Monday, July 18, 2011

Bought 1 Senior Texas Industries 9.25% Bond Maturing 8/15/2020 at 97.5/Junk Bond Ladder Table/Sold 107+ SBSI at 20.5/Modern Day GOP: No Longer A Conservative Party

Paul Krugman has taken up a new profession-psychoanalysis-when he asserted last week that the republicans are indeed Crazy.  NYT  I am not going to endorse that sentiment.

I do believe that it is reckless and exceedingly irresponsible for one party to blackmail the other using the Full Faith and Credit of the United States, which used to be sacrosanct when politicians were less irresponsible than now. If the Democrats had 240 votes in the House and demanded that a GOP controlled Senate and republican President accept a tax increase on their benefactors as a condition to the Democrats approving a debt limit increase, the howl could be heard at the outermost limits of the known universe. Only Irresponsible Fools would put the Full Faith and Credit of the United States government in play.

I have been surrounded by True Believers (TBs) my entire life, observed them for decades in their natural habitat, and have lived in one of their many enclaves for several decades. Based on careful observation that would make any anthropologist proud, I came to the conclusion many years ago that facts do not matter to them. Reasoned thinking based on reliable information is simply irrelevant. In fact, a deliberate and very persistent effort is made to avoid contact with any information inconsistent with their beliefs, apparently formed at birth, or acquired no later than the age of 2. Everyone has their quirks.

Rigidity of thought and a herd instinct are certainly present and a dominant traits in virtually all TBs. String together about 20 cliches and you have the entire belief system in a nutshell. I say "virtually all" based on a suspicion that there are a few open minded ones willing to think for themselves somewhere in the U.S. I simply have never met one. Flexibility based on processing accurately new information is totally lacking in them.

And the relatively common human trait of hypocrisy does appear to me to be enhanced in most members of that tribe.

While professing to be a proponents of conservative ideals or values, many have beliefs that are antithetical to true conservatives. Southerners are particularly sensitive to some of those ideals expressed by pseudo conservatives, since those same values were expressed by States Rights Democrats in this region many years ago, who now are members of the other tribe. That breed of Democrat called themselves conservative too. The current batch of GOP politicians who masquerade as conservatives are in fact reactionaries who wish to turn the clock back about 50 years, or in some cases around 100 or so years.  

Paul Ryan is just one of the new breed of reactionaries. Chairman Ryan Gets Nearly Two-Thirds of His Huge Budget Cuts From Programs for Lower-Income Americans — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities He has such an earnest face, though he does have trouble telling the truth, which is one of those inconvenient and pesky conservative values that Ryan left at the alter when he became a zealot with an earnest face and manner. (see analysis of just one speech)

As an experiment, lasting for about the next 300 or so years in the U.S., I would urge the adoption of Ryan's Medicare plan in every Congressional district whose congressional representative voted for it. Please noted that this would include my congressional district, whose representative is a Michele Bachmann twin or at least shares a common DNA strain: Tennessee's 7th congressional district (the OG is over 55, falling under traditional medicare, and would be receiving tax breaks too). The voters in those Districts need to be confronted with the consequences of their actions.

In about thirty years or so, when the middle class voters in those districts are living with the kids, after selling their homes to pay the private insurance premiums in their golden years, perhaps one of them will trip on one of their grandkids toys, break a hip, and be relegated to the local hospital to share a room with someone, due to coverage issues in their private insurance plan. The other patient who informs the TB that the earnest young man long forgotten had not exactly been frank with them about this private insurance/voucher deal. "Why didn't Rush or Sean tell me about that", the TB will ask, as the light bulb goes off in his head for the first time since birth?

But that is all for the common good of us rich folks, the "Job Creators", so no one should mine at all. After all the GOP approved budget plan reduces federal revenues by 3 trillion dollars by granting rich folks and corporations more tax breaks, according to the  Tax Policy Center, which the GOP promises somehow to make up elsewhere. Bloomberg This was noted by Krugman in a recent column lambasting Obama for knuckling under to GOP demands. NYT Liberals like Krugman are becoming increasingly critical of the President, who has moved toward the center on a number of issues. Due to the reactionary being so far to the right, an American centrist is actually viewed by the reactionaries as a socialist.

Only a centrist approach will solve the budget problem. For those who want to try their hand at balancing the budget without any tax increases, or worse, more tax breaks for the wealthy, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget provides you with an opportunity to try your hand at that task.  The extremist Mike Lee, who sent the conservative Senator Bennett into retirement, will not consider voting for a debt limit increase unless it is coupled with a balance budget amendment. Most republicans are taking the same position: Hill Senator Lee (R-Utah), who wishes to phase out social security and abolish the education department, has not yet specified which programs will be cut to achieve that balanced budget. Mike Lee-An Extremist or a True Conservative?

Ryan does not accept the CBO analysis of his plan as bankrupting the Middle Class during their Golden Years. After all, it does not sound like a winning campaign slogan for 2012 to admit that the GOP wants to give even more tax breaks to the super wealthy and corporations, while throwing the poor and middle class overboard. With that platform, even a couple of TBs might have second thoughts about voting the party line in 2012.

Instead, Ryan believes that the private health insurance companies, in their fervent desire to compete, will turn the private health plans into low cost alternatives. (see interview in HUMAN EVENTS, a reactionary rag that publishes Ann Coulter) In that fantasy world, the seniors who are on traditional medicare will be clamoring to join that private insurance pool and to receive those vouchers from the federal government defraying part of the private insurance premium cost. Really, the GOP expects a majority of voters to believe their reality creations, and possibly a majority will. I suspect that a person would have to be both ignorant and stupid to live in that fantasy world.  As W.C. Fields once said, you never give a sucker an even break.

One way the private insurance companies could lower premiums would be to ration healthcare as noted in the CBO report, NPR. In short, Ryan's competition involves offering a lot of difficult to understand private plans, many of which would skimp on coverage in order to bring the cost down. The OG will not want to abandon traditional medicare to join one of the private insurance plans.

The CBO noted that the private insurance companies need to make a profit, the government voucher is tied to increases in CPI and medical costs have been rising faster than inflation for a very long time; and the private companies have higher administrative costs. Ryan_Letter.pdf To make the cost competitive, the insurance companies would offer less coverage than traditional medicare. I would suspect that most individuals will discover their coverage gaps in the private insurance plans when they are told that the plan does not cover a certain medically necessary procedure.  TBs are usually not fact conscious until faced with a draconian decision that impacts them.

Apparently, Mr. Ryan and his GOP colleagues do not have much experience with price increases from private health insurance companies, and their efforts to limit or deny coverage, or maybe they are suffering from collective amnesia on that point. But Ryan is sipping that $350 a bottle champagne now with hedge fund managers at D.C. restaurants, and may need to hang out more with working folks. And they do not have to worry about their base asking questions.

Questions such as how does the government save money in the GOP's Medicare plan compared to traditional medicare? (see Kaiser Foundation analysis of GOP Plan: and its CBO: Seniors Would Pay Much More For Medicare Under Ryan Plan - Kaiser Health NewsCBO Report) The answer is simple- by shifting costs to the citizens and away from the government. The profits to be earned by private health insurance companies off the seniors is just an added benefit for the GOP.  Even Ryan can not dispute that fact. So, instead of admitting to the consequences of what he has in store for seniors, Ryan pretends that profit seeking private insurance companies will come to their rescue.

To reactionaries (about 25% of the U.S. adult population, give or take a few percent), a centrist is really a socialist or worse. Before bankrupting the middle class, and granting more tax breaks to the super wealthy, a centrist would  want to do everything possible to save traditional medicare, and would consequently be labelled by the intellectual  reactionaries as a Libtard or Demorat, a socialist, or commie for advocating such an approach, all of those labels would be applied by right wing extremists to an independent centrist. GOP's Plan To Bankrupt the Middle Class As previously discussed, there is a lot that can be done to salvage traditional medicare before adopting a plan to bankrupt the middle class.

The newly elected GOP extremist from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, is not concerned about a delay in approving a debt limit increase.  NYT According to this "expert", the U.S. could prioritize its spending, pay interest on the debt and stiff other creditors. Philadelphia Inquirer Any sensible person, which would exclude politicians like Toomey and his kindred spirit Michele Bachmann, knows that is just rubbish.  A failure of the U.S. government to pay its bills to anyone would be viewed as a default. PolitiFact

Toomey has his own budget proposal, characterized as more "radical" and damaging to average Americans than Ryan's plan by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Randall Forsyth noted in his Barrons that many of the debt fanatics, his word, would like to see financial chaos resulting from a failure to raise the debt ceiling. In a brief period back in 1995 when the GOP launched another attack on the U.S credit rating, Fitch put U.S. debt on watch for a potential downgrade, and the GOP shenanigans had a real adverse impact on Main Street who seized up hiring as noted by Forsyth. I know that it is hard for Centrists to comprehend, but many of the zealots would like to see the U.S. default.

1. Bought 1 Senior Texas Industries 9.25% Bond at 97.5 Maturing on 8/15/2020 Last Thursday (Junk Bond Ladder Strategy)(see Disclaimer): This is a senior unsecured bond with a 9.25% coupon.  It is my understanding that it was issued to redeem 550 million of senior notes with a 7.25% coupon maturing in 2013. Reuters The company had to pay more on the new notes due to the adverse impacts on its business resulting from the Near Depression and its aftershocks.  

Texas Industries (TXI) is a large cement and aggregate company. Profile That description is sufficient to inform an investor that the company is now losing money.  TXI is expected to lose $1.61 per share in its fiscal year ending in May 2011, and another loss of $.74 per share in F/Y 2012.  TXI Analyst Estimates 

This is a link to the FINRA Information on this bond. According to FINRA, the bond is rated Caa2 by Moody's and B by S & P. Given the recent losses and slow and increasingly fragile recovery, I would be more inclined to go with Moody's rating. I am assigning the bond a 7 in my Personal Risk Ratings For Junk Bonds.

This bond was originally a private issuance.  Last December, the original bond was exchanged for an identical one registered with the SEC. This is a link to the Prospectus.

2. Junk Bond Ladder Table: This is how my junk bond ladder table looks as of 7/15/2011:


After the OG stared at that table for a few minutes, it occurred to him that maybe he had gone too deep into this strategy. "Off the deep end", LB added, "and that is typical for the aging, past his prime, OG, whose mind is turning into mush". "BUY MORE", the RB interjected, "the JIHAD Against Savers is going to continue for at least another year". The OG responded by taking his afternoon nap, trying to think of some pleasant thoughts before taking a snooze.  Perhaps, it is best not to dwell too much on the Crazies.  

3. Sold 107.248 of SBSI at 20.5 Last Thursday (Regional Bank Stocks' basket strategy)(see Disclaimer):  I bought two fifty share lots in the open market. Bought 50 SBSI at 19.49 Bought 50 SBSI @ 18.73 The remaining SBSI shares came from reinvesting the dividend on one fifty share lot and a 5% stock dividend paid by this bank.  On this trade, the profit came to $225, which takes me over seven thousand in realized gains for this strategy. Item # 3 Realized Gains Regional Banks

Somehow, I managed to buy two fifty share lots in different taxable accounts, which sometimes happens when the OG forgets about owning shares in another account when placing a trade. "Or worse, the OG believes that his second trade is in the same account as the first trade when it is not", LB had to add for clarification and accuracy purposes.

The  Irresponsible Fools in the House of Representatives may actually precipitate a financial crisis with their refusal to approve a debt limit increase unless the Democrats cave into their demands. If that occurs, better opportunities to buy stocks will, without question, occur at a later time.  US default: Doomsday for investors There was more than enough to worry about before those Fools put the Full Faith and Credit of the U.S. government in play.  There may not be enough Irresponsible Fools in the Senate to cause a U.S. default, a loss of the AAA credit rating and a spike in interest rates payable on new debt. 

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