Top financial news today, June 18, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose marginally on Tuesday despite a swath of disappointing data, including higher inflation and poor housing numbers. Wednesday is gearing up to be one of the busiest news days in recent months for the financial markets.
- FOMC Meeting, AMZN, and Oil Lead the Busiest Financial News Day in Months
- How to Prepare for the 17% "Supertax"
- Don't Expect the Obamacare Ruling to Calm the Markets
- Stock Market Today: Obamacare Upheld
- Emerging Market Dividend Stocks Give Investors the Best of Both Worlds
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste… It’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before.” –Rahm Emanuel
The once unthinkable is quickly becoming probable.
At some point in the next few years, your assets could well become the target of a “Supertax” as high as 17%.
Last week, we talked about the need to buy “out of print” assets to protect our wealth from brazen government seizures.
I explained that quantitative easing (QE) was likely to get bigger, not smaller, and that you needed to become your own central bank.
The truth is, the writing’s already on the wall. We’ve seen it happen.
Cyprus’s “bail-in” cost numerous bank depositors more than 47% of their capital.
Poland’s “pension reform” saw private pensions raided to help lower the government’s debt-to-GDP ratio.
And Spain plundered its Social Security Reserve Fund to keep buying its own risky debt, when no one else would.
Dangerous precedents are being set, with chilling regularity.
More than ever, you need to be prepared…
They were tanking on news that the latest European summit was unlikely to be a game-changer, that U.S. gross domestic product was a paltry 1.9% in the first quarter, and a New York Times story that JPMorgan Chase's derivatives loss could top $9 billion.
Then came the long-awaited decision from the country's highest court on the divisive healthcare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which unhinged markets further.
The Court's historic decision shook the markets for several reasons.
But the single overriding effect of the mixed-bag decision will be its impact on markets going forward.
That's because the divided decision further fuels partisan politics going into the November elections and sets the stage for an all-or-nothing battle between Republicans and Democrats.
The chances of there being any compromise anywhere on any divisive issues before the elections is now mathematically zero, where before it was somewhere between slim and none.
The Bigger Issues Behind the Obamacare RulingWhat the markets now face aren't just healthcare, tax and spending issues.
As a result of the Court's stunning decision, we face something much bigger -- Constitutional issues of the highest and deepest order.
The High Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts unexpectedly siding with the Court's four liberal justices, rendered a 5-4 victory for President Barack Obama's prized legislation.
The ruling upholds the "individual mandate" that requires citizens to either pay for "minimum essential" health insurance or pay a "penalty" through the IRS as a "tax" towards offsetting the shared costs of national healthcare.
But the Court also struck down the Act's provision allowing the Federal Government to effectively "hold a gun to the head" of states if they failed to increase Medicaid benefits, largely expanded under the new law.
In its original form, states could lose all Federal funding of Medicaid for non-compliance with Federal demands.
By its decision the Court effectively admitted that the Commerce Clause argument underpinning the individual mandate's Constitutionality was null and void.
But while they said that the individual mandate that "forced" citizens to buy health insurance wasn't intended as a "command" that fell under the Commerce Clause, they incongruously flipped the argument on its head and agreed (by a one-vote majority) that the mandate was legal under Congress' authority to "tax" citizens for the benefit of the nation.
The Obamacare ruling is the main driver causing uncertainty in the market, followed by the start of the European Union summit today in Brussels.
The Obamacare ruling had been anticipated with such fervor that reporters camped in front of the Supreme Court for days before the decision.
They finally got one - and it may come as a surprise to many.
The controversial mandate that requires everyone to purchase healthcare by 2014 or pay a small fine was upheld. The vote came in at 5-4 with Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito dissenting.
Chief Justice Roberts said that the mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause, but it will survive as a tax.
Republicans had been almost certain that the mandate would be stuck down and President Obama can now breathe a small sigh of relief that his healthcare overhaul has been upheld.
Back to the EU summit, which has been awaited with such pessimism that the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds has risen above 7% again and the euro slipped to a three-week low of $1.24 versus the dollar.
There is an unusual and detrimental air of division and discord among the European leaders heading into the summit. The continent needs to work towards more integration rather than fragmentation if they are to lay down a framework for better fiscal, financial and political union.
U.S. unemployment claims fell slightly from the 392,000 initial claims reported last week to a still alarmingly high number of 386,000 for the week ended June 23. The final estimate for the first quarter's gross domestic product (GDP) came in at the expected 1.9%, but that estimate had already been lowered last week by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Looking beyond these reports, here are some stocks in the headlines today.
On the other hand, this is also true: emerging markets give investors the benefit of the world's fastest economic growth.
Investors would be wise then to combine these two strategies by buying emerging markets stocks that pay steady dividends.
In practice, this is more difficult than it ought to be - but it's not impossible.
In fact, as you'll learn later I have found numerous ways to profit from this best of both worlds strategy.
What You Need to Know About Emerging Market Dividend StocksDividend-paying stocks in emerging markets have the same advantages as they do in the U.S. market.
Just like here in The States, a sizeable dividend from overseas is not only money in your pocket, it's also evidence that the management is working in your interests as a shareholder.
And by paying dividends investors can be sure that at least some of the earnings the company is generating are real and not the result of an accounting flim-flam.
If a company in a fast-growing emerging market is able to pay a decent dividend and participate in local growth, then you can anticipate very good returns indeed, since the dividend itself is likely to grow on the back of the company's rapidly increasing profits.
Of course, there are always risks in emerging market investing, but a good yield gives your holding a solidity that isn't present in companies with mere paper earnings.
But here's what you need to know...