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Apple and Google Declare War – Here's the Secret Winner

Resident tech guru Michael Robinson and I are both big science-fiction fans. Michael likes traditional sci-fi stories, like those of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. My sci-fi interests are more focused on “Golden Age” radio dramas, “pre-code” comics, and old movies and TV shows… like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

And when Associate Editor Cris Skokna joined our team a few months back, Michael and I were so pleased to discover that he was a sci-fi guy as well that I jokingly dubbed the three of us as “The Trilogy.”

And the other day, Cris told me a story that I absolutely had to share with you…

  • Eurozone

  • Germany's Export Reliance Edges Out European Neighbors By relying on exports and not promoting domestic demand, Germany is creating a lopsided recovery that is hurting retailers and foreign exporters.

    While Germany's exports continue to surge, its consumers are refusing to spend. The government has failed to raise wages or encourage consumption and says it has few plans to do so.

    "By cutting its budget deficit and resisting a rise in wages to compensate for a decline in the purchasing power of the euro, Germany is actually making it more difficult for other countries to regain competitiveness," billionaire investor and cofounder of the Quantum Fund George Soros said in a speech on June 23 in Berlin. Germany is "the main protagonist" for Europe's debt crisis, he added.

    Germany's economy - four times more reliant on exports than is the United States - posted the highest second-quarter growth in the Eurozone, growing by 2.2% in the second quarter from the first. The country is headed for about 9% growth this year.

    Read More...
  • Investing Strategies: How to Build a Global-Investing Portfolio Using ETFs It wasn't all that long ago that global investing was an activity that was restricted to only the wealthiest U.S. investors. If you weren't one of America's ultra-rich, you weren't able to access foreign markets.

    That began to change in the 1950s, with the advent of international and global mutual funds, and access further expanded over the next three decades with the introduction of single-country closed-end funds. Today, thanks to the recent explosion in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investing in overseas stocks is now almost as easy as targeting a given market sector here at home.

    In fact, although it has been a mere 17 years since the first ETF began trading in the United States (in 1993), the most recent count finds more than 290 international, regional and foreign-country-focused funds listed on the various U.S. exchanges - enough to entice any investor with even a modest yen for overseas portfolio exposure.

    Read More...
  • Wall Street's Mood Shift Is Signaling a Profit-Making Price Push Ahead A mood of mild optimism has begun to spread down Wall Street not long after there was nothing but long faces. Fancy that.

    More good news out of Europe, better-than-expected new home sales, and the latest of a solid second-quarter earnings season has helped resuscitate the animal spirits that were missing in action since the spring.

    Stocks rose past some key milestones in their historic July over the past week, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average just barely into positive territory for the year. It was a very professional, low volatility rally this week, a welcome change from the intra-day dramatics that had put everyone on edge lately.

    What has really changed from the point of view of government policy or corporate results? Nothing and everything.

    To find out what’s changing on Wall Street, click here.
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  • Ignoring Sovereign Default Damages Credibility of EU's Bank Stress Tests The European Union (EU) bank stress tests failed to account for a sovereign default, meaning results show a healthier banking sector than actually exists.

    The tests results were released Friday with seven banks failing, but analysts say many more institutions could have failed if the tests simulated a sovereign default. Testing regulators from the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) decided against testing securities held in lenders' banking books, where sovereign debt is held and only written down in the case of default.

    "The long awaited stress tests do not seem to have been that stressful after all," said Gary Jenkins, an analyst at Evolution Securities Ltd. "The most controversial area surrounds the treatment of the banks' sovereign debt holdings."

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  • Hungary's Spat with the IMF and EU Could Signal Another Crisis to Come The biggest financial news story out of the Europe this summer is getting very little play in the U.S. mainstream press. However, it has the potential to torpedo the European Union (EU), and has disastrous implications for borrowing costs worldwide.

    Basically, a miniature banking crisis is festering in Hungary. If it isn't contained, it could grow into a genuine crisis that infects the secondary lending markets around the world.

    Hungary is supposed to have about $30 billion in domestic liquidity for exchange, the equivalent of about five months of capital in its national account. But it won't be getting additional funds from the EU machine in Brussels, or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), anytime soon.

    Read More...
  • Money Morning Mailbag: Jaded Investors Cast Wary Eye On Scope of Bank Stress Tests The results of Europe's bank stress tests are due July 23. But the question remains whether the tests will shed enough light on the banking sector to restore investor confidence.

    "All these stress tests mean that we are peeling away layers of the onions, but chances are we are not going to get the full clarity that we as investors deserve," Neil Dwane, chief investment officer for Europe at equities specialist firm RCM, told The New York Times.

    Readers who are already on guard from Wall Street manipulation and stalled financial reform have pulled back from volatile markets and are skeptical about the effectiveness of bank stress tests:

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  • Uncertainty Undermining the Global Economic Recovery The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said yesterday (Thursday) that the global economic recovery is losing steam because uncertainty in financial markets is keeping businesses and consumers from investing in future growth.

    In a revision to its World Economic Outlook released yesterday in Hong Kong, the IMF said worldwide economic expansion will decline to 4.3% next year from 2010's 4.6% pace. The forecast for 2010 was revised upwards by 0.4 percentage points to reflect faster-than-anticipated growth earlier this year.

    However, "downside risks have risen sharply," the IMF warned, referring to European governments' debt problems and volatility in financial markets.

    Read More...
  • U.S. Economy: Headed For a Second-Half Slowdown Constant stock market volatility, a crippled job market and the troubles plaguing the European markets are starting to take their toll on the U.S. economy. After the major market rally of 2009, is the U.S. economy headed for a second-half slowdown... or, worse, the dreaded double-dip recession? Read this report to find out exactly what’s in store for the U.S. economy... Read More...
  • Money Morning Midyear Forecast: The U.S. Economy is Headed For a Second-Half Slowdown Most textbook economists say that the U.S. economy is engaged in a broad-based recovery. But while there's a consensus that there's no "double-dip" recession on the horizon, the evidence suggests the nation's economy is headed for a slowdown in the second half of 2010.

    The reason: In a market that derives 70% of its growth from consumer spending, the last half of this year will be all about those consumers - and about the economy's inability to generate enough jobs to keep the nation's cash registers ringing.

    If you add to that concern the end of the various government stimulus efforts, possible fallout from the Eurozone debt contagion, and oil in the Gulf of Mexico defiling the shores of four states, you end up with an economic outlook that's clouded with uncertainty.

    And that uncertainty will continue to stifle hiring and will result in another round of consumer belt-tightening - and a continued economic malaise.

    Read More...
  • Is it Time to Bet Against the U.S. Dollar? The U.S. dollar has been one of the world's strongest currencies in the first part of 2010. But, is the greenback really the bet choice for safety, quality and security? Read this report to find out why it's time to bet against the dollar... Read More...
  • How to Profit From Europe's Stealthy Resurgence European countries - both inside and outside the Eurozone - are slashing their budget deficits.

    Greece, Portugal and Spain - three of the so-called "PIGS" - have to do so, of course. But Germany - generally reckoned to be in excellent shape - is also cutting its deficit, as is France, which hasn't run a budget surplus in 40 years. Britain, too, with no need to protect the euro (it's not a Eurozone member) just introduced a budget that cut the deficit by $140 billion over four years.

    U.S. President Barack Obama and other Keynesians warn that Europe may push its own economy - or even the global economy - back into recession.

    But here's the surprising reality: Europe may gain from its fiscal pain - and its deficit-trimming actions offer the best hope for a lengthy recovery.

    To see which European countries are expected to rebound - and which ones to invest in - please read on...

    Read More...
  • Why Investors Must Keep an Eye on Spain Greece is not the big story of Europe anymore - just a smoke screen.

    The big story is Spain and the United Kingdom, and the news is getting worse.

    In the past week, Spanish officials acknowledged to reporters that the country's banks and companies were having difficulty obtaining credit. The credible website EuroIntelligence reported that Spain is now effectively cut off from international capital markets, which is a major new development.

    Read More...
  • United States Fears Economic Stimulus Measures Will Choke on Europe's Drastic Budget Slashing While U.S. President Barack Obama will be gunning for more economic stimulus measures at this weekend's Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Canada, European lawmakers continue drastic efforts to rein in spending.

    The coordination of global efforts to promote economic recovery will be the main issue at the weekend's meeting, which was set to spotlight the value of China's currency before Beijing announced Saturday that it would allow the yuan to appreciate. The United States and Europe's differing views on the most effective strategies to maintain global economic growth and slash bloated government budgets are increasing tensions between leaders.

    "There is a need to move toward rebalancing," Stewart M. Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, told CNN. "But every country has different domestic political demands, and that is what drives decision making."

    President Obama is worried that drastic austerity measures in Europe will choke global growth and collapse a fragile recovery.

    Read More...
  • The Sovereign Debt Crisis: Bad For Europe, Good For U.S. Stocks For several months now, we've been talking about the post-financial-crisis "new world order" that's emerged from the speculative excesses, recessionary realities and regulatory breakdowns of recent years. This new world order has created a world of lucrative new profit opportunities - that are governed by a new set of profit rules.

    In terms of that whole new rules/new profit opportunities paradigm, here's one that may surprise you: The ongoing European crisis could end up as a net positive for U.S. stocks.

    Let me explain...

    To see how Europe's travails can aid U.S. stocks, please read on... Read More...
  • Money Morning Mid-Year Forecast: The Dollar Headed for Some Change  In spite of an assortment of economic uncertainties at home, the U.S. dollar has been the star of the currency world for most of 2010. Spooked by persistent and seemingly insurmountable debt problems east of the Atlantic and the specter of unsustainable growth and potential inflation on the Pacific side of the globe, savers and investors fled European and Asian currencies for the relative safe haven of the dollar.

    As Keith Fitz-Gerald, Money Morning's Chief Investment Strategist, pointed out last week (June 10), from January through May, the dollar gained ground against all but two of the world's leading currencies - China's yuan and the Japanese yen - and it retained parity with them. The greenback appreciated by as much as 16% versus the struggling euro, which last week (June 8) briefly dipped to a four-year low below $1.20, and 13% against the British pound.

    The InterContinental Exchange's (ICE) U.S. Dollar Index (USDX), which measures the dollar's value versus a trade-weighted basket of six leading foreign currencies, climbed from a low of 76.732 on Jan. 14, 2010, to an intra-day high of 88.586 on June 8.

    Read More...