January 2009

Whoever has forgotten Murphy’s Law, please allow me to remind you that “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong,” and wrong it has gone plenty for Pfizer, Inc. (PFE) over the past decade. As a result, share prices continually slipped recently broaching 12 year lows.

Can you imagine somebody specializing in ripping off priests, nuns and elderly Catholics? Apparently that is exactly the business another mini Madoff, the 82-year-old Richard S. Piccoli was in. His 33-year-old business, Gen-See Capital Corp., the vehicle for committing the alleged fraud was finally put to rest earlier this month. We can only hope that Picolli's 33-year-old business does not follow Jesus's example and get resurrected in some other form, someplace.

01/23/09 06:24 AM
Attorney insists Piccoli’s alleged Ponzi scheme is ‘out of business’
By Michael Beebe

Here is another genius who thought it was OK to rip people off by engaging in a Ponzi scheme. This time, it was a foreign exchange Ponzi scheme. Roberts through his companies FOMAC International, Inc., and Consultores Las Tres Americas S.A. defrauded over 400 investors in the United States and Costa Rica. Apparently, everything started out innocently enough with Roberts, being just another Forex (foreign currency exchange) trader trying to make an honest living.

Today, one of our two Bantam hens layed it's first golden egg. Ok, it wasn't quite golden - it was light brown, but I was just as excited nevertheless. Even though my Bantam hens are considerably smaller than my regular hens, I was surprised to see that the size of their eggs were not much different. In the attached photo, our first Bantam hen egg is on the left side, next to it is the third egg, laid yesterday by the regular hen.

Side-by-side Bantam and chicken eggs

Here we go again. Another Ponzi scheme. This one from a man with a past, Nicholas Cosmo of New York. This fellow was already convicted once on a federal charge of felony fraud and swindle in 1999 and sentenced to 21 months in prison. Knowing this, why would anyone entrust their money to him? This time around his company was making bridge loans and paying 13% - 14% returns. Except, apparently, there were no loans! Once a crook - always a crook.

Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:02pm EST
By Grant McCool

Just in case you missed it earlier this month and for the sake of preserving the legacy of yet another mini Madoff, here is a news release from SEC about a Philadelphia-area investment fund manager, Joseph S. Forte, who according to the SEC complaint fraudulently obtained an estimated $50 million from as many as 80 investors through the sale of securities in the form of limited partnership interests in his firm, Joseph Forte, L.P.

Apparently when it rains on Wall Street, it really pours crooks. Here is a story on another alleged Ponzi scheme operator, Daren Palmer, whose company in rather rural Eastern Idaho (of all places), Trigon Group Inc., lost $100 million for his investors. With the word "gone" incorporated right into his corporation's name, why would anybody trust this fellow with their money? Well, apparently, he was a trusted local-yocal and was able to swindle at least 60 of his neighbors...

Saturday, January 17, 2009
By WILLIAM M. BULKELEY and STEVE STECKLOW

Last Friday, the 209th State District Court in Palo Pinto County, Texas handed down a 60 year sentence to Ronald Keith Owens, a 73-year-old from Mineral Wells, Texas, whose sale of nonexistent bank-related investments cost investors at least $2.6 million. This is on top of the 63 months in federal prison that he must begin serving by this Thursday, January 29, 200, based on a December 17, 2008 federal court decision. I guess it is true what they say, everything is bigger in Texas!

Ronald Keith Owens mug shot

Yesterday one of my hens, which I grew over the past six and a half months from a day-old chick, layed her first egg. From what I read, it is rare for chickens to start laying in the winter, so I was quite surprised to discover this egg. Unfortunately, yesterday's find had a very thin shell and by the time I found it, the egg was already broken. However, this morning there was a brand new egg waiting for me and this one was whole. Here is the picture.

First whole egg
Sofae gets on her wooden horsey

Sofae gets on her wooden horsey

This past Sunday, our little girl turned 1! I can't believe that an entire year has passed since Lena gave birth.

Sofae gets on her wooden horsey

It's been six months since we received our first ever batch of chicks in a tiny box. The birds have grown quite a bit now. The attached picture is of one of the birds - a bantam rooster.

Bantam Rooster

Samuel Israel III scam is now long forgotten and rightly so, as it pales in comparison with Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. To refresh your memories: Samuel Israel concocted a scheme by which he ripped off $450 Million from his Bayou Hedge Fund Group investors. Instead of showing up to serve his sentence, he staged a fake suicide in June of 2008. He then turned himself in on July 2, 2008. So here is some fresh news on Mr. Israel and his girlfriend, Debra Ryan.

Judge bars girlfriend contact with Bayou swindler
Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:35pm EST

Another "hedge fund" president is missing along with the money that he was managing. Arthur Nadel of Sarasota, Florida left an apparent suicide note, but is alive and well... someplace. According to another article, his car was reportedly found at the airport. Come on, these fake suicides are starting to get really old already - can't you all come up with something more believable?

Missing money manager believed alive: associate
Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:42pm EST

By Jim Loney

Faking deaths and suicides are getting to be way too popular among investment advisers...

By DIRK JOHNSON
Published: January 14, 2009

McCORDSVILLE, Ind. — Marcus Schrenker favored Armani suits, drove a silver Lexus and flew his own Piper aircraft. With his wife, he hosted extravagant parties, complete with brilliant fireworks, at his home in this affluent Indianapolis suburb. As neighbors note, some a bit archly, he seemed to have it all.

But something about his flashy life did not add up.

The day before I wrote “Spend your Gold on Wheat and Oil,” gold futures closed at $837.40 / troy oz, oil at $39.31 / barrel and wheat at $211.69 per metric ton. That was December 19th, 2008. In the short time that has passed since then, both oil and agricultural commodities experienced a significant rally (and an almost corresponding correction) while gold mostly trended down.

Seven Years to Seven Figures is the road you too can travel, if you follow Michael Masterson’s example, set a primary goal and persistently sell, network, leverage, shamelessly self promote and reinvest until you reach that goal. That’s good advice, if only you can follow it.

I expect 2009 to be another tough year for equities. That being said, the current bear market rally is likely to take markets up another 20% from here during the first half of the year, before stalling in the summer months and retesting the November lows later in the year. There is a good chance that these lows will not hold and new sustained deeper lows will be plumbed later in the year, as official unemployment shoots up above 8%, consumers tighten their belts further and credit card defaults accelerate to unprecedented levels across all consumer strata.

A year ago, I reviewed Fortune Magazine’s 10 picks for the best stocks of 2008. I passed my judgment on Fortune’s recommended stocks based on their closing prices on the first Friday of 2008. Now, a full year later I was curious to see how Fortune’s picks did versus the S&P 500 over the same time period and to compare my predictions for these stocks with what happened to them over the course of the year up to the close on the first Friday of 2009.

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