited for it Tuesday is superstar "Fast Money" guest Rich Greenfield of Pali, who touted it over the summer.

The real story behind
‘The Real Story’

We've mentioned a bunch of times recently that Karen Finerman is almost staggeringly funny. It happens whenever you don't expect it and it's delivered so straightforward, you don't know it until it hits you.

Karen cracked up the panel when Simon Hobbs asked about KO, which Karen gave a sort of backhanded compliment. "Having not owned it my entire career, uh, I don't know that today is the day to get started on Coke. It's a great company, great franchise, but, uh, not cheap," Karen said.

"And I think the problem is most people look at Coca-Cola and they think 'old-school Coca-Cola'," said Joe Terranova. Actually, anyone who watched Melissa Lee's Coca-Cola documentary is going to think the people serving as Coke ambassadors are beyond old-school.

Windows media play

Joe Terranova apparently thinks there is some rule out there stating fund managers are "supposed" to own MSFT.

"Growth managers that are supposed to own it in a portfolio, they are underinvested in it right now, so you are going to get, as Microsoft outperforms the S&P, the chase to own Microsoft," Terranova said, a circular argument if there ever was one.

Tim Seymour seemed to agree with Terranova, not the first time that happened. "Microsoft was underowned going into this Windows season," he said.

Nishu Sood’s Maris trade

"Every housing number this month deserves a bit of an asterisk because of course that tax credit was extended," said housing analyst Nishu Sood. "I think these tax credits have basically just shifted demand around."

Joe Terranova, who points to D.R. Horton, said that "back in the early '80s," housing suddenly exploded with a recovery, and why can't that happen now. Sood said, "This time, the mortgage rate mechanism is busted." Karen Finerman said she still likes the Pulte/Centex combo in part because of the large land holdings, but Sood said that is a play on a V-shaped recovery.

Simon Hobbs asked Sood, "So just to clarify, the Fed's purchase of mortgage-backed securities has worked, and has helped the rates below 5%?" Sood answered, "It's difficult to parse, (but) I am of the view that it has helped."

Sood wasn't just having difficulty parsing, but making a call on housing stocks. "They've been range-bound. I think they're gonna continue to be a trading group," he said when pressed.

Jeff Saut apparently hasn’t
met Debbie Downer

Jeff Saut of Raymond James didn't say the stock market right now is a sure thing, but he did say the stock market in the last 12 years at this time was indeed a sure thing.

"The history shows that the first year of a bull market, to get a 10% pullback is rare," Saut said. "What a lot of people don't know is that over the past 12 years between November 11th and December 5th, the equity markets have always gone up, the Dow has rallied a little bit over 300 points."

"Great job on the stats, I fully agree with you," said Joe Terranova.

Patty Edwards: ‘Darwinism is consumerism is the stock market’

Rising CNBC star Simon Hobbs took the "Fast Money Final Call" out of the box on Tuesday during an intriguing conversation with Patty Edwards.

Edwards said, "I do believe that Wal-Mart is a fabulous long-term holding."

Hobbs first made a couple interesting observations, that WMT is sort of like a utility and, why is it only a good long-term holding and not short-term holding. But then he delved into business philosophy.

"Do you see them as a destructive force for profit, for investors within the sector more broadly, that the effect that they're having, on the way in which people shop and this continuous discounting," he asked Edwards.

"You know, I really don't," Edwards said, "because I think what they make the rest of the retailers do, is step up their game. For a long time retailers were able to get fat and happy on some of the numbers, the margins they were able to put up. At this point you have got to be competitive with Wal-Mart, and if you can't compete with them on price, which not everyone can or should do, then you absolutely have to go out and find another way to compete, whether it's going after a different market, carrying a different line, competing on service, there's something that you can do to compete with Wal-Mart."

"But do we as investors cheer cheer cheer all the way down the line even if they take other people out of business ... their market power grows, and they're a different business five, 10 years down the line," Hobbs persisted.

"There's always gonna be other retailers, there's always mom-and-pops that can compete with them," Edwards said. "It just depends on how they're looking to do it. And I think that, you know, Darwinism is consumerism is the stock market, and, I just think that you have to let 'em go."

"You speak so much as an American, from a European standpoint," Hobbs chuckled.

Moments later, Maria Bartiromo, who looked like she could pass for 17, jumped in.

"So Simon, what did she say that was so American to you," Bartiromo said. "When she said Darwinism?"

"No, well the fact that um, you can allow people to, through, just being brilliant at what they do, increasingly dominate and dominate the market, drive down the, 'cause you could argue that Wal-Mart cross-subsidizes in the space, you could argue that, and therefore it's able to remove other people from it, and it's great for the consumer, yeaaaaayyyy! Fantastic for now!" Hobbs said.

"Well, you could argue that, you know, uh, also Wal-Mart keeps inflation low," Bartiromo said.

"Yes, but two, two years down the line, when you don't have competitors in various areas, and this is what has happened with retailers in the U.K., they can raise prices, they can raise prices, because the competition's gone," Hobbs countered.

"Well, until the competition comes back, and innovation starts all over again, and new companies start popping up, trying to beat them at their own game. This is a good debate to have, Simon, for sure," Bartiromo concluded.

Patty Edwards pronounced "niche" as "neesh" when she told Hobbs, "Given that, you've gotta stick with some of the better quality retailers at this point, and those that have a certain niche."

On the "Fast Money Halftime Report," Jeff Tomasulo sided with Edwards in the overall consumer outlook. "I have to agree with Patty; there is a major disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street," Tomasulo said. "The holiday season's gonna be blah."

Hobbs handled both "Halftime" and "Final Call" and said he was hosting the real show Tuesday as well. Melissa Lee must have the day off, a rarity.

[Monday, November 16, 2009]

Joe Kernen scoffs at
Whitney’s CAT call

Melissa Lee wasn't the only one at CNBC questioning Meredith Whitney's market commentary with Maria Bartiromo.

Joe Kernen, early Tuesday on "Squawk Box," said, "I mean ... she knows about mortgages, she knows about the financials. ... For her to start talking about whether, whether Caterpillar's valuations in the stock market are based on fundamentals; I mean I've, everybody's got an opinion, that's fine. I, I'll tell you what I think, um, I won't actually, but, I would figure my opinion on whether Caterpillar's overvalued or not is just as good as hers. ... Remember when Bill Gross called for 5,000 on the, on the Dow, when Alan Greenspan at 6,000 on the Dow said there was 'irrational exuberance'? He, he's supposed to be monitoring the money supply, he has no idea about whether stocks are overpriced."

Whitney in this already-famous interview actually looks a tiny bit like Nicole Kidman. Perhaps she thinks it's "Eyes Wide Shut" in the stock market?

Gasparino: 10.5% jobless is
make-or-break for C investors

Charles Gasparino, very slyly, appeared to offer a one-finger salute to the "Fast Money" crew who put together a fake Warhol image of himself on Monday.

And that wasn't even the most interesting part of his segment.

Gasparino strongly hinted that "socialism" from Washington is going to dissuade small businesses from hiring, and that the unemployment rate might be in big trouble.

The subject was the rationale for big investors to jump into C. (This writer is long C but is not a big investor.)

"If you believe that we are heading for, you know," Gasparino said, "small business aren't gonna hire because of the socialism of what's going on, not just in the Obama administration but in Washington as a whole, you know, socialized health care, which is, you know, it's gonna be taxing small businesses, and all the other mandates from government that are coming, if you believe that unemployment keeps ratcheting up, then this is not a buy. If you believe we are truly gonna have one of those V-shaped recoveries, well then this is a buy."

We rewatched the piece to figure out exactly what the reporting initiative was here. Gasparino apparently has been asking experts and sources why John Paulson reported buying $300 million C shares last week. That may seem a bit of a tangent for Gasparino, but he also had a scoop a couple weeks ago about ex-Citigroup trader Tom Maheras launching the Tegean fund and profiting handsomely from C shares (which he did not mention Monday), so he's as plugged into C stock speculation as anyone.

The belief, according to Gasparino, is that the 10.5% unemployment rate is the over/under for Citigroup.

"You know, here's the thing," he said. "I mean, if you bet on Citi right now, you are clearly betting not just that the economy's getting better, that we're gonna have something more than a jobless recovery, that we're gonna have unemployment that somehow stops in the 10 and a half percent range and doesn't go much higher than that. Because this is what happens when it goes above 10 and a half, at least according to a lot of analysts I talk to. That's when those consumer loans on the books, on the books of the banks like Citigroup, uh, more mortgage writedowns, those consumer loans start going into default at a greater pace than, uh, than the carry trade that they're doing right now with uh, you know, buying, borrowing at zero, or whatever it is, and, and investing at whatever they're doing at, something plus zero, those losses overwhelm that trade, uh, at least that's the people I talk to."

He said Paulson is on the bullish side, with Dick Bove, "who by the way, calls it a $17 stock. Um, I love Dick, but man, he has been wrong on Citigroup," Gasparino said, noting Meredith Whitney and Mike Mayo are skeptical.

John Paulson is one of a group of three (Stan Druckenmiller, Phil Falcone) mentioned by Gasparino in The Sellout and also sometimes during his television appearances who according to Gasparino made a fortune betting against the housing industry.

Gary Kaminsky told Gasparino, "Awesome book."

Larry Csonka, if we recall correctly, once got away with a one-finger salute on a cover of Sports Illustrated.

After the show, San Pietro

Melissa Lee wasn't on the "Halftime Report" Monday, possibly because it was delayed by the Bernanke speech.

Or possibly to unveil her sizzling outfit on the 5 p.m. show.

Lee wore a gray hybrid shawl-vest over snug cream-colored top in a very modern update of a great '70s-style look. Karen Finerman was in dazzling formal black, but the eyes couldn't help but gravitate toward the host on Monday.

We'd have to think both had a big night planned, possibly at one of those many restaurants often mentioned by Charles Gasparino.

For whatever reason, we're still struck by random thoughts about "Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing." One of them is that the average age of the people Lee interviews has to be about the highest of any CNBC program — or significantly older than the folks from "Porn: Business of Pleasure." You'd think that with older consumers set in their ways, Coke would've seen Lee's program as an opportunity to snag younger customers. Surely someone in Atlanta would've thought to summon a hip-hop star or jock who endorses Coke and ask them to talk to Lee and tell why they drink Coke. Or surely the KO brass (one thing Lee left out was an explanation as to how Coca-Cola ended up with ticker symbol KO) would make available to Lee's crew some 20-something marketers who must work there, as well as a few girls, instead of a series of gents who probably drank Coca-Cola while cheering for Joe DiMaggio.

Or, maybe not.

After some minor deliberations, we've concluded that Pepsi's "You got the right one baby, uh huh" by Ray Charles is the most effective soda pop jingle of all time for several reasons, but mostly just because it's quirky.

Melissa sounds a little
skeptical of Meredith

New York elites might not want to invite Melissa Lee and Meredith Whitney to the same party.

Perhaps feeling the confidence from her outfit Monday, Lee more or less suggested Whitney should stick to banks.

Lee talked about the day's market rally and, when she reached the words in ital in this sentence, held up her hands and waved her fingers kind of in that cute way that schoolgirls often do: "We even shook off the comments from Meredith Whitney, who says that there's a double-dip coming," Lee said.

Moments later, Lee rhetorically answered her own question with the way she asked it. "Do we care what Meredith Whitney has to say about stocks outside the banking sector? I mean I say that completely honestly," Lee said. "No, no, uh, disrespect to Meredith Whitney, she's a very smart woman, she's made a lot of great calls, but is this out of her area of expertise?"

"Well, I do care what Meredith Whitney says, just because she's a smart thinker and I think she does have an eye on what banks are really doing and how they're lending," said Karen Finerman, who nevertheless noted that in the past, Whitney's comments could pressure companies as well as the stocks, and that's not happening now.

This could get interesting. We'll keep you posted.

Superfusion squared

Peter Schiff and Tim Seymour battled Monday in another one of their U.S.-vs.-the-rest-of-the-world debates.

They always seem to agree on the rest of the world part of it, but not the U.S. part of it.

We've seen Schiff often enough that we could pretty much script his lines for him if he asks us.

Melissa Lee asked Schiff if it wouldn't be counterproductive for China to stop buying U.S. debt despite its complaints about the declining dollar.

"They'd be pulling the plug on our phony economy, and the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned," Schiff said. "Right now, they're throwing their good money after our bad money. The sooner they stop that, the better off they're going to be."

Seymour asked, "Isn't their currency artificially weak and isn't this peg, is this devaluation stealing jobs from America. That's what, China perpetrating a weaker-dollar policy by buying Treasurys, keeping their currency weak, so to make it sound as if this is all a U.S. policy issue is absolutely wrong."

"The only way that China can have a weaker- stronger currency is if we have much higher interest rates in the United States," Schiff followed.

"No that's not true, because you make it sound as if we're their only trading partner," Seymour said. "In fact, I mean, the Europeans are not very happy."

Eventually, Seymour asked Schiff for a solution, and the answer wasn't terribly impressive. "Peter, often you come on the show and you rail against policy," Seymour said. "What are you gonna do here, other than raise rates dramatically and cut off and choke off whatever recovery we have-"

"We don't have a recovery; the economy is getting sicker..." Schiff said.

"What are you gonna do?" Seymour repeated.

"We have to restructure," Schiff said, before adding, "If you price our stocks in real money, gold, they're still going down."

"We don't price stocks in gold," Seymour said. "That doesn't make sense, the market's goin' up."

Schiff was impressive in how he managed to stay on the air and chime in with the panel on succeeding segments, including when Seymour called him out during "Pops & Drops" over Brazil.

Schiff is definitely correct, in our view and that of many others like Buffett, in that this debt-fueled economy, if left unchecked, is a potential house of cards. Where Schiff and others like Bill Fleckenstein seem most off-base is in their complaints that the Fed is like some completely autonomous Opus Dei-like body with unspecified goals that foolishly is wrecking the economy for reasons no one ever identifies, when in fact it's just another government arm with a high degree of accountability representing extremely, highly choreographed consensus viewpoints (which can be wrong nevertheless) crafted almost without exception to combat immediate, not future, concerns. They're charging our short-term pain onto the no-limit national credit card with the idea we'll be able to pay it off when the jobless are all into more sustainable industries. Maybe we will, maybe we won't.

We can't figure out why "Fast Money" keeps having these occasional discussions about China without bringing on the show's most prominent China observer, Zach Karabell, who didn't get to spar with Schiff on the "Halftime Report" with Simon Hobbs.

Meanwhile, the overachievers running the Chinese economy just prevented about a billion people from listening to a simple Barack Obama town hall meeting, because they know better.

Seymour: Careful with PCU, FCX

Poor Brian Kelly. He made an enthusiastic case for ELX, with chart, that the panelists couldn't have cared less about.

Frankly, it wasn't a very convincing argument, even though the stock may be a perfectly fine choice. Kelly even cited Peter Schiff of all people needing to keep tabs on all his stuff. "Storage is getting so big," Kelly said.

Steve Liesman took questions about Ben Bernanke's remarks Monday. "If you read the whole speech, he sees a whole slew of downward pressures on prices," Liesman said.

Tim Seymour said more than once on Monday's show that there's a potential bubble related to commodities and emerging markets. "I'd be a seller of PCU, I'd be a seller of Freeport; these things look overbought," he said.

The "Fast Money" graphics crew had another glitch, though this one wouldn't have turned up on the spell-check: "Setback are possible."

Gary Kaminsky noted, "I don't collect art."

Department of Redundancy Department: Melissa Lee talked about gold and said "new record high" twice. Later, Lee giggled when Kaminsky referred to Johnson&Johnson with a nickname. "Johnny John, is that what the traders call, uh, Johnson&Johnson on the desks out there?" Lee asked. "Johnny John? You always learn something new on this show, don't you."

Buying the Bond market

Melissa Lee was off for the "Halftime Report" on Monday. She didn't mention any vacation last week, so presumably her absence from "Halftime" was the result of the Bernanke-related delayed start time.

Rising CNBC star Simon Hobbs took the reins instead and found himself corraling a herd of bulls. (Is a group of bulls a "herd"? We didn't have time to look it up.)

"It's like the market doesn't care about anything Ben Bernanke says about strong dollar, they know that he doesn't mean it, and that the rates are gonna be low for a very long time," said Jon Najarian.

Joe Terranova said he's a James Bond fan, because Bond likes to take risk and he always comes out a winner. Terranova says this market is operating the same way. "A settlement above 1,100, you're long, this is an easy trade, you now have a reference point to work against, the chase for performance continues."

"In a nod to James Bond, I'm both shaken and stirred by the recent stock market rally," said Zach Karabell, who thankfully offers a better reason for buying stocks than chase for performance and money on the sidelines. "I don't think the market's going up because of the dollar ... I think the market's going up because frankly earnings have been pretty decent, the financial system has stabilized and global growth is off to the races," Karabell said.

Terranova said, and he said it in just this choppy way, "You wanna get your exposure in ... High. Beta. Commodity. Names."

"Really, look at the commodities for the global story," Karabell cautioned. "Do not pay so much attention and don't get invested in the domestic American commodity story if there even is one."

Mike Khouw was asked about ExxonMobil. "It's the best-managed of the integrated names, but it's also the most expensive so I'd probably look if I was in that space at maybe Chevron or maybe at something that's more levered to the upside in oil like an oil-service name," Khouw said.

Jon Najarian detected "very strong unusual activity" in Lorillard options and said he is long LO.

On the heels of Erin Burnett and Jim Cramer's recent underwear chat, Dennis Kneale, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Sue Herera closed Monday's "Power Lunch" with more Victoria's Secret/underwear dialogue.

This Web site shows a nice photo of Melissa Lee.

Contributor update

We noticed Monday, after noting (below) that CNBC doesn't list Jon Najarian as a "contributor," that neither Steve Grasso nor Zach Karabell is listed at CNBC.com as a contributor either, despite the extensive amount of commentary each delivers for the network.

Whitney: Stock market rally
‘makes no sense to me’

Meredith Whitney told Maria Bartiromo on the "Closing Bell" on Monday, "I don't know what's goin' on in the market right now, because it makes no sense to me." She added, "It's rallied, and there's no root in fundamentals. ... You never wanna underestimate money on the sidelines. ... The money's going into hard assets."

Gartman: Gold in bubble

Much earlier than the "Halftime Report," Dennis Gartman told CNBC that gold is in a "bubble" and will “continue to go up until it stops.” He said the Friday low of $1,102 is the support level.

CNBC, give Dr. J his due

While making the rounds of the Web on Sunday, we stumbled onto a little discovery in the category of "Business Titles."

Jon Najarian's official profile at optionMonster says "Jon is a CNBC contributor."

At CNBC.com, he is listed on this stray "author" page as "a CNBC contributor."

But take a look at the official CNBC bio of Pete Najarian. In the upper right you can find other profiles in a pulldown box titled "Anchors, Reporters & Contributors." Pete Najarian, like the other core "Fast Money" panelists, is listed as a "contributor." Jon's name isn't on the list, and no profile page seems to exist.

By comparison, other names occasionally seen on "Fast Money" such as Addison Armstrong, Scott Nations, Jim Iuorio, Doug Kass and Brian Stutland are all listed in this menu as CNBC "contributors."

Adding to the confusion, the profile of Guy Adami on the same optionMonster Web page refers to Jon Najarian as a "CNBC correspondent."

If you wonder, as we do, what CNBC might pay its guests/correspondents/contributors, consider that Jared Bernstein (who is now an adviser to Joe Biden but we believe was previously a CNBC "contributor" because CNBC.com still has his profile page available,) reported earning $500 per appearance from CNBC, or $70,000 from 130-plus appearances in 2008.

Obviously Jon Najarian contributes a great deal to CNBC practically every day. We can't imagine any non-CNBC staffer contributing more. We have no idea what goes into these distinctions, but we suspect that all this time, there never has been a profile, because of a contractual something or other. (Or, maybe they just forgot to do it.) This is a blip on the journalism radar, only because it says at optionMonster.com that Jon Najarian is a CNBC contributor, it says on at least one page at CNBC.com that Jon Najarian is a CNBC contributor, but on the official CNBC.com "contributors" menu, Jon Najarian is not listed as a contributor.

It wasn't really an exciting discovery, certainly only fractionally as exciting as the Indy Colts-New England Patriots stunner Sunday night.

While perusing CNBC.com...

Around here at CNBCfix, sometimes (not often, but sometimes) we actually make an effort to check if our "About" page is suitably updated, on the remote chance someone might actually look at it.

Apparently, the same can't be said for CNBC.com, which presumably has a budget for these things.

If you visit CNBC.com and go to very bottom, you'll see all the legal-type links, beginning with "About CNBC."

That page tells us, among other things, that "CNBC Primetime programming (weekdays from 7:00 p.m.-2 a.m. ET) includes 'On the Money,' and 'Fast Money.' "

We learned in September from the New York Post that "On the Money," which had already been relegated to weekends, was dumped.

The "Fast Money" inclusion undoubtedly refers to the original nighttime version of the show, before it moved permanently to 5 p.m. Eastern in October 2007.

So, ya gotta wonder if this page has been viewed in two years.

One wonders which "On the Money" version we're talking about here; could be Carmen Wong Ulrich, could be Melissa Francis (if we want to go back a year or more), could be Dylan Ratigan (if we really want to go back).

There's also a handy sentence for potential advertisers: "Viewers of CNBC business news programming are business executives and financial professionals that have significant purchasing power. According to a July 2004 survey by Mendelsohn Media Research, the median household net worth of CNBC Business Day viewer exceeds $1.2 million."

Ah, 2004, when the Dow closed the year at 10,783.01. Imagine how much more net worth those households have now.

Melissa Lee, workaholic

One thing that occurred to us while posting our review of "Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing" is that Melissa Lee must be racking up a lot of overtime.

How's this for big-time production: In the last seven months, she's hosted an hourlong daily show, a 15-minute daily show (in separate locations), a weekly half-hour show, put together two hourlong prime time documentaries, made numerous appearances on other CNBC daytime programs ... and has not taken even a full week of vacation, by our count. (She has missed only about seven or eight days of "Fast Money," never a full week, and nearly all the days were described as "on assignment," not vacation.) Her Coke production involved at least three trips, to South Africa, Atlanta and Springfield, Mo., more traveling than what some other CNBC productions by other hosts have required.

Sometimes when analyzing all the little nuts and bolts of television as this site often tries to do, bigger-picture issues get overlooked. We're not Lee's agent or anything. We thought the Coke production was a little flat. But there's no substitute for effort, a category where Lee clearly ranks among the highest at CNBC.

[Friday, November 13, 2009]

CNBCfix reviews Melissa Lee’s
Coca-Cola documentary

We've posted our review of Melissa Lee's "Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing," as well as our ideas for other CNBC programming, right here.

BAC still hasn’t found
what it’s looking for

With traders unimpressed by the day's action, the only thing that really got Friday's "Fast Money" motor going (other than Melissa Lee saying "connect the dots" for about the fourth day in a row) was a Bank of America discussion with Charles Gasparino.

Gasparino said he's been hearing a lot of people at BofA and also observers in the analyst community suggesting that Ken Lewis should stay on. He gives that a low probability, but that's what he's hearing.

We can't think of a less convincing choice than Jon Corzine, a guy just recently in a much different line of work suddenly going to North Carolina to run a bank just because it wants a big-name standard-bearer, that is ridiculous.

We've already said it about four or five times here, but we'll say it again: How can Karen Finerman not be on the short list? BAC needs someone who 1) is a successful businessperson, 2) is an expert in finance, 3) represents the highest corporate ethics, and 4) is impressive and comfortable on television and taking questions.

Karen is 4 for 4.

But oh, we're just total amateurs speculating here and of course only a tiny group of elites is capable of running a huge bank and surely the geniuses will find someone who is truly qualified for this kind of job, like Charles Prince or Erin Callan.

Melissa Lee asked Karen who her own choice would be. Karen suggested Al de Molina. Gasparino agreed that name sounds good and others mention him, but if he's the right guy, then how come he's apparently not even on the short list? Karen couldn't explain that either.

Lee introduced the segment as "Love the One You're With," but they didn't play the Stephen Stills song.

Terranova hits the malls

Joe Terranova and the panel spent time evaluating the retail trade Friday.

"I am 0 for 5 this year trying to sell short Nordstrom's," Terranova said. However, he now has a pairs trade: buying JCP, selling ANF, based on mean reversion.

The panel joked about the IPO for Rue21. Melissa Lee gave an age hint when she said she didn't know what Rue21 is, "I'm not a teen." Karen Finerman said it actually "might be a great trading vehicle."

Rolling out the welcome mat
for Oriel Morrison

CNBC viewers saw a new face Friday when Oriel Morrison interrupted "Fast Money" with breaking news on John Paulson's holdings.

What was noteworthy was the way Melissa Lee cut to Morrison, sitting almost intently upright, saying "Oriel Morrison, what do you have?" as though she was issuing some kind of challenge to the new kid to immediately produce.

Morrison said Paulson's latest filings show he's added a big C position (this writer is long C) and that his fund "sold all of its Goldman Sachs."

"He had an enormous, many positions in gold ETFs, and I believe some underlying gold companies," Karen Finerman said, but it was unclear in this report what Paulson's moves on gold were.

Morrison, who maybe just barely has a bit of the Meredith Whitney look, is actually a CNBC Asia Pacific reporter based in Australia who came to CNBC from Bloomberg.

Mike Khouw needs
more exciting trades

In Friday's teaser to "Options Action," Melissa Lee and Mike Khouw absolutely put viewers to sleep with some extraordinarily convoluted discussion of a simple Home Depot December $27 put sale.

After watching this segment and not absorbing anything, we re-ran it, tried to figure out why he was comparing HD to Lowe's and why it was taking so long. Karen Finerman as always asked a great question about whether someone doing this trade should intend to hold the trade into the end. Khouw said "That's actually a great question" and something you've always got to ask and said he probably wouldn't buy this back until closer to expiration, and we've already given this segment more space than it was worth.

Analyst Brent Thill talked about Microsoft, and the show was so desperate for material that a decent chunk of time was spent defining "Thill."

"I got out too soon," Joe Terranova said of MSFT. "I'm still long it," Karen Finerman said. "I'm a Mac guy, I wouldn't be buying Microsoft here," Steve Grasso said.

Forex guy Todd Gordon came to the set to say "I am long Aussie, I'm short U.S. dollar."

While talking about the world's tallest dog, MLee was heard to mention a "big pooper scooper," ugh.

A dis for Levy on DIS?

Jared Levy complains in an online options site that he didn't get an opportunity on CNBC Wednesday to trumpet his Disney pick.

Levy writes: "Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to discuss Disney Co. on CNBC Wednesday, but I do have perspective to offer about trading ahead of the company’s earnings; this methodology can be applied at any time. I am certainly not trying to play Monday morning quarterback on this one, but I suggested a short 28-put in December. As I said, I never got to share that trade."

Jim Iuorio: Future world has
no room for $3 coffee

Bill Strazzullo said Friday on the "Halftime Report" that gold still has another 25% in it.

"We got our clients long around 988, 980, we're staying with it," Strazzullo said in a bit of a Brag Trade. "I do not want to be short under any circumstances. I still believe that the big picture here takes you to 1,400."

He added, "I think it's one of the best trades in the market in terms of upside potential." We wonder, why else would something be a good trade if not for upside potential?

JJ Kinahan, who we used to complain was rather colorless, has been rallying recently with interesting commentary, on other CNBC shows as well as "Fast Money."

Kinahan on Friday addressed the gains in PALM and speculation about takeovers, etc. Jim Iuorio said he doesn't see much potential for Palm given that Dell is now flirting with the phone market and Motorola is resurgent. But Kinahan said one potential Palm suitor out of pure speculation is MSFT, "I hear that name floated around."

Melissa Lee stated, "We're not into spreading market rumors," but ...

Kinahan said overall market trends are bullish. "There may be a short-term little correction, but overall I think you'd be foolish to fight this trend," he said. "I think people have to be very careful in terms of shorting things right here." He said at the close, "never sell a low-volume day."

"I think you should be more in the harvest mode," Strazzullo said, even though the S&P 500 has "probably another 20, 25 points in the upside. The bigger picture, use that as an opportunity to take your profit."

Steve Grasso called it a stock picker's market, which is a good thing.

Iuorio mulled troubles with a bullish UUP call. "It's not happening," he said. "I'm still waiting for the dollar to spring higher." He still thinks "we're gonna have a short-squeeze rally and it comes sometime in the next couple days."

Talk about overselling and underdelivering. Melissa Lee announced, "We've got a new game that we want to launch to the world today." It's called "Hold 'Em or Fold 'Em."

So in other words, Lee asks a trader if he/she likes a stock or not. Now there's a new concept to launch to the world.

Iuorio was the debut guest for this new game, and his stock was SBUX. "I fold 'em. In the new world that I envision, there's not enough, there's not enough room for a $3 cup of coffee," Iuorio said.

[Thursday, November 12, 2009]

Greg Troccoli isn’t a fan
of buying options

Unscripted moments are often revealing.

Pete Najarian asked "Glide Path" chartmeister Greg Troccoli on Thursday's "Fast Money" about using options when making a trade like a Troccoli-recommended Goldman Sachs short. "Do you ever implement the options strategy?" Najarian asked.

"Pete, I'm pretty old-school in the fact that, I think sellers of options make money, buyers of options, you have to be absolutely correct, even with the timing, you think you have a couple of months to play it, I'd rather do it technically where I'd really pinpoint my stops, points on my stops, I don't mind risking four or five dollars in here as opposed to buying premium. ... I really think that the seller of options on the institutional level is where you really make it."

Guy Adami defended options by pointing out they would've protected against a short of BNI during Buffett's bid, whereas a technical short wouldn't have worked. Troccoli agreed they would prevent a "whipsaw" in that case, but he's a trained technical pro.

We have no idea whether buying options is a good strategy or not. We guess that many readers of this page do buy options. We do think Jeff Macke made a good point a while back that Pete Najarian spends every day analyzing options and the retail trader probably isn't as well versed in the value of options and might be best-served staying away and using stops. Troccoli's argument is a rare one heard on the show against buying options. Otherwise, Melissa Lee-hosted shows tend to promote options.

The thing is, options buyers could probably question the merits of Troccoli's chart-reading. Karen Finerman sort of did just that, asking, "Greg, how do you choose whether you use a 21-day moving average, a 200-day moving average; it seems like the line fits what you want it to say."

Troccoli gave a convoluted answer defending use of both 21-week and 21-day charts.

The beauty of this country and the free market is, you can do whatever kind of trade you want. (Just make sure you've got an exit strategy.)

The gist of it all? "I would be selling Goldman in here with a stop, close-only, above 185," Troccoli said. "I think the trade is that we can still get below the 165, 160 level."

Call of booty, yuk yuk

Heath Terry of FBR gave a splendid account of "Call of Duty" and the prospects for Activision, as well as the future of GameStop. He said "Call" has blown through high expectations and as for GameStop, games can already be downloaded, but "the retail experience is still a big part of selling these things." He said online gaming is a threat to the GameStop used-game business.

Guy Adami offered a new name for Melissa Lee's porn-industry documentary. (We made it the title of this entry.)

Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns gave one of the most refreshingly candid executive interviews recently, when Melissa Lee pressed him to talk about buying the MGM library. "Of course we'd be interested," Burns said. But there's no deal yet.

Melissa Lee said "Mad Men" is her favorite show and she's got the hots for Don Draper.

We've been ahead of the curve in pointing out how funny Karen Finerman is. In a discussion about Taylor Swift, Karen applied a risk-management assessment to celebrity reactions at awards shows: "Why do they look so shocked though when they win; their chances are like 1 out of 4," Karen said.

A little help here

Melissa Lee has been gushing and beaming and delighting and showing off her new wardrobe all week. Thursday viewers saw a new peach ensemble. Karen Finerman of course looked great too but has sort of been forced to play catch-up this week.

One thing we wonder about, maybe Guy Adami, who occasionally asks personal questions, could start asking Lee and Finerman to describe what they're wearing, the designers, collection, seasonality, etc., because frankly, we often have no idea what we're talking about when we try to describe it (except the earrings, which anyone can figure out). That would presumably be a hit with female viewers, and it's our guess that "Fast Money" enjoys mostly a male audience that could stand expansion.

And this tactic could certainly be successfully extended into Simon Hobbs asking the same questions of Trish Regan, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Melissa Francis, Becky Quick, Courtney Reagan and others. We can say with no hesitation whatsoever that viewers would be interested in this topic.

Hey, it's only an idea.

Michelle Meyer sighting

She hasn't been on "Fast Money" for a month, but Barclays Capital's Michelle Meyer, The World's Cutest Economist, resurfaced Thursday on Maria Bartiromo's "Closing Bell." Meyer looked good in the director's chair, hands not clasped this time, though either because of the difficulties of broadcasting from a working office or poor camerawork, the angles weren't maybe as good as they could've been.

TWCE said, "I think things are looking pretty good in the housing market," but at the same time, "We think we're gonna see a wave of foreclosures continue to flood the market, and that does depress home prices. So in our view home prices have not bottomed yet."


We like Becky Quick as much as anybody (even if her camp apparently doesn't like us), and it was exciting to see her on the "Fast Money" set in dazzling black boots.

Quick revealed a shocker: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in their town hall meeting just couldn't wait to reveal how pro-American they are:

"You know one thing we asked them is, if America was a stock, and I know you guys are all about the buying and selling of these things, but if America's a stock, what would you do, would you buy or sell," Quick said. "And Bill Gates immediately jumped at it and said, 'I would buy.' And then Buffett went up to him and said, 'I'd buy on margin.' "

Quick then explained the real reason Berkshire Hathaway is buying BNI.

"Burlington Northern, he said this is seriously a bet on the future of America," Quick said.

Keeping score with Doug Kass

Even if you don't care about Doug Kass' market predictions (and if you watch "Fast Money" enough to find this page, you probably do care), please humor us and read at least part of this entry, because it took longer than we hoped to crunch these numbers. When you start adding and subtracting and multiplying 1,090s and 1,107s, etc., it's hard to keep the eyes from glazing over.

OK. The news was that Kass appeared Thursday on "Fast Money" and was grilled by Melissa Lee over his recent bearish call that hasn't been realized.

Kass said Thursday, "Last time I was on, you recall, I was looking for a 5, uh, to 12% decline from the market highs; the decline stopped at around 6, 6 and a half percent, then proceeded to return back to the uh, back to the highs."

That was the soundbite.

Here's a little clarity.

Kass actually appeared on "Fast Money" on Tuesday, Oct. 27. This is what he said at that time: "I think that we've probably, uh, uh seen a top in the S&P, uh, for months ... I think that the, that the market is probably, um, somewhere between 5 and 12% overvalued."

We're going to give him complete benefit of the doubt and use intraday highs and lows. So the "top" he was referring to would be, according to Yahoo Finance, 1,101.36, set Oct. 21.

That top was bested Nov. 11, at 1,105.37.

He said the market is 5-12% overvalued. The S&P that day closed at 1,063.41. The low since that day, intraday, is 1,029.38 on Nov. 2. So after Kass made that statement, the worst the S&P has done is fall 3.2%. If measured from the Oct. 21 "top," the fall was 6.98%.

He returned to "Fast Money" on Nov. 2 and, pressed for advice, made these statements: "Retail is ripe with short opportunities ... (overall) valuations are not particularly stretched."

If that sounds like we're putting a ridiculous amount of time into parsing Kass' statements (which we, um, are, to be honest), keep in mind that Kass is the one doing the parsing. He tried to tell Lee on Thursday basically that he was actually right, that he predicted a 5-12% drop and the actual drop indeed had a 6 handle.

The truth — yes, we're big fans of truth here — of Kass' appearances is that he was totally wrong about the top; he only got a meager, extremely short-lived amount of traction from his Oct. 27 overvalued call and not really as much as he suggested; his bearish, Debbie Downer sentiment has been 180 degrees off in the last two weeks, and his short-retail call Nov. 2 (look up ANF since then) has been massively incorrect.

The opinion — we're fans of that too — here is that Kass is also employing one of the most tired economic arguments we've been hearing (literally) for decades from CNBC pundits, that "we're going to have substantially higher marginal tax rates." First, rates now are lower than 1993 and remain in a long-term downward trend. Second, during much of the Reagan boom, rates were at 50%. Clinton had them at 39%; both eras were pretty good for stocks and GDP. (Note: We're not endorsing higher rates here and in general think things are better when they're lower. We're pointing out that this particular argument as an argument against stocks or the economy is meritless.)

We can't say it enough, we think Kass is a great market pundit and we like seeing him on CNBC. Let's just not sugarcoat the bad calls. Hedging belongs in a portfolio, not in TV disclosures.

Troccoli says markets might be
putting brakes on glide path

Greg Troccoli (who is now sort of semi-officially known as "Glide Path" for the quirky chart terminology he used a few weeks ago) mentioned the word "resistance" a few times on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Thursday. Of the XLK, Troccoli said, "The big yellow flag is the 22 area of resistance on the, on this index."

He said later on the real "FM" he'd be talking about S&P 500 resistance levels. "I think we're at such a key resistance area I would not be adding here."

Divine Dani Hughes sees an added benefit to recent acquisitions, "Because they're all-cash deals, that means that the companies believe that their stock is cheap."

Jon Najarian said there is activity in CY, "I'm long it because of December calls."

Melissa Lee and JJ Kinahan referred to Disney as the "House of Mouse," not the "Mouse House" that Dylan Ratigan used to say all the time.

JJ Kinahan congratulated Melissa Lee on her Coca-Cola documentary. Our review is going up in a day or two; there are only so many hours in the day...

[Wednesday, November 11, 2009]

Jim Goldman says IBM
might’ve passed on COMS

Much of Wednesday's "Fast Money" was devoted to the HPQ-COMS deal.

Jim Goldman said, "It wouldn't surprise me in the least if IBM now made a play for Brocade." Goldman indicated there might've been a Showcase Showdown at work. "I'd be surprised if IBM wasn't looking at 3Com, decided to pass, and HP got the deal," Goldman said. Melissa Lee said one of her favorite expressions, "So let's connect the dots."

Karen Finerman said it's disappointing for Brocade, and she owns BRCD calls. Carter Worth was negative not for the deal, but his standard reason: the chart. He said HPQ traded at $50 forever, then plunged to $25 in '08, and now has reached that $50 area again, so "I'm a seller of Hewlett-Packard."

Jon Najarian called it a "pretty good deal" and a "nice fit for Hewlett-Packard." He said "I will be shocked if IBM doesn't make a, a move." He said IBM is "late to the party now."

Jon Najarian said obvious other takeover names to be bandied include BRCD and BRCM, even though "I don't know that a stock like Broadcom makes as much sense," and former IBM spinoff Lexmark, which he said might be attracting Dell.

He added, "I'm long Palm and I think that trade continues to the upside by the way," before going off on a massive tangent about the PALM-COMS split-up that left the panelists bewildered as the camera panned around.

Melissa Lee said Pip Coburn alerted the "Fast Money inbox" that HPQ just bought a "very troubled company" in a deal that is "far from inspiring."

Secretary Scapegoat?

Former HUD Secretary and now Cityview exec Henry Cisneros is occasionally blamed as one of the instigators of the nation's mortgage crisis.

One of the blamers is Charles Gasparino, who mentions Cisneros in The Sellout.

Gasparino wasn't on "Fast Money" Wednesday. But when Cisneros came on the show to talk about housing, Melissa Lee to her credit jumped right in with a Sellout-type line of grilling. Unfortunately her introductory question was very long-winded, and Cisneros answered by defending home ownership.

Soon thereafter, Lee did a rarity — an interruption. "So sir where did it go wrong then?"

"Uh, I think it got out of hand in the 2001, 2002 period," Cisneros said. "A lot of people saw the boom. There was, the world was awash in capital. We had people come to housing who had no business in it including offering exotic products, no document, no down payment. We had the rating agencies mis-rating, uh, paper. We had the secondary market, uh, responding to this world awash in capital uh, with uh, the SIVs and the uh, CDOs, and other toxic devices that they then pushed into international markets. And frankly the whole thing exploded in a way that could not have been foreseen, and it was not the result of the press for homeownership. It was more a function frankly of irresponsibility, and greed run amok. And I think the analysis will, will find plenty of blame to be placed, but I don't think it was on the push that was made in the 1990s for home ownership."

Guy Adami often asks good questions but not this time. After a rambling comment on buyers either gaming the system or not realizing the system was gained, he merely handed Cisneros a statment, "Responsibility is both sides of the coin."

Cisneros responded, "The policy push however was never for taking equity out of homes. It was for home ownership for people to live in. And when we, when we as a country started to look at a house as more of an investment than as a place for people to live, then everybody, uh, was responsible ... The mistake I think would be to view, looking backward, to view home ownership as the problem. ... It will continue to be one of the principal building blocks for the American prosperity, for the American future."

The irony is that he says the problems began when homes were viewed as "more of an investment," but home ownership is still a "principal building block" for prosperity. So on the one hand, it should be just a place to live; on the other hand, it's an important part of our financial future.

Sounds like a politician.

Who had PCLN on Day 1?

We get a chuckle every time Guy Adami rolls his eyes at the gold trade. See, one of the best trades since the inception of "Fast Money" in 2006 has been gold. (AAPL has been pretty good, but probably not quite as good.)

According to Wikipedia (we had to consult Wiki for this because this is even before our "FM"-watching time), "Fast Money" launched on June 21, 2006. On that date, the GLD closed at $58.33, according to Yahoo Finance. Today it was $109.60, good for an 87.9% return in three-plus years, not bad.

(Priceline would've been a better pick. It was $30.21 on 6/21/06, and Wednesday closed at $196.80. AAPL back then was $57.86, $203.25 now.)

If Adami and the "Fast Money" crew had done nothing but urge viewers from the beginning to buy gold, everybody would be making money and sitting on some fantastic returns in the aftermath of one of history's worst markets. (This writer is not a pro investor, has no position in any gold stocks or ETFs and is neither a bull nor bear.)

Wednesday Adami seemed to think Barrick Gold may eventually be a loser with its hedging strategy. "Time will tell, we'll see," Adami said.

Adami, we're sure, is absolutely correct about all the pitfalls of gold investing. The problem is that, amid all the warnings, he's been in terms of his commentary on the wrong side of an excellent trade. Wasn't it Jeff Macke who always said, "Trade the market you've got, not the one you want"?

Joe Terranova said, "I think the market goes north of 1,100."

Karen Finerman said, "I think the market's gonna go higher from here."

Pete Najarian warned of resistance. "We're finding these ranges, 1,100 still remains an area where we have a struggle, $80 in oil," Pete said.

Pete Najarian was caught on camera apparently trying to swat a fly.

Analyst Carlos Laboy discussed Coca-Cola on the set. He didn't really answer Karen Finerman's excellent question about how much of the company's business is not Coca-Cola or Diet Coke, but merely saying all the growth is in non-carbonated things and generally international. "I think Coke should cross $62," Laboy said. Melissa Lee said "Tab is from the '70s" and told Guy Adami, "You're from before the '70s, baby."

The crack graphics team forgot to run spell-check again, this time offering "non-invetment" during Laboy's appearance.

Melissa Lee vs. Melissa Lee

Yesterday we couldn't get enough of Melissa Lee's outfit, but Wednesday's bright red frock (perhaps to honor Coca-Cola) looked like it was certainly date night, so she might've one-upped herself in one day.

Guy Adami asked Lee if she's seen "Spinal Tap." Lee said "No ... I probably should."

"I wouldn't date a girl in college because she never knew what 'Spinal Tap,' I mean, that's uh, that's a good, so you should start watching it," Adami said, and then he said something that really sounded like "maybe it would help."

We're staying out of this one.

Karen Finerman went sleeveless Wednesday.

Looks good on you, though

We've been kind of tough on Gary Kaminsky.

We like Gary.

We have high standards.

Kaminsky spoke about what he sees as the importance of insider buying that's not done by the CEOs, who always seem to think their stock is undervalued. "Insider buying that's not management-led I believe is a sign of something you want to pay attention to," Kaminsky said.

Now, keep in mind, this segment was about four and a half minutes, not the occasional commercial-length Clay Jones interview. In the middle there was joking about Coca-Cola and, in what might be considered a Brag Trade, a chance for Kaminsky to point out he had scaled Kilimanjaro (with photo), but ample time on either side of that tangent to make a point.

Kaminsky reported that a recent stock he discovered fitting this thesis was PrivateBancorp, a Milwaukee-area institution. When Melissa Lee asked for other picks, he only repeated this one name. But when Karen Finerman asked for a ticker symbol, all Kaminsky could remember was "Uh, PV, uhhhhhhhh...." until Lee pointed out that the PVTB graphic was on the screen.

Afterwards, we looked at the "Fast Money" disclosures at CNBC.com and learned Kaminsky has "no disclosures" regarding this day's show.

So here's apparently what happened: Kaminsky came on the show to convince viewers of an angle he finds valuable. But in four-plus minutes of discussion, he could A) only offer one relevant stock, B) did not know the stock's ticker symbol, and C) obviously doesn't own it himself.

So if Kaminsky doesn't even own it after looking up all this information himself, why on earth would any viewer consider owning it or even put any credence into this investment theory?

Debbie Downer on the dollar

Brian Kelly said on the "Halftime Report" Wednesday he got a bunch of IM's a couple days ago because Melissa Lee was "poking fun and rubbing salt in the wound" when he promoted the dollar on "Fast Money."

Kelly said Wednesday he was long NSC, and that maybe Warren Buffett's BNI deal is less a bet on America than something else. "I really think that whole rail play is really a China play," Kelly said.

"As long as the dollar continues to weaken, which it will, we're gonna go higher," said Tim Seymour, who was introduced Wednesday by Melissa Lee (who wore striking red) as "Jim Seymour."

Jared Levy said the financials could be one group that pulls back in November. Seymour said pay caps on Wall Street execs won't be severe enough to stymie good talent, the "pitchfork crew" is not going to ruin things.

What we’ll hear tomorrow

CNBC is running promos for its Warren Buffett-Bill Gates town hall on Thursday night. Here's our prediction as to what will be said: "The American economy will come back ... things have been tough and still are tough but are getting better ... You never want to bet against America ... You wanna buy when people are fearful and sell when people are greedy ... the Fed made the right moves last year, I think Bernanke's done a good job ... we just have to keep our eye on inflation and avoid protectionism ... we all have a responsibility to help others in society ... I have no idea what the market's gonna do tomorrow, I'm looking 5, 10, even 20 years down the road ... there are so many innovations in technology we're just on the verge of achieving ... "

CNBCfix reviews The Sellout

We've posted our review of The Sellout. Yes, we're underlining and hyperlinking this whole entry as a greater incentive to click on it. After all, it's a 500-page book, plus comparisons with Andrew Ross Sorkin's 500-page book. Two points are worth noting here.

One, the value of skillful television presentation is largely overlooked by everyone. Two, both Gasparino and Sorkin make clear, if you want to know one thing that Wall Streeters do, it's watch CNBC. Enjoy the book(s), and hopefully the review.

[Tuesday, November 10, 2009]

Gasparino says Bear acquittals
nix any prosecution of others

Charles Gasparino told "Fast Money" viewers Tuesday that in his opinion, the Bear Stearns acquittals likely deep-six any remotely possible litigation against Dick Fuld or execs at Merrill and Citi.

"I think there were multiple investigations of criminal authorities into whether Dick Fuld made the proper disclosures to investors before Lehman went under. Um, there were people at Merrill Lynch, same sort of thing," Gasparino said. "Citigroup, the same thing. ... Since (the government) lost this case ... I feel pretty certain that those cases are dead."

We've read The Sellout — our review's going up tomorrow — and we concur with Gasparino, what happened with these Bear funds sounds more like a horrible trade than criminality.

Hottest outfit of the year

Perhaps because she was on the "Today" show Tuesday to talk about Coca-Cola, Melissa Lee wore chic black dress with brown belt, and did something a little different with her hair.

Debbie, seek cover

Here's something that might be a little scary, or might not be. Even the most bullish voices on "Fast Money" were conceding Tuesday there aren't many catalysts between now and year-end, but they predict money managers are going to put more money into the stock market just because of technicals and "chasing performance."

So a year after the worst market crash of our time, which devastated a lot of people's 401(k)s and net worth, money managers are going to keep pumping money into stocks only because ... they can.

Sounds like a plan.

Joe Terranova said, "I think you have to have a very high degree of comfort that we are going to go north of 1,100 this week."

Guy Adami said, "I'm Debbie Downer, but you don't wanna get hit by a bus."

Name your own price: $250?

Mark Mahaney, celebrated Citi analyst, said, "We're still a big buyer of Google, small buyer of Amazon." Joe Terranova asked what's "left in the tank" for Priceline. Mahaney said, "This thing could go to 240, 250, it wouldn't be that difficult."

Mahaney said "I have a buy on Yahoo, I like it as a value play," but acknowledges it's not as enticing as Google. "I'm still with a strong hold" on Akamai.

Liz Dunn did a fine job discussing retail, though the body language was a bit stiff. She told Guy Adami the interest in ANF is because of "international opportunity."

Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha Natural Resources, called China's demand for metallurgical coal a "real game-changer."

Richard Bernstein talked about secular vs. cyclical, etc., but basically says stocks are going higher because growth is being underestimated.

Boring show?

Not realizing he was on-camera, Guy Adami noticeably yawned while Tim Seymour discussed transports.

Speaking of transports, Melissa Lee promoted another upcoming CNBC program on Warren Buffett and said "Buffett made his biggest bet ever on America just last week."

Guy Adami once again touted Lazard shares today, and we happened to realize that, according to Yahoo finance, Lazard is actually based in Bermuda.

Does that make buying Lazard a "bet on the Caribbean"?

Adami said Aerosmith is in the "top five of all time." During a brief discussion of UPS, panelists clamored to see footage of Adami in brown shorts, but it didn't happen. Then Melissa Lee, apparently cocky with today's outfit, said, "I don't think you wanna see shorts. Just saying."

Mel Lee had a Brag Trade of her own, speaking of her Coca-Cola program, "It's going to be a great documentary."

[Monday, November 9, 2009]

Finerman needs a sitcom

First, we can't figure out why Melissa Lee is stuck behind the desk for an entire show on a day she's wearing hot black boots.

But whatever.

Karen Finerman is funny. We said this just a day or two ago. Monday on "Fast Money," K-Fine questioned the age of tech stock adviser Tavis McCourt.

"I got a question, first of all, how old are you? I mean, you look like congratulations on your bar mitzvah are in order," Karen said.

Karen gets away with that for many reasons, one being that she looks 27. But she also had some advice for any would-be electronics entrepreneurs.

"If you were starting a store, a, a, you know, a store base today, would you call it "Radio Shack"?

If only she had something about CNBCfix's favorite Karen Finerman comment, why would anyone name a women's clothing shop Dress Barn. But she didn't.

She did, however, talked about a recent value-investor nemesis, Abercrombie & Fitch. "ANF today upgraded, it astounds me. I, I don't get it," Karen said, but Jon Najarian (see below) seemed to think it was a great call on the "Halftime Report."

McCourt, by the way, answered Karen's question about Apple's sluggishness in China, "I think there's already been a lot of iPhone sales in China through the uh, through the black and gray market." Asked by Melissa Lee for a top pick, McCourt said, "I really like Motorola. ... Because of the risk/reward, I think is so favorable. ... I think the core business is worth 8 to 9 dollars a share."

Day off for Debbie Downer

Joe Terranova, whose market outlook into year-end tends to twist with the magnitude of movement in the Dow and who just recently said you can no longer trade on "hope," is now saying the coast is clear up to Jan. 1.

"This is the closing bell. The end of the year is here. There's really not much that can turn the tape over in terms of economic reports, in terms of earnings," Terranova said.

Tim Seymour basically agreed. Melissa Lee tried playing Debbie Downer in Guy Adami's absence, saying stocks are basically at the same place they were two weeks ago.

Except she misspoke. Lee said, "But the Dow, I mean, where it's at right now it's just about where it was a couple weeks ago. I mean it's a nice move, but it's where we were."

Lee was probably referring to the S&P 500, which is indeed back to levels from a couple weeks ago. The Dow just hit its high for the year. Nevertheless, she questioned Terranova's suggestion money-manager-performance-chasing thing. "You're buying the most expensive names in order to play catchup," Lee said.

Pete Najarian didn't actually disagree with either camp, but should've been flagged 15 yards for piling on to Guy Adami's embracing of Debbie Downer. "He reaches over for a kiss, and he gets slapped in the face," Pete said. "You probably will see Joe's 1,100 on the S&P."

Najarian and Terranova discussed the VIX. "That volatility gets even close to 21, it's gotta be a buy because we aren't out of the woods. and I think the volatility range, 21 towards 30," Najarian said.

Terranova said of the VIX, "I bought some puts today, I bought the November 24 puts."

Apparently something funny happened with Pete Najarian's chair off-camera. Eventually he got it sized up. Then Lee curiously said, "Adjust your chair ... adjusting your chair, not yourself, clarify there before we get all the e-mails..." Apparently she thought she said something goofy, but didn't.

Brian Kelly’s dollar chart
a little loopy on the UUP

Brian Kelly of Kanundrum made a pro-dollar argument that was kind of weak, to be kind.

He showed a chart, and when he said, "Here we are, almost at exactly a 78.6% retracement," we really got lost in a hurry. He concluded, "The dollar is undervalued if you look at it on purchasing power parity level."

Melissa Lee asked a good question, isn't future Fed activity already priced in to the markets. "One, they've already told us that," Kelly said. "Number two, if you get a global economy that's growing faster than people expect, they have to step in. ... If inflation rises here in the U.S., then the Fed's gonna raise rates to keep that inflation level down."

Sounds like a really long-winded way of betting the global economy is stronger than believed, in which case your better bet is probably FCX or BHP or something besides the UUP.

"But there is no inflation Brian," said Tim Seymour, who later added, "I disagree with Brian, just on the fact I don't think the Fed is anywhere near coming back into the interest rates. I agree with Brian on most things, by the way."

"Right now I'm long the UUP," Kelly said. "I'm also short FXY."

Dennis Gartman, as is typically the case, made a lot more sense. He said the weak dollar's correlation with the Dow is overstated, a point he's made before. In terms of holdings, he said, "In the fund, we own Freeport OK, and copper. There are days when, for example, today copper was not that strong, Freeport was. I think the proper trade for me will be, I'm gonna reduce my Freeport, and, and, be long copper." Then Gartman played scientist, "We'll play those sorts of movements, like a DNA molecule that moves back and forth, one against another."

Pete Najarian gushed about McDonald's again, but Tim Seymour said to him, MCD "looks very overbought ... not cheap."

Melissa Lee blows kisses
to potential new boss

The real fireworks on Monday's "Fast Money Halftime Report" started in the preview about 15 minutes before the segment, when Bill Griffeth told Melissa Lee that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says "hello," then Lee put her hands on her hips like a referee calling offsides, said "Oh good, our potential new boss, Hi Brian," then blew kisses, then said "enough of that."

Lee had done something different with her hair and was wearing yowza black boots to match a charcoal skirt.

Bachelor-degree holders have
4.7% unemployment rate

Zach Karabell seemed in the mood Monday at "Halftime" for a vigorous debate. "On the dollar, I don't think we should be tracking market movements globally too much based on the dollar," Karabell said. "Let's not tether the market movements so closely to the dollar, because uh, you know, again, what I just said, the market's being fueled by, profitability of companies, which is clearly in play."

"All right, I think someone might disagree with you Zeke, but let's, let's go on," Lee said.

"I hope so," Karabell said.

Karabell has been way ahead of the pack on another subject, the unemployment rate of highly educated people. (He didn't mention it in this appearance, but the jobless rate specifically of women with a college degree is staggeringly low.) The implication (that this site is making, not Karabell or anyone else on the program) is that potential iPhone, BlackBerry, Amazon shoppers are generally not the people being laid off, and in fact things might be getting better faster for them than for other consumers.

"Look at the unemployment rate for bachelor education people is 4.7%, not 10.2, and it is not going up," Karabell said. "And that, that kinda group has more employment and therefore more income, and that's what you should be looking at for those kinds of products."

The comment came after Jon Najarian hailed retailers, including specialty retail, a group whose valuation seems to continue to amaze Karen Finerman. "I'm long, uh, Radio Shack, I'm long Abercrombie & Fitch, uh, I believe, I'm long TJMaxx and a number of other retailers as well," Najarian said. "I think the American consumer continues to spend."

Karabell offered this thought on health care legislation, discussing the market close: "I'm buying as well, I mean the vote this weekend didn't change the trajectory of Congress, so I'm buying."

Mike Khouw said of Goldman Sachs, "I think you can safely get in here."

Jon Najarian opined as to why PALM stock is struggling. "They need a little something more, and they're getting less," he said, referring to Radio Shack now selling iPhones. "That's not good ... as well as some rumors swirling around, uh, Research in Motion, that's a witch's brew for Palm."

Lee said the news from RIMM was that a co-CEO is talking about "billing for applications starting in 2010, could be another revenue stream."

Karabell said he likes RIMM. "I started buying a little bit of RIMM unfortunately in the mid-60s when it did its first collapse a couple weeks ago on the less-realized revenue, and then I bought some more at like 55, 56. ... You're still gonna have room for five or six of these devices globally that are gonna do well."

Joe Terranova said of the dollar, "This is absolutely the continuation of a downard trend."

The Sellout down to 32nd

Is CNBC's relentless business-day promotion of Charles Gasparino's "The Sellout" responsible for driving up sales?

We took a look on Saturday at the book's sales rank at Amazon and discovered it is now 32nd. These things change all the time, so if you click on the link and it's different, please don't blame us.

We mention it only because Gasparino bragged about ranking 13th or 14th a few days ago, as CNBC continued to promote the book probably more than any broadcast network has ever promoted any book in history.

We're no experts on book sales. Maybe this happens all the time. But it strikes us that maybe a bunch of the sales occur while Gasparino is on TV (that would be practically all day M-F this week), and when he's not (that would be all day Saturday and Sunday), maybe sales take a hit.

It is indeed a fine book, and our review will be up shortly.

Update: As of early Monday morning, The Sellout ranked 56th.

Melissa Lee’s documentary
on Coca-Cola looks good

We happened to see a press release for Melissa Lee's upcoming Coca-Cola documentary ("The Real Story Behind the Real Thing") and checked out a couple of the clips.

It looks like yet another installment of excellent CNBC long-form programming (we're trying to sound cool using insider-speak).

Lee has some interesting pictures from South Africa, as well as some interesting anecdotes from Coca-Cola's archives, including Coke's ties to Santa Claus. Hopefully the inevitable subject of New Coke (possibly the most over-analyzed or over-chuckled-about business decision in history) will be kept to a short segment, or at least made more interesting than CNBC's sample clip featuring a bottler who had to deal with it. The senior executive producer is Mitch Weitzner, who also was a principal in the Emmy nominated "House of Cards" and "Marijuana Inc."

You can see CNBC's previews for Lee's program here.

[Friday, November 6, 2009]

But then why is The Sellout
available at a 46% discount?

Jeffrey Lindsay of Sanford Bernstein came on the "Fast Money" set Friday to explain his $160 outperform price target — the highest on the Street — for AMZN.

And in something of a "Fast Money" exclusive, Lindsay defended his upgrade on TV with evidence that didn't make the cut in the two most detailed articles on his call that we found on the Web.

Lindsay argued that Amazon.com is undervalued because the Street doesn't yet appreciate how upscale its customers are. He said $71,540 was the median household income of the U.S. Amazon.com shopper in 2008, about $3,000 above the average Internet user in general and far above overall median income. Lindsay says it's "almost a self-filtering mechanism" that Amazon shoppers are upscale because one needs a computer and typically broadband for the most effective shopping experience.

Yet when we looked up the articles at Fortune and Eric Savitz's Barron's blog, we saw nothing about this sudden realization of the preponderance of upscale shoppers but instead, simple calculations that revenue and EPS projections are too low.

Guy Adami asked a good question, if unemployment is factored into Lindsay's scenario. The answer was basically that unemployment doesn't matter to Amazon's upper-end clientele. "We normally will build that into our economic projections for GDP," Lindsay said, "but what we're finding is that those assumptions will tend to make our estimates too low. And the reason for it is, is that Amazon has a disproportionate share of high-income shoppers."

We were waiting for Karen Finerman to jump all over the valuation, and she didn't disappoint. "I looked at your piece, it's interesting, but I can't help but get to the question of valuation. You're talking about a very, very, I guess, I, maybe they're aggressive, maybe they're not, revenue assumptions, you're talking about big profit margin improvement. And then on top of it you put in a very big multiple. And this thing can't grow forever. So are all three of those things right to put into your price target?" K-Fine asked.

"And then to add on to Karen's question, you've got all sorts of price wars," chimed in Melissa Lee.

"Well we factored all of that in," Lindsay responded. "I think on the multiple what you've really got to look at is EPS growth. EPS growth for Amazon is over 50%."

"Right now," Karen said. "Right, so, but it's not gonna always be over 50."

"No not always, and I think we made the point in the call in the title, I think we're in the fifth inning, but not the ninth inning, and so there will be a day in the future, but that's gonna be three or four years from now," Lindsay said.

"So you don't think stocks peak in the sixth or seventh inning, before the ninth," Karen said.

The Sellout as of Friday evening now ranks 17th on Amazon.com.

CNBCfix’s best wishes
to Mrs. Cortes, Mrs. Finerman

On the one hand there are the Jeff Lindsays, on the other hand there are the Steve Corteses.

Lindsay sees endless shopping at Amazon by rich people; Cortes sees a "new normal" of indefinite consumer retrenchment.

We've been critical of Cortes' picks before. We're not sure we agree with his call Friday either. But we're giving him props, because at least it's interesting and something to think about.

Cortes said there seems to be a general sentiment that unemployment is gradually going to rebound and the consumer is getting better, when "the evidence in the market actually points to the contrary." He singled out employment stocks, MWW and MAN. "These stocks have been on an absolute slide for the last couple of weeks. I think that's a very ominous sign for the employment market and I'd pay much more attention to that than I do frankly to what the government tells us out of the Labor Department," he said.

"We're seeing Manpower get crushed. I think that's a very bad sign if temporary staffing is not even picking up," he added.

So, that would seem like a bad indicator for a lot of stocks. Cortes, apparently wary of fighting the tape any more, says the play is to short the retailers but only against the S&P 500. "I'm not bold enough to short it outright," he said, even though Tim Seymour cited Wal-Mart comments as perhaps evidence an outright short is in order.

Karen Finerman challenged that one, though not as vociferously as with Amazon. "Steve, I've had that trade on. I'm long Wal-Mart, it's a little bit different, short the XRT, it has not worked. Even my mother's like, what are you doing with that trade..."

We heard Karen's mother call into the show once, and she's a favorite of ours.

"I've taken pain on this theme this summer, not a lot of pain because it just hasn't moved a lot," Cortes said, and by "it," we're not quite sure what he means. But I still believe in the new normal. I believe the consumer is going to be restrained."

In our latest installment of the money-losing "new normal" thesis, we point out that Cortes was negative on the FXI back on Sept. 24, when it closed at $41.20, and Friday it closed at $44.17.

Cortes delivered a zinger at the end of his segment. "My wife is here in the studio today, and she did not get the memo on consumer restraint. At all."

Melissa Lee roared. "You just took down your wife on national TV. That is not a smart move, El Capitan. I mean, I'm not married (something this site noted a couple days ago, see below) but I can tell you, that was not a smart move."

The camera briefly caught Cortes' wife, who looks like a good sport.

Later, after Guy Adami mentioned "Sea of Cortes," Tim Seymour brought up the most tired cliche about Steve Cortes, "Cortez the Killer," and we're tired of referencing other Neil Young songs with that moniker.

Michelle Meyer, not on :(

It was sort of Guy Adami against the world Friday.

"The unemployment number was a disaster," Adami said. "I don't how you can spin it to look good. It was an awful number that's not getting better."

He also took a belated at jab at Joe LaVorgna's prediction of productivity bursting into hiring. "Firms don't have to hire people," Adami said. "I know LaVorgna said they will ... I say no."

Karen Finerman, though, wasn't scared. "It was a very strong showing ... so, uh, the bull market seems to be back," she said.

Tim Seymour said, "I thought we had a very good week of data."

Pete Najarian played both sides, saying the number of people out of work for six months "hit a record level," but that might be OK, "as long as that's factored into the marketplace."

Adami downplayed the gains in CNBC parent GE, saying "I don't read too much in it."

Rick Santelli put together an interesting chart showing the Dow and joblessness climbing together. Melissa Lee asked if the Dow isn't forward looking, while unemployment is backward looking, and Santelli's response was enough of a head-scratcher that even Karen Finerman was caught on camera frowning.

"What are they gonna do in Washington at midnight tomorrow," Santelli asked rhetorically. "How can it possibly be forward-looking. We don't know what they're going to do with our money."

Tim Seymour spoke briefly about Berkshire Hathaway, saying there are rumblings that Warren Buffett will have to unload something in exchange for his BNI purchase.

"He's gotta sell something to raise some cash," Seymour said.

And one of those "somethings" might be Wells Fargo, a stock that Guy Adami never ceases to try to lobby downwards (he has no position in WFC per CNBC.com disclosure). "Something is clearly going on in WFC," Adami said.

We'll just note that WFC happens to be another TARP recipient, and that it's an outrage that anyone makes money from the taxpayer bailout, unless it's the nation's second-richest person.

Adami, who if you've noticed in other "Fast Money" discussions doesn't seem to be all that excited by Warren Buffett news, offered a dis of sorts by comparing the Oracle's "bet on America" to just another lousy Tracinda trade. "To me the BNI deal is, he just wants to go out with a bang type of thing," Adami said. "Frankly I don't think it makes sense for the next three to five years. He clearly has a longer time horizon. God bless him. I really do think he's taking a shot not unlike Kirk Kerkorian, not unlike some of the other guys you've seen in the past."

Jim 1, Tim 0

The panel held an interesting discussion on Deutsche Bank seeking to issue extra shares for the UUP. Honestly, some of it went over our heads. But it did remind us of the dollar argument waged by Tim Seymour and Jim Iuorio on Wednesday (we've been wondering for a couple of days whether it's "Jimmy" Iuorio or "Jim" Iuorio, because it kind of sounds the same either way).

Iuorio said the dollar was going to see a short-term spike; Seymour dismissed that after the Fed report.

The UUP closed at $22.51 Wednesday and $22.83 Friday, a small victory for Iuorio.

Seymour said there are ways to go long the UUP without going long the UUP. "If I think the dollar's strengthening, another way I'd play that is, I'm short the EEM," Seymour said. And you can also do gold.

Brian Stutland recommended VIX watchers consider buying the December 22.50 put.

A lesser pundit would’ve said
McEnroe or Connors

You know what, Karen Finerman is funny.

She has a knack for delivering the deadpan one-liners when you're not expecting them.

Tim Seymour was talking about the "finance minister of Brazil, Mr. Borg, not Bjorn Borg."

"Yeah we all thought it was Bjorn," said Melissa Lee.

"What did Mats Wilander, the head of the BOE, say," Finerman said.

After that, we kinda forgot about what Seymour was talking about in the first place.

Guy Adami’s power trip

Tim Healy, CEO of EnerNOC, who last appeared on the show on his wedding anniversary, talked about the successes of smart grid technology. Guy Adami was a bit skeptical about profitability, and valuation.

"Why the divergence on EPS from quarter to quarter?" Adami asked. "It's very simple, we have a seasonal business," Healy said.

Adami, though, said the divergence was big enough to raise eyebrows, and that the stock price is probably a bit ahead of itself.

Back in June, when Healy last appeared, Melissa Lee uttered this line about ENOC's business, "Sounds almost like alchemy."

Lee was gushing and smiling throughout the show for the second day in a row, after a rather subdued birthday "celebration" on Wednesday. There were some glances during the "Pops & Drops," but nothing mischievous this time.

[Thursday, November 5, 2009]

Louise Yamada, where did you
dig up that chart?

Many on "Fast Money" were not making any sense Thursday, and we're not just talking about when Pete Najarian called Microsoft a buy partly because of its $36 billion in cash and then said he didn't even own it himself.

Rather, it was one of our favorites, Louise Yamada, leading the pack.

Yamada's 10-day NYSE composite advance/decline graph was more laughable than that Goldman Sachs Etch-a-Sketch posted by John Roque a few days ago. Asked to make a simple market call, Yamada offered this:

"Now it's moved into what we call a very deep oversold when it crosses the horizontal line below zero. Oversold is the empirical evidence of selling pressure. ... That doesn't mean that it can't improve and we can't get a little bit more rally, but there has been some early evidence of distribution."

Usually, whenever one hears "oversold" on CNBC it means the market is bouncing up because of a perception that a sell-off was too steep. Apparently in Yamada's case, it means the opposite.

And what the heck is "early evidence of distribution"?

Guy Adami cut to the chase with Yamada, "What do you think, pit of your stomach, up or down from here? You've done this long enough."

"I've done it long enough to know when it's confusing," Louise said. "I think as it stands right now there may be more downside, but that doesn't preclude the possibility for further rallies."

Got it.

Melissa Lee then actually followed up with, "Is this market more confusing to you than markets in the past that you've studied?"

Then there was confusion among the panel's call for market direction. Steve Grasso actually was making sense. Grasso said of Thursday's rally, "It's all gotta be treated as suspect. I really feel like we're on the edge of something, and I don't feel like it's on the edge of going higher." He added, "Definitely don't like the volumes on the way up."

Joe Terranova said basically the opposite, in a roundabout way. "I think you have to look at the market right now as a money manager looks at the market. A money manager right now, the last little nugget, the last little piece of negative news that they can get for a market correction, it's all about unemployment tomorrow," Terranova said. "The way the market went out tonight, very very strong, it looks like S&P 1100 is more likely than S&P 990."

But later Guy Adami said, "I'm with everyone else though. And I think, not to give away the ghost here, but I think Louise Yamada might be in our camp too."

Which camp would that be? Camp Granada?

Terranova made as clumsy of a case for MSFT as Najarian did: "If you're a growth manager, Microsoft the last couple years is not really that growth stock anymore. S&P continues to rally, you need to be in Microsoft."

Jim Goldman said some are hailing the Droid as a potential iPhone killer, but "I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard that."

Melissa Lee, returning to hoop earrings and utterly beaming most of the show a day after her birthday, a subject that apparently boosted hits to this page Wednesday & Thursday, modeled the Droid and iPhone together so well, we think she compares favorably to Janice Pennington, Dian Parkinson or Holly Hallstrom.

More, um, CNBC dating notes

Chazzy Gasparino was one of those people, yes, there were a couple, who made perfect sense on "Fast Money" on Thursday, although he had several chances to polish his Lazard succession story from earlier segments on "Power Lunch" and "Closing Bell."

His scoop, and prediction, that Gary Parr (a "great investment banker" according to Gasparino) seems like a front-runner for Lazard CEO was newsworthy enough. But all we could think about was the New York Post article of March 2008 stating that Parr has been able to claim none other than ... yowza ... a certain CNBC lunchtime host as a "social guest" — which certainly seems to us like a bigger claim to fame than being a great investment banker.

That was 18 months ago, and we really hesitate to convey such articles that we know nothing about, but it was in the New York Post, which has, uh, considerably higher readership than this site, and radaronline, and even Parr's own Wikipedia page, so it's not like we're really rumor-mongering or anything.

We'd much rather talk about that than the fact Gasparino's story caused us to look up our CNBC Star Profiles page, where we discovered a longtime careless omission of a word. It's now fixed. CNBCfix regrets the error.

Gasparino flexed his muscles and announced he was heading to Rao's.

Maybe Friday, Michelle Meyer?

Joe LaVorgna was in top form again, even interrupted by breaking news, in a jobs-report segment Thursday.

And he thinks if you're looking for work, you might want to start filling out applications right now.

"We've got massive productivity gains that are unsustainable because companies effectively have overcut their payroll, so if you have any incremental demand and improvement in the economy, that will gave way in our opinion to some serious hiring," LaVorgna said.

"If you look historically, we have never had two quarters in a row where GDP is 3% or better and payrolls are negative. And I think given the productivity numbers we've seen, we're really on the cusp of job growth."

There are few better guests than LaVorgna. But maybe Friday, we'll get The World's Cutest Economist.

Melissa Lee looked cute in her Yankee jersey and should've worn it the whole show.

The importance of .1

Steve Grasso handled the "Fast Money Final Call" on Thursday and called the rally something of a squeeze. "People don't wanna be short this market," Grasso said.

Then Grasso drew a mighty fine line about the impact of tomorrow's jobs number.

"If it comes in at 9.9, this market could scream a lot higher," Grasso said. "If this number comes in at 10, 10.1, there's nothing positive about that."

Simon Hobbs, perhaps on verge of being CNBC's next breakout star, said he likes Grasso's "binary" way of "approaching the situation."

Dennis Gartman doesn’t buy this

Greg Troccoli spoke of a possible head-and-shoulders pattern in the S&P. "If we start to get through 1075," he said he would be skeptical of that, but if we plunge to 1040, 1035, in a week or so, then he would see the pattern start to come full-circle.

Jon Najarian thinks it's the former. "I would look for Greg's level to the upside to be taken out, rather than his level to the downside."

Dennis Gartman said, "I still think that the trend line has been broken. Am I short, yes I am," but he said he probably would be less short at the end of the day.

Gartman was asked to choose a tech short. "If I had to pick something to be short, in tech, I'd pick RIMM," Gartman said. Jon Najarian agreed.

Jon Najarian offered sort of a Brag Trade on declining volatility. "Just as you and I were talking Monday on the Halftime Report," he said to Melissa Lee, "I thought it was unsustainable."

Patty Edwards said she took a walk through an Abercrombie & Fitch and "I saw at least half the store marked down."

[Wednesday, November 4, 2009]

We only mention this to be nice,
to pay a compliment

We've never seen a birthday celebration as muted as the one for Mel Lee on Wednesday.

No cake, no singing, no cheering, etc.

Guy Adami broached the subject fairly early. "We won't give you a number, because you haven't told me the number. I'm sure you could look it up out there folks," Adami said.

"Google," said Tim Seymour.

"She doesn't look a day past 47, she looks great," Adami said.

Actually, we have Googled before ... she is obviously either 36 or 37 ... but one reason Lee hasn't yet made our "CNBC Star Profiles" page where she clearly belongs is because there is little information to be found about her in cyberspace. (Note to searchers; there are a couple other famous Melissa Lees worldwide, we think maybe Australia and South Korea, so careful.) Even Lee's Wikipedia page, which apparently has been the subject of fierce editing battles this year and just today added the Nov. 4 birthdate, is pretty light on details.

However, we did stumble upon this December 2008 interview in Asiancemagazine.com, and were floored by the final question and answer.

It went like this:

ASIANCE: Do you have a boyfriend? Are you married?
Melissa: ha-ha. No and no.

We knew she wasn't married. Granted, this interview was from 2008, and for all we know, things might've changed.

But, "No and no"?

And what's with the "ha-ha"?

Melissa Lee didn't (perhaps doesn't?) have a boyfriend??

Here's the deal ... hard work and career success are great. Lee probably gets up at 5 a.m. or even 4 a.m. and probably sometimes is at the office 12 hours a day.

Socializing is a big part of life too. We've always kind of imagined Lee getting whisked away to Campagnola after every show by some proud guy and yukking it up for hours about Lloyd Blankfein or Jimmy Cayne or Keith Olbermann or whoever with Charles Gasparino or whoever else happens to be there.

The idea that might not be happening is disheartening.

A female CNBC star evidently didn't have a boyfriend.


Guys, it just goes to show, sometimes you never know if she's spoken for until you ask.

CNBCfix, by the way, exclusively broke the scoop on Karen Finerman's birthdate many months ago.

Melissa Lee gave the camera one of those mesmerizing little looks again during the RIMM portion of "Pops & Drops."

Too bad Jane Wells wasn’t
the Cisco correspondent

Cisco's results were so good, even Guy Adami calls it a buy, if not necessarily a chase.

"CSCO's a name you wanna own," Adami said, even though "I think Juniper here is a little rich on valuation."

Jim Goldman stated that CEO John Chambers "is ridiculously optimistic."

Pete Najarian raised a point that is often heard on "Fast Money," and yet in our decades of watching CNBC, we've seen no evidence that this particular point has ever been a driver of stock prices, and in fact might signal a top, in that the news is already long old and perhaps suggests the company is devoid of ways to make any more money.

That would be the cash on the balance sheet.

In Cisco's case, "They're still sitting on 30-plus billion dollars in cash," gushed Pete Najarian.

What should they do with it, start a video-game arm? Or make a "bet on America" and raise the bid for BNI?

Guy Adami said, "Financials were lousy all day ... don't discount what Meredith Whitney's been saying."

Pete Najarian agreed. "Final half-hour, the XLI, literally fell off a cliff," Pete said, citing Goldman Sachs. (This writer is long C.)

We have to mention this right now and get it out of the way — we happened to see Jane Wells in brown sweater in that little segment just before the start of 5 p.m. "Fast Money," and she made our knees buckle. If you missed it, look it up somewhere at cnbc.com or YouTube.

Tim Seymour vs. Jimmy Iuorio

Tim Seymour made one of those rare "Fast Money" calls, predicting the price action for the next day. "I think you're gonna see the market move higher tomorrow. ... The Fed gave the market a green light," Seymour said.

Joe Terranova said to be careful until Friday, when (possibly) Michelle Meyer of Barclay's Capital might reappear on "Fast Money," (or perhaps might even reappear Thursday in advance) after the jobs report is out. "The market is on the defensive ... I wouldn't anticipate any aggressive buying ahead of the unemployment number on Friday," Terranova said.

Jimmy Iuorio and Seymour argued over whether the dollar is going to rally short-term. Iuorio cited evidence the dollar "is due for a short-squeeze. ... I think we're due for a big spike in the dollar." Seymour insisted the Fed statement cemented the downward trajectory of the UUP.

What spell-check is for

Somebody on the "Fast Money" technical crew needs to get a better handle on the screen text. Today we saw "Barlcays" and "annouced;" last week we think the dreaded "guage" popped up a couple times and so did "Nemont" Mining.

Debbie Weinswig looked great, absolutely great, but seemed a little tight and jumpy at the beginning of her on-set appearance. By the end she was in a groove. She once again mentioned "Tar-zhay" and said she likes Macy's to do well.

Gary Kaminsky played the "name the next takeover target" game on Wednesday. He said the Stanley and Black&Decker deal, while it may not have been a $50 billion deal (a curiously obvious comment, given that all accounts we've seen say it was a $4.5 billion deal), might've been "in the works" for 10 or 15 years, and now they finally did it, so the time might be ripe for others. Kaminsky suggests looking at CHD, CLX, ECL.

Guy Adami had to talk briefly about the "Obama Trade," which as regular viewers have come to know is really the "Incremental HMO Stock Update Trade." Adami zinged President Obama the same way he zinged cats later in the show, saying, "I'd like to see his reaction last night after some of these election results." Melissa Lee let him get the dig in. "That's true, that is true," she said.

One ill-advised segment involved Melissa Lee walking up to the front of the studio to awkwardly ask questions of the rest of the panel from an uneven camera angle. Tim Seymour even lost his microphone and sounded briefly like he was in a cavern, but Guy Adami came to the rescue.

Melissa Lee compared Gordon Gekko to Barclays CEO John Varley's comment that profit is not "satanic." Unfortunately, Lee and the "Fast Money" graphic slightly misquoted Gekko, who did not say "Greed is good" but rather "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." The thing is, we don't believe in greed, but Gekko is mostly right about just about everything, but only in the most cynical way. (Notice nobody on CNBC bothered to ask Warren Buffett how many yachts he needs to water-ski behind.)

Guy Adami compared Gordon Gekko to Tim Seymour and noted "You have the same hair."

Interestingly, nobody on the set brought up the Yankees and the potential clincher tonight. Is that a sign of jitters?

We’ve been ahead on this one

Charles Gasparino, quickly becoming a "Fast Money" regular, turned up on the show again Wednesday to discuss a new hedge fund, Tegean, founded by a notable former Citigroup trader responsible for some of its big bond bets, Thomas Maheras.

This is what we noticed: Among Maheras' investors are Sandy Weill ... and the University of Notre Dame.

Which means (this is where CNBCfix is a lone voice in the wilderness) when Notre Dame's endowment potentially drops, the university, like museums, pension funds and other endowments, can blame the stock market, not the decision to invest in it.

When they talk about "no moral hazard" on Wall Street, they don't extend the concept far enough.

Jared Levy of Peak6
tends to talk with his hands

Jared Levy of Peak6 was Bob Pisani's guest on the "Fast Money Final Call" on Wednesday.

And, he couldn't resist a Brag Trade.

Pisani asked about India buying 200 metric tons of gold, is this the top.

"You know Bob," said Levy, "you and I both know, we've talked about this before, in fact months ago when I started recommending gold back in the mid-70s, you know, there are a lot of bullish fundamentals for gold."

But Levy sees pullback potential. "I think in the near-term, gold might be a little bit overbought," he said. "We're seeing a lot of open interest in calls, and most of it looks to be short. Bob, long-term fundamentally, gold, great hedge." He said the GLD in the near-term could retrace to $104.

Levy, who did this segment from something that looked like a law office, also held a purple pen throughout the interview, even shifting it from one hand to another. It's only a 2-minute, 10-second interview (we timed it, yes) ... what exactly was he planning to write down?

We also think we caught the pen, or a pen, at one moment on the "Halftime Report," where Levy had another sort of Brag Trade: "Two weeks ago I talked about buying the VIX."

It’s Melissa Lee’s birthday

Tim Seymour on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" wished Melissa Lee a happy birthday.

MLee first beamed, then later grimaced, as though she's been dreading this one. She was dressed for the occasion, in dazzling blue.

"I am long UUP," said Brian Kelly.

"That UUP has only had a $4 variation in the course of two years," said Jared Levy.

Jeff Tomasulo said he was first going to wait for the Fed meeting, then wait to see the volatility. "We're gonna sit back and we're gonna sit on our hands, wait to see what kind of language comes out of here, and then see what kind of volatility and where the direction of this market's gonna head, goin' after today." Asked to call the market close, he needlessly said, "I'm indecisive."

[Tuesday, November 3, 2009]

Warren Buffett and the TARP

Melissa Lee introduced Tuesday's "Fast Money" with this statement: "Stocks flat despite Warren Buffett's big bet on America."

Then she repeated "Buffett's big bet on America," and mentioned "America" twice more in the opening moments.

In just the first four minutes, the "Fast Money" crew mentioned "America" 10 times. Pete Najarian had three, Joe Terranova two, Tim Seymour one.

After segments with Peter Schiff and Whitney Tilson, we counted about 13 more.

Eventually Lee announced a CNBC town hall special to air Nov. 12 titled "Warren Buffett and Bill Gates: Keeping America Great."

"Fast Money" was not alone in declaring a Warren Buffett investment as a victory for America. These headlines were spotted Tuesday on the Web:

CNN: "Buffett bets $26bn on U.S."
N.Y. Times: "Berkshire Bets on U.S. With a Railroad Purchase"
Reuters: "Buffett bets on America with latest purchase"

The Wall Street Journal came up with something a bit different: "Rail Deal Is Bet on Obama's Infrastructure, Climate Policies."

But more on that in a moment.

Remember back in September 2008, when the financial crisis was at the point where it looked like Regan's room when Father Merrin's heart gives out in "The Exorcist"?

Warren Buffett was asked by Goldman Sachs to make an investment. He did, announced Sept. 24. The terms he received were quite generous. Here is how CNN reported it:

Goldman will sell $5 billion of preferred stock to the insurance and investment giant, which will also receive warrants to purchase $5 billion of common stock with a strike price of $115 per share, the company said. Berkshire has five years to exercise the warrants. Buffett will be paid a 10% dividend on his shares.

But the legendary investor said his faith in the financial markets' recovery is contingent on Congress passing the $700 billion bailout, which would buy troubled mortgage assets from banks.

"If I didn't think the government was going to act, I would not be doing anything this week," Buffett told CNBC Wednesday morning. "It would be a mistake to be buying anything now if the government was going to walk away from the Paulson proposal. Last week will look like Nirvana if they don't do something."

It occurred to us Tuesday that this element of the bailout has largely gone unreported — not even by a source we turn to, Charles Gasparino, who coincidentally was on the "Fast Money" set Tuesday. Gasparino, in the just-released The Sellout, waited until Page 476 to offer one sentence, "The billionaire investor Warren Buffett came to Goldman's rescue with a capital injection in exchange for preferred shares."

But in an interesting comparison, that was even ahead of his rival Andrew Ross Sorkin's account in Too Big To Fail, which doesn't appear until Page 485. But Sorkin at least has some details. He said Buffett repeatedly rejected Goldman's overtures in September 2008, including Lloyd Blankfein's suggestion of a "modest" interest rate on preferred shares convertible at a 10% premium to the current price. Sorkin writes, "[T]he only way Buffett would be willing to make an investment would be if he were offered an extraordinarily generous deal," which turned out to be the 10% yield with a $115 convertible price, which was 8% below where the stock traded at the time.

Coincidentally or not, Goldman Sachs received an extraordinarily generous amount of government help in autumn 2008. Gasparino, in a Daily Beast column July 13, said without it, the firm was actually done: "In the fall of 2008, just after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy gave the world a lesson in systemic risk, Goldman, the world’s greatest risk taker, was finished too. That’s right, it was toast. Finished. Kaput. Until, that is, the firm ... needed a government bailout to stay afloat, which included $10 billion in cash from the Treasury Department and more importantly, full access to the Federal Reserve’s discount window to be a commercial bank."

Gasparino added this: "In mid-September 2008, when the world was crashing following Lehman’s bankruptcy, Goldman held $13 billion in highly risky mortgage bonds known as collateralized debt obligations. These bonds were insured by American International Group, which itself was about to go bankrupt. ... Without that insurance, Goldman itself would have imploded because the bonds would have been marked down to just pennies on the dollar. The rescue of AIG was supposed to prevent a large-scale crash of the financial system, but it also prevented a crash of Goldman Sachs."

Which, it can probably be concluded, also prevented Warren Buffett from taking a steep loss and instead gave him a huge profit, a bullish, all-in wager on America, no doubt.

When Buffett first spoke about the BNI deal with the CNBC "Squawk Box" crew of Joe Kernen and Becky Quick, here's how he and the "Squawk" crew described it with guest Ed Rendell:

Buffett: "I just basically believe this country, you know, will prosper, and you'll have more people moving more goods 10 and 20 and 30 years from now, and uh, and uh, the rails should benefit, but it's a bet on the country, basically."
Rendell: "It is a bet on the country, Mr. Buffett, but I think it's a good bet, and we need entrepreneurs to care about this country again."
Kernen: "This is your quote — 'an all-in bet on the future of the United States.' "
Buffett: "That's what it is, that's what it is."
Kernen: "I feel like standing up ... when I say that."
Buffett: "America's best years lie ahead, there's no question about that."

Here's a guy who has spent literally a lifetime relentlessly making money. Unlike Bill Gates, he's still relentlessly at it. Burlington Northern was not in any distress and is/was highly regarded. This wasn't a company in need of saving. Buffett already owned 22 percent. How this deal could be seen as anything other than a way to make more money is a head-scratcher. But when Warren Buffett's involved, according to our nation's leading media, it is somehow pro-American.

Tuesday wasn't the first time Buffett has trumpeted his patriotism. On Oct. 16, 2008, he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times, titled "Buy American. I Am." That headline is misleading. Buffett's point was that he is moving to stocks after being in Treasury bonds. Nowhere in this op-ed does he favorably compare American investments with non-American investments (a distinction gradually eroding anyway as some "Fast Money" panelists including Zachary Karabell point out). Rather, he was urging people to get out of cash and into stocks. "I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. ... Today my money and my mouth both say equities."

We wonder who wrote the "Buy American" headline. Either way is a problem. If Buffett insisted on it, then the NYT granted an off-the-mark headline. If the NYT wrote it, then they inaccurately represented the article for the sake of enabling a cult of personality.

Why might Buffett be so interested in casting himself as a patriot? Bad things can happen when you make a lot of money. Consider the Justice Department's Microsoft investigation of a decade ago. Or the uproar over Dick Grasso. Or Kenneth Feinberg's Wall Street pay caps, or Citigroup's said-to-be-forced unloading of the mega-profitable PhiBro unit.

When people believe your brand of making money is about saving America, those kinds of things probably aren't gonna happen.

One reason Buffett might want positive press about this deal? At the very end of this long Bloomberg account, we find, "The U.S. Department of Justice will conduct an antitrust review, which Burlington expects to be completed by the first quarter of next year, the company said today in a conference call with analysts and investors." Based on what we've read elsewhere, that doesn't sound like a problem ... but it never hurts to be careful.

Another reason? Buffett's "bet" might have less to do with America and more to do with American government policy. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s planned purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. represents a bet that upcoming Washington policies to improve infrastructure and combat climate change will be a boon to the freight-railroad industry. The White House set aside $8 billion in the economic-recovery act to improve passenger railroads — money that will directly benefit freight railroads since they own almost all of the lines used by Amtrak and regional commuter-rail operators. ... Another $1.5 billion in discretionary spending in the stimulus is expected to finance many rail projects, including a plan to reduce congestion in Mr. Obama's native Chicago, the nation's busiest freight-rail hub. That project has already won $322 million in funding from Illinois that is expected to attract federal dollars."

Interestingly, no one on "Squawk" or "Fast" suggested Buffett might actually be in this to make a profit, whether he sees any cost savings (i.e., job cuts), what exactly the "synergies" (remember that term?), if any, are that make sense here, or, astoundingly unmentioned by Melissa Lee and the "Fast Money" crew, whether he might've actually overpaid given that there's no other bidder.

Apparently Joe Kernen came closest when he asked this question:

"What is it about the future that makes the rails so, so attractive?"

Buffett's answer: "They do it in a very cost-effective way and they do it in an extraordinarily environmentally friendly way."

So he's not only betting on America, he's saving the planet too.

Funny that we never heard the Stanley/Black&Decker deal described as a "bet on America."

There's a very fine line in people's minds as to what constitutes savvy, admirable business, and what constitutes greed. Buffett is the nation's second-richest person, which doesn't happen by fluke, but is considered to be on the good side of that line. Ed Rendell for instance declares, when famous billionaire is trying to become richer, "We need entrepreneurs to care about this country again." Surely, Buffett only cared about the country when, according to Sorkin, he resisted Goldman Sachs' desperate appeals for investment until he was given an enormously lucrative offer, then indirectly profited from TARP and the AIG bailout.

Joe Kernen actually joked Tuesday about Buffett's ultimately taxpayer-supported investment in Goldman:

"I'm gonna bring up an unpleasant subject; no, I'm kidding. ... You're gonna like this, I know you're gonna smile when you answer. What were, what were the warrants on Goldman again, was it 115?

Buffett answered, "115, yeah, $5 billion of stock at 115, yeah."

Kernen later mentioned Goldman Sachs' problem of how to pay $20 billion in bonuses — an amount that Buffett is apparently taking credit for — and asked Buffett of the sum, "You OK with that as a huge shareholder?"

Buffett laughed and said, "As a future shareholder, we're a warrantholder now, but more of it's coming from us than anybody else in the whole world. If people earn a lot of money for their shareholders I have no problem in paying them on it....I love pay for performance, it's something we do at Berkshire, and I, I have no quarrel with that."

Buffett is an endlessly admirable individual, an extraordinary investor and ambassador who exemplifies many of the greatest virtues of business.

There was nothing wrong with his Goldman Sachs investment, and the bank obviously considers it a success. We only wonder why most TARP beneficiaries are considered villains while others are considered patriots.

He's not only a great businessman, he's a shrewd marketer. When the media plays bridge with him, he deals.

Clay Jones isn’t too eager
to discuss M&A

Clay Jones, CEO of Rockwell Collins (a Guy Adami favorite), came on the "Fast Money" set and oddly enough, was given very little time, just like the last time he appeared via video.

Melissa Lee asked, rather confidently, "Would your company potentially be up for sale?"

"No, we haven't been up for sale," Jones said, not quite answering the question, awkwardly glancing around. "We think we've got a lot of strategic options available to us. We spend a lot of money, we make a lot of money. We operate very well within the segments, uh, in which we, uh, uh, are in the market, and, uh, we see no reason why a combination's gonna improve this company."

Lee asked about possible squeezing of the defense budget. Jones allowed that defense spending hinges in part on "how safe do Americans feel."

Tim Seymour said other nations are boosting defense, and he asked a great question about global customers. Jones indicated a new agreement with India is a plus and that he's seeing robust demand in many other parts of the world.

Karen Finerman thinks Phil LeBeau report on GM-Opel is a bit bogus

Tim Seymour was seen notably rolling his eyes during part of Peter Schiff's appearance Tuesday.

Eventually, we learned why.

"We need to have higher interest rates so that people are paid to save," Schiff said during one exchange.

"That's gonna crush them," Seymour said.

Melissa Lee used air quotes when saying Schiff is "bearish on America."

Tim Seymour said India's central bank made a "very bullish gold trade." Interestingly, he added, "China's gold reserves as a percentage of their overall currency reserves is about one and a half percent."

Joe Terranova noted that gold saw a big spike in advance of an FOMC meeting. "That is not a normal occurrence," he said.

Karen Finerman basically thought of Phil LeBeau's report on GM not selling Opel as b.s., and said so. "I know what they say, but why," she demanded.

Joe Terranova thanked Guy Adami for doubting Jim Suva's RIMM downgrade; it gave Terranova an idea to buy and he made a nice profit Tuesday. Pete Najarian said Teva was a buy below $50 and that he jumped in. Karen Finerman, feeling edgy all day and showing hipsterness, said of Snap-On, "Well yesterday was the biggest news in tools since, uh, Kanye West went up on the stage at the VMA awards."

Karen Finerman wore a new ruffled top we haven't seen before, while Melissa Lee wore a chic belt.

It ranked 14th overnight

Charles Gasparino wasn't talking about Buffett and Goldman Sachs on Tuesday, but he was handing out free copies of The Sellout. He might want to pay a visit to a B. Dalton's outlet, where CNBCfix, doing a little bookstore reconnaissance to see how this tome is being treated, discovered it was not for sale, and when the chap behind the counter was asked why, he shrugged.

The situation was better at Border's, where the book was at least available. Also, we noticed Zach Karabell's Superfusion displayed more prominently than SuperFreakonomics on the same wall.

Tyler Mathisen's breaking-news spoof was kind of weak this time.

Tim Seymour coined a new term, someone who is "under-mistood."

Melissa Lee's bubbly "Chazzy Gasparino" is the cutest thing she does.

Greg Curl, it’s late in the game

We forgot to note something yesterday, as we often do: There was some idle chatter on "Fast Money" about Karen Finerman maybe being a candidate for BAC's CEO. It's about time they started catching up with us, only in our fully reasoned line of thinking, it's no joke.


We were re-reading our point about Doug Kass yesterday, and something made us a little ginchy, because we'd much prefer to identify inconsistencies in other people's work than our own. (Why would we possibly be re-reading our own entries on this page? Mostly just to make sure that we actually posted our "Fast Money" material and not, say, directions to a party or notes to girlfriends ... or put the whole post in headline size ... or put the whole post in ital ... (gulp) ... you get the picture...)

We chastised Kass for delivering a story instead of just offering a trade.

Other times, perhaps long ago, we've argued the show needs to branch out from routine stock-picking.


Not meant to be. We've said or implied before, we think it would be good television and bring life to the show if Pete Najarian, for example, spent five minutes explaining why he voted for either Obama or McCain (we have no idea). Or if Zach Karabell told what kind of deal he thinks Palestinians would accept and what effect that might have on the region. Or if Tim Seymour opined as to whether Georgia was at fault for the South Ossetia crisis.

What Kass was doing was telling an economic backstory that we hear all the time on "Fast Money." It's fine to have a theory; just tell us what the theory is, not the general facts that are discussed every day.

In other words, stick to stocks, unless it's good non-stock stuff.

Also, we're big fans of "Charlie Rose," and certainly weren't trying to imply that a Kass appearance there would be a step down.

Whew, feels so much better now.

[Monday, November 2, 2009]

Who is this Debbie Downer
Guy Adami keeps talking about?

We've gotten so many inquiries recently about "Debbie Downer" that we hope this posting atop the page will help.

Guy Adami is not really married to "Debbie." Debbie Downer, played by Rachel Dratch, was a fictional "Saturday Night Live" character a few years ago. Debbie was a cynic who was always bringing up bad news about everything. Melissa Lee during the summer stock market rally often brought up cautionary news during ebullient conversations. Guy Adami has made persistent bearish calls on the stock market for the last couple of months. As a result, each tends to call each other "Debbie," and the rest of the "Fast Money" panel and even guests such as Doug Kass now use the term whenever someone speaks of bearish news.

The moniker seems to be a Melissa Lee thing, as we don't recall hearing it on the show during Dylan Ratigan's tenure as host. Perhaps Melissa Lee is a fan of "Saturday Night Live."

So there you go.

The Dick Fuld Story, continued

We couldn't tell if Charles Gasparino was humbled, or merely shockingly subdued, on "Fast Money" on Monday.

You would think, given the amount of promotion CNBC has given this book, that on the night before its release, Chas would be yukking it up all over the network and spinning tales.

Melissa Lee was bursting at the seams introducing this segment. "A day that will live in infamy in the publishing world. Chazzy Gasparino!! Chazzy!! Are you at the edge, are you nervous?"

"Yeah, of course," said Gasparino, "I wonder who's gonna take the first shot at me."


Gasparino did make a small joke, that as far as pre-sales of The Sellout go, "The only person that bought is my mother-in-law in Queens."

He then soberly addressed the Wall Street problem. "The government in one way or another bails out Wall Street. It prevents the pain," he said. "If they didn't bail out Long-Term Capital in '98, Lehman would've been done ... My book shows that Stan O'Neal, who was the CFO at the time, thought Merrill would've been done too. Now, I'm not saying it's good that they're done, but that would've, that would've basically taught them a lesson."

Fair enough. Now we can read the book.

We don't know that Gasparino will be taking many shots. Who, really, has the energy for this anymore?

We read David Faber's Roof Caved In. We're reading Andrew Ross Sorkin's book. (We're behind, which means we're behind on The Sellout also, but reviews will hopefully soon materialize.) It's a good read. We understand Gasparino has challenged parts of it and perhaps so have others. It's to the credit of all of the above that they've put together a lasting chronicle of an important moment in U.S. history.

The question is, how much more coverage of the Wall Street crisis does the world need, how many more Dick Fuld anecdotes, Stan O'Neal outrages, Chuck Prince miscalculations, Hank Paulson arm-twistings, John Thain redecorations need to be revealed to the world.

This is a problem with CNBC, about the only place where people like Lloyd Blankfein, Meredith Whitney and Sheila Bair are considered celebrities or even important.

Wall Street sucked. Mightily. They got bailed out by taxpayers. Some bailees got bonus money. It's an outrage. We get it. We get it. We've been getting it for almost two years.

Now, we're just trying to get over it. And mostly succeeding.

If people to this day are driving home from work at night angry about Tim Geithner's congressional testimony or the price Ken Lewis paid for Merrill, instead of, like, thinking about what they're gonna do with their life, then that's ridiculous.

Even catching up on Jon Gosselin gossip is probably a better use of one's time.

So, congrats to the authors, and we're going to keep reading, but this crisis belongs in everyone's rear-view mirror.

MLee has a poker face

Melissa Lee inadvertently showed viewers Monday how a real TV pro gets the job done.

Lee got caught up in a giggle fest that almost turned her as bright red as her top (paired with crisp black jacket and elegant but mostly concealed earrings). Actually, it was kind of funny.

In a discussion of Wal-Mart's toy pricing, Lee said, "You know, I haven't bought a toy in a, in a long time," and the crew started chuckling. "Where we goin' with this?" asked Tim Seymour. Then Guy Adami really unleashed the laughs with "Happy with the ones you have?"

Lee nearly doubled over. We've all had that experience. The challenge for Lee was, she immediately had to move on to a serious Doug Kass interview. If CNBCfix or 95% of the general public were caught in such a laugh-trap, we'd look right into the camera, begin to introduce Kass, then crack up like Bill McKay in "The Candidate." Lee did spend a few moments looking down at paper notes, but managed to introduce Kass without wavering, an impressive showing.

In probably her only miscue of the day, Lee showed a squiggly Goldman Sachs chart from John Roque and apparently didn't realize that it, too, was laughable.

Roque "brings up a good point," Lee said. Really? Karen Finerman offered, "That's really self-explanatory isn't it ... no I don't know, I have no idea."

"It is hitting resistance at its 40-week moving average as well as its 200-week moving average," Lee asserted, rather stuffily.

So that and the fact it's fallen $25 in a few weeks might signal a problem.

Why Gartman is a legend

Apparently now a staple on "Fast Money," Doug Kass gave the show another extended interview Monday.

Here's an adequate summation of what he said: "Retail is ripe with short opportunities" and in general, "valuations are not particularly stretched."

Here's the problem: Kass once again tried to deliver a classroom lecture. Anytime someone on "Fast Money" starts saying, as Kass did, "The investment mosaic always contains positives and negatives," then the "cut" alarms should start going off.

It's not that Kass' points are wrong (we're not pro economists here) or even unwanted. It's that they don't belong on this show, not unless they're delivered with brevity.

Kass said "I'm dating Debbie Downer," fine, then he trailed off into tangents such as "I learned in my economics class..." and yet another personal reference to Karen Finerman (she learned this too at Wharton, we're told), and eventually offered a very long-term macro thesis that we're reversing into a world where "incomes are growing faster than debt," and by the time he started offering his three reasons for something or other, Melissa Lee finally cut him off, 80 seconds into the spiel.

We have no idea if his thesis is right, but it sounds a lot like the Steve Cortes "new normal" thing that might be true over 10 years (we doubt it) and in the meantime we'll try pinning short-term trades on it and watch them fizzle (Kass hasn't gone that far).

Guy Adami performed a "Fast Money" ritual, crediting a guest for a tremendous call that apparently no one else made. "Eighteen months ago you sounded a warning flag, nobody listened, but you were spot on," Adami said before asking Kass to what degree he worries about the present economy. Kass said he's "more scared ... because I think we are flirting with passing on the first generation of lower living standards." That response, with barely a word from MLee, lagged 85 seconds.

C'mon, Doug, that stuff belongs on a blog or "Charlie Rose." The show's called "Fast Money." Viewers presumably want a trade for tomorrow.

All of which made us think about Dennis Gartman, who also writes daily investment advice and is a highly regarded market forecaster. But when Gartman gets on TV, he's prepared for it. He answers the questions he is asked, he speaks well in soundbites, he makes his market calls upfront and he'll still often squeeze in a joke.

It's fine to disagree with a Gartman market call. When it comes to TV, he basically bats 1.000.

What’s the only bank stock
Joe Terranova will own?

Guy Adami, who said he's "back together" during his "stormy romance" with Debbie Downer, led the "Fast Money" panel's skepticism of Monday's stock market action. "Every reason for the market to be up 300 points today it wasn't," Adami said. "I still think banks are shorts."

"We had great ISM data," said Tim Seymour. "You had the recipe for what should have been, I think, a tremendous rally and we didn't get it." He added, "People had some questions about how forward-looking this data is." He also added that Morgan Stanley made a leveraged loan to CF that "should be a good sign" that investment banks are actually doing something besides appearing in Andrew Ross Sorkin and Charles Gasparino books.

Joe Terranova said financials look troubling, except for GS, it's the "only position I have" in financials, he said. "It's the best of breed and it's the only thing I want to own."

Melissa Lee rightly questioned if the market is trading randomly on old news. "Somebody brings up an article in the Journal or something, and we all get all hung up about it," Lee complained.

"The market does what the market wants to do," Karen Finerman said.

Guy Adami asked Mark Zandi a great question: Have businesses gotten adjusted now to smaller work forces and thus do they even need to hire? "Good point," said Zandi, who cited "huge productivity gains," but "I don't know that they can maintain that kind of a growth rate though."

Superstar "Fast Money" guest Rich Greenfield said investors should be looking to buy Viacom going into the quarter, that he expects it to be a good one, that he also likes Discovery, and that it's going to take Disney's theme parks some time to see resurgent growth.

Somehow we hadn't noticed earlier, but we heard The Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize" during "Fast Money" — in a Merrill Lynch commercial. Turns out it's also been used by Hewlett-Packard, VH-1, Mitsubishi and Land Rover.

So the B of A advertising is either running low on ideas, or budget.

Palm’s platform shoos

Citi's Jim Suva spoke Monday about a favorite "Fast Money" topic, smartphones.

Suva articulated very well his reasons for touting Motorola and downgrading RIMM and PALM. For MOT, "The news flow for this company is gonna be positive, positive and even more positive," Suva said, suggesting the company has had low expectations and market share and now is at a "big inflection point."

Melissa Lee asked a good question, this seems to be what everyone was saying about PALM four or five months ago and the stock is well off its summer peak. "The difference here that is very key," Suva said, "is the Motorola Android platform is launching with numerous platforms all at once. Verizon, T-Mobile, Europe ... The applications store is already developed, 12,000 applications for the Android platform vs. 300 for the Pre, that's a no-brainer for the consumer."

Guy Adami asked Suva about his RIMM downgrade and whether it's late.

Great question, Suva said, but no. "Promotion commotion, we call it. Verizon," he said, "is now dancing with Motorola. We think that that is indeed a big shift that we didn't see happening a couple weeks ago."

Our take? There's way too much competition in this sector, and what Suva described as RIMM's problem is probably going to be everyone's problem at some point. Meanwhile, there's a hot new phone from someone every two weeks that's "absolutely phenomenal," and thus everyone and his brother is recommending some kind of phone stock, such as Tim Seymour and NOK, Patty Edwards and AAPL, Joe Terranova (recently) and RIMM, the Najarians in a bevy of names for the short term stretching to PALM last summer, RIMM a couple weeks ago around $65 and now MOT. Somebody else, we think Guy Adami, suggested QCOM as the real winner in the space recently. Apple always seems like a strong bet, but there is massive competition in this sector and it seems inevitable that smartphones will turn into 1990s cell phones and become disposable products and pricing power is destined to fall. If we had any guts, or money, we'd probably short the whole sector. (This writer has no positions in any of the above, only C, which sucks.)

C a sell, Yankees a buy

Joe Terranova summed up Monday's market as well as anyone, saying stocks are in a "cranky mood" and the trade is "all about technicals."

"The only thing I'm really long right now is the Yankees," Terranova said.

Nothing's more likable than an optimist who looks on the bright side of things. Katie Stockton said she sees an "oversold condition for over half the S&P 500," and "I'd be a buyer in here from a technical standpoint."

Mike Khouw chimed in, "The fundamentals really aren't the story here." Melissa Lee pointed out the Dow's sudden lunchtime cratering and Citi's plunge. (This writer is ... ugh ... long C.) Zach Karabell, as the remote phone-call guest, said he's not quite as interested in the FXI as specific stocks such as SINA or BIDU. "I'd rather look at some of the cool, Internet, new-economy Chinese names," he said, and while Baidu has been a momentum play, "I'd like to see it go a little bit lower" before buying.

Jon Najarian said the Droid looks great and that Motorola could be the next Ford.

Now that we think of it, we don't think Karen Finerman has ever appeared on the "Halftime Report."

CNBCfix review: Tim Seymour’s
‘Trading the Globe’

It looks like Tim Seymour has knocked one out of the park.

His new half-hour program, "Trading the Globe," might even be the envy of its cousin "Fast Money," if first impressions prove accurate.

Seymour has assembled a simple panel of fresh faces. On the debut Friday, they were David Riedel of Riedel Research, Ron Shah of Jina Ventures and Will Landers of BlackRock. Howard Wheeldon of BGC Partners did a guest remote from Britain.

This crew clicked immediately. They presented an immense command of the subject matter in easily understood terms. They informed on geopolitical conditions. They argued a bit over stocks.

And they did it with speed.

Airing for a half-hour Friday nights, the show apparently will lead off with the biggest international-markets story of the week. Friday night, that was Brazil's sudden 2% investment tax on new money that Seymour had taken up days ago on "Fast Money." Landers said it "caught the market by surprise" but noted a 1.5% tax a year ago and said it really is just another device in the real-dollar balance. Riedel noted that Brazil is much different than 10 years ago, it "lent money to the IMF the other day."

Shifting gears to London, Wheeldon argued for VOD, saying it has "huge, abundant potential in the years ahead," but others questioned its valuation and competitive threats in emerging markets.

One segment was a little confusing, "BRIC-IT," which was Seymour's way of suggesting Indonesia and Turkey should be regarded with similar potential as the traditional BRIC. He showed a map highlighting all six nations when the discussion was about the latter two. Interestingly, the show barely touched on China as might be expected.

Shah pointed out a couple plays on water development, PHO and DGW (for the China angle), but Landers made what seems like a very important point, that water infrastructure in developing nations is a "long-term investment."

As would be expected, there were shout-outs for ITUB, TKC, AMX and IBN, as well as others such as TCL and NETC.

The strengths of the show are the rapport, and speed. It's never slow, but it doesn't feel rushed. Seymour is extremely adept at keeping the conversation moving. One reason the "Fast Money" traders are impressive is that despite the fact they're not career TV pros, they quickly figure it out. True, running a studio show for a half-hour doesn't require the live TV hosting skills of "Fast Money." But one wonders why Seymour hasn't been used as a guest host on "Fast" given his aptitude for this line of work. The only drawback we've cited from his "Fast Money" performance is that we think he tends to quote too much data, leading to occasionally contradictory trading statements. In this "Globe" debut, he was completely on point.

"Trading the Globe" joins "Options Action" as another low-risk CNBC attempt to reach a niche audience of sophisticated investors. The only concern would be, are there going to be enough new issues to talk about week after week, or will this regularly turn into "buy PBR, buy IBN, buy CHL," etc. We note that "Trading the Globe" does not have "emerging markets" in the title, and even though Seymour declared himself an "emerging market junkie," there certainly should be interesting material to talk about in Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, etc. The show's only a half hour a week. Given the acumen of Seymour and his panel, that shouldn't be hard to fill.

One oddity: Seymour introduced the show with this statement: "Now the world's first economic superpower is falling into 2nd place." Second place ... to what? Someone might want to think about a rewrite.

Back to CNBCfix home

CNBCfix.com home

Fast Money review

FM archive: Oct. 2009
FM archive: Sept. 2009
FM archive: Aug. 2009
FM archive: July 2009
FM archive: June 2009
FM archive: May 2009
FM archive: April 2009
FM archive: Mar. 2009
FM Viewers Guide
Fast Money cliches

Why we don’t
review Mad Money

Movie review:
‘Wall Street’

Masterful Gordon Gekko

CNBC/cable TV
star bios

♦ Jim Cramer
♦ Dylan Ratigan
♦ Charles Gasparino
♦ Maria Bartiromo
♦ Lawrence Kudlow
♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
♦ Karen Finerman
♦ Guy Adami
♦ Jeff Macke
♦ Pete Najarian
♦ Jon Najarian
♦ Tim Seymour
♦ Becky Quick
♦ Joe Kernen
♦ John Harwood
♦ Steve Liesman
♦ Margaret Brennan
♦ Bertha Coombs
♦ Mary Thompson
♦ Trish Regan
♦ Melissa Francis
♦ Rebecca Jarvis
♦ Darren Rovell
♦ Carl Quintanilla
♦ Diana Olick
♦ Anderson Cooper
♦ Neil Cavuto
♦ Monica Crowley
♦ Bill O'Reilly
♦ Rachel Maddow
♦ Susie Gharib
♦ Jane Skinner
♦ Kimberly Guilfoyle
♦ Martha MacCallum
♦ Courtney Friel
♦ Uma Pemmaraju
♦ Joe Scarborough
♦ Terry Keenan
♦ Chrystia Freeland
♦ Christine Romans

CNBC guest bios

♦ Bill Gross
♦ Dennis Gartman
♦ Diane Swonk
♦ Meredith Whitney
♦ Richard X. Bove
♦ Arthur Laffer
♦ Jared Bernstein
♦ Doug Kass
♦ David Malpass
♦ Donald Luskin
♦ Herb Greenberg
♦ Robert Reich
♦ Steve Moore
♦ Vince Farrell
♦ Joe LaVorgna
♦ A. Gary Shilling
♦ Joe Battipaglia
♦ Addison Armstrong
♦ Jack Bouroudjian
♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett