Shine a Light on Congressional Stock Traders

Nov 15, 2011, 12:27 pm EDT

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans’ approval rating for Congress is at a mere 13%. It’s the lowest ever (George Washington must be rolling in his grave).

Then again, citizens have plenty to be mad about. And now we have some more red meat: A recent episode of 60 Minutes makes Congress look like a shifty hedge fund, with its members trafficking in insider information. Needless to say, it has ignited a firestorm.

For example, in September 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a horrific presentation to a variety of members of Congress. What happened next? They started to dump their investments. Read 

Did the GOP Presidential Debate Help Investors Decide?

Nov 15, 2011, 12:15 pm EDT

CNBC is unquestionably the premier business and investing television network, so it would make sense that CNBC would host a debate between Republicans vying for their party’s nomination.

It also would make sense if that debate was focused on business and the economy and aimed at addressing the concerns of individual investors. But how much did investors learn about how each Republican would approach the titanic tasks of spurring economic growth, creating jobs and bringing stability back into the financial markets?

We learned a lot about the candidates’ big-picture approach, but little about how each candidate would actually attempt to solve these problems. Read 

Congratulations, Ohio — You Have Just Bankrupted Your State

Nov 15, 2011, 8:00 am EDT

With Ohio’s vote last Tuesday, you have all just decided resoundingly to bankrupt your state and, in the process, kicked a really good governor in the face. You have allowed the public sector unions to run roughshod over you. Who in their right minds would want to start a small business or any other form of business in Ohio? Have you looked into who funded the charge against Senate Bill 5?

I am truly sorry to sound so sour. I grew up in Cleveland, watching Otto Graham, Lou Groza and Dante Lavelli play football for the Browns on freezing cold Lake Erie Sundays. Today, our family investment office in Naples, Fla., is dedicated to Paul Brown and the great Browns teams of the 1950s. Since we opened the Naples office nearly a decade ago, the sons of both Groza and Graham have visited. Before he passed away, Lavelli and I had a couple of wonderful phone discussions about the glory days of the Browns — I bet today’s Browns wish they had the old Jim Brown back. I was in attendance at the old Cleveland Stadium to watch Brown set records. So, yes indeed, there is no one alive with a more hopeful wish for the future of Ohio than yours truly.

For nearly five decades, my business has been advising conservative small-business owners and retired and soon-to-be-retired investors planning for a comfortable and secure retirement. I know what I am talking about when it comes to fiscal responsibility and investing for the future. I am certainly not a politician and, in fact, neither a Republican nor a Democrat. My sole interest in politics is how our government governs in the interest of my family and my clients. With that said, you can only imagine the sickness I feel as I read with despair the defeat of Ohio’s public employee labor rules bill. Read 

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

Nov 14, 2011, 12:21 pm EDT
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 EDT

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 EDT

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 

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