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Seven Things You Need to Know Right Now

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AT A GLANCE
DailyFeed
1. The Portfolio-to-Go; Wall Street's Next Thundering Herd
"The next thundering herd on Wall Street may be the ranks of low-cost portfolio managers such as MarketRiders and Folio Investing, which cater to self-directed investors," observes Bloomberg. "Sites that sell prepackaged portfolios have attracted more than $3 billion in assets over the last three years as more investors leave their full-service brokers."

Despite the headline's allusion to "thundering herd" and the negative connotations anything "herd-like" carries in the context of Wall Street, this is actually not a bad thing. What, would you rather Bank of America's Merrill Lynch or Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the top two full-service brokerages, handle your portfolio? The two brokerages had combined outflows of $1150 billion in 2009, the article notes.


2. Banking Crises around the World: Different Governments, Different Responses
Fed paper surveys past banking crises around the world, from Sweden to Latvia to Argentina. The conclusion? some stuff about the median cost of banking crises and great the U.S. is doing as we "transition out of" the crisis here. Hahaha. Whatever. The more important thing is this is a tidy little historical summary of other banking crises.




3. General Mills Sees 1/3, 1/3, 1/3

From the General Mills (GIS) March 23 conference call:
 “Probably I would describe it as a third, a third, a third as we look across the consumer base. I think a third of consumers probably didn’t see much of a recession and those may be the consumers that you’re referring to and their shopping trips and their activities I think have been in line with what we have seen historically. A third
of consumers are doing okay and they may have changed behavior a little bit and then a third of consumers have been more stressed in the recession with unemployment and all of the concerns that we know about.”

4. Stuffed Piles in the Aisles
From the New York Times:
"Historically, the more a store is packed, the more people think of it as value — just as when you walk into a store and there are fewer things on the floor, you tend to think they’re expensive,” said Paco Underhill, founder and chief executive of Envirosell, who studies shopper behavior. "
Wal-Mart (WMT), Dollar General (DG), JC Penney (JCP) and Best Buy (BBY) are cited in the article as using the clutter, clutter everywhere and more stuff, stuff, stuff tactic to coax shoppers to buy more. It's retail psychological warfare. My advice is to avoid the stores and just shop online for the crap you don't really need.


5. Mall Vacancies at Highest Levels in 11 Years
While some stores are busy creating piles of stuff in their aisles for us to buy, the reality of mall vacancies paints a far more grim picture. Figures from real-estate research company Reis Inc. reveal that in the top 80 U.S. markets, the average vacancy rate was 9.1%, up from 8.7%, the highest level in 11 years.


6. Angry Ayn Rand Fans Are Demanding Theaters Show Awful Movie!

It's true. Fans of Ayn Rand, angry that some theaters aren't showing Atlas Shrugged, are petitioning theaters to show this awful movie based on the awful book.


Well, that's one way to do it I suppose.

But wouldn't the right way to do it be to go on strike against the non-participating movie theaters and then, after they collapse, to build your own giant super-duper theater in Canada or somewhere? You could build it out of some amazing metal alloy that is the strongest thing ever in the whole wide world, with chairs covered in the skin of the soul-sucking poor and carpet made of human hair. The government would try to stop you, of course, because look, chairs upholstered in skin? Human hair carpet? Seriously? But what do they know? They are the stupid government with their big stupid fat taxes against businesspeople and if it wasn't for them we would, I don't know, all be sitting around on giant piles of money in  fancy office skyscrapers and smoking cigars thinking up new ways to make money by being so much smarter than everyone else.

Here. Use this handy link to send me automatically generated Pro-Rand hate mail.


7. The Cupcake Bubble
Y ahooFinance's Daniel Gross takes a look at the Crumbs $66 million cupcake empire. Crumbs recently agreed to be acquired by 57th St. General Acquisition Corp. for around $66 million, including $27 million in cash and $39 million in stock.

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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