Are we going to war with Russia?
If so, will we win?
Stocks are "back in the box," essentially flat for now. This sideways motion is a little disappointing, because I for one was hoping for a nice pile-on close to 20,000 that would have sent us on another leg higher.
I'm sure we'll get there eventually. Right now it's cabinet confirmation time; markets are sitting back and watching the show.
But so far, nobody and nothing has been able to rattle the market.
Every time stocks look like they've grown tired of trying to climb higher or look like they may even be struggling a little to stay flat, they catch a bid and hang tough.
"Radical truth-tellers" have been demonized and shunned by the establishment for centuries - much longer, in fact. Those of us who have always refused to settle for insincerity, falsehood, and duplicity in our personal, business, and civic relationships are usually considered "difficult."
And I am decidedly difficult.
For all of the 29 years I've spent trading and investing, I've watched governments and central bankers attempt to thwart the free market to serve their own ends - almost always at the grievous expense of regular investors - and then protest, often loudly on 500 channels, that they're doing nothing of the sort, that they're safeguarding or shepherding the markets somehow.
And through it all, one question has always persisted in my mind: "Are these people wrong because they're stupid? Or because they're lying."
I've come to conclude those two possibilities aren't mutually exclusive.
And that's meant suffering and economic misery for millions of Americans.
World War 3 has been narrowly avoided at least 10 times since WWII ended - and the public has largely been none the wiser in almost every single instance.
Whatever the outcome in November, our new president will be saddled with a tremendous economic mess.
The U.S. is drowning in debt, some $19.3 trillion right now. Entitlement spending is about to explode, including the costs of Obamacare that were conveniently delayed until its chief author left office. The cost of servicing what will soon be a $20 trillion federal deficit is heading higher and consuming a larger percentage of government spending. The United States' fiscal situation is on an unsustainable trajectory.
The situation, however, is not hopeless. There are steps a new president can take to improve the situation.
In recent years, it's become easier for wrongdoers to get away with abusing their government-given power.
The Obama administration has made it increasingly difficult for federal watchdogs to obtain records, despite President Obama's assurances that his is the most transparent administration ever.
The stonewalling has disrupted at least 20 government investigations.
Last Thursday, you were all shocked (not) to consider the possibility that members of Congress might be making money by dishing out dirt on legislation they're brewing up, this time to traders who profited from leaky pipes in the Senate or House.
I'm going to tell you what the feds and the courts are trying to do here. I expect a full-on, separation-of-powers battle royale.
After several fits and starts, the Volcker Rule is finally reality, even if doesn't take effect until July 2015. The big question is whether this regulation will have the teeth to effectively curb the risky proprietary trading of the Too Big to Fail Banks.
Oh, to be a Washington insider...armed with "inside information," the kind that moves markets.
Not that anybody in Congress would ever use their position as crafters of law or disseminators of dollars to special interests to make a few dollars.
But members of Congress and their staffs were caught with their insider hands open last year, forcing Congress to pass legislation slapping their own wrists if members trade on "congressional knowledge."
It was designed to prevent insider trading among lawmakers.
Any guesses on how well that worked...
President Obama proposed a “grand bargain” this week to break the fiscal stalemate in Washington– so what does that mean? Judging by this Republican reaction, it’s not what Obama planned…
The diminutive senator from Massachusetts has got the Big Banks shaking in their boots. Elizabeth Warren fired a Scud missile of legislation at too-big-to-fail banks to separate their commercial banking activities from their investment banking speculation.
Let's see, that might just limit the contagion during the next financial crisis. Find out why Shah Gilani thinks the senator is right on the money...
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.
Under Obama, food stamp participation has increased at 10 times the rate of job creation. Many stand in two, three or even four federal soup lines simultaneously... Read more...
It looks like the big banks aren't out of the woods from past indiscretions yet.
Just this week the most powerful court in Europe has accused 13 major global financial institutions (many US based) of colluding back in the heady days that led up to the 2008 financial reckoning.