Markets Pay the Price for Political Paralysis

Nov 24, 2011, 6:45 am EST

Do the markets care whether the U.S. fiddles while Europe burns? Apparently. This week’s 600-point nosedive by the Dow should prove (for anybody who didn’t realize it already) that America isn’t about to “decouple” from Europe, financially or economically.

For the past few weeks, a parade of smiley faces has tried to tell us that Europe’s woes didn’t matter for the U.S. markets. We, and maybe the Chinese, could keep chugging along regardless of what was happening in the EU.

It was a foolish conceit, for two reasons: First, as I’ve explained in previous blogs, Europe is an important buyer of U.S. exports. A deep recession “over there” will hurt the bottom line of many large U.S. companies, particularly in the otherwise thriving industrial sector. Read 

Where Did Ron Paul Go?

Nov 23, 2011, 7:00 am EST

Ron Paul is out of the picture.

At least, that is exactly what entrenched politicians on both sides of the aisle — the neocon military/industrial complex intelligentsia, the media, the Greenwich Village pseudo-intellectual liberals and the Hollywood buffoons — would have you believe. It is hard to read a good word about Ron Paul, is it not? The silence on the media front when it comes to Dr. Paul makes you wonder if you hadn’t missed his obituary. Well, not quite. Out of eyesight, it looks as if Ron Paul’s Iowa ground army is overrunning opposition forces and propelling him to the front ranks of America’s first nominating battle in Iowa.

Ron Paul may well win Iowa and also New Hampshire. Victories in both states would dump the fat in the fire and panic would set in fast for the entire crowd outlined above. Can Ron actually get the nomination and win the White House? The Wall Street Journal wrote of Dr. Paul: “His radical views about the size of government probably doom him to defeat in the Republican primaries … As a candidate, Mr. Paul is likely finished.” Read 

5 Ways the Debt ‘Stupor’ Committee Will Make You Poorer

Nov 22, 2011, 5:15 am EST

Tasked with finding $1.2 trillion to cut in the federal budget, after summer’s playground antics that caused the markets to tumble and roll like a roller coaster, the 12-member congressional “super committee” — as expected — has turned into the “stupor” committee.

Monday was their deadline to send their plan to the Congressional Budget Office, and — surprise, surprise — the Dems and Reps released a joint statement of failure. But you can be sure that the rhetoric of blame has already begun. Even on Sunday, when unofficial statements suggesting no agreement had been made, the airwaves were filled with pointing fingers.

Business as usual in Washington. I’m not going to rehash the politics, as that won’t help you understand the importance of this failure. Instead, let’s look at how the inaction may negatively impact your financial situation. Read 

Black Friday Shouldn’t Overshadow Thanksgiving Day

Nov 21, 2011, 8:29 am EST

What happened to Thanksgiving?

What once was an entire season worth of anticipation toward family, friends, the meal of the year and watching the Detroit Lions get pummeled during the NFL’s traditional Turkey Day contest has been cut to practically just the holiday day itself — thanks to the ever-expanding “holiday season” that now sops up most of fall.

Now, Thanksgiving’s parasitic cousin, Black Friday, is threatening to finish the job on the back end. And the unlikeliest of champions — people who actually have a job in a down economy — are fighting back. Read 

As Supercommittee Fails, Investors Will Pay the Price

Nov 20, 2011, 9:16 pm EST
As Supercommittee Fails, Investors Will Pay the Price

How broken is government in Washington? So broken that Democrats and Republicans don’t even need to wait until the last minute to announce their failures. After all, it’s clearly a foregone conclusion — so why fake it?

The 12 members of the bipartisan congressional supercommittee given the task of finding spending cuts of $1.2 trillion admitted on Sunday night that they are heading for failure. As a result, the U.S. government and financial markets are wrapped in turmoil and uncertainty — again.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I wrote last week why the supercommittee would fail, and how the market would sell off sharply as a result. I was hardly the first to say that, and it’s hardly news to anyone watching these so-called “negotiations” on Capitol Hill. Read 

Debt Supercommitee: Doomed From the Start

Nov 17, 2011, 2:27 pm EST

When the congressional supercomittee tasked with finding more than $1 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years first met in August, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-Kent.) declared that “failure is not an option” for the dozen-member bipartisan group. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Failure, as anyone with common sense will tell you, is always an “option.” That’s especially the case in Washington, where partisan gridlock this summer nearly caused the U.S. to default on its obligations and triggered an unprecedented downgrade of the debt of the world’s largest economy.  The supercommittee process was designed to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade or else $1.2 trillion in mandatory spending cuts — $500 billion in defense spending alone — would be triggered. That, of course, is an option that neither Democrats nor Republicans want, which should — in theory — encourage them to compromise.

Sadly, that has not happened. Read 

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