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Sharpen Your Pencil – And Put These Three Stocks on Your "Shopping List"

Ask any of our gurus for advice on how to survive a stock-market sell-off – or even a whipsaw period like the one we’re navigating now – and you’ll get a surprising answer.

Keep a shopping list ready, they’ll tell you…

  • Featured Story

    Eurozone Risks Don't Rule Out These Solid Income Opportunities

    Europe has a bigger combined economy than the US and we've been economic partners for decades. If things don't turnaround in Europe, the US revival will certainly falter.

    Our chief investment strategist, Keith Fitz-Gerald, just got back from "across the pond" and answered some questions about the risks and opportunities unfolding in Europe right now.

    He also brought back some great inflation-beating, solid income stocks...
    Read More...
  • Eurozone

  • Eurozone Debt Crisis: Now It's a Hopeless Game of Whac-a-Mole wackamolehome

    The Eurozone debt crisis that was supposed to have blown over long ago instead has become more like an endless game of Whac-a-Mole, with both new and old problems popping up faster than European leaders can bop them.

    As Europe's finance ministers gathered in Dublin today (Friday), they faced at least half a dozen major issues threatening the fiscal health of the Eurozone.

    Although Europe's leaders, in concert with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have succeeded in keeping a lid on each successive crisis over the past three years, that streak can't survive in the face of the new and old fiscal woes that have been peppering the Eurozone.

    U.S. investors can't let those past successes deceive them into thinking the Eurozone is no longer a worry.

    When the Eurozone debt crisis finally implodes - and sooner or later, it has to - it will hammer stock markets around the globe.

    To continue reading, please click here...

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  • The Eurozone Hangs On By a Whisker Four days after the Italian elections, only one thing is really clear: A majority of Italian voters have rejected austerity.

    The problem is, their victory came up short by the slimmest of margins.

    0.36%.

    That's the difference between a firm new government that could move Italy out of the Eurozone and the constitutional logjam Italian voters woke up to the next day.

    Here’s why that's likely bad news for us all... Read More...
  • Berlusconi is Back, and So Is the Eurozone Debt Crisis Since the beginning of the year, the markets have been behaving as if the Eurozone debt crisis has been magically solved.

    Yields on Spanish and Italian debt are trading more than 1% lower than at their peak, while world stock markets have soared close to all-time highs.

    Unfortunately, you can expect that all of this euphoria will fade when the Italian elections take place on February 23 and 24.

    The reason is summed up in two words: Silvio Berlusconi. Read More...
  • 2013 Eurozone Forecast: Why A Eurozone Breakup Is Now More Likely Than Ever To the complete shock of several analysts, the Eurozone managed to make it through 2012 without breaking up. However, 2013 is another story.

    Now that Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti has resigned, there's a good chance that Italy will be in the forefront of a new Eurozone crisis.

    That means 2013 doesn't look to be a good year for the euro, either-especially with new Italian elections likely to take place in February.

    Of course, the EU establishment hopes that Monti can remain in office, but with four very different candidates now jockeying for position, Italy is one of the continent's great question marks.

    Here's why...

    The leading candidates in this crucial contest include:
    • Silvio Berlusconi, leading the remnants of his former rightist coalition,
    • Monti himself, currently in negotiations with several centrist parties,
    • Luigi Bersani, leading the left-wing Democrats, currently regarded as most likely to win
    • And comedian Beppe Grillo, whose Five Star Movement is leftist and anti-authoritarian.
    Of these four, only Monti and Bersani would represent the continuation of the status quo.

    Meanwhile, the return of Berlusconi, whom the establishment forced out in 2011, would be a nightmare for the euro. That goes for the ascension of Grillo as well.

    In the balance of this pivotal contest could be the fate of the Eurozone itself.

    To continue reading, please click here...

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  • Try as He Might, Mario Draghi Cannot Save the Euro Of all the pyramid schemes that governments and banks have perpetrated in the last decade, the Eurozone debt crisis is the most damaging.

    No amount of posturing by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi can change that fact.

    The market may like what Draghi has to say about the fate of the euro, but tomorrow's big ECB meeting will change little.  

    The massive amount of money Draghi will need to print is far too great for the German taxpayer or the ECB's balance sheet.

    Eventually, the Eurozone will break up and drag the global economy right down with it.

    In the long run, that will mark the beginning of the recovery, but in the short run it will precipitate a banking and economic crisis that will make 2008 look like child's play.

    As investors, we had better be prepared.

    Politicians Doomed the Euro

    The Euro was a reasonably sensible idea, although without political integration it was always likely to cause trouble.

    What's more, the technical side of it was for the first ten years handled very well by Otmar Issing at the European Central Bank.  Issing spent his career in the Deutsche Bundesbank and knew what a decent currency looked like.

    However, two decisions taken by politicians doomed the currency.

    One was to admit Greece into the union, which to any competent observer was a hopelessly corrupt and uncompetitive economy propped up by giant EU subsidies.

    More important, though, was the design of the TARGET (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System) payments system which was replaced in November 2007 by TARGET 2.

    As I wrote in an earlier article, it is the secret system that blew another hole in the euro.

    Target 2 requires all payments between banks in different countries to go through the national central banks (thus giving those otherwise redundant entities something to do).

    Theoretically that's the same system as in the U.S., where many payments are made through the regional Federal Reserve Banks.

    However, in the U.S. the larger banks deal direct, and outstanding payments in the regional Fed banks are cleared regularly. What that means is that if Alabama runs a payments deficit with New York, no large balances are allowed to build up.

    Conversely, there has been no automatic clearing between the central banks in Europe. This may sound arcane and boring, but I promise you it is not.

    These payment imbalances have two nasty side effects.

    To continue reading, please click here...

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  • Can the U.S Economy "de-couple" from the Eurozone Debt Crisis? As the Eurozone teeters on the edge of a breakup, it begs the question: Can the U.S economy "de-couple" from the Eurozone debt crisis?

    Ultimately, the answer comes down to fate of the euro. It's the linchpin to everything.

    From the point of view of one who has travelled fairly frequently in the Eurozone I can tell you I find the euro very convenient indeed.

    In my London merchant banking days, when I used to go on marketing trips around continental Europe, I found that while the excellent European train service was a pleasure to use, the proliferation of local currencies made travelling a pain.

    There was nothing more annoying than to be on a long-distance train that had just crossed the border from Belgium to Germany at Aachen, only to discover that I could not enjoy the excellent Deutsche Bundesbahn bockwrst and fine local beer because I had only sterling and Belgian francs in my wallet, but no deutschemarks!

    The other problem was that after a long trip I ended up with my wallet stuffed with small amounts of ten different currencies, none of which could be changed back into anything useful because the bank charges ate up their value.

    In southern Europe, local exchange controls were a pain too.

    Walking through Madrid airport with $25,000 of legitimately earned pesetas in bills which could not be transferred to Britain through the banking system was far too exciting for my liking.

    From a British merchant banker's point of view, it was thus very convenient when all the local foreigners converted to the same currency, rather than lots of different ones.

    After that, you needed only two compartments in your wallet: one for British money and the other for foreign money. Then you could travel all over Europe without worrying about changing currencies.

    It was a very 19th century feeling, almost as good as being back on the gold standard!

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • Jim Rogers: Market Surge from Eurozone Debt Crisis Deal Won't Last Stock markets around the world soared Friday in reaction to the morning's Eurozone debt crisis deal, but noted investor Jim Rogers wasn't impressed.

    "This is no more than just another temporary stopgap to make the market feel good for a few hours, days or even weeks," Rogers, Chairman of Rogers Holdings, told CNBC. "Then everybody's going to wake up and say, "This doesn't solve the problem.'"

    Meeting in Brussels, European leaders announced a plan early Friday that would provide struggling banks with money directly from the bloc's bailout fund.

    The leaders also said bailout funds could be used to stabilize European bond markets. But they did not tie such use to additional austerity measures, which have angered citizens in debt-troubled nations like Greece and Spain.

    The summit is just the latest in a series of high-level attempts to resolve the 2-year-old Eurozone debt crisis, which has required bailouts of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and most recently the Spanish banking system.

    Markets around the world surged on the announcement, with some European indexes rising as much as 4%. In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 200 points at the open. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up about 25 points, or just under 2%.

    Don't get used to it, Rogers said.

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • Eurozone Debt Crisis: Why Cyprus Needed the Fifth Bailout U.S. stocks were rattled Monday as two more countries asked for bailout packages in the ongoing Eurozone debt crisis.

    Shortly after word came that Spain had formally requested a bailout package for its ailing banks, Cyprus chimed in and also asked for aid.

    The Mediterranean country has become the fifth Eurozone nation to hold out its hand for an international rescue. While the smallest of the bunch to seek relief, Cyprus highlights the European Union's increasingly stressed resources as it wrestles with weakening economic conditions.

    The aid request followed Fitch's downgrade Monday of the island's stressed banks to "junk" status. The credit cut means the country has lost it investment status with the trio of the largest and most influential rating agencies.

    Fitch said in a statement, "Cypriot banks will require substantial injections of capital in order to secure confidence in their financial viability."

    Cyprus, saddled with Greek private sector debt, could need as much as 10 billion euros ($12 billion) in bailout funds.

    "Classic contagion, "BBC's chief economics correspondent Hugh Pym said of Cyprus' troubles.

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • Spain Bailout Package of $77 Billion Will Not be Enough The Spain bailout package has a steep price, but still might not be enough to save the country's banking sector.

    Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos formally asked Eurozone partners for up to 62 billion euros ($77.4 billion) to recapitalize his country's ailing domestic banks. The financial institutions are weighed down by bad loans to property and construction companies, and by an ongoing Eurozone debt crisis.

    In a letter to the Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker, who serves as head of the 17-nation Eurozone finance ministers, Guindos explained he wanted to settle on details and conditions of the loan before the next euro group meeting on July 9.

    Juncker acknowledged receipt of the letter and said that the ministers expect to give a go-ahead to the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority to negotiate terms of the bailout.

    The request was anticipated after the results of two independent audits were released last week. Financial consultants Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger made the first step in a two-part audit of the Spanish banking system.

    Wyman found that worst-case scenario, Spain's banking sector would need a bailout package of between 51 billion euros ($63.6 billion) and 62 billion euros ($77.4 billion). Berger estimated on the lower end with 51.8 billion euros ($64.6 billion).

    The formal request for a Spain bailout has made investors more nervous, and is driving the bond yields higher, making it increasingly likely Spain will need more money to try and resolve its debt crisis.

    To continue reading, please click here...
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  • Stock Market Today: Europe Concerns Ruling the Day The factors weighing on the stock market today should sound pretty familiar to investors by now. The Eurozone debt crisis - with its carousel of struggling countries thirsting for a bailout - worsens every day.

    Today the Spanish government made a formal request for more financial aid for its struggling banking sector. In a letter to Euro group Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker, who is also Luxembourg's prime minister, Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos asked for up to 62 billion euros ($77 billion) in financial assistance for the recapitalization of the Spanish banks that require it.

    This move was expected as yields on the Spanish 10-year bonds have been under tight scrutiny as they hover around the alarming 7% line.

    Members of Germany, France, Italy and Spain on Friday agreed on a set of growth-enhancing policies equal to about 125 billion euros, or 1% of Eurozone gross domestic product. The European summit takes place later this week and investors are expecting less and less to come from the meeting.

    In a bit of good news that doesn't seem to be impacting the sell-ridden market today, new single family home sales grew 7.6% to their highest level in two years. New sales were at a seasonally adjusted 369,000-unit annual rate, almost 20% higher year-over-year, but still a far cry from where sales should be in a healthy economy.

    Here are some companies making headlines today.

    Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is in the news again and this time for anti-trust violations. Reuters reported today that Chesapeake, led by CEO Aubrey McClendon, conspired with its top competitor Encana Corp. (NYSE: ECA) to suppress land prices. The two companies apparently agreed through numerous emails to avoid bidding against each other at public land auctions to drive land prices for oil and gas fields down.

    If these reports are true Chesapeake and Encana violated both federal and state anti-trust laws.

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • The Eurozone Crisis is Far From Over The Greek election last weekend has brought us a brief reprieve. The nation and the Eurozone have stepped back from the brink.

    But the larger truth is that little has changed.

    Yes, the Eurozone has survived its latest test, yet there is little indication where it will go from here. Considerable continental support for the common currency remains, and EU officials will soon introduce initiatives to consolidate banking and financial policy in the European Union.

    Still, the problems keep mounting, and there is very little resolve to fix them.

    At this point, a lot of actions (or lack of actions) could still upset the entire apple cart.

    To continue reading please, click here...

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  • Eurozone Bailout Package: What's Next for Greece The question regarding whether or not Greece will stick with the Eurozone got at least a short-term answer after the country's elections Sunday, when the conservative, pro-bailout New Democracy party narrowly won the crucial vote.

    But Greece's trials and tribulations are far from over, and the relief is temporary. Concerns are increasing over the global cost of a Eurozone bailout package as the mounting woes in Spain and Italy persist.

    Citizens of Greece are clamoring for change, but many recognize that the election results are no quick fix. There was no cheering in Greece and global markets reacted cautiously following the vote.

    Borrowing costs across Europe rose with Spain taking the lead. The yield on Spain's 10-year bonds spiked to a euro-era high of 7.18%. A reading above 7% raises a red flag that a nation may be approaching the need for a bailout.

    Italian bonds also sold off on fears that if Spain is in need of a bailout, an Italy bailout package might not be far off. Italian bonds' 10-year yields are around 6%.

    While the Greek election results staved off a calamity, they failed to fix the wider problems facing Greece and its struggling neighbors.

    Moody's Analytics' chief economist Mark Zandi told USA Today, "We dodged a bullet, but they've got more bullets coming."

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • Eurozone Debt Crisis: The Greek Elections are a Make or Break Moment What happens this Sunday, June 17 , may be the trigger for a final resolution of the Eurozone debt crisis.

    Now I understand that you probably don't follow Greek elections. But this is one you'll want to keep an eye on. At the moment, it dwarfs the contest between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

    In fact, come Monday it will be what every banker, politician and trader is talking about.

    In the balance is the very fate of the Eurozone.
    The
    ripple effects could be enough to actually bring the EU down.

    That's the first part of the story. Admittedly, it's not a very pleasant one.

    The second part concerns your portfolio, since the solutions will involve more money-printing and, in the long run, more inflation.

    But you needn't worry. We've already read the central banker's playbook for you.

    In this case, the message is clear. Don't buy Europe. But do buy hard assets -- whether gold, oil, or other commodities.

    These safe-havens are one of the best ways to hedge yourself against these characters and their money printing schemes.

    Now that you know why Sunday is so important, here is how it will likely play out-in both the short term and in the long run.

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • Why an Italy Bailout Package is on the Way With news of the Spain bailout package still fresh, and Greece's crucial elections on Sunday, the next event in the Eurozone debt crisis is already brewing.

    An Italy bailout package is likely to be the next costly move in the spiraling contagion.

    Italy on Thursday held its first bond auction since European finance ministers came to Spain's rescue, willing to give the ailing country up to 100 billion euro ($126 billion) to shore up its beleaguered banks.

    The auction raised a heap of concerns.

    Italy's borrowing costs soared following a Treasury sale of 4.5 billion euros of debt, including 3 billion euros of its 3-year benchmark bond that yields a lofty 5.3%. That was the highest yield since December and an increase of nearly 1.4 percentage points from the last sale just a month ago.

    In addition, Fitch Ratings reported May 23 that foreign ownership of Italian debt slipped from 50% in 2008 to a current 32%.

    "I think Italy could well be a problem, because its current government isn't very good and has no legitimacy, having been imposed by the EU - and it hasn't cut spending as it needs to," said Money Morning Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson. "I'd put it a few weeks away though - market's focused on Greece and Spain at present."

    To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • The 2012 IPO Calendar: How to Spot the Winners You might find yourself eyeing the 2012 IPO calendar with a bit more scrutiny after the Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) fiasco.

    Although Facebook has been nabbing the most attention for disappointing its investors, it's hardly the first IPO to do so. It's all part of the fickle IPO process.

    In fact, about 40% of the IPOs to hit the market over the past 12 months have seen their share prices fall below their IPO prices.

    Facebook isn't the only factor to blame -- U.S. unemployment is up, the Eurozone debt crisis is sapping bullish spirit, and the upcoming U.S. presidential elections in November are adding to market uncertainty.

    But avoiding IPOs altogether could also be a huge mistake.

    Just ask those who bought the Google (Nasdsaq: GOOG) initial public offering. The Google IPO priced at $85, started trading at $100, and now trades around $560.

    So how can you put yourself in the 60% group and earn a profit in the process?

    With the right research and guidance, you can spot winners just like Google.

    Do Your IPO Research

    Investing in IPOs is like buying and selling any asset: due diligence is required.

    An IPO, like a credit-default swap or subprime mortgage, is the ideal financial instrument for a limited set of circumstances. It is up to the individual or the institution to determine if the IPO they are considering is suitable for a long-term investment or a short-term flip.

    If it qualifies as just a short-term flips, that is enough to tell you not to buy.

    Whatever the investment objective, however, information is readily available for the necessary and needed due diligence.

    For example, on March 17, 2011 Michael J. De La Merced wrote an article in The New York Times about the IPO of FriendFinder Networks (NYSE: FFN).

    In his Timespiece,"FriendFinder Braves Choppy Market with IPO, Again," De La Merced did an excellent job of detailing his concerns with the stock, ranging from the disposition of the proceeds of the IPO to the accounting at the company to the number of times it had attempted to go public before and had to withdraw the offering.

    FriendFinder Network IPO priced at $10 a share last year; it's now selling for around $1.15.

    Other times an IPO can be hurt by factors having nothing to do with the financials of the company or the overall economic situation.

    Take the Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG), a Washington, DC-based private equity group, which went public in May. Until Election Day in November, private equity groups will be vilified by the Obama Administration, unions and others due to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's work with Bain Capital.

    There is no way that can aid the share price of Carlyle Group. Now trading around $21 a share, Carlye Group has slipped from its IPO high of $22.45.

    To continue reading please click here... Read More...