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Wednesday's "Earnings Beat" Makes This The Perfect "Bad-Market" Tech Stock

In last week’s Private Briefing report Our Experts Show You the Stocks to Pick in a ‘Stock-Picker’s Market’,” Money Map Press Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald identified SanDisk Corp.(NasdaqGS: SNDK) as one of three stocks to buy in the face of the stock market sell-off.

And now we see why…

  • Featured Story

    Senators Move to Create 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act

    Fiscal cliff stack of quarters left

    Warren, John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Angus Kin (I-Maine) introduced legislation that would again separate bank's traditional activities (like deposits currently backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) from riskier activities like investment banking, insurance underwriting, swap dealing, and hedge funds.

    Glass-Steagall was repealed by Congress back in 1999.

    When the news broke of Warren’s determined attempt to bring back Glass-Steagall last week, it covered front pages across the country and instigated a firestorm of commentary on the future of the U.S. economy.

    The problem, of course, is the ability to cut through the hype and understand if financial reform is necessary to fix the U.S. economy.

    Rarely do I find myself championing regulatory efforts by the Federal Government, but the financial sector is an entirely different beast from energy, agriculture, and other resource sectors.

    But reinstituting key elements of the Glass-Steagall Act is just one step on a long return to sanity for the economy.

    To continue reading, please click here...

    Read More...
  • Financial Reform

  • Why the Volcker Rule is a Cop-Out and a Joke Right now everyone's talking about the Volcker Rule.

    For heaven's sake! What's the big deal? After all is said and done, there is only one real problem with it (and I'll get to that in a minute)...

    The 300-page draft Rule, named after its champion architect, former Federal Reserve chairman and inflation-fighting icon Paul A. Volcker, is an addition to the ever-evolving masterpiece of legislation (yes, I'm being sarcastic) known as the Dodd-Frank Act.

    Now, draft SEC rulemaking and regulatory actions are first submitted to the public for "comment." The SEC collects all comment letters and posts them on their website.

    Well, wouldn't you know it, this draft (some might call it "daft") Volcker Rule has caused a flurry of letter writing; letters were due to the SEC by no later than this past Monday evening.

    All in all, this august (not the month) regulatory body received 241 detailed comment letters (that's a lot of comment letters) and an astounding 14,479 mostly form letters, as well.

    Almost all of the form letters to the SEC, many of which were "personalized" by submitters, were strongly in favor of the Volcker Rule and called for strengthening it and not watering it down by allowing any exemptions.

    How do I know that? (No, I didn't read them all.) They resulted from an e-alert campaign to activist supporters of the Americans for Financial Reform group and Public Citizens, who posted appeals on their websites.

    Other notable comments in favor of the Rule, and weighing-in in more detail, came from Paul Volcker himself and Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who championed the Volcker Rule in the Dodd-Frank legislation and in their comments called the draft too "tepid."

    The lengthiest comment letter in favor of the Rule (and of tightening it significantly) came in the form of a 325-page love letter from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    However, of those 241 detailed comment letters, most of them came from detractors.

    Detractors like individual banks (who normally let their dogs and lobbyists do their biting) and industry groups, such as the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma) and the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Powerhouse law firm Davis Polk was itself drafted by several banks and Sifma to help draft at least 10 letters on behalf of the cause ("cause" banks want to keep making big bonuses).

    Detractors of the Volcker Rule warned of dire consequences for American capital markets, American corporations, the American economy, the world, and the universe beyond even our own little constellation, if the Rule is allowed to curtail their most coveted and conscientious shepherding of their clients' best interests.

    Prop Trading, Market Making and the Volcker Rule

    The Volcker Rule comes down to this: To continue reading, please click here... Read More...
  • The Inside Story of How Our Financial Regulators Let Us All Down Did you hear the story about MF Global?

    No, not the headlines about its bankruptcy - the real story.

    If you haven't heard it yet, it goes something like this.

    MF Global became a primary dealer only eight months ago.

    "Primary dealer" is an elite status. It means the firm is one of only 22 government bond dealers that trades directly with the Federal Reserve's New York trading desk.

    Only, the Federal Reserve doesn't regulate or oversee MF Global, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) does - or rather is supposed to.

    But, even more incongruously, the CFTC isn't the first overseer of MF Global . It ceded that responsibility to the CME Group Inc. (Nasdaq: CME), which owns and operates the largest futures exchanges in the United States. The designated self-regulatory organization for more than 50 futures brokers, CME was supposed to be the cop on the beat.

    However, t he not-so-funny thing about the relationship between MF Global and the CME Group is that MF Global recently boasted on its Website that it "was the top broker by volume at CME's metals and energy exchanges in New York and in the top three at its Chicago exchanges."

    So, is it any wonder that the CME just last week audited MF Global's segregated customer funds and found them to be in compliance?

    These are the same supposedly segregated funds which the CME is now saying may have been tampered with. According to the CME:

    "It now appears that [MF Global] made subsequent transfers of customer segregated funds in a manner that may have been designed to avoid detection insofar as MF Global did not disclose or report such transfers to the CFTC or CME until early morning on Monday October 31, 2011."

    How much money are we talking about? About $633 million - or 11.6% out of a segregated fund requirement of about $5.4 billion.

    Do you see what I'm driving at?

    So the real story is, t he Federal Reserve, which doesn't regulate MF Global but regulates all banks in the United States, lets a futures commission merchant with investment bank wannabe desires become an insider in its dealings. Meanwhile, a private for-profit enterprise that runs the self-regulatory apparatus that oversees its own customers steps in for a federal agency that's supposed to be in charge of commodities, futures and derivatives markets.

    And that's only the tip of the iceberg.

    Let me jump on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) next, because you aren't going to believe this, either.

    Subterfuge at the SEC

    It's come to light recently that the SEC has been blatantly violating federal law for decades.

    To continue reading, please click here...

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  • Financial Reform Follies: By Upstaging Bernanke, JPMorgan's Dimon Shows Us Where Washington Went Wrong By upstaging U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke at the International Monetary Conference in Atlanta on Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon drove home a crucial point: The U.S. version of "financial reform" just doesn't work.


The fact that Dimon is one of Wall Street's own - and that he stole the show from Bernanke, who made a speech at the conference - made for high drama. More importantly, though, I believe the incident served as a reminder of why Washington's attempts at financial reform don't work.

In his speech to international bankers, a tired-looking Bernanke conceded that the U.S. economy was functioning "below its potential," something that's become very clear following a spate of recent reports that show weak output and scary job trends.

Dimon - a longtime critic of financial reform (particularly the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) - said he fears that the attempted fixes are actually stifling the recovery. He even asked Bernanke if people won't come back in 20 years and write a book showing that the Fed and our bailouts were too heavy- handed and have become a hindrance instead of a help.

"Has anyone bothered to study the cumulative effect of all these things?" Dimon asked Bernanke. "Is this holding us back at this point?"

To continue reading, please click here ... Read More...
  • What We Can Learn From The Stock Market Genius That Wall Street Loves to Ignore Mathematician Benoit B. Mandelbrot, the inventor of fractal geometry, died Oct. 14.

    As mathematicians go, Mandelbrot was very likely the best of the last half-century. And that brilliance extended to the financial markets. In fact, his groundbreaking insights into the operations of the stock market could have been used to avert the 2008 crash - had those insights only been heeded.

    But Mandelbrot - for all his stock market genius - has been largely ignored by Wall Street.

    As investors, let's not make the same mistake.

    To understand how to profit from Mandelbrot's insights, please read on... Read More...
  • Question of the Week: Readers Respond to Money Morning's Financial Reform Query With U.S. consumers still feeling the sting of the global financial crisis, consumer advocacy groups are claiming that they snagged a win with the financial reform measure approved last month by a joint House-Senate congressional committee.

    The bill next goes to U.S. President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

    "It's historic legislation," Michael Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, told ABC News. "It's a big win for consumers."

    Read More...
  • We Want to Hear From You: How Do You As A Consumer Feel About the Financial Reform Bill? With U.S. consumers still feeling the sting of the global financial crisis, consumer advocacy groups are claiming that they snagged a win with the financial reform measure approved last week by a joint House-Senate congressional committee.

    The bill goes next to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

    "It's historic legislation," Michael Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, told ABC News. "It's a big win for consumers."

    Read More...
  • Buy, Sell or Hold: Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: EEP) Brings Some Stability to a Volatile Market It seems like every week there's a new development that forces investors to rethink their investment strategies.

    This week we will see the initial consequences of the weekend's all-important Group of 20 (G20) meeting. A lot of very important issues are up for debate among the world's top 20 countries, as are policies that will shape the intensity and distribution of global growth in the months and years ahead.

    The meeting will be fraught with controversy as each economy is proceeding at its own distinct pace of growth and faces its own set of challenges.

    China, which recently showed a superlative 50% year-over-year increase in exports, has run out of excuses to justify its undervalued currency. The country also is facing strong inflationary pressures, which include labor strikes by workers demanding higher pay.

    Read More...
  • Can Bulls Lift a Market Threatened By Uncertainty Surrounding U.S. Stimulus Measures? Stocks spilled the past week like water over a broken dam as investors priced in more evidence that consumers, businesses and home-buyers have gone on strike despite U.S. stimulus measures and record-cheap interest rates that have put mortgages, car loans and store-credit costs at 100-year lows. In the five-day span, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.5% and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index sank 3.6%; Nasdaq and Russell 2000 Index all fell 3.2%.

    Catalyst for the latest spasm of selling came from disappointing news on durable goods sales and initial jobless claims, and weak earnings news or outlooks from consumer-facing companies BedBath & Beyond Inc.(Nasdaq: BBBY),Darden Restaurants, Inc.(NYSE: DRI),Lennar Corp.(NYSE: LEN) andNike, Inc.(NYSE: NKE).

    All of the major U.S. and global indexes are now below their 200-day averages for the first time since early June.

    Read More...
  • Washington Reaches Financial Reform Deal That Packs Lighter Punch Than Wall Street Had Feared The biggest Wall Street regulation overhaul since the Great Depression was approved after 20-hour House-Senate negotiations ended this morning (Friday). The legislation brings a dramatic shift in financial reform, but comes down easier on financial institutions than initially planned.

    The bill, named the Dodd-Frank Act after Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-CT, and Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, brings sweeping reforms to consumer protection, trading restrictions for big banks, and the regulation of financial products.

    "It establishes the greatest consumer financial protections in American history. It prevents financial firms from taking risks that will threaten the economy. And it provides the government with significant new tools to better protect taxpayers from the damage of future financial crises," U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in a statement.

    Read More...
  • Money Morning Mailbag: Will Elections and a Resignation Open the Door for U.S. Budget Changes? Administration officials announced this week that the White House Budget Director Peter Orszag plans to leave U.S. President Barack Obama's Cabinet before work on the next U.S. budget begins, which could be some time in the next few weeks. Orszag would be the first member of President Obama's Cabinet to exit.

    The U.S. budget is under scrutiny as the budget deficit is forecast to hit $1.6 trillion by 2011. A President-appointed panel is currently working on budget reduction plans to be presented in a report due in December.

    Orszag's strategies as former head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) supported a stop to deficit spending, but once he was placed in the budget driver's seat, making significant cuts was nearly impossible with recovery progress slow and unemployment high. Orszag instead ended up helping outline the $787 billion stimulus package in 2009. Read More...
  • Money Morning Mailbag: How Will New Accounting Standards Affect U.S. Banks and Investors? The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) last month proposed an overhaul of accounting standards that would require U.S. banks to record their loans at current market value, giving investors a clearer picture of the banks' financial standing.

    The proposal is an effort to tighten banking regulation and improve financial transparency, and coincides with Congress finalizing financial reform.

    News of the possible policy change prompted this reader to weigh in on what its enforcement, which has been pushed back to as late as 2013, could do for the banking industry:

    "Convergence" between U.S. accounting practices and international accounting practices (from the International Accounting Standards Board) is to be implemented in one year. As part of this convergence, U.S. banks must soon begin to revalue (lower) assets on their books at current market value (mark-to-market).

    Read More...
  • This Weekend's G-20 Meeting Won't Bring Any Answers on Financial Regulation Finance ministers from the Group of 20 (G-20) nations this weekend will attempt to reach a compromise on the implementation of stricter banking regulations at a meeting in Busan, South Korea. However, significant changes to financial regulation will come slow, if at all.

    The meeting will start late Friday and will involve discussions about how to reduce deficits and prepare financial institutions for a wider set of rules.

    "Sustaining world economic growth is the most important item on the G-20 agenda this weekend," said U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. "Countries with high budget deficits must show that they can deal with them. Equally, surplus countries, such as China, must show that they too can support economic growth going forward."

    Read More...
  • Question of the Week: Readers Respond to Money Morning's Market Volatility Query The Dow Jones Industrial Average last week dipped below 10,000 for the first time since February as a month of market volatility and price declines continued. Analysts predicted volatility to continue into June as government exit strategies begin and liquidity dwindles.

    The zooming rebound in U.S. stock prices from their March 9, 2009 bottom - the strongest rebound since the Great Depression - has been stymied by concerns over the Eurozone debt contagion, financial reform, the market flash crash and new political sparks in Korea. Figures show that the bulls are still hanging around - on the sidelines - but the bears have been calling the shots during a month that has seen stock prices fall more than 8%.

    "I think it's a question of pick your poison," Dan Alpert, managing partner at Westwood Capital, told MarketWatch. "The market was poised for a very severe correction and whether it's southern Mediterranean countries or worries about German banks, you can pick your catalyst." Read More...
  • Money Morning Mailbag: Wall Street Expects Money to Arbitrate Financial Reform Financial regulation overhaul cleared another hurdle last week when the Senate approved its financial reform bill. However, the inclusion of a derivatives trading restriction left Wall Street wondering why its political contributions weren't doing the talking.

    The financial industry was surprised when a provision created by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-AR, requiring banks to spin off their derivatives trading arms remained in the Senate's proposal. Wall Street lobbyists are now reaching out to the members of the Senate and House conference committee who will reconcile the two bills. The Senate named its committee appointees Tuesday, which included Lincoln.

    The Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group representing financial companies, has already started meeting with House members who it believes will be involved in the final process and could help cut the provision.

    Read More...
  • Will the Financial Reform Bill Really Rein In Wall Street? The Senate on Thursday approved an extensive financial reform bill that would give Washington broad new powers over Wall Street. However, there's still a question over whether the bill will really be able to rein in Wall Street, or if it will simply become another broken barrier tripping up the free market.

    The legislation is the most drastic since post-Great Depression bank reform and was approved by a 59-39 vote. It's also being seen as a victory for the Obama administration, which has vowed to toughen up on Wall Street practices since the collapse of the... Read More...