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7.15.2015 Financial Intelligence Report Bookmark

Short Waves

When I was a kid, I had a friend named Jack. Jack and I met in school as most kids do, and we hit it off pretty well.  The first time I went to his house after school, I was instantly “amazed” at his favorite hobby. It seemed Jack was deeply into short wave radio’s
Short Waves

When I was a kid, I had a friend named Jack. Jack and I met in school as most kids do, and we hit it off pretty well.  The first time I went to his house after school, I was instantly “amazed” at his favorite hobby. It seemed Jack was deeply into short wave radio’s and was studying Morse code so he could be a ‘ham” radio operator. I had never even heard of it before at the ripe age of about 14.

I’ve always been inquisitive, especially around anything to do with science, etc, and asked him to walk me through what he was doing. On the wall behind is short wave set up, there were about 100 “cards” tacked up, cards that looked like business cards. He explained to me that they were QSL cards. So, what’s that? Basically a QSL card is a written confirmation of either a two-way radiocommunication between two amateur radio stations or a one-way reception of a signal from an AM radio, FM radio, television or shortwave broadcasting station. It can also confirm the reception of a two-way radiocommunication by a third party listener. A typical QSL card is the same size and made from the same material as a typical postcard, and most are sent through the mail as such.

So here’s this young teen, with a type of radio I’d never heard of, and on the wall were all these bright colored cards from all over the world where he had listened in to the stations broadcasts. I was awestruck over it all. He had cards from not just stations in the US, he had listened in on ham broadcasts from Europe, Africa, South America.  To a young kid in the late 60’s, this was quite the “adventure!”

Soon I was going over to his place in the evenings to see what we could hunt up on his radio. It was somehow exciting to me, as he’d scroll through the dial and all that “white noise static” would be coming out of the speaker and then all of a sudden a voice would emerge. We’d listen for his call signs, get his location and send a request for a QSL.

Being excited about what I’d found, I told my dad all about it and he too was interested in learning more. He was aware of what short wave and ham radio was, but didn’t have any real knowledge of it. So we embarked on our own journey to buy a short wave radio and see what we could find on the mysterious airwaves. Well the one we bought was not nearly as good or expensive as Jack’s. But we got one and then strung up a 40 foot wire line antennae in the back yard between an old flag pole and the house. Soon enough I was listening to broadcasts from England, Canada, and Europe. It was quite fun.

Jacks family moved away, and I didn’t know anyone else that was even slightly into what I was playing with. After a while my interest turned from exciting radio, to exciting girls and well…you know how all that  goes.

I had forgotten all about ham radio and short wave until Hurricane Sandy ate my house on the Jersey shore. We so take for granted that our phones and pad’s are going to work, that it is simply accepted as true. Well it wasn’t true. When Sandy hit, not only did the power go down, the cell towers went down and those that were in operation were so heavily crowded that they blew up. That’s when it hit me… that’s why a lot of folks that are into “prepping” were indeed into some form of “ham radio.” The hams were on top of things, getting news into and out of the area and coordinating rescue services. I instantly thought of Jack and him passing his test to be a “ham”. I wish I had done the same.

 Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s all done over the radio, and here’s the best part of it…there’s no “carrier”, no cell towers, no nothing. If you have a radio capable of transmitting on the legal channels, an antennae and some power, you can talk to other people, no matter what has happened. A hurricane, tornado or Government shut down of telephones will not stop it.

Remember the old CB radio’s that were so popular in the 70’s? In the broadest terms they were a mini version of a ham radio. You had a low power radio capable of transmitting a short distance on a handful of frequencies. Darned useful they were, but because of limited channel selection, they became awful crowded, and frankly…a lot of useless foul language was the norm.

Well ham’s are multiple factors of “better” than that. The Ham community is well respected, licensed, and often has equipment that is priced in the multiple thousands. Depending on the set up you might own, and the particular license you might want to achieve, you could be talking to people in Russia, France or Germany from your office table, all without a phone of any kind.

So what’s my point here? Why did I bring up this topic? Several reasons actually but they tie in together nicely. We’re in Hurricane season right now and thankfully it has been quiet. But living in Florida we always know we’re just one major storm from massive destruction, no power, no cell phones no nothing. Ever since Sandy I’ve had a nagging desire to join our local Ham club, buy some inexpensive gear and get proficient enough with it that I could always guarantee a way to hear the news, find out what’s happening and converse with others.

Another reason is that as our world hurtles toward what ever madness our economic situation brings us, I also understand the Prepper’s desire to have a small ham radio set up. We’ve discussed the idea of what would happen during a “banking holiday” where banks close for a currency reset. We’ve talked about what happens if our supply chain went down and there was some societal unrest. Frankly… let me get to the real bottom line. With a small ham set up, NO ONE can shut me down. Go ahead…Turn off my land line, turn off my cell service, hell, turn off my electric, and with a car battery and my ham set up; I can listen and talk to other folks, folks that are generally pretty tuned into what’s really going on.

I’ve been doing a lot of research into this as far as costs go, the best equipment for the job, the requirements for a license, etc. It can be done really pretty cheaply. They say there are over 600,000 ham’s in the US and over 2 million world wide. That’s a big number of people one can rely on when things in a particular area get ugly. Between the “fun” of just playing with it as a hobby ( hams talk to the international space station at times!) it’s use as a fail safe way of communications attracts me.  On the bottom rung of the spectrum you can get into a hand held radio  like the  BaoFeng UV-5R Plus Dual-Band 136-174/400-480 MHz FM Ham Two-way Radio for like 50 bucks. On the other end of the scale, a good home based model, with the ability to literally talk around the world outside of the 2 meter band can cost you 2-3 grand easily. Some of the preppers I’ve talked to say a darned good base station can be had for under 400 bucks.

As you can tell I’m far from an expert on this topic. But I’m a good learner and tend to find great teachers. As I delve into this a bit deeper and actually acquire my own first set up, I’ll keep you all posted. Also, if any of you reading this are into Amateur radio, by all means shoot me an email with any information you’d like to share.

Maybe I’ll end with this. No one and that includes me, wants to contemplate any real world SHTF scenario’s. But it is a scary world out there and who knows what could happen?  A dirty nuke, an EMP device, and it is easy to see large areas of the nation’s communications “shut down” by Uncle Sam. He’s turned off Cell service in cities before when looking for so called “terrorists” so they can’t talk to each other. You can bet that in a real SHTF scenario, I’ll be one of the folks “on air” doing what I can to help.

The Market…

Monday followed through on Friday’s big gains and Tuesday followed through on that. It was pretty hard to wrap my head around the idea that the S&P had gained over 60 points from the low just last Thursday. I remember when I started investing the S&P wouldn’t gain 60 points in a year, let alone 3 sessions.  Times changed.

So all of this was over a deal to have meetings to make a deal. How'd we do it? By rejoicing over a deal to keep a broke country in a union of other broke countries, using printed money to give them, so they can give it back to the printer. Yes it’s that convoluted. But in this day and age, the fact that Greece can not and will not ever pay its debts is secondary to the charade that they can and will. So the market melted up, and seeing a bounce in the China market simply gave it a tailwind.

Today was fairly calm all in all. Janet Yellen had started her two day talks to Congress and like usual said a lot of words, but didn’t say anything. The market was slightly green all they way until about 3 pm, when it turned red by about 40 points. What was the issue? Well, over in Greece, their parliament had been locked down for hours as they discuss whether they’re going to accept the creditors demands. That decision is to come at midnight their time, which is 5 pm our time. Well, a bunch ( couple thousand) folks decided to protest in front of their parliament building, complete with fire bombs, tear gas, etc. That shook our market for a bit.  But bless their hearts when the final bell rang, we were down just 3 points.

While Greece is the majority of the headlines, we have to recognize the fact that China was once again melting down last night. 1000 of their stocks were limit down and halted. Despite the Chinese gov’t doing such things as making short selling illegal and making anyone that owns 5% or more of a company hold it for 5 months, the selling was still pretty nasty. So the fact that they could keep our market buoyant during Greece and China was pretty impressive. The Printing press probably needs new oil.

After the bell, Netflix reported earnings that “beat the estimates”. Well yeah, sort of. Their free cash flow fell to the lowest ever. They missed revenues. So we have a company trading for 280 times earnings of …6 cents. Wow. Yet as you can imagine, NFLX was up over  10 bucks a share after hours.

Then Intel laid out their earnings, which was another beat. So how’d they do it? They adjusted their tax rate to just 9% instead of 29.  That’s how they “beat” the estimates despite a 25% drop in income. Oh and they guided the balance of the year lower.  So how were they trading? Up just like NFLX.  It never stops.

We were supposed to hear the results of the Greek Parliament by ‘midnight” their time, which is 5 pm Eastern. Well it is 5 pm Eastern now and there’s no news.  On any other evening I could wait this out, but tonight I have a special treat to get to. A friend of mine I haven’t seen in 30 years is in town and the wife and I are going over to have a couple cocktails with Matt and his wife. I am truly looking forward to it.

So here’s the wrap. With the made up numbers out of NFLX and INTC, all we need is a “go” out of the Greeks and there’s no reason this market can’t put in yet  another big up day.  If for some reason the Greeks throw a wrench in the works… things could get lumpy.

We’re carrying a couple open positions in our short term trading account, and we should be “okay” until we get back to the “all-time” high area. I think that’s going to be a sticking point again.

Have a great night folks, I’ll see you all on Sunday.

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