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Rob Viglione  

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  • Home sales dropping 3.8% may not sound like a lot, Stephen Gandel says - but it's a lot for June, part of homebuying's prime time. And first-timers are exiting faster than other buyers. The government still needs to do more, mostly in foreclosure mitigation and job-market stimulus.  [View news story]
    I'm a real estate broker, and even I am tired of hearing calls for housing subsidies. 80+ years of bad public policy over-capitalizing housing has gutted this country of productivity, and promoted consumption beyond belief. It's time we stop throwing capital at consumption goods, like housing stock.

    It'll be painful, but end federal support of Fannie & Freddie, deprive HUD of budget, and end the mortgage interest deduction...there's no reason debt capital should be artificially subsidized to be burned up in housing.
    Jun 21, 2011. 10:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Jim Cramer's "top picks for a vanishing middle class:" PRGO, THS, AZO, ORLY, FDO, SKS. Stay away from traditional defensive plays, he says, including CLX, CL and PG, since consumers aren't buying these marquee brands when they can get similar products for less money.  [View news story]
    The only reason I clicked on this link was because I find it fascinating that the "vanishing middle class" has made it into investment strategy. I say buh-bye suburbia!
    Jun 21, 2011. 10:09 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The minutes of the RBA's June meeting show little urgency to resume rate increases. The strong currency is mentioned as helping to contain inflation, but also hurting non-resource sectors where activity is seen as "quite subdued." The aussie plunges 70 pips in minutes to $1.0536, and rate futures price for no hikes in 2011.  [View news story]
    We're on a runaway freight train...the Fed can't raise rates
    Jun 21, 2011. 12:18 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • What plagues the U.S. is consumer debt and the best way to ease the burden would be sustained inflation of 5%, writes Brett Arends, positing high inflation allows borrowers to pay back loans with devalued dollars. Two questions: 1. Why stop at 5%, why not 10%? 2. If inflation is the answer, why isn't Bolivia the wealthiest country on the planet?  [View news story]
    Inflation doesn't raise prices & wages uniformly; there's always winners and losers. Directing this kind of monetary policy is reckless, and a gross abuse of currency mismanagement.

    It's perpetual inflation policies that have enabled the ridiculously imbalanced financial economies from which the Western world currently suffers.
    Jun 19, 2011. 02:49 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • More evidence that China's real estate sector is generating a bit too much froth: Around 23% of last year's FDI in China went into real estate, vs. the 10% average seen over the last decade. Chinese regulators pledge to step up their efforts to deter hot money.  [View news story]
    Bubble time! This one popping will be felt around the world...
    Jun 17, 2011. 04:27 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • "We need an economic program, we need a Marshall Plan," says Deutsche Bank CEO Ackermann, urging more financial assistance to the debt-troubled countries of the EU. Having the sort of influence in Europe that American bankers only dream about in the U.S., Ackermann is a man worth paying attention to.  [View news story]
    Stalin had a version of a Marshall Plan...
    Jun 17, 2011. 04:24 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Treasury yields may rise after QEII ends, but not because the Fed has concluded its massive purchases. Instead, current weak economic data almost assures a bounce in July, with yields likely to follow. Still, with fund managers able to finance a bond portfolio at 0.25%, any rise in long term yields will be modest.  [View news story]
    I've been short, or underweight, treasuries for the last couple years. Two convictions I've retained:

    1) Timing markets is gambling

    2) Long term treasuries are doomed
    Jun 17, 2011. 04:23 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Obama administration is intensifying a crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants, notifying another 1,000 companies the government plans to inspect their hiring records. Wednesday's surge in "silent raids" brought to 2,338 the number of companies audited by ICE in the current fiscal year, topping last year's record of 2,196.  [View news story]
    Yeah, that's going to boost economic growth!!!
    Jun 16, 2011. 09:56 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Banks repossessed 66,879 homes in May, down 4% from April and 29% from a year earlier, data from real estate firm RealtyTrac shows. The number of foreclosure filings decreased 2% from April to 214,927. The drop in activity is due to processing delays and weak buying demand.  [View news story]
    Housing is still a mess, but at some point the rate of foreclosures has to hit a maximum and begin declining. I'm not sure if we're there yet, but my fingers are crossed!
    Jun 16, 2011. 09:54 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Q1 Current Account: -$119.3B vs. -$126B expected and -$113.3B in Q4.  [View news story]
    That is interesting, and shows decreasing faith in USD. Foreigners are starting to increase claims on real assets in US...
    Jun 16, 2011. 09:52 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 5 ETFs for a Falling Dollar [View article]
    Some other ideas for protecting against debased USD:

    1) Precious metals
    2) Stocks in US exporters
    3) Real estate
    4) Take out a fixed rate mortgage & let USD debasement eat away value of note
    5) Short treasuries

    Just some ideas...some riskier than others, but balance and keeping things in perspective is always important. The US financial system has big issues, risk is mounting, but it's not likely to collapse tomorrow.
    Jun 16, 2011. 09:49 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • "There is no rationale for a country at that level of economic development to have not just duplication but triplication of those infrastructure projects," opines Nouriel Roubini, recounting a trip in China aboard a 1/2 empty high speed train, alongside a 3/4 empty highway, to a 3/4 empty station, next to a rarely used airport.
     [View news story]
    Keep spending at all costs! That's the mantra of modern smoke-and-mirrors economics. All current stakeholders will be well compensated and long gone before the system unwinds.
    Jun 13, 2011. 10:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Banks and foreign governments are mounting an increasingly desperate push against a sweeping U.S. tax law that will force overseas institutions to report their American clients to the IRS. Banks say the task of scouring records for U.S. citizens and then reporting them could run into billions of dollars and conflict with domestic privacy laws.  [View news story]
    Desperate governments become dangerous...
    Jun 13, 2011. 10:39 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Medicare saves money, Paul Krugman argues: Yes, adjusting for inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400% from 1969-2009. But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700% over the same period. "So while it’s true that Medicare has done an inadequate job of controlling costs, the private sector has done much worse."  [View news story]
    Well said...rationed care can be truncated in scope to limit expenses, but that has no bearing on value comparisons.
    Jun 13, 2011. 10:37 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The U.S. is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-ridden European countries when adding in all the money owed to cover future liabilities in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs, Bill Gross says. All told, Gross puts the total at "nearly $100 trillion," a position he says hardly lends itself to an overnight solution.  [View news story]
    I applaud Bill Gross for his recent hard line stance against the U.S. fiscal insanity.
    Jun 13, 2011. 10:35 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment