An exciting week planned for you. Ellen DeGeneres’s commencement speech, if you haven’t seen it – cancel your Tuesday morning appointments; it will take you that long to stop smiling. A plan to harvest your stem cells and make me rich – cancel your Wednesday morning appointments, it takes about that long to extract them. And a way to prepare dinner while you’re driving – cancel Thursday’s dinner plans, you’re going to want to try this.

But today, picking up from Friday . . .


It seems 450,000 doctors have joined forces in calling for reform. Watch this and call your senators?

(Meanwhile, this St. Louis physician has seen the worst of the system up close and thinks Congress should give the President what he wants.)

51 MPG

Joel Grow: ‘Loved the Opel concept car you mentioned. I finally sold my late dad’s ’94 Saturn, which got about 30mpg on the highway, and got a Honda Civic Hybrid (mine’s ‘Atomic Blue’). I’m getting 51mpg – mostly highway miles – and even at $2.25 gal for gas, I’m saving about $120 month, which covers a good portion of the monthly car payment. I’m thrilled. It’s a comfortable, nice ride on my long daily commute.’

☞ The car is rated ‘only’ 40mpg city/45mpg highway, but most of Joel’s (too long!) commute is highway and he says he tries ‘within reason’ to follow good-mileage techniques. He accelerates rather slowly, takes his foot off the gas when he sees a red light or stop sign ahead or when going downhill . . . ‘but none of this to the point of making other drivers crazy.’ He sticks to within 5 miles per hour of the speed limit (so tops out at 70). ‘Online forums show that lots of Civic Hybrid drivers do this well,’ he says.

Of course, it has occurred to Joel to live closer to his job. That’s another issue. But even if you don’t drive as much as he does – a 165-mile rural Virginia commute – the monthly savings you get from choosing an efficient car could be every bit as great. First, chances are your current vehicle doesn’t average the 30mpg his ’94 Saturn did. So you’ll save more gas per mile. Second, the chances of $2.25 gasoline going forward are slim to none. So it likely won’t take anything like a 165-mile commute to reach savings of $120 a month.

Honda provides this simple calculator. Say you drive 15,000 miles a year and currently average 21mpg. If gas averages $4 a gallon over the next five or ten years, you’d save $127 a month even just getting Honda’s stated mileage, let alone what Joel gets with his careful driving.

NOT a reason to scrap a perfectly good car. But when you do next go to buy a car, you may want to give special consideration to fuel efficiency.

Indeed, why settle for 51mpg?

VW 238 MPG

Stewart Dean: ‘Tsk, tsk . . . ‘Hubert Heller draws our attention to the 112-horsepower Opel Eco Speedster, an ultralight diesel ‘concept car’ that got 113 miles to the gallon – way back in 2002 -reaching a top speed of 155 mph.’ VW did that twice as well in the same year: A working concept car that got nearly 250MPG. This is what’s known in Europe as a 1-liter car: 1 liter to go 100 kilometers [62 miles]. There are even reports that they will go into limited production in 2010 for around $38,000. More importantly, they had a production 3-liter car, the Lupo, two sizes smaller than the Golf/Rabbit, which you could buy and get 80MPG. Currently they are offering the Polo BluMotion (one size smaller than the Golf/Rabbit) which gets a rated mileage of about 60MPG (which means that, by careful driving, you could get 70-75) and you can buy at a reasonable everyday car price. But only in Europe.’


Mark Budwig: ‘Chris Brown writes: ‘Presently, we aren’t anywhere close to overhead resistance.’ On the contrary, we’re just below overhead resistance. In early October, the S&P sold off to 900, then rallied to just over 1000, sold off, rallied, sold off more sharply, and then rallied to just over 1000 before resuming its descent. The most recent rally has taken it up just over 100 points from around 880. Yesterday, after gapping from 975 to 985, it peaked at 996, from which it has drifted lower. Clearly, if you put any stock in charts, resistance is around 1000. The standard predictions would be, depending on whether we break through or not: (a) yes – another 100 points up to resistance at around 1100 or (b) no – at least a 50% retracement to support around 940, the previous local top, or a test of 880. Whether you think we’ll go up or down from here does not correlate simply with whether you’re a bull or bear. Some bulls would like to see a pull-back, and some bears think we’ll have a blow-off rally before testing 880. Or, hey, we could always just amble sideways until September. But, chartwise, we’re definitely just below resistance right now.’

☞ Chris Brown responds: ‘I just don’t agree at all – this is like a Christian and a Muslim arguing which is the one true path to the Creator.’

And then you have atheists like me who don’t believe in technical analysis at all. I mean, I do believe technical analysis exists; I just don’t think it’s very helpful, except to the extent it helps to predict the behavior of traders who believe in it. Yet even they can’t agree how to interpret a given chart – witness Mark and Chris – and so will not all behave the same way anyway.

It’s true that humans have an irrational-but-understandable bias for not selling at a loss – for holding until they can ‘break even.’ And that this bias gives technical analysis some fundamental underpinning. So I’ll admit there’s more to technical analysis than to, say, astrology. (There is absolutely nothing to astrology.*) But not much. And as little help as I think charts can provide in assessing the future path of a single stock, they provide even less, I think, in assessing the path of ‘the market.’

*As a Taurus, I say this with complete and stubborn certainty.


Comments are closed.