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INTRO Here's my semi-annual exercise to see if I remember why I own the stocks I own, and so I can check back and see if their stories have changed. I include the economy and markets to check my perception of the bigger picture. I post in case it helps others too.

Economy & Markets
It is nice to hear about the recovery in the economy and the markets. "Hear" is the appropriate term because, even though I suspected it would happen as a recovery to a mean, most of the recovery seems to be happening - somewhere else. The news that most of the gains are going to very few may explain languishing small cap stocks, dramatic reduction in personal incomes (regardless of unemployment statistics), and a lot of overworked friends. One possibility is that the Quantitative Easing has effectively been driven into large cap stocks as large financial institutions find efficiency in hundreds of large companies instead of thousands of small companies, while retail investors' influence has shrunk even more than it was.

I'm glad to see the numbers return, yet I don't see any systemic repair of the underlying dysfunction that created the financial turmoil of a few years ago. Without such repair the same cycles of collapse are possible, as suggested by the recent TED talk
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nORI8r3JIyw&feature=share...). The real estate market recovery also is possibly being driven by corporate purchases of large blocks of home, that are then turned into rentals with overly optimistic assumptions built into their business models. Even refinances for a while returned to a no-document basis, which was the enabling factor in the original mortgage crisis. And yet, our systems have always had inefficiences. The question now is, "Is this time different?"

(I've also collected links to other topics and my stocks over on my blog http://trimbathcreative.wordpress.com/)
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