Sand Spring Advisors LLC

Some Lipstick On This Pig

August 28, 2002

by, Barclay T. Leib

Let's hand it to Charles Schwab. That firm's recent downbeat set of commercials about "pump and run" Wall Street sales practices certainly strikes a certain chord with most of us familiar with big bank trading rooms. In particular, the "Let's Put Some Lipstick On this Pig" commercial reminds me a bit of when I ran an interest rate derivatives book at PaineWebber in the mid-1980's. The entire focus of the sales group at PW was almost wholly on the size of the commissions generated out of derivatives transactions, not on whether a naive client (many of whom were small savings and loans) really should get involved selling interest rate caps and floors in the first place.

Then Wednesday we hear more news of Citigroup/Citicorp/SSB playing favorites on IPO allocations with various Worldcom executives. But of course the culture of that firm has never quite been the same since the oh-so aggressive Sandy Weill came along. All I anecdotally know of Citi internal executive behavior comes from one day almost three years ago when I sat across from Sandy Weill's son, Mark Weill, for a job interview. Mark Weill, in somewhat nepotistic fashion, had been put in charge of a significant portion of the bank's asset management business at quite a young age. He was actually very kind to me, and suggested that I chat with several people who worked for him in the hedge fund and alternative asset management area. Yet within 6-months of that meeting, the first fellow that he had sent me to in charge of hedge funds had left the bank -- apparently despondent about intolerable post-merger Citigroup bureaucracy; the second fellow that I saw succeeded in sinking Citi's Alternative Investment Services (AIS) area with an overly concentrated allocation to macro managers such as Tiger's Julian Robertson; and Mark Weill himself soon took a leave of absence from his senior post, reputedly after some involvement with NYC prostitutes that became quasi-public knowledge.

The firm was a mess then and remains a mess today. It's just that back then the Weill family could do no wrong, while today, Citi management inceasingly appears like a bunch of fee-mongering and slimey chumps. I am happy my interviews led nowhere.

If we had to prognosticate on a potential price path for Citigroup from here, it would look something like the chart below: first a swing move lower toward $29.60, then a possible false rally toward $39.40, but at the end of the day, prices migrating toward a longer-term $20.83 downside target.

Chart constructed using Advanced GET End-of-Day

Elsewhere in the financial media, many people may also have noticed the new addition to the CNBC morning staff: commentator Stuart Varney, ex of CNN/CNNfn. Varney is a well-spoken Englishman with much experience reporting financial news -- a generally smooth and polished fellow. He is, however, wholly devoid of any talent interpreting this news correctly. I say this because I saw Varney speak at a private dinner function in 1999. Varney had entitled his speech "The Great New American Economy" or something to that effect, and clearly bought into the notion of high tech nirvana -- an economy filled with massive innovation and incentivizing stock options. He was certainly effusive and entertaining as a speaker. It's just too bad that he was also completely wrong in his conclusions. By putting Varney up in a high profile seat, is CNBC somehow trying to make us more greatly appreciate Mark Haines' relative honesty and dour sense of humor? Or is the network just grasping for a new and feel in a desperate effort to re-invegorate the show and re-capture lost audience share? I'd guess the latter.

Whatever the case, with Varney in the anchor seat, it is best to simply turn down the sound. He may talk nicely, but in most instances, his words hold little substance.

How Your Articles Are Delivered
Upon the processing of your credit card or the receipt of a personal check, Sand Spring will e-mail you the articles requested as a Word attachment, and also provide you with a WWW address and password to view the article on the web without using Word should you so desire. Confirmation of your order will be immediate, and the actual article will follow by e-mail typically within a few hours and in all cases before the opening of NYSE trading on the following day.

Ordering by Credit Card:
Our shopping cart is designed for both physical and subscription products, so do not be confused too much when it asks you for a shipping address. A correct address is important only for credit card authorization purposes. Your e-mail information is the most important piece of information to us for proper delivery of your article(s).

Disclosure Statement

Sand Spring Advisors provides information and analysis from sources and using methods it believes reliable, but cannot accept responsibility for any trading losses that may be incurred as a result of our analysis. Individuals should consult with their broker and personal financial advisors before engaging in any trading activities, and should always trade at a position size level well within their financial condition. Principals of Sand Spring Advisors may carry positions in securities or futures discussed, but as a matter of policy will always so disclose this if it is the case, and will specifically not trade in any described security or futures for a period 5 business days prior to or subsequent to a commentary being released on a given security or futures.

  • Biotech Bottom?...July, 2002...
    Within this article we anticipate a tradeable rally developing in the Biotech sector between July and November 2002. Several security-specific chart patterns are examined. A second update to it, published in mid-July, further elaborated on the broader market indices....
    Available for Purchase at $35. THIS INCLUDES ALL ARTICLES BELOW FOR FREE.

    • A Coincidence of Time...June 2002...
      Within this article we consider a variety of cycle timing techniques that upon occasion form important date clusters.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • In Search of Survivable Themes...May 2002...
      Within this article we consider survivable investment themes in today's markets, and two small-cap stocks from down under that may fit this bill.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Pension Asset & Liability Blues...March 2002...
      Within this article we explore much misunderstood and underestimated ERISA and FAS accounting that could cause a two-decade long malaise in corporate profitability. We also update many of our previously espoused long and short views.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Complicated Moves...February 2002...
      A temporarily bullish look at the DJIA, written in late February 2002, together with a discussion of several value stocks that we like within this market.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Zig-Zag Markets, and What Will Go Thud that Hasn't Already...January 2002...
      In this article, we discuss the path we expect into our important November 2002 cycle date, and several specific short selling opportunities in industries as far afield as trucks to bread...
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • 2002: A Golden Year? ...December 2001...
      In this article, we explore the cyclical rhythm of the gold and gold equity market, and what it portends for next year. Several stock-specific charts and fundamentals are examined...
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Kasriel to Greenspan: Farewell Soon? ...November 2001...
      In this article, across 17 chart-filled pages, Northern Trust chief economist Paul Kasriel scathingly exposes many of the flaws of Alan Greenspan's Fed, and how Greenspan may actually have set the economy up for the 2000 Tech-Wreck...
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • The Cycle of War & The Agony of Debt...October 2001...
      In this article, across 12 chart-filled pages, we explore how relative geo-political calm can suddenly digress to a temper-filled period of war, as well as current fundamental pressures on the U.S. economy from excessive corporate and household debt burdens...
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Perspectives on Where We Are, and Why ISDA Documentation Will Not Prevent Derivatives Accidents, September 2001...
      An update on prior views and prognostications, as well as a discussion of a new market sector now potentially coming to life on the long side. We also examine how easy it might be for a major bank such as JP Morgan to someday suffer a serious derivatives accident
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Long_Term Equity, Gold, and K-Wave Cycle Thoughts, August 2001...
      A long-term look at our own cycle theories and how they may potentially interact with the famous Kondratieff cycle
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • The Importance of June 2nd, May, 2001...
      A cyclical look at the 8.6 month cycle at work in the current equity market, and one financial stock with a nasty looking "pattern match" to a historical chart pattern
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Expert Short Picks, May, 2001...
      A discussion of the fundamental thoughts of short selling hedge fund manager James Chanos within a technical framework
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Four Themes for 2001 & Beyond, April, 2001...
      A variety of issues we see growing in importance over the year 2001, with a particular emphasis on certain issues within the U.S. food chain.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Portfolio from Hell, January 20, 2001...
      a close critique of a major mutual fund manager and a technical look at the individual equity components of their go-go portfolio.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Positive for Now, January 4, 2001...
      If the DJIA were to vault to new highs, where would the imbedded Fibonacci rhythm of its price action lead?
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Time to Start Accumulating the Golds? - Dec. 2000...
      We take a close look at four gold-related stocks that we favor.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Don't Look for a Bottom Until..., Nov. 2000...
      An update of some Fibonacci thoughts on eight selected stocks.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Diamonds in the Sky, Oct. 2000...
      A close technical look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the implications of the formation it has made.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • The Signficance of Oct 27- Nov 1, Oct. 2000...
      This analysis did not pan out quite as we expected, but is a good example of how we examine the world in Fibonacci terms.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • M&A Currency Imbalances, Oct. 2000...
      An interview with a well known fund manager and economic thinker, we explore some of the macro-imabalnces as they exist in the world today.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Failed Accounting Standards, Mmm Mmm Good, and Where (if at all) to Invest in Bandwidth, July 2000...
      A three-part article outlining some of the balance sheet fun and games of today's financial world, one old-world stock, as well as our vision of the potential fallout and opportunities in the bandwidth market
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • Cyclical Commodity Turns, May 2000...
      As we entered the summer-time harvest season, this was a cyclical look at the world of wheat, corn, gold, and the CRB. Much of the analysis proved premature, but it still leaves us with some long-term cyclical dates to now keep in mind.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

    • E-Commerce: A Paired Approach, April 2000...
      This is a more fundamentally oriented article examing the likely winners and losers as e-commerce increasingly invades the transactional side of Wall Street.
      Available for FREE with purchase above.

  • Subscribe to on a quarterly basis and receive all of the the above articles, and all that follow them (a minimum of 3 more per quarter), plus all Chart du Jours (some of which would otherwise be pay-per-view) for just $65. THIS INCLUDES OUR August 25th article -- "The New Era of Government, Debt Deflation, and Weakening Consumerism" -- a long-term look at interest rate trends and its anticipated interplay with the now sagging U.S. consumer and retail sector.

If you order by credit card, your credit card will be billed as "Sand Spring Advisors LLC"

Should you have any ordering problems, please contact us at
973-829-1962 or by email at the address below:

Take me back to the Sand Spring Home Page

Comments or Problems

Thank you for visiting Sand Spring Advisors LLC, Inc. We hope to hear from you again soon. For more information on Sand Spring Advisors actual programs, services, or to request a copy of a Disclosure Document, please phone us at 973 829 1962, FAX your request to 973 829 1962, or e-mail us at

Corporate Office:
10 Jenks Road,
Morristown, NJ 07960
Phone: 973 829 1962
Facsimile: 973 829 1962

Best Experienced with
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Click here to start.

The material located on this website is also the copyrighted work of Sand Spring Advisors LLC. No party may copy, distribute or prepare derivative works based on this material in any manner without the expressed permission of Sand Spring Advisors LLC

This page and all contents are Copyright 2002 by Sand Spring Advisors, LLC, Morristown, NJ