Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

The Organic Food Lie and Its Implications for Whole Foods

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We are a gullible culture. Whether it's the internet telling you that vaccinating your children causes autism or commercials convincing you that Enzyte will turn you into John Holmes, no one has ever gone broke underestimating the intelligence on the American public.

Now the curtain has been pulled back on another steaming pile of bullshit designed to separate you from your money – organic foods. A study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes there is no evidence "organically grown" fruits, veggies or meat are any more nutritious than the regular stuff you get off the shelves at your local supermarket.

Organic Food is more expensive because you believe it is healthier. And when you believe that, you subconsciously will believe it tastes better. Even if you couldnt pick the organic product in a blind taste test:


Which brings me to Whole Foods (WFM) – the Wall Street growth darling that's just off it's 52 week and all time highs. WFM is typically 15%-30% higher than your local supermarket. Food prices are already skyrocketing due to the drought. Add in the sheer brilliance of using 40% of the corn crop to produce ethanol and I believe there is a perfect storm brewing on the horizon for Whole Foods.
It won't happen overnight – the last big hit to WFM was during the 2008 recession when the stock dropped 77% .

A good indicator their top is coming will be when same store sales growth starts to tank. Current guidance for Fiscal year 2012 sales growth is 15.6%-15.8%, while same store sales growth for 2012 is 8.6%-8.8% – so far they are hitting their targets.

For me the question is how long until their customer base wakes up and realizes they have been overpaying for a lie

US Companies prepare for Greek Exit from Euro

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Did anyone really think Austerity would work?

In this New York Times article US companies reveal contingency plans for the inevitable removal of Greece from the Eurozone

Even as Greece desperately tries to avoid defaulting on its debt, Amerrican companies are preparing for what was once unthinkable: that Greece could soon be forced to leave the euro zone.   

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked into filling trucks with cash and sending them over the Greek border so clients can continue to pay local employees and suppliers in the event money is unavailable. Ford has configured its computer systems so they will be able to immediately handle a new Greek currency.


Full Transcript of Bernanke Speech

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WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The following is the text of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech at Jackson Hole, as prepared for delivery:

“When we convened in Jackson Hole in August 2007, the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) target for the federal funds rate was 5-1/4 percent. Sixteen months later, with the financial crisis in full swing, the FOMC had lowered the target for the federal funds rate to nearly zero, thereby entering the unfamiliar territory of having to conduct monetary policy with the policy interest rate at its effective lower bound. The unusual severity of the recession and ongoing strains in financial markets made the challenges facing monetary policymakers all the greater.


BOA & Goldman Notes – This Market is on Borrowed Time

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Good article from Business Insider where Ethan Harris of BOA says he's very concerned about the market due to the on going Eurozone problems and the pending fiscal cliff in Q4

In our view, the markets have been lulled to sleep  by a temporary remission in negative macro news.We remain very concerned about the outlook.  In our view, the markets have been lulled to sleep by a temporary remission in  negative macro news. The better US data probably reflects a combination  of the usual random variation and weather distortions. Mild weather  boosted the winter statistics, there was a payback in the spring and now the  data are settling into a weak trend…

We believe the Euro zone crisis is far from  over. At this stage the policy pattern for Europe is well established: (1) A  funding problem in one of the peripheral countries arises; (2) policy makers  engage in brinkmanship with the core demanding austerity and the periphery  demanding bailout; (3) the markets start to melt down; (4) policy makers do just  enough to satisfy the markets, but not cure the underlying problem. There is nothing merry about this go around. Over time it  undercuts the foundations of the Euro zone. The economy steadily slides  into recession, populist parties grow in strength and the markets become  increasingly fragile. For the US and the rest of the world this means  ongoing collateral damage, primarily through confidence and Capital Markets.

The worst of the US fiscal crisis also lies  ahead. Note that in the uncertainty shock literature, the impact of the shock  grows exponentially as the day of reckoning approaches. The cliff is slowly  working its way into corporate thinking. The real test will come in the fourth  quarter when the cliff will be just months away and the incentive to delay  spending and investment decisions will peak. The timing is tough, but we  would expect some weakening in the September data and very soft numbers in the  October to January period. We are keeping a close eye on corporate  commentary, confidence surveys, indicators of hiring and capital goods  orders.


China: Growing Piles of Unsold Product

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An article from the New York Times Thursday, says there is a tremendous glut of inventory,

GUANGZHOU, China – After three decades of torrid growth, China is encountering an unfamiliar problem with its newly struggling economy: a huge buildup of unsold goods that is cluttering shop floors, clogging car dealerships and filling factory warehouses.The glut of everything from steel and household appliances to cars and apartments is hampering

China’s efforts to emerge from a sharp economic slowdown. It has also produced a series of price wars and has led manufacturers to redouble efforts to export what they cannot sell at home.

The severity of China’s inventory overhang has been carefully masked by the blocking or adjusting of economic data by the Chinese government — all part of an effort to prop up confidence in the economy among business managers and investors.