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2015 State of the Union Address: 7 Topics That Matter to Investors

2015 State of the Union Address

The 2015 State of the Union Address has investors across the country awaiting President Barack Obama's new tax policy, without question the biggest issue tonight. He's looking to raise an additional $320 billion in taxes.

This is the first time President Obama will deliver the speech to a Republican-controlled Congress, so he'll likely hear less applause from Congress than in previous addresses.

Here are the top seven things for investors to watch in the 2015 State of the Union Address...

Congress in 2015: What President Obama Can Expect from the GOP

Congress in 2015

The 114th Congress is now in session. U.S. President Barack Obama for the first time faces a Congress that has Republicans running both chambers.

What President Obama can expect from the GOP Congress in 2015 will matter to investors. Many issues on the agenda, such as corporate taxes, trade, and a higher minimum wage will impact stocks.
Given the gridlock of recent years, the easy assumption is that nothing will get done. But the two sides have more incentive to work together in 2015.

Here's look at what will be on Washington's plate this year...

DON’T BE SO ARROGANT, MR. PRESIDENT

Empires have come and gone. Some lasted a blink of an eye and some millennia.
The question is, after 9/11, the rise of China and a great financial crisis, where does the U.S. empire stack up to its predecessors?
Well, it seems the one commonality they all have is the point when their might was undermined by sloth and greed. And entitlements: free bread and circuses. For some it took years, others centuries.
Here, in a compelling and unique address, is what Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the Roman Empire, might say to President Obama now about how to keep America great.
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Morsi Conspiracy: Obama's Strange Support of the Ousted Egyptian Tyrant

Country Egypt flag

After days of heated demonstrations washed over the streets of Egypt, the Egyptian military removed Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday.

Since Morsi's election in June, 2012, the Obama administration has been strangely supportive of Islamist leader, forking over $1.3 billion in military funding to Egypt annually. It's the Morsi conspiracy.

I say "strangely supportive," because conspicuous red flags dot Morsi's political career.

A few years prior to his presidency, Morsi delivered a speech urging Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" of Jewish people. A few months later, he described Zionists as "descendants of apes and pigs" in a television interview.

The US is, of course, the closest ally of Israel.

But ostensibly, the Obama administration has been throwing so much monetary and PR support Morsi in order to show our backing of a democratically elected government in Egypt.

Morsi was democratically elected in a tight presidential race last year, and maintains that he is the country's legitimate leader.

But Egypt's highest-ranking military officer, General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, said that Morsi "did not achieve the goals of the people" as he became increasingly authoritarian and non-democratic.

Although Morsi hasn't been in power long, he already has quite the history of "removing" his opposition.

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Obama Finds A New Way to Strangle US Economy

President Obama is about to make an end run around Congress and sign some executive orders that will virtually doom the lifespan of coal-fired power plants.

But in his effort to clean up the U.S., he’s costing the economy more than it will save.

This will infuriate you...

The Latest Obama Outrage: the Family's $100 Million Vacation

Flip flops Q

How much do you spend on your summer vacation? American households usually spend about $1,200 per person on summer vacations, according to a recent American Express survey.

Presidents spend more on their vacations than you or I. They have to. Air Force One and security does cost more than loading the Honda and heading to the beach.

Here's how much some recent presidents spent our tax dollars on vacation.

Ronald Reagan spent most of his free time at his California ranch. Taxpayers covered the cost of approximately $8 million for presidential travel during Reagan's first six years in office, according to the Los Angeles Times. That amounts to $1.3 million a year.

For George Bush the cost of flying Air Force One to his Texas ranch was approximately $56,800 per trip, for each of the 180 trips according to Media Matters. President Bush spent Christmas during his two terms at the White House so his staff and secret service could spend the holiday with their family, according to Conservative Byte.

Now Obama plans to blow away all previous presidents' leisure travel costs on our dime with a better than Disney World extravaganza trip to Africa.

However Obama had to cancel the safari because of the need to fill the surrounding jungle with snipers to guard the president from wild animals!

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Obama Sells Us Down the River Again

With a big decision looming, and big banks' inside man outed, the once presumably public-minded and former bank-bashing President of the United States looks ready to undercut Dodd-Frank safeguards he championed and signed into law by castrating his 2009 chosen CFTC man and putting forward a more pliable candidate.

Read about this latest outrage, which once again puts Wall Street's interests ahead of Main Street's needs...

Is This Obama's "Waterloo"?

President Obama’s administration is trampling civil liberties and engaging in intimidation and harassment—plus they’re getting away with it. Read more...

Obama's Latest "Bad Bet' is About to Cost Taxpayers $180 Million

Company Fisker

Talk about clean-energy boondoggles. Here's the latest one from the Obama administration.

Electric hybrid car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. is now on the verge of bankruptcy and owes the U.S. government more than $180 million - which would be the biggest waste of taxpayer money since the Solyndra fiasco.

According to PrivCo, a New York-based researcher, Fisker has not produced a car since last summer and has gone through more than $1.3 billion in private investment capital and government loans.

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Why The Fiscal Cliff "Deal" is Spelled P-O-R-K

Savings piggy bank

Behind the scenes of the Fiscal Cliff debate, there was plenty of f-bombing, poison pilling, and grandstanding leading up to the deal - and that was before the members of Congress and the Senate actually got serious with their usual ultimatums, followed by earnest- looking sound bites and posturing. But what gets me really riled up is the amount of "pork" contained in the bill...

Why Japan's "Lost Decades" Are Headed to America in 2016

It's only been a little more than a week since Shinzo Abe won election as Japan's latest Prime Minister in a landslide-election victory and the pundits are already lining up telling investors to "buy Japan" because it's "dirt cheap."

The hope is that Abe's promises of fresh stimulus, unlimited spending and placing a priority on domestic infrastructure will be the elixir that restores Japan's global muscle.

As a veteran global trader who actually lives in Japan part time each year, and who has for the last 20+ years, let me make a counterpoint with particular force - don't fall for it.

I've heard this mantra eight times since Japan's market collapsed in 1990 - each time a new stimulus plan was launched - and six times since 2006 as each of the six former "newly elected" Prime Ministers came to power.

The bottom line: The Nikkei is still down 73.89% from its December 29, 1989 peak. That means it's going to have to rebound a staggering 283% just to break even.

Now here's the thing. What's happening in Japan is not "someone else's" problem. Nor is it something you should gloss over.

In fact, the pain Japan continues to suffer should scare the hell out of you.

And here's why ...

The so-called "Lost Decade" that's now more than 20 years long in Japan is a portrait of precisely what's to come for us here in the United States.

Perhaps not for a few years yet, but it will happen just as we have already followed in Japan's footsteps with a "lost decade" of our own.

The parallels are staggering.

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What the Last Roman Emperor Would Tell President Obama Today

Over the course of 700 years, the ancient Roman Empire grew from a small republic to one that stretched from London to Baghdad at its peak.

As one of the world's first true superpowers, the Empire's achievements included the world's first standing professional army, economic prowess, intellectual growth and governance principles that are commonly regarded as the basis for modern society.

But it is also remembered for its spectacular collapse in less than a century under the weight of bad debt, an overextension of the Empire, a collapse of morals that led to a deluded and self-absorbed political elite and reckless public spending that far outweighed collections.

Given the parallels to our situation, I can only imagine what Romulus Augustus, widely considered to be the last of the Roman Emperors, would tell President Barack Obama today about how to prevent the wholesale destruction of our own "Empire."

But it would probably go like this...

Cara praeses Obama, (Dear President Obama)

Like mine, your world is changing fast. No doubt it's very different from the one you thought you'd inherited. Your success will depend on new thinking and an eye to the future taken from lessons of the past.

I wouldn't be offended if you have never heard of me.

I oversaw the dying days of what you know as the Classic Western Roman Empire. My fall in September 476 marked the end of centuries of greatness and the fall of ancient Rome.

Some historians consider my departure as the beginning of the Middle Ages. I understand the nature of collapse: how it begins, how it progresses, and where it all ends.

As a historical footnote to a once great empire, here's my advice to you, Mr. President.



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Obamanomics: What You Can Expect if President Obama Wins the Election

Now that we are left with a two-horse race for president, the markets are going to begin to handicap the November results.

However, when the markets begin to handicap the race it will be about a lot more than just picking the eventual winner.

Instead, everything will revolve around the policies and consequences that come along with the winner.

The difference in approach promises to be stark with "Obamanomics" on the left and "Romneynomics" on the right.

Each one comes with its own set of consequences, though.

Today I'm going to look at "Obamanomics II," or the policies we will get if President Obama is re-elected.

But those on the left shouldn't despair...In my next piece, it's Romney's turn.

As for the horserace itself, it's too close to call, with neither side having much chance of winning a big victory.

President Obama Has the Edge

Even still at the moment, President Obama appears to be ahead. Apart from his modest lead in the polls, my former home state of Virginia appears to be swinging definitively toward the Democrats.

Yes, Republican Bob McDonnell did win the Virginia governorship handily in 2009, but he was a very good candidate. Moreover, turnout in gubernatorial elections is normally low. Thus I believe the latest polls showing Obama with a 7% lead in Virginia are accurate, and without Virginia Romney has a very difficult path to the presidency.

If we believe the presidential election will be close, then it follows that Congress and the Senate elections must be close, too.

If Obama wins in November, the most likely outcome must be that the Democrats will hang on to the Senate, while the Republican House majority survives, albeit much smaller than at present.

With this combination, the president's more extreme wishes (or those of his team) will be restrained. But as a newly re-elected figure he will nevertheless have more power to get what he wants than he does currently.

Whatever the congressional numbers may be, the president's first task will be to face the "fiscal cliff" of January 2013, when the Bush tax cuts and temporary payroll tax cuts expire and automatic spending "sequestration" comes into effect.

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Iran is Now a Full-Blown Crisis, Stage Set for $200 Oil

Just when it looked like we could take a breather from the Strait of Hormuz, all attention is back on Iran.

There are three reasons for this - all happening within the last week:

  1. First was Tehran's successful launch of a satellite, viewed by all in the region as being for military intelligence.
  2. Second, in his toughest talk to date, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced defiance to Western sanctions and pledged open retaliation if they are instituted.
  3. Finally, last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressed concern that, if matters continue, Israel could attempt an air-strike takeout of Iranian nuclear facilities within a month. Iran has been frantically moving essential components of its nuclear program underground to withstand such an attack.
All of this is, once again, leading to a rise in crude oil prices.

What's more, the EU decision to stop importing Iranian crude starting July 1 will cripple any chance Tehran has to combat escalating economic and political turmoil at home.

Yet Khamenei's defiant tone during his Friday prayer meeting speech indicates that Iran's religious leadership will not wait for the system to unravel.

And that is what makes this both a full-blown and an intensifying crisis.

Brinksmanship in the Straits of Hormuz

So what's being done?

Washington has little - leverage, save its ability to temper an immediate escalation by Israel (leverage the U.S. can still apply, at least for the moment). It also has some indirect influence on what the E.U. does.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia also is a wild card. It will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.

And yes, there are ample indications that American and Israeli intelligence have concluded Iran will achieve the ability to develop nuclear weapons in the next 18 to 24 months.

Some elements of that process will be available earlier, but remember: A weapon is of little value unless it can be controlled and delivered. The logistical and infrastructure considerations need to be in place first.

Yet with such an inevitable conclusion staring them in the face, the West has decided to embark on a risky path...

The target here is not the nuclear project at all (over which there is less and less outside control). Instead, it has become about creating massive domestic instability to bring down a regime.

Now, this is not about ending the theocracy. With or without Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president or Ali Khamenei as supreme leader, Iran will remain a Shiite-dominated country. Religion decisively controls politics, and the clergy oversees the society.

The West is seeking a more moderate application of what will remain the Iranian cultural reality.

However, as the brinksmanship intensifies, so will the price of crude oil. Tehran, in this dangerous game of international chicken, really only has one card to play - the Strait of Hormuz.

There has been much misinformation circulated about the strait. Here are the facts.

On any given day, 18% to 20% of the world's crude oil passes through it.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the Strait's narrowest point is 21 miles wide; however, the width of the shipping lane in either direction is just two miles, cushioned by another two-mile buffer zone.

Of greater significance, though, is the fact that most of the world's current excess capacity is Saudi. (This is the oil that can be brought to market quickly to offset unusual demand spikes or cuts in supply elsewhere.) And, unfortunately, Saudi volume must find its way through the same little strait.

If we're unable to access the Saudi excess, that loss guarantees the global market will be out of balance. That will intensify the price upsurge - an upsurge that is already happening.

Now for the question I'm being asked several times a day in media interviews...

Just how bad can it get?



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Five Things Obama Didn't Want You to Hear in His State of the Union

Seeking to put the best possible spin on his message, President Barack Obama took some liberties with the truth in his State of the Union address.

Although the president never actually lied, he repeatedly left out facts that contradict his claims of success.

President Obama hadn't yet left the House chamber when the reality check started. And it didn't take long to find some pretty big the holes in the State of the Union address.

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