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  • Why the Stock Market Is Swooning [View article]
    Obviously the reason why the stock market is going down is that a lot of people with money in retirement accounts are pulling it out of funds and placing it in cash in the expectation of a market crash if there is a constitutional crisis precipitated by debt ceiling debacle.

    I don´t see why this is hard to understand. Anyone who has been saving for many years knows that market crashes are fairly common.

    Probably people are not pulling out of bonds so much, because you always hear about stock market crashes, but never about bond market crashes. Very likely many people think that if interest rates go up, that will be good for their bond investments. This may not be the case, but no one ever went broke misunderestimating the unintelligence of the electorate.

    Every day news media report that the market is either up or down for some reason that may be correct or may be entirely spurious. For the most part journalists just select a plausible sounding reason from a drop down menu

    For example, this morning Marketwatch reported that US stocks were sharply down on new of... whatever, but within an hour they were back where they were yesterday, so presumably the news went away, or then again maybe it is the last pay day of the month and a lot of money is automatically paid into retirement accounts and various types of diversified funds.

    Bottom line is that no one really knows why the market goes up and down and invariably reasons are concocted after the fact.

    We are coming into the financial hurricane season and best advice for investors is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

    Disclosure- I am not a registered investment consultant, so you may profit from doing the opposite of what I recommend.
    Jul 29, 2011. 11:51 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Market Was Terrified Yesterday [View article]
    Yes, but the question is how do you cut deficit spending, but still continue to provide an adequate level of health care and retirement pensions.

    Britain´s National Health Service is by no means perfect, but all political parties and interested parties are constantly striving to improve it, including introducing management techniques used in private industry, using commercial contractors, etc. HOWEVER, as a nation the UK is spending about 8% of its GNP on healthcare as opposed to about 16% in the US without significantly better results in terms of measurable health care indicators in the US.

    Is there a way in which the spend on healthcare in the US could be reduced to 8% of GNP without reducing healthcare outcomes below the levels of the UK?

    Such a result would be enormously beneficial to the US and would presumably make the small government enthusiasts ecstatic.

    What should have happened when Obamacare was on the table would be that Congress would look at all the details of healthcare financing in, say, a dozen countries that are reasonable successful in providing cost effective healthcare for a whole population, and then take the very best features of the very best, and then add uniquely American tweaks to make our system the best, the fairest, and the most cost effective in the world. To me that would be the American way.

    If the Tea Party thinks it has solutions, it should run in a general election with specific plans for revising and improving Medicare, Medicaid, VA, Indian health service, miliitary health services, prison health services, and the way in which any government regulations affect how private insurers provide health care to employees and individuals, and if their plans are acceptable to the electorate, and they win, then they should be able to go ahead and implement them.

    Disclosure- I am 60 years old, take no medication, and have no health care insurance in the US. If I had a bad accident or severe medical problem that cost a lot of money, I would try to get treated overseas, but failing that would probably file for bankruptcy.
    Jul 29, 2011. 09:50 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Market Was Terrified Yesterday [View article]
    These are all good points. If the Tea Party could move in this direction, they would probably have my support.
    Jul 28, 2011. 07:18 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Market Was Terrified Yesterday [View article]
    ¨That was in the wake of WWII, there was a sense that we were all in it together, the shared sacrifice. The top tax bracket was 90%. ¨

    That was certainly the case in Britain. The National Health Service and Old Age Retirement Pensions after World War II were a kind of loyalty bonus awarded to the working classes for sticking it out through the bombing and the years of food rationing, which actually continued into the 50´s. That plus a sense that the best way to avert a future socialist revolution was to make the country more democratic and egalitarian going forward.

    It seems to me that the T Party´s vision is essentially nihilist, like John Lennon´s ¨Imagine¨.

    Imagine there´s no goverment
    You can do it if you try
    Old people staying healthy
    While we all get wealthy...

    Imagine now perpetual war
    No peacetime any more
    Soldiers instead of policmen
    Occupying our schools.

    We don´t need no IRA
    Let´s kill off the SEC
    Tax man, leave those yids alone!!
    Jul 28, 2011. 10:04 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Market Was Terrified Yesterday [View article]
    In the 50´s? I did not know that.
    Jul 28, 2011. 09:25 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Market Was Terrified Yesterday [View article]
    Yes this is what bothers me, especially the young people who say they want small goverment as if they are expressing a personal preference like small hamburgers.

    It seems to be fear, anxiety, and depression talking, not an ambition to make the world a better place. On another thread the other day a guy of 30 was saying that he didn´t think Social Security would exist when he reaches retirement age, and to me it is sad that young working people have this dismal view of the future. Just 40 years on the treadmill trying to dodge the occasional bombs of terrorists who are envious of our freedoms (in the opinion of George W. Bush), flollowed by sickness, starvation, and an early death.

    It´s the vision thing.
    Jul 28, 2011. 09:21 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Market Was Terrified Yesterday [View article]
    What happened in the 50´s? I though it was all little boxes, itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikinis, and teenagers making out at the drive in movies over a strawberry milkshake.
    Jul 28, 2011. 08:16 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why the Market Was Terrified Yesterday [View article]
    What is the point of destroying Obamacare unless the Republicans have something better to offer, which they don´t seem to have?

    Obamacare is certainly less than ideal, but American industry is already handicapped relative to competitors by having to provide health care insurance to employees.

    This also hinders mobility of the workforce, especially when employees have preexisting conditions like obesity, diabetes, and blood pressure, which are incredibly common in the US.

    The health care mess also makes auto insurance rates and Workers Comp rates unnecessarily high, pushing up the cost of everything, i.e. the cost of living in the US, and this is obviously a contributing factor to the export of jobs overseas.

    Bring on the general election, I say. With any luck at all the Tea Party will lose all its seats and the Republicans will destroyed for a generation. The tumor, first thought to be benign, will turn out to be the malignancy that threatens the life of the patient.
    Jul 28, 2011. 08:10 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Whitney Tilson Smarter Than These Great Investors? [View article]
    I was looking at the pdf of the GLJ report last night, and it clearly states that none of their guys even went to Papua New Guinea to conduct tests. They simply conducted their resource evaluation based on information supplied to them by Interoil.

    The evaluation may have been correct based on the data, but it could have been a case of garbage in garbage out.

    If I was to conduct an accreditation inspection of a hospital, I would not just ask them to e-mail me the paperwork. I would want to make an onsite inspection, talk to different employees, etc.

    So how much of your portfolio have you Amsterdam professors sunk into this company? Anything is worth a punt, but please be careful, and mind those unfenced canals too.
    Jul 27, 2011. 12:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Debt Limit Will Be Raised [View article]
    ¨Obviously the state facility wasn't essential.´´

    Obvious to whom? The facility was effectively the state´s only psychiatric hospital for Juvenile Justice offenders with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems and provided psychiatric care and medication to hundreds of damaged youth.

    Now you can make all kinds of arguments about the usefulness or lack of usefulness of such a facility in terms of preventing future crime, providing humanitarian intervention, or whatever, but when such an institution with a staff of specialist child psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, nurses, and other staff with unique skills and experience are disbanded solely for the sake of saving budget dollars, the problem is that there is no actual public debate about the merits or demerits of such a closure in terms of the needs of the state and its people. It is just a matter of saving budget dollars.

    But now let´s expand this argument a bit and say that we will slash the Defense Department budget by 50% effective next month.

    This would no doubt lead to base closings, factory closings, and the Detroitization of numerous communities in the US and all over the world, plus huge numbers of disgruntled former soldiers coming home with no jobs to go to.

    And yet equally you could argue that none of them are really essential for the continuation of our species, and that the Greater Good of smaller government is ultimately more useful to humanity than anything any institution can achieve.

    If we come to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, what we are talking about is what kind of provisions our society is going to make for the elderly and the disabled, which ultimately comes down to the question of the kind of societal values the next generation wants to maintain for the future.

    Most of the New Deal and the Great Society was a response to the great Depression of the 30´s, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement which completed the 180 year process of the US becoming fully democratic. Now those great events are receding into the rear view mirror of history and a new generation is taking its place at the controls..

    However I do think we need more debate about an overall vision for society and simply having slogans like Small Government Good, Big Government Bad, doesn´t do justice to subtler issues.

    We could, for example, discuss how older people could receive health care in a much more cost effective way than through Medicare, perhaps by seeing whether we can learn anything from other G10 countries. We could discuss America´s role as the world´s military policeman, and work on ways collaborating with other nations in treaties to protect our borders and deal with tribal and local issues that lead to international terrorism and piracy.
    Jul 27, 2011. 07:03 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Buffett Takes Advantage of the Wall Street Addicts [View article]
    I think this is a good article and that there is certainly a place now for strategic investing in selected companies and industries.

    However, taking a position in a company or group of companies is not something that can be done overnight. There is a gradual process of perhaps buying stock and selling puts, averaging in, taking into account earnings announcements, results, seasonal variations in the market and so on.

    When I see that a person who has made 4 comments on SeekingAlpha declare that he or she has wasted five minutes of his or her life reading this article, I wonder whether he or she has the patience or application to read hundreds of articles and annual reports, transcripts of conference calls, etc.

    It´s very common on SeekingAlpha to find one liner comments that just seem to express bile and anger rather than a desire to learn, which is kind of sad, but may actually be an indication of the hopelessness and futility that many younger people are experiencing, perhaps as a result of media manipulation.

    This was brought home to me by a post in another thread by a young man of 30 who was all for abolishing Social Security, because he was sure that it would not exist when he reached retirement age.

    When I think back to 30 years ago, I remember that I was working in a third world medical clinic, earning almost no money, having the time of my life, and had given no thought whatsoever to how I would live in retirement, but the main thing was that I believed that what I was doing was important. Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn´t, but it is sad to see so many young folks these days so easily disillusioned and so lacking in faith in the future of Western culture.
    Jul 27, 2011. 06:31 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • $2 Trillion Tuesday: Still No Deal [View article]
    Nor me.
    Jul 26, 2011. 05:14 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • $2 Trillion Tuesday: Still No Deal [View article]
    I chose the name in the hope that my comments would appeal to those who saw themselves as newly retired and wanting to make a living on the markets.

    I would consider myself exceptionally well read relative to most of the population especially in the areas of literature, history, and biography, but I always welcome suggestions of quality works and original thinking, if you have any.

    Anyway, regardless of reading, my fundamental point remains the same. Everyone seems to agree that the GW Bush tax cuts and the cost of the 2 wars have played a major part in increasing the deficit. Not 100% of it, but a significant part. Surely it is logical to try to reverse engineer those changes. I don´t even see why there is an argument about that.

    As regards the larger issue of defense spending, one simply has to look at a pie chart of federal spending to see that this is where a lot of the discretionary money is going, versus Social Security, which is self funding and solvent until 2037, though it may need some tweaking along the way.

    Now that the T party has raised the issue of all government being bad government, and Boehner has declared himself to be a born-again anarchist, it is inevitable that we should start to ask questions about which functions of government a civilized society can afford to live without.

    I know most Americans will hate to hear this, but we are still part of the Western tradition of Christian society in which providing for the weak, the sick, the elderly, and the needy, and the education of the ignorant has always been considered a worthy objective.

    Of course, you can take the other side of the argument if you want, like Christopher Columbus, who, after this first transatlantic voyage reported back that from an economic point of view the news was mixed. He hadn´t found much gold, but the natives (of Hispaniola) were good looking, intelligent people who could be converted to Christianity... and then made into slaves.

    Maybe he was the first T party member in the Americas.
    Jul 26, 2011. 02:28 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Nokia Falls in China but Apple Soars [View article]
    But supposing the next generation of Nokia phones are glitzier than the iPhone?
    Jul 26, 2011. 12:27 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Here's What to Do About the Debt Ceiling [View article]
    Excellent article, and it is good to hear this coming from someone with a distinguished resume and considerable credibility.

    It is interesting that so far the markets have not panicked, but it is entirely possible that if the Administration does not play an adult role and step in to stop this nonsense, then we may indeed end up with a constitutional crisis as the country descends into the anarchy that some extremists seem to want. Then, I think, you will see the markets responding all right.
    Jul 26, 2011. 12:23 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment