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Contributed by Bill Bonner
Publisher of: The Fleet Street Letter

LONDON, ENGLAND 
WEDNESDAY, 6 JUNE 2001 

 

Today:  A Long Day

*** No inflation...no worries. Stocks up again. Will the 
Dow hit a new high? Maybe. Crazier things have happened.

*** And wouldn't Mr. Bear be delighted! All those 
suckers...I mean, investors...with their picnic backets.

*** Productivity, sales, debt, juice, Trotskyites...and the 
usual stuff!

*** Long bonds, gold, and the gap between inflation indexed 
bonds and regular 10-year treasury notes all are down - 
apparently confirming Mr. Greenspan's observation that 
inflation is no problem.

*** No inflation, No worries. Or so investors seemed to be 
saying yesterday, as they rushed in to buy stocks. The Dow 
Jones Industrial Average powered ahead 114 points and the 
NASDAQ jumped 78 points, or 3.6%.

*** Among the winners on the day were stocks that have been 
big losers all year. Names like Lucent, Cypress 
Semiconductor and Xilinx topped the leader-and in board.
Xilinx, the specialty semiconductor chipmaker, cheered 
investors by reporting that its rapidly deteriorating 
profitability is deteriorating less rapidly. The stock rose 
10%. 

*** Meanwhile, back in Reality Land, the NAPM's services 
index fell once again in May and April factory orders 
plunged 3%. 

*** What kind of miracle economy is this? "The productivity 
of U.S. workers logged its sharpest fall in eight years ." 
declares a Reuters report, "while signs of wage pressure 
emerged with the largest gain in labor costs in more than a 
decade."

*** Productivity of workers outside the farm sector fell at 
an annual rate of 1.2 percent during the first three months 
of the year. Unit labor costs, meanwhile, shot up at a 6.3% 
annual. 

*** This month's issue of Red Herring offers "66 Experts 
Predict When The Economy Will Recovery." The experts are 
sure it won't take long - overwhelmingly expecting recovery 
with 9 months. But wait..what's this...they've got Mary 
Meeker, the dot.com shill, and, oh my God, Ira Magaziner, 
Hillary Clinton's health care sidekick, included as 
'experts."

*** And for now, no amount of bad news seems to dim 
investor optimism. After all, the stock market is "looking 
ahead," or so we are told. Is it looking ahead like a 4-
year-old looks ahead to his birthday party? Or rather, like 
the driver in a careening racecar looks ahead to a brick 
wall?

*** "The bulls' numbers are growing, bolstered by a feeling 
that the economy may be bottoming out after a marked 
slowdown," the Journal story stated. "All told, investors 
in April put $21 billion into stock mutual funds, after net 
withdrawals of $20.6 billion in March, according to Lipper 
Inc. Inflows continue in May."

*** The latest investor sentiment indicators confirm the 
ebullient mood. ISI's survey of institutional investors 
finds that they are more bullish than they have been at any 
time in the last five years.

*** The Chicago Board Options Exchange produces a nifty 
index known as the "VIX" that tracks option pricing to 
gauge the mood of investors. And the VIX currently signals 
the highest level of bullishness since last August. The 
current VIX reading is close to the extreme levels reached 
immediately before previous market peaks like that of July 
1998 and March of last year.

*** In May, Wall Street brought out more than $49 billion 
in new stocks [offerings].the most since October 2000.

*** Charles Biderman, editor of Liquidity Trim Tabs sees 
the record issuance of new stocks and bonds as a negative 
for the stock market - the thinking being that the more 
investors buy these new issues, the less they buy the 
stocks that are already trading. And if folks don't buy 
existing stocks because they are busy buying new ones, the 
stock market will have a tough time gaining ground.

Eric Fry

And more notes.

*** Clickety clack, clickety clack. The Eurostar doesn't 
really make much in the way of noise. In fact, it's quiet 
on the 7:15 to London. Not like 18 months ago - when 
business were passing each other investment tips and loudly 
yucking it up over how much money they were making. 

*** I picked up a copy of The Times... The English papers, 
I'm happy to report, don't pretend to the same high-minded 
seriousness as their American counterparts. Instead, in the 
first few pages we find stories murder, mayhem, jealous 
lovers and tearful tales of tiny tots drowned in backyard 
pools. My favorite is a report of two men who worked as 
counselors for sex offenders at a prison. They became so 
discomfited that they sued the Prison Service and were 
awarded more than half a million dollar in damages for the 
"psychological horrors" they suffered.

*** In a Paris newspaper, Liberation, I am promised a 
shocking revelation from Lionel Jospin's past. I imagine 
pedophilia..necromania.Republican tendencies...instead I 
discover that the Prime Minister was once a member of 
Trotskyite wing of the loony left. Weren't nearly all 
France's soft socialists - when they were younger, of 
course - connected to more radical factions? 

*** And here, dear reader, I feel the need to make a full 
disclosure - lest it come out later whilst I am in the 
middle of a presidential campaign or running hard for the 
post of master-at-arms at some looney, futile right wing 
romance. I, too, once attended a meeting of the Trotskyite 
Revolutionary Workers League..or was it the Revolutionary 
Trotskyite Proletarian Alliance?. 

*** I remember it well. I was student at the time; I 
thought it would be a good place to meet girls.. The 
clandestine meeting - held in what appeared to be a school 
auditorium - was chock-a-block with gabby intellectuals and 
a very few genuine 'workers.' The building had no smoke 
alarm system, of that I was sure, so thick was the pall of 
smoke from gauloise cigarettes. Beyond that, there were 
endless tiresome speeches.and then everyone rose, raised 
his right fist and joined in singing the "International" - 
the theme song of the group. I decided then and there that 
I wanted nothing more to do with a group that sang that 
badly and had so few good looking women...

*** This may be a good summer to visit Europe - while the 
dollar is still strong. (I realize that I gave this same 
advice last summer. The euro has not risen, but it has not 
fallen either...so the bargains remain.) 

*** "If you're looking for a castle somewhere," Forbes 
quotes Sotheby's head of International Realty, "and don't 
want to spend a lot of money," look to the Loire Valley. 
You can "still find a little chateau - yes, a chateau - for 
about $500,000," gushes Forbes. On the second point, Forbes 
is right. You can buy a chateau for $500,000. But like so 
much information, it is dangerously misleading. Once you 
have paid for your chateau, your expenses are just 
beginning.

*** In fact, If you want to see for yourself, both the joys 
and pitfalls of owning a chateau in France, you may want to 
join one of the groups that is coming to stay in my money 
pit this summer. International Living is bringing a group 
on June 24th. Follow this link...

Gourmet France 

Then, the Oxford Club has a group coming in July... If 
you're interested in the Oxford tour, please contact 
Jacqueline Corum-Jackson by e-mail at: JJackson@agora-
inc.com.

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["A Long Day" was written during a visit to the Normandy 
Beaches in April of last year. Today is the 57th anniversary 
of D-Day.]

A LONG DAY 

I thought of the famous painting by Norman Rockwell. A 
deeply furrowed and weathered farmer from out on the plains 
sits on the runner of his pickup truck, while his son 
awaits the train. The son is going off to college and is 
full of the bright expectations of youth. The father is 
more concerned with how he will get the next crop in 
without his son's help. The picture appeared to be from the 
late `30s. 

There, in section D of the American cemetery, on the bluff 
overlooking the English Channel, was the simple cross that 
marked the grave of Nils Wennberg, private first class, 
from South Dakota. Is that what happened to the boy, I 
wondered. 

The 6th and 7th of June, 1944, were black days for the 
Nindel family of Indiana. The crosses at Omaha Beach record 
that two Nindel boys, Preston and Robert, died within 24 
hours of each other on those two days - two of the nearly 
10,000 American casualties. 

Also of interest was the grave of Jimmie Montcrieth - whose 
heroism on the 6th of June was so remarkable that he was 
awarded a Medal of Honor - posthumously. Montcrieth ran 
from position to position, exposing himself to enemy fire, 
rallying his troops and managing somehow to advance against 
the German bunkers. He was killed - but the bunkers were 
taken. 

"All I remember," said Stanley, a stout oysterman and 
carpenter, and D-Day veteran, whom I worked with back in 
the `60s, "was jumping in the water and running up to the 
beach. I had never been shot at before. I didn't care for 
it. Guys were getting shot all around me. And I has so much 
sh...[gear] hanging off me, I could barely move. But I made 
it to the beach and crouched behind the dunes and started 
shooting back. I didn't know what I was shooting at. But I 
hoped to hell I hit some son of a bitch in a German 
uniform." 

"Stanley," I once asked during the terminal phase of the 
Vietnam War...when the draft lottery numbers were being 
handed out, "couldn't you have gotten out of it? Didn't you 
have polio or something?" Stanley had had polio as a child 
and walked with a limp. 

"Hell no. I didn't tell them about the polio. Besides I 
didn't want to be sitting around here with my thumbs up my 
[bleep] while everybody else was getting their [themselves] 
shot up. Of course, it was different back then...." 

I walked along the beach where Stanley must have come 
ashore. I tried to imagine what it was like. The German's 
reinforced concrete bunkers are still there. They still 
look massive, impregnable and unassailable. How could 
anyone have gotten to safety across the open beach and up 
the sandy bluff? And yet, they did. By the end of the day 
on June 6, there were 150,000 troops on the continent. As 
Hitler remarked, "The God of War has gone over to the other 
side." 

The God of War had indeed changed allegiance. Rommel, in 
charge of the German defense west of the Seine, committed 
suicide. His successor, Kluge, followed in his footsteps - 
shooting himself a few months later. 

Less obedient to the God of War was von Choltitz, in charge 
of the German garrison in Paris. Hitler ordered him to 
destroy the city. But von Choltitz may have been in Paris 
too long. He disobeyed orders. He surrendered Paris, 
intact. 

The American cemetery at Omaha Beach is the setting of the 
first and last scenes of "Saving Private Ryan." As in the 
film, there were a number of WWII vets wandering among the 
crosses and stars of David. Like the father in the Rockwell 
painting, they wore baseball caps - often with indicators 
of their military affiliations - and bore the creases of 
age and hardship. Accompanied by younger relatives, they 
walked slowly, reverentially. 

Most were very friendly and open - relaxed, as Americans 
tend to be. One older guy seemed to be stunned, though. It 
was as though he was trying so hard to recall something, 
that he had forgotten where he was and what he was doing. 

I wondered what they were thinking...and what memories they 
brought with them. And how things could have changed so 
much...so that even though these events happened during 
their lifetimes - it is as if they happened a thousand 
years ago. 

I thought, too, about how all the great changes and 
challenges of our century were over before I was born. The 
baby boomers have faced nothing like the Depression, or 
Electrication, or Automobilization, or National Socialism, 
or WWII. We have had an easy time of it. Let's hope it 
stays that way. 

Your very humble correspondent, 

Bill Bonner 

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About The Daily Reckoning:

Daily Reckoning author Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner is, in spite of himself, a natural born contrarian. Early each morning, Bill writes The Daily Reckoning—his take on the financial markets and what’s going on in the world—and sends it off by e-mail before most Americans’ alarm clocks have buzzed. Many readers say it's the first thing they want to read when they get up—not only because it's informative and thought provoking, but also it's inspiring, in its own quirky and provocative way.

Of course, there's much more to Bill than his daily market commentary. He's also the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter publishing companies. Bill's passion for international travel and big ideas are reflected in the company he's successfully built. In 1979, he began publishing International Living and Hulbert's Financial Digest . Since then, the company has grown to include dozens of newsletters focusing on health, travel, and finance. Bill has vigorously expanded from Agora's home base in Baltimore, Maryland since the early ’90s—opening offices in Florida, London, Paris, Ireland, and Germany.

Agora's publication subsidiaries include Pickering & Chatto, a prestigious academic press in London and Les Belles Lettres in Paris, best known as a publisher of classical literature in bilingual editions.

 

 
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Last modified: June 06, 2001

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