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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…

  • Featured Story

    The Fiscal Cliff's Biggest Surprise Could Be a Rising U.S. Dollar

    My grandmother Mimi had a saying that was as blunt as it was uncouth. "When the stuff hits the fan," she used to say, "it will not be evenly distributed."

    This one came up often when she sensed that world events were about to take a turn for the worse.

    You've heard me mention Mimi before. She was widowed at a young age and went on to become a savvy global investor long before people thought to look beyond their own backyard.

    Mimi never cared what Wall Street's "Armani Army" had to say.

    Instead, she preferred to travel widely to see for herself what the real story was. Having grown up in the midst of the Great Depression, she believed that people were the ultimate indicator and that governments were the penultimate contrarian influence.

    If she were still alive today, I think she'd encourage us to take a good hard look in the proverbial "mirror" especially with regard to the looming fiscal cliff making headlines the world over.

    And I don't think she'd waste any time with the doom, gloom and boom crowd either.

    She was always on the hunt for opportunity when everyone else was running from chaos. Thanks to her, it's a habit that remains firmly ingrained in me today.

    Not One but Three Fiscal Cliffs

    And that brings me back to the "fiscal cliff."

    In my mind, this is a misnomer. There isn't really a singular fiscal cliff . As I explained earlier this summer to Sheryl Nance of Forbes there are actually three.

    • The massive adjustments headed our way as tax and spending cuts expire and come into effect beginning in 2013. You may know it as taxmegeddon.
    • The debt debacle and the near complete lack of any sort of credible financial consolidation plan that will affect everything from interest rates to collateral requirements and the US credit rating - again.
    • And politicians who simply don't understand that issues 1 and 2 are already dramatically impacting the economy long before the theoretical limits of spending come into play. Profits are declining and 61% of companies that have reported through Monday October 22nd have failed to meet expectations. Hiring is slowing and top line revenue is increasingly hard to come by.
    Together, they constitute a massive threat to the U.S. economy that could push our beleaguered "recovery" to the breaking point. (And I use all the sarcasm I can muster with that because our recovery isn't anything close to what's needed.)

    Many believe this is a moot point because Congress will get down to business in November after the Presidential Election takes place. The hope is that some sort of budget agreement will be reached and that the US economy will then be positioned for stronger growth in 2013.

    Yeah and I suppose the tooth fairy will show up, too.

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  • tax 2013 rates

  • New Report on Fiscal Cliff 2013 Details Our Painful Future Are you worried yet about fiscal cliff 2013?

    If not, here are millions of reasons to be concerned.

    According to a report released today (Friday) from the National Association of Manufacturers, "The "fiscal cliff' is still two months off, but the scheduled blast of tax hikes and spending cuts is already reverberating through the U.S. economy, hampering growth and, according to a new study, wiping out nearly 1 million jobs this year alone."

    The report, titled "Fiscal Shock: America's Economic Crisis," details how the fiscal cliff could destroy some 6 million jobs through 2014, and send unemployment skyrocketing to nearly 12%.

    "The worst could be ahead," the report said. "If the fiscal contraction happens, the economy will almost certainly experience a recession in 2013 and significantly slower growth through 2014."
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  • Peter Schiff: If You Think the Fiscal Cliff is Bad, Just Wait Forget the fiscal cliff, says economic expert Peter Schiff. This country faces a far bigger financial crisis.

    While the failure of Congress to act to prevent or mitigate the fiscal cliff - the combination of tax increases and federal spending cuts due to hit on Jan. 2, 2013 - would slam the economy hard, Schiff says it would be preferable to the crash he foresees.

    "It's not because we go over this phony fiscal cliff, it's probably because we don't go over that one because the government cancels the spending cuts, cancels the tax hikes, and instead we end up going over the real fiscal cliff further down the road," Schiff told Breakout recently.

    Schiff, the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, said the real threat to the U.S. economy is "where interest rates spike and we can no longer afford to pay the interest on the enormous amount of debt we have."

    He also blamed the Federal Reserve's zero interest rate policy for making government borrowing too easy.

    The national debt, fueled by annual budget deficits of more than $1trillion, crossed the $16 trillion threshold at the end of August. At current spending rates it will hit $17 trillion next June.

    "We can't keep interest rates artificially low to stimulate the economy because it's the low interest rates that are the source of the problem," Schiff said.

    That about a third of the U.S. debt is held by foreign countries such as China and Japan is a ticking time bomb.

    "In fact, the real fiscal cliff comes when our creditors want their money back, and we don't have it," he said.

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  • Fiscal Cliff: How Each Candidate Plans to Save Us America is moving closer to falling off the dreaded fiscal cliff, but Congress continues to move at a snail's pace in addressing the pressing subject.

    And while the nation waits for a resolution, the costs of doing nothing are rising, with U.S. taxpayers' money at risk.

    Lawmakers have taken a "hurry-up-and-wait" stance, putting off until after the November presidential election any decision-making about the most crucial matter currently facing Congress.

    At issue is whether to extend some or all of the Bush-era tax cuts and how to handle the nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts slated to kick-in starting Jan. 1.

    If the expiration of tax cuts comes to fruition, the result will be the biggest tax increase ever levied on Americans (Taxmageddon 2013).

    If the spending cuts start rolling out, thousands of jobs will be lost, our country's security will be put at risk, businesses will sorely suffer and programs that rely on government contracts will disappear.

    With just a few weeks before ballots are cast for our next president, the looming fiscal cliff has become a heated topic on campaign trails. Falling off the cliff would undoubtedly thrust the struggling U.S. economy into a recession in 2013, a consequence neither contender wants to tackle.

    So how do they plan to avoid the fiscal cliff? Let's take a look.

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  • Fiscal Cliff 2013: The Biggest Threat To Your Profits? Fund managers aren't taking any chances with fiscal cliff 2013 - they're making sure their portfolios are ready now.

    That's because global money managers view the looming fiscal cliff as the biggest current threat to investors' profits.

    A new Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Managers survey this month revealed anxieties about the approaching and almost imminent fiscal cliff, which the country will go over Jan. 1 if Congress doesn't act, now for the first time in 18 months trump fears about the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

    At the forefront are worries over trillions of dollars of spending cuts set to kick in at the start of next year that will threaten our national security, millions of jobs, and government-funded programs. Those colossal cuts will coincide with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts which will amount to the biggest ever tax increase on American taxpayers.

    The double whammy now has 35% of fund managers citing the fiscal cliff as the biggest danger to investments.

    On the flip side, angst over the European debt mess as the top investment worry has waned to 33% from 48%. The drop follows the recent announcement of further support from the European Central Bank and its launch of outright monetary transactions (OMT), or bond buying, to reduce the cost of buying for bordering Eurozone countries.

    The figures are from a Sept. 7-13 BofA survey of 253 managers who invest some $681 billion for clients.

    Uncertainty surrounding Election 2012 has made the fiscal cliff effect a bigger threat.

    "The upcoming election is putting these fears into sharper focus," noted Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bofa Merrill Lynch Global Research.

    But instead of living in fear, you can feel safer by following the same preparation as some of the biggest global money managers.

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