April 2009 - The Room

This insightful blog provides a unique perspective on the world that you just won't find anywhere else. The Room is an eclectic mix of geopolitical and market commentary with a personal story thrown in here and there. Never willing to take any subject too seriously, David Galland delivers a "great read" that informs and entertains.

  • The Room – 04/17/2009

    Being new to a profession is always a challenge. The neophyte wants to impress his superiors, but lacking experience, is left to rely upon what natural skills he possesses. And, often, will try to make up for any shortcomings in specific skills by displaying a double dose of enthusiasm and energy.

    Our new president, for example, has a great many skills related to successful politicking, but none at all specifically related to the task of being president of the world's most powerful country. This is not a job that one can prepare for.

    And so We the People, his new bosses, are left to observe Obama leaning heavily on his considerable political skills – and his obvious energy – in an attempt to impress.

    He is trying to do so through a constant stream of new pronouncements emanating from the White House, or wherever Mr. Obama happens to be standing at the moment. On one day he wishes to put an end to nuclear weapons, on the next to reach an accommodation with the Iranians. While he’s at it, he'll be (maybe) pulling the troops out of Iraq, but redeploying them into Afghanistan and maybe even Pakistan....
  • The Room – 04/10/2009

    A quick comment is in order on the recent stock rally. While I could provide that comment, few people do the "dose of reality" thing better than my globetrotting partner and friend of many years, Doug Casey.

    Begging the forgiveness of our paying subscribers to The Casey Report, I would like to quote Doug from the current edition, just published...

    Just a few words about where we're in this ongoing crisis. While many in the media are now saying that things are looking up, and that the worst may now be over, I think it's just begun. For several reasons...

    For starters, stocks are cheap relative to where they've been over the last five years, but they're not cheap relative to historic bottoms (e.g., 1 times book, around 6-8 times earnings – after big earnings cuts - and 6-10% dividend yields). Treasuries are in a bubble. And, as hard as it has fallen, residential property has not yet bottomed.

    But the worst is yet to come. And I'm not talking about student loans, car loans, and credit card debt. Or Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Or the looming bankruptcy of most states and many municipalities. The real crisis will be in pension funds, commercial real estate, and life insurance companies. The life insurers own mostly commercial real estate, mortgages, and bonds; many will be totally busted, even before people start cashing in their whole life policies. You don't even hear about these three things in the press yet....
  • The Room – 04/03/2009

    In the March 6, 2009 edition of this missive/blog/column/whatever you want to call it, I listed three 'Desperate Measures' the U.S. government might turn to next in its futile attempt to rearrange the ruined economy into something more resembling a perfect world.

    Suspend 'mark to market' rules. At the time of my initial write-up (which you can read here), highly placed sources within the financial services industry that I spoke to were of the opinion that no significant changes would be made, for the simple reason that to do otherwise would risk destroying what little credibility was left for the financial sector.

    As you now know, the government has strong-armed the FASB into modifying the rules, essentially allowing companies to 'mark to model.' Which simply means that the same financial wizards who helped create the models so pivotal to causing the mess in the first place are now free to dust those models off, give them a little tweak, and use them to fabricate more attractive values for the toxic waste than the market was willing to assign. Some might term these rule changes outrageous, fraud even... I call it business as usual.

    Bad bank. The government has moved forward with this initiative as well, essentially rigging up a system that literally guarantees that a very small handful of firms -- likely just four or five -- will receive the sweetheart deal of the century, at the same time that the U.S. taxpayer gets the short end of the stick... right up the side of the head.

    Fed buys long-term Treasuries. This, too, has now come to pass and is likely to accelerate. While there are many ways that one could describe this latest initiative, I find it best to keep these things simple... it's called inflation....