Saturday, December 20, 2008

With economy in shambles, Congress gets a raise

With economy in shambles, Congress gets a raise
By Jordy Yager
Posted: 12/17/08 05:41 PM [ET]
A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.

Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.

“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”

However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise that lawmakers receive is only half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustment of Social Security recipients.

Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step of freezing its pay, as lawmakers did in 2000.

“Look at the way the economy is and how most people aren’t counting on a holiday bonus or a pay raise — they’re just happy to have gainful employment,” said Ellis. “But you have the lawmakers who are set up and ready to get their next installment of a pay raise and go happily along their way.”

Member raises are often characterized as examples of wasteful spending, especially when many constituents and businesses in members’ districts are in financial despair.

Rep. Harry Mitchell, a first-term Democrat from Arizona, sponsored legislation earlier this year that would have prevented the automatic pay adjustments from kicking in for members next year. But the bill, which attracted 34 cosponsors, failed to make it out of committee.

“They don’t even go through the front door. They have it set up so that it’s wired so that you actually have to undo the pay raise rather than vote for a pay raise,” Ellis said.

Freezing congressional salaries is hardly a new idea on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers have floated similar proposals in every year dating back to 1995, and long before that. Though the concept of forgoing a raise has attracted some support from more senior members, it is most popular with freshman lawmakers, who are often most vulnerable.

In 2006, after the Republican-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Democrats, who had just come to power in the House with a slew of freshmen, vowed to block their own pay raise until the wage increase was passed. The minimum wage was eventually increased and lawmakers received their automatic pay hike.

In the beginning days of 1789, Congress was paid only $6 a day, which would be about $75 daily by modern standards. But by 1965 members were receiving $30,000 a year, which is the modern equivalent of about $195,000.

Currently the average lawmaker makes $169,300 a year, with leadership making slightly more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) makes $217,400, while the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate make $188,100.

Ellis said that while freezing the pay increase would be a step in the right direction, it would be better to have it set up so that members would have to take action, and vote, for a pay raise and deal with the consequences, rather than get one automatically.

“It is probably never going to be politically popular to raise Congress’s salary,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to find taxpayers saying, ‘Yeah I think I should pay my congressman more’.”

Friday, December 19, 2008

''Twas the bailout before Christmas

Jay Kaeppel,
December 18, 2008

''Twas the bailout before Christmas, and people said with a gasp,
“Hey look, is that a stock market collapse!?”
The Big Three CEOs skulked like rats from their lairs,
And begged, hoping billions soon would be theirs!

The bankers meanwhile nestled snug in their beds,
While taxpayer dollars danced in their heads!
The citizens were stunned, like lemmings in May,
Wondering how much more would be taken away!

The dollar it plunges, the deficit soars,
Investment capital is fleeing our shores!
Illegals pour in, we’re treated like pawns,
We’re told time and again we can’t tend our own lawns!

Down savings, down home price, down 401K,
We “hope” to have “change” left at the end of the day!
And just when we thought our fate hadn’t been sealed,
They sell us a t-bill with a negative yield!

When down on the Senate floor there arose such a blather,
(We’d not heard such hot air since the demise of Dan Rather!)
And to no one’s surprise, we learned in a flash,
They’d voted again to spend more of our cash!

Bush now rides off, he’s made all of us cringe,
Now he’s spending our money like a Dem on a binge!
Printing more money and priming the pump,
The Fat Cats are certain of remaining quite plump!

"On Obama! On Biden! On Pelosi and Ried,
From fiscal restraint, you now have been freed!
Raise taxes, raise rules, regulations and fees,
Keep it up ‘til the last oil company flees!"

Tax coal, tax carbon, bid Hummers adieu,
Tax natural gas, electricity… hell, oxygen too!
Away Iraq and Iran and Guantanamo Bay,
“Please some one, just make it all go away!”

We just want our Hi-Def and “Dancing with Stars”,
We buy iPods and Wii’s, heck who needs new cars?!
We trust for some reason those running our government
Never mind who got us in this predicament!

This trust is quite odd, it defies all good reason
For they become more corrupt, as they develop more “season”!
But we just keep electing them, though we’re never sure which
Will defiantly stand as our next Rod Blagovich!

Way back when we were free to “speak” and “believe”
We’ve been shoved overboard now with one mighty heave!
Yes, the times there are changin’, or so it would seem,
Your government is now one big Ponzi scheme!

The old days they are over, yes this much is clear
The politicians'' response: “Send your money here!”
So don’t look back even once, just embrace the new way.
Perhaps buy a Senate seat off of eBay!

Then when all seemed lost, came a man with a sack,
His eye’s how they shifted, like coal they were black!
His bag it reads “TARP,” he doles out cash where most bleak,
‘Til he changes his mind again early next week!

He moved away from the light, not unlike a thief,
“We’re about to get screwed” was our common belief!
But I heard him exclaim, as we shouted our beef,
"Happy Bailout to some!” Our reply, “Oh Good Grief!"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Day Trading: ES Trade $1150 per 2 contracts

Click on chart for comments on the ES Market Trade.

Finally, the ES decided to play ball. This was a trade that took all week to get a nice move, but at last on Thursday we had a nice downward move as the bonds made historic highs this week.

Good Trades,

David AKA Tiger

P.S. You can see my picture and bio up on the Rockwell Trading website now.

Go to About Us at:

Thursday Day Trading: G6E Trade with Bonds at Historic Highs $1375 on 2 Contracts

Click on chart for comments on the G6E Market trade.

A good alternative to the ZB is to trade the G6E as we are at historic highs in the bonds, and being uncomfortable trading the upside in the bonds now.

This was a trade that I made in the G6E this morning for a nice profit. On every 2 contracts this one earned $1,375.00.

Good Trades,

David AKA Tiger

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday Day Trading: ES Tough trading this week

Click on chart for a larger picture of today's price action. This week once again proves how tough it is to trade the week of Triple Witch. That is, with options expiring, futures expiring, etc for the month of December.

I have come to a conclusion that a day trader should have eight weeks off a year now. Two in the middle of Summer, Two around XMAS and New Year's, and each week of the triple witch weeks. What I mean is the 3rd week of the month that falls in the week of the current ES contract. The months that this effects is March, June, September, and December.

December has been a tough month overall to trade. Tomorrow being Thursday will be my last trading day of the year, and I will not commence trading until after a nice 2 week break. My trading will continue once again on the 5th of January, 2009.

This week I will put together or early next week a blog post with the trading net gains up to this point in time from when I started the blog back in May. I have some real good news to report into next year, but we will wait until it is official before I say more about it here on

In any case, this week of trading has been tough in both markets that I like to trade, ES and ZB. There has been some real good move in the G6E recently around the FED RATE cut decision and the European banks.

Next year, I plan on occasion adding a G6E trade to my current trading plan. I am looking forward to the time off to do some much needed back testing, and planning for the next year. With this being said, we will see what the market is willing to give tomorrow, and remember to "TRADE what you SEE and NOT what you THINK!"

Good Trades,

David AKA Tiger

P.S. The Pilot Trading Chat Room has been a lot of fun over this week. I look forward to continuing this room in 2009.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

FOMC Rate Cuts Bolster Optimism

16:40 ET
FOMC Rate Cuts Bolster Optimism
Dow +359.61 at 8924.14, Nasdaq +81.55 at 1589.89, S&P +44.61 at 913.18
[BRIEFING.COM] The Federal Open Market Committee's decision to slash key lending rates and make a commitment to remedy the ailing U.S. economy bolstered investor optimism and sent stocks sharply higher. The major indices traded in positive ground for the entire session and finished just off their session highs.

The FOMC was expected to slash its fed funds target rate by 50 basis points Tuesday, which would have brought the overnight borrowing rate banks charge one another down to 0.50%. Instead, the FOMC stated it is targeting a fed funds rate ranging from 0.00% to 0.25%, though the effective fed funds rate was already within this range ahead of the decision.

The decision to make the cut was unanimous and marks the first time the target rate has been below 1.00% in 50 years.

The highly stimulative rate is intended to help the economy get on track toward growth. The FOMC stated that data indicate deteriorating labor conditions and declining consumer spending, business investment, and industrial production, and the outlook for economic activity has weakened further. However, the FOMC acknowledged it will essentially employ all available tools to promote sustainable economic growth and help relieve strains in the financial system.

The U.S. dollar dropped precipitously after the FOMC made its statements. A weak economy and low interest rates hardly bode well for the strength of the currency. In turn, the Dollar Index fell 1.9%.

Despite the struggles of the economy and the financial system, financials (+11.3%) outperformed for virtually the entire session. The sector's advance came even though Goldman Sachs (GS 76.00, +9.54) posted a larger-than-expected quarterly loss, and had its credit rating downgraded to A1 by Moody's. Investors had been long expecting a loss, sending shares lower in each of the five preceding sessions.

Best Buy (BBY 27.68, +4.21) helped contributed to early-morning optimism by issuing better-than-expected earnings per share results and in-line guidance for 2009.

General Electric (GE 17.92, +0.97) caught a bid after it reaffirmed its outlook for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2008, though it said it will no longer provide quarterly guidance. GE also reiterated its dividend, which has been a point of concern for many investors.

Oil prices have also been in focus with OPEC meeting tomorrow. A cut of approximately 2 million barrels per day is expected, but crude futures for January delivery shed $0.96, or 2.2%, to settle in at $43.55 per barrel. Crude futures had been up as much as 4.5%, but energy traders appear to have fully digested the prospect of a production cut.

In addition to OPEC's decision, energy traders will also contend with the latest inventory data from the Department of Energy, which is due tomorrow morning.

Despite the drop in oil, other commodities advanced. Precious metals found favor again as February gold and March silver advanced. Gold added $6.20 to trade at $842.70 per ounce, while silver added $0.085 to hit $10.705 per ounce.

November CPI dropped 1.7% month-over-month and pulled the year-over-year increase in CPI down to just 1.1%. Both rates were below expectations. The core rate was flat in November and follows a 0.1% decrease in October. The downtrend in CPI has a negative side as it reflects weak economic demand, but there are also clearly benefits in terms of increasing the value of financial instruments.

Housing starts data for November declined 18.9% from the prior month to an annualized rate of 625,000 units, which was below the consensus of 736,000 and 47% below the year-ago level. The November decline is the largest drop since March 1984.

Building permits, meanwhile, declined 15.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 616,000. That was also below the consensus of 700,000.

..Nasdaq 100 +5.2%. ..S&P Midcap 400 +6.1%. ..Russell 2000 +6.7%.


Tuesday Day Trading: ES Trade after FOMC Rate Cute Announcement

Click on chart for comments on the ES market trade.

This was a very close trade that I was almost able to stay in for the full ride to 907 today. But the market came back to my protective profit stop of 891 after hitting my first profit target of 896.50.

This was one of those days where simply allowing yourself to take what the market was giving and you end in the winner's circle. This week has been a little tougher to trade as we approach year end and less and less trader's in the market.

There was a lot of action today after the release of the FOMC Rate Cut, before that a lot of grinding in the market for the most part. Today the wise decision was to simply take the morning off and await for the FOMC meeting to announce the rate cut decision, and then make your trade based on that information.

Good Trades,

David AKA Tiger

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Day Trading: ZB Trades

Click on chart for comments on ZB market trades.

Pretty much a non event day this morning for the trading chat room. Just wanted to show a record of the trading here on the blog.

Good Trades,

David AKA Tiger