Archive for December, 2009

Midwest Economy Growing Stronger

// 11:04am December 30, 2009 By Daniel Costello

More businesses in the Chicago region were expanding in December than at any time in the past 16 months. That’s according to the The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago’s Business Barometer.

The business activity index rose to 60 percent from 56.1 percent in November. It’s the highest reading since August 2008 and was stronger than many forecasts.

Readings above 50 percent indicate expansion, and below 50 percent indicate contraction, suggesting business activity is increasing.

The national Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index will be released Monday, and the ISM non-manufacturing index a week from today.


-Jim Frey

December 31, 2009 at 12:47 pm Leave a comment

My Hero, or at least one of them…

By Anand Chokkavelu
December 24, 2009

// Warren Buffett gets opportunities the rest of us don’t. He’s the name-brand investor companies go to when they need cash or a smidge of reputation in a hurry.

I have previously chronicled the crazy-sweet terms Goldman Sachs and General Electric (NYSE: GE) gave Buffett . How crazy-sweet? They begged Buffett — technically his company, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) — to lend them money at a guaranteed 10% plus equity upside.

But before you get too jealous, know that this wasn’t always the case.

How Buffett made his opportunities
Let me take you back to a time when Buffett wasn’t worth 11 figures. Back to a time when he had only five figures to work with.

In his 20s, Buffett’s eventual avalanche was just a snowball. All his name could get him was a dinner reservation … if he called ahead.

So he had to work to find deals to invest in — deals that would form the basis of his fortune. He sought out the master investors of his time, including his hero Benjamin Graham, and learned everything they would teach him.

But more than anything, he did the legwork that others weren’t willing to do. In this time before the Internet, he’d physically go to Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s to read old reports, to the SEC to read filings, and to company headquarters to talk with management.

His persistence was rewarded handsomely, particularly in tiny, underfollowed companies. In Buffett’s own words: “I would pore through volumes of businesses and I’d find one or two … that were just ridiculously cheap.”

How cheap? In one six-year period, he grew his wealth by more than 60% a year. By age 26 he had amassed so much wealth that he considered retirement.

How Buffett lost his opportunities
Of course, he didn’t retire. In the decades since, he’s continued putting up incredible returns, and he’s laid claim to the unofficial title of greatest investor ever.

But with all this wealth comes a problem.

That problem is exemplified by Buffett’s recent purchase of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad — which he admits wasn’t a particular bargain.

The man who has absolutely throttled the market for more than five decades now says, “Reasonable return is good enough. … I mean, 50 years ago, I was looking for spectacular returns, but I can’t — I can’t get them.”

Why the surrender? One word: size.

Berkshire Hathaway is roughly the size of a General Electric, a Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), or a Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO). Buffett’s empire has grown so large that the small multibaggers he used to stalk no longer make a dent in his portfolio’s returns.

For Buffett, analyzing and buying a small-cap stock has roughly the same cost-benefit as us walking a mile to pick up a quarter. Instead, he’s stuck stalking elephants like Burlington Northern, which is roughly the size of a Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), an Altria (NYSE: MO), or a MasterCard (NYSE: MA).

Jim Frey

December 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm Leave a comment

90% 7(a) Guaranty on Loans Approved Starting December 28th‏

Release Date: December 22, 2009 Contact: Hayley Matz (202) 205-6948 Release Number: 09-83 Internet Address:
Additional Funding for SBA Recovery Lending Programs Will Support $4.5 Billion in Small Business Lending
Agency plans to restart Recovery loan approvals by Dec. 28

WASHINGTON — President Obama signed the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill on Saturday, which included $125 million to continue through Feb. 28, 2010, the enhancements made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to SBA’s two largest loan programs. The SBA estimates the additional funding will support $4.5 billion in small business lending.
New approvals of loans with the higher guarantee and reduced fees made possible by ARRA are expected to begin by Dec. 28. Loan applications from borrowers who chose to be placed in the SBA’s Recovery Loan Queue will be funded first, followed by new loan approvals beginning on or before Dec. 28.
“This Administration and Congress recognize that these key programs were successful in helping jump-start the economic recovery for America’s small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “The increased guarantee and reduced fees on SBA loans helped put more than $16.5 billion in the hands of small business owners and brought more than 1,200 lenders back to SBA loan programs. The extension of these programs through February is important to continuing our path toward recovery and will mean thousands more small business owners have access to the credit they need.
“Just two weeks ago, President Obama laid out key aspects of his jobs plan, including significant ongoing support for small businesses. We will continue to work with Congress on moving those proposals forward, including extending these loan enhancements as the President has called for, to ensure that small business owners have the tools they need to drive economic growth and create jobs in communities all across the country.”
As part of ARRA, SBA received $730 million, which included $375 million to increase the SBA guarantee on 7(a) loans to 90 percent and to waive borrower fees on most 7(a) and 504 loans. More information about the waived fees can be found here. The funds for these programs were exhausted on Nov. 23.
SBA created the Recovery Loan Queue as part of its transition back to pre- ARRA lending on Nov. 23 because previously approved loans are sometimes canceled or never disbursed for a variety of reasons. Eligible small businesses, in consultation with their lender, could choose to be placed in the queue for possible approval of an ARRA loan if funding became available. Currently there are 1,069 loans totaling almost $530 million in the Recovery Loan Queue.
The extension included in the DOD bill authorizes the higher guarantee levels through Feb. 28, 2010. The fee relief is authorized until this additional funding is exhausted or the end of the fiscal year, whichever comes first. As was the case in November, SBA will transition into a queue system as the funds start to wind down in order to ensure the maximum simulative effect of the programs and disbursement of funds.
For non-ARRA 7(a) or 504 loans funded during the transition period, this extension does not provide a retroactive guarantee or waived fees. Loans that were funded under non-ARRA terms cannot be canceled and resubmitted to take advantage of the ARRA extension provisions.
This extension does not affect other SBA ARRA programs, including the America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) loan program or the agency’s microloans. ARRA funding still remains for both of those programs.
# # #

Jim Frey

December 29, 2009 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

What to Think About If You Want to Succeed (at anything)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009By Michael Masterson

If you want to be truly successful, you can’t spread your energy and intelligence too thin. You must devote your time and attention to a limited number of things. You must strive — as best you can — to live in the real world.

Studies show that happy people live in the here and now. They pay attention to the people around them rather than the people they read about or see on television. They deal with problems that confront them directly rather than those that exist — if they exist at all — somewhere else.

Successful people, as we’ve seen from countless examples, achieve the things they achieve by solving specific real problems and creating real products. When challenged by something highly unlikely or far in the future, they tend to reply, “Why don’t we handle that if and when it happens?”

Take a survey of your thinking. How much of it is devoted to events and situations (1) of which you have no personal knowledge or (2) over which you have no control? Compare that to the time you spend solving real problems and dealing with real people. Make sure the balance is heavily on the side of reality.

Jim Frey

December 24, 2009 at 4:37 am Leave a comment

Doc Ellis video

Check out this cool you tube video about Doc Ellis, the pitcher for the Pirates who pitched while on LSD. It is actually him talking. Hilarious video.

Jim Frey

December 24, 2009 at 4:29 am Leave a comment

How to start a blog

Go to,, or any other blog site, create a username and password, then start blogging. Write or share stuff, then publish it. Then share it with others.

– Jim Frey

December 9, 2009 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

Zhu Zhu Pets

NBC News and news services
updated 9:21 a.m. ET, Mon., Dec . 7, 2009//

ST. LOUIS – The Consumer Product Safety Commission has opened an investigation into the popular Zhu Zhu Pets toy because it may contain higher-than-allowed levels of antimony, a heavy metal which if ingested can make children sick, NBC News reported.

“We will complete our review swiftly,” the agency said in a statement. “With new safety measures in place for children and toy recalls down from previous years, consumers can have greater confidence when shopping this year and in the CPSC.”

The CPSC probe came after San Francisco-based GoodGuide named Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters one of the top-selling toys with low ratings after finding the chemical on the hair and nose of one of the toy hamsters, called Mr. Squiggles.

Story continues below

December 7, 2009 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

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