Finance blog

Finance in the classroom and the really real world …

Tire City and Hampton Financials

Posted by yp on September 12, 2006

The Excel files with the financials of the Tire City case (due 9/18) are available here and for the Hampton Machines (due 9/20) case here.


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A long break in posting

Posted by yp on August 29, 2006

School has started a week ago. ’nuff said.  Just a run-down on other academic blogger sites.

  • A Gentleman’s C complains about grouchy professors.
  • RateYourStudents discusses the inevitable in academia: return to the classroom and blogging.
  • Financial rounds has some interesting posts, one about trading options around take-overs, courtesy of Wall Street Journal, and the joys of academic research. I am more than happy to work with you using that database — man, 200 companies with corporate governance info; I call that Bearls and Means heaven.
  • Brad DeLong has an interesting classroom related post on economic growth.  What is really cool, though, is the use of Google’s GapMinder application.  Wow, that’s a cool way to make statistics palatable.

That’s all for today.

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Link to homework II

Posted by yp on August 29, 2006

A link to the Excel file for homework II due 8/30.

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Posted by yp on August 22, 2006

Classes start tomorrow … You probably knew that. This calls for the final countdown. The Swede in me could not pass this up at all. I know I will regret this in the very near future, but the Swedish chef would have said it as follows. Clesses stert tumurroo … Yuoo prubebly knoo thet. Thees cells fur zee feenel cuoontdoon. Zee Svede-a in me-a cuoold nut pess thees up et ell. Bork Bork Bork! To satisfy your Borking needs, here is a link for more … Bork unteel tumurroo.

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Random links of the day …

Posted by yp on August 21, 2006

Today’s free linkgrab …

  • The Capital Spectator looks at the prospects for a “soft landing” for the economy as well as the confusing haze (mirage ?) of economic forecasting.
  • Econbrowser takes a look at the inverted state of the yield curve and what that means for the prospects of a recession.
  • Gary Becker and Richard Posner look at the economics of stem-cell research.
  • voluntaryXchange lists the questions Mike Wallace should have asked Ahmadinejad. BTW, Ahmadinejad rather long and frightfully rambling blog can be enjoyed in English as well.
  • DJIA fell 36.42 points to 11345.05 Monday following last week’s five-day run, hurt by rising oil prices and Lowe’s profit warning. Gold prices rose more than $10 an ounce. Friendster is receiving $10 million from investors hoping to revive the social-networking firm.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday filed a civil suit in an effort to freeze the assets of a group of New Yorkers accused of selling at least $1.6 million of fraudulent investments to at least 64 unsuspecting investors, many of them elderly.
  • Wells Fargo said it would buy Barrington Associates, a Los Angeles-based boutique investment banking firm. Wells Fargo, which is based in San Francisco, said Barrington would keep its name and become the lender’s main unit handling middle-market megers and acquisitions.
  • Interesting article at Marketwatch advises you how to spot a Fund Manager that is not being forthcoming as to his performance. According to Chuck Jaffe, too many fund managers “get it wrong when they get things wrong.” If their money-management mistakes lead to poor excuses, or indifference, oroverreactions — then you may have a bigger problem than an underperfomring fund — you have a bum manager.
  • Intuit announced that their special committee had reached the end of its examination of the firm’s stock option accounting practices. Their examination covered the period from Aug. 1, 1997 to the present. Their conclusion: the coast is clear. No issues found. No restatement required.

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Random links of the day …

Posted by yp on August 17, 2006

  • According to the NYT, TSA searches faces as well as carry-ons. “Taking a page from Israeli airport security, the transportation agency
    has been experimenting with this new squad, whose members do not look
    for bombs, guns or knives. Instead, the assignment is to find anyone
    with evil intent.” A test for understanding and recognizing facial emotions.
  • Swedes predict US politics, or as the Swedish chef would have said “svedes predeect US puleetics“.
  • Some Al Qaeda stuff that looks insightful.
  • Bonuses are up for British bankers.
  • Mutual fund cash levels are increasing, suggesting increasing uncertainty.
  • A deep analyis what the CPI vs PPI numbers can tell us about the future.
  • Oil has dropped at its lowest level since June.  .As economic growth in the US is weakening, the demand for gasoline is declining.  And of course, with schools starting in the next couple of week – were did summer go? – the summer driving season is coming to its end. 

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Stocks up on tame inflation data and other musings …

Posted by yp on August 16, 2006

The market is up today, which pleases me.

  • Stocks rose. On the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, 2,513 stocks advanced and 782 declined on volume of 1.2 billion shares.
  • Bonds advanced. The 10-year note rose 13/32, or $4.06 for every $1,000 invested, to yield 4.885% Wednesday, and the 30-year note was up 21/32 to yield 5.006%.
  • The dollar weakened. The euro was at $1.2852 from $1.2785 late Tuesday, while the dollar was at 115.79 yen from 116.10 yen.

The lower reading on consumer inflation raised hopes that the Federal Reserve’s rate-lifting campaign has ended; the DJIA had climbed to within 81 points of its all-time high. The Labor Department’s consumer price index increased by 0.4% in July, up from a 0.2% increase in June. This is in line with analyst expectations. The less volatile core CPI grew 0.2% last month. Thus, without the influence of volatile food and energy, the core CPI grew below expectations. On a yearly basis, the core CPI is up 2.7%. Additionally, the wholesale inflation also showed moderating inflation pressures.

The housing prices show signs of some well-needed moderation.
Just a couple of interesting blogs…

Miscellaneous links …

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First email – before the start of the semester

Posted by yp on August 16, 2006

Before the beginning of the fall semester, I want to share some information regarding the course with you. 

For general information about the class, you find the syllabus at

Many of you want to find a cheap textbook for the course.  If you want to order the book before the semester from an online book-seller, the textbook we will use is Higgins’ Analysis for Financial Management, 8th ed.

You will find the best prices for the book at

Apart from the textbook, you will also need a financial calculator and a set of cases as well. You will find the best prices for the calculator at

Unfortunately, you can buy the cases only at the bookstore.

The first day of class is Aug 23rd, when I also tell you about the class and other aspects that the syllabus and the information that you can gather do not cover.  Also, at our first meeting, you will receive a comprehensive set of lecture notes for the semester.

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The end of inflation?

Posted by yp on August 16, 2006

As the US.consumer prices increasing at their slowest pace in five months, the Federal Reserve’s assertion that interest rates are high enough to slow the economy and tame inflation become more and more valid. Producer prices – excluding food and energy – fell unexpectedly last month. Consumer spending remains strong. From Bloomberg.

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Every Breath Bernanke Takes

Posted by yp on August 14, 2006

As I was surfing YouTube, I saw this very cleverly funny video. A link here.

WSJ explores the possible effects the recently discontinued interest rate increases could have on the markets

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What is in your ETF?

Posted by yp on August 12, 2006

Today’s WSJ offers a critical view on ETFs, particularly the components in these widely used investment vehicles. Since there is no official or even widely accepted definition of what constitutes a certain industry stock – be it technology, health care or even energy – investors need to look closely at what they buy. These ETFs might contain stocoks that do not really fit in the segment or the index.  The diversification benefits of ETFs diminish and investors could end up with a portfolio that is only nominally reflecting the performance of an underlying – poorly – defined benchmark. This is a problem that is common in the highly specialized index sphere – particularly in the thinly traded microcap and international equity sphere.

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Maximizing futility

Posted by yp on August 5, 2006

One of the benefits of roughing it at the beach, is the complete isolation from electronic media, includng the internets. Cybercafes in this nearly thirld world country are long and far between, and my goal of being native assumes fans, al fresco showers and mom-and-pop stores. Four Seanons’ are nice as long as I do not live there or there are not on the island. Thus, wireless internets and other assumed luxuries of modern life do not exist. This explains the infrequent postings. This Saturday morning, I was able to hitch a ride on a truck into town to read email and get the essential groceries and other necessities – getting back to the cottage will be rather simple – and I stumbled across a small dimly lit deserted cybercafe which seemingly is related to cybercafes by having access to one slow – pre 2000 desktop with a cranck generator and an internet connection performing in bytes and not kBs. And there is enough -cheap – liquor to fuel a fraternity house for an entire year … You get the picture.

While reading trough briefly my sage booklets and all the news that I saw fit to miss, I started reading the Economist, which in this week’s issue discussess the invisible hand on the keyboad. And Brad deLong goes after it. Clearly, there is a demand for economists blogging by sharing – quality – information. My posts are not at par with DeLongs, Mankiws, Becker-Posners, and the other academic economic luminati, nor do I aspire to achieve the same status. Nevertheless, I believe that somewhere in the dissemnination of information, the easier access to ideas, analyses, and various, often contradictory opinions, leveling the playing field in the general economic and financial debate – insert your favorite overused metaphore here – there is a benefit to examine ideas.

Do I create value? Yes, I do. Using data from Technorati which is inspired by research from Tristan Louis, a week ago, my blog was valued at roughly $1,100 and not I am at roughly $1,700. Thus in less than one week, I have created $600 in value – roughly $100 per day, which would be a nice compensation for the time I spend. And I was off on this tropical paradise with my wife for half of it.

How do other economic blogs stick up to this value?

OK, I am a bit short. But being in business for such a short time, I should be – still – optimistic. See you next week.

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Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

Thank you for the warm welcome extended by Yours is a great site and I enjoy reading your posts!

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Afternoon roundup

Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

Markets are down today as the economic uncertainty is increasing. Personal spending is slowing, inflation is increasing its pace, car sales are softening, and the manufacturing sector is weakening. I guess the Fed faces a dilemma regarding the federal fund rates. The off for rate increase climb to 50% from 35% yesterday. For more discussion, see Financial Rounds, and Abnormal Returns.

Toyota passes Ford to rank as the second largest auto retailer in the U.S. for the first time. Both GM and Ford posted sales declines above 20%. Toyota sold 241,826 vehicles in the month, a 12 % increase, leading Asian automakers to a record share of the domestic market. Ford dropped 34 % and General Motors fell 23 %. Energy efficiency obviously pays.

SEC’s Cox plans to look further into protecting Baby Boomer assets, which is a good idea considering the assets Baby Boomers have amassed during the last 50 to 60 years.

In his first speech since becoming Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson voiced support for a strong dollar and said America “must welcome competition, not run away from it” if the country wants to maintain a competitive advantage. He also argued for the overhaul of the social security system and warned for the foreign energy dependence. He  seems to follow the general GOP dogma.
In the political arena, Charlie Cook sees November rout and Al Sharpton blasts Lieberman.

Sadly, the Swiftboaters have set sights on Murtha. Clearly, truth has nothing to do in politics any more and there are many who have sold their integrity to the lowest bidder for scraps. At least Dr. Faustus sold his for eternal life and not a few cheap and meaningless political points.

Integrity seems to be ebbing all around in PA. Republicans have financed a Green Party candidate’s entrance into the Senate race, hoping to syphon off voters from Casey. Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli, making his first bid for statewide elective office, acknowledged Monday that Republican contributors probably supplied most of the $100,000 that he said he spent gathering signatures to qualify for the Nov. 7 ballot. Santorum must be very, very and very afraid.  He is running one of the weakest Senate campaigns in this cycle.

Nothing more about Joementum this afternoon, but I can tell you that there will be more news about him.

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The 5 minute news cycle

Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

Wonkette is at it again.  In two posts, it makes fun of Fidel and Cathrine Harris.  Read the story and enjoy.

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Just a few hints and ideas

Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

Anybody who has ever looked for work knows that interviewing is a rather intimidating experience.  We think what we do is right, but according to WSJ we do not.  Here is the advice.

Change is painful.  Thus, makes suggestions to lazy (and not so lazy) people on self help and personal development.  Their advice includes

  • Relax
  • Take regular physical exercise
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Sleep well
  • Socialize
  • Keep a journal
  • Help other people
  • Keep close to nature
  • Develop a spiritual life
  • Laugh
  • Watch less T.V.
  • Listen
  • De-clutter your life
  • Get organized
  • Think for yourself

For additional advice, see

Also, according to the US Surgeon General 1 in 5 in the US is mentally ill.  The surveys estimate that during a 1-year period, 22 to 23 percent of the U.S. adult population—or 44 million people—have diagnosable mental disorders, according to reliable, established criteria. In general, 19 percent of the adult U.S. population have a mental disorder alone (in 1 year); 3 percent have both mental and addictive disorders; and 6 percent have addictive disorders alone. Consequently, about 28 to 30 percent of the population have either a mental or addictive disorder. That’s only 90 million people.

I have just started using ZuluPad a notebook cum wiki.  So far, it has bveen quite useful to keep research notes and ideas.  More about the trial as the world turns.

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Tuesday news roundup

Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

It is unbelievably hot here in Central PA and the temperature is expected to hit 100F.

  • WSJ and BBC both report that Fidel Castro undergoes surgery. Castro is 79 years old and transfers power to his 75 year old younger brother, Raul. This is not surprising, he has been in bad health lately. The question now becomes, when can I smoke a Cuban legally. I am willing to take bets.
  • joecool.jpgJomentum is cool. Both the Daily Kos and Wonkette sacrifice serious binary resources into the analysis of Joementum, or rather the lack of it. If the Colbert Report is discussing Joementum, clearly there is something to talk about. BTW, Mitt Romney is out. No link’s necessary …
  • CNN is taking on and allows now users to post content. The White House is updating its pressroom, which originally was built atop a filled in swimming pool. These new changes will help the pressroom to communicate more drama.
  • Smut stinks. Howard Stern is not working out for Sirius. It posts wider loss, but the subscriber base is increasing. According to Sirius it added 600,460 subscribers; it has 4.7 million at the end of the quarter. The company expects to have 6.3
    million subscribers by the end of 2006. Previously it expected 6.2 million. Last week, XM posted a wider loss for Q2 and cut their subscriber estimate. XM, which has seven million subscribers, expects to end the year with between 7.7 million and 8.2 million.
  • Cingular and Verizon start charging their customers with old phones a monthly service fee.

Market news

  • The appeal of ETFs is shifting to Main Street. This is a positive and very interesting development, which in the long run changes the structure of both the mutual fund and the private financial advisor industries.
  • The question of maturity is always relative. New web-start ups lure executives away from eBay and Yahoo. Only 7 years ago, staid old economy companies – GE, IBM, CA – lured lost people to the upstarts. Does this new development mean that eBay and Yahoo are both old economy companies now?
  • And the Beirut stock market reopened for trade today. One of Beirut’s main indexes, the BLOM, closed 4.1% lower at 1,230.22.


  • Political Calculations discusses Greg Mankiw’s perspective on the Federal Funds Rate. Mankiw’s method is attractive in that it incorporates two of the economic factors that the Fed is chartered to influence through monetary policy: the rate of inflation (measured as 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban consumers, less food and energy) and the rate of unemployment.
  • Voluntary exchange discussess the economics of World War I.  A book edited by Stephen Broadberry and Mark Harrison for specialists and folks interested in history discussess the economic factors behind the war.  The reviews are interesting here and here.


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The retirement boom

Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

In today’s WSJ report on a report by the GAO. According to the GAO, when baby-boomers retire and sell their assets, a sharp and sudden decline in financial-asset prices is unlikely. “The bottom line is a market meltdown is unlikely,” said Barbara Bovbjerg, director for education, work force and income security at the GAO. “Assets are fairly concentrated among the very high earners.”  For the interested, the US Census Wealth Distribution data is fascinating reading.  The latest data is from 2000 when there were twice as many households with zero or negative net worth than households with a net worth exceeding $500,000.  A helpful report explains.

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The last trading day in July

Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

Stocks ended July down, burdened by the ongoing conflict in Lebanon, the uncertainty of direction of market interest rate, and the general direction of the economy. July 31 ended

  • On the New York Stock Exchange, 646 stocks advanced and 1,639 declined. The volume was 2.3 billion shares. DJIA was up 0.3% for the month and is 4.4% year-to-date.The S&P 500 finished July with a 0.5% gain. The Nasdaq ends the month with a 3.7% loss.
  • The 10-year note saw a decline in yield to 4.967% Monday, and the 30-year note dropped to yield 5.070%.
  • The euro was at $1.2774 from $1.2751 late Friday, while the dollar was at 114.65 yen from 114.77 yen.
  • Light, sweet crude rose to $74.40 a barrel on the NYMEX .

The market seems to fear the Fed meeting coming Tuesday; weak economic data in GDP for 2Q 2006 seem to reduce odds for another increase. According to the fed-futures contracts, the probability of increase is 35%. Of course, there are opposing views. But the weakness is tangible and the decline in real estate prices coupled with the high energy prices clearly have put a damper on economic growth.

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Academic vocabulary

Posted by yp on August 1, 2006

When writing or reading a research paper, the Dictionary of Useful Research Phrases comes in handy, through at

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Time management

Posted by yp on July 31, 2006

Academic and professional success is greatly aided by time management. Time management is a disciplined use of the only finite resource each of us have: time. Before the semester hits us fully, I list a few sites that offer some insight to successful time management. Even if you have excellent time management skills, reading through their suggestions adds value.

  • A good, but somewhat dated, introductory treatment of time management gives the bare basics.
  • Steve Pavlina has a personal development blog. Steve has an interesting writing style. He focuses on personal development and brings up examples from his own life to underline the point. This open perspective helps in explaining his view on personal development: you can change. Yet his writings are lengthy and sometimes he takes time to arrive to the point we know he tries to make. Nevertheless, his personal development web-log is an entertaining read and he often deals with the three interrelated areas of time management, productivity and goal setting.
  • Merlin Mann – 43 folders – offers low tech solutions to time management problems. He and D*I*Y planner have thrown out their PDAs, Treos, and other electronic time manager gimmicks. Now, they either use 43 folders or paper based time management systems, such as the hipsterPDA and Moleskines.
  • Other time management tools and ideas come from two similar sounding websites and lifehacker. Both sites focus on life quality improvement using small improvements in the daily grind (argh). Insert your favorite pirate joke here, because there argh. Both sites have a high geek quota, so non-geeks beware.


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Hezbollah vs. the world

Posted by yp on July 31, 2006

From teaching and Wall Street, I do another exucrsion to politics, not primaries or realpolitik or academic politics.  We all know that academic politics is as nasty and possibly more callous than real life politics where the stakes are considerably higher than in the Ivory Towers.  But the Ivory Towers pursue politics with the same pathological ruthlessness as politicians. 

EconoPundit refers to a blog dedicated to revisit the UK’s position in Europe by calling membership referendum, EU Referendum. There Richard North assembles a series of Reuters, EPA, and AP photos credited to various photographers.  In itself this is hardly different from other websites that collect evidence of military atrocities against civilians.  This is different.  North astutely examines the sequence, timing, and clothing worn by those in the photos.  North arrives to the not very surprising conclusion that he rescue workers are highly likely Hezbollah soldiers.  That is a fine and commendable action. However, North argues that these rescue workers stage “rescue photos” using dead children repeatedly as props. 

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A finance blog for class use

Posted by yp on July 31, 2006

Finance class blog by Jim Mahar or focuses on class information for finance courses at St. Bonaventure. Interesting site with a lot of great ideas.

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Bernie Ebbers

Posted by yp on July 30, 2006

With all the news, we seem to have forgotten that one of the greatest newsmakers of the late 1990s, Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom fame, has come closer to serve his 25 years sentece for securities fraud, conspiracy and false filings with securities regulators. [Wall Street Journal, New York Times]

Friday his conviction was upheld on appeal.

Ebbers is the former chairman and CEO of WorldCom. He became very wealthy from the rising price of his holdings in WorldCom’s stock. By late 2000, WorldCom’s stock was declining and Ebbers came under increasing pressure from banks to cover margin calls on his WorldCom stock that was used to finance his other businesses (timber and yachting, among others). During 2001, Ebbers persuaded WorldCom’s board of directors to provide him corporate loans and guarantees in excess of $400 million to cover his margin calls, but this strategy ultimately failed and Ebbers was ousted as CEO in April 2002.

After the ouster of Ebbers, WorldCom’s internal audit department uncovered approximately $3.8 billion of the accounting fraud during a routine examination of capital expenditures and alerted the company’s new auditors, KPMG (who had replaced Arthur Andersen, WorldCom’s external auditors during the fraud). Shortly thereafter in June 2002 , the company’s audit committee and board of directors were notified of the fraud and acted swiftly: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched an investigation into these matters on June 26, 2002 . By the end of 2003, it was estimated that the company’s total assets had been inflated by around $11 billion. The company went from being one of the biggest stock-market stars of the 1990s to being the largest case of accounting fraud in U.S. history. The collapse wiped out shares with a market capitalization of $115 billion.

On March 15, 2005 Bernard Ebbers was convicted on fraud, conspiracy and filing false documents with regulators. All these are related to the $11 billion accounting scandal at WorldCom. His defense was called the “Aw Shucks” defense. Ebbers relied on a defense of ignorance of the financial crimes committed at WorldCom, the telecommunications company he had built up. It failed miserably. On July 13, 2005 Bernard Ebbers received a sentence that would keep him in prison (potentially Yazoo City in Mississippi) for 25 years. At the time of the sentence Ebbers was 63 years old. He may potentially be let out of prison at the age of 83 on terms of good behavior.

While I was surfing for material for this post, I was somewhat surprised to find that many of the websites that emerged in the wake of the corporate scandals in 2001 – 2002, have been discontinued. Things do change …

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Posted by yp on July 30, 2006

The Daily Kos is on the ball, again. NYT endoreses Ned Lamont in the CT democratic primary and not the incumbent, Joe Liberman (the guy who was Al Gore’s vp candidate back in 2000). The story offers a new twist in the bizarre saga that is the 2006 CT democratic primary.  Joementum seems to flounder.  There are substantiated rumors (whatever that means) that Joementum is seriously considering an independent run if he loses the primary.  Looking at the pools, it seems to become a three-way race. 

For those who have forgotten it, back in 2000, when Liberman was the vp-candidate, he was also running for reelection to the US Senate.  He lost the general election, but got re-elected to the Senate.  From a signalling perspective, I always found it puzzling that he did not throw his entire energy into becoming vp.  Did he know that CT voters would re-elect him even if he did not campaign seriously for re-election?  Was he expecting a pull from Al Gore’s presidential ambition?  Or did he not expect to win the presidental election, but wanted to keep his cushy Congressional gig?  Or he was not thinking or he did not care? And what would have happened if Al Gore wins and Liberman becomes the vp and is also re-elected to the Senate.  That would have been a fun constitutional nut to crack, so to speak.  As a vp, he’d be chairing the senate, and CT vote get a new senator to replace him.. Somehow, I do not know what he was thinking.  He may not be thinking at all. He has known for a long time that he has lost touch with his core Democratic voter base.  Did he chose to ignore them?

We may wonder how far do the mighty fall, but we sure can see why they fall …

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