Thursday, March 28, 2019

Should I call Vinny? Plus a postscript...

This seems like an era that once existed is returning.  Recently on cable programs here, a periodic advertiser has been A.G. Morgan Financial Services.  Based in the financial center of Massapequa, Long Island, the firm offers a guaranteed 9% one year return, "insured by an insurance company", that makes sense.  At the beginning, an older woman states that she wants to be secure in her retirement for obvious reasons(photos of loved ones), that makes sense, and she looks to A.G. Morgan.  Then the Chairman and CEO comes on, that's Vincent J. Camarda, assertive guy, nice tan, and explains that with just $25,000 you can become a client and start an account.  "At A.G. Morgan, we manage over $250 million" and you can be part of our family.

After that the retired older woman comes back on and says "I trust Vinny", that makes sense.

This is ripe. Does this make sense?  That return today is difficult to "guarantee".  What insurance company would guarantee this?  How much capital is at the vaunted A.G. Morgan?  Reminds one of A.G. Edwards or J.P. Morgan?  Just a wild guess but that's the whole point.  Have the networks vetted this advertisement or are they required to do so?

If this is remotely legitimate, that could be just part of the game.  Do they want older people living on fixed incomes to call, and share their vital financial information and who knows what else?  Is this predatory advertising?  First Jersey Securities all over again.

Google shows that this is an eight person shop(bucket?).  Four answer the phone, one is an accountant, and three have some financial experience.  Should I call Vinny?

3/29 Postscript:   Further research on Mr. Camarda includes this comment by an investment adviser information sight --- "Vincent works as a financial adviser at AG Morgan where he has several pending lawsuits against him for misappropriation of funds, conspiracy to commit fraud, and embezzlement."  There is no way to confirm the accuracy of that statement, but at a minimum someone is a bit disgruntled.   On another sight about working environments at investment advisory firms, the number one "pro" of working for Vinny is "complete loyalty leads to higher pay", while the number one "con" is "the CEO tells his employees about his personal life in great detail including his romantic life."  What a guy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

"Testimony", a memoir by Robbie Robertson

This book was published in 2016 and when the paperback came out in 2017 Amazon delivered it here.  At that time, the reading began but the book did not seem to have any real point of view, or coherence.  It was --- then I went here, then I did that, then I met so and so, and on and on.  After a few chapters, it was put down in a stack on the kitchen table, a reading spot.  Reading places gather books.  There is a small stack on my bedside table, more on the floor beside the bed.  There are several stacks next to the living room chair, and another stack next to the chair in the sitting area upstairs in front of the television.  That's an aside meant to suggest that books accumulate here.  "Testimony" had been among the accumulated that did not deserve a place on a bookshelf as having been read.

In fact, for probably the last six months, it had been the paperback that had just enough heft to be used to hold open hardback books that were being read at lunch.  It was useful.  A few days ago it was serving that purpose when a book was finished, and my lunch not finished.  What to do?  Read "Testimony".  I turned randomly to a page in the middle of the book and began reading, for an hour or more, lunch long done. Everyone in 1960's music seems to be in this book.  Lots of accounts of events with Dylan, and daily experiences with him, but also everyone from Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield  and on to Jimi Hendrix at the beginning, before he went to London and became famous. The Beatles, John, Paul, George, and Ringo of course, are popping up from time to time.  Edie Sedgewick, Andy Warhol, Nico, that crowd as well.  The Chelsea Hotel shows up as the dominant digs for many. How about a trip with Bob to visit Salvador Dali at his suite in the St. Regis on 55th.  It all comes across like a circle of friends and acquaintances in everyday circumstances.

Looking back, here comes a generalization,  warning as they are never fair but often have some validity.  Robbie Robertson and The Band are from Canada. When traveling over the years, I developed a view of Canadians as pleasant people, nice observers.  When talking they did not voice any strong opinions.  Almost all Americans do.  Big difference.  In the past, whenever meeting Canadians they were viewed as boring because of that, even in business situations.  This book has a touch of that quality that was once an unfair internal generalization.  It is a litany of events, so many events and people from page to page that it is like that old saying, "trying to drink water from a fire hose." The writing mostly presents events with little interpretation.

That accepted, I now see that this as a pretty exceptional book.  Recommended to fans of music from that era, and what lived on. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A candidate that the media wants to love...

Beto O'Rourke has finally deigned to let us know that he is running for the Democratic Party nomination for President, essentially saying that it is his destiny.  After six years in Congress with few accomplishments of note, and a losing campaign against a man who has breached the bipartisan divide in the Senate as almost no one in either party likes Ted Cruz.  Beto wants to smile his way to the White House.  Does he want to visit every diner in America, a man of the people filming hotel lobbies across the country.  He comes across here as just odd.

In 2007 when Barack Obama began what at first seemed like an improbable run for the Democratic nomination, much of the allure was his skill at public speaking.  Whatever one's political persuasion, most could see that he was talented, capable of making seemingly impromptu remarks in complete sentences with extensive knowledge of issues and policy.  In 2019 when Beto speaks, that is not the case.  Maybe his good speeches or remarks must have been missed here, but what has been seen is a randomly strung together stream of consciousness rant, saying mostly good things in an incoherent way.  Has he done the work?

As is now known by those who follow the political news, he grew up in a wealthy politically connected Texas family.  He is an entitled rich boy who has nice locks and good teeth but that does not yet make him a Kennedy.  He is also not a scruffy upstart starting from scratch.  That he played in some sort of punk rock band does not make him a rebel and does not make him part of the cognoscenti. It's just his version of Bill Clinton playing the saxophone, the fat boy who couldn't play sports.

Obama may have been brilliantly calculating, but it was not that apparent in the beginning.  He came across as idealistic but genuine.  Beto's ploy seems almost grotesquely obvious.  He is joining the increasingly large pack of Democrats who believe that anyone can grow up to be President.  Note, not everyone can be President.  We still await Biden's announcement, and Hillary will stand by her phone if this turns into complete chaos by early 2020.  Bill de Blasio is still teasing us with his reticence, just waiting for Chirlane to tell him when the news cycle is right.

This has been a somewhat cynical ramble.  If polls are remotely accurate, Trump should lose.  Been there, done that haven't we.   More to come...

Monday, March 04, 2019

Is this real? The CPAC rant...

The Conservative Political Action Committee has become an event of consequence in these strange days.  There have been various parts of Trump's CPAC speech watched and the question that comes to mind is, "Is this really happening?"  Did the President of the United States really come out on stage and wrap his arms around the American flag, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  My first thought was Groucho Marx.  All Trump needed was a stogie in one hand as he nodded his head up and down.

The two hour rant has been covered by everyone so no need to get into that sweaty mental breakdown that was visible to all.  Every personal slight felt over two years was reviewed.  Every falsehood repeated.  Yet, apparently 46% of polled voters probably liked it, maybe felt vindicated in some way.  How to understand it?  Resentment is unleashed?  Evangelical righteousness is rewarded?  The elites will be sent to the woodshed by some sort of virtuous billionaire, tax cheat, on and on it could go, But it does not matter in the least.

That 46% is from the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of voters.  That's an approval rating that is close to a high for Trump and 5% higher than it was the week before the election in 2016.  Issues are not the issue.  It is deeper than that.

Many may think that this is containable, just routine politics roiled by an unpredictable character.  This is not routine.