Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Last Call For H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

The Canadian dollar isn't doing so well against its US cousin recently as the economy has stagnated and the Bank of Canada has cut interest rates.  Canada avoided the worst of the subprime housing crash seven years ago, but now the problem is oil prices in freefall, and that's causing a number of painful side effects.

Just ask Canada's NHL teams.

A low Canadian dollar hurts the NHL in a multitude of ways, and both the league and the seven Canadian teams keep an eye on its fluctuations daily. They engage in what’s known as currency hedging to protect themselves from drops, but dramatic falls such as those of late are difficult to protect against. Because player salaries are paid in U.S. dollars, every currency drop hurts those teams’ bottom line. For a wealthy franchise such as Montreal or Toronto, that simply means a lower profit margin. For a team closer to the break-even point, such as Ottawa or Winnipeg, an 80-cent dollar may well push them $5-million into the red and affect personnel decisions in the future. 
Spending to the cap may no longer be possible. 
The dollar’s shift is only one factor, but there’s evidence its movement translates to success on the ice. Between 1994 and 2000, the dollar sat around 70 cents and Canadian teams had an average of only 75 points a season – nearly 10 below U.S.-based ones. Meanwhile, Canadian teams’ most successful season, points-wise, came in 2005-06, when the dollar began to shoot back up to close to 90 cents.

 But it can actually get worse for Canad's small market teams like Winnipeg and Ottawa:

The biggest doomsday scenario for the cap would be if players themselves decide they don’t want it to rise. Every June, the NHL Players’ Association has to greenlight a 5-per-cent cap inflator that helps drive the league’s ceiling higher in anticipation of revenue growth. 
With players currently paying 14 per cent of their salaries into escrow, – a figure that could increase the rest of the season as the dollar falls – they may not want the cap to rise. 
A low or no-growth cap would create massive pain for successful-but-capped out franchises such as the Chicago Blackhawks, who have been signing players under the assumption the NHL’s ceiling will continue to rise. Already, some teams around the league are considering a “vulture” strategy, where they’ll purposely head into the summer with a lot of cap room in order to take advantage of distressed teams.

So yes, the biggest factor heading into the NHL's 2015 summer offseason may be where the Loonie is compared to the Greenback.  There's been talk of the NHL trying to expand to 32 teams as well. The fate of that may depend on currency traders more than anything else here in the next year or two.

Even if expansion is put off, the free agency period could be really interesting this year.

Pence's Professional Pravda

Are you a Republican governor who's thinking about a 2016 presidential run? Tired of "liberal news media" printing their "facts" instead of your truth about your administration? Want to turn your press release department into the actual press, only with taxpayer dollars and your direction?  Then you too can be like Indiana GOP Gov. Mike Pence and start your own news agency!

Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run news service that will provide pre-written news stories to Indiana news outlets, as well as sometimes compete with them for news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

Pence is planning to launch "Just IN" in late February, a website and news service that will feature stories written by state press secretaries and is being overseen by a former Indianapolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.

"At times, Just IN will break news -- publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such 'exclusive' coverage remain under discussion," according to a question-and-answer sheet distributed to communications directors for state agencies last week details.

The Pence news service will take stories written by state communications directors and publish them on its website. Stories will "range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles."

A Pence spokeswoman declined comment Monday, saying the administration would release more details soon.

Hey after all this is the party that swore to destroy the "dead tree" media.  Just put bloggers in charge and "publish information ahead of any other news outlet" yourself!  No need for an adversarial press when you control the information and the means to get it to taxpayers, right?

How long until other states start doing this?

Just Like Dear Old Dad

WaPo's David Farenthold on Sen. Rand Paul's biggest barrier to the Oval Office: Dear Ol' Dad.

Rand Paul wants to lead the United States. On Saturday in Texas, his father was speaking at a conference about how to leave it.

“A lot of times people think secession, they paint it as an absolute negative,” said former representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.). After all, Paul said, the American Revolution was a kind of secession. “You mean we should have been obedient to the king forever? So it’s all in the way you look at it.” 
This weekend was a crucial one for Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky and un­declared candidate for the presidency. He was in California, trying to line up donors at an opulent retreat organized by the billionaire Koch brothers. 
At the same time, his father — retired after 12 terms in Congress and three presidential runs — was in the ballroom of an airport hotel here, the final speaker at “a one-day seminar in breaking away from the central state.” He followed a series of speakers who said that the U.S. economy and political establishment were tottering and that the best response might be for states, counties or even individuals to break away. 
“The America we thought we knew, ladies and gentlemen, is a mirage. It’s a memory. It’s a foreign country,” Jeff Deist, Ron Paul’s former press secretary and chief of staff, told the group. “And that’s precisely why we should take secession seriously.”

And this is why I always get a good chuckle when people say "Hey Zandar, your crazy-ass senator might end up as President, right?"

No. Not in a million years. Ron Paul and his merry band of rootin' tootin' gold bug Bell Curve dudebro Second Revolution glibertarian dumpster fires will never, ever stop being the Olympus Mons of baggage for Rand Paul's higher aspirations. He can't afford to alienate them because his supporters love the little garden gnome, and he can't afford to have them running around and talking about how great things like secession and Bitcoin and ending the Fed and the Civil Rights Act would be for the next 18 months because stories like this will eventually start becoming a real problem for the donor class.

And that's on top of Rand's own ridiculous statements on civil rights and his questionable hiring practices.

Not sure why the guy is even bothering to run.


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