[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, September 2011]
[Friday, September 30, 2011]

Q4 at BAC: 3’s company?

Dan Dicker said on Friday's Halftime that it's not like Morgan Stanley has all kinds of risky leverage, but rather the opposite. "This is not a bank that's going broke," Dicker said, though he predicted people would "bail" from the stock.

Jon Najarian said MS credit swaps are "only about a third of where they were in '08," and MS puts are not surging at all, so "I think this might be a 1-off." Najarian also got to handle BAC in the quarterly version of Pops & Drops, saying "Even the Oracle of Omaha couldn't stop this one," a reminder that perhaps the worst general stock market trade of the year was chasing BAC on Aug. 25 Buffett Day up 20%-plus into the high 8s (which later prompted Steve Cortes to utter the "8 is enough" line already reported on this page).

Trutina makes new hire

Jon Najarian revealed on Friday's Halftime Report, "I'm trading Netflix, I did a little nibbling there," and even actually said he got in too early Thursday, "shame on me," but fortunately on Friday, "it worked out very well on a nice bounce there."

Najarian said he didn't see Micron as a tech bellwether, but rather, it simply "has been an underperformer here."

Patty Edwards said, "I like Qualcomm, I like Oracle," and then relayed an anecdote about hiring a staffer at Trutina Financial and having to spend only $500 for a new desktop PC as an example of tech pricing pressure. That prompted Judge Wapner to ask why Edwards didn't buy a Mac. "Most financial software doesn't work on the Macs as well as it does on the, uh, PCs," Edwards claimed.

No. 386 said "Let's call President Obama" and tell him that Patty just hired somebody.

Edwards also said, "Meg Whitman has got a big mess on her hands to fix."

Dicker: Last 3 years,
higher lows in oil

Dan Dicker, apparently now an official CNBC contributor although it feels like it's been that way for months, took his inaugural official turn on the Fast Money Halftime Report and proceeded to impress the heck out of rugged coffee mountain climber Judge Scott Wapner.

(OK, we're only speculating that he impressed the heck out of Judge Wapner … and by the way does this mean Judge is Dicker's TV boss? We're not sure how that works, we've tackled the "CNBC contributor" tag before, and won't be going there again.)

Best of all Dicker got off to a great start on Call the Close, declaring "Sell the close," which of course was the right call. He said he's hoping for the "creation of a very, very weak bottom here" where people could begin rolling into equities.

He shrugged off the headwinds on oil, insisting there's been "higher lows" over the last 3 years, a sign of strength. He said Baker Hughes and Schlumberger are at "dirt cheap" levels he didn't think he would see, and that Hussein Allidina of Morgan Stanley tends to be at the "end of the cycle" and that Allidina's Brent call might be "almost a bullish sign for oil."

Copper, Dicker said, "really took a long time to crack … better off being short these names as opposed to long." And, he said of ANR, "this is not the coal name that I'd be long."

Grasso: 1,101 retest in October.
Kilburg: 1.67 test at 1,102

Steve Grasso said on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, "I expect to revisit those lows of 1,101 come October."

Grasso said his friends at iShares say only 3 of 31 bond funds had outflows, and by contrast, there are "nothing but outflows from equity funds."

Jon Najarian said people in the corn pits he was standing near Friday "don't want things on their sheets," and "that's one of the big stories of today." (And man, haven't all of us experienced things we don't want on our sheets.)

Jeff Kilburg, looking like a genius recently on Treasury calls though not quite as adept at waiting for an actual question from Judge Wapner before plowing into his spiel (tip: if you ask the host a question like "how are ya," make sure you wait for his response), said "clearly the bond market has been spot-on," and for the 10-year, "I think they're gonna come after this 1.67 when the S&P tests 1,102." He said reversing from bonds into stocks right now would be like "turning around an aircraft carrier in a small little channel."

Edwards: China isn’t
‘falling off a cliff’

Patty Edwards a couple times on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report took on the typically Zachary Karabell role of defending China's growth. "I don't think they're falling off a cliff," Edwards said, though she allowed, "I do think that Europe has got to get themselves figured out."

Judge Wapner pointed to high-end retail troubles linked to China, and Edwards said she realizes, like Jon Najarian said, people don't want these things on their sheets. "I get that, but I think that it's going a little bit too far," said Edwards, pointing to Tiffany's percentage of sales in Asia (18%), with maybe 3/4 of that from China, as a sign it's not the end of the world for TIF.

Edwards said "I'm looking at Kellogg right now" because of less-costly corn and wheat inputs, and also is taking a look at beaten-down APA and WLT.

Steve Grasso singled out Domininon Resources as "1 shining spot," and also recommended Southern Co. in the "hunt for yield."

‘Fairly ugly story for euro’

Money in Motion personality Camilla Sutton told Judge Wapner on Friday's Halftime that the "near-term outlook for euro is still fairly negative … I think we get to 130 first … near-term, fairly ugly story for euro." Sutton recommends selling the Aussie dollar to 94.40 before it reverses.

People short corn puts feeling worse than the Clubber Lang fight prediction

Jon Najarian said on Friday's Halftime that a lot of people are short puts in corn and are feeling "pretty heavy pain."

Steve Grasso said AKS is actually looking like it has somewhat of an attractive value, but "the time to buy steel is in December." He said people are still hiding out in tech because it's the one sector where there's growth.

Patty Edwards said of TGT, "They will continue to do well."

Backshall: China, not Europe, is the problem with Morgan Stanley

Tim Backshall, one of the best in The Strategy Session stable, said Friday that if you've been concerned that Morgan Stanley might've been punished over a blog item and unfounded rumors of European exposure, you might … actually want to be even more concerned.

It's a "little bit worse situation than that frankly," Backshall said, explaining that MS is trading worse than Europe and not recovering with it. "The bond prices are actually worse than CDSes … it's not a CDS story specifically" for MS, "but what's actually happening is a "large drive wider in China CDS," and that there's a Morgan Stanley correlation with Asian CDSes.

Backshall said the high-yield market is "not saying very good things a'tall" as an indicator for equities, pointing to "extremely high cost of funds" for firms with issuances recently. He recommended against "knife-catching" in high-yield right now, and as for European banks, "I think anybody that's recommending financials is irresponsible."

Backshall mentioned Zero Hedge in his Morgan Stanley assessment, prompting guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera to note, "Zero Hedge is a blog."

Cigarettes down,
smoking dividends up

Guest Stuart Reeve on Friday's Strategy Session was asked by Michelle Caruso-Cabrera if it's sensible that companies may have dividends yielding more than bonds but investors are migrating to bonds because they don't trust the stocks enough. "Doesn't make sense to us at all, no," Reeve said.

Referring to "safe" 3 times, Gary Kaminsky asked how to define a dividend as "safe." Reeve said it's based on the businesses and returns they're making, as well as capex and growth, and listed 3 picks he likes: Philip Morris International (PMI), Sanofi (SNY) and Unilever (UL). He said those names look like defensive names, but "they don't have to be countercyclical."

Caruso-Cabrera said cigarette volumes are flat internationally and declining in the U.S. and Europe, and so that doesn't look like a good "picture" for tobacco brands. Reeve said it's a sign "these companies have great pricing power."

He would’ve found better value if he waited until about 3:55 p.m. Friday

Gary Kaminsky and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on Friday's Strategy Session finally at the end got to ask guest Robert Profusek about the teased Warren Buffett quote "we only got the paperwork done yesterday" in revealing the beginning of BRK buybacks.

Profusek said "there is a little bit of paperwork involved," prompting Kaminsky to ask "what is the paperwork?"

Profusek said companies "usually file an 8K … used to be a requirement for a buyback, but it's universally done" anyway. (Why it was an old requirement and why it's universally done wasn't totally clear.) He also said there's a "technical SEC rule" about "safe harbor" that's not really a big deal. "It's not very sophisticated, the paperwork, frankly," he said, and nothing unusual, and takes "frankly sometimes a very long delay."

He said it would be more alarming if the "paperwork" had happened instantly, so apparently nothing dubious about Buffett's comments.

Profusek said that even when buybacks don't happen as they're proposed, he thinks "companies are quite sincere in their approach."

Kaminsky: Public probably
overestimates extent of 2011
stock-market decline

Gary Kaminsky took a chair on Friday's Squawk Box, during which Andrew Ross Sorkin pointed out that the S&P year-to-date is only down 7.73% while the Dow is only off 3.66%.

Kaminsky said he'd "guarantee" that if you asked anybody you see walking down the street what the S&P number is, "it's gonna be much worse."

We were able to focus on that discussion only when the cameraman cut away from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's sizzling pink top.

[Thursday, September 29, 2011]

Terranova sets the
Fast Fire clock ticking

Rarely does a Fast Money trader put himself/herself into something of a box.

Joe Terranova seemed to do just that on Thursday, explaining positions in MS, GS, F and WFC and assuring, "I will know basically by the 3rd week of October whether getting into and assuming risk in those names are (sic) correct or not."

Karen Finerman oddly was preoccupied with analyst moves on Wall Street banks, how they always seem to project a downturn shortly before the downturn is revealed, and if they weren't always right, she wouldn't be suspicious, but it has a "conspiracy-theory element to it."

Terranova exits AMZN, suggests high-beta could bounce next week

While the stock market apparently takes its cues from Europe and China, Joe Terranova said on Thursday's Fast Money that the next bounce might be made in the USA.

Citing Monday's upcoming U.S. ISM and next Friday's jobless report, Terranova said, "If you get a hint of positive news out of both of those figures, I think these high-beta, sensitive names, those are the names that risk is gonna come right back on again."

Nevertheless, Terranova called this a market of "sell first, raise cash," and revealed he had been in Amazon but "sold out of it today."

Karen Finerman tried asking Terranova and/or the rest of the panel about Thursday's data, saying she thought the data was good enough that the market should've been able to hold its early gains. But nobody followed up on that; instead, Pete Najarian said that maybe given FCX's performance the shoe has already dropped and people waiting for it to drop are too late; "it maybe already is priced in."

Najarian reported an "unbelievable amount of activity" on SDS October options, saying "people are betting on the fact that we're gonna see a pullback. They got rewarded today." But he called those "absolute trades," evidently not "investments."

Najarian recommended NKE as a "slow and steady" play. Karen Finerman said she mostly stays away from high-end retail but does own BMW and will be interested to see how that reacts.

Who would’ve thought, since June, WLT a better short than BKS

Pete Najarian, in one of the most impressively forthcoming recaps of a recent call we've heard, explained on Thursday's Fast Money how he (and brother Jon) had said a couple weeks ago that if Netflix holds around $203 or $200 then it looked good, but when it crashed through it couldn't be touched.

They were technically right, it did bounce off Sept. 9's $203 for a couple days, but they'd probably admit it ultimately wasn't worth attempting, though the savviest of traders could've pocketed $211 for it within a couple days before the cratering resumed. Pete said the options are not indicating any buying interest, and Mike Khouw concurred.

Guy Adami said the panel might not think much of "Mr. Brecken's risk management style," but Len is having the latest laugh right now and probably thinks it will go lower.

Karen Finerman wasn't quite predicting doom for Barnes&Noble but said she can't recall any company making a bricks-and-mortar-to-online transition "as quickly as these guys would need to." She said there's a new Nook coming but she wasn't able to learn when; the stock, she said, can "easily easily easily trade well below 10."

Yaneverknow: BHP Billiton is generally good for a bid

Romit Shah, paying a visit to the Nasdaq for Thursday's Fast Money, seemed as excited about tech stocks as Rick Perry probably is about his next debate.

Pete Najarian had claimed of AMD, "Somebody might need to buy these guys at some point." Shah answered, "I just don't know who would buy the company," saying there's a double-negative of fighting both Intel and a declining PC outlook.

Najarian actually asked if INTC is a $28 stock masquerading at $22. Shah indicated no. "I'm pretty concerned about Intel in the short run. I don't think they've owned up to the fact that, you know, business is not good," Shah said.

Shah said the best way to play the iPad, aside from AAPL, is BRCM, and it feels like Fast Money is going backwards.

Joe Terranova said that in the wake of MU, in the event of a "sympathy selloff in SanDisk," buy it Friday.

WYNN closes below
Aug. 8 low

Jeff Palma guested on Thursday's Fast Money and called Europe "far from resolved" and said the markets are in a "flat and wide" trading range. He also said not every fear is yet priced in, that "a double-dip would clearly be a negative for the markets here."

On the plus side, he predicted Asia will reverse, because it can't go from inflation fears to slowdown fears so quickly.

Pete Najarian indicated he's "slowly starting to nibble" on global-growth-sensitive names such as FCX and WLT.

Karen Finerman curiously said "Wabco" is "definitely worth starting here." (Guy Adami corrected her and Mel Lee on Wabtec; as for "worth starting," we think she means "worth starting a new position.")

Guy Adami wearily suggested taking a look at health care, biotech, maybe Celgene.

Jon Najarian said that when he saw WYNN "down like $15 ... that was like an 'uh-oh' moment." Even so, "I thought it was overdone."

Dr. J either has something in common with Maurkice Pouncey, or Mike Webster

This page wishes Jon Najarian a happy birthday Thursday.

Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money said Najarian is "65 years old." Mel Lee cracked that he "doesn't look a day over 70."

We have a strong hunch, based on things he has written, what Dr. J's actual age is. It's what you might find in the middle of an offensive line. But we're not 100% sure, so we've gotta be hedged.

Solar company manages to fill up a renovated hotel

Kevin Smith, CEO of a company we'd never heard of before called SolarReserve, curiously told Melissa Lee on Thursday's Fast Money that "probably the press is the most tangible impact" on his business from the Solyndra debacle, which is undoubtedly a bigger deal than this site has recognized, though frankly we find solar so boring we couldn't bring ourselves to post very much about it.

Lee didn't care about the prospects of solar nearly as much as government scandal, which was probably the right call, asking Smith a couple times if his company got any fast-track or preferential treatment because of its Kaiser Foundation funding.

The funny thing was, while Lee was putting that question to Smith, he was saying "No ... No ... Yeah." (Which we would call the Al Czervik Trade, you know, when Rodney waves that telescopic putter over the ball and it beeps "NO NO NO .. YES YES YES YES YES YES" and then he swings at it goes in.)

Anyway, not sure what Smith was saying yes to, but for anyone questioning the merits of solar projects, he points out there's a local hotel near one of his sites and "now it's full up on rooms."

Karen Finerman asked her best question of the day, that if funding for these projects is now going to get tight but SolarReserve has already gotten its funding, is that a competitive advantage? Smith never answered the question, veering into talking points about future projects, with Lee concluding, "Gotta leave it there."

Karen more reserved on gold commentary with a gold bug in the house

Gold bug James West of the "Midas Letter" visited the Nasdaq on Thursday's Fast Money, and we couldn't wait to hear Karen Finerman ask the "does it work in inflation and deflation at the same time" question.

She did, although it was much more restrained than that, asking West if there really is deflation occurring wouldn't that be bad for gold. West responded that "gold was the first thing that came back" in 2008.

Melissa Lee asked West how much a gold mine actually costs. West stammered that the prices vary widely from fresh new mines to older ones that the biggies are looking to exit, so that's a "wide-open-ended question."

West said he spends "190 to 220 days of the year on the road," and that "I haven't seen an increase in the number of interested parties" looking to buy a mine, but offer prices have tracked the price of gold, not a shocker.

Karen Finerman said the gold bar brought by West "looks like a Wonka bar."

Terranova: Be long TBT

For Final Trades, Joe Terranova, who was making all kinds of October forecasts on Friday, said, "TBT — get long it."

Guy Adami suggested HP (correct, not HPQ), while Karen Finerman picked CFN and Pete Najarian offered KGC, in quite a diverse round of Final Trades.

Mary Thompson, Prettiest Hair on Cable Television, delivered breaking news on the CME/McGraw-Hill/whatever dealings that are a year in the making in a lovely blue vertically striped sweater.

Patty: ‘There are nowhere near enough’ Starbucks locations

Patty Edwards returned from vacation Thursday to offer this eye-opener on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"People are dying to get into these Starbucks, there are nowhere near enough of them," Edwards claimed, citing visual evidence from her road trip.

Actually, we've gotta agree with the first part of that — in general you do see a lot of lines — but not quite sure we agree the world needs more Starbucks locations. (Maybe more In-N-Out, but not more Starbucks.)

Steve Cortes said "I'm long Dunkin Donuts and Peet." Patty said despite the gains of the big year, "I think they do continue." Cortes unleashed a clunker, congratulating Judge Scott Wapner on his premiering coffee documentary and for meeting "my uncle Juan Valdez."

Who cares

Research in Motion apparently is dumping the Playbook, or pretending not to dump the Playbook, and listening to Judge Wapner on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, you'd think Exxon had just exited the oil business.

Jon Najarian said that for RIMM, "I wouldn't put up the doomsday flag because of this," but that it's a case of Amazon "targeting every other tablet" besides the iPad.

Guy Adami quite frankly said "I look at it as a positive" that RIMM is dropping a lousy business. Steve Grasso though said the stock remains "nothing but headline risk."

Steve Cortes once again overreached, saying RIMM is "no touch either way" which is a fine point, but extrapolating it to overall economic "disinflationary pressure if not deflationary pressure."

Patty Edwards disagreed with that, saying this is merely a story about an "also-ran product" affected because the Kindle Fire "changed the game," and is "separating the men from the boys, and I don't think that RIMM is up with the men."

Can NFLX catch RIMM?

Steve Cortes, who while actively trading the markets still manages to say the same things all the time on Fast Money, declared on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, "I'm betting on the hard landing, the crash-landing in fact in China," but he thinks the industrials have already taken their pounding while tech is the next shoe to fall.

Patty Edwards said that when it comes to the high-end boutique retail, "this is all about China frankly" and that she'd be more focused on the domestic retailers. Guy Adami warned against shorting Tiffany but admitted that if the market rises, Thursday's crumble might've been a good entry point.

Guy Adami (this is one you've heard before too) said he thinks we're headed to 1,020.

Steve Grasso said people long the banks have adjusted to the short-term realities, and the thinking with BAC is buy around 6 and sell around 6.40.

Patty Edwards delivered an elbow to NFLX, saying "there is absolutely nothing proprietary about what Netflix has been doing. Everyone else has figured it out."

Guest Daniel Berenbaum said the RIMM report is no surprise but that AMD noting its "yield problems" in a press release is a big deal; "you know that it's really an ongoing problem."

Chris Tevere didn't realize he was on borrowed time at the end of the program and took too long to explain his point about the euro maybe rising to 1.37 or 1.38 before falling to 1.30 before it reaches 1.40.

Dr. J wades into Greek bonds

Someone let both David Faber and Gary Kaminsky take Thursday off and left Brian Sullivan holding The Strategy Session bag.

Sullivan turned the half-hour into a closet Fast Money, first bringing in Brian Kelly on the Strategy Line to say there are fears of Asian slowing, and "this whole idea of decoupling is a myth."

Sullivan asked if the European turmoil might not prove beneficial for U.S. stocks, but Kelly said it's only "probably good for U.S. bonds."

The EFSF or whatever it is might be making the "financial equivalent of goulash," Sullivan said. The graphics folks managed to spell Kelly's new shop as "Shelter Harber Capital LLC."

Jon Najarian guested later and very eloquently explained why he jumped into a Greece bond for 41 cents on the dollar. "You're trading with the odds on your side at this point," Najarian said, but he doesn't recommend it for retail investors because the spread for getting in and out might be too steep.

Courtney Reagan sighting

With Brian Sullivan flying solo on Thursday's Strategy Session, it would've helped if guests such as Mark Thierfelder had packed some mojo, but Thierfelder's assessment of European risks and opportunities was decidedly low-key. He said euro fluctuations are "gonna create a lot of opportunities" for American companies possibly looking to scoop up European firms on the cheap, but the issue is, "when do sellers capitulate on pricing."

Kayla Tausche turned up at the table to illustrate the amount of downsizing and (gulp) capital-raising Bank of America has done, saying it not only increases capital but also helps "balance the Tier 1 ratio the bank will have to meet under BASEL 3."

Sullivan pointed out that GNW and HIG were experiencing rallies.

Courtney Reagan also came back for an encore, this time not from 37th Street but actually the CNBC Heat Map, in a suitable gray frock that didn't quite match the smokin' black ensemble of Wednesday. Reagan said NFLX has fallen below a "key $125 point." But when Brian Sullivan joked about the Miami University football team's record, Courtney was heard saying "painful, so painful," but the sleepy camera crew didn't show her reaction.

[Wednesday, September 28, 2011]

Tim Seymour: ‘Lot of hedge fund intelligence’ more concerned about China than Greece

For the entire 5-year run of Fast Money, there have been varying assessments of China's economic strength.

Key word there being "strength," the debates usually consisting of tastes great/less filling "soft landing" vs. "hard landing."

Wednesday, Tim Seymour became what we believe is the show's first panelist (as opposed to guest, such as Jim Chanos) to strongly suggest the latter (this is an inexact analysis), saying the copper tape might be an indication "China is much worse off than people think."

"There is a lot of hedge fund intelligence right now that is more concerned about China than they are about Greece, if you can believe that," Seymour said.

Later, Jim Iuorio seconded that notion, arguing that the move in copper is setting up an announcement from China.

Quite frankly — if these sentiments are accurate — the person most ahead of the curve might've been none other than Steve Cortes, who for months has been the only Fast Money panelist citing emerging-market stock indexes as a sign of global trouble often to the shrugging of his colleagues. Except, he never precisely claimed those economies were slowing ... "We can't trade GDP, we trade markets" ... only that their stocks were doing poorly.

Of course, it may be that copper is suffering from Seymour's alternate theory, that a fund is blowing up somewhere, and the Chinese economachine, which has squashed doubters several times in the last decade, may be roaring again in no time, and right now represents a glorious buying opportunity in many sectors. That's what makes a market.

When has the potash story ever not been alive and well on Fast Money?

Not everybody on Wednesday's Fast Money was sensing bad news from China.

"I think the China story is far from dead," said Kevin Kerr, a longtime commodities watcher on CNBC who we believe was making his first Fast Money appearance Wednesday.

Like Jeffrey Hirsch a day earlier, Kerr said copper might have lower to go, but is near a bottomm. "Short-term, this is a market you probably wanna look at opportunities on the downside, but longer-term, even within this year, I think you wanna reverse and look at the long side of the market too," Kerr said, adding the XLB could be a good price right here.

For some reason, Melissa Lee seemed skeptical of the whole interview, arguing that Kerr's been predicting a copper slamdown for 3 years so why should we believe him now, while copper is, in fact getting slammed. (Kind of like complaining about a Boston Bruins fan insisting for 3 years the Bruins were going to win the Cup, and then they do.)

Joe Terranova asserted there's a "supply structure in copper that borders on a deficit."

Terranova also said, "There's a disconnect between energy equities and the spot price of both WTI and Brent," and people could make that up in the equities. Tim Seymour actually said of the reduced Brent 2012 forecast from $130 to $100, "I commend Morgan Stanley for this one."

Tim Seymour at one point said "the potash demand story is alive and well."

Terranova credited absent Karen Finerman for speaking bearishly of First Solar.

Tired of Amazon, already

By the time Fast Money rolled around late Wednesday afternoon, we'd just about had enough of the Kindle (except of course for gorjusly gushing Courtney Reagan outside the launch on 37th Street, see below).

Jon Najarian said, "Their play here is clearly for people that are gonna rent things, not people that are gonna own things."

Gene Munster said, "They want an Amazon store in everyone's pocket," and that it gobbles up lower-end tablet-like devices.

Munster, however, sharply criticized that JPMorgan report on possible Apple supplier cutbacks for iPads, saying there's "no correlation" between that supplier data and actual shipments; "you can't connect these dots."

Steve Grasso hilariously described the "touch and no-touch" Kindles as something that "sounds like Times Square in the '80s."

Uh-oh. We started hearing about innings in 2007-’08; they kept saying ‘7th or 8th’ but it was mostly like the 1st

Larry McDonald, who is basically matching Team Pimco these days for total CNBC appearances, said on Wednesday's Fast Money, "I think the credit markets are leading the equity markets" and are an important place to watch, a theme that's been hatched for months on The Strategy Session.

McDonald said the world's deleveraging is now in its "7th or 8th inning."

And if you thought McDonald is spending too much time on CNBC, he reported being on a "global lecture tour" making 40 speeches for the last year and a half in 13 countries, and he's been saying that the ongoing global deleveraging is just an extension of Lehman Brothers.

Melissa Lee once again got Jim Iuorio's introduction wrong, saying that Iuorio was gonna talk about not fighting the Fed, when in fact, Iuorio said, "I actually wanna go counter the Fed" with a call spread in the TBT, buying the October 22 and selling the October 24 at a 42-cent cost.

Steve Grasso said it's become clear that the markets are giving bearish headlines the benefit of the doubt, and "It's too timid on the buy side."

European turmoil
twice called ‘stuff’

Anthony Scaramucci, globe-trotting around Asia, said on Wednesday's Fast Money, "The fundamentals here are way stronger than people think."

Scaramucci said 2 of the 3 best performing hedge funds are focused on "the global stuff," not U.S. and Europe, and Scaramucci thinks this trend will continue into Q4.

For now, he concedes global markets are under "macro selling pressure," but "once they clear that up" in Europe, investors will look to these Asian opportunities. "If we could get that stuff to abate, you'll see these fundamentals," said Scaramucci, epitomizing Larry McDonald's euphoria-vs.-impatience theory.

Scaramucci, though, said to be careful ripping John Paulson. "I think he's got a lot of bullets in the chamber, and I would not be a guy betting against him," Scaramucci said.

Courtney Reagan: Scorching

The best trade of Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report was undoubtedly Courtney Reagan in knee-buckling black dress reporting on 37th Street of the Amazon launches.

The traders didn't go there. We will.

Reagan, who said "it was actually very exciting in there" because of the headline of "bigger and lower," listed these new Kindle prices:

Kindle E-Reader: $79
Kindle Touch: $99
Kindle Touch 3G: $149
Kindle Fire: $199

Steve Cortes claimed Amazon has "I also think maybe the best management of any company in the country out there," prompting Judge Wapner to scoff, "They're better-managed than Apple, OK."

But then Cortes hilariously tossed back at Judge, "We need more Hispanics running companies by the way. Cortes is ready to, to assume the role," and neither Wapner or the rest of the panel went there.

Flash: Amazon has an
ecosystem too

Judge Scott Wapner spent much of Wednesday's Halftime Report trying to imply Amazon's launch must be a disappointment because it was set up as an iPad competitor.

And so the panel spent much of their time parsing definitions for whatever the heck this is supposed to be.

Guest Jonathan Geller said "It's more built on integrating into Amazon's ecosystem" and that people could own both, but JJ Kinahan demanded to know, "Why exactly would you even want both?"

Geller said the Kindle is just a "media consumption device."

Steve Cortes called Amazon a "stealth cloud play."

Pete Najarian called it "a reason to buy the stock, but it's not a reason to sell Apple," saying the Kindle has "definite side effects" including margins and a 7-inch screen.

Zach Karabell insisted that trying to liken Amazon's Kindle to Apple's iPad is "the wrong dichotomy here," like saying would you rather have a Ferrari or a TV.

(The "Brady Bunch" by the way once had a battle over whether to use their trading stamps on a sewing machine or rowboat, but settled on a TV set, though that's not quite the same thing.)

Karabell said Amazon doesn't look so appealing on a day of a 5% gain, but in general, it's a best-in-breed name that is "clearly defying the nattering nabobs of negatism (sic) that, this, you know, bestride the airwaves like a colossus these days."

For all those people who have been plunging into BKS ...

Pete Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime said the loser of the day is BKS and its Nook; "I would avoid that name still; obviously this is just gonna be the death nail (sic)."

JJ Kinahan later agreed it's the "death knell" for the Nook.

Steve Cortes made an economy call pointing to the lower Kindle prices as an "entrenched trend; deflation is still the risk." Pete Najarian disagreed, saying Amazon is simply trying to lure new customers; "this is such an incrementally small part of their business."

We think he means you can successfully buy it below $60, but his wording was ambiguous

Zach Karabell on Wednesday's Halftime said he owns DE, CAT, CMI and a little MTW in his personal account, because they are priced for, at the least, a global recession but "they are not priced for a continuation of global activity."

Pete Najarian said of MOS, "I actually am starting to get very, very interested in this name," then added, "I think you can buy it underneath 60," which seems very realistic, given that the screen graphic showed it trading at $57.82.

Cortes: Meredith Whitney
‘is possibly early’

Judge Scott Wapner asked Steve Cortes on Wednesday's Halftime about the 1-year anniversary of Meredith Whitney's (in)famous muni call.

But Cortes wasn't even yet declaring it a monstrosity.

"My belief is she is possibly early; we don't know yet," Cortes said, claiming munis staged "the best recovery since Johnny Fontaine got that movie." But he said, "Municipals are badly lagging Treasurys."

Zachary Karabell said municipalities "usually do find a way to avoid default."

Karabell said he's not interested in names like NYX and ICE not because of the transaction tax issue but just the "secular trend in volumes and pricing."

JJ Kinahan said there's really no benefit to consumers or anyone else with this tax, and "they're gonna have a lot of problems getting this through in the U.S. because there's just really no reason for it."

Pete Najarian called it "an attack on high-frequency trading" but said one ramification of weeding out HFT is that "spreads get wider."

Sozzi: Consider lightening
up on the dollar stores

Guest Brian Sozzi articulated some good points about retail on Wednesday's Halftime, saying, "in my opinion this is a short-covering rally" in line with the broader market. He recommended people long the dollar stores "shave a little off the top here" but suggested people could take a look at going long DECK, while "you may wanna put a short on Skechers."

In Call the Close, Zach Karabell said it's a "really iffy market heading into Friday, so be careful." Judge Wapner jumped all over that, saying, "Wow a lot of conviction there Zeke." Good dig, but Karabell had a good response: "I don't have to have conviction every single day."

Stocks trade like a rebalancing, even if there is no rebalancing

Gary Kaminsky on Wednesday's Strategy Session took up the stock investing term of the week, "rebalancing."

Kaminsky pointed to a JPMorgan analysis showing that, based on year and quarterly returns, if typical rebalancing were occurring, it would cause a "5% move in equities."

But, Kaminsky said, "It becomes self-fulfilling. People believe it's gonna happen, so whether it happens or not, it gives people a reason." He said everyone actually goes by an "institution by institution strategy" in which not everyone rebalances multiple times during the year.

Whatever the case, "It's gonna be over" by Friday, Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky also said that in the resilient industry of hedge funds, we'll see a "tremendous amount of money move around" but not necessarily exit.

Possible ‘dynamic allocation to equity’ once Europe clears

Mark Bronzo is just waiting for the all-clear from Europe to see equities soar.

Bronzo told The Strategy Session on Wednesday that with headlines "possibly getting better in Europe," it's possible that rather than just having a rebalancing between bonds and stocks, Wall Street could see a "dynamic allocation to equity ... that changes the game."

Bronzo complained that equity investing has been "completely driven by macro headlines," which doesn't seem completely the case (think NFLX) though there's a lot of truth to that, and asserted that everything's traded in a "basket" with "no separation."

"This year has been a great year for baskets, or ETFs," Bronzo said. But he pointed to BWA as a "great secular growth story" with improving margins that could roar once the European headwinds are gone.

Bronzo acknowledged the market's range, but "I think we're gonna ultimately break out on the upside of that range." Pressed by Gary Kaminsky to define what being "resolved" means for Europe, Bronzo indicated it's proof that French and German banks can survive the turmoil.

As European banks struggle for survival, regulators wage war on HFT

Strategy Session guest Richard Repetto said Wednesday it's still too early to know exactly what's going to come of the European financial transaction tax, but as far as possible effects, it could potentially cut derivatives volumes "70-90%," and it could be "people flee to avoid the tax as well."

Repetto said the CME could benefit but has some exposure in Europe. He also said there's a difference between a "directive" and "regulation."

[Tuesday, September 27, 2011]

So much for that 1,370 retest

Guy Adami, who just a day earlier was telling chartist Jeff Weiss that if we get above 1,225 or 1,230 we might just re-approach the 52-week S&P high, suddenly on Tuesday's Fast Money was strongly hinting that we're actually on our way backwards, and that it's time to "draw the line in the sand" about S&P direction.

(One of these days we're gonna take a poll to determine the best nickname for Guy Adami: "Benign tape," or "1,020.")

Adami on Tuesday pointed out that Jon Najarian was predicting a climb up into 1,220 resistance, but after Tuesday's late reversal, "I'm not certain we're gonna get there now ... tomorrow, unfortunately, you might see a down day."

Melissa Lee noted the financials sold off late on European tax rumors. Tim Seymour said the comments from Germany show "how fragile rallies like today can be."

Joe Terranova described this week as the "unwinding of the short trade."

SEC taking another stab at trying to prevent financial markets from going down

Bob Pisani claimed the current problem with exchange circuit breakers is that "they never kick in."

Pisani reported on Tuesday's Fast Money on the proposal floated by the SEC to change the circuit-breaker triggers from 10-20-30% Dow drops to 7-13-20% S&P 500 drops, with the delays shorter, starting at 15 minutes.

Dennis Gartman insisted he tends to be a free-market guy but allowed, "This has some merit to it."

Guy Adami said "Human beings can stop the markets ... I think they let that genie out of that bottle, now they're trying to get it back in."

"Tell him, Mortimer," said Tim Seymour.

‘Gold looks good’ for Q4,
but copper doesn’t

Dennis Gartman on Tuesday's Fast Money described the gold plunge as hedge funds being "unhedged in both directions" for both gold and equities, and everybody "puked."

Gartman claimed the gold liquidation Monday in Asia was "absolutely awe-inspiring."

And so, "I don't think we're gonna make much higher highs in gold over the next several days," Gartman said.

Tim Seymour claimed the place to be looking is the ag space, specifically Potash and Agrium, but he would "stay away from Mosaic" because of the Cargill overhang.

Guy Adami said he thinks silver might have put in a double-bottom, but admitted, "Frankly I didn't think we were gonna get below 35."

Dennis Gartman said the Molycorp CEO is "absolutely right" about long-term fundamentals, and thus, "I have to buy into it."

Guest Jeffrey Hirsch arrived at the end of the show to say "gold looks good" for the 4th quarter, but he's not quite ready to plunge into coppper. "Every bull market has a copper top," Hirsch said, but "I'm concerned with this tight trading range" and waiting for a "clear picture" in Europe before piling into copper equities.

Hirsch referenced 1974 (as well as '72-'73), and isn't it curious how so many of these dubious trading years (74, 78-79, 08) happened to be Super Bowl seasons for the Steelers?

We thought Best Buy is only supposed to display Amazon products, not actually sell them

Joe Terranova said there's "somewhat" of a concern of AAPL selling off into a product launch, but "I think you buy it" anyway

Guy Adami said "I bought a sleeping bag at Dick's Sporting Goods" (DKS) so he could wait out overnight for the iPhone 5.

Stephen Weiss said he bought some RIMM about a week and a half ago, mostly because it's "compellingly cheap"; he said "management just doesn't know how to manage the Street," expectations are about zero, and he thinks it has "decent upside, not great." Peter Keith said of the prospect of Best Buy selling the Amazon tablet, "ultimately that is a good thing for Best Buy," but conceded that Best Buy not having it for a while is not so good. He's maintaining a $25 target on BBY.

Guy Adami said Melissa Lee was being "generous" in crediting Carl Icahn for a "mixed track record" in corporate activism, saying he has no idea of the overall calculation but that in the case of Motorola, Icahn probably did no better than "scratched."

Three Dog Night did ‘Liar,’
its 2nd-most obnoxious song after ‘Joy To The World’

Keith McCullough, who has recently expressed bearishness toward the stock market on CNBC, basically said on Tuesday's Fast Money that "These headlines aren't true" from Europe.

Melissa Lee pressed McCullough to explain which ones are true and which ones aren't. He said, "anything that Papandreaou says ... I don't believe one bit of what he's saying."

He also cited Italy saying it didn't need any more debt.

McCullough called Tuesday's intraday reversal "very bearish." He said he's short consumer staples because of the dollar.

Gratuitous Jane Wells photo

Jane Wells reported live from Cal-Poly Pomona that pigs are increasingly attractive to thieves because unlike other farm commodities, they've held prices.

People who succeed at stealing them could grab "all the record profit without the sky-high feed cost." But, Wells noted, "it does not smell like bacon out here."

(We wanted to get a full-length shot of Jane in jeans, but that would've had to be a vertical, which doesn't fit on the page as well as this tummy-patting shot. We were surprised though that Guy Adami didn't complement Jane's new chic hairstyle.)

Tim Seymour made the 5-years-running Fast Money argument that the world is switching to meat diets and so ags are always a buy and said wheat is one to watch, "I would be buying these dips."

Darren Rovell doesn’t get enough airtime, but this dozer should’ve been intentionally walked

Darren Rovell reported a couple times on Tuesday's Fast Money about the Madoff-Wilpon ruling, which quite frankly is borrrrrring, and said "there wasn't really any smoking gun" for Picard so that's why 9 of 11 claims were tossed. Later, Rovell brought in Sal Galatioto and asked way too long of a question about the Mets and Dodgers that merely brought a this-is-tough-for-baseball response, but Galatioto did say that when cases such as this one with the Mets get this far, settling is "what generally happens." He said it's too tough to tell exactly how much equity the Wilpons will need and that will determine whether they can maintain control.

CERN: Quite frankly, a monster

Mike Khouw's Options Action trade on Tuesday Fast Money was selling the January 25 put in DOW for $2.65. Guy Adami said 9 times out of 10 he doesn't like this kind of trade, but said if you think the market is going higher, a name like Eastman, selling the put and taking advantage of volatility makes sense, 1 out of 10 times.

Stephen Weiss said "I'd be careful" about CAT.

Guy Adami briefly and late in the show mentioned CERN, a stock he seemingly has been alone on but which has been to 2011 bulls what Larry Csonka was to the 1973 Dolphins and, depending on what we find in the archives, might be a trade of the year candidate. "I still like the name," Adami said Tuesday.

Brian Kelly says he has never understood Netflix’s business

Brian Kelly said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that he has "zero desire to be long Netflix" and that curiously he "never understood the business," which sort of ranks with that increase-FDIC-coverage-to-$2 billion-to-spur-the-economy call in terms of head-scratchers.

Joe Terranova isn't interested in the stock either.

Jon Najarian said he wishes he held the HPQ he bought last week; "I like it down here at this level."

Zach Karabell said he "bought some January calls" in HPQ slightly above present stock prices but cautioned about the "absolutely atrocious history of board mismanagement of the company."

Karabell said if the market drops, AAPL will probably drop too, and so "I'm more market nervous than I am Apple-nervous" and wouldn't jump in here, but would about $20-$30 lower. Joe Terranova urged "just keep buying" even when it gets to $415.

David Konrad said it's a terrible quarter for banks but he sees a "near-term buying opportunity" in Goldman Sachs.

In Call The Close, Jon Najarian said he'd try to ride the S&P up to 1,220 before selling. Brian Kelly was a seller. Zach Karabell said he wouldn't sell right here, but it's a bit late to be jumping in, or a "holding pattern" as Judge Wapner said and Karabell affirmed.

‘Continuous bull on silver’

MF Global's Phillip Streible guested on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, which made us wonder, where in the world is the Ilczynmeister?

"Hey how's it goin' man," was how Streible greeted Judge Wapner, before saying the near-term gold support level is $1,635. But he said the significant number is $1,524, which if breached would be "devastating to the bull case."

Streible insisted the industrial uses are so plentiful that "I'm a continuous bull on silver."

Brian Kelly said "I love FCX as a company" but that the stock trades as a proxy for copper, so he's not excited. "I'm on the other side of this," said Zachary Karabell, who said Freeport has been whipsawed by markets while there has also been a "major strike at their Grasberg mine," but that the fundamentals are "sufficient to make this an attractive stock."

Brian Kelly was OK with the SAFM call, saying, "People haven't stopped eating ... not a bad place to get in."

Steve Liesman enjoys chiding traders for their interpretations of his reports

If you don't follow daily headlines out of Europe, consider yourself lucky.

Brian Kelly ended up in an argument with Steve Liesman on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report over Liesman's Monday scoop of the latest EFSF/ECB plan.

Kelly complained that it's an "incredibly complex debt structure," but after some sparring, Liesman insisted the "initial levering is not through the ECB's balance sheet," which Kelly acknowledged but said that didn't matter.

Liesman said his report is what it is, and "You crazy guys do what you want with it."

Kelly said, "With this particular plan, I think it's disastrous."

Joe Terranova said "this is a short-covering rally" based on the Europe headlines. Zach Karabell said Germany is merely beginning to see and accept the inevitable. "The money is there, the political will is beginning to be there," Karabell said. "You can create a lot of debt to bail out this situation if you've got the political will."

Jon Najarian said Liesman's report "kinda created this, uh, 'It's a Wonderful Life' for the markets."

Talk about grandiose: Report was titled ‘Tragedy of Commons’

In all of the stock market turmoil of August and September, Meredith Whitney's muni call has actually been overlooked recently.

Until Tuesday, when Gary Kaminsky revisited the roughly 1-year anniversary of the subject on The Strategy Session.

We say "roughly 1-year," because as Kaminsky points out in an extensive blog post, Whitney's opinion first sort of surfaced in some massive report at the end of September 2010, only to gain momentum in a November CNBC appearance and of course the epic December "60 Minutes" appearance, so we're actually dealing with a bevy of anniversaries here.

Kaminsky pointed to the MUB's stellar performance in 2011, since an early January bottom, and said of Whitney, "We all make a lot of mistakes," but in this case, "this was one of the most violent reactions I had seen in 20 years based on 1 specific analyst making 1 specific call ... and, well, the chart speaks for itself."

Guest Alexandra Lebenthal, who is also quoted in Kaminsky's post and has been chiding Whitney's call on CNBC for the last year, said Whitney caused "an incredible amount of tumult," then unleashed this chuckler, "if it's on '60 Minutes' I think there's a belief that well, well, it must be true."

Lebenthal had to briefly pause to pluck something out of her teeth and made a comment never before heard on the program, "excuse me, hair on my face there," before continuing.

"She was wrong, she is wrong, and she will be wrong," Lebenthal said, adding that Chris Christie is the "hero" of the "60 Minutes" episode for recognizing budget priorities.

It's curious that in introducing Whitney on "60 Minutes," Steve Kroft (that's the go-to "60 Minutes" guy for presidential politicians) first explained that her crew has spent "2 years and thousands of man hours" researching state and local obligations ... as opposed to "a couple nights last weekend just shooting the breeze about it."

Whitney does say explicitly in the interview (see a clip here), keep in mind it was December, "it'll be something to worry about within the next 12 months," a time frame that Gasparino has been debating with Twitter hecklers for months (but now he's got bigger things to worry about, such as the "death threat" he received from a Wall Street bank spokeswoman).

Lebenthal, pressed by Kaminsky on the next 12 months, told The Strategy Session that it would be very difficult to replicate 2011 returns coming from such a lower interest-rate base, but insisted what's still appealing for munis is "your after-tax return" and "what are munis trading relative to Treasury bonds ... we still are very very cheap compared to Treasurys."

A government regulation is better in theory than in practice

Herb Greenberg visited The Strategy Session set on Tuesday with an interesting topic: Despite the market turmoil, many companies have not preannounced bad quarters, even though according to Reg FD, they kind of have to.

Key term there, according to Gary Kaminsky, is "kind of."

"It's not specific. It's not exact," when companies have to pre-release; it's only when they're "aware" the numbers are not going to meet the projections that are "out there," Kaminsky said.

Greenberg's point was, "We're not seeing that many warnings," so either things are actually OK, or we're about to see a lot of warnings. Kaminsky said we can draw conclusions in a couple days, because, "After Friday, game over."

David Faber revealed perhaps his own opinion on a recent government stalemate, saying, "We had that absurd debt-ceiling debate" in August.

Kaminsky, like Karen Finerman a day ago on Fast Money, called the monster rally this week a "rebalancing of portfolios" and predicted, "equities probably for the next couple of days, everything else being equal, continue to move higher."

Not quite the ‘all clear’

Evidently Scott Sperling's goal on Tuesday's Strategy Session was to stress how things aren't bad out there, but let's not get carried away with a shopping spree.

Sperling told David Faber that he has not seen a "weakening of the financial performance" in companies he deals with, but there may be companies noting the uncertainties of the market and thus delaying commitments for new factories, etc., which Sperling and Faber agreed could sort of be a "self-fulfilling prophecy" for economic activity.

Likewise, Sperling sort of played both ends of the see-saw in regard to European banks, saying he's just as comfortable financing with the biggies as he was 6 months ago while at the same time questioning the veracity of this week's European rally. "What's the real news? It's just, it sounds like they may be making progress," Sperling said.

Gary Kaminsky pointed to Warren Buffett's buyback announcement Monday and perceptions of beaten-down stock prices and asked Sperling, if someone running a company wanted to buy not just some shares but the whole thing, would Sperling tell them to take the plunge right now. "Uh, the devil is in the details," Sperling said, cautiously.

[Monday, September 26, 2011]

Whitney Tilson’s largest position is Berkshire Hathaway. Guess what he thinks of the announced (possible) buyback?

Whitney Tilson is so plugged into the Warren Buffett scene, he apparently knows how the Oracle of Omaha actually feels.

"He's regretting that the stock ran up a bunch today. He wished- wished it didn't," Tilson claimed.

Karen Finerman, who more than earned her show-stopping sleeveless blue dress by utterly owning Monday's Fast Money from every angle, asked Tilson the best question, why Buffett would tell the world about his potential purchases before making them.

Tilson said in Buffett's opinion, "It's only fair to my shareholders to let them know in advance of me taking action ... it's a sense of fairness and integrity."

OK. It's all about "fairness and integrity." And has nothing to do with the roughly 23% drop since March.

"We think this actually puts a pretty hard floor on the stock," Tilson said, explaining it was his largest position, but "we added to it today ... there aren't very many stocks out there that are this cheap, uh, that have a hard floor on them."

Not only that, according to Tilson, this announcement means the whole market's going up, because it's "fundamentally almost a bit of a bullish market call," that means Buffett "doesn't think the market's gonna collapse."

In the FWIW Dept., Tilson said on Fast Money way back on Jan. 19, 2010, that Berkshire's "intrinsic value" was about $140,000. That week, he also indicated that Berkshire was his largest holding.

And Friday, it was still his largest holding, and it closed at the same price.

Tilson also said banks are just too cheap. "We've been buying Goldman, we've been buying Wells Fargo," Tilson said.

How many times a day do you think Richard Kirshenbaum has to listen to quips about his hair?

Richard Kirshenbaum said little more on Monday's Fast Money than in today's world of advertising spending, "the beneficiaries really are online," that he doesn't like to watch "Mad Men" only because it's so well done and reminds him too much of being at the office, and he didn't really answer Karen Finerman's good question about ValueClick, other than to say there's a "major shift in the landscape" of media.

But he did an excellent job of fending off the Fast gang's bizarre fascination with his appearance, which rekindled memories of the "after-school job" Karen Finerman once laid on Michelle Meyer.

Karen Finerman's first question actually wasn't about ValueClick, but whether Kirshenbaum was jogging by the Met Sunday night around 7 p.m., because "I recognized the hair."

Tim Seymour later dopily asked if Kirshenbaum wears the hair back while jogging. Kirshenbaum actually gave him the courtesy of an answer, saying he does indeed pull back his hair when he runs.

Quite frankly, it's a fine choice and not really that funky of a 'do, probably just the type of statement someone in the ad world wants to make. But the Fast gang tends to get giggly over these things.

Sure, if you’ve been short

Brian Kelly said that Molycorp, which craters seemingly every day, is at the point where he'd start buying maybe 1/3 of a position.

Coincidentally, Rare Earth, who will undoubtedly never be downloaded by Patty Edwards once the iCloud music system is established, is actually famous for "I Just Want To Celebrate."

Tim Seymour demands someone else reach a conclusion

Karen Finerman on Monday's Fast Money pointed out that John Paulson has gold-denominated funds and asked her colleagues, if they're aware through "tweets or whatever," that maybe the plunge in gold is because someone like Paulson had to "liquidate gold and liquidate that portfolio."

Guy Adami twice referenced Amaranth and said it "certainly feels that way to me," and that we "might be seeing something similar in gold." He said we might be getting close to an "opportunity" to get right back in.

Brian Kelly said, "I think gold could be a buy here."

Joe Terranova insisted the real story is silver, and the next couple of weeks will tell us everything about the appetite for risk in the market. Tim Seymour demanded to know then what silver is telling us. Terranova said he owns silver puts, and "I think it's a trade you stay with."

Just what everyone needs:
A Kindle and an iPad

Sarah Rotman Epps guested on the Fast Line Monday and said "Amazon is the first tablet competitor ... to come in leading with content and services." But fear not, "Apple will still be No. 1, no question."

Karen Finerman — as she did all day — asked the perfect question, "Is this a replacement product for the Kindle?"

Rotman Epps said Kindle owners still use the device even after getting an iPad, so basically she didn't answer the question, producing a notable frown from Finerman.

Guy Christopher Adami said "you always trust people with 3 names," and Melissa Lee said "But you have 2."

Finerman said if nothing else, AMZN may not have the deep pockets of AAPL, but it does have a "currency" of its high share price to finance deals.

JPMorgan on Monday reported on apparent iPad supply-chain softness. Tim Seymour said that until Apple talks about cutting iPad shipments, "take this with a grain of salt."

Guy Adami pointed to Hon Hai's own performance and asserted, "to just discount them out of hand I think is foolish."

Seymour said "Brazil really has major labor shortages."


Get Happy!

Jeff Weiss of Tejas delivered a rather animated chartology lesson at the Nasdaq on Monday, telling the Fast Money gang, "The best I can see is somewhere above 1,230 and below 1,260 on the S&P on a weekly closing basis."

Guy Adami wondered if the market, should it be able to get above 1,230, could actually go retest the 2011 highs. That sent off Weiss into a history lesson about the significance of 105% moves.

Weiss said the bottom points he's looking at are S&P 1,120 and 10,719 Dow. He indicated he's not too concerned about breaching those, and if we did, "it actually could give me an even better signal."

Weiss resembles a musician named Elvis, but not the one known as The King.

So if nothing negative happens, stocks should go up

Not only did Karen Finerman suggest this week could see a big re-weighting into equities, but Tim Seymour noted "It's a very light calendar" for trouble spots.

Seymour claimed hedge funds will have to start putting money into stocks as we get closer to year-end, so that'll be great for the markets, "with the absence of anything negative," which is quite a qualifier.

Joe Terranova said the stock market is very sensitive to good news from Europe. Brian Kelly, after Melissa Lee twice said "Beekers," said he doesn't think a whole lot has changed fundamentally from last week's pessimism.

Karen Finerman pointed out Mosaic as getting a pop after being "obliterated," and suggested it for her Final Trade.

As of Friday, Brad Hintz’s
GS target was $205

Funny how the Fast Money gang constantly urges viewers not to try to "pick a bottom," but when a market pro does it, it's merely considered identifying a "cheap" stock.

So Whitney Tilson thinks GS has basically bottomed (he conceded he might be early), and Brad Hintz clearly thinks the stocks have bottomed or nearly bottomed, forecasting some 100% moves. And Guy Adami basically went along at least with the terminology. "I think they are cheap, I don't think they are buys though right now," Adami said.

Amelia Bourdeau said she would "short euro-dollar this week" with a target of 1.375.

Karen Finerman called Carl Icahn's action on CLX "disappointing. I'm out." And when Tim Seymour criticized Icahn's lack of an all-cash offer, Finerman explained it's a "subordinated debenture," the first time we have ever put "subordinated debenture" on this page.

Monster Call: Pip Coburn,
BBY, June 2009

Like John Lennon in his New York City concert of 1972, we'll "go back to the past just once."*

(Actually, this page goes back to the past all the time, but it's a great quote, so whatever.)

June 18, 2009. Pip Coburn, an occasional Fast Money guest at the time billed as someone who forecasts future trends, said of Best Buy, "their market's gonna shift very much against them over the next few years," and recommended a short.

Best Buy closed at $34.07. It's fair to note that the stock was already in a downtrend for a couple years before Coburn's on-air call, and a couple times in the 2 years since it has traded into the $40s.

Yet, it was a remarkably accurate assessment of a very prominent business that had more than its share of takers in the next 18 months after he expressed this opinion.

Coburn that day also suggested shorting DELL, MOT and SNE. DELL is basically flat since (it was in the upper $12s that day) and MOT has ceased to exist as a symbol but split into 2 companies, one of which has already been snapped up. SNE, though, has also verified Coburn's new-paradigm theory in 2011.

(*The 1 time that Lennon went back into the past was for "Come Together.")

Finerman: Possible
‘very big re-weight into equities’

Karen Finerman, wearing sleeveless blue dress that cost an esimated seventy-one hundred dollars, said on Monday's Fast Money, "I think we're seeing a set-up like we did the end of last quarter for a very big re-weight out of fixed income into equities."

"You stole my playbook, K-Fine," said Tim Seymour, recalling memories of that "Brady Bunch" episodes where Marcia dated the rival school's quarterback who just wanted to swipe Greg's inside information.

Guy Adami, who accurately warned on Thursday against shorting over the weekend, said, "Don't fade the rally. I think it's got another 30 or so points in it."

More from Monday's Fast Money later.

Cortes shorts AAPL

Steve Cortes said on Monday's Halftime, "I am short Apple; I'm either very brave or very stupid."

Judge Wapner, in one of his best recent lines, said, "I think the overwhelming number of viewers right now may say 'The latter, the latter'."

Cortes saw significance in the JPMorgan analysis of Apple's supply chain, though Pete Najarian seemed convinced it was bogus and to expect a bounce higher. Steve Grasso said the level to watch is $384 and until it breaks that, buy the dips.

Cortes also did the "Hollywood Squares" routine, albeit after he started talking about AAPL so it wasn't pure. Referring to those Wall Street protesters, Cortes said, "I'm pretty sure that I saw Steve Grasso out there." Grasso claimed he was there on a mosh pit, and, "Tell your mom I didn't mean to land on her shoulders."


We. Want. Patty.

Stephen Weiss said on Monday's Halftime he doesn't like banks, "to me the whole sector's in trouble" and that Brad Hintz's notable analysis was "actually maybe a little late."

Weiss cited transition to electronic brokerage trading and said "commission levels are way down."

That brought in No. 386, who said, "Flash Crash, we were the only guys who didn't have to break any prices, so if anything the pendulum's swinging back." Weiss quickly insisted he wasn't saying he likes it, only that it's the reality.

Guest Louise Cooper, from London, mostly marveled over the price swings in European banks including the 15% Deutsche Bank move, "I mean that is insane." She also predicted more austerity isn't really going to help Greece. "I think the whole austerity debate is difficult," she said.

Meanwhile, as Europe burns, Halftime regular Patty Edwards continues to vacation at DisneyLand.

Najarian interested
in nibbling on NFLX

The whole point of Fast Money is purportedly to make quick money in stocks (not that many ideas for doing that are actually suggested), so we've been wondering why, despite the bludgeoning, no one seems to think NFLX could bounce and perhaps stick it to Len Brecken all over.

Except for Monday, when Pete Najarian admitted, "I'm getting intrigued once again."

Stephen Weiss though shrugged off the day's news of a DreamWorks deal, saying it's pushed too far out into 2013 and apparently represents a business model change, with this redundancy, "harbinger of things to come."

Mark McKechnie said of Amazon's tablet, "I don't see it as a near-term threat to Apple," but it "just opens up the low-end market." He also said "There is something that's salvageable there on RIMM" and thus won't drop the floor out of his price target.

Steve Grasso said the S&P levels to watch are 1,142 and 1,156.

Phil LeBeau delivered a Boeing report saying the company's DreamLiner order hopes are "10 a month by the end of 2013." But that interview had nothing to do with stock-picking and everything to do with Phil's documentary that airs Tuesday night.

Was Buffett’s most genius move
not splitting BRK-A?

Strategy Session guest Alice Schroeder, a Warren Buffett watcher, on Monday called the Berkshire buyback announcement "a new sign that Buffett is acknowledging that he's not gonna be there forever ... I think it's a landmark, uh, announcement."

Schroeder said investors have feared that the eventual change in Berkshire leadership will be like an elevator with the cable being cut at the top, whereas now it's looking "something more like an escalator ride."

The Fast Money gang occasionally scoffs at stock splits, pointing out they bring no difference in value. One wonders if the smartest thing Buffett ever did was refuse to split, ensuring an elite status based on nominal price alone that draws a particular class of investor.

Buffett tends to be a wisdom-dispenser. It's a fine line in defining that term; for example, Gasparino opines all the time but we don't consider that wisdom-dispensing (especially when it's gotten him a "death threat" from a leading Wall Street bank), it's just one of those things where you know it when you see it. Something like a prominent person who wants to be asked about certain things (as oppposed to reluctantly being interviewed) and wants people to note the response, with a noticeable air of self-confidence. Think Nixon post-presidency, Peggy Noonan, etc.

And so we get tax policy, we hear when the nuclear terrorist attack will happen, we get fear and greed, we get the "who's swimming naked when the tide goes out," etc.

"I think what he wants to be remembered for is his opinions and his leadership," Schroeder said.

Next stop: BRK dividend

There's a noticeable difference in the way the media pros on CNBC tend to refer to Warren Buffett vs. the descriptions used by the financial pros on the network.

Gary Kaminsky on Monday's Strategy Session asserted, "He gets away with something that many CEOs wish they could get away with, which I believe is, this ability to be, take 1 thing and ultimately change your mind and do it."

Kaminsky pointed to Berkshire Hathaway decisions of recent years to split the B shares as well as buy a railroad and join the S&P 500, opening it up to the closet indexing crowd.

Kaminsky listed what he considers the best use of corporate cash, starting with organic growth, then dividends, then acquisitions, and finally No. 4, "the only thing worse than buybacks is just sitting on the cash."

The gut feeling here is that the buyback announcement (which is all it was) is a way of chiding the market for a 23% share drop since March. But Alice Schroeder is on to something: Someday Buffett will not be at Berkshire, and it will have to run itself as an ordinary company.

European rate cut to have
no impact ‘whatsoever’

The more Joe Balestrino kept talking on Monday's Strategy Session, the more gloomy things got.

Balestrino, see, suggests overweighting Treasurys.

"In retrospect it's no shock that the U.S. economy started to slow down about 9 months after the world started to raise interest rates," he said.

He said of high-yield, "fundamentally they're in really good shape," but, "in a mark-to-market world, they are very correlated to the equity market."

Gary Kaminsky asked about the effects of a European rate cut on U.S. bonds. "Honestly I don't think it has any impact whatsoever," Balestrino said. "It's a who cares?"

Steve Liesman visited the set to talk about the various solutions being discussed in Europe right now, including a plan where the ECB would buy sovereign bonds and use them as leverage to buy more (what's that old saw about using debt to cure a debt problem?). Liesman said there could be a European-style Twist of going longer-term to move the bond losses down the road. He avoided the "can" this time but said it would be a policy of "throw down the capital problem down the road."

Update: Jane Wells
liked ‘Moneyball’

Apparently "Moneyball" is indeed safe for females (see report below). Jane Wells explains on Twitter she "enjoyed" the film, though her favorite baseball movie remains "The Natural."

Women flee ‘Moneyball’

Tearing ourselves away from the manhunt for the Morgan Stanley threatener of Charles Gasparino, we experienced a CNBCfix.com Weekend At The Movies with "Moneyball."

(Important note as to the former: This site will never take such reports lightly, but in this case, 1) if it's really serious the FBI should be called and you know it hasn't, 2) even Liz Claman chuckled about it, and 3) the whole fiasco seems about as important as the next Styx album, so there you go.)

The most important thing to know about "Moneyball" is that 3 chicks — 2 in the first 20 minutes and 1 at the 1-hour mark — were seen dragging boyfriends out of the theater. None returned.

And you always thought the ladies digged Bill James.

The older crowd of Fast Money and its viewers will recall that the 1970s spawned a host of books — North Dallas Forty, Semi-Tough, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load — and related movies about the "real" life of pro football; players regularly so banged-up they can barely get out of bed on Monday, players consuming uppers and steroids like coffee, doctors overlooking problems, coaches selling people out, gamblers always around the fringe, and groupies everywhere, even the owners' boxes. "Moneyball" is sort of the baseball opposite of that: Players essentially viewed as emotionless statistical stocks, constantly trading above or below their intrinsic value, being moved around the Major League Baseball chess board by people who may or may not know what they're doing.

Despite being co-written by Aaron Sorkin, so good he's capable of squeezing drama out of a Mohamed El-Erian interview, "Moneyball" suffers from lack of visuals and Doug Kass-esque extended dialogue occasionally marked by pauses. Baseball stat freaks will find much to chew on. Your mind will wander, for better and worse. (No spoilers here.)

On the surface, this is humans vs. computer. For various reasons (namely the film's assumption that projecting performance of not-yet-drafted and minor-league players is the same art as evaluating already-big-league players with a record of stats), that presentation of drama is incomplete. For stronger conclusions, a pair of inferences can be drawn as to what this movie's really about.

First is the value, and risk, of change. Billy Beane was successful. He wanted to be more successful. He found himself in a situation where events beyond his control could make him less successful. His courage and determination to improve are admirable and bring him at least some reward, a suggestion that one is never really faulted for trying.

Second is what is not in the film. For all the fun with stats, Beane is doing the equivalent of coupon-clipping. The truth is that even little kids know who the best players are. Recall your days as a 10-year-old on a playground with a couple captains drafting teams. How many times did you think either made a serious mistake in choosing players? You watch Mickey Mantle bat, and you watch Mike Pagliarulo bat, and you don't need to look up on-base percentage to make a call.

Attaching salaries and age/injury issues to the equation creates only mild intrigue. The meat and potatoes of Oakland's fortunes was determined by the longtime scouts that Beane rebuffs.

Pro sports GMs are merely in an elevated playground scene, with a budget. You're not picking the best players this afternoon, you're trying to pick the guys who will be the best 3-4 years from now (baseball) or 1-2 years from now (pro & college football, NBA). Everyone has winners and losers. Like a great money manager might say, whatever strategy you use, you're just trying to be right 60% of the time.

[Friday, September 23, 2011]

‘They hung Léo Apotheker
out to dry’

Jon Najarian said on a rather jolly Fast Money Halftime Report Friday that about all HPQ has really accomplished is finding a scapegoat.

Whose name happens to be Léo.

"He's obviously the fall guy here," Najarian said. "They hung Léo Apotheker out to dry ... they're gonna blame it on semantics."

For a moment, we wondered, what exactly is the origin of the phrase "hung him out to dry." The Web doesn't provide an authoritative answer, though this site claims it stems from the practice of hanging a dead animal from a tree so the meat can dry.

At the risk of overdoing it with the pictures et al, we can honestly say, Léo has been perhaps the most entertaining CEO in the brief history of this Web site; it's the mugshot, the whole HPQ cult of something or other, the dubiousness of both his hiring and firing and propensity to miss on basically every quarter ... but as always (except in general for the y'inz's opponents on Sundays), we root for people to succeed, and wonder if somehow there's another chapter to this story that might in fact entail a comeback for the Léomeister.

I know you’re not saying that I said something that I really didn’t say ...

It's a rare Halftime that puts the Najarian Tag Team at the same desk with Judge Wapner, but that's what Fast Money viewers got Friday as Dr. J returned to his pro-FDX-report from Thursday's Fast Money, saying people interpreted the "wrong things" and in fact he likes the bounces in X and NKE.

Brian Kelly shrugged that shorts had to cover after such a monster move over 2 days, but "I don't think we're out of the woods by any means."

Najarian instantly protested, "And I wasn't saying by the way BK — and I know you're not saying that I said we're out of the woods," but after a 7% selloff that's been "absorbed," it's time to look at some names that might pop in the short term. Kelly agreed, oh yeah, absolutely, that they do agree.

Steve Grasso had the numbers handy at the ready. "We have to pop above 1,142 in the S&P cash; after that it's 1,156," Grasso said.

Dr. J assured Judge Wapner, "I know you are The Man on the Halftime show."

Here’s hoping Dan-O gets
some profits to book

Dan Dicker on Friday's Halftime told Judge Wapner, "You can't be anything but bearish" on gold and silver, which is kinda hard to believe because we've seen a lot of people including Brian Kelly on the same program indicate they actually are kinda bullish on gold.

Dicker, though, expressed some quality sense of humor in explaining, "I've been bearish on gold for 10 years and been wrong but this time I'll be like a stopped clock."

He said his pals — which can't include Jack Lord, because Jack Lord is deceased — ask, "Please Dan-O tell me to, uh, to buy gold" so they can sell it.

Brian Kelly revealed, "I am out of TLT now," and he also said, "The banking system has uh, is as broken now as it was during subprime."

Willie Williams' forex trade was selling Aussie dollar vs. the U.S. dollar. Pete Najarian tried to get Williams to endorse a long EUO position, which Pete has and is selling upside calls against. Williams wouldn't quite go there, saying he sees a better trade in the commodity currencies.

Judge Wapner, making the same Friday blunder Mel Lee often made, declared Fast Money would be back at "5 p.m. tonight," when in fact there is no 5 p.m. Fast Money on Fridays.

Someone out there actually likes what the Fed is doing

After catching up with David Faber's news-making interview with the new HPQ brass, Friday's Strategy Session quietly cruised home into what figures to be a boffo weekend of football.

Gary Kaminsky, reprising a moment from May's SALT Conference, spoke at the NYSE with MGM boss James Murren, who said, "I think we've been a beneficiary of a value-oriented consumer," and "this Fed policy actually helps companies like ours that need to refinance a lot of maturities."

Whatever did happen to that MGM library that got caught in the middle of that Lions Gate snit?

Later, Peter Hayes said that for yield hunters, "the curve still offers a good amount of value," but those looking for a bigger punch could try "health care ... transportation ... utilities ... public education ..."

In wrapping up the show, Brian Sullivan cracked, "For me, Brian Sullivan, and Gary 'Ocean's 13' Kaminsky."

HPQ interview might not
be game-changer

Guest Paul Wick was asked on Friday's Strategy Session if Meg Whitman was the right choice for Hewlett-Packard.

"The emphatic answer to that is no," said Wick, who said he wanted David Donatelli to get the job.

Wick also said selling the PC unit on the cheap "makes no sense," though David Faber, on the heels of his notable HPQ brass interview, pointed out it's a spinoff that's still in the works.

Faber, who flew out to California, told Brian Sullivan and Gary Kaminsky that it was clear from Ray Lane that "It wasn't a complete divorce, if you will" from the Léo era, although Apotheker "missed pretty much every single quarter."

"Clearly they did not vet this man appropriately," Sullivan said, wondering if Meg Whitman is being underestimated. "I think that's a possibility, yeah," Faber said.

Gary Kaminsky said he didn't see investors who are not in HPQ jumping in after the interview, but Faber said maybe it was enough to keep HPQ longs from bailing.

Faber notably said Whitman had experience running for governor of California, which he called a "pretty significant task."

While that's true, this site closely followed that election, and the truth is that Whitman can best be described as an underperformer there.

A massive — massive — financial advantage over everyone else who sought the position, including the Democrats, probably put together, and in a Republican year (yes, it's a blue state, but …) lost by double-digits to a complete retread, basically because she just could not connect with the masses.

Whether she can do better with the HPQ board remains to be seen.

Michelle Meyer sighting, again

Evidently, Bank of America has finally figured out how to garner some good PR:

Keep getting Michelle Meyer on CNBC.

For at least the 2nd time this week, Meyer turned up on morning programming, on Friday with Melissa Lee's Squawk on the Street.

Simon Hobbs played the skeptic, asking The World's Cutest Economist what "subjective probability" in her report means and implying he thinks it's a little mumbo jumbo.

Much more on our Friday favorites later.

[Thursday, September 22, 2011]

Must not have come up at the hedge fund conferences

It's not often a Fast Money panelist credits analysts for being more correct than the stocks, but Tim Seymour did just that on Thursday.

Seymour said, "I don't think anybody's got any news on Morgan Stanley, uh, that's credible any more than they have about a lot of the European banks that they're so worried about."

Moments later, told that Mike Mayo and Credit Suisse don't think MS has any unusually large exposure, Seymour asserted, "This is not Morgan Stanley talking, these are other banks who- and banking analysts for that matter who I think have a pretty good idea where the exposure is."

So nobody's got any credible news on Morgan Stanley ... except Mike Mayo and Credit Suisse.

Karen Finerman — much more skeptical of the banks and the market recently — asked Seymour, "Do you ever seen (sic) anyone say 'We are in over our heads,' ever?" Seymour admitted, no.

Guy Adami said he didn't want to report on rumors but that's what was moving the stock, and in general, "Where there's smoke, there's fire ... stocks don't lie, people do."



Fast Money’s
Michael Corleone moment

Every now and then, an alert camera crew catches the Fast Money gang in such a case of the giggles that you'd almost think they'd just been listening to Michael Corleone tell them what he could do to Sollozzo and McCluskey.

Such was the case Thursday, when, after Jon Najarian and Tim Seymour talked far more about FedEx than tech stocks, and Melissa Lee introduced Mike Khouw as having an FDX options trade when it was really Intel, and somehow everyone erupted like Tessio and Sonny at the first inkling of Mike's plan.

Seymour: ‘This is really
a dollar move’

As bad as Thursday was, it didn't wipe out the S&P lows for 2011 and somehow didn't feel like a total disaster, and Guy Adami actually warned Fast Money viewers about shorting over the weekend in the event of a Friday rally; "I think you're taking your life in your hands."

Tim Seymour gabbed so much he was talking circles around himself the entire program, explaining he's been at 2 hedge fund conferences this week and that hedge funds aren't in the market and FedEx is seeing slowness and that the indications are for a further slide, but once the funds have to get back in and make their year, "this makes a potential upside rally look unbelievably violent."

"I think this is really a dollar move," Seymour said. "I think it goes to 81."

Pete Najarian said institutional options buyers "think there's more downside," and then Pete went on to deliver a rare Brag Trade about his earlier thoughts on long volatility premium.

Doug Kass came on to defend his lows-in-for-the-year thesis and once again tried to deliver too much information, but so did Tim Seymour after asking for a "conversation," so the whole debate was useless unless you're good at deciphering guys spouting data over each other.

Kass did squeeze in a good dig at Seymour's conferencegoing, saying, "Those guys are depressing and they will make you more depressed."

"I'm trying to raise money," Seymour said.

Karen calls HPQ’s PC leak

It's hard to believe one can hear an observation about HPQ that they haven't heard yet, but Karen Finerman did make a good point on Thursday's Fast Money about why there wasn't an earlier leak about the hiring of Meg Whitman, a signal that "It couldn't have been thoroughly thought out."

Finerman also made the same point Gary Kaminsky trumpeted much earlier on The Strategy Session about the HPQ quarter, "It can't be going well for this to be happening."

Tim Seymour wasn't impressed with the hire. "Clearly, you know, Meg Whitman seems like another revolving door," Seymour said.

Herb Greenberg got incredibly melodramatic when relaying Ray Lane's comments from the conference call, stressing "IT'S NOT THE BOARD..." about 5 times.

Karen Finerman wasn't impressed with that, saying, "It is the board that approved the consideration of the PC spin; just putting that out there without deciding yes or no is, uh, horrific."

Scaramucci: 75% chance
of double-dip

Anthony Scaramucci, dialing in from Hong Kong on Thursday, told Fast Money viewers that a lot of hedge funds have been prepared for a downturn since August, but meanwhile, "The SkyBridge Research Department does think that we are heading into a double-dip recession," with a "greater than 75% chance now ... by the first quarter of 2012" that would produce a 15-20% drop in equities.

Tim Seymour asked where, aside from picking opponents to cover against the Chiefs (OK, he didn't really say that), people are going to make money. Scaramucci said on the "distressed and event-driven equity side," and with "credit-sensitive mortgage-backed securities."

Who were the other 6?

Guest Chris Mutascio on Thursday's Fast Money picked the wrong banking expert to float a Twist theory to, running head first into Karen Finerman's curiosity over why, if he's only modeling short-term securities, he's coming up with an 89-cent hit to 2012 EPS for JPMorgan.

(And quite frankly it took a couple viewings of this completely inside baseball segment before we even figured out the above paragraph.)

Mutascio actually hung in the pocket and did a good job standing up to the rush, saying the 89 cents is only 16% and that we're talking about a huge $400 billion base.

Apparently Mutascio's theory is that the move could hurt bank earnings while simultaneously freeing up cash to do buybacks and improve the multiple. (Which, whenever we hear "multiple" talk, makes us think the equivalent of debating whether it's better to score a touchdown in 8 minutes or 8 seconds.) Whatever, Mutascio somewhat dubiously admitted of JPM, "we're already at a buy," and the graphics gremlins showed "OPERTAION TWIST" on the screen.

Andy Busch pointed to the Brazilian real's plunge as "truly an astounding move for a currency ... these guys just got obliterated today." He recommends buy U.S., sell Canada, at 101.

Tim Seymour eventually said, "I would be nibbling in the emerging markets land" but that it's risky being long or short.

Guy Adami hit home when he referred to the "7 people who watched Web Extra" yesterday.

Karen Finerman rarely wears her sexy glasses because she gets too many compliments, but she does occasionally don a scarf, such as the one in the above photo.

If you’re short, it’s not just ‘big,’ but ‘monster’

Simon Hobbs opened Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report saying, "It is a very big day for markets."

Guy Adami praised Hobbs for terminology, saying, "I'm glad you led with it's a big day instead of a bad day because I think we should not use adjectives when we describe the market."

‘If we break 1,121, it’s a straight shot to 1,101’

Brian Kelly said on Thursday's Halftime, "This is more about the slowdown in Asia than what the Fed did yesterday," indicating he was cautious in shorting in case the Fed came out with a big surprise. But when Simon Hobbs asked if he was still making money Thursday, it was Brag Trade city, Kelly saying, "yesterday and today have been pretty good days for us."

Steve Grasso said 1,121 is drawing a "cluster of activity" because, "If we break 1,121, it's a straight shot to 1,101."

Yet Guy Adami, while insisting he still thinks we eventually go to 1,020, said if certain levels hold, "There's a very good chance that we trade right back up to 1,200." Adami also said gold is "probably gonna be a huge opportunity" to get long.

Gartman: ‘We’re
already in recession’

Dennis Gartman said on Thursday's Halftime the Fed action is "absolutely ill-advised," that the central bank used the term "significant" after not using it previously, and that "I think we are already in recession."

Gartman said gold is likely selling off because of "margin call liquidation."

Zachary Karabell, citing FedEx, and Brian Kelly, citing Komatsu, argued over whether China is significantly slowing into a "collapse." Karabell said FDX and other corporate results indicate it is not but that stocks are experiencing a "race to the bottom when it comes to the markets."

Kelly though said Komatsu reported trouble in China. Karabell suggested that could be one company with a slumping business model. Kelly said Komatsu doesn't have a "monopoly on bad customers," and that "the fundamentals don't support these levels."

Kelly said mortgage rates might as well be "infinity" for anybody with a "chink" on their credit report.

Schiff: QE3, or TARP 2

Peter Schiff said on Thursday's Halftime that the markets are going sideways waiting for more QE from the Fed. "If it doesn't do QE3, we're gonna have to do TARP 2," Schiff said.

Schiff, of course, insisted, "I don't think the dollar's a safe haven ... I think gold's a lot safer."

Zach Karabell said he'll keep saying till he's blue in the face that parts of the business world are doing great while others are mired in no-growth scenarios, and that to view it all as "1 unitary economy" is a "profound mistake."

Brian Kelly argued with Schiff over whether more saving would lead us out of the depression and how that would produce profits.

Citing the FedEx report, Art Hatfield said, "I think the market honestly is not matching up with the current fundamentals." Zachary Karabell made a funny while delivering a serious point, that Peter Schiff must be the "McCoy" to "Hatfield."

"I think the lows are in for the year," Karabell said. Kelly said, "I'm short and staying that way."

Kaminsky: HPQ turmoil suggests ‘this quarter is a disaster’

Gary Kaminsky said on Thursday's Strategy Session that there may be more than just Léo dissatisfaction behind the scenes at HPQ.

Kaminsky said while investors will hope that the possibility of Meg Whitman becoming CEO is like the "second coming of Steve Jobs," the reality is, "You have to believe David that this existing quarter that Hewlett Packard is in right now has to be a disaster ... I gotta believe, this quarter is a disaster."

Jim Rogers: ‘We’re much worse off than we were in 2008’

Jim Rogers, breathlessly speaking with The Strategy Session on Thursday, suggested the horror of 3 years ago might be just child's play.

"We're much worse off than we were in 2008 because the debt has gone through the roof since 2008," Rogers said.

Rogers also seconded what many have been saying, that Europe is better off the quicker it deals with capital-raising, that if it waits for a market solution "it's gonna be uncontrolled chaos," but he might be more optimistic than some in suggesting a "controlled default" could still be achieved.

Rogers said Brazil has ignited a trade war and that the dollar is "not a safe haven if you ask me, but I do own it." He said he'd look to the dollar, Swiss franc or agriculture for safety. He also complained that the Fed's low rates are "killing the people who save and invest," a point already made on the program.

Rogers initially sounded partly out of breath, prompting Gary Kaminsky to ask if he was OK. Rogers explained he had to turn off the TV set because he was getting feedback.

This likely won’t be the last criticism of The Twist

Strategy Session guest Michael Boskin wasn't too high on the Fed's Twist, saying Thursday, "I think the potential to actually help the economy is quite small," with maybe a "little bit of impact at the margin."

"I held my nose at Quantitative Easing I," Boskin said, but that QE2 really struck him as "poor governance."

Gary Kaminsky pointed to the perception that there's been large equity fund-flow sales, but in fact there haven't been many outflows yet, and most have been in money market accounts, "that's something that I have to be concerned about."

David Faber wondered "how many scholarships may be in danger" because of the Fed's low interest rates, a segment that doesn't get much attention.

Brian Sullivan pointed out the Brazilian real "absolutely tanked."

[Wednesday, September 21, 2011]

Hopefully Gloria Steinem wasn’t watching Rob Enderle’s Fast Money commentary

Here Léo is bungling his way out of a job, and it's Carol Bartz who's getting slammed.

So many leaks happen at Hewlett Packard that this site is downright embarrassed we haven't scored any of them, although we've got plenty of other things to be embarrassed about that are higher atop the totem pole.

Wednesday on Fast Money, HPQ watcher Rob Enderle said the leaks are so out of control that they're undermining the company's direction, eliciting market reaction to stuff that hasn't even been officially decided yet.

Unfortunately, neither Enderle nor anyone else on Fast Money took that observation to the next stage, which would be that leaks generally (not always) come from disgruntled employees, and that leaks of this magnitude indicate serious dissension at the highest level over HPQ's projects, and that our amateur guess is that while Apotheker might've had a lot of clout with the current board, there are presumably many high-ranking brass there dismayed at what's been happening since Hurd, maybe even during Hurd.

But Enderle was rerouted into CEO speculation, insisting "Meg Whitman is a bad choice" because she's no more qualified for this type of role as Carol Bartz was for Yahoo.

Karen Finerman, announcing a rare day trade, said of HPQ, "I bought it, and sold it," because reports of Léo's departure seemed like a good time to buy.

Dick Bove: ‘Of course’
Bank of America is a buy

Richard X. Bove basically body-slammed the ratings agencies and the Fed on Wednesday's Fast Money. But asked to pound the table on BAC, well, it seemed like he stopped a bit short of that.

"Moody's is definitely wrong in terms of what it's saying," Bove said, calling its BAC move "beyond stupid."

Karen Finerman thanked Bove for that kind of bluntness, but then explained she thought the BNP capital-raising was the biggest news of the day. Bove insisted U.S. banks are extremely well-capitalized and they would only need capital if there were a "tremendous deterioration about to occur."

Bove scoffed at the Twist, saying, "What the Federal Reserve did today harmed the banks. It harmed the economy."

Guy Adami proceeded to ask one of the greatest questions asked this year on Fast Money, that if BAC is really doing OK as it has insisted, why is it 1) making Warren Buffett richer, 2) selling a productive stake in a Chinese bank, and 3) firing tens of thousands of people.

Bove started with Buffett first, saying, "I think for PR," before Adami cut him off with "But Dick that's pretty expensive PR."

However, attempting to push the conversation along, Stephen Weiss got too pushy and butted in and preempted the rest of the answer.

And as Kevin Bacon says in "A Few Good Men" in court, "And now we'll never know — will we."

Melissa Lee asked Bove the money question, if he'd buy the stock. "In my view Bank of America is one of the cheapest stocks you could ever imagine," he started to waffle. Pressed by Lee whether it's a buy, he said, "Of course."

Has Fed jumped the shark?

From beginning to end of Wednesday's Fast Money (that would be the opening commentary to the Final Trade that was pushed to the Web Extra), Karen Finerman was knocking the Fed's Twist. "I don't see how this helps anything," Finerman complained.

Steve Cortes flat-out declared "We need to go and test the August lows," and that the bar for future QE is now "Sergey Bubka high."

Brian Stutland said he's concerned that if the VIX gets over 40, it could go to 60.

Those looking for signs of optimism though heard from Jim Iuorio, who said, "I do think that we probably don't go below those August lows," and Jeff Saut, who said, "I still like the energy sector," and for crude prices specifically, "I don't think they go a whole lot lower."

Why in the world was
Whitney Tilson expecting excitement from MSFT?

NFLX analyst Mike Vorhaus visited the Nasdaq and downplayed Melissa Lee's tease about the company losing 30% of subscribers, calling 30% "the most liberal number" that includes people merely "seriously thinking about it."

In fact, Vorhaus said, the "more higher likelihood is 10%, current subscribers." He said Reed Hastings acted too quickly, though Hastings and Bezos are the 2 best Web salesmen.

Guy Adami said people gushing about AAPL now were nervous a little while ago at $310, but he conceded, "It's impervious to a bad tape." Steve Cortes on the other hand said the safe-haven notion in which "demand for Apple iPads is insatiable" is a "real reach."

Whitney Tilson visited the Nasdaq to talk about "the Rodney Dangerfield of stocks right now," and basically who cares; he said Microsoft "should've doubled their dividend" (yawn), and he agreed with Karen Finerman that not boosting the dividend more could be sign they're thinking of buying something, when instead they should be buying back shares by the "bucketload."

The Fast Money gang conducted a bizarre phone call with Chubby Checker in which Checker spoke about "the twist" as though it were AAPL; "the Twist has always meant money for everybody." We figured someone who goes back as far as Checker must be well into Social Security land by now, but he was only 19 at the time of his breakout hit.

Patsy Cline, you’re missed

Steve Cortes on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report seemed intent on seizing the gloom & doom title from Marc Faber, saying the demand for AAPL as a safe haven is bound to "end in tears" because there are no havens besides the dollar and Treasurys.

Cortes said emerging markets are "really falling to pieces," dropping about 2.5% a week for the last 7 weeks or so.

And, "I think the banks are an absolute mess," Cortes said.

Gloom aside, Cortes elbowed out Zachary Karabell for the "Hollywood Squares" line of the day in a reference to Brian Kelly and Steve Grasso at the NYSE, asking Judge Wapner upon getting his first question, "Is Kelly standin' on a box?"

"He's standin' on my wallet," said Grasso, and that may or may not have been a Brag Trade.

Maybe Meg Whitman should take over Bank of America?

In a Fast Money Halftime on Wednesday that seemed to feature as many show stars as a "Love Boat" 30-year anniversary special (except for Patty Edwards, who's on vacation), Stephen Weiss was able to squeeze in that BAC looks like a falling knife and that JPMorgan looks better relative to BAC and WFC, and Steve Grasso said to watch 1,192 and 1,204.

Peter Boockvar got a chance too, saying of the Fed, "What I think they should do is absolutely nothing."

But the most commentary was devoted to HPQ, with Brian Kelly suggesting "Maybe Hewlett is becoming a takeout target." Peter Misek said HPQ shareholders have been "beside themselves" and that anointing Meg Whitman as CEO would be a "great interim step."

Zach Karabell joked that if Whitman were to get the job, it's a sign that any woman running for high office in California would have to be HPQ CEO. But we've never heard of Dianne Feinstein pursuing the position, which is probably a good idea, because she evidently wasn't aware her own campaign fund was getting "wiped out" by an inside loot job.

But Karabell said, more seriously, "The reality of HP should be, it's not the CEO as much as it's the board."

And, he said he wanted to take a "gratuitous but important dig at the ratings agencies," basically that they have no clue how much support the U.S. government would give to banks.

Melissa Francis seemed puzzled why Scott Wapner would read off the Moody's news and then toss it over to her for the same report, but she handled it good-naturedly.

Romney 2012 — the ‘Bain’
of private equity’s image

BX President Tony James was given a big chunk of Wednesday's Strategy Session and defended the merits of P.E., stressed caution about global growth prospects, and "make no mistake," twice uttered one of President Barack Obama's favorite cliches.

James said the bright side to Europe is that "everyone I talked to is really negative," and implied that a European TARP is a no-brainer for stabilizing the banks.

And he wasn't writing off emerging markets, but in fact asserting, "Maybe the market we like best right now is Brazil."

But he said, "I'd say the whole economy's growing about 1% right now."

David Faber asked James near the end of the half-hour if private equity really benefits society, rattling off a bunch of reasons why critics say it doesn't (which quite frankly sounded kind of convincing).

James insisted there are 4 reasons why it does, starting with "midwife for troubled companies" and providing startup capital, but he dilly-dallied for too long on those 2 points that Faber said there wouldn't be time for the rest, so we can only wonder.

James did say during the program that Blackstone companies have been adding workers at 3-8%, and if the whole country was doing that, goodbye slowdown. But he told Gary Kaminsky that while there's a negative view toward private equity inside the Beltway, "If Mitt Romney gets the Republican nomination, it'll get worse."

Curiously, as an aside, James said that private equity will look at beaten-down areas that might still hold potential; "maybe the PC business is a good opportunity, for example," he said, then later on suggesting that HPQ's problems would be more fixable if it were private. (Léo apparently hasn't thought of that one yet and in case you didn't know it, he's running short of time.)

Gary Kaminsky said the only analogy he could think of related to the HPQ situation is when Disney brought Michael Ovitz aboard.

[Tuesday, September 20, 2011]

Or, people could’ve avoided a 55% plunge if you’d just told them to sell at $240

If there was a category of Most Anticlimactic TV Presentation In History, Carter Worth's episode on Tuesday's Fast Money would have to qualify.

Worth pointed out that AAPL and AMZN have been breaking out for 3 years, while NFLX has lost a lot of people a lot of cash in 3 months.

The lesson, Worth said, is "don't get out until it breaks trend." Helpfully for NFLX longs, he noted, "240 to 130 is a lot that one could've avoided by just getting out once the trend is broken."

Incredibly, Worth didn't bother to identify any stocks that just broke the trend on Tuesday, which presumably would be 1) ideal sells to avoid losing money, and 2) ideal shorts for making money.

But Worth did manage to claim that, because the gap between AAPL-AMZN and MSFT-INTC has grown so huge and continues to grow, the latter 2 names are worth a look.

"I don't understand" why that would prompt someone to buy MSFT or INTC, said Tim Seymour.

"Money is actually starting to go there," Worth asserted.

Benign tape sighting

Slumbering through Tuesday's Fast Money, we were looking for any bright spot we could find. Guy Adami came through with the old standby for his Final Trade. "USBancorp up a percent on a pretty benign tape," Adami said.

Speaking to nation on night
of 9/11, George Bush twice said
‘open for business’

It really has nothing to do with Fast Money.

But it's one of those oddities that's worth mentioning — because we can mention whatever the heck we want to mention.

The nation last week marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and some may have recalled President George Bush's uncertain speech to the nation that evening from the Oval Office, which is on this site.

While most agree the speech was remarkably pedestrian, most everyone also concedes it was a monstrous day filled with unknown unknowns in which soaring rhetoric would've been frankly impossible even for Daniel Webster.

Curious, though, are these passages (commas inserted based on delivery of speech, not correct grammar):

The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today, are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow.

Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.

After a horrific day, America was nevertheless "open for business."

Critics used to poke fun at George Bush's oratorical skills. In this case, the presidential speechwriters, who absolutely have to be hired with these kinds of moments in mind no matter how unthinkable they might have seemed, never gave him a chance. Attempting to calm the markets and consumers is a noble goal. Some phrases, though, seem best suited for Jack In The Box ribbon-cuttings than monumental American moments.

Californians spared
Comcast commercials

Fast Money viewers got a treat Tuesday from an extended segment featuring megafoxy Jane Wells, though unfortunately the cameraman opted to find Chaz Bono more often than Jane in heavenly brown top.

During the discussion, Melissa Lee coined a new term, asking Wells if there's a decline in TV advertising because companies are "ciphering off that, that spending and, and putting it elsewhere."

Presumably she meant "siphoning."

We don't actually recall the gist of Wells' answer, though she did dig the corporate parent a bit; "Maybe it's because I live in California; I don't see Comcast advertising out here."

Things really started heating up when Guy Adami repeated the punchline from the YouTube taxidermist ad Wells showed. "There's a bear in my bed. have you ever uttered that phrase Jane or no," Adami asked.

"Well I don't know if I'd rather have the bear or Chuck Testa ... tough call," Wells said.

That brought out the grizzly in Karen Finerman (rrrrrauer), who asked Adami, "Is that what Linda says when you go to bed Guy, 'there's a bear in my bed'?"

"Listen. No comment on that one," Adami said.

Wells said that even if ad pricing is maybe not as robust as hoped, "the ratings picture so far this fall looks as good as Ashton Kutcher." Wells also told the Fast gang, referring to the dead animals in the Chuck Testa commercial, "I think you got a couple on the set."

CEO on the phone is
considered ‘content’

Melissa Lee, apparently taking a strange tangent from the above conversation, introduced Molycorp CEO Mark Smith (the guy who about a year ago told Lee there might be a bubble in rare earths pricing and then a couple days later told Bloomberg the opposite) with this comment, "Content is king, so we're grate- we're, we're happy to have you."

Smith insisted fundamentals in the rare earths industry are strong and chided the concept of speculation, and "My sincere hope is that good performance will ultimately outrank news flow."

As opposed to those insincere hopes.

Tim Seymour told Melissa Lee, "You're fetching in fuchsia tonight, thank you." Tim Seymour also used airquotes twice (above), referring to the European "troika" and the song by The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Pity Fleetwood Mac

Guest Brent Thill dissected Oracle's results on Tuesday's Fast Money and said "I think there's a very low likelihood of Hewlett Packard" being bought by ORCL.

Tim Seymour revealed, "We nibbled on Freeport today actually," apparently because of Maria Bartiromo's CEO interview, and predicted copper holds 3.50.

Seymour said SINA took a hit because Chinese authorities are cracking down on "rumors."

Melissa Lee said she's never seen "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Yes, that was Michelle Meyer
on Squawk Box Monday

Netflix pricing goes from ‘huge mistake’ to ‘horrible miscalculation’ to ‘boneheaded decision’ within seconds

The way Jon Najarian was talking about NFLX management on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, it almost seems like he's taking the slide personally.

The stock's collapse, according to Najarian, can be pinned on the new September pricing. Najarian said, "Hastings pulled that huge mistake ... horrible miscalculation ... boneheaded decision ... it's enough to practically throw the guy out for that alone."

But then he admitted, at least for a trade, "We are getting very close" to NFLX capitulation.

Gartman: The ‘Ph.D.s’ are forecasting slowing global economy

Dennis Gartman said Europe will keep buying time, but "sometime in the next year, we'll walk in on a Sunday evening and we'll see that Greece has defaulted. That's what they always do."

Gartman disagreed with Brian Kelly's claim that the euro will strengthen, based on Kelly's assertion that in Europe they believe stability leads to growth while Ben S. Bernanke believes growth leads to stability.

Gartman insisted, "Operation Twist is one of the silliest ideas I've ever heard of," but that the Fed basically has to do it because everyone expects it.

Gartman also said copper's got a master's degree in economic forecasting but base metals collectively have a Ph.D., and are showing that "global economic strength is waning."

Judge tries to get analyst to change his mind on national television

Steve Cortes on Tuesday's Halftime briefly pointed to the weird divergence in the stock market between the 52-week lows and 52-week highs, but didn't explore it far enough.

Cortes, on the pessimistic side, insisted "the list of what is not working is much longer ... cyclicals not participating, financials not participating ... copper ... aluminum."

But Cortes allowed, "Apple is acting right now like Secretariat ... I think Southern Company is to be bought on any dips."

Brian Kelly said "I'm still long Molycorp," saying the CEO's chat with Congress could be a catalyst, but "at 41 bucks, I'm gone though."

Darren Rovell reported on the Full Tilt poker allegations by the feds as a Ponzi. Jon Najarian was clumsily brought into the report to ask if Social Security was investing in online poker. Judge Wapner said, "Rick Perry is not making these charges."

Guest Mark Strawn had to fend off a feisty (and overly long) counterpoint from Judge Wapner about how much more MGM can rally given that it's already rallied. "You're gonna continue to see earnings momentum in Vegas," and there's a Macau floor, Strawn said.

Stunner: Someone from Pimco
is interviewed on CNBC

NBC Universal might as well buy Pimco from Allianz, for basically the same reason that Ted Turner bought the Atlanta Braves, to provide programming for his network, and thus no longer have to pay appearance fees.

Tuesday it was Bill Gross Mohamed El-Erian Tony Crescenzi Neel Kashkari doing the honors on The Strategy Session, even explaining at one point the interview process that involves the "Pimco Brain Scan" to determine whether money-manager applicants with good track records are the real deal and "a good cultural fit," or simply have been "throwing darts" and getting lucky.

Gary Kaminsky said there's a term for the closet-indexing dart-throwers, "style drift," which is people that picked up a hot stock or 2 and got ahead that way.

Kashkari disagreed with David Faber over whether the performance of the Pimco Pathfinder fund has been good or bad so far.

Europe authorities ‘behind the crisis’ just as U.S. was in 2008

Neel Kashkari said on Tuesday's Strategy Session that Greece withdrawal from the euro "is likely," and while he said many other things, none were particularly controversial, and so it was hard to gauge whether he really thinks this is going to be a disaster, or not.

Which means probably the most notable part of the interview was what he didn't say.

"Europe has enough capital within Europe to solve their own deficit situation," he said, which could involve nations that "maybe even exit the Eurozone," but that the goal of policymakers should be "save the banking system. Save Italy. Save Spain."

He said the problem is politics, that nations could stabilize European banks "almost overnight," but they're "behind the crisis" as the U.S. was in 2008 because the "medicine to deal with it is so distasteful."

Kashkari said Pimco is not dabbling, but "we are staying away from Greece, Ireland, the really sick countries." Gary Kaminsky asked if Ireland isn't doing a much better job than the southern nations in righting the ship. "It's too soon to know," Kashkari said.

He said U.S. banks have "fairly limited" exposure to Europe, but if Europe's banking system collapses, "that would bring down the global economy."

What we discovered Tuesday is that since recently being named Pimco's head of global equities, Kashkari has been doing the TV tour, including Bloomberg last week, when he said people should buy equities, a point he didn't actually stress Tuesday.

NFLX: The stock equivalent of the Super Bowl XIII point spread?

David Faber on Tuesday made one of the more cryptic comments heard on The Strategy Session in a brief discussion of NFLX.

"It's funny how many guys were short that stock who probably didn't make a dime," Faber said.

Presumably Faber is referring to the amount of time those shorts have been in the name, possibly losing gobs before the offset of the last 3 months.

But if people shorting the name in the last 3 months haven't made a "dime," then something is wrong with the system.

Ben Thompson tackled Barack Obama's curious new jobs/tax/why/are/we/doing/this agenda saying that for the first time there could be taxes, of a sort, for munis; "if you're in the 35% tax bracket, you'll pay 35 minus 28," Thompson said, which would ultimately be "a credit negative for municipals," but there's not a lot of anticipation right now that the package will survive intact.

[Monday, September 19, 2011]

NFLX: Like a bad burrito

For anyone wondering, as this site is, if/when NFLX could be approaching a point where a nibble might bring a short-term pop, Guy Adami suggests you think again.

"I don't think there is a bottom," Adami flat-out declared on Monday's Fast Money.

Analyst Tony Wible, who has ranked on the company on Fast Money for probably all of 2011, actually for a change wasn't quite as negative as the Fast Money panelists, though he was taking somewhat of a victory lap in crowing about how so much of the revenue is apparently from the DVD crowd.

As to the company's worth, "The hybrid subs are gonna determine that," Wible cautiously told Melissa Lee.

Dan Nathan drew comparisons between NFLX and CMG, calling the latter, "This is Netflix, you know, circa 2 years ago, and it will end the same way."

Possible inference: Getting big makes one buy BAC

We have no doubt John Paulson is a great guy, and that Greg Zuckerman's book about him, though we haven't read it, must be a fine read.

Why Fast Money thinks viewers need to care about Paulson's account balance, we have no clue.

Zuckerman guested on Monday's show to explain, "You can make the argument that he got a little too big." But, Zuckerman assured, "You know, you don't wanna count him out too early."

Count him out ... of what? The CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge?

No, we are not counting John Paulson out. We are counting out the Chiefs, the Seahawks, probably the Colts, the Panthers, the Jaguars, and the Cardinals, not because they're playing poorly but because you can always sort of count out the Cardinals.

(We have mostly counted out the y'inz. But that's not official. Definitely NOT official.)

Karen woke up on the wrong side of bed Monday

Amelia Bourdeau, looking like a million bucks as always, showed up at the Nasdaq for Monday's Fast Money with an apparently innocuous currency trade.

"I like to short Aussie dollar on a rally," Bourdeau said, at 102.50, with a 103.35 stop. She told a somewhat skeptical Brian Kelly, "I think it's a play on equity and risk-off sentiments."

Guy Adami then announced that Bourdeau is a Giants fan and was going to the game, and congratulated himself, "Great call by Guy as usual ... learn something new every day on Fast Money."

Somehow, that rankled the (bleep) out of Karen Finerman, who scoffed, "So we learned that she's a Giants fan, OK."

Adami said something else that could not be discerned, prompting Finerman to further scoff, "Looking at her, no, probably not." (And right at that moment, Amelia is ready to crawl into a hole.)

Gordon Johnson also visited the set and said, "I think it's gonna be a pretty ugly next 3 to 6 months in the solar space." Karen Finerman asked if there's a point at which oil could descend that would unleash the floodgates on solar selling. Johnson said that actually, solar trades more in correlation with natural gas.

Guy Adami, for his Final Trade, said "Cabot Oil & Gas, something going on there."

Dan Nathan gets it

Karen Finerman's Monday was one of her most tepid Fast Money performances in recent memory, and perhaps market volatility is a big reason why.

"I'm surprised we don't have more clarity, one way or another," Finerman complained, about the Greek situation, warning that the longer we go without clarity, the worse it'll get when there is clarity.

Dan Nathan pointed to how weak banks were all day irrespective of the tape, which to him is a sign "We're goin' lower."

Guy Adami spoke about a stock we don't think has gotten enough attention this summer (which is partly our own fault, for not writing about it more often), FCX. Adami said the stock peaked around the beginning of the year, probably around halftime of the AFC Championship Game just like the Steelers did, and the tumble Monday is a sign it's "trying to tell you something."

Dan Nathan, unlike his unbelievably lukewarm colleagues who hardly displayed any esprit de corps for the latest CNBC promotion (not to mention utter lack of knowledge/interest in why MS ran so far off the rails), had by far the most interesting trade suggestion for the CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge, recommending players "buy Amazon short-dated puts."

Najarian: AAPL could
hit $500 before year-end

Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report was another AAPL love-fest, with Pete Najarian pounding the table, "This is a stock that easily could see 500 in the not-too-distant future maybe before the end of the year."

Steve Grasso agreed not necessarily with the price target but said there's no way anyone could put a ceiling on the price right now.

However, The Contrarian, Steve Cortes, insisted, "I do not wanna be buying these stocks," citing 2 reasons, "Qs vs. the SPYders, we are at a 10-year high," and "look at how poorly Asia trades."

For some reason, part of the panel (think Pete Najarian) erupted in chuckles as soon as Cortes said he doesn't like tech stocks, prompting Judge Scott Wapner to stammer through this head-scratcher, "You shouldn't shoot yourself down before you deliver the uh, the- the- the- the- the- thing."

Steve Grasso said the most "unsexy" thing AAPL could do is a dividend.

Pete says a NFLX breakup would get him more interested in the stock

Pete Najarian on Monday's Halftime Report made a curious call on NFLX, saying if it actually did a Tyco-like split, "That would get me much more interested." But then he admitted to Judge Wapner's question of desperation that "it has that feel."

Steve Grasso said the DVD-by-mail business hardly has any suitors or potential, so it wouldn't really be a Tyco-like breakup.

Steve Cortes said, "I think the CEO should be apologizing for the name Qwikster."

The panel, like the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, stumbled and bumbled through a conversation about the Fed's Twist and expectations for it, with Brian Kelly pointing to low 2-year rates already and saying "those who are expecting Twist could be disappointed tomorrow."

Steve Liesman admitted, "I frankly don't know what's baked in here."

JJ Kinahan stressed Twist was not good news for banks and the panel was basically unanimous on banks in this scenario, but Steve Cortes took it further, saying, "Don't go near stocks at all" if Twist happens. (This writer is long SKF.)

Andy Busch had his arms crossed again when introduced by Judge Wapner, but this time Judge unlike Simon Hobbs called Busch out for it (perhaps Judge noticed this page was ahead of the curve on that observation a couple weeks ago, see below). "I'm just trying to protect myself from all the optimism that's coming from your show today," Busch cracked. He said his trade is selling euros and buying Sterling, but only on Wednesday, after the Bank of England minutes are released, so that's one you can set with a timer.

Nishu Sood said the people at LEN are saying demand is picking up. And when have you ever heard that before from the homebuilders on Fast Money?

Maybe the government should ‘spit out’ some departments?

David Faber, perhaps lamenting the minimal amount of time his show was receiving Monday on account of the White House's yawner of a budget-plan press conference, said on Monday's Strategy Session that Tim Geithner was basically just standing there and "doing nothing much more than kind of nodding his head."

Then, unfortunately, Faber launched into cliche-land in regard to Tyco, saying "breaking up is easy to do" before asking guest caller Jeffrey T. Sprague if it's really going to create value. Sprague said he thinks it will, because it's 3 separate businesses, and "1 or all of 'em will find a home."

While we don't want to nit-pick over terminology, it seems like potential for "unlocking" value is probably a better term for these transactions than "creating" value, unless you're really high on the overall synergy thing.

Gary Kaminsky told Sprague that bankers like this kind of activity, and he asked what other companies might be ripe for such action. Sprague managed to bring up 2 he said probably wouldn't happen, starting with GE, "I don't think that's gonna happen," then adding that Textron by contrast is probably a good candidate but "I wouldn't put huge odds" on it.

Gary Kaminsky offered a funny term, "spitouts," and pointed out (despite chart trouble) 1 example of a spinoff that was good for shareholders, MJN.

Bernanke doesn’t scare
David Rosenberg

David Rosenberg told The Strategy Session on Monday that "the Fed doesn't worry me," but "Europe is the wild card."

Hmmm. Many people on CNBC are alarmed by both. So that's progress.

Rosenberg told Gary Kaminsky, who twice during the program questioned last week's stock market gains, said stocks went up last week probably because of reports of "coordinated action" of central banks, and "there's always hope" of containment.

Rosenberg predicted "2 or 3 years" before excess U.S. housing supply is "absorbed."

Guest Sarat Sethi trumpeted CenturyLink as a dividend giant. More significantly, he asserted his automaker bullish from this weekend's Barron's, calling it a "great time to build a position" in GM or Ford, which quite frankly have been 12-month disasters.

Gary Kaminsky said some stats from Monday's Lex column in the FT about hedge funds adding value for a decade will embolden the industry to show these numbers to hedge funds, etc. But Kaminsky noted, much of the overall gain was concentrated, and so "You've gotta be in the right hundred hedge funds."

Brian Sullivan surprised to find ‘Lion King cult’ at the movies

CNBC anchor Brian Sullivan reports on Twitter that the people attending the "Lion King" movie are well-familiar with the script. "Saw 3D w/my kid & entire audience singing every song," Sullivan says.

[Friday, September 16, 2011]

Kelly: We can ‘solve’ Europe debt at any time

One of the fascinating things about watching Fast Money is the difference in the way people talk based on the color of the S&P 500 arrow.

So after hearing, for months really, how bad the sovereign problem in Europe is, how nations might have to default or exit the Eurozone, how it could be "depression" in Europe with a "d," suddenly Simon Hobbs is reporting on a BRIC fund on Friday's Halftime Report, and Brian Kelly declares, "We can solve the debt problem in Europe at any time; there's plenty of liquidity out there," and that the BRIC report is "probably net bullish."

So why have we been talking about this since May?

Edwards: EBAY ‘looks like it’s going north of 45 at least’

Probably the best way to make the Fast Money Call of the Year is to actually make some interesting calls in the first place.

Patty Edwards did just that on Friday's Halftime Report regarding the jump in EBAY. "On my screens, it looks like it's going north of 45 at least," which, if it happens before January, will certainly crack the top 5.

That was far more impressive than Pete Najarian's highly couched "I'd rather own eBay right now than Amazon."

AMZN, though, was also drawing praise from the gang, with Edwards saying the Kindle is doing some "phenomenal" things that might make it a serious challenger to the iPad. Steve Grasso agreed, saying "It's the only one that Apple has to fear." Najarian said to keep an eye on the Sony S, which we've never heard of before.

The real target is either $50 or $15, so he settles on $37

Nobody on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report seemed to have an answer for Research in Motion.

"I'm not really sure at this point in time" what RIMM needs to do, admitted Pete Najarian.

Patty Edwards said, "I've talked to my IT guys and they are actually trying to steer us away from the BlackBerry because it's too much a pain in the rear," and then uttered the same redundancy as Najarian, "at this point in time," although in general she says that a lot more than Pete does.

Brian Kelly said if people in Patty's IT Dept. are finding the BlackBerry a pain in the rear, "they might be using it incorrectly."

If you ever wondered (and you know you have) how Wall Street price targets get set, Tavis McCourt was asked by Judge Scott Wapner about his $37 on RIMM, only to say if things work out, the stock is worth $50, and if they don't, it's worth $15 to $20, so the $37 is merely a "median number" and the real price will be a "binary outcome in my mind."

Which is like saying the Seahawks will either win by 24, or lose by 17, so they're 3-point favorites.

(Side note: Apparently there was some healthy confusion over our recent "righting the ship" take on the Steelers' decrepit defensive line. Zoiks. In fact both teams do need righting. But the truth is that a loss is actually helpful for either team. It would give the Steelers a head start on an obviously needed overhaul, and it would put Seattle — which has several promising young players but an absolute zero in the most important position and is not entertaining serious playoff notions — a step closer to Andrew Luck in 2011, which, given the 1800s-style system of personnel employment the NFL still uses, is actually how you win in this league. We don't want to try to pretend we're not rooting for the y'inz, but we don't necessarily have to be rooting for the y'inz.)

(There. Whew. Feels like adequately hedged.)

Steve Grasso said of RIMM, "I almost think the others have to stumble" for it to go anywhere. He started to say he loves texting on his iPhone, but then complained about having trouble with specifics, such as wanting carrots but getting cotton candy, and in those circumstances, "it's a terrible texting device."

Edwards: Family Dollar still makes sense for WMT

It seems like when summer hasn't been about Greece complaints, it's been about how great the dollar stores are. Friday on Fast Money Halftime, Patty Edwards noted that some of those chains are too small to move the needle for a biggie, but if Wal-Mart seeks that kind of expansion, "they can go big if they were to take out something like Family Dollar ... it would make sense to me."

Pete Najarian said he rolled his Dollar Tree position from September to October. "I'm a believer in the story," Pete said. Steve Grasso made fun of Pete's blue shirt as somehow being from the dollar store clerk crew, or something like that.

Judge sneaks in
a fist bump

Patty Edwards said of NFLX on Friday's Halftime she once was at a momentum shop, and the first sale is always the best. "This thing has nothing but more cockroaches scurrying out of it, at least in the near term," Edwards said.

Willie Williams said "I like selling Aussie dollar," at 104, with a stop at 105.50 and target of 100.

Judge Wapner put Pete Najarian on the spot about making a tech call, then gave him a fist bump, which was recently banned on the regular Fast Money, we'd presume either because of sponsor complaints or someone running the show just got sick of it.

67-0 — so far — for Gundlach

Gary Kaminsky made an interesting point on Friday's Strategy Session about these "rogue trader" scandals now being experienced by UBS. "You only hear about the rogue traders when they lose the firm money," Kaminsky said.

David Faber said that while UTX is apparently raising money, it's not $20 billion and it's not for buying Tyco. (On Money in Motion Friday he reported UTX is trying to acquire Goodrich.)

Lewis Dickey of Cumulus Media made some relevant comments about the entrenchment of radio but unfortunately it sounds a bit like what newspaper people keep saying. "The number of people listening to radio is actually at an all-time high as the population grows," Dickey said, and changes to penetration models have left a distorted view of a dropoff, when if "People Meter to People Meter" comparisons are used, it's been flat.

He downplayed debt concerns of acquiring Citadel; "this is actually a deleveraging transaction for us."

Gary Kaminsky and Kate Kelly analyzed the breaking news of the Gundlach/TCW rulings. "This is confusing," Kaminsky said, explaining Gundlach was apparently found to have incidentally breached a contract, but that he was the party receiving cash pending the judge's decision on TCW's claim. "I gotta believe reading this as a layperson, Jeffrey Gundlach is a winner here," Kaminsky said, and given the little we know about this case, it kinda seems like the whole thing was a waste of time for TCW.

The market is rising/falling because there is more/less money in the market

David Faber on Friday's Strategy Session asked guest David Albrycht why he likes the higher-yielding bond scene, and Albrycht replied, "We've had positive net inflows."

Gary Kaminsky said a moment later, "High-yield should be flying right now," and asked Albrycht why it isn't. Albrycht said it's because of "massive outflows."

Which sound like a pair of cart-after-the-horse obligations, but whatever. Kaminsky suggested maybe it's reminiscent of what happened in munis around the time of Meredith's speaking tour a year ago.

Albrycht said "We're staying away from Europe," but he does like French utilities.

[Thursday, September 15, 2011]

A Fast Fire for Karen

Karen Finerman on Thursday's Fast Money responded to a Twitter question about shippers and stressed that there are big differences between oil, dry bulk, etc., but "I like Navios."

Indeed. Finerman recommended Navios as a "slow money" trade on June 23.

That day, Fast Money indicated Finerman was referring to ticker symbol NM (there are several variations of Navios Maritime), though Thursday's official CNBC.com recap says she's now talking about NMM.

Either way, on June 23, it was an utterly horrid call, with NM closing at $4.95; barely more than a month later it would be $2 lighter. It has come roaring back a bit in recent weeks although its market cap is below the magic $500 million level, which is probably why CNBC is now referring to $800 million NMM. Her argument in June was that these horrible day rates were probably around a bottom.

And that was her argument again Thursday.

We've seen this movie before. It's called "The Poseidon Adventure."

JJ Kinahan: RIMM could go ‘under 20 without a problem’

Thursday was Hated Stock Day on Fast Money, with Len Brecken drop-kicking NFLX a couple of times.

"The next shoe to drop is Hollywood," Brecken predicted, repeatedly telling the Fast Money questioners in various ways that no one should ever get long this name, basically because "this model is broken."

Joe Terranova asked, with all due courtesies, what Brecken's position was with the shares over $300. "Ummmmm ... I change my position all the time in it," Brecken explained.

Meanwhile, much of the program was spent bashing Research in Motion by the same crew that always bashes Research in Motion (too bad for his gigantic greatness in phenomenal call-ness Colin Gillis didn't bother to tell people to actually own RIMM for August). JJ Kinahan said RIMM "reminds me of Palm in so many ways," and that quite possibly it can go "under 20 without a problem."

Pete Najarian did pound the table for something — AAPL. "I think this stock, easily a 450 stock not too many months from now," Najarian said.

Geithner ‘almost on the verge of arrogant’ in Cramer interview

Chartist Chris Verrone told the Fast Money gang Thursday that he was skeptical of stocks' recovery since basically Aug. 8 because "the character of an advance matters."

Karen Finerman demanded to know what Verrone meant by "internals." Verrone said it refers to how "robust" the advances and declines are.

Verrone seemed to botch the gold commentary; while he made clear he thinks it's not parabolic and will ultimately go higher, it first sounded like he said $1,750 is a "very good area to be a buyer," except he concluded by saying he'd buy in the $1,650-$1,700 range.

Guest Charles Grom of Deutsche Bank rattled off 6 pairs trades, with the long name first: COST/WMT, KSS/JCP, WFM/TFM, JWN/SKS, KR/SWY and DLTR/FRED.

Guy Adami said he doubted the Goldman Sachs fund closing would move the stock; "this has been out there."

Adami asked Steve Liesman about Tim Geithner's interview with Jim Cramer and if Liesman noticed "how confident he was, almost on the verge of arrogant" about nations not letting anything bad happen in Europe.

"I don't think he puts his reputation on the line unless he knows what's going on," Liesman claimed.

At this rate, BRK-A can start thinking about a $5 billion NFLX preferred by Thanksgiving

There was just a conversation in the CNBCfix community Thursday afternoon about NFLX being the most controversial stock of the last couple years.

The discussion on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report did nothing to quell that notion.

The issue was why NFLX was down 30 bucks in a day.

Herb Greenberg, claiming he's been screaming into an "abyss," pointed to competition, insisting, "They're not the only guy out there."

Jon Najarian claimed it was the pricing-plan change. "They shot themselves in the foot with this," Najarian said.

Steve Grasso said it's an "economic play" and basically got Herb Greenberg to agree with him on some level.

Few companies, possibly not even Bank of America, have had as many catalysts over the last 3 months as NFLX. The new pricing, soft quarterly guidance, Europe disaster (everyone can claim that one), Latin America expansion, end of Starz deal, and now a subscriber-forecast revision. (Let's not count this page's July 7 suggestion (gosh that hurts) that "there's maybe a greater chance of NFLX catching AAPL in a hurry than people might think.")

Each analysis is interesting, but none as important as Grasso's. If indeed there is a significant U.S. economic component to the NFLX slide, it's not going to be alone in broken-chart land.

3 for the crown: Dr. J (S&P 1,136), Patty Edwards (WLT), Dick Bove (get out of the market)

Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report saluted Jon Najarian's S&P-1,136-bounce call from last Friday and actually claimed it "looked a little sketchy a couple days ago" when in fact it was ridiculously deadly accurate on Monday and ever since.

Najarian, though, indicated he's not pushing it, saying "I've taken off about 55, 60% of my longs right now into today." But he allowed, if we can close above 1,224, "I think it's off to the races again."

Brian Kelly insisted there's just no political will in Europe for the fiscal measures that are needed, but Zachary Karabell, using the term "abyss" for the first time it was heard during Thursday's Halftime, said eventually the powerful European nations will realize they have no choice and therefore, "The political will thing can be overstated."

If the S&P takes a quick U-turn, Najarian's 1,136 call might be a short-term nicety and little more. At the moment, it's a lock for the top 5 Fast Money picks of the year, along with Patty Edwards' Aug. 12 & 19 pitches for WLT, which got nearly all of its pop in 1 day and is slipping back but was still a monster given the turmoil of finding winners in August; Steve Grasso's late July assertion that LVS was a buy into August (the rally actually was over before August but still a great call); and of course the front-runner, Dick Bove's "get out of the stock market" in August. (And isn't it interesting how often he's been on TV since then after declaring in January he was limiting his TV schedule?)

We could name some companies in which mismanagement is not a shocker

Peter Misek said on Thursday's Halftime he doubts RIMM will make its 4th-quarter guidance, and any spike in the shares will be a "great opportunity to short it or sell it."

David Greenberg was given barely a few seconds by an apologetic Judge Wapner to comment on UBS. "It's a shocker, but it's a mismanagement shocker," Greenberg said. "It has to be more than just 1 single trader."

Zachary Karabell took a slight dig at Guy Adami and Steve Grasso early in the program by sort of mocking adherence to Fibonacci levels but saved his best zinger for longtime range-bounder WMT: "I don't know why you would be in Wal-Mart as a stock, ever." Judge Wapner claimed that range-bound comment made him think of a "lot of names" popping into his head, but he wouldn't name them.

Congrats, BK

Judge Scott Wapner announced on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime that Brian Kelly has launched a new shop, Shelter Harbor Capital.

We don't have an account there, but the Web site looks good, evidently designed by pros, or else Kelly would've ended up with something like the yo-yos around here put together and which you're reading right now.

Sallie Krawcheck: Bone or fat?

Gary Kaminsky on Thursday's Strategy Session said he spoke to a number of people Wednesday evening about Bank of America's layoffs and learned: "They are not only cutting the fat, they're cutting the bone."

(Hopefully Sallie Krawcheck won't see this item because she might not find the headline — just having a little fun — as amusing as we do.)

Steve Liesman gives Dick Fuld a vote of confidence

Gary Kaminsky opened Thursday's Strategy Session with a provocative quote from Dick Fuld on March 18, 2008, indicating Fuld was content about enough liquidity sloshing around to save the system.

Kaminsky said of this folly, "What this says to me is if we do get a Greek default, nobody knows exactly what the domino-effect ramifications will be."

Kaminsky's typical debate partner, Steve Liesman, then magically appeared and said, "Kaminsky is confusing a bunch of different things there," and asserted the quote was referring to liquidity, which it did, but not solvency.

David Faber didn't seem too impressed by that angle and tossed in his favorite cliche, "Well it was Booth that killed Lincoln; at the end of the day they ran out of liquidity too."

Charles Ferguson already has a lot of interesting material for a possible ‘Inside Job’ sequel

Guest Blake Bath said on Thursday's Strategy Session that he has been short NFLX but isn't now, but "We think there's more downside for the stock."

But he said, "We think Coinstar is a great candidate for private equity."

Yield hunter Greg Thomas said you can find good returns from dividend-paying stocks such as GPC, WM and DEO.

Gary Kaminsky sounded incredulous that the UBS problem is apparently being pinned on one guy. "There's just no way based on my experience that something like this can happen and 1 person be involved ... no way ... impossible," Kaminsky said.

[Wednesday, September 15, 2011]

When stocks go up, it’s fundamentals; when stocks go down, it’s chicanery

Jon Najarian on Wednesday's Fast Money said that stocks declined about 100 Dow points late because of the "high-frequency game being played Melissa in the last half-hour of trading today."

Had this conversation gone on much longer, Lasry would’ve been accused of a 40% call

You know that old saw from Johnny Carson about telling a joke to the person on your left, and then by the time it gets back to you, it's not the same joke anymore.

So on Wednesday's Fast Money, Melissa Lee introduced a clip of Marc Lasry at the Delivering Alpha conference (sorry, but they need a catchier name, it's too easy to think of it as "Developing Alpha") in which Lasry clearly says that in the event of Greek default, markets will fall "10 to 15%, maybe more."

Lee then asked Dr. J, Jon Najarian, what he thought of what she called a now-elongated "10 to 20%" forecast. Dr. J shrugged and said he doesn't want to be the lone "half-full" guy all the time, but "I don't think anybody on the desk agrees with that. 15 to 20%?"

No. Not 15-20%. 10-15%.

Now, does anybody on the desk agree with that? A 10% drop from Wedneday's S&P close puts it at 1,069. Guy Adami — though he hasn't been pegging it to Greece — keeps saying we're going to 1,020. Yet it stands to reason that Greece is as big of a catalyst as any for reaching Adami's prediction.

Najarian acknowledged, under questioning from Anthony Scaramucci, that a triple play of recession plus spiking unemployment plus Greece default would do the trick.

Star economist not exactly certain about the definition of ‘recession’

She always does it in a nice way, but Karen Finerman has a knack for sticking it to her colleagues with the type of pop quiz that Andy Hiller stung George W. Bush with in 1999 that should prompt every guest on Fast Money (and even the panelists) to demand Karen's questions in advance for vetting.

Wednesday on Fast Money featured Joe LaVorgna telling the gang, "Right now, we're not in recession."

Finerman followed, "Quick definition, what actually is a recession?"

LaVorgna responded, "An NBER-dated recession where you have at least 1 quarter of negative growth followed by haps (sic) a flat or, a quarter followed by another negative."

Yeah ... uh huh ... say wha??

Finerman's question is mentioned occasionally on this site and should be asked every day on CNBC, given how often the term is thrown around and how nobody is precisely sure what people actually mean by it, including high-profile experts in the field such as LaVorgna.

LaVorgna's answer to K-Fine committed the advanced-English fallacy of defining a word by itself. His "answer" is equivalent to someone asking Roger Goodell what a "playoff" team is and having Goodell answer that it could be a team in the divisional round, or a team that qualifies for at least one postseason game, or a team that won double-digit games, or a team that didn't do jack but simply feels good about its talent.

Contrary to what it may seem like, we're not trying to make fun of George Bush here; after all he's a SALT alumnus and nicknamed the Moochmeister "Gucci Scaramucci" and sent a personal congrats note to Mel Lee ... but a brief excerpt from his exchange with Hiller is a Great Moment in Pop Culture and deserves mention here:

Hiller: "Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?"
Bush: "Wait, wait, is this 50 questions?"
Hiller: "No, it's 4 questions of 4 leaders of 4 hot spots."
Bush: "The new Pakistani general, he's just been elected — he's, he's, not elected, this guy took over office. He appears he's gonna bring stability to the country and I think that's good news for the subcontinent."
Hiller: "And you can name him?"
Bush: "General. I can name the general."
Hiller: "And it's..."
Bush: "General."

Best guess is,
don’t try this at home

Whitney Tilson, rather eloquently actually, described the goal of Bill Ackman's Hong Kong currency trade after Melissa Lee and Brian Kelly batted around the yuan-dollar connection and made it sound like the trade wouldn't accomplish much.

Tilson said it's true Ackman sees a peg to the yuan by 2015, but in the short term, he expects it to be "revalued by approximately 30%, um, in which case, uh, if that happens during the time frame of the 1-year options he owns, he could make as much as 60 times his money. That's the bet he's making."

Afterwards, the Fast gang noted that someone said that when they hear Ackman is dabbling in a big currency trade, that's when they get nervous. Karen Finerman conceded that it's the type of event that maybe should concern investors, but maybe Ackman has a long "rope" because he's done so well.

Elsewhere, Tilson gushed about Berkshire, MSFT and DELL, claiming, "We're finding safe, cheap stocks all over the place."

Greece: All clear

Anthony Scaramucci on Wednesday's Fast Money pronounced stocks fit to be long, based on a conversation at the U.S. Open with someone who plays tennis with George Soros. "Markets are gonna rally this week," this person said, according to Scaramucci. "There's gonna be a deal around Greece." Scaramucci said that, "If they actually do something politically smart ... these things are very, very cheap across the board."

Karen Finerman, on the other hand, wasn't terribly impressed by whatever assurances were made about Greece. "I believe it's a Band-aid," Finerman said, while there could be "other shoes to drop" besides Greece. "I would not be jumping in with both feet on this rally. At all."

Joe Terranova said "I think this was a classic short squeeze today."

Guy Adami said he thought the slippage at the end of the day was a bad sign and evidently not the result of HFT because he didn't mention it.

Melissa likes saying ‘Beeksies’

Brian Kelly said on Wednesday's Fast Money that top European leaders saying they won't kick Greece out of the Eurozone is irrelevant because they can't do it anyway.

And then he referred to himself in 3rd person.

"I can say I'm not gonna fly off the Empire State Building. I- BK can't. So, it doesn't matter to me," Kelly said.

"That's fantastic," said Guy Adami.

"When he enters into the 3rd person? Makes me wonder," said Melissa Lee, who said "Beekers" once and "Beeksies" 3 times, which generally gets us pining for the Jeff Kilburg-Rich Ilczyszyn-Dan Nathan brand of commentary. Maybe Kelly could just refer to himself as "Beeksies," and then we'd come full-circle, to something or other ...

Adami: YHOO ‘in play’

Karen Finerman said Daniel Loeb is famous for writing incredibly harsh letters to managements (and while that would probably be hilarious for this site's own purposes, it does make you wonder what some people have to do to amuse themselves), but in the case of his YHOO slams, "He has a very good chance of being successful here. They have destroyed value."

Anthony Scaramucci noted that "SkyBridge has over $300 million with Dan."

Guy Adami said, "I think Yahoo's in play and I think that's a stock you could own regardless of tape right now," which means benign or otherwise.

Steelers’ next opponent:

We were going to post an NFL preview on this page before the season started, but thankfully we didn't get to it, because we foolishly probably would've predicted a winning record in Pittsburgh.

Most everybody was a goat in Baltimore, but none moreso than the Steelers' so-called venerable defensive line of "elder statesmen," a bunch of plodding clods who played suck-ass football on Sunday and would've helped the team more by deactivating themselves and watching the game in a tavern.

When you play like a Jagov, expect the fans to treat you like a Jagov.

In any case, this better be the weekend the ship gets righted, because having exposure to Patty Edwards' Twittering in the event of a loss is about as appealing as having exposure to Greece.

Gartman: Fink’s gold trade
‘a bit odd’

Melissa Lee on Wednesday's Fast Money asked Dennis Gartman about Larry Fink's call on buying gold miners to lock in instant gains against the spot price, with a somewhat clumsy introduction. Gartman, thankfully avoiding making another short-term gold call, said "GLD has taken away the, the cachet of owning Barrick," and while he seemed reluctant to criticize, Gartman called Fink's thesis "a bit odd," and "I would not do this trade."

Anthony Scaramucci did ask Gartman what scenarios would trigger a plunge in gold. Gartman listed 2, the first being that if stocks go up, that could siphon money from gold, and the other being improvement in Europe, which he does not expect.

Does anybody even watch
the Web Extra anymore?

Dan Dicker did a chart segment at the Nasdaq on Wednesday's Fast Money and, while his presentation was ultimately fine, it was fairly clear he was a newcomer because he took a long time to basically make the same point a couple times.

Dicker's explanation of the crack spread is simply old hat to original Fast Money viewers, who used to hear Dylan Ratigan and Eric Bolling gush about it practically every night.

"The refiners have had a tremendous time, a party as it were," Dicker said, but if WTI goes up, then that could hurt refiners, and thus you'd want to "get out of all of these refining stocks."

Melissa Lee pointed out that Tiger Woods might not even qualify for his own tournament. "That'd be like Anthony Scaramucci not getting invited to the SALT Conference," joked Guy Adami, drawing that sexy, understated "heh heh heh" laugh from Karen Finerman. Hopefully Adami will get invited back to the SALT Conference and find his way to a Jack in the Box next time, or even Fatburger.

Guy Adami in the Fast Money Web Extra used the term "a priori," which Karen Finerman called "fancy words."

Melissa Lee didn't catch it because she was too preoccupied with making sure Guy Adami heard the tired "Judas" gag, but Jon Najarian on the Final Trade started to call her "Mi-" before catching himself.

Steve Cortes once again
doesn’t like high-end retail

Steve Cortes on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report said, "I like the low end of retail ... I do not like the high end."

Of course, this is exactly what he said in late May, just before Lululemon surged, not to mention June 2009, when the entire market was beginning a gargantuan run.

But now he's got a new argument, that the August stock-market performance is going to keep rich people from buying stuff at Nordstrom.

Cortes also had a brief debate with Zachary Karabell over emerging-markets stocks vs. emerging-markets GDP that frankly we've grown tired of writing about. Nevertheless, Cortes called EWH "bad news for tech" names in the U.S., though he said he wouldn't be shorting them, only staying out of them.

Fast Money’s Favorite Call (cont’d): Buy JPM

An extremely humdrum Fast Money Halftime Report on Wednesday featured this suggestion on banks from guest Gerard Cassidy: "This could be the group to be in for the next 12 months."

Specifically, what Cassidy likes is JPMorgan, despite cutting his price target, saying despite short-term choppiness, the next couple years bode well. "As the economy strengthens, this stock should do quite well," he said.

And so, it would seem, we still haven't had that copmlete capitulation, but we're still in the stage of "might as well own the banks here because 5 years from now they can't possibly be lower."

Kate Kelly reported on Larry Fink's gold-miner bullishness from CNBC's Delivering Alpha conference at which Fink asserted that someone in private equity could buy a gold mine and sell futures and before you know it "you'll lock in a massive profit." Kelly said 3 names came up though it doesn't sound like Fink was making a serious call on any of them, Kinross, Newcrest Mining, Barrick.

Colin Gillis (Zzzzzz) said the "Microsoft developer ecosystem is extremely alive and well" and that Wednesday's gathering is "like a rock concert."

Bass: ‘This period we’re about to go through, a lot of people are gonna lose a lot of money’

The occasion of the Delivering Alpha conference Wednesday was enough for The Strategy Session to get Kyle Bass out of his shell (that's only a small joke), and here's what Bass had to say about Greece and the prospects for global recovery.

"There's only 1 way out of this … Greece has to default … it's gonna be a hard default … it's gonna be difficult to contain this contagion … this period we're about to go through, a lot of people are gonna lose a lot of money."

And how is your day?

David Faber asked Bass what the world would look like in a year, and unfortunately Bass didn't say "the Steelers are the defending champs after rallying and going 15-1," but he did offer, "The world is gonna be a more destabilized place … we're going to be in a recession again."

Bass stressed a couple of times that Germany is not going to become a spigot for Greece and others, saying north of 2/3 of Germans wish they hadn't signed on to the euro, and that these occasional bailout showdowns are unsustainable when Germany has no authority over other nations' fiscal policy. "It comes to a Mexican standoff every time," Bass said, and ultimately, "I think they won't go all in."

Bass dismissed Tim Geithner's earlier remarks, saying bank recapitalization can be cobbled together, but that Geithner "didn't say bank equity's worth anything," and that "there's no real cohesive mechanism" for a U.S.-style circa 2008 TARP-type bailout in Europe that people think might actually be "orderly."

Making clear he wasn't referring to any specific bank, Bass asked, "How many times did you hear Lehman and Bear Stearns say we have plenty of capital?"

While we wouldn't want to play poker against Bass or take the other side of his trades, it does bear mentioning that a year ago in August, he expressed similar extreme gloom, which coincidentally was a massively good moment to start buying stocks.

Kaminsky: ‘Junk market
is completely frozen’

The occasion of the Delivering Alpha conference on Wednesday was also enough to get Gary Kaminsky in a suit, in which he delivered perhaps the most sobering comment of a fairly sobering program.

Kaminsky said that since Labor Day, "the junk market is completely frozen," and a lot of potential deal-capital-raising that was in the works is "DOA."

Guest Daniel Arbess heaped a lot of praise on Beijing, saying the "Chinese have been masterful" at managing their economy and "the Chinese consumer is in much better shape sadly than the American consumer."

Arbess, who curiously said he couldn't comment on his returns, said that as an investor, his goal in China is to "get in front of where the capital is going," which, when you think about it, is really anyone's goal in any type of financial investment, the old hitting-the-moving-target type of thing.

Jim Leech, boss of the Ontario (Canada) teachers pension fund described by Gary Kaminsky as a "Tier 1" type of client for investment banks, told David Faber that those models projecting 8% returns for years are "not realistic and they probably haven't been realistic for a decade," and that he filed a "totally balanced fund" recently with a discount rate "just a smidgen over 5," and that in general, to assume anything over 3 and a quarter to 3 and a half nowadays, "I think you're smoking something."

[Tuesday, September 13, 2011]

Mike Khouw bats .500

Mike Khouw began his Best Buy commentary on Tuesday's Fast Money by saying something we think is important — at least, this is the first time we've thought of it that way — that Circuit City's demise should have been a warning sign that the whole big-box retail concept might be in trouble, and (he didn't add this part but it's the obvious alternative that was heard for a while back in the day) not just a case of Best Buy's greatness sinking a top contender and benefitting from the spoils.

But then Khouw actually said Best Buy's new online marketplace strategy means it is "essentially operating as a showroom for other online retailers."


Actually, Khouw's first point is a big deal and will get further consideration here. For example, in smartphones, the Fast Money gang up until a year or year and a half ago was constantly talking about how "the pie is big enough for everyone." Then, after MOT had long crumbled, PALM sank, then Nokia started to crumble, then RIMM really started to crumble, and one wonders, is this really a case of Apple dominating a lucrative business, or just a lousy business?

Karen Finerman also made an excellent point about the turn of "180 degrees" in the perception that retailers want big box space, and that even Best Buy is acknowledging "smaller is absolutely the way to go." Finerman said she's looking at REITs that would be affected but hasn't found one yet with much pop, "maybe something like a Kimco" that has Sears exposure.

Jeff Kilburg predicts 1.67% on the 10-year, issuance of a 50-year, and a Notre Dame victory Saturday (sort of)

Jeff Kilburg on Tuesday's Fast Money said, to take a page, actually the cover, out of Joe Terranova's book, that when it comes to the 10-year, "buy high and sell higher."

Kilburg predicted a retest of the 1945 low yield, 1.67%, saying "I think it's in the crosshairs," and soon. "I think it's the next couple weeks."

Tim Seymour demanded to know where the marginal buyer is going to come from. Kilburg indicated, without totally answering the question, that it's simply one sector where people are making money and thus the demand. "They're looking for price appreciation," Kilburg said.

Kilburg also said he's talked to people and expects to see a 50-year bond. "I know that's a radical statement, but I think there's an appetite for it, as well as a need," he said.

Finally, Guy Adami asked Kilburg about 0-2 Notre Dame hosting Michigan State. "We'll be back, don't count us out," Kilburg said, which was hardly a Namath-esque guarantee.

Prevent Defense Theory (cont'd):
ND’s 28-second meltdown

Ordinarily, we might've resisted the temptation to post something about a subset of football strategy, however important it is.

But Jeff Kilburg's appearance on Tuesday's Fast Money more than opened the floodgates.

Here's the deal: Very few teams, in college and even the pros, understand how to play the correct prevent defense.

How do we know this? Because we've actually studied the endings of a great many games and have figured out what works ... and even more important, what doesn't.

Time and attention concerns won't permit a full exploration of this topic right here. So, the Cliffs Notes ...

How in the world did Notre Dame on Saturday give up an 80-yard touchdown drive in 30 seconds ... with 2 even left to spare for a humiliating kickoff?

They rushed 4, they left the sideline open, and they even wasted a linebacker "spying" on Denard Robinson.

Incredibly, a receiver is able in the course of a 64-yard gain to catch the ball deep along one sideline, and then run all the way across the field and get out of bounds on the other sideline.

Then, another wide receiver beats single coverage in the corner of the end zone, while committing a simple pass interference probably forces Michigan to kick a field goal.

The biggest blunder of any prevent is the 4-man rush. This is slow death. The 3-man rush is what draws boos in the NFL. The 3-man is not ideal, but it is superior to 4-man.

We can't stress enough, every game is different and requires tweaking of basic strategy ... different score, field position, quality of QB, timeouts remaining, time remaining. But certain standards universally apply. If you are on defense, these should be your only goals, in order:

1. Interception
2. Sack
3. Short gain, in bounds

Notice what is not on there: Incompletion. An incompletion is basically neutral. The offense benefits from stopping the clock and not losing yardage. The defense only benefits from an incompletion if it's 4th down or the last play of regulation.

A 4-man pass rush in these situations is the quickest way for a prevent defense to get a coach fired. The majority of offenses will keep 1 running back in to block, and spread 4 wideouts. This means the pass rush is 4 on 5, plus there's a running back waiting to pick up a free rusher. During the course of a game, a defense will occasionally collect sacks this way, but not often in an automatic passing situation from the shotgun in which the offensive line is fully in pass block mode not having to "sell" screens or traps or anything else.

A 5-man rush makes a big difference. BIG difference. The speed with which the rush reaches the QB generally makes up for the risk of using only 6 defensive backs. Patterns that need time to get downfield generally don't have enough time to get there. Sacks become very likely, and a sack for example in the Michigan game would've been a game-ender.

However, a 2-man rush makes equal if not more sense, though virtually no one tries it. With 9 men in coverage, the odds of an interception or short gain in bounds rise dramatically. The risk in conventional football would be the QB running up the middle or dumping off to an RB. Either way, in the case of the Notre Dame ending and the Dallas Cowboys' last drive Sunday, for the defense that's preferable to a pass. A running play eats up too much of the time remaining. It's often difficult for the quarterback to get all the way to the sideline.

A 2-man rush leaves offensive linemen standing around and in an "unbalanced" situation in which the defense has better than a 2-1 edge in the secondary, which is what the defense wants.

There's a further element, which is the uselessness of a linebacker in these situations. The criteria to get on the field in this situation are these: 1) He has to be a down lineman rusher, or 2) he has to be able to cover a wide receiver. Understandably, many linebackers do not possess those skills but are otherwise excellent players and often captains. If you've got, say, Ray Lewis, a lot of teams probably wouldn't pull him. But of course, they should in that situation.

Now, what about offense ... most coaches don't get this, but clearly your best option in the NFL, and often in college depending on situation, is drawing pass interference or at a minimum, the hold. You want the grab, and the grab tends to be very likely if the pass routes are executed properly. You want the receivers confronting the DBs, not looping away from them. This is most important when approaching the goal line. With 1st and goal, 4 cracks at the end zone, you will get a defensive hold somewhere if you're smart about it. Spread 4 wideouts, perhaps even 5. Send at least 3 to the corners/back of end zone, and it's almost a certainty one of the DBs (there will be 3rd and 4th CBs here, remember) will get beat and forced to grab a jersey or interfere with the pass. (Note: Michigan had so little time that defensive holding would NOT have helped, but actually would've benefitted Notre Dame, mugging the receivers at the line, taking 5 seconds off each play, moving back 5 yards at a time, assuming the passes were incomplete.)

So basically, Notre Dame had a win that was easy to seal, but 1) wasted at least one extra defender on a pass rush of no marginal benefit, 2) wasted another LB type spying on Robinson apparently to keep him to a 5-yard gain or something, and 3) somehow left the deep sideline wide open. It's almost unfathomable that this situation could've been handled any worse.

Katy Huberty goes 0-for-2
in answering questions

Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty evidently figured out that a provocative call, regardless of substance, is a good way to get on Fast Money.

Huberty told the Fast gang Tuesday that Apple is more likely than ever to do a dividend, or perhaps a buyback, basically because it's got so much money and "would bring value investors into the stock" ... and also that AAPL somehow "duels" XOM for top market-cap position and is looking for ways to bring new investors into the stock.

As if they haven't had enough reason already.

Karen Finerman once again seized the day, telling Huberty, "I still don't get, why now," and whether the cash hoard has just hit a magical "60 billion" level, and whether the company seriously cares about some (fictitious) rivalry with ExxonMobil. "Do they really care about being the biggest market cap?" Finerman asked, calling that a "fleeting crown."

All Huberty would say is that the cash "balance is much more significant" than it was a couple years ago, and that it's been saving in case of a recession; "we're hopefully not entering another one. We feel like it's time for the company to consider cash uses."

So right now is the time to write off the likelihood of a recession?


Melissa Lee then asked Huberty why she raised her price target a grand $2, from $468 to $470, which is downright laughable. Huberty responded, "Our price target is $468," and evidently NOT $470, except she then said they are "obviously cutting hairs with small changes," and that she actually thinks the company might be more likely to reach her $540 "bull case."

What in the blazes is going on here??

Stephen Weiss pointed out AAPL once had a dividend when the stock was in single digits and Steve Jobs dropped it. "I really don't see it," Weiss said.

Melissa Lee, well-versed on options, doesn’t know what Jim Iuorio is talking about, and he’s not 100% sure either

Jim Iuorio said on Tuesday's Fast Money that he sees a difference between U.S. volatility and European volatility.

"I personally would not be long the stock market in Europe and I would be long volatility," Iuorio said, explaining that European volatility seems to be underestimating the Greece/etc. outcomes.

But he said the U.S. might be considered a "safe haven" amid European turmoil, and thus, in America, "At 40, we probably wanna be selling volatility here a little bit rather than buying it."

Melissa Lee, though, did not understand exactly how Iuorio was measuring European volatility and blatantly asked him what he was talking about.

"The Eurostocks 50," Iuorio said, or 50 largest European companies. "I'm not 100% sure of that but that's what I always thought it was."

Joe Terranova confirmed to Iuorio that was correct.

Guest Michael Murphy later said, "The fear out there is that you're going to see companies in my opinion just come out with a European blowup, something out of Europe, blows everything up, and the fundamentals go out the window." But he likes ANF and CMI, which is this week's poster child about how the world hasn't really fallen apart despite the fact few other stocks are going up.

Notice he didn’t say
‘benign’ tape

Nikos Theodosopoulos said on Tuesday's Fast Money of John Chambers' presentation, "it's more convincing than it was in the past ... I do think he's uh, he's bought himself some more time here."

Guy Adami suggested Chambers resembled Joel Osteen, which Melissa Lee pronounced "Austeen," and then Adami referred to Claude Osteen.

Adami said FDX might have hit a "bit of a double-bottom ... If you like the tape, I think FedEx might be a screaming buy here." (And of course, if you like the tape, there are dozens of other stocks that should rise probably even more.)

Karen Finerman said, "One job I would not like to have right now is investor relations at Ralcorp." She also joked that Fifth Third Bank could be called "1⅔ Bank."

Karen doesn't wear her glasses because she actually gets too many compliments. Tuesday, she once again paired her fuchsia sweater curiously with orange dress, which doesn't seem like quite the perfect match. But it's eye-catching, and probably the curviest dress Finerman wears. If you had a date and the woman appeared in that type of ensemble, you'd have to think, "Hmmm ... intriguing."

Twitterer @profits66 asked the Fast gang what they think about shorting oil at $90 with Proshares UltraShort Oil & Gas. Joe Terranova said he would not short crude at $90 and added, "This is the least of the beneficial products you could use if you were going to short oil." He also reasserted to Tim Seymour that "you're gonna see WTI rise to meet Brent, not see Brent fall," and Seymour reasserted his disagreement.

Terranova: AAPL to $400
within 8 weeks

Amid a couple months of mostly all-Euro, all the time business news coverage, AAPL has actually flown a bit under the radar. Tuesday on the Fast Money Halftime Report, Joe Terranova basically assured viewers they will make short-term money on the stock.

"This is a stock that's gonna be north of $400 in the next 6 to 8 weeks," Terranova claimed.

Terranova also insisted that the stock has a built-in floor because in the event it falls in "riotous fashion," the company will just buy back the shares, though we doubt that would bring it past $400 if the situation occurred.

While Steve Cortes admitted he bungled some shorts of AAPL, he said initiating a dividend would be the "responsible thing to do." But Brian Kelly said "I just don't see it," and Patty Edwards said a dividend would mean the company has entered the "comfortable shoes and old-sweater stage of life."

SocGen CEO delivered
basically a non-event

Guest Win Thin made some eloquent statements on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report about the European situation that implied why it's such a problem, because nobody's really sure what's going to happen and the unknown unknowns (or whatever they're supposed to be called) are simply too great.

Joe Terranova complained about this analysis, telling Thin, "You're talking in a lot of generalities here," and demanded to know what exactly would have to happen to push the S&P below 1,100. Thin said "any sort of hard restructuring" would "kill the balance sheets of the European banking sector," and then we're back to the unknown knowns or known unknowns again.

Brian Kelly said one trade he spied was an upswing in the currency because of Chinese interest perhaps in relation to the yuan; "I bought some euro on this." Steve Cortes said the "consensus" is now a euro short and the trade is way too crowded and so "I did take all profits on that position today," but would "gladly short it again if it bounces."

Cortes dismissed Angela Merkel's claim that all Europe needs is time; "I think she lives in la-la land" and that there's a sense of "inevitability" about whatever is to happen.

At least we managed an entire episode without someone calling it a ‘showroom for Amazon’ (we think)

Simon Hobbs and Jon Fortt aired some footage of John Chambers making a bizarre almost schoolroom-like presentation, and Hobbs noted, "There wasn't a huge amount of eye contact."

Patty Edwards said "unfortunately I'm not" a Chambers fan, and though she's not from Missouri (now that'd be a tough call, would someone rather be a Seahawks fan or a Rams fan? We'd probably take the Rams right now), Edwards demonstrated expertise in state slogans, saying, "I need him to show me that he's got this thing going again."

Best Buy came up, as it did on The Strategy Session, and Brian Sozzi said "I think it's a Best Sell at this point .. they need to close stores … go leaner." Sozzi took a question from Patty Edwards about sales per square foot and agreed "small stores make great sense in this environment" but that BBY doesn't seem that committed to the concept. As for retail in general, "I personally continue to be underweight," Sozzi said.

Cortes shorts corn

The Fast Money Halftime gang on Tuesday was quick to shrug off the impressive Cummins outlook. "This is stock specific," said Joe Terranova, adding, "Own Joy Global."

Steve Cortes said "In general, I want to avoid industrials." Patty Edwards claimed "I run a multi-factor model" and that industrials are "screening very well," but it's mostly for the dividends and the fact they've been so beaten down, and so the "most you would do in that area is nibble." But Edwards suggested looking at LECO and CBI.

Steve Cortes said "I don't like commodities here at all … I'm short corn and short crude." Patty Edwards said, "I am actually long some of the fertilizer stocks."

Wonder if Erin Callan has anything to add to this conversation

While Gary Kaminsky and David Faber entertained an interesting little conversation on Tuesday's Strategy Session as to whether troubled banks should publicly respond to the rumors, guest John Raymond suggested maybe the onus is really on somebody else — the governments.

Raymond said that to establish calm in Europe, politicians need to "say the right thing" and "make people feel better" about Spain and Italy.

And what exactly is the "right thing" in this situation? Having Hank Paulson say Lehman and AIG look good? Oh man. Gary Kaminsky just earlier on the show said SocGen doesn't have the greatest track record in understanding its own exposures, and thus the CEO's interview shouldn't inspire a whole lot of confidence, and if the bank itself isn't really sure, how in the world can the governments be?

Even more dubious, Raymond indicated that Christine LaGarde was apparently misunderstood and wasn't saying there's a 200 billion-euro hole … but evidently if governments said the "right things" there wouldn't be these kinds of interpretations.

Kaminsky and Faber agreed it's "debatable" whether banks should tackle the rumors, but Kaminsky said that if the management is comfortable in its knowledge of what it has, then "doing nothing is the right strategy."

Raymond said, apparently in regard to BNP but perhaps he was referring to SocGen, that talking apparently worked, and "their strategy seems to have paid off."

It doesn’t look good
for Best Buy

Best Buy's future is one of those CNBC conversation topics that has gained momentum in the last year and figures to be a popular topic for the next year too.

David Faber on Tuesday's Strategy Session even referred to the company as "on the ropes," which Herb Greenberg couldn't disagree with.

Greenberg said margins are the problem and TVs are slow, and that the company insists that we're in a hybrid world where not everything is going to be all-digital or all-physical.

Gary Kaminsky said consumer electronics over the long term has always been a "terrible investment" anyway because no matter what the sales staff may be like, that business "is always about price."

Mary Thompson sighting

Elliot Weissbluth on Tuesday's Strategy Session made it clear to any Wall Streeters thinking about joining his firm not to sweat the litigation stuff.

"It's more of a nuisance than anything else," Weissbluth said, explaining his firm handles all the lawyers and costs, etc. Gary Kaminsky said there's a "cottage industry" of lawyers who work on these cases, which actually sounds like a pretty good derivative trade on this segment.

Kaminsky asked Weissbluth what the wirehouses offer that he doesn't. "Effectively nothing," Weissbluth said, asserting that his firm isn't locked into the "ecosystem" of product choice all under the same wirehouse umbrella.

As for compensation, "You get paid off the earnings that you generate to the partnership," Weissbluth said, which probably sounds better than "BAC stock." He said the biggest group of recruits he failed to land did not prefer the wirehouse model instead but in fact "are still planning on leaving" but are more interested in starting their own businesses.

Weissbluth made clear he's not waging a battle with the wirehouses or at least doesn't want to be seen as doing so. "I think everybody can gain," he said, from firms like his.

Mary Thompson, Prettiest Hair on Cable Television, briefly was on The Strategy Session Tuesday to report on Jes Staley's conference report of JPMorgan investment banking outlook, which was a little light. Thompson, in royal blue with notably a white Mandy-style watch, said that across the board banks have been rather silent about forecasts and that we "haven't heard anything specific on the 4th quarter yet."

Gary Kaminsky and David Faber pointed out how many managers Magellan has gone through since Peter Lynch. Brian Shactman trumpeted the Patriots' victory Monday.

[Monday, September 12, 2011]

Expect ‘a ton’ of movement in DB

It's time to play a little of that game called "concentration" based on some of Dan Nathan's commentary on Monday's Fast Money.

Nathan's options colleague Scott Nations had just been explaining that "option traders expect Deutsche Bank to move a ton. A ton," when Nathan took a question from Tim Seymour about whether there's as much upside potential as downward for playing bank moves.

Let's break down Nathan's answer into 4 parts. 1) "I think you get a lot more bang for your buck to the upside," then 2) "I don't think these things just turn on a dime," then 3) "We will have a capitulative bottom," and finally referring to Goldman Sachs 4), "They just don't kinda work their way down from 120 to 100, and then V-back to 140."

If we didn't know any better, we'd have to say that answers 1) and 3) go together in the same thesis, while answers 2) and 4) go together in another thesis.

But they don't really all seem to go together in the same thesis, unless Nathan is suggesting that a long slog in financials even after the capitulative bottom is how you get the most bang for your buck.

But we can't figure out what Tony Romo was thinking Sunday either, so there are many things we don't understand.


Cheryl Ladd sang National Anthem at Super Bowl XIV

Joe Terranova was somehow suggesting on Monday's Fast Money that Tim Seymour had posters of Morgan Fairchild in his room (and the next guy we learn of who had a poster of Morgan Fairchild on his wall will be the first) when Seymour corrected him to say "Cheryl Ladd ... if you must know."

Our question: Is Willem Dafoe better at trading stocks than Tim Seymour is at acting?

So this is Brian Moynihan’s strategy for keeping all the bases covered

Melissa Lee reported on Monday's Fast Money that Mary Ann Bartels of Bank of America Merrill Lynch is "saying the S&P could fall another 20% from where we are right now .. her target is in the 900s."

But Lee also pointed out that Bank of America Merrill Lynch equity strategist David Bianco raised his 12-month S&P forecast to 1,450, prompting Guy Adami to assure, "and they both could be right."

And, they both could be wrong.

Carter Worth continues to pin a lot of professional pride on this 1,101 level

Carter Worth, unlike Mary Ann Bartels, doesn't seem to see any fibonacci problems with the S&P 500 chart.

"We're in the camp that 950 is not in the cards, at least not this year anyway," Worth said, largely because no sector "has violated that August 9th low."

Worth also said he thinks the selling in financials is starting to "abate."

The Steelers would love to have another 2008 all over again. As well as a 1974.

For a moment on Monday, it almost sounded like Larry McDonald had been reading this page's recent post on the S&P post-Lehman bankruptcy.

Melissa Lee, in one of her top outfits of the year, a dark olive dress (it was the collar and cut and layering that impressed the most) with lizard belt, asked McDonald if it's "off-base" to make comparisons of today's SocGen with the 2007/08 versions of Bear or Lehman.

McDonald didn't quite answer the question at first, saying in 2008 there were "bad assets on bank balance sheets" namely in real estate, before drawing a non-parallel about how they also had "tons and tons of government bonds on their balance sheet" just as they do now, and that there could be "pain" from that.

"So what does that mean Larry," asked Lee, just as confused as we were.

McDonald then pointed to the "alphabet" rescues of 2008, TARP, TALF, etc. and said, "We're probably going into a season just like that again" featuring "massive government-induced rallies." "I think you can trade these markets," McDonald said.

Well, you can trade any market, we know that much. The gut reaction here is that those "massive" government rallies in 2008 tended to be very short in duration, and over time the shorts gradually won until early 2009.

But McDonald is correct in suggesting, as we noted with Lehman over the weekend, that you could actually see stocks higher days after a cataclysmic event.

McDonald seemed not entirely convinced that we've bottomed for the year. "Europe could take the U.S. into a double dip," he said, saying political offices might be on the line and it's in their interests to fix this if possible; "they don't need a bazooka, I mean they need a stinger missile."

Wonder if Kim Kardashian shops at Best Buy, or just has her ‘people’ buy her stuff on Amazon

Melissa Lee made the startling revelation on Monday's Fast Money that she looks over merchandise at Best Buy and then buys it elsewhere.

"That's what I do," Lee acknowledged, before insisting she doesn't bother salespeople and waste their time. "No I try not to use anybody ... because I feel guilty," she said.

Tim Seymour said there's a problem that's bigger than Best Buy and to watch out for the "falloff in the electronics component of people like Wal-Mart and Target."

Guy Adami said he wears men's Lululemon and Spanx, and then he and Tim Seymour did a painful go-round on who sits in front of the class on Money in Motion, whose musical score should be nominated for an Emmy.

Seymour at one point took a dig at Steve Grasso. "Nobody loves his own material more than Steve," Seymour said. But nobody laughs at other people's material more than Pete Najarian.

Seymour: F a value trap

It must've been a long weekend with a lot of football-watching, because the Fast Money gang on Monday was as lukewarm as the stock market.

Jon Najarian reiterated his deadly accurate S&P 500 bounce call at 1,136 impressively with no Brag Trade this time, noting, "We just couldn't burst through there." Joe Terranova said, "I think there's upside potential here, for shorts alone, to get squeezed out." (We're not sure how any non-short can get "squeezed out" by a move up. But whatever.) But Guy Adami insisted "I still favor the downside."

Tim Seymour said he didn't think the China-Italy news/rumor was enough to sustain the markets through Tuesday. Dan Nathan was about as silent during the program as the Kansas City Chiefs offense on Sunday.

Guy Adami said gold may have $35-$50 more to fall, but he doesn't think it's a double top because the tops are too close together, and he thinks the gold trend continues to be higher. "I don't think anything's changed," he said.

Todd Gordon said he'd go short euro/dollar at 1.37, with a stop at 1.39 and ride it to 1.32, which he said should take "probably 1 week" to reach.

Jon Najarian said he was playing WYNN and sees casino strength not only in Macau but even Vegas. "We can talk ourselves into a recession but we are not there yet," Najarian said.

Tim Seymour agreed with a Twitter suggestion from @smarterthanu101 that Ford might not be a buy. "I think here, value trap. You're right," Seymour said. @smarterthanu101 noticeably avoided any gloating at getting his/her question read.

Dr. J jacks one
out of the park

What Jon Najarian did on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report was equivalent to calling the precise score of the Jets-Cowboys game.

Najarian said Friday that if the S&P nears or touches 1,136, he'd want to buy, because the lows are in for the year.

Monday, the S&P bottomed at … unbelievably … 1,136.07. And then climbed.

The bottoming hadn't happened when Najarian appeared on Monday's Halftime Report, and so he barely got to discuss it until reaffirming his belief during the Call the Close. No Brag Trade in the slightest. (Although … gulp ... chances are we could get one of those on Monday's Fast Money or on Tuesday.)

Steve Grasso returned to the Halftime set Monday and made a similar call, but with an 1,140 level.

At the moment it's not a whole lot of money gained or saved. We won't know for several days, but if the S&P does in fact power past 1,200 and continue higher into the fall — that feels unlikely now as many of the panelists say, but you never know — Najarian's prediction will be a contender for top 5 Fast Money calls of the year.

Maybe selling another stake to Buffett would inspire confidence in the shares like BAC got?

The way Stephen Weiss has been going in the last week or so, you'd almost think he wants to break the Tim Seymour words-per-minute record on Fast Money.

Unfortunately, on Monday, Weiss unloaded this knee-slapper about BAC: "I think Moynihan is finally showing that he's got the strength that he had all along," Weiss said, calling him the "most maligned, unjustifiably" of the bank CEOs and asserting it's time BAC cuts the fat, "there are lots of costs to cut."

Nevertheless, Weiss isn't a fan of the banking sector, saying GS trading below $100 "tells you you don't want to own them."

Steve Grasso said even the supposedly defensive banks aren't appealing; "there's no place to hide here" and so this is not just a Goldman Sachs call. Jon Najarian said "I'm not looking for outperformance out of this sector," and Patty Edwards said she's "still not yet" interested in banks.

Rob Cox, though, was brought back to reassert his case for a breakup of Goldman Sachs and all the gushing value that will rain down on the shareholders (OK maybe that's a bit harsh). "I have a strong conviction that it's a highly undervalued stock," Cox said, and to him it's "really hard to see why it's below a hundred dollars," praising how it marks its assets which he said is verified by an insider he knows at the Fed who "does not have a beard."

Stephen Weiss insisted that Goldman Sachs would actually be more likely to go private than break up, to which Cox openly expressed disbelief.

Patty Edwards said the flattening yield curve poses a big problem for banks, "you still have no way to make money" that way.

The ratings agency equivalent
of the Brag Trade

Dennis Gartman got his cliche a bit tangled Monday on the Fast Money Halftime Report, saying as far as Greece default goes, "it is a matter of ifs, not when."

"You mean a matter of when not if," chuckled Judge Scott Wapner, who continues to put together some tightly crisp programs amid some extremely volatile markets.

Gartman called for 1.25 on the euro by year-end and maybe ultimately par, while Stephen Weiss went a lot further, saying par within 6 to 12 months.

Patty Edwards and the rest of the panel said to be careful of names with European exposure, with Edwards singling out ANF.

Judge Wapner dodged an embarrassment bullet when he unfortunately asked Gartman why gold is selling, but thankfully, this time Dennis claimed it was only margin calls on equities, and that people were selling gold because it's a place where "you can find liquidity."

Edwards said comp-store sales at BBY are key, but so is the sale of big-ticket items because the small gadgets can be sold anywhere. Edwards asserted that GLW is cheap, in fact, "I've had a couple of people even point that out to me this morning on Twitter," but be careful with that if TVs aren't selling so well.

Judge asked occasional guest Sean Egan if he would downgrade French banks today, and somehow we knew exactly what Egan was going to say before he said it. "We did downgrade them before," Egan said.


Egan said French banks can absorb sovereign debt losses only to a limited extent. "Greek alone, yes, but we think it's going to extend beyond Greece," he said. "It's not very pretty."

A vote of confidence
in the Fed

Count Eric Pellicciaro among those who think the U.S. economy might actually be going the right direction.

"The U.S. is stabilizing," Pellicciaro said on Monday's Strategy Session, with a bad scenario already priced in, and "the onus is on Europe to continue to get worse."

(Honestly, that doesn't sound like a huge onus, it's almost like saying the onus is on the Steelers to get worse, but we're just the amateurs here.)

"The truth is, Bernanke was very preemptive," Pellicciario said, claiming the Fed actually did a "decent job" of dropping mortgage rates and thus, "we're starting to see a little bit of refinancing activity percolate."

While he didn't predict an exodus in the Treasury market, Pellicciaro said attractive yield can now be found in the credit markets, which are showing some "good valuations."

Thankfully nobody said ‘kicking the can down the road’

Daniel Alpert on Monday's Strategy Session defined the Greece situation this way: "Either it's going to be 1 more level of pushing things down the road for 3 months, or we're going to accelerate it."

And how exciting was your weekend?

"It's not a 3-month scenario, it's a week-by-week scenario," Alpert said.

Kate Kelly said among Wall Street, "there is a pretty solid expectation of a Greek default event," but everyone on Monday's panel seemed to agree that the real story is the contagion or perhaps lack thereof. Jens Nordvig says it's a question of "what happens around the much bigger countries" and that Italy, for example, is in the "Too big to fail" category. Alpert pointed out that "Spain is more like the United States" in terms of its specific type of debt problem, but regardless, "Eventually I see the euro much lower than it is right now."

Sexy Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (who sat in briefly for Gary Kaminsky, who undoubtedly enjoyed the Jets game Sunday night) and wore fetching purple, pointed out that in Greece, "they haven't laid off 1 government worker in 2 years of crisis," and that amid all of the protestations of not defaulting, "yesterday Greece blinked."

How the S&P 500 reacted
to Lehman Brothers’ demise

The word "2008" is getting a lot of airtime on CNBC recently, and so is a related word: "Lehman."

So naturally, we wondered, how exactly did the stock market react to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers?

Honestly, we couldn't remember. Presumably, it had to be pretty bad.

Actually, no.

We checked both Google finance and Yahoo finance to make sure we weren't getting loopy and reading the wrong column or ticker symbol or something (that can happen after a bunch of y'inz Jagovs mail in a big game in Baltimore).

Here are the closes:

Friday, Sept. 12, 2008 — 1,251.69
(Lehman files for bankruptcy)
Monday, Sept. 15, 2008 — 1,192.69 (-59.00)
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008 — 1,213.60 (+20.91)
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008 — 1,156.39 (-57.21)
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008 — 1,206.51 (+50.12)
Friday, Sept. 19, 2008 — 1,255.07 (+48.56)

Note in particular those last 2 days.

Had you remained long through that terrible weekend, you still could've exited with a profit a week later.

Those gains were the result of the still-murky-at-that-point bank rescue plan proposed by Hank Paulson that would purportedly involve buying mortgage assets. CNN described the 2-day rally this way:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks rallied Friday, with the Dow rising 369 points, as the government's plan to help rescue banks from toxic mortgage debt soothed investors at the end of a gut-churning week on Wall Street.

Treasury prices plunged and gold prices tumbled as investors bailed out of safe-haven plays and poured money into equities, reversing the flight-to-safety trend of earlier in the week. ... Including Thursday's big rally, the Dow's two-session advance was 779 points, the biggest since March 2000, according to Dow Jones.

That tumultuous week also included the government's decision to bail out AIG, which, if memory serves, one C. Gasparino used to trumpet as his scoop.

Of course, there's far more to this story. A week later, the S&P closed Friday at 1,213.27. And a week after that, it was down to 1,099.23. A week later, on that notorious Oct. 10, 899.22. (It then rallied 100 points the following Monday.)

So, as they used to say at the end of The Strategy Session, what have we learned today?

That in times of major upheaval among the financials, 1) Expect governments to react; 2) Expect extremely volatile daily moves as these governments make decisions on the fly; and 3) You can make money long or short when such an event happens, and lose money as well, even when you've possibly experienced a massively good/bad day on either side.

Important things

This site has been around since 2008, reviewing CNBC programs, observing stocks and the general/business news media, attempting to somehow be relevant and hopefully having a little fun.

There has always been an awareness here that some of the visitors who have found this site were at Ground Zero that day. Or certainly knew many people who were. Or were maybe even at the Pentagon or knew people there as well. Or knew the airline passengers or employees.

This weekend is about those people who aren't here, who could no longer be with their spouses, attend their kids' birthday parties or take them to ballgames, hang out with friends, get a promotion, get married, have a child, retire, or anything else we tend to take for granted, because history called them to the front lines in an instantaneous defense of our values.

Be safe. And thanks for giving this site a chance to share something, about stocks, CNBC, Wall Street, economics, pop culture, however insignificant it all may seem against the events of that day.

[Friday, September 9, 2011]

The first argument he made for rising house prices is that a bunch of people think they will rise

Fast Money Halftime guest Joel Prakken said Friday that the purported "Twist" by the Fed "certainly is not an immediate panacea," and that the first step to righting the economy is to "work our way through the excess in housing."

Patty Edwards articulated an interesting question, that it's really hard to imagine mortgage rates getting any lower, and given the inevitable rise, "Wouldn't you agree that housing prices have to continue to fall?"

"Not necessarily," Prakken said, saying Robert Shiller's group consensus is that housing prices could begin rising as early as next year, which was weak enough, but then said there are things the government could do such as Barack Obama intimated Thursday, maybe "facilitate refinancings ... that could delay or avoid a large number of foreclosures" and "break the downward spiral."

So he says prices could rise because 1) observers say they can, and 2) there could be more refinancings, which have nothing to do with buying a new home.

Or in other words, he never answered the question.

Dr. J: ‘I still think that we’ve seen the lows for the year’

3 comments from Dr. J on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report are worth a little scrutiny.

One was, "The president himself offered up a plan, wasn't a jobs plan, not in my mind, and it was not offered enthusiastically and with optimism."

Another was regarding a long S&P position, "I would buy a put spread ... sell some upside calls against it ... that's if I have a long portfolio right now, which thankfully I don't."

(Yes. "Thankfully." Sort of a double-negative Brag Trade.)

Finally, Najarian Called the Close insisting, "I still think that we've seen the lows for the year Judge," and that if the S&P gets to 1,136, he'd be buying.

So to summarize, 1) he thinks government's current political football is a bust, 2) he's "thankful" he's not long the S&P, but 3) he's nevertheless convinced the S&P is going no lower than 1,136, which, given that's only 18 points away, doesn't sound like right now's a bad situation to be long, but whatever.

Brian Kelly suggested people look to the SDS. "I think you have a real good chance to still get short this market," Kelly said.

Peter Misek said there's a big transition to mobile Web browsing (not exactly a new theme there) and that Apple "is gonna clearly be a big beneficiary."

Misek also touted Motorola Solutions, which he said is "really a play on security."

Nothing like having a guest recommend the opposite trade of what you have on

No sector of investing seems more "binary" than currency trading, so it was amusing to see Brian Kelly run head-first into Camilla Sutton's yen trade on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"Dollar/yen's probably your best short," Sutton said.

"I'm actually long the dollar/yen," Kelly admitted, pointing to Japan's debt level and wondering, "Why wouldn't they be next."

Sutton shrugged that off by agreeing with the thesis long-term, but in the short term, "luckily enough, they've got a huge bond market," which is the liquidity that the risk-off people will rush for.

Is the euro rout
fear ... or greed?

One thing everyone on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report seemed unanimous on was the short-term decline of the euro.

Steve Cortes dialed in to say what's happened just recently is a "mammoth, historic type move," and "I believe there is more to come."

Pete Najarian said "I actually jumped into the EUO yesterday" and said he thinks that could continue to rise into the $20s and is preferable in his opinion to the UUP.

Patty Edwards revealed, "I had been long the Canadian dollar ... I got stopped out on that one this morning." Edwards prescribed, "You are either long the dollar, or you're long gold."

Brian Kelly said what Jim Rogers basically said earlier on The Strategy Session (see below), "It looks like it's only a matter of time for Greece, which ultimately, ultimately in the long run, will be a good thing for the euro."

Jim Rogers: Bernanke ‘lying’

Jim Rogers can be a polarizing CNBC guest, prone to provocative statements and declarations of disaster for this and that.

But Friday's Strategy Session enjoyed a healthy, mostly conventional conversation about the state of trouble in Europe and elsewhere, despite the fact Rogers' sound was out of sync with the televised image from Paris.

"Crises usually happen in the fall," Rogers said, a point which may be true though if so we have no idea why. "The good news would be if Greek would/did (sic) go bankrupt, if you ask me."

Bob Pisani noted Rogers opened his remarks by saying maybe "it's time" and asked Rogers exactly what he means it's time for.

"It's time for people to acknowledge reality and if you're bankrupt, go bankrupt," Rogers said.

Rogers said short-term, the euro's in trouble, but if there is a big kerplunk, "I would buy all the euro I could at that point," because reality and transparency would emerge.

"I own some euros," Rogers said, adding he's long precious metals and agriculture but is short stocks. He said the long-term dollar forecast is "disaster" and "catastrophe."

The only time Rogers stepped beyond the bounds of a subject that CNBC hosts would willingly entertain was at the end when he claimed "Bernanke's been lying to us again," saying the Fed chairman is not upfront about lower-rate machinations. "How's he gonna do that? You can't just say the words. You have to go into the market and force interest rates down. I mean come on, what is this, do you believe in the tooth fairy?"

Greece unlikely to end this time with ‘You’re the one that I want’

Gary Kaminsky wasn't on Friday's Strategy Session, but Michelle Caruso-Cabrera sure was.

And as a result, we have no problem clipping the screen grab above from The Call that shows Tyler Mathisen in one of the most envious seating arrangements one could have (aside from, say, having MCC, Mandy, Jane Wells and either Nicole Lapin or Trish Regan, who no longer work for CNBC, at the table) to show off supersexy MCC, who wore striking red with generous rounded collar, in animated pose, even though we know it's not like really a smiling picture or anything.

Around here, we're all about happy news.

Caruso-Cabrera delivered an authoritative-as-heck summary of the Greece situation, saying that 3 pegs of the plan — privatization, fiscal austerity, private sector involvement — are now "off track."

"They could come out and say 'We need more aggressive private sector participation'," MCC said.

Peter Boockvar said of Greece, "Their economy seems to be freezing up," and that it's an "unfortunate rational response to the downside."

David Faber asked Boockvar is we're nearing "some kind of an endpoint" for Greece's trouble. "I think that endpoint possibly comes next week, or at the latest, the week after," Boockvar said.

Faber and Bob Pisani, hosting from the floor of the NYSE, delivered an impressively solemn, low-key tribute to the financial center for the approaching 9/11 anniversary.

[Thursday, September 8, 2011]

If Maria Bartiromo entered the race for president, could she win the Republican nomination?

It's always amusing to hear a Fast Money newcomer take the wheel of the show and see how well he/she "gets" the terminology, inside jokes, etc., particularly when it's CNBC Queen Maria Bartiromo.

What we learned from Thursday evening is that for Maria, the Halftime Report evidently isn't must-see TV.

Stephen Weiss and Patty Edwards were called upon to deliver a prime time stock-market response to the president's address (which undoubtedly interrupted their football viewing and should be grounds for a bonus), although we're not certain why, given that Judge Wapner was unable to make a connection and the sum total of airtime for both was about 45 seconds (if that).

Anyway, Weiss said 2 startling things actually, that Obama's speech was "more socialism than promoting entrepreneurship," and then, lacking any qualifier, "I think the market goes to new lows, ultimately, and sooner rather than later," though we'll take the liberty of guessing he means "lows" for the year and not beneath that 2009 666 thing.

But we were even more intrigued by Bartiromo's odd formalities in twice calling Edwards "Patricia," although, scrappy as always, she impressively tackled Patty's comment and took it a step further by demanding something that is rarely demanded of Fast Money pundits, whether the comment they're making is already priced in, except the problem here was that 1) she didn't give Patty a chance to respond, and 2) she implied that Patty's keep-doing-what-you've-been-doing was an ongoing bullish call when it hasn't been.

Regardless, it certainly makes one wonder what Bartiromo could do to Dennis Gartman's gold merry-go-round and Tim Seymour's opening monologue and suggests she should be scheduled to do a week on Fast Money, provided that's not beneath the "Do you know where your money is" stature she now enjoys.

(After all, isn't it time for someone this talented (and yes we do honestly think she is very talented) to be able to boast a more impressive resume-topper than the 17-years-running first-reporter-to-broadcast-from-the-NYSE-floor tag that is still the first way she describes her professional self??)

(For example, why doesn't she run for office? There seems to be dissatisfaction with the Republican field.)

("First journalist to report live from the floor of the NYSE who gets to say 'It's 4 o'clock on Wall Street, do you know where your money is'." Versus, "first woman president of the United States.")

Meanwhile, the president's speech has "not changed much of anything," said "Patricia."

Weiss said the best part about it for stocks was that it was leaked well in advance and thus there were "no surprises."

Edwards, for what it's worth, conducted a very eloquent and impressive anti-socialism Twitter thread Thursday. (But how can anyone think the defensive stink-fest on Thursday night qualified as anything near AAA-quality pro football?)


Va. Va. Voom.

We were all set, for about the 4th day in a row, to declare Karen Finerman the winner of the Fast Money best-dressed contest on Thursday.

And then we got a load of Jane Wells near the end of the program.

Karen, see, was wearing this edge-of-the-envelope sleeveless blue ensemble (it might be hard to detect the nuances from this page's Stone Age-caliber photo imaging) that fades from navy to royal from the right shoulder to left and cost in our estimated opinion about fifty-three hundred dollars.

Jane, though, knocked one out of the park not only with an (estimated) three hundred, eighty-five-dollar green sweater, but exquisite necklace, capping it all off with a new tinted hairstyle.

Guy Adami, proving he gets it, merely gushed at the end of Wells' impressive report, "I love Jane's hair."

Then, after Mel Lee balked and said Guy was ignoring Jane's "fantastic report," Adami noted, "I'm only human."

Wells joked that it's "million-dollar hair, baby," but we know it didn't cost quite that much, unless she got it from Warren Beatty in "Shampoo," despite the fact it looks great.

This page likes throwing compliments around and being nice, what can we say.

Melissa was right — Jane did have a fantastic report

During her actual report, from a job-search center of some kind, Wells suggested, using some pretty good Spanish ("uno momento mi amigo"), that people probably overrate the percentage of grunt work being done by immigrants, presenting a chart showing this percentage of American-born participation in sectors:

55% of maids
58% taxi drivers
65% grounds maintenance
75% janitors

We don't doubt them, because most places in the country don't have a lot of immigrants, unlike the big cities, in which those jobs are overwhelmingly filled by immigrants.

Wells rattled off 3 theories on the impact of 99 weeks of unemployment, with one study finding it will create 200,000 jobs in 2012 ("figure the logic on that," Wells said) and another finding that it has added 0.5% points to the overall jobless number.

Wells also produced a brief interview clip with none other than Aileen Markowsky, who unfortunately doesn't get paid per tweet but does get a lot of responses apparently from using a certain job-search system, though we couldn't quite figure out the significance of that part of the report other than to alert the world that Markowsky has framing credentials and that she has heard from Goodyear Tire and Apple.

Herb Greenberg has no
answers for Best Buy

It's this page's opinion that one of the most fascinating business stories of the year has been the crumble in Best Buy, which may not be as talked-about on Wall Street as WMT is but certainly is (if not more) in people's living rooms.

There's no question this chain got too complacent years ago and figured it could offend customers to no end with obnoxious warranty sales pitches and outrageous requests for phone numbers/ZIP codes at the checkout lines, while generally offering only lowest-common-denominator help via uninterested and uninformed sales associates.

Anyway, Greenberg sort of scoffed at its new online marketplace initiative, prompting Karen Finerman to wonder whether it isn't an "interesting way to capture some revenue" and something the company should be trying to do as it fights a bad emerging trend.

"I don't know what you do," said Greenberg, claiming the company seems "confused" in its strategy while admitting that David Einhorn, whom he respects, is excited about the name but in Greenberg's opinion is "probably wrong here."

Melissa Lee was compelled to chime in with this one, saying, "I always go back to the, uh, Barnes & Noble, sort of, model," in which people browse but buy online. But at least when you buy at Amazon, you don't have to tell a saleskid "No, I don't want a $10 3-year cleaning/warranty on this $20 landline phone I'm buying."

Joe Terranova said despite the pessimism, "Looks like Best Buy has bottomed somewhere around $23 ... you don't play it anymore from the short side, you play it from the long side."

Isn’t it curious that Melissa didn’t say a word about the Republican debate?

Ed Mills, one of a handful of political watchers who is asked to guest occasionally on Fast Money, actually called Barack Obama's Thursday speech the "unofficial launch" of Obama 2012 while unnecessarily breaking down a simple segment into 3 woulda-coulda-shoulda categories.

Melissa Lee, who was seen with arms crossed several times Thursday, wore a noticeable scowl before asking Mills if chiding Republicans and offering these few goodies, "Does that get him re-elected?"

"That's the hope," Mills said, and oh gosh, have we been through hope and change before.

Mills went through the list of expected speech topics but admitted, "Quite frankly, if there was a silver bullet, it already would've been fired."

We can't even fathom why this speech is being made or why whatever initiative is being announced is actually being announced; if the problem is the August stock market, then just tell the Fed to buy S&P futures.

What's more, we can't figure out the applause in the chamber as the Cabinet and other dignitaries were announced. Apparently they're given massive credit just for showing up. As if it was people applauding the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 of last season.

Mel concluded that if Barack Obama's 2012 launch strategy is to make Republicans look bad, it "doesn't seem like a good one."

Dan Dicker predicts
$35 Brent-WTI spread

Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money called Rick Sherlund the Catfish Hunter of analysts, a joke the entire panel tried to milk too far, including Tim Seymour, who tried to impress the chicks with background info on Rollie Fingers' handlebar mustache and Hunter being one of the early big-name free agents to sign with the Yankees.

Meanwhile, Karen Finerman said the notion of ORCL buying HPQ "seems farfetched to me."

Finerman expertly pinned down Tim Seymour on his contention that Trichet spooked the markets with whatever he said about rate hikes not happening, asking if Seymour was honestly surprised to hear that. Seymour said the bluntness, tell-it-like-it-is nature (see, we just singled out Howard Cosell earlier Thursday) of the remarks did reverberate in the markets.

Guy Adami said people will have a chance to buy TXN "below 25." Melissa Lee kept her arms noticeably crossed while JJ Kinahan talked about MSFT and CSCO options.

Jim Caron said what the Fed is doing is more "torque" than "twist," saying credit spreads have widened since QE2 ended and that the plan, "effectively it still is, is a flattening."

Dan Dicker said he's predicting a "ridiculous" $35 Brent-WTI spread because it's now $26 and not too long ago people would've found that equally ridiculous. He also mentioned APA as well as some other oil-service names based on valuation, even though, "My worst trade of the year has been Apache."

Mel Lee, who at least twice used airquotes, showed Daryl Hannah making a "Splash" while getting arrested (the screen graphics gremlins spelled it "DARRYL" by the way), prompting Tim Seymour to assert, "She peaked in 'Wall Street I'," a movie title that does not actually exist. (But if you ever look at Hannah's right side on the original "Wall Street" poster, from close up (this image above again doesn't quite do it justice), oh man, there is some absolutely pure beauty there no question...)

Pop Culture Great Moments:
Howard Cosell and the
Halftime Highlights

Few persons in the history of media have proved as polarizing as Howard Cosell.

On the night of the NFL season opener, this page salutes perhaps Cosell's greatest contribution to football-watching: The "Halftime Highlights" of "Monday Night Football."

Pro football, a TV gold mine from the late 1950s, is a great example of even very smart people underestimating the potential of a dynamite product (and in fact, in some ways, it continues to be underestimated). So somehow there was little to no prime time football until 1970, when ABC launched the "Monday Night" series, and with it came a partnership between Cosell and NFL Films that remains unmatched to this day.

Cosell would cull about 4 or 5 games from the previous Sunday, with the films — not video — rushed overnight by Steve Sabol's crew, and narrate the most spectacular 30-second descriptions of key games, sometimes with plays in slow motion, always with the off-the-field backstory and pop culture ramifications that made Cosell a legend ... "Joe Namath, with knees he can barely stand on" ... "James Harris, the prodigious and ground-breaking black quarterback of the Rams" ... "the running back, who finally reported after a contract stalemate that divided the locker room though they deny it, taking a screen pass in for a score ..."

It ran only a few minutes, and didn't include every game.

But today's "SportsCenter" and NFL Network roundups aren't in the same league.

Howard, there'll never be another.

Goldman Sachs called
‘awesome breakup candidate’

The end of Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report was more entertaining than the rest of the show, with Stephen Weiss criticizing Rob Cox's call that "Goldman Sachs is an, is an awesome breakup candidate."

"I don't think there's a chance of that happening," said Weiss, who stressed several times that the businesses are all interconnected, so it would seem more of a whole rather than sum-of-the-parts situation. Cox protested that government regulation won't allow some of that overlap anyway. Weiss said Cox doesn't fully get how it works because he's not inside there.

Zach Karabell agreed with Weiss, as do we, and made a good market point, that normally companies spin off when the market seems to call for unlocking value, and in this case, such a move by this company at this time would probably (in our terminology, not Karabell's) be like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater whether there's a fire or not.

Oddly enough, Judge Scott Wapner tried to call on Karabell early in the show, but the connection was down, so Weiss volunteered to go, saying, "Our hair's the same texture so I'll put an earring in and you can pretend I'm Zeke for a bit."

Guy Adami said at one point, "I love Zeke and I love his wand."

Benign tape:
The story of Guy Adami

George Gero said on Thursday's Halftime Report that gold is in a volatility binge and would go "probably more up than down."

Brian Kelly questioned what else has gold got left to go up. Gero pointed to the Fed's statement about interest rates through 2013.

Zach Karabell said a bullish gold call is like an "embedded short call on equities" and asked Gero if it's possible gold and equities can rise together. "Yes," Gero said.

Unrelated to that, Guy Adami said at one point, "I don't have the, uh, the intelligence, nor the lack of humor to be an economist."

Adami said Valero is worth a look if it gets above $24.5 or $25, and then we got a now-rare "benign tape" reference, saying if that happens, "I think Yahoo is a very interesting buy here."

Stephen Weiss insisted "the global economy is slowing."

Zachary Karabell said if you buy MSFT, "You're not gonna get burned, but you're also not gonna achieve a whole lot."

Judge Wapner said "chompin' at the bit" rather than "champing" in regard to Brian Kelly. Stephen Weiss spoke of PLL and said something might be a "harbinger of things to come."

It’s almost like the art-world equivalent of dissing Warhol

Asher Edelman's commentary on Thursday's Strategy got more polarizing, and intriguing, the longer the show went on, so we're basically starting from the bottom.

Edelman complained that Barack Obama is wasting time asking people to get along with him when he should just stick it to the Tea Party and get all the moderate Republicans to rally behind.

Edelman said Obama in his speech will propose "more tax credits for various kinds of hiring ... this is silly," when in fact the country needs "enormous fiscal stimulation."

"That is politically almost impossible," said David Faber.

But then Edelman insisted that if Obama drops the Bush tax cuts that he extended for 2 years, "you will have a rock-and-roll economy again," which is odd, because moments earlier he was just pointing out how policy mumbo jumbo isn't causing people to buy products in a tough economy.

"The Bush tax cuts were a disaster," said Edelman, also complaining about those of Clinton and Reagan, but that Bush's were "the most absurd" and based on Dick Cheney's goal of reinventing how the country is governed.

Edelman: Fed’s Treasury-buying is like snake ‘swallowing its own tail’

Asher Edelman on Thursdays Strategy Session explained how the Fed-Treasury-buying thing works.

"What really happens," Edelman said, is "the government sells Treasurys to the investment banks and other financial institutions ... and the financial institutions including the banks borrow against those Treasurys, um, at the Fed, uh, and the Fed lends them the money against the Treasurys at a lower interest rate than they're receiving from the Treasurys, and then the Fed goes back and buys the Treasurys at a higher price than they paid for the Treasurys. Now if you can tell me how that's gonna aid the economy, uh, please do. ... It's kinda like uh, uh, the house and a casino."

Edelman told David Faber, "The Fed really has no capital whatsoever but it's not relevant because the capital can be declared, so to speak; it's not a standard kind of accounting."

"Not a standard kind of accounting." To say the least.

Edelman said "QE 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, can do no good," and said it's like a snake, "imgaine it swallowing its own tail."

He also complained that banks are operating as hedge funds, getting "free profits from the taxpayers ... when they lose money, it's just refunded by the taxpayers ... what better hedge fund could you have."

Gary Kaminsky tried a different subject, asking where the activist investors are. Edelman said they're out there, Icahn, etc. Kaminsky said it's only a "tiny percentage." Edelman said "it's always been a tiny percentage."

Hatzius: 1 in 3 chance
of renewed recession

The Strategy Session's interview with Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius was very much an analyst how-to, kinda like listening to Cris Collinsworth explain the rules of football instead of predicting a winner in the Saints-Packers game.

Hatzius said his May forecast on The Strategy Session about the next recession being years away is still his baseline scenario, but data has changed "clearly on the negative side," indicating renewed recession risk "significantly higher than it did back then."

He put the chance right now "1 in 3 at this point."

Which is kind of like saying the Detroit Lions' Super Bowl victory is years away, but they had a good draft, so the chance of it happening in the 2011 season is 1 in 3.

Hatzius said his forecast for Q3 GDP is less a forecast and "really more a diagnosis." David Faber then said, "I wanna stop asking you how you do your job and get to some more of your thoughts."

Hatzius fielded a good question from Gary Kaminsky about the impact of a stronger dollar and whether it would help consumers on the commodity-price angle. In fact, Hatzius said, it would be a negative because it would "make it harder for U.S. exporters," though he asserted "it's not a huge factor unless the moves are very large."

[Wednesday, September 7, 2011]

Ron Insana sounds
remarkably Keynesian

We got excited to learn Ron Insana was on Wednesday's Fast Money, only to hear the Insanameister clang his points like preseason NFL kickers attempting 48-yarders.

First Insana said that while some people think the market could or should go back to 2003 or 1995 patterns, volatility is actually here to stay and people might as well get used to it.

Fair enough. But then Karen Finerman questioned Insana's contention that the Fed could do something "big," such as lowering the rates on mortgages across the board to create disposable income (and wouldn't that make you feel great if you just paid yours off in the last year).

"I think of you somewhat as a free market kind of guy," Finerman said, asking if he really believes that a new policy is the answer. "I think we just sort of need to grow out of it at some point," she added.

Insana claimed we have a "growth crisis" and so apparently need "some sort of policy" measures, then said he's been calling for not a roads-and-bridges program but "Hoover Dam-style project" for the power grid though he conceded that doesn't help the stock market right now.

Melissa Lee asked Insana why he suggests buying banks if he expects a flattening yield curve. That prompted the goofiest answer of the bunch, saying they'll get "regulatory forbearance" apparently in the process of getting a flatter yield curve.

Oddly enough, it was just a day ago we were pointing out that Fast Money sometimes delivers same thesis/different conclusion and different thesis/same conclusion. Before Insana claimed we needed a Hoover dam-style project, Zachary Karabell was telling the Halftime gang that Europe is just having a crisis and everything else is between OK and good.

So that's what they mean when they say, "That's what makes a market."

Joy Global needs a new logo

Regular viewers of Fast Money might occasionally notice the various corporate symbols hovering behind the panelists at the Nasdaq.

We have no idea why certain symbols tend to show up quite a bit. One of those happens to be Joy Global, which you can see above over Tim Seymour's right shoulder on Wednesday.

This logo looks like something from a 2nd-rate airline in 1968, not a world-class drilling/mining-equipment purveyor of 2011.

They say consultants tend to be overpaid for concepts, but this would be money well spent.

Tim Seymour says it’s the down moves that ETFs make worse, then clarifies that everyone is concerned about up moves too

ETF watcher Scott Burns made the same point this page has been making since the Flash Crash (should've patented it).

But then we learned, Tim Seymour still disagrees.

"When we have 500-point up days, I don't hear anybody touting leverage ETFs as the cause of that. So I don't know, we've got a, we've got a one-sided argument here it seems," Burns said.

"Just to be clear, I don't think people are that- just concerned about moves down only. I think when markets do this, 5% up and down over the course of 2 weeks, that's troubling."

So, hmmm, lessee, how to classify that one … maybe volatility should be illegal?

Burns said the markets have been volatile for more natural reasons. "I think it's because people are really freaked out," Burns said.

Burns said when people complain to the SEC about perceived heavy volume and levered ETFs affecting price swings, and the SEC investigates, the SEC will find the total amount of ETF presence to be "a grain of sand on the beach." Seymour insisted it's the inverse ETFs that are the problem making markets go down; "they're not jamming equally on both sides." Burns said it works the same for both directions. Then Seymour went on to make "clear" that he's also concerned about up moves too.

‘holy cow karen just answered my question!’

Melissa Lee on Wednesday's Fast Money read a viewer tweet from @artmatters2me asking under what circumstances Karen Finerman would buy gold.

Guy Adami called that "a very good question," and apparently was the one who put the question on the show.

Karen gave 2 answers, first being a curious "takeover" (of what? The New York Mets?), and the other being, "If I really had a very strong sense that the immediate end of fiat currencies was near."

She said that with a straight face, but we have to believe it's more like the equivalent of "never."

Regardless, the exchange clearly made artmatters2me's day. "lol they just mentioned me on FM, art tweeted.

John Harwood: Details of Obama’s speech are actually ‘in flux’ day before it’s delivered

In case you didn't already think, given its football-deference scheduling, that this jobs speech was a masquerade for government action (and why in the world do we need a jobs speech anyway if the whole problem with the global economy is only Europe's implosion?), consider that John Harwood reported on Wednesday's Fast Money that the speech was still "in flux" a day before it is to be delivered.

Harwood said he thinks Wall Street will likely be "disappointed" with some of the provisions or lack of something big.

Karen Finerman rattled off a list of "pro-business" suggestions for the speech, including corporate tax rate, less regulation, maybe repatriation, but the funny thing about that is that she later hectored Ron Insana over the implication that policy matters.

Surely that's what we need, corporations hiring people they don't need with money that's not going toward the national debt (and they call gold a bubble?).

Finerman did make one of the savviest points of the day about Obama speeches; "I can't remember the last time he spoke and the market responded well."

Maybe he'll "remind" everyone that in September 2007 he predicted the Lehman demise, which is what he told the CNBC town hall last year.

Tim Seymour actually said that BHP Billiton might be a player for WLT, which is a bit like hearing there's going to be a "Police Academy 14."

Youssef Squali seemed to agonize in his opening statement about why News Corp could maybe use YHOO, then said "Microsoft makes a lot of sense," while Tim Seymour, of all people, was left grimacing as Squali talked so long that Seymour couldn't get his question in right away.

Karen Finerman said that if MSFT buys YHOO, "that would be a bad acquisition."

The camera caught Melissa Lee doing a hair-patting during Pops & Drops.

Adami: Stocks might start fading Thursday afternoon

Continuing an already tired theme from Halftime, Pete Najarian on Wednesday's Fast Money said financials are the reason he's not convinced the bottom is in, while Stephen Weiss contended "We're far from out of the woods," and "I still think we test the lows."

Guy Adami said, "I think tomorrow's a fascinating day," and isn't it always. Adami said, while congratulating his call from yesterday, he thought Thursday's market might continue with an upward opening, then fade by the end of the day and set up for another move downward.

Tim Seymour could only gush about Siemens and why you should or shouldn't buy it in an opening statement that was so long, his band could've finished a concert by the time he finished. "Sentiment is a roller coaster right now," Seymour said.

Melissa Lee for some reason started up a tiresome non-debate between Pete and Jon Najarian in which Jon thinks the bottom in fact is in. "That's a bold call by the big man," Pete said, but to him, the financials, "they still look broken." Jon Najarian responded by calling in and referring to "brother Judas" and saying "Thank you, Michelle" to Lee.

Karen Finerman said she'd actually rather buy stocks higher with more clarity than where they're at now with less clarity. She said headwinds remain for BAC's liability; "how do they get those albatrosses off their back."

Europe: Regional crisis,
or global contagion?

Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report might as well have been subtitled, "How Chippy Can Stephen Weiss Get?"

Weiss was adamant that there's major trouble in the markets and chided Zachary Karabell for suggesting the problem is limited in scope to European austerity/bailouts or whatever the heck it is they're doing, and that it shouldn't be regarded as "anything more or less than a financial crisis playing itself out in Europe."

"There is no regional financial crisis. It's a global economy and a global banking system," Weiss said. "I think to call victory after the bounce from yesterday ... I'm still not a believer."

Karabell responded, "I'm not calling victory here," only saying that assertions that Europe was turning into U.S. 2008 are "at the very best premature" and at worst, "vastly overblown."

Later, Judge Wapner asked Weiss what would get him into the gold trade. Weiss first said it would take a blowoff of all the johnny-come-latelys and that 3% moves aren't really a big deal. Judge persisted, asking then for what level Weiss would start buying. Weiss then finally got to his real opinion on the matter, saying, "I'm not really gonna look that much because I don't care. Because I'm not a gold bug."

Anton Schutz calls Moynihan
‘Brian’ 5 times

While Stephen Weiss was shrugging off Wednesday's rally and Pete Najarian likewise was calling it a "temporary bounce," Jon Najarian was actually using the "b" word.

"I think we did see the bottom," Jon Najarian said, when the futures bounced off 1,136.

Guest Anton Schutz, an investor in BAC, made Brian Moynihan sound like John D. Rockefeller, saying of the housecleaning announced yesterday, "I think it shows that, uh, Brian's leading the company."

Schutz said the stock has "tremendous upside" plus "minimal" downside.

Colin Gillis said "There is no fast fix for Yahoo," and Zachary Karabell concluded "It's a really, really bad sign for a company" when a CEO gets fired over the phone.

Judge Scott Wapner said Karabell looked good and asked if the "fuchsia shirt's at the dry cleaners or something?"

Judge hailed Patty Edwards' good call to buy WLT (from Aug. 19 and Aug. 12) and also said they're thinking about Steve Grasso, who recently noted on his Twitter account that his parents had a serious car accident.

Gary Kaminsky held off
on Sallie Krawcheck scoop

Gary Kaminsky on Wednesday's Strategy Session expressed a journalist's regret.

"I had actually heard on Friday that Krawcheck was out," Kaminsky said, calling that information and lack of divulging it a "hard lesson" in the TV world.

(Of course, we would add, if it's not confirmed, there's always the risk of it not happening and then looking bad.)

Kaminsky might've even been ahead of Krawcheck herself on the news, as the Charlotte Observer reported that "A person familiar with the matter said Price and Krawcheck learned of the move Tuesday."

Kaminsky implied that patience at BAC with Brian Moynihan might be wearing thin, given the opinion among high producers there that the story of Moynihan not being part of Ken Lewis' buying binge, that "he had nothing to do with all these things ... that's not workin' anymore."

Kaminsky asserted, "This is the beginning of the changes at Bank of America in my opinion, not the end."

Kate Kelly implies maybe BAC should be worth more

Kate Kelly spent some quality time on Wednesday's Strategy Session explaining the Bank of America layoff plan while using a curious description: that maybe the BAC selloff was occurring with "some of it not seeming entirely rationally, motivated."

Kelly said the 3,000-plus BAC layoffs are "likely to begin tomorrow" and could eventually reach 10,000 or more, depending on Brian Moynihan's agenda, which could be a 6-month or 1-year process. "He's also engaging in this new Bank of America effort, which would be to sort of streamline the company," Kelly said.

The "rationally" comment came during another discussion about these quiet little bank stress tests that apparently were happening over the summer and included, according to Kelly as almost an afterthought, preparation over raising capital in "emergency conditions, possibly including a fall 2008 type of market," which is where the Merrill Lynch tracking stock notion came from.

Steve Liesman also joined the group for this discussion and said banks are going to permanently be in dialogue/coordination/regulation with the government and that no one really knows what normal operating procedure is now. "There is a new normal operating procedure," Liesman said.

Gary Kaminsky said layoffs are inevitable on Wall Street. "This is just Bank of America. We're gonna see it everywhere," Kaminsky said. "It's a grueling, painful, ugly process."

Flash: Housing market
still struggling

Diana Olick said on Wednesday's Strategy Session that some people expect the president to offer a blanket-refinancing program, but "it's not really practical to do that."

Olick went on to say that even if rates are low and everyone can refinance, it doesn't cause people to buy homes.

Gary Kaminsky noted that Carol Bartz, Jerry Yang, Terry Semel, etc., seemed to have trouble monetizing all those eyeballs. "I'm a person who looks at something on Yahoo every day," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky spent some time defining "bond" from the dictionary but said the Greece outcome may change people's expectations of what a bond is. "This sort of idea, the sanctity of a fixed-income instrument, is maybe possibly going to be questioned after this resolution happens," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky said the presence of Blyth (BTH) on the 52-week high list was a "symbolic" reflection of the job market.

Guest Jason Brady spent too much of his limited time giving a limited description of how "there is income out there" in stocks and bonds without specifics, before touting Fresenius' BB 4-year trading at 5.5%. He said Fresenius is issuing more that he might be able to get at a higher yield.

[Tuesday, September 6, 2011]

‘Most financials will retest at the very least their 2009 lows’

Chart expert John Roque curiously saved his most eye-opening comment until late in his presentation on Tuesday's Fast Money.

"Most financials will retest at the very least their 2009 lows," Roque said, as part of his broader prediction of an extensive S&P 500 downturn mirroring 2002 and 2008.

"We think that there can be a rally here but we think this 1,100 level is not gonna hold," Roque said. "We think there's a chance you get back down to 950." (This writer is long SKF.)

Guy Adami, hurriedly seeking to re-establish his bearish credentials after opening Tuesday's program by suggesting a rally might be in the cards and that those who try to fade it might get burned, said "Let me try to be clear" and told Roque that he thinks an inevitable test is coming to the 1,020 50% retracement level, therefore, "I think we're looking at the same thing right now," basically compelling Roque to say "I agree."

Dennis Gartman now claims
‘I’m not bearish on gold’

Somebody at Fast Money needs to put a stop to this before it gets any more ridiculous.

Dennis Gartman actually declared on Tuesday's Fast Money, "I'm not bearish on gold. I've been long of gold in euro terms for months and months and months and months and months."

Just 2 weeks ago, Aug. 24, Gartman said of gold, "This was a bubble that did in fact burst" and actually suggested the reason is movement in Washington on entitlement reform. He also earlier that day called gold "one of the great bubbles of our time" and asserted, "I bet we go to 1,650 in the course of the next month and a half."

On Aug. 4, Gartman said, "If you haven't reduced the size of your gold position, you better go do it right now."

But he's "not bearish," just long for (5x) "months."


If making it up based on the day's trading range is all it takes to make gold pronouncements on TV, then even this page is qualified for Fast Money airtime.

This theme is downright embarrassing, and hosts should stop asking him about the subject.

Gartman repeated a recent point that, like his gold thesis, is presumably true until it's not true, which is not to buy stocks until late October because September-October are "characteristically terrible times to own stock."

"History doesn't always repeat itself," Gartman opined. "It may not repeat itself, but it does in fact rhyme."

Fast Money traders actually call for more government regulation with ‘strings attached,’ ‘forced’ spending

And you thought the folks on Fast Money were all hard-core capitalists.

Jon Najarian on Tuesday lobbied for a repatriation deal and criticized what happened the last time it occurred.

"There weren't any strings attached, so, the money just magically made its way into other people's pockets," Najarian said, arguing that if another go-round was "properly proposed by the president ... I believe would be accepted by the Congress."

Guy Adami agreed but incredibly took that view a step further, saying if there were a deal where it's "forced," that "20-25% of that money has to be put towards either R&D or hiring people ... you could get a sustainable rally back up towards the 1,300 level."

So ... in an environment in which General Electric has already figured out how to owe zero tax, corporations will repatriate the money for free. And then the people that, say, Google is already planning to hire can basically be hired with the new free cash, while the old cash that's already here can "make its way into other people's pockets" somehow. And while "new" dollars are committed to R&D and new hires, nobody who presently works there in less-useful initiatives would be laid off, or anything like that, and the government will be in charge of monitoring.

There must've been something in the SBUX at Times Square on Tuesday.

Who's going to police this plan? The ratings agencies?

It’s a mystery as to whether Karen attended Steve Schwarzman’s birthday party

Karen Finerman barely said a word on Tuesday's Fast Money, which meant her startlingly exquisite navy dress which cost an estimated sixty-one hundred dollars was the clear highlight of the show, but she did drop the understatement of the week in regards to the breaking news on Bank of America's management changes.

"Um, I'm not quite sure what to make of them, except that you can't think things are going fabulously well, uh, if there's a shakeup like this," Finerman said.

Finerman addressed whether Carlyle is IPOing at the bottom for P.E., saying "Carlyle is just a premier name, but that it has a lot of specialty in defense, which is out of favor.

More significantly, Finerman referred to Steve Schwarzman's famous birthday party, which prompted Melissa Lee to make a couple hand-claw gestures causing Guy Adami to ask if she was doing puppets, but no, it was something about lobster delicacies.

"I wasn't familiar with the lobster claw," said Finerman.

But other than that,
he’d ‘always defer’ to Joe

Joe Terranova on Tuesday's Fast Money said of the wide Brent-WTI spread, "I think it's warranted," for several reasons including a WTI Cushing glut.

Tim Seymour asked him to clarify that argument, then made his own, saying, "I would always defer to your knowledge on oil, but, but it- to me, it's the Brent that hasn't come in, it's not the WTI that's traded weak ... I would be selling Brent against WTI."

Rebecca Patterson did talk a tiny bit about gold, but not about gold gone wild and showering in a bikini. "I think Swiss is done," Patterson said, recommending getting a little long currencies of Sweden, Norway and Singapore as well as gold.

Fast Money guest outperforms in transparency, honesty

Lehman alum Lawrence McDonald guested on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report and acknowledged that Scott Judge Wapner's point about the discombobulation of European leadership being part of the problem is correct.

McDonald pointed out that the market turmoil of September 2008 was a factor in "helping President Obama get elected," that the current European crisis "could unseat a sitting president" (it would be hard to unseat a non-sitting one), and that if he were President Obama, he'd be calling European leaders to organize some kind of consensus, apparently to save his own job, not the Germany/France presidents'.

Judge Wapner asked McDonald if the euro can "survive in its current form." McDonald said he was on "the show" maybe 3 weeks ago and curiously claimed he "misspoke a little bit," that within a year there might be "1 or 2 countries kind of move out of the Eurozone," and that we "could see some change in the, in the eurozone sometime over the next year."

When someone says he "misspoke," the Spider Sense generally starts tingling around here. But we didn't recall McDonald on Fast Money, so we looked up his last appearance, which apparently was Aug. 11 on The Strategy Session, to figure out what he was driving at.

On that episode, David Faber asked McDonald, "Euro stays together?" McDonald answered, "Yes."

We don't think McDonald needed to announce a mea culpa here (after all, hasn't he heard how Steve Cortes flip-flops on gold?) for that particular observation, for which not many (not even this site, if he hadn't mentioned it) were actually keeping score at home.

But it's remarkably impressive candor nonetheless.

Steve Cortes cited "ancient animosities" as to why Germany won't bail out Italy.

McDonald said that while stocks in the last week seemed to do a round-robin, "credit underperformed" during the gains, and "that's another warning sign for investors."

Friend Kelly gets shout-out on Fast Money; not sure it’s the type she wanted

One thing we find amusing on Fast Money is how polarizing arguments often are used to support the same conclusion, or similar arguments are used to support polarizing conclusions, which — and we're not Sartre here — sounds kinda illogical.

It's not just the gold-works-in-inflation/deflation scenario. Specifically, you'll hear one person say "Lower gas prices helps all those middle-income restaurants" while someone else moments later says "lower gas prices definitely affect the McDonald's consumer the most."

Or, you'll hear someone say that in a tough economy, people will ditch the $4 cups of coffee, while another panelist says that in a tough economy, it's the "affordable" luxuries that people will flock to.

So when Judge Scott Wapner brought up the Goldman downgrade of Dunkin Brands on Tuesday's Halftime Report, Steve Cortes said he disagreed and that the "affordable luxury category makes sense."

Patty Edwards, referring to the fact this is a lead IPO underwriter issuing a sell rating, said, "Spend like 25 years in the business; I'm not sure I've ever seen something like this," but given the expansion goals of DNKN and its "blue-collar" clientele, "I can see where this would not be the one thing I would want to buy today," and then tossed in an inside joke: "My friend Kelly who's been threatening to buy it, bought it, and that usually tanks the stock."

Man. And this page actually took heat for Gordon Lightfoot.

Steve Cortes insisted he tries to only drink the Dunkin' coffee and not feast on the doughnuts. "I try to stay away for TV," Cortes said.

Apparently there are a bunch of stocks Kelly has not bought

Patty Edwards on Tuesday's Halftime was a stock machine, rattling off more names than the rest of her colleagues combined, starting with Nestle and Syngenta. "I think there's gonna be a buying opportunity," Edwards said, though she wasn't planning to buy them Tuesday.

Edwards went on to add BMY, JNJ, KMB and KMP, as well as Bank of Montreal and CM, as well as Calling the Close by saying if you have to buy something, make it a "nice juicy dividend," JNJ.

Joe Terranova did say, "I think you buy Wells" as he did, and also he likes AXP.

Terranova said "Everything is in play" in regard to Europe, and Brian Kelly said of the euro, "not aggressively, but I am short," in a goofily overlong and needlessly clumsy explanation of his hedging strategies.

Steve Cortes also said "I am short the euro," since 1.45, a Brag Trade alert, and that if it spends a few hours below 1.40 he'd strongly consider doing more. "The math doesn't work in Europe," Cortes said.

Steve Liesman, who's apparently going to be a Halftime fixture now, said that all the talk at the Jackson Hole meeting, the "rumblings in the hallway," was that the Swiss might be "appreciating themselves into recession."

Liesman tried to play stock trader, saying that selling U.S. banks because of their European-bank exposure is the "least likely reason to sell ... I'd be more concerned about credit exposure here in the U.S."

And we're not sure if he means that as a good thing or a bad thing.

Kaminsky: It’s about to feel like 2008 again in financial services

Gary Kaminsky, who whipped out a Lehman Brothers Operating Principle Rubik's Cube that could probably fetch some decent cash on eBay, issued an ominous warning for Wall Street on Tuesday's Strategy Session.

"For the financial services industry, the next couple of weeks is gonna feel very much like 2008," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky said it's going to be like that now, rather than 6 months before or after, because banks are now coming to grips with layoff plans and the realization that they can't grow revenues into their human capital structure as they hoped to do and so must attack the fixed costs.

Furthermore, Kaminsky said Europe is approaching a "day of reckoning" on mark-to-market.

Guest Stephane Deo, on the phone, was kind of hard to understand but corrected David Faber's characterization of his euro paper that "the euro should not exist," saying the quote is, "the euro should not exist like this." Deo painted 2 scenarios, one of them involving a euro breakup and the other a greater fiscal integration. "The cost of breaking up the euro is immense" and is basically a "disaster scenario," Deo said, saying his team has done "all the hard work" and predicted instead a more fiscal and not just monetary union.

Gary Kaminsky pointed out that a year ago The Strategy Session hit Texas for the Kyle Bass hedge fund conference and that people were talking about — ugh — "kick the can down the road" regarding Europe, but "we've not moved the ball 2 yards." (And, it looks like Bass should've focused on Europe before piling in on Japan, not that he's lost money or anything, just could've made more.)

Haven’t heard much about that Facebook $100 billion offering for a while

Kevin Lockhart, who normally buzzes into The Strategy Session from the trading floor where a lot of background buzz is heard, said Tuesday that there's uncertainty in high-yield, "Right now we're seeing a lot of caution in the market," and admitted that for high-yield spreads compared with Treasurys, it's sorta similar to 2008, or at least, "it hasn't been higher since then."

But Lockhart was quick to point out he's talked to a lot of CEOs who say August's stock activity seems to bear "no connection" to their actual business performance (guess it's that old voting machine/weighing machine again), and that people in private equity are saying that valuations that looked a bit high months ago are now looking good, so maybe there's a silver lining somewhere.

Gary Kaminsky said he talked to a former industrial co-CEO at the U.S. Open and this person said their business tends to be a recession indicator but is not showing those indications now.

Kate Kelly talked briefly about Carlyle, saying that while there's a buzz that everyone wants to wait until 2012 to launch IPOs, at Carlyle, "they wanna get this going" and would do it before Thanksgiving if they could.

Caitlin Long guested briefly at the end of the show and made a couple interesting points about another perceived drawback to low rates, that companies' cost of capital assumptions are at a "hurdle" based on a long-term forecast and aren't adjusting day-to-day, and right now, "Long- return prospects are low and cost of capital assumptions are high," curbing enthusiasm for new investment. Long also pointed to another "artificial" effect on Treasurys, that people facing margin calls are compelled to buy them. "It is a drawback to sitting on interest rates and keeping rates artificially low," Long said.

Patty quoted in Reuters
article on Costco

If you've ever been tempted to debate Patty Edwards over knowledge of Costco, don't.

Edwards provided Reuters last week with a wealth of commentary about the company and founder Jim Sinegal, including, "Anything in the store, the top margin it can have is 14 percent," with the conclusion, "He's basically the retail Steve Jobs."

[Friday, September 2, 2011]

Patty Edwards: Whatever
you call it, this stinks

Steve Liesman observed/complained (we'll be nice and call it "observed") on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that the Fast Money gang is obsessed with a "binary" decision on a recession.

Bottom line, Liesman said, "we ain't there yet."

Finally given a chance, Patty Edwards stuck it to the semantic-mongers.

"I don't care if you label it a recession or not a recession, the bottom line is, we are in a world of hurt and that's going to be reflected in what people spend," Edwards said.

Edwards took issue Liesman's determination that 91% of the people will determine growth. "It's actually about 84% of the people employed," Edwards argued, adding "it's a lot worse than what you're looking at ... we are still trying to crawl out of this thing."

Stephen Weiss basically agreed with Patty, insisting to Liesman, "To me it's a ridiculous debate whether we go into a double dip or not."

For the moment, at least, looks like Patty Edwards stuck it to Dennis Gartman on gold

One of the most interesting Fast Money subjects of late has been the gold saga, where Dennis Gartman has been crusading about bubbles and how "it's not a safe haven; safe havens don't move 3% in a day yada yada yada," and how for a while Steve Cortes was firmly in that camp (until a U-turn) while most of the rest of the Fast Money gang has been bullish gold. (The Ilchynmeister, Rich Ilczyszyn, recently waffled on this one more than the chef at Denny's.)

Patty Edwards, at this point in time, made what looks to be the best comment on gold back on the 24th when she said gold's chart, which Dennis Gartman was calling bubble-land, actually resembled the Nasdaq of August 1999. On Friday's Halftime Report Edwards revisited this subject, pointing out that last week's fear has "actually been a bear trap" in gold and that while she had taken some profit last week, she remains long, for the most avoiding a Brag Trade as well as a victory lap that could've rightfully been taken unless you give the word "thanks" extra significance. "I'm going to be staying long, thanks."

Edwards mentioned Friday that gold is the one "currency" free of political machinations, but JJ Kinahan said he thinks it's got "political implications still," and so "I have to disagree with you on that one."

Money in Motion star Willie Williams apparently sides with the White House in this gridlocked-government thing, telling Judge Scott Wapner at Halftime Friday that regarding President Obama's speech, "There's a lot of risk that he'll have trouble getting some of the measures through that we really need to get through in order to help the U.S. economy." Williams said "We're at risk of seeing emerging markets sell off even further," and "I like buying dollar/Mexico."

BRICs are for ...

Willie Williams wasn't the only one Friday skeptical of emerging markets.

"I think we're in a global recession," Stephen Weiss told Scott Judge Wapner, who later asked Brian Kelly about emerging markets and whether they're "a place to look" because they've been beaten down, which before Kelly answered brought noticeable head-shaking from Patty Edwards.

Kelly agreed with Edwards, saying EMs are a "great place to probably go short."

Kelly said to look at TLT because the "30-year bond is screaming today." JJ Kinahan said "folks are just liquidating things today," which makes him concerned about next week, but actually isn't that the type of thing that might make next week better?

Wonder if Starz employees could’ve legally shorted NFLX

Steve Liesman, fascinated by the Friday Fast Money gang's "binary" approach to recession, may or may not have gotten nods when he said "yes, you can" decouple jobs from a recession.

Patty Edwards, for one, argued that not all retailers are the same, for example Nordstrom and its shoppers, "remember that consumer trades off of their personal balance sheet, not so much off of the jobs number," but that Kohl's and JCPenney are the ones to be concerned about (except JCP surged a bunch of points when they hired Ron Johnson so how could they not be in the clear?). JJ Kinahan said he was concerned about the growth in part-time jobs, which Liesman acknowledged.

Brian Kelly talked about how the Fed could buy the long end of the curve, but he didn't mention boosting FDIC insurance from $250,000 to $1 billion this time as a way to help the economy.

However, Kelly did say housing would be helped if the government took foreclosed homes and "gave 'em to the returning veterans" (and you wonder who gets the Burt Reynolds place)? Judge Wapner called that an "interesting idea."

Patty Edwards said staples with dividends make sense. "People always want a Coke and a smile ... even Kimberly Clark ... toilet paper and diapers," Edwards said, though there's no hurricane element to the toilet paper story at this moment.

Netflix hater Tony Wible insisted "this news really has the potential to break the momentum in the story" and that "Netflix is a story that needs the virtuous cycle to work."

Kate Kelly considers seeing
‘The Debt’ this weekend

Kate Kelly revealed to her Twitter followers Friday that she's mulling a trip to the theater to see "The Debt," asking followers, "Anybody recommend it? (Movies as a parent of small kids are sort of a once-monthly event)."

Gary Kaminsky on Mark Zandi:
‘I don’t know how this guy sleeps at night’

We don't think Mark Zandi has ever guested on The Strategy Session.

And the chance of that ever happening probably shrunk Friday.

Gary Kaminsky showed a chart of months from peak unemployment and played a clip of Zandi's comments from the morning in which Zandi chuckles, "I'm often wrong, but not about stimulus. I was right about stimulus. I got that right."

Kaminsky first clarified he doesn't know Zandi, though guest host Brian Sullivan admitted "I do, very well," while Gary said he's been "listening to him for a couple years now" and plunged into, "He's probably a nice guy, but I don't know how this guy sleeps at night. How does he sleep at night making comments like that ... the picture tells you, the stimulus did not work."

Sullivan said he wasn't going to agree or disagree with Mark or Gary but then made a defense for Zandi, saying "the problem with that argument is the counterfactual. You can't disprove what you don't know," and how do we know unemployment wouldn't be 12% without it.

Sullivan asked Rick Santelli to weigh in. Santelli, before he really got ranting, essentially agreed with Kaminsky but didn't specifically knock Zandi or the stimulus, saying the economy "was like a dead frog" and thus was going to jump with any kind of shock, but it "really wasn't alive."

Lawrence Summers escapes mention in extensive Strategy Session complaining against White House economic advice

Gary Kaminsky on Friday's Strategy Session asked guest Peter Boockvar if he's ever been invited to the White House to offer an economic opinion.

Boockvar said he probably wouldn't be invited to D.C. to share such an opinion, particularly at the Federal Reserve.

Kaminsky then chided guest host Brian Sullivan for suggesting the "vitriol" is what keeps the administration from accepting other ideas. "You say they want to hear dissenting opinions, but they don't." Sullivan said because "if you admit that what you've done hasn't worked, you pretty much eliminate your election chances."

Rick Santelli decried reports of Fannie Mae litigation against the banks after forcing them to take TARP a few years ago. "They're pickin' the scab off before the wound heals," Santelli said.

Santelli also cogently predicted that Thursday's pre-football speech will undoubtedly (make no mistake) produce some dubious new terminology, something like "infrastructure bank."

Peter Boockvar basically agreed with Santelli, saying "This economy needs to delever." Sullivan said that means Clubber Lang's prediction for the fight, or "pain." Boockvar insisted, "We need to liberate the private sector."

Brian Sullivan said he was watching football last night with Finnish people who are making serious demands of Greece. "There wasn't even a waver among them," Sullivan said.

Peter Boockvar said Europe will dominate the stock market news next week, "their version of our 2008."

Gary Kaminsky crowed about wearing a yellow shirt on the set Friday. "I can pull it off, you guys can't," he told Brian Sullivan and Judge Wapner. But Gary's son, Willie, texted in that "Dad, you look like a bee."

Brian Sullivan substituted an "o" for an "a" when he said Kaminsky was "chompin' at the bit" to get going Friday.

‘Housing market has definitely bottomed’

Gary Kaminsky and Kate Kelly on Friday's Strategy Session sort of revisited their recent "fallacy" conversation about whether Wall Street producers being paid in stock can or will go elsewhere when the stocks are tanking because of other divisions.

Kaminsky suggested that Merrill Lynch people are facing such a situation of holding the bag for Angelo Mozilo, explaining that in 2007, he went to Greece, where "I spent a lot of money there," then was called out to Dick Fuld's house in Sun Valley to discuss strategy in which a lot of the high producers, specifically the IMD people, were suggesting maybe a spinoff of their division to realize value they were creating in spite of the company's real estate problems.

"I can't help but think déjà vu," Kaminsky said.

Kelly, on the other hand, said hey, "That's just the downside of working for a large company," and said that people who are producing in certain divisions are "probably gonna be OK" regardless as long as their division is profitable.

Kaminsky protested, saying they won't be OK with the RSUs tanking, but then moved on to Warren Buffett and BAC, saying he's hearing from aggresssive BAC shorts who actually went double-down on the Buffett news last week. Kelly said no doubt there's going to be some more capital raising.

Brian Sullivan complained to Kelly that this seems the wrong time for the government to be launching suits against the banks. Kelly said Sullivan was "actually hitting on a key issue here" and that there's 2 sides to doing this, and that "the precedential issue looms large" for figuring out the liability here, but at the same time, the condition of the banking stocks right now is "not the taxpayers' problem."

Sullivan concluded the segment praising Kelly for "excellent analysis and insight as always," which Kelly seemed to receive as unexpected praise.

Christian Thwaites briefly guested and touted strength in mortgage investing, saying, "the risk/reward is clearly in the MBS market." He added, "The housing market has definitely bottomed, but is not getting any worse."

[Thursday, September 1, 2011]

NFLX plummets to level
not seen in ... 1 week

Netflix got a hit from Starz on Thursday, and we don't mean "The Social Network."

As always happens in these ongoing adamant bear cases, every time there's a notable selloff, for whatever reason, the bears rush out and say "SEE!!!! I WAS RIGHT!!!!"

And so Herb Greenberg on Thursday's Fast Money was quoting Len Brecken and Tony Wible, who (in the case of the former) have complained about off-balance-sheet obligations and (in the case of the latter) accounting tricks, subscriber acquisition costs, uselessness of Latin America, margin pressure, and of course, that awesome Google competition that's just around the corner ... but somehow in all that they never mentioned the apparent real cause of NFLX's demise — ending the Starz deal.

Greenberg delivered a couple reports, saying the breakup is "tellin' ya something about content providers." Later he said NFLX hadn't replied to his query, though it normally does, and that there's a "lot of moving parts here."

Stephen Weiss was convinced. "I actually think this makes it a better short. It's not gonna end with Starz," said Weiss, calling it a "broken growth stock ... I would sell the stock, and I would short the stock at this level."

"Wow," said Melissa Lee.

We gotta take the other side of that one, although that's sort of presuming the ol' "benign tape." (This writer has no position in NFLX.)

Guy Adami pointed out it closed at $205 and change for 2 days in a row a couple weeks ago and hit a midday $203, so that's the level; if it falls below that, it's "Katie bar the door."

However, Adami conceded, "Reed Hastings is a great operator."

Jon Najarian questions if Starz isn't the one making the mistake here. "I think they're waiting for the Greater Fool to show up, and I don't know that the Greater Fool will show up," he said.

He said NFLX gets "really interesting to me" at the $200 level.

Brian Kelly agreed with that, saying the stock could bounce based on the perception that the company isn't overpaying for content.

Melissa Lee said the stalemate means Netflix will only have "Karate Kid II" available.

Stephen Weiss makes an illogical comment about AAPL

Stephen Weiss on Thursday's Fast Money took a Twitter question about whether AAPL can hit $425 in October. Weiss said he doesn't know the timing, but "It's goin' past 425."

But Weiss' rationale was loopy. He said, "My biggest concern with the stock was Steve Jobs stepping down. That's now been removed."

Wrong. He stepped down. Your biggest concern has been realized, not removed.

But let's give Weiss the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant something different.

Let's say Weiss' actual concern was owning the shares during the murkiness of Jobs' status, in which case the fear would be that the retirement announcement could've sunk shares far below what he thinks they're worth.

Fair enough. But then someone who viewed Jobs' health as an overhang on the stock should've been eager for that announcement, waiting for the shares to capitulate so he could scoop them up massive undervalued, instead of referring to that as his "biggest concern."

As a fresh, timely example, see the item above. Jon Najarian's "concern" is not with NFLX hitting $200. Rather, that's what he wants to happen, so he can pick up the stock at a preferred level.

Basically, however you slice it, Weiss' remark doesn't make sense.

Worth: Gold ‘ricochet’
near the end

Jon Najarian on Thursday's Fast Money couldn't resist a dig at Barack Obama, referring to this ridiculous jobs speech that, if it were really important, certainly shouldn't take a backseat to a football game, noting that the president has "changed the timing of it," for all of you political junkies keeping score at home.

Carter Worth, citing no reason whatsoever, said there's still a bit more life in the S&P's 1-week upswing; "we're looking for 1,250." But, "We think you've got about a 10% decline coming in copper."

Worth tried to portray gold's recent dropoff as steep while conceding it bounced back from his $1,600 prediction. "We think the ricochet's at or near end," he asserted.

Andrew Tilton, a (very) rare Goldman Sachs person who will speak with Fast Money, did not commiserate with Guy Adami about how great Lloyd is, but did say that concerning the Fed and government, "we're not completely out of ammunition."

Then Tilton went out of his way to make it clear he's not rooting against American jobs for the sake of intervention. "Given the choice between good job growth and more Fed action, I'll take good job growth any day of the week," which is about the equivalent of choosing between a Super Bowl victory and picking No. 1 in the draft.

Jeff Palma of UBS basically proved to have little reason for being on the show at all, apparently saying he thinks stocks can move higher for a year and a half (first by mocking that question and noting many people can't look past an hour and a half), but "I think we're still in for a pretty bumpy ride" and that there's a lot of "uncertainty."

Symantec President Enrique Salem said there are all kinds of cyber attacks and thus there's a huge market for his company's products. Guy Adami asked him the type of question traders know better than CEOs, why the stock hasn't had "buoyancy." Salem said the trends are favorable for his company.

BAC still below high
of Buffett Day

Our favorite recent stock market stat continues to be the daily hi-lo of BAC ... and whether it'll ever again see the $8.80 it posted midday on Warren Buffett Day last week.

This subject intrigues, merely because the stock and the overall market popped enormously on news of this investment; basically, we're talking about this sole bit of news somehow being responsible for a massive gain.

"I'm shorting more Bank America (sic)," said Steve Cortes on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, and surely, given that Warren Buffett believes in the stock, we'll find out when the tide goes out who's swimming naked.

On the other hand, Cortes said "I would be a very interested buyer" in GS at $110, but isn't doing it now, "because I'm too bearish generally."

Guy Adami said of Ed Najarian's Goldman Sachs takedown, "The best part of the call was the fact that he said, 'We got it wrong'." Adami said he thinks the stock probably bottomed on the Lloyd Blankfein lawyer news, and gee whiz, it sure seems like we've heard about a lot of bottoms in the last month. Steve Grasso said he expects GS to remain under pressure because it used to be the can-do-no-wrong firm but is now the "poster child" for everything bad on Wall Street.

Jon Najarian said he hasn't met Ed Najarian but Pete's had a drink with him, and it's within the realm of possibility Ed could be related to Jon & Pete Najarian. "You never know, with Najarians," he said.

If anybody believes Europeans or Americans are really going to have some austerity ...

Andy Busch dialed in the Fast Line on Thursday's Halftime Report and hopefully will pack more of a punch on Friday's can't-miss Money in Motion, because he sounded Thursday a lot more like a reporter than an investor, other than to say he thinks there's "way too much optimism" about what the Fed can or will do.

He pointed out the euro vs. Swiss franc, and said "Italy continues to walk back away from their austerity measures."

Steve Grasso said Europe seems to be all about Germany and how Angela Merkel's support changes if at all while dealing with bailout issues next week. "I think that's a great point," Busch said.

Judge Wapner felt compelled to ask Steve Cortes for the umpteenth time why he thinks the international scene and particularly China are heading for trouble. Guy Adami said he gets criticized for sounding like he's always bearish, but he thinks "you should be fading into this rally."

Patty Edwards wasn't a panelist Thursday but like Busch dialed in the Fast Line to speak about the retirement of Costco chief Jim Sinegal (a guy so impressive he's got an entire country named after him) and its effect on investors. " You know, I don't think they should be concerned at all," Edwards said, but she's not an enthusiastic buyer right here only because, like Steve Cortes, she doesn't trust the broader market. "Maybe in the mid-70s, I would be snapping it up," Edwards said.

Steve Cortes said he might even buy some VZ in the afternoon. Brian Shactman wore a sensational pinstriped suit while delivering a breaking news report on the New York Mets.

Kaminsky: Wilpons might sell
10 stakes at $20 mil. each

Anthony Scaramucci, who has been interested in the New York Mets, told The Strategy Session on Thursday that for the Wilpons, "The No. 1 thing was, they never wanted to give up control of that organization."

Scaramucci said he doesn't know Einhorn but guesses that "David wanted more than just to be a passive owner of that team."

Or in other words, the Wilpons want the cake, and to eat it too.

Scaramucci said the Wilpons are looking for someone to invest $200 million but not "go after broadcasting" and just be a passive partner. Brian Sullivan said it basically sounds like the Wilpons want someone to give them money while they give up nothing. Scaramucci said they're looking for someone to "share that experience with them" of owning a big league team.

Scarmucci said Einhorn probably got the initial nod because "most of the other bids came with some fund-raising contingencies including the bid that we put in." But he said regardless, for the Mets, "you know that they'll be able to survive." He also dismissed the notion that the Wilpons are to blame for Madoff. "He was viewed as a patriarchal figure on Wall Street until December of 2008," Scaramucci said.

Mort Zuckerman said he would only invest in the Mets "just before they institutionalize me … I intend to be in the stands."

Gary Kaminsky reported later Thursday that the Wilpons are looking to sell 10 stakes worth $20 million apiece.

Kate Kelly confuses
‘inferred’ and ‘implied’

Kate Kelly reported on the Einhorn-Mets fiasco on Thursday's Strategy Session, saying Einhorn spoke on the "juicy" conference call about the deal he thought he had and the "dramatic changes to it just late last week."

Einhorn "made some or at least inferred some strong criticisms of the Mets organization," Kelly said, adding that according to the call, "they were apparently talking to someone behind his back."

Kelly said the investment apparently would've been "200 million bucks for not a lot of return."

Zuckerman: White House has ‘anti-business’ agenda

Mortimer Zuckerman, media titan, real estate magnate and "McLaughlin Group" pundit, said the "real" unemployment rate is "19%."

Zuckerman echoed, of all people, the Steve Cortes argument from a day ago, that the AT&T decision reflects how this is an "anti-business administration."

Zuckerman said unlike the Reagan-Tip O'Neill days, when all the folks in Washington gleefully piled on the debt together, there are no longer the "relationships" between the White House and Congress. John Harwood said he disagreed with Zuckerman that Obama's business attitude is not the "fundamental problem" with the economy & jobs. Zuckerman insisted there's a confidence problem.

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