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Rob Viglione  

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  • Better Days in Store for 2009 [View article]
    When the sky seems to be falling it is tough to think rationally and see the bigger picture. This sort of analysis helps...
    Jan 1, 2009. 10:13 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Turning Nothing Into Something [View article]
    President Bush certainly messed up this country, more so than most presidents before him, but to blame one administration-or one man-takes focus off the larger problems our government is causing.

    We have a fundamentally flawed state in the U.S., with an unconstrained federal government that grows at its own volition. What it cannot raise through taxes, it spends by borrowing and printing. When it perpetuates inflationary policies that distort markets, causing excessive speculative booms, it blames market participants and heralds increased regulations and oversight to perpetuate the same.

    George Bush may have been the most recent president to pull the trigger and commit our armed forces, but so has every president before him, in some fashion. The Cold War is over, yet we still have a 1.1 million man standing army, spend over $750 billion on "defense," and maintain bases in 130 countries. This is an empire supported by deeply rooted, powerful lobbying forces that are part of a defunct system, not a single administration.

    American needs real reform, real change. The ousting of the Bush regime will only be followed by more of the same. The two party system is designed as such.

    On Jan 01 09:11 AM Ferdinand E. Banks wrote:

    > Interesting concept. In the last four years, thanks to Mr Bush and
    > a majority of American voters, the United States economy started
    > from something and has gone in the direction of nothing. Of course
    > it won't go all the way because as I pointed out in another comment,
    > the present macroeconomic and financial mess has NOTHING IN COMMON
    > was apparently not well received, but I don't worry too much about
    > that.
    > But if I did worry I would do like the author and take off for Paris,
    > which is only a couple of hours away; and the next time I travel
    > there I think that I will give a brilliant talk about the situation
    > now and the situation before and during the great depression. I might
    > even sit in the Pompidou and prepare my song and dance.
    Jan 1, 2009. 10:07 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Great Depression vs. Today's Economic Crisis [View article]
    The most likely direction is for our elected and non-elected officials (fed) to do everything in their power to defend the position that spending must increase at all costs. The costs will turn out to be unsustainable.

    Expect increased currency debasement and a rush to zero interest rates throughout the industrialized world. Destabilizing policy pushed over the last several decades to increase spending irrespective of real wealth measurements, such as real per capita income, has meant leveraging our civilization to build capacity that far outstrips sustainable consumption limits.

    Rather than face reality and acknowledge that our society is over-leveraged, our public officials are borrowing and printing more on our behalf, further destabilizing our balance sheets and degrading the value of our currency. this is outright madness: public servants forcing us to borrow and spend, whether we like it or not.

    Predictions are fairly easy: this situation is untenable in the long run. Timing is an entirely different story. We could very well pull out of this recession and enter another leg of this borrow-print-spend drama, but the end result will certainly be collapse and reversion to reality.
    Dec 31, 2008. 12:17 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Global Stock Market Performance in 2008 [View article]
    Telling that 9 of the 10 best performers were negative, 6 of them negative double digits! What a year!
    Dec 31, 2008. 11:58 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 2008 Was Crazy, But Predictable [View article]
    On the same grounds we can predict a bubble in U.S. Treasuries, pending collapse of commercial real estate, and ultimate worthlessness of the USD. I'm betting on most of these, but timing is tough...timing is everything.
    Dec 31, 2008. 11:20 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Protectionism: Playing With Fire [View article]
    There are many reasons for the Great Depression, many of which have been identified and some we probably don't understand. Lack of faith in banks was one reason. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was absolutely a contributing factor, highly destabilizing trade regimes and harming the world economy, particularly for those countries that depended on trade with the U.S., like post-WWI Germany.

    Using force to alter markets and socially engineer society has consequences, some of which can be dangerous.

    On Dec 29 08:05 PM Chance Deveraux wrote:

    > The Great Depression happened because of a lack of faith in banks,
    > not Smoot-Hawley.
    > America's problem is we depend too much on the global economy. We
    > export FAR less than we import - putting tariffs on imports, logically,
    > helps us more than it hurts.
    > Without higher tariffs we will continue to bleed good jobs out of
    > the country - the resulting drop in consumer income and therefore
    > spending will destroy America anyway. Look how bad we are now because
    > of stagnant wages.
    > I favor protectionism - looking out for our own family and country
    > first is a duty, not a pipe dream.
    Dec 30, 2008. 01:03 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Protectionism: Playing With Fire [View article]
    There are certainly many serious issues to consider with unfair trade practices. I am not aware of a single country that has fully free enterprise and trade policies. Everyone subsidizes its favorite industries and uses tariffs, dumping laws,and other market distorting policies to gain advantage for select groups within their jurisdiction.

    None of this is good, but it cannot be ignored during trade negotiations. America is, and has been, guilt of some of the worst protectionism and distorting policies. Yet we demand everyone else plays by the rules of free trade.

    Free trade is fundamentally a good thing. Trade between households, villages, towns, cities, states, and countries are all good for the same exact reasons. The world's current trade environment is relatively open, but highly distorted and cannot be called free or fair.

    Whatever policies our government pursues going forward should acknowledge the value of free and fair trade (which are one and the same thing), and drive the world in that direction, at least for those countries that want to participate.
    Dec 30, 2008. 12:57 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Social Security: A Ponzi Scheme? [View article]
    We're getting hung up on semantics here. The fact is that SS is a forced redistribution scheme with severe financial problems.

    You cannot sanely label a system that forces wealth out of people in exchange for a fraction of it in future returns as an "investment."

    At best, this is extortion and forced inter-generational wealth transfer.
    Dec 30, 2008. 12:17 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • An Opportunity in Municipal Bonds [View article]
    The concern here is that 2009 will likely usher in a period of unprecedented municipal bankruptcies. Sure, the federal government will likely step in and bail out the most reckless local and state governments, but this is a fundamentally weak area in our economy. If you are bettering on munis, at least do so understanding that we are about to experience a wave of defaults.

    At some point, yields make this risk worthwhile. I'm not sure what that number is, though.
    Dec 30, 2008. 12:03 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Option Ratios Urge Cautious Investing [View article]
    For anyone who is going long equities, I recommend hedging with VIX calls. Like the author, I'm treating these markets as being guilty until proven innocent.
    Dec 30, 2008. 11:59 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Dollar/Oil Surprise: What Does 2009 Hold? [View article]
    Foreign currency weakness is certainly a reasonable possibility for USD gains, but I see nothing fundamentally good about our currency. The central bank is intentionally trying to devalue it as quickly as possible, and the incoming administration seems set on spending trillions of dollars in deficit.

    There is a chance the EU will experience turmoil, but the likelihood that it causes implosion of the EUR is not high. In absence of this EUR crash I cannot see much reason for the USD to appreciate.
    Dec 30, 2008. 11:39 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Corporate America's Unhealthy Love for Buybacks and Dividends [View article]
    Policy drives markets. Federal policies encourage this sort of capital treatment. Think subsidization of debt through interest write-off on income, and tax advantages in share buy backs.

    Government should not be distorting markets by influencing how firms treat capital.
    Dec 29, 2008. 10:06 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • S&P 500 Index: 10 Highest Yielding Stocks [View article]
    There's a good deal of risk to these dividends, particularly for the real estate plays. However, yields look quite tempting...
    Dec 29, 2008. 10:01 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Monthly Consumption Growth: Highest in Seven Years [View article]
    This is good news in the near term, but could bode poorly for long run prosperity. Americans have severe balance sheet issues. Policies to encourage them to spend will alleviate economic problems now, but pose serious risks in the future as we become further indebted with less equity to support.
    Dec 29, 2008. 09:59 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Current Economic Outlook: Reasons to Be Positive [View article]
    Refreshing to hear this sort of commentary. You are right in that the global response to this slump is without precedent. Central banks and foreign governments are flooding the world with liquidity.

    On the down side, however, we still have an over-leverage problem, and the American government is resorting to New Deal styled "stimulus" programs that will likely cripple a recovery.

    We cannot argue that central bank printing presses have been working overtime, but I find this to be a bad thing. We have used inflationary policies for far too long to postpone recessions. Now America's balance sheet is far out of whack and we may push it to the brink with further borrowing and printing.

    Wow...didn't mean to come out this negative so early in the morning!
    Dec 29, 2008. 09:55 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment