Without You

I’ve been online, in one way or another, since about 1982 when I got my first 300 baud Lynx modem. During the many years since, I have acquired what I think is a pretty strong sense as to the rhythm, timbre, and pulse of a given online community. In many ways I’m more comfortable with […]
Slope of Hope

Market Recap Mar 31, 2016

Indexes topped off a very volatile quarter with a very quiet session. The S&P 500 fell 0.20% while the NASDAQ gained 0.01%. The NASDAQ had its worst first quarter since 2009 with a 2.75% quarterly decline. All three major averages recovered from an intra-quarter drop of more than 10%. The fact a sub 3% loss in a quarter is the worst first quarter action we’ve seen in 7 years shows how…

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Don’s Q2 Goals

Dear Diary,

As I try to quickly transition to a Q2 mindset, I feel I need to improve formally documenting and tracking to my goals. So here they are, listed in order of personal significance.

Frankly, if I just accomplish 1a and 1b, I’ll consider it a monumental quarter … the rest are simply guides and motivators.

1a. Love more.
1b. Reflect far more of God and far less of self.
2. Finish reading book in progress (Imagine Heaven) and target two others.
3. Continue New England Emmaus Board leadership efforts including Spring Walk participation.
4. Complete weight loss program, attaining target weight of 178.5 from 203 starting point.
5. Sustain new weight level; Close quarter < 180 lbs on 6-30.

Trading Goals:
6. 100% profitable weeks & months.
7. Incur maximum six draw days in approx. 60 trading days (2 per month; <10%).
8. Optimize targeted capital preservation/growth mix (<5 years to 60!) via earnings no less than $ 200k w/$ 400k stretch goal.
9. Attain minimum of four $ 25k days, two $ 50k days, and one $ 100k day.
10. Increase maximize ES trading size to 300 contracts.

Don Miller’s S&P Trading Tank

U.S. local and federal governments respond to an urgent safety situation

We flew to Boise and drove to Sun Valley, Idaho earlier this month because the standard instrument approach into the nearby Hailey, Idaho airport (KSUN) requires better-than-vfr 1800′ ceilings. There is an RNP approach for jets equipped with the most sophisticated equipment and whose operators have obtained specific authorization, but even that requires 1000′ ceilings rather than the standard 200′ ceilings for a regular approach. On the afternoon of our arrival the clouds were generally 800′ or 900′ above the runway and therefore in theory the scheduled airlines wouldn’t be able to land. An attempt to land that is aborted into a “missed approach” requires pilots to thread the plane through the mountains on a GPS-guided path, which is a higher workload than “add power and climb out straight ahead”. If an engine quits during part of this process a yet higher level of pilot technique is required to avoid contact with mountains.

As we drove through a wide flat valley of alfalfa farms we wondered “Why didn’t they just put the airport here, an extra 15 minutes away from the ski resort? It would be an idiot-proof standard procedure for a tired regional jet crew to follow. Why subject passengers to the risk of a $ 19/hour first officer not being his or her sharpest at the end of a 5-day trip?”

[There are practical problems with this airport as well as safety problems. Regional jets must land north and depart south. If the wind is blowing at all, a maximum tailwind limitation will be exceeded for one part of the “turn” and therefore the flight must be diverted to Twin Falls, Idaho and passengers put on a two-hour bus ride. Locals say that they’ve come to expect landing in Twin Falls (“Twin”) rather than in Hailey.]

It turns out that we were not the first to ponder these questions. From a 2009 USA Today article, “Feds say Sun Valley-area airport doesn’t pass ‘hazard test’”:

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration say the airport in the central Idaho town of Hailey must eventually be closed and replaced because it doesn’t pass the “hazard test.”

Jason Pitts, manager of the 12-state FAA Northwestern region’s flight procedures office, said ridgelines that surround Friedman Memorial Airport mean aircraft that abort landings can’t meet FAA standards of 2,000 feet above the highest terrain as they climb to higher airspace to make another approach.

Pitts said they’ve looked at approaches from every angle, and “sorry, the answer is no” to any technologies that would change the FAA decision. He spoke to the airport’s governing board — the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority — earlier this week.

Officials are considering three sites south of the current airport to build a new one. The FAA plans a preliminary decision in November 2011 on the possible location of a new airport.

We could have picked a vastly safer airport location in about an hour by looking at an aeronautical chart and knocking on some farmers’ doors to ask who would be willing to sell. Yet after seven years passengers continue to be subject to a level of risk that is more like what you’d expect for an air traveler to a remote corner of Nepal.

What has the combination of federal and local government accomplished? Instead of buying out a farmer and laying down a 1.5-mile strip of asphalt, in 2015 the government spent $ 34 million in tax dollars on improvements to the airport declared fundamentally unsafe in 2009 (source).

If we assume that the typical visitor to Sun Valley is paying 40 percent of his or her income in taxes (federal income, state income, local income (e.g., New York City), property, sales, gas, etc.), why don’t the governments in question demonstrate at least some interest in keeping these people alive?

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Collapse of the helicopter industry

“Helicopters Are Unlikely Victim of Oil Downturn” (WSJ) has some mournful tidings:

Industry executives said a fifth of the 1,900 helicopters serving the oil-and-gas industry world-wide are idle or underemployed, and expect this overcapacity to worsen before it improves.

Helicopters used by the oil-and-gas sector account for 26% of the global commercial fleet, according to AgustaWestland, a unit of Finmeccanica SpA.

Mr. Mannion said the industry will have to look—for the first time—at options for storing unsold helicopters. Manufacturers said limited indoor storage facilities in hangars had created a need for alternative solutions. Mr. Mannion said the alternatives included shrink-wrapping or Heli-Cells—inflatable climate-controlled canopies originally developed to protect expensive classic cars.

Market leader CHC, which went public two years ago, has seen its market value wiped out after peaking at $ 1.3 billion, and the company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in January.

Lockheed Martin, which paid $ 9 billion for Sikorsky last year, expects the unit’s commercial sales to slide to $ 375 million this year from a peak of $ 1.5 billion in 2013.


Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Market Recap Mar 30, 2016

The after glow of uber dove Janet Yellen hung over the market as indexes gapped up at the open and more or less finished where they began. The S&P 500 gained 0.44% and the NASDAQ 0.47%. Ahead of Friday’s employment report, ADP said 200,000 positions were added in March.

Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth: “… right now your (in the) middle of the lineup…

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