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Election 2012

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Tonight's Presidential Debate: Who Will Clinch the Final Face Off?

For the third and final time, U.S. President Barack Obama and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will take center stage and face off tonight, with the showdown set for Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

With the two candidates running neck-and-neck - a fresh NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows President Obama and Romney tied at 47% -- and just 15 days until Americans cast their ballots for our 45th U.S. president, a stellar showing is imperative. Whoever wins Monday's debate will have the upper hand heading into Election Day.

More than 60 million viewers tuned in to the first two debates which dealt with jobs, healthcare, the economy, and taxes. Romney handily won the first debate in Denver on Oct. 3 and charmed hordes of undecided voters. Then the president, who appeared glum and uninterested the first time around, came on strong in the second debate Oct. 16.

Monday's debate will be focused on foreign policy and national security. Divided into six segments, President Obama and Romney will discuss America's position as a global leader, the Afghanistan war, the Middle East, Israel and Iran, and China's explosive rise.

President Obama, as head of U.S. national security for the last four years, has experience Romney can't rival. The president will underscore how under his term he was instrumental in the mission that led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. He will also note that he pulled troops from Iraq.

Romney has his work cut out for him.

His summer trips to London, Jerusalem and Poland were highlighted by several gaffes. The former Massachusetts governor needs to assure voters that he is a capable leader in the global arena by highlighting his leadership abilities.

"Many voters are ready to fire President Obama if they see Romney as an acceptable alternative. Foreign policy has not been a big driver of this campaign but I think Romney could add some icing to his cake if people say, "Hey, this guy is on top of world affairs,'" David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Center at Southern Illinois University told Reuters.

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If Romney Wins Election 2012 Buy and Sell These Sectors

Over the past several weeks, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's momentum has spiked. Recent polls place him running neck-and-neck with or even edging ahead of President Barack Obama.

Besides strong debate performances, key factors have turned in Romney's favor.

Myriad surveys in a dozen crucial swing states show voter's concerns are increasing regarding the mushrooming fiscal deficit, debt issues and the depressed job market, issues that favor Romney.

Since the election won't be decided for another two weeks there is still time to act if you expect a Romney victory.

Here's what several top Wall Street analysts think a Romney win would mean for stocks.

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Jim Rogers on Election 2012: "A Pox on Both Their Houses'

Investing legend Jim Rogers says it doesn't matter who wins Election 2012.

In his view, both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are equally bad.

"I repeat Shakespeare: A pox on both their houses as far as I'm concerned," Rogers said in a Breakout interview this week. "These are the guys who got us into this problem, so why does anybody think they will get us out?"

The "problem" to which Jim Rogers is referring to is the sluggish U.S. economy, dragged down by the huge $16 trillion federal debt and annual budget deficits in excess of $1 trillion.

Rogers predicted that regardless of who wins Election 2012, things won't get better.

"If Mr. Obama wins, his friends are gonna get more money. If Mr. Romney wins, his friends are gonna get more money. But you and I, and everybody watching this show are gonna be worse off because the debt's going to go higher, and the turmoil is gonna get worse."

Rogers blames both major parties for the nation's economic ills.

"All of them have gotten us into this situation," Rogers said. "Look at the last 50 years of American history. Republicans, Democrats, Republicans, Democrats .... It's not doing us any good. None of us are benefiting by what's been going on in Washington."

Jim Rogers is so down on U.S. politicians that he has absolutely no preference as to who wins the White House.

"I will vote the protest vote. I nearly always vote the protest vote," Rogers said without specifying which third-party might get his support.

In Rogers's view, a vote for either major party just perpetuates the problem.

"If they keep sending us turkeys, and we keep voting for turkeys, they'll send us more turkeys," he said.

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Romney Tax Plan Details Still a Mystery Despite All the Talk

While GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has provided a bit more information on his tax plan, many key details are still missing - meaning it's tough to figure out exactly what you'd owe Uncle Sam if Romney wins Election 2012.

Romney and vice-presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, have outlined several broad Romney tax plan goals: do not increase the deficit; do not raise taxes on middle income taxpayers; and do not reduce the share of taxes paid by higher-income Americans.

Romney also has repeatedly made it known he favors an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels.

Ryan has said a Romney administration would be able to work with Democrats in Congress to pass a tax re-write, which includes a 20% reduction in individual tax rates across the board, a 10% reduction for businesses and a 20% cut in the top tax rate from 35% to 28%. (President Barack Obama plans to raise that rate to 39.6%).

But neither Ryan nor Romney has yet to give full details on which tax breaks will be scaled back to avoid adding to the mushrooming federal deficit, which topped $1 trillion in 2012 for the fourth straight year.

The lack of Romney tax plan details prompted President Obama to call it "sketchy" at the second presidential debate.

"Governor Romney was a very successful investor," said the president. "If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we're going to pay for it, but we can't tell you until maybe after the election how we're going to do it, you wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn't add up. We haven't heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding forPlannedParenthood in terms of how he pays for that."

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Tonight's VP Debate: Can Ryan Counter-Punch Biden's Jabs?

If tonight's vice-presidential (VP) debate were a boxing match it would be expected to go all 12 rounds.

Squaring off at 9 p.m. EDT in Danville, Kentucky are Vice-President Joe Biden and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, in their first and only debate.

After the shellacking Mitt Romney gave President Obama in the first presidential debate many political experts are expecting Biden to come out on the offensive in an attempt to regain some of the president's lost ground.

Paul Ryan, in his first national debate, knows that Biden is looking to attack where the president did not. As the Chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan should be ready to defend his running mate and continue the attack on the president. Expect Ryan to focus on the economy, specifically federal debt, unemployment and job creation.

"I'd be surprised if there weren't far more fireworks in this debate than there were in the first presidential debate," University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer told Reuters.

While the debate will focus on domestic and foreign policies, here are other things you should watch for.

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Coal Stocks See Better Days Ahead If Romney Wins Election 2012

If Mitt Romney wins Election 2012, it'll be a rare piece of positive news for the coal industry, and a boost for beaten down coal stocks.

During last week's presidential debate, Romney called attention to the stark differences between himself and U.S. President Barack Obama on coal policy.

"By the way, I like coal," Romney said. "I'm going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies."

That was enough to grab the attention of investors. Just about every coal stock went up at least 4% the day after the debate, and several were up more than 5%.

It was a much needed shot in the arm for a sector that had been down 29% on the year.

"It's amazing what 15 words about coal in a presidential debate can do for the stocks," Michael Dudas of Sterne Agee told Reuters. "These stocks have been volatile, but you can't discount what a man running for president said about coal. Call it the Romney rally."

Coal stocks reacted strongly to Romney's industry-friendly comments because President Obama's energy policies have been tough on a sector already under pressure from cheap natural gas prices.

That's why Romney, in his campaign speeches, frequently refers to these policies as a "war on coal."

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These Dividend Stocks Will Be the Real Winners of Election 2012

With Mitt Romney's debate performance last week, Election 2012 has begun to swing Republican on the presidential side.

According to a recent poll by Rasmussen, in the 11 swing states Romney now leads President Obama by a slim 49% to 47% margin. Collectively, these states hold 146 Electoral College votes, or enough to determine the outcome.

Yet with two more debates still left on the slate, the truth is the fortunes of both candidates will likely swing back and forth right up to the wire.

With 27 days until voters head to the polls it's shaping up to be a photo finish.

For investors, that means next month should be volatile as traders attempt to guess the outcome.

However, the long-term results are what's really important, not only for the "big picture" economy, but for particular companies and sectors that can be expected to benefit from either an Obama win or a Romney win.

After all, there are considerable differences between the two candidates' policy prescriptions.

And as long-term dividend stock investors it is going to be crucial that we take advantage of these differences, repositioning our portfolio when we know the election result so we can optimize its performance through the new administration.

With the race still in doubt, here are 10 dividend stock suggestions from the Standard and Poor's 500 Index -- five for each candidate. The selections for each candidate can be expected to do better if he wins, and should therefore be bought when the election result is known --or perhaps before the election as a hedge against your least favorite candidate winning!

If Obama Wins Election 2012, Buy These Dividend Stocks

The following stocks should benefit should President Obama win re-election:

  • H&R Block (NYSE: HRB). If President Obama wins election 2012, it seems almost certain that taxes will rise, at least for those with incomes above $250,000 and probably for many people poorer than that. In addition, there's likely to be a mass reshuffling of allowances and tax rates, changing the best tax strategies for everyone with any complexity at all in their tax returns.

    This has to be good news for tax preparers, the largest of which is HRB, both directly through their network of offices and indirectly through their TaxCut tax software. HRB has a dividend yield of 4.5%, and a historic dividend payout ratio of 60%.
  • Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF). If Obama wins, Ben Bernanke is likely to stay in office as Fed chairman, and be replaced by a like-minded successor when his term of office ends in January 2014. That means interest rates should stay low -- good news for commodity stocks like CLF, an iron ore and coal producer. CLF has been generous on the dividend front, and now pays $2.50 per share, giving it a yield of 6.3%. Its historic payout ratio is about 25%, but that will increase as 2012 has been a tough year.

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Six Stocks You Should Own If Obama Wins Election 2012

Debates and attack ads aside, the U.S. presidential election remains too close to call -- all the more reason for investors to position themselves to profit whether Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama wins in November.

As we noted last month when we looked at stocks to own if Romney wins, certain industries tend to perform better under Republican policies, others under Democrats.

Here's a look at six stocks that would benefit if President Obama wins Election 2012.

Health Care Stocks Helped by an Obama Win

No matter what, one of the top issues will continue to be health care, with a particular focus on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) - otherwise known as "Obamacare."

Unless the Republicans sweep both houses of Congress and win the White House, Obamacare will remain the law of the land.

Large hospital chains benefit from the survival of Obamacare because it expands health coverage to millions of previously uninsured individuals, including those with pre-existing conditions. That will significantly reduce the burden on hospital emergency rooms, which must now treat these patients even if they can't pay.

While such major hospital operators as Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: THC) and Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH) would get a lift from this, a better choice in this sector is:

  • Health Management Associates Inc. (NYSE: HMA), recent price $8.16 - HMA operates 66 hospitals with more than 10,300 beds, most of them located across the South and in Appalachia, where the current percentage of uninsured patients is among the highest in the country. Increased reimbursements under Obamacare could spark a turnaround in HMA revenues and earnings, which have fallen in four of the last five quarters, slipping from 20 cents a share in the second quarter of 2011 to just 16 cents in Q2 2012. The stock pays no dividend, but offers good growth potential since its current price is well off the five-year high of $11.32 set in April 2011.
Other winners under Obamacare would be companies that receive large research and/or specialized treatment grants from government agencies. The National Institute of Health (NIH), for instance, could see budget cuts of 5% or more if Romney wins and begins to rein in discretionary federal spending.

A good bet in this category is:

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The Ugly Truth About the Promise of the JOBS Act

On one level, the JOBS Act is full of promise. On another some of the elements are downright ugly. As Shah explains, its buyer beware. Continue reading...

Tonight's Presidential Debate: Time to Talk Economics

Tonight's presidential debate will be the first time incumbent President Barack Obama squares off against GOP challenger Mitt Romney, in a race that's still too close to predict.

According to a trio of national polls published Monday, the two candidates are running neck-and-neck ahead of tonight's presidential debate. The results show just three percentage points separate the two.

This first of three sessions focuses on domestic policy. It's divided into six 15-minute segments; the first three focus on the economy, then healthcare, the role of government, and governing.

While many political analysts say Romney's chances hinge on his performance tonight, President Obama doesn't have enough of a lead to sit comfortably.

Following are some key issues that each much address and explain in the first debate of Election 2012.

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Election 2012: Five Tough Questions That Need to be Asked at Tonight's Debate

I hate to break it to Ben Affleck, but he is wrong about the election. With just 34 days left until voters head to the polls, the election 2012 race is still completely up for grabs.

Even still, in a recent interview with the AP, Affleck lumped Romney comfortably in with the likes of such memorable losers as Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and Bob Dole.

However, a recent a poll released by Rasmussen yesterday would seem to suggest this contest is far from over.

According to the survey, President Obama only leads Mitt Romney by a razor slim advantage of 48% to 47%--well within the margin of error.

That makes tonight's presidential debates in Denver all the more critical for both candidates-especially since they will be devoted primarily to the economy and domestic policy.

Of course, here at Money Morning we have our own ideas on how the economy ought to be run, and a few questions of our own for each of tonight's debaters.

But we'll bet most of the tough questions will be completely missed by the media, who have an altogether-too-exalted an idea of the candidates' competence.

With that in mind, here are five questions that should get asked at tonight's debate-but won't.

Five Questions About the Economy That Beg To Be Answered

  1. Mr. President, Governor, study after study has shown that the healthcare system in this country is absorbing a larger and larger share of our Gross Domestic Product, and will bankrupt us all by 2050. Yet neither of you has any reliable plans to deal with this.
  2. Mr. President, your Obamacare makes matters worse. Governor, your Romneycare in Massachusetts has also run wildly over budget and your Vice President's plan loads most medical cost increases onto individuals who get sick.

    Other countries cope with medical cost inflation better than us; which of their schemes should we adopt?

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If Romney Wins Election, Make Sure You Own These Six Stocks

With U.S. President Barack Obama holding a narrow lead in the polls over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, investors need to be prepared for a win by either candidate.

Strangely enough, history has shown that the stock market actually does much better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones - three times better since 1913, according to The New York Times, and more than five times better since 1960.

Of course, that doesn't mean there won't still be plenty of stock market opportunities if Romney wins the election. It just means investors must be a bit more selective, targeting leading stocks in industries that have a history of prospering under GOP policies, especially those directly affected by planks in the Republican platform.

Sectors that fall into this category include certain health insurers, medical device makers, energy companies, domestic oil exploration outfits, utilities, transportation firms (especially railroads), and defense contractors.

Let's take a look.

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If President Obama Wins Election 2012, What's Next?

With nearly four years under President Barack Obama's reign, America's economic recovery is struggling to pick up speed and unemployment remains above an unhealthy 8%.

The Obama administration has repeatedly been harshly criticized for bailing out corporate businesses, for the massive national deficit and for the creation of the controversial healthcare bill dubbed Obamacare.

Yet, with just six weeks left before Americans head to the polls to cast their vote for the 45th president, President Obama has managed to eke out a slight lead.

In a mid-September interview with "60 Minutes," President Obama defended his term and said he and we need more time with him in office.

Here's what to expect if President Obama wins Election 2012.

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If Romney Wins Election 2012, Here's What's In Store for America

While Mitt Romney's political plans are a stark difference from opponent President Barack Obama, they agree on one thing: When it comes to this year's election, "this is a very clear choice for the American people as to what America's future will look like."

They disagree, however, on what that "clear choice" is.

That's what Romney said in a "60 Minutes" interview with Scott Pelley that aired yesterday (Sunday), where he detailed his plans to restore America to fiscal health.

Romney explained he would shrink the size of the government, overhaul entitlement programs and implement individual and corporate tax breaks-all with the help of Congress.

"I'm going to win this thing," said Romney when asked if he could win the November presidential election. "Washington is broken and I think that flows from the President. I think ultimately that the buck stops with the President."

If Mitt Romney wins Election 2012, here's what he has planned for you.

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What Happens to the Stock Market in an Election Year?

With just about six weeks to go until Nov. 6, many investors are wondering how Election 2012 will affect the stock market as a whole and their portfolios in particular.

There are many theories about what can happen to the stock market following a presidential election - although the performance spread is pretty wide.

The highest election year return for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index takes us back as far as 1928, when Herbert Hoover beat Al Smith. The S&P 500 returned 43.6%.

But the heady atmosphere just before the 1929 stock market crash probably had more to do with that high return than Hoover's election-or Smith's loss.

The lowest return in the 80-year period came in 2008, when now-President Barack Obama beat John McCain. The S&P 500 dropped 37%. Once again, the 2008 financial crisis probably had a greater impact on that result than who won or lost the election.

So what is likely to happen four years later, with the economy still struggling to recover and the S&P 500 ahead about 15%?

Let's take a look.

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