Friday, October 9, 2009

It's a MAD, MAD, MAD world


It's been a few weeks since my last post.

It's Friday and I'm sitting here in complete and utter dismay at how our government representatives, economists and pundits at large continue to want us to believe that the economic recovery has already begun. The recession is officially over. What planet are they living on?

Perhaps what they mean is that the first wave of economic disaster has past. I wonder why they aren't warning us now about the impending second wave. I believe that we've been sitting in the eye of the storm for the past 6 months and that the worst is yet to come but what do I know?

In fact, I know enough to tell you that the market for equities is completely out of control reflecting what I've been saying for months now that it's all being manipulated by a few for their own personal massive gains. Then, when they're ready to take their profits, they will implode the markets and we'll see a drop to 6500 in the Dow.

This is unavoidable as the US economy is going nowhere fast. People continue to lose their jobs, companies continue to lay off workers in huge numbers, unemployed citizens are running out of wage insurance, homeowners continue to lose their homes and consumers are still not spending money in any significant measure. So why is the stock market shooting up like this was 2007? Because it's about to crash again.

Wall Street puppet masters are having a field day and soon, it will be at our expense once again. Nothing that broke last year has been fixed yet investors are returning to equities as if stocks were on solid ground. Wrong. Earlier this week, Mosaic announced a 91% drop in net earnings along with a substantial drop in overall revenues but that didn't stop their stock from gaining over 3% that day. Is the world out of control or is it just me. When I was growing up, when a company reported a 91% decline in earnings, the value of their stock tanked. Today, that;s considered good news on the Street. It's an insane world and I for one can't wait to see it all go to hell in a hand basket. Once that happens, perhaps wew can rebuild the financial world differently and create some semblance of sanity within it...

What do you think?

Friday, August 28, 2009

21st Century Hitler: IRAN'S Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Everything I read about this guy tells me that we need to be as concerned about him as some folks were about Hitler in the late 30s.

Appeasement appears to be in many country's vocabulary these days when it comes to dealing with the Iranian dictatorship and its extremist religious government structure. And they thought the Shaw was bad news!

Even in the US, the feeling was, for a while, that we should engage the Iranian government in contrast to years of antagonistic actions by the Bush administration. At first, I thought the new approach was a good one. After all, I believe that talking to your enemies is always a good position to support. Trust but Verify was always a good policy with foes of the past. This situation in Iran is more complex now that Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Supreme Leader seem bent on crushing any sort of opposition in the future. This has been made obvious by the Fix that was in during their last "free" election and the current bent on persecuting and prosecuting anyone and everyone with any influence in the opposition.

When Iran's destabilizing influence on their neighbors and on the Arab world as a whole are considered along with their obvious and continued spiritual, financial and military support for terrorist organizations in the Middle East, one must seriously consider if the West along with Russia and China are taking the threats posed by this regime as seriously as they should.

All of these parties should be concerned about the destabilizing influence of extremist organizations who will stop at nothing to sew the seeds of anarchy around the world. And for those groups, its as easy as bombing civilians at will, anywhere, anytime. How we respond as a civilization may lay the foundation for what our society's structures look like ten or twenty years from now.

When it became clear that the last Iranian election was a fraud perpetrated by the incumbent and his supporters, I felt that the door had been opened for Israel's government to take the kind of military action they'd been threatening for months. With the tyrant, Hitler like Ahmadinejad in power for another four years at least, I have NO DOUBT AT ALL that Israel will strike Iran's nuclear installations at some point. This will happen regardless of America's public position that diplomacy and face to face talks are what's needed and what's necessary at this time.

Israel will bomb and America will voice it's objections publicly while praising their actions privately. In today;s world, we must all realize that what one says publicly is often very different than what one believes or says privately.

What do you think?

The Politicalist

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Real Estate Markets Still Heading for Greater Disaster

Here's a copy of a message I sent today to CNBC's Real Estate Reporter Diana Olick:

Dear Diana,

I enjoy reading your articles and I like your realistic approach to evaluating the housing market’s current state but, since I’m not a TV pundit, newspaper editorialist or on-line economic news show celebrity, I can tell you the straight story and not have to worry about being proven wrong (an unlikely scenario at this point) in my assessment.

The housing market will continue its catastrophic decline over the next several years for many reasons:

Foreclosures, both residential and commercial will continue to increase dramatically over the next 18 months as bad adjustable rate mortgages continue to reset, huge bond debt matures, real estate values, residential and commercial continue to plummet, owners walk away including the prime borrowers and the economy as a whole continues it downward spiral driven by lower industrial output, increasing unemployment rates, little or no credit availability and a worsening consumer spending pullback. (I’m not even including the real likelihood of seeing mad speculators (the usual suspects) driving up the prices for oil and gas in the near future to levels that guarantee another deep worldwide recession will follow)

Higher unemployment rates, the real rates, not the ones published by our government, will continue to increase resulting in higher default rates on loans of all kinds across the board. As more residences are foreclosed on and commercial debt defaults, hundreds of banks will be unable to shoulder the enormous write downs this will cause requiring perhaps more government intervention. Property prices will continue to plunge as the government’s first time home buyer program expires with the resulting effect that sales numbers will also resume their downward spiral as banks tighten standards even more and potential borrowers hoard their cash. Who wants to own when it will be much more cost effective to rent??? Prime borrowers are just now starting to walk away from their underwater home mortgages. The worst is yet to come.

Existing homes will rent well for a while as rental prices also go lower until those home values go upside down and over leveraged apartment properties also head for foreclosure. This is not your typical once in a decade recession, it’s the new great depression cushioned by an enormous infusion of government funded temporary stimulus cash (which was absolutely necessary initially to avoid a total and lightning quick planet wide economic meltdown) which once exhausted will reveal the true depth of this catastrophic economic event that will take decades to fully recover from (after we live through a period of post new great depression hyper inflation).

During the period of hyperinflation, the housing market will remain stagnant at its lowest level in centuries as adjusted for our current times. It doesn’t look good and all I had to do to come to this conclusion was use my common sense and an educated guess (the former of which the pundits all lack).


Cave Creek, AZ

What do you think?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care Reform the Republican Way!

Here are just a few of the outrageous quotes coming from the usual suspects: Republican politicians and their talking heads across the nation (don't laugh at these as millions of uninformed Americans will believe the statements):

Seniors and the disabled (SIC) "will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care."

Want to guess who made this statement? Why, it was our republican ex Vice Presidential candidate, the little pig with lipstick on her lips, that's right, Sarah Palin. Would you still vote for her now? If you're a registered republican, you probably would.

Try this one: The Democrat-backed health care reform plan "will require (Americans) to subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars." That was the well informed Republican leader in Congress John Boenher. More tax cuts please.

And this one: The health care reform plan would set limits similar to the "socialized" system in Britain, where people are allowed to die if their treatment would cost more than $22,000.. That was posted as a fact by the right wing "Club for Growth" website.

The lies and scare tactics go on and on and I haven't even quoted Rush yet. When will Americans who are so ill informed and quick to trust their Republican idols take a few minutes to check the facts. There are so many places to do so without having to read the entire 1000 plus page proposed legislation, like , one of my favorites or .

In any event, we all know that the Republicans are anti change in any way shape or form unless it satisfies their elitist supporters who are mostly wealthy or at best, well off. What worries me are the millions of civil servants, government workers who enjoy the world's best healthcare programs at the expense of the rest of us. Were it not for their incredibly expensive coverage, there is the slimest of chances that healthcare could cost all of us a little less every year. So all of these people, liberals or conservatives, do not want to see any change to their healthcare status which makes real, hard hitting reform even less likely.

In the end, here's what I think will happen: Some sort of ineffective, watered down reform will pass, with some Republican support so that all politicians in Washington can return to their constituents and claim that they won by doing the right thing. Let's face it, it's not usually about doing the right thing that matters most to our politicians, it's doing the right thing in order to ensure reelection.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 Sold on July 1, 2009

Dear Readers,

I am writing to inform you that I have sold the bulk of the assets and intellectual properties owned by my company Interactive Motorsports Entertainment a new owner as of July 1, 2009.

As most of you know, I spent nearly a decade working for the famed Skip Barber Racing School in Connecticut when it was actually owned and operated by Skip himself. I truly enjoyed the work there and had hoped that my career with the company would go on for many more years. In 1996, new personnel and a new push to centralize operations led me to resign. I had been there since 1988 and had survived many management shake ups over the years.

In 1996, the Information Super Highway was still in its infancy and most of us didn't even know what the heck that meant or what it was. I spent some time trying to understand what the new technology was about and what it's potential growth in popularity would mean to the business world in general. I figured out that there could be huge opportunities to use the Internet and the World Wide Web to launch a new business concept that had never been tried before within the still relatively small auto racing and high performance driving school industry.

So in October of 1996 I quit my job at Skip Barber and I incorporated as Interactive Motorsports Entertainment Corp.. The idea was to launch a website that would provide consumers with information and enrollment services for as many of the racing and high performance driving school operators I could track down at the time.

Back then, there were few well known operators other than ones we still recognize today: Skip Barber, Jim Russell, Bob Bondurant, Buck Baker and Bertil Roos. I figured that my many years of experience selling race car and sport car driving experiences for Skip Barber would allow me to convince many if not all of these independent racing school owners to let me sell their various programs from my new website location. Most school owners thought the concept would never succeed and some fought me for a while, but I felt there was enough interest in that industry and the sport of racing in general to make a go of it.

Originally, the domain was owned by a professional webmaster who lived in Washington state. Since I knew nothing about creating an "Internet website" on the World Wide Web, I contacted this person and asked him how I could get my services up on the Information Super Highway or the Internet. I felt pretty dumb at the time for asking so many questions about this new technology but my inquiries would pay off in the end.

The owner of the domain name agreed to add my company and its content to his site. That meant that my home on the Net, my web address would be and clients from anywhere on the planet with access to this technology could find me and my services listed there for years to come. Those were great times when the Internet was full of promise and entrepreneurs were working hard to create new business models and new revenue streams that had never existed before.

I was now a true maverick, a DOT COM entrepreneur before the term had even been coined. Within a couple of months, I had secured a sales relationship with a the latest of the racing school owners to join the industry, Derek Daly. For the next six months, I would be his company's sole sales representative on the WEB. In fact, I was his ONLY sales rep. for the first six months he was in business. Once he hired some people to work on site in Las Vegas, IME Corp. remained his only independent sales agent. That exclusive sales relationship existed until the school was sold in December of 2005.

All the while, I was using my faithful AOL Internet dial up service to scour the Web for more schools to add to my Sales Network. Within a few weeks, I had added several new and upcoming schools to the website. Five schools turned into eight and then ten and fifteen and twenty and pretty soon, if you weren;t part of my Sales Network you were passing up on some important revenue opportunities. Most schools still hadn;t caught up with the Internet. I added ON-LINE enrollment capability in late 1997 and in late September of 1998 I found an investor and $100,000 to help me fund the full acquisition of the domain name and expand our sales services to an even wider audience around the globe.

The site was gaining in recognition with every passing month, so much so that in the summer of 2008 a Canadian businessman by the name of Patrick Schwareb contacted me with an idea. He wanted to launch what would be the first authentic Formula One Driving Experience in North America. I was fortunate to play a small role in getting the program off the ground and, as a result, had the incredible good fortune to drive a 1994 Footwork Arrows Formula One race car several times that year and next. What a priviledge - what an amazing sensation of power and handling capability. Unbelievable, believe me.

Being the owner of had its perks. I was regularly invited to attend driving experiences at a variety of driving schools all over the country and at all the famous tracks. It was an exciting time of growth and new opportunities.

In 1999 I successfully established a sales relationship with the Richard Petty Driving Experience and soon thereafter, began selling the iconic Super Certificates, an early version of the gift card whose face value could be applied towards the program cost of any one of over 35 racing schools all over the US, Canada and Europe.

By early 2001 sales had grown from about $300,000 a year to well over a million and much of the company;s income was derived from the sale of gift certificates. By 2003, sales were over 2 million annually and by 2006 we had exceeded the 3 million dollar mark. Times were great.

It was in December of 2005 that I made a deal with Derek Daly to buy his racing school in Las Vegas. Since my early days at Skip Barber, I had visualized what it would be like to run such a company. My dream of owning my own road racing school was about to come true. I was in heaven.

The Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy soon became the American Racing Academy and it belonged to me along with its fabulous purpose built Formula 2000 race cars and a fleet of 14 BMW Z3 Roadsters. The new business signs went up on the building located directly in front of the headquarters for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I was making deals with the track director for track days and I was putting together the best employee team in the business. I repainted the race cars and re-branded everything as quickly as cash flow would allow. Within 3 months of buying the school, I was rolling our first authentic Formula One race car into the garage bay.

The American Traffic Academy at the Las Veags Motor Speedway was THE ONLY LOCATION IN THE UNITED STATES where anyone could sign up to drive a real FIA Championship Formula One race car on track. No speed limits, no rev limiters, no pace cars. Just you and the 600 horsepower of a finely tuned F1 machine. I had struck a strategic relationship with a businessman from France to house and run the cars out of my school and facility. It was the best of times.

It was indeed the best of times. I must have completed the 5 hour one way drive between my office in Phoenix and the race track in Las Vegas over 200 times in 18 months. The school was renting a 3 bedroom condo just a few minutes from the track to accommodate longer stays in town and important visitors.

My wife and I flew to London in 2005 to oversee an important corporate program and I once again drove an F1 car at the Three Sisters Race Circuit. The following year we accompanied a group of clients to Monaco for the Monte Carlo Historic Races and stayed for the famed F1 Grand Prix. My life has been a virtual fairy tale since joining the Skip Barber Racing School in 1988.

There was even a brief time in early 2006 when the top executives at Automobili Lamborghini had informed me that the American Racing Academy and its Las Vegas location had been selected to be the North American home of the Lamborghini Academy. The announcement had been made by a top Lambo executive during a Lamborghini Ride & Drive at the school, in front of over 35 Lamborghini dealership representatives from all over the US and Canada. I had accomplished all of my stated dreams at that point and I was enjoying the fruit of my hard work over the past 15 years or so.

As the saying goes, "all things must pass" and by early 2007, I could sense an enormous shift was about to happen in the world economy. At first it was suspicions driven by the quickly increasing price of oil. I knew that wasn;t a good sign for businesses in general and consumer prices in particular. That was followed by a sense that the housing market was about to peak. I was beginning to get concerned about the effects of a bubble especially in Las Vegas where population and housing growth had eclipsed every other city in the country until that point. Life was getting TOO good.

I was smart enough to anticipate an inevitable drop in demand for racing school programs and driving experiences so I set out to find a buyer for the American Racing Academy. In July 2007, I sold the company to the owners of the Mario Andretti& Jeff Gordon Racing Schools. Just in the nick of time if I may say so myself. I turned a low five figure investment into a high six figure return.

I wish I would have been smart enough then to realize that the problems in the housing industry were going to affect the rest of the economy in ways that none of us had seen in nearly 70 years, going back to the Great Depression. Had I known, I would have sold at that time also. But I didn't and I waited, hoping that the worst would pass and that the economy would stabilize. I was wrong.

By the summer of 2008, it was now clear to me that the catastrophic economic downturn experienced by a few of the investment banks earlier in the year would spill over into every sector of the economy. I was predicting $50 a barrel oil for the end of the year when the price of the commodity was hitting its all time high in July. I knew then for certain that the outrageously high price of oil combined with an imploding housing market and failing investment banks marked the beginning of some very bad times for all of us. I still didn;t know how bad it would get. Who would have thought?

As the economy continued to worsen through the end of 2008, I understood that the unique business model and company I had created nearly 14 years ago was no longer viable and a recovery was unlikely in the near term. I would have to let go of my hopes for a comfortable early retirement and focus on keeping the lights on for the foreseeable future. Things were getting worse. I found an industry veteran who agreed to purchase many of the assets of Interactive Motorsports Entertainment Corp.including the AND domain names. It was effectively the end of a era for me as well as an opportunity for a new beginning.

As luck would have it, I was contacted back in January of 2007 by a District Attorney in Henderson, NV who had just seen a report on TV about the American Racing Academy's High Performance Driving School programs. He asked if I could produce a proposal for that city's traffic courts that would make it possible for judges to sentence young traffic offenders to attend a "Defensive Driving Program" in lieu of paying the usual fine. To make a long story short, I formed the American Traffic Academy to respond to this need and have now operated the program successfully for the past 18 months. We've processed nearly 1000 young traffic offenders during this time and I'm now looking to expand our market by offering our unique low cost hands-on car control & collision avoidance programs to Active Adults and Taxi Companies in the metropolitan Las Vegas area.

With all this said, I am certainly melancholic about loosing control of my prized domain names but the racing school and high performance driving experience industry was never a friendly environment to work in and nobody ever cared about anyone else in the business during the entire time I was a part of it. I am truly happy to no longer be a part of it and I will remember the good days fondly but set my sights on the better days yet to come.

Adieu and long live the American Traffic Academy!

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oil Prices - Here we go again !

Can someone explain to me how it's possible for gasoline consumption in the US (not to mention elsewhere around the world)to be down some 3% over the past few months while prices for a barrel of oil soared nearly 80% during that same period ????????

Today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast that world oil demand in 2009 would be even weaker than previously thought.

DO NOT BELIEVE anyone that utters the words: Supply & Demand" to explain the recent runup in prices. The truth supported by the obvious facts are that once again the big boys are manipulating the value of oil and doing all they can to get the price of a barrel back up to around $75-$80. Why? Because at that level, the profits are HUGE.

Never mind that high oil prices in this economy are unsustainable. Never mind that in this great recession, any increase in the price of gasoline further cripples the world's economy. Never mind because a handful of people, companies and countries are reaping huge rewards once again at the expense of the planet's population.

The scariest part, not withstanding the economic crush on people and businesses already at the brink of financial disaster, is that these high prices are shoring up the economies of some less than friendly countries like Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria to name just a few.

So while the usual suspects are getting richer off the backs of the world's oil dependent population, our government is allowing this speculation to continue, pushing the price of a barrel of oil to levels which are inexplicable given the current oversupply of the soupy stuff. I am predicting right here, right now that oil will be back down to $35 within a couple of months and that will once and for all confirm what we already know: Oil prices are being grossly manipulated on a daily basis by the few who can and are jury rigging the antiquitated system that keeps our world turning...for now.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Toll Brothers President is out of touch

Bob Toll told Mad Money's Jim Cramer yesterday that he sees 80% of the country's real estate market's improving over the course of the next 8 months.


Maybe someone should take Mr. Toll on a cab ride through such cities as Compton, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Phoenix, AZ or Miami, FL after he spends a few minutes driving through Detroit. For anyone, especially the head of a publicly owned luxury construction company to say that real estate markets will be improving anytime soon is disingenuous at best and an attempt to shore up his company's home sales and stock values at worst.

With over 8 million mortgages about to see their interest rates reset over the next 18 months there is NO WAY IN HELL the market is about to recover anytime soon. I suspect it will take at least 3 years to clear up the inventory of foreclosures and about the same amount of time to bring down the inventory of existing homes back down to sustainable levels.

It will take 5-7 years or more for prices to begin increasing again and by then, we should be right in the middle of a hyper inflationary cycle which means mortgage rates will be mostly unaffordable to the average buyer.

The situation is completely without any positive indicators at this time and for Mr. Toll to go on CNBC to try to give his company';s sales a bump is, well, like all the other big businesses lying to us about how rosy things will be again by early next year. It's bullshit at best and criminally misleading at worst.

I have many friends that had been working at Toll as middle managers for years. All but one lost their jobs and Toll is still cutting. In the meantime, the company is offering huge discounts. You don't discount unless you feel the need to do so. His words and expressed opinions as the head of a publicly held corporation must be considered carefully by the SEC as do so many other CEOs who have made ludicrous comments about the state of their businesses over the past 12 months.

If you're in the market for a house - WAIT. Prices will continue to drop and so will interest rates. Wait until the late fall or winter of 2009 when the markets usually slow down naturally. The deals will be even better 8 months from now given the continued steep decline in the economies of the world.

What do you think?