California Über Alles

"Sure, Stocks Are Rallying, But Are Investors Too Bullish?" (CNBC) CNBC's Jeff Cox handicaps the rally in equities: "The stock market's path to prosperous times ahead is unlikely to be smooth, with increasing volatility along the way and hazards both domestic and foreign. While the new year begins with most strategists expecting big things, a recurring theme is that investor complacency is nearing an end. The market's main fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index is just above its holiday season lows and around a level last seen in April 2010, before sovereign debt concerns drove a summer-long slump in stocks."

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Dow at 24 Month High (Wall Street Journal) "Stocks started 2011 with a bang Monday, reaching fresh two-year closing highs as improved manufacturing and construction data boosted investors' outlook for the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 93.24 points, or 0.8%, to 11670.75, its highest close since Aug. 28, 2008. The climb represented the measure's biggest move since Dec. 3, the third time in a row it rose on the first trading day of the year and its seventh gain in the past nine sessions."

Manufacturing Numbers Rise for 17th Straight Month (Financial Times) "The US manufacturing sector grew in December for the 17th straight month, boosting hopes that the economic recovery is gathering pace following other upbeat reports about manufacturing in the eurozone, Taiwan and South Korea. The Institute of Supply Management’s purchasing manager’s index rose to 57 from 56.6 in November, slightly below the 57.2 expected by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Readings greater than 50 signal expansion."

Year of the Leak (Financial Times) "2010 was been an extraordinary year for leakers. The WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables was one of the news stories of the year. The US Congress created a financial incentive for whistleblowers to talk to regulators rather than take matters up internally. Starwood and Hilton hotel groups finally settled their ongoing corporate espionage dispute. WikiLeaks may have aimed its blunderbuss release of 250,000 US diplomatic cables at state actors but many companies were also hit by the digital shrapnel including rumours about BHP Billiton, BP, Pfizer and Shell. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has since revealed that the site’s next target is likely to be major US bank early this year."

"Mort Zuckerman: 'Home Prices Will Decline For Years'" (ZeroHedge) "One can not blame Mort Zuckerman for being bullish on housing (or at least some segments thereof): after all the outspoken Obama critic just splurged $930 million on the John Hancock building (which recently went into foreclosure at a $660 million valuation, but Mort has a story about how improvements in the parking lot and somesuch are worth the 50% hike in price)."

California Über Alles: Jerry Brown Returns to California Governor's Mansion (Reuters)"Jerry Brown was sworn in as California's governor on Monday, returning to a job he held nearly three decades ago, and pledged a "tough budget" to turn around one of the most financially strapped U.S. states."