Money Morning subscriber Ted Kubichek wrote and asked if one of our experts could comment on the underlying cause of the financial crisis whose fallout will affect the U.S. economy for years. Here's an edited version of that question, as well as the reply by Money Morning's Shah Gilani, an internationally recognized expert on the global credit crisis.
Archives for January 2010
January 2010 - Page 2 of 8 - Money Morning - Only the News You Can Profit From
It's bad enough that we've been forced to bail out Wall Street. But now the Obama administration is hatching plans to raid our retirement savings, too.
To say that I'm "outraged" doesn't come close to describing the emotions I experience every time I think about the government's latest hare-brained scheme.
According to widespread media reports, both the U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Labor plan are planning to stage a public-comment period before implementing regulations that would require U.S. savers to invest portions of their 401(k) savings plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) into annuities or other "steady" payment streams backed by U.S. government bonds.
Folks, there's only one reason these agencies would do such a thing – the nation's creditors think that U.S. government bonds are a bad bet and don't want to buy them anymore. So like a grifter who's down to his last dollar, the administration is hoping to get its hands on our hard-earned savings before the American people realize they've had the wool pulled over their eyes … once again.
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"So what do you expect from the commodity markets in 2010?" If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this question over the past few weeks, I'd be able to buy myself an ounce of gold. But allow me to tell you the same thing that I've told my friends and colleagues: […]
Reports of a rebound in the U.S. housing market have proven premature – just as we warned.
Home sales surged 28% from September to November, giving hope to prognosticators who declared the housing crisis over. But as Money Morning Contributing Editor Martin Hutchinson pointed out in a Dec. 31 article, sales plunged sharply the month after the government's new homebuyers tax credit was originally set to expire.
Existing home sales plunged 17% to a 5.45 million annual rate in December, taking the wind out of a housing market that was just beginning to show signs of life. The decline in December sales was the biggest since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) began keeping records in 1968.
Everyone likes getting a bargain, especially on high-quality products. But when it comes to the stock market, that search for bargains can be a long one. That's especially true right now – after the rally that started in mid-March has propelled so many stocks to new yearly highs.
But here's what most investors don't realize: While it may be hard to find truly undervalued stocks, there is a way to buy perfectly valued shares at a substantial discount to their market price.
At times, that discount can equal 20% or more.
What's more, this strategy can be utilized in virtually any market environment: It doesn't matter whether the bulls are running the show, as they have been recently, or if the market is suffering from a "fiscal hangover," as it was in early 2009.
The technique is known as "selling cash-secured put options" – and, while trading options is viewed as complex and scary by many investors, this particular play is both simple in execution and relatively low in terms of risk.
Here's how it works.
America's Founding Fathers were afraid of any concentration of power in the republic. They were particularly afraid that banking interests could hijack our fledgling democracy.
And yet today, 234 years later, our Founding Fathers' worst fears have come true. Wall Street's stranglehold on the economy threatens our very prosperity, and the future of a truly democratic republic.
It's high time we address the truth about Wall Street's tyranny and set a course for a more secure economic future – one that's anchored by a safe banking system, not a system rigged by banks.
The fallout from the "Volcker Rule," President Barack Obama's proposal to ban banks from making speculative investments that do not benefit their customers, rattled stock and bond markets last week as analysts panicked over the possible repercussions.
At its heart, the plan would fundamentally change the banking industry, separating commercial banks from investment banks, a line that was muddled over a decade ago by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.
"Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is too big to fail," Obama said Thursday.
Obama announced the plan with former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker at his side. Volcker has been stumping for months for increased regulatory control, and the President credited him for the plan's design, dubbing it the "Volcker Rule."
On May 26, 2009, I recommended buying shares of General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) stock. Investors who took my advice then would have paid about $52.61 for the stock, which is currently trading at $70.96 a share, resulting in a gain of about 35%.
The stock at the time had been neglected and offered a very compelling risk-reward situation, especially considering the market conditions. But the market often takes some time to recognize tremendous opportunities that to others seem obvious.
That was the case with General Mills, which has been successful for decades. Strong execution and a strong product lineup in a stable business have led to sustained capital formation that weathered the debacle of 2008 relatively well. The 30% drop the stock suffered turned out to be a gift for investors, as it has completely reversed course.
In fact, GIS earlier this month hit a fresh all time high of $72.25. The question now is: Can General Mills keep it up?
Stocks slipped sharply in the past three days as the underlying market weakness we've been highlighting for the past two weeks finally mattered. A number of better-than-expected earnings reports were ignored. Even the successful election of a Republican to one of Massachusetts' two Senate seats, which helped health-care stocks push the market up on Tuesday, wasn't enough.
Look at it this way: The sellers won a round, after being absolutely bludgeoned since last March.
One of the key catalysts has been word that Chinese authorities are ordering some banks to curb lending — another sign that China is tightening monetary policy in an effort to forestall a runaway credit bubble. Or maybe it was the Chinese government's decision to pull James Cameron's fanciful and rebellious "Avatar" movie out of its theatres. It's easy to get caught up in the Chinese growth story and forget how oppressive the communist regime running the show there is; these people crushed students to death with tanks.
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Friday's sharp sell-off in U.S. stocks capped a week of heavy losses that has the market in the red for 2010. And that has investors wondering where U.S. stock prices are headed next.
On Friday, accelerating concerns about U.S. corporate earnings combined with newly emergent worries about China's health hit stock prices hard. A 6% drop in the shares of Aloca Inc. (NYSE: AA) helped send the Dow Jones Industrial Average into a 216.90-point nosedive, a 2.1% decline that had it end the week at 10,172.98. The blue-chip average fell 4.1% for the week, its worst weekly performance since February of 2009.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 24.72 points, or 2.2%, on Friday. It closed at 1,091.76 after losing 3.9% for the week. A slew of analyst downgrades on technology stocks on Friday sent the Nasdaq Composite Index down 60.41 points, or 2.7%, on Friday. It closed at 2,205.29, after losing 3.6% for the week.