The Supercommittee Will Fail — And When It Does, Markets Will Crash

Nov 14, 2011, 12:21 pm EST
The Supercommittee Will Fail — And When It Does, Markets Will Crash

The so-called Congressional supercommittee — a group of 12 politicians with the unenviable task of reaching a compromise on federal spending and our massive budget deficit — is running out of time.

And so are American consumers and investors hoping for a deal to bolster a struggling economy and prove the stock market rally is here to stay.

Only about a week is left for the group of six Republicans and six Democrats to craft a plan that will slash $1.2 trillion from the U.S. deficit during the next decade. If the debt committee can’t reach a compromise, deep and automatic cuts to Medicare and defense spending will trigger — which either individually or in tandem could be very damaging to an already ailing American economy. Read 

Sorry Mitt, Europe Is Our Problem Too

Nov 10, 2011, 2:28 pm EST

When pressed at last night’s GOP presidential debate, Mitt Romney argued that the U.S. has enough problems and should let Europe sink or swim on its own. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam can’t afford to do any such thing.

Like it or not, the U.S. is not an island unto itself.  The economic troubles of seemingly faraway lands such as Italy and Greece eventually wash up on our shores. That’s especially true of Italy, which is the world’s eighth-largest economy. According to The State Department, Italy was America’s 16th-largest trading partner in 2010, with total bilateral trade of $42.7 billion. Republicans ignore this economic reality at their own peril.

During Wednesday night’s debate, Romney said: “We don’t want to step in and try to bail out their banks and bail out their governments. My view is no, no, no. We do not need to step in to bail out banks in Europe or even banks here that have Italian debt.” Read 

Why Is the Senate Witch-Hunting ETFs?

Nov 10, 2011, 12:00 pm EST

Few things — if any — in Washington, D.C., make sense these days.

This is the exactly the case as evidenced by the recent Senate hearings on Oct. 19, titled “Market Microstructure: Examination of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).” The purpose of the meeting was to analyze the impact of ETFs on the financial markets.

Why have financial markets been so volatile? What are the reasons and causes behind the “Flash Crash” on May 6, 2010? Does anybody know? The Senate figured it would call in some experts to get to the bottom of it, but instead of answering questions, the Senate found a good scapegoat: the U.S. exchange-traded products or ETP market, which encompasses ETFs, and has around $1 trillion in assets under management. Read 

What Election Day 2011 Means for 2012

Nov 9, 2011, 10:59 am EST
What Election Day 2011 Means for 2012

Election Day 2011 is in the books. You may think it lacked fireworks, considering how big the prize will be in 2012, but here are some choice political headlines from yesterday’s votes across the U.S.:

    Ohio voters repealed a controversial labor law limiting union rights. Early results show a political newcomer ousted an entrenched and polarizing Republican in the Arizona state Senate, and Democrats in the swing state of Virginia saw their majority in the Commonwealth’s upper house erode. Voters in Mississippi rejected a controversial ballot measure that would have defined human life as beginning at fertilization.

These are all weighty developments. Political junkies are probably already chewing on the juicy details, and a host of other outlets will be dissecting these and other specific issues at length over the next few days as results are finalized.

But the most important thing about Tuesday’s vote is, of course, what it means for the White House race in 2012. Read 

‘Bank Transfer Day’: Winners All Around

Nov 9, 2011, 7:00 am EST
‘Bank Transfer Day’: Winners All Around

Bank customers’ growing disdain with big institutions reached a climax this weekend that was simultaneously symbolic and tangible. “Bank Transfer Day” and “Move Your Money Day,” both falling on Nov. 5, sent accounts flying from the rosters of Wall Street giants into the open arms of smaller regional banks and not-for-profit credit unions.

But on a day that was supposed to leave big banks groaning from pain, the Wall Street firms’ collective response couldn’t be heard above the “ka-chings” of “Main Street” money drawers.

Mostly because that response was a surprisingly indifferent shrug — and maybe even a slight smirk. Read 

Obesity Taxes Won’t Work

Nov 8, 2011, 9:00 am EST

The government didn’t make me fat, and it can’t make me thin. This sad reality is getting lost on an increasing number of local officials.

As the Tax Foundation recently noted, so-called obesity taxes are gaining popularity among cash-strapped state and local governments. This year 14 states proposed new soda taxes, and two states proposed new taxes on candy. Soda prices would have soared by as much as 264%, according to the Tax Foundation.

The problem with these taxes is that they penalize the fat and the thin equally. They also try to reduce a complicated issue like obesity to a simple exercise of picking good foods and avoiding bad foods. Unfortunately, people get fat and stay overweight for many reasons — psychological, physiological and economic — that can’t be solved by taxation alone. Read 

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