Tuesday, April 03, 2007
We are again headed north for a few days, this time with checkbook-in-hand, to look for a home to rent for the next year. It's pretty amazing how little it costs to rent a house in the mountains with ample space and gorgeous views.
Some of the long-term rentals now available are second homes that have been for sale for quite a while - the owners apparently have decided to try to wait out the 2007 market and hope for better conditions in 2008. Who knows how that will work out for them, but in the mean time there are mortgages, taxes, and bills to pay - that's where we come in.
If all goes well, we'll be looking out the back deck this summer at something like this for about half the rent we pay now.
No more boom-boom-boom when the kids drive by and no more sounds of a six lane freeway a couple miles away that some people claim sounds like the ocean. Whatever.
Just pine trees, two-lane roads, and weekend warriors/wine tasters to keep the businesses busy enough two days a week so we can spend time in town on any of the other five days without the crowds.
While We're Away ...
In the meantime, if anyone is interested in having a look at the investment website while waiting for something new to show up here, a temporary account has been set up just for that purpose.
The username and password shown below will provide access to the subscribers' area of the site for at least a couple days until we get back.
Seriously. This is no April Fool's Joke.
Try it on the most recent Weekend Update or the Model Portfolio. To get a good feel for all the material that is available, you can search the Weekend Update Archive and see what's discussed on a weekly basis including commentary on individual companies within the model portfolio.
And of course the Guide for New Subscribers is worth a look for those who might be interested in joining. To get a longer look, you can request a Free Trial - with the account info above, the links on that page will now work.
So far this year, there's been more selling than buying, but, as this is written on Tuesday afternoon, gains for the year now top six percent. This follows last year's 26 percent gain and despite what you hear about the natural resources boom having ended last year - surprise! - it's still going strong.
In today's Wall Street Journal, there was an article ($) about the new guy that runs the investment portfolio for Calper's (California Public Employees' Retirement System). Like many other institutional investors, he doesn't seem to be too scared off by the supposed bursting of the commodities bubble in 2006.
Since Mr. Read began managing Calpers' $230 billion in assets in June 2006, he has started putting money into oil, copper and other commodities and increasing its emerging-markets investments.My thoughts exactly.
To some, Mr. Read's move into emerging markets and commodities might look like he has arrived more than fashionably late to a party, given the long run-up those investments have enjoyed in recent years. He argues that Calpers is in fact right on time, given that it is a pension fund interested in long-term returns over years or decades.
He says Asia is just starting its upward climb. China and India have reached "critical takeoff conditions," Mr. Read says. Their ultimate development is "inescapable and compelling." Investments in emerging markets now represent about 3% of Calpers' portfolio. Mr. Read says he expects that percentage to multiply in the next five to 10 years, with Asia accounting for a double-digit share of the total.
As for commodities, some analysts believe prices have peaked, but Mr. Read argues that a decades-long increase in demand for energy and raw materials is also just beginning, given economic growth in those same emerging markets.
Not surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal deems this approach a "risky strategy", something you might also hear on CNBC, but after only a few months in the new year, this "risky" strategy seems to be working just fine - just like it did last year and every year going back to the dot-com bust.
When you start hearing a lot of people speak glowingly about the price of molybdenum or the junior mining stock they just bought or about drill rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, then it might be time to start planning your exit, but that time is a long way off.
Just had to get this caricature of
John (Doh!) Stephen Colbert up whilst packing. The story($) is behind the subscription wall at The Economist - the final quip is the best part, "The post-modernity of it all was illustrated when Mr O'Reilly actually appeared on “The Colbert Report” and jokingly admitted that his aggressive on-screen persona was “all an act”. Mr Colbert replied: “If you're an act, then what am I?”
UPDATE: April 5th, 6:50 PM PST
We just got home. The username and password above have been disabled, but you can still sign up for a free trial here. (There are way too many crazy drivers out there!)