Congress Is Killing Jobs — Not Creating Them

Aug 3, 2011, 9:32 am EST

As we digest the debt debacle, one important fact seems to be lost on most Americans — Congress has decided to overlook fixing unemployment in order to tackle spending. Unfortunately, that will only create more unemployment.

Why legislators allowed the conversation to change from job creation to debt busting is beyond me. Conspiracy theorists suggest it’s because the GOP has no interest in mending the economy, when a double-dip recession during primary season can energize Republican presidential campaigns. I’d like to believe that even the most stubborn legislators aren’t evil — just misinformed or incapable of viewing the big economic picture.

Whatever the motivations in Washington, the truth of the matter is that the biggest job destroyer in 2011 has been the government. This is not bluster or scare tactics, but an honest fact based on the respected analysis of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Read 

The U.S. Deserves to Have Its Credit Downgraded

Aug 2, 2011, 6:33 am EST

I’m not normally a bettin’ man, but while the Congress keeps arguing, I’m going to put money (figuratively anyway) on the fact that there will be: a hike to the debt ceiling by Tuesday’s Aug. 2 deadline, and a credit downgrade to AA from AAA on U.S. Treasury bonds.

Whether there will be anything accomplished in tackling the budget deficit is still up for grabs.

Frankly, if the ratings agencies don’t downgrade U.S. debt, it will be just another shocking example of their inability to really understand what’s happening in the world. They have already proved, during the mortgage securities mess, that they aren’t exactly the best analysts on the planet, by a long shot. In this case, we deserve to have our debt downgraded simply because of the inability of our policymakers to get a handle on the budget deficit. How can the U.S. continue to cling to a AAA rating? It can’t right now. Read 

Don’t Hit the Panic Button – Buy These 3 Investments Instead

Aug 2, 2011, 4:57 am EST
Don’t Hit the Panic Button – Buy These 3 Investments Instead

You can tell we’re getting very close to the final bottom of this three-month stock market pullback. What makes me so sure? Last week’s fizzle have unleashed swarms of doomsayers — and those dependable bottom-makers are strutting their stuff with quite a flourish right now.

My favorite headline yesterday, from a heavily trafficked financial Web site, wrapped the prevailing sentiment in one neat package. 5 TIPS TO SURVIVE THE COMING MARKET AXE MURDER, it screamed.

Is the author serious? If we were in October 2008, with the S&P down 42% year to date, I could understand such hysteria. But the market, as of Thursday night’s close, was still up 3.4% for the year — and down only 4.6% from its April 29 peak. Read 

Federal Reserve Readies for U.S. Debt Default

Jul 21, 2011, 10:22 am EST

Reports emerged last night that the Federal Reserve is actively preparing for a government debt default. With negotiations over the debt ceiling still going nowhere, it’s clear that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow central bankers don’t want to be caught without a plan.

There are just 12 days to go until the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury, when the government will run out of money and stop paying some bills. And, barring a last-minute compromise, the U.S. will face at least a credit downgrade and at worst the label of outright default on its debts.

Yes, it has gotten this bad. And the Fed is preparing for the worst. Read 

Despite Washington Budget Crisis, Earnings Will Lift Stocks

Jul 19, 2011, 12:13 pm EST

Despite the contentious federal debt ceiling debate and the end of the Fed’s Quantitative Easing last month, yields on Treasury securities have fallen this month. In fact, PIMCO, the world’s largest bond manager, has actually increased its holdings of U.S. government debt. Stocks fell 2% last week but they have risen 4% in the last three weeks. With earnings season reaching a peak by late July, we could see a strong summer stock rally, despite all the frustrating political debates in Washington, DC.

Last week, the stock market recovered a bit late in the week, mostly responding to three favorable price indexes: On Wednesday, the Labor Department announced that the prices for imported goods declined in June by 0.5%, the first decline in a year. This decline was mostly due to lower crude oil prices. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the Producer Price Index (PPI) declined 0.4% in June, while the “core” rate (excluding food and energy), rose 0.3%. Then on Friday, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell by 0.2% in June, even though the core rate rose 0.3%.

In summary, underlying (core) inflation is rising moderately while lower food and energy prices bring the overall price indexes down. Still, these very low rates of price changes are basically good for the market. Read 

A Modest Proposal to Fix the Debt Ceiling: Strategic Default

Jul 13, 2011, 12:01 am EST
A Modest Proposal to Fix the Debt Ceiling: Strategic Default

It is a sad situation when hard-working CEOs and money managers who make this country great must watch a bloated federal budget waste our hard-earned money.

Millions of Americans claim they are old, sick or laid off – and, instead of working for an honest livelihood, employ all their time begging for a government handout. They drive up the national debt with their dependence, and are responsible for the current budget mess we are in.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious spending is deplorable. So amid the current debate over the debt ceiling, I feel compelled to offer my modest proposal to fix our free-spending ways: a strategic default on our debt. It’s a strategy employed by many homeowners underwater on their five-bedroom homes in Las Vegas, and it’s one we should put to use on a national scale. It’s time we put an end to criticism for our past behavior and not allow ourselves to be held hostage by creditors. Read 

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